Facing death is an indescribable experience. We all know we are going to die, but we don’t know when, where, or how. There’s a moment of intensity you experience when all of those questions are answered.
Such was the case for the woman taken in the act of adultery in John 8. Here, she’s been thrown to the ground in front of Jesus, with a small mob of Pharisees accusing her of adultery and quoting Old Testament scripture in calling for her to be stoned to death.
The whole thing was a set-up to discredit Jesus and cause Him to lose followers. They intended on derailing His ministry altogether, but when you fight against the Lord, you lose every time.
John 8 records that Jesus wrote in the dirt, then told them that the one among them who had no sin could cast the first stone. Realizing their own hypocrisy, or maybe in an exercise in hypocrisy at its finest, they left.
Jesus then turned to the woman and said, “Where are your accusers, does no man condemn you?”
“None, my Lord,” she replied.
“Neither do I condemn you. Go, and sin no more.”
As teachers of grace, we often harp on the first part of our Lord’s pardon of the woman, “Neither do I condemn you.” However, the latter part is just as important, “Go, and sin no more.”
However, is it possible to go through life without sinning? Romans 7 teaches us that it is not.
So, did Jesus tell the woman to do the impossible? He did not.
Going back to the original language, Jesus was telling her to leave the lifestyle of sin. And in that, He painted us a perfect picture of repentance.
Repentance does not mean you live the rest of your life perfectly. It does not mean that you go back and make everything right with everyone you’ve ever sinned against. Repentance is more than simple sorrow or regret over sin. The act of repentance carries with it the notion that we are leaving our sinful ways behind.
Jesus instructed the woman to leave her adulterous lifestyle behind. Likewise, scripture commands the drug addict to leave the dealer and the user-buddies behind. The porn-addict is to step away from his computer, and the prideful man is to step away from the spotlight.
In the late 1980s, there was a church in the Dallas area that ministered primarily to Hippies and Rock and Rollers. This church routinely went into the nightclub district to find those who were being swallowed up by the darkness of sin. When they found someone ready to turn their life around and trust the Lord for salvation, they not only congratulated them on their profession of faith with a church invite, they took concrete steps to help that sinner leave the lifestyle they were caught up in.
Drug addicts were found homes away from their influencers. Prostitutes were rescued from their pimps. Homeless people were given food and shelter. They were all given the tools and opportunities they needed to leave the sinful lifestyle. That church didn’t merely preach repentance, they led you to it.
So, with all this in mind, let’s do a little self-assessment. Have we left our sinful lifestyle, habits, choices, and the tools that fuel them behind? Or do we keep them in a side-pocket in case we need them? Have you truly repented?