In John chapter 8, verses 1-11, we read the story of the Pharisees bringing a woman caught in adultery to Jesus. They said, “Jesus, Moses has commanded in the law that adulterers should be stoned. But what do You say?”
What do You say, Jesus? If You say “stone her,” people will be disappointed because they believed You were full of compassion and love and forgiveness; they’ll stop following You. But, if You say “let her go,” people will be turned off by Your disobedience/disregard of the law; they’ll stop following You. Maybe they’ll stone You.
Jesus at first didn’t say anything, just wrote on the ground, ignoring them. Then He said, “The one among you who hasn’t sinned can throw the first stone.”
And they left! They all knew that they had sinned.
Then Jesus turned to the woman, and said:
…Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.John 8:11 (KJV)
“Neither do I condemn thee”–such grace! He didn’t condemn her, didn’t look down on her in disgust, didn’t judge or call her a filthy sinner. He pardoned her, showed her love.
He does the same for us.
Jesus doesn’t condemn. Doesn’t rain down judgment. Doesn’t turn away in disgust. He offers us all the gift of grace. We don’t have to live in guilt and shame, don’t have to try to hide, don’t have to attempt to prove ourselves “good enough.” He accepts us just as we are. Loves us. Forgives us.
But the verse doesn’t stop there. Jesus went on to say “sin no more.”
He didn’t approve of her sin. Didn’t say it was okay. Wasn’t like “go live your life however you want; just make sure you ask Me to be your Savior so you can be forgiven and go to heaven when you die.”
With grace comes responsibility. When we receive grace, we need to also take the responsibility to change, to live the way we should, to strive to bring God glory, to sacrifice ourselves and our wants in order to fulfill His will. Yes, Jesus loves us and will accept us how we are. But He loves us too much to let us stay there!
Grace does not make us free to sin. Asking Jesus to save us does not give us license to run wild and do whatever we want without getting any punishments/consequences. Grace makes us free from sin. It gives us the opportunity to live without chains, without bondage, without having to stay stuck in the same rut for the rest of our lives.
Jesus gave the adulterous woman forgiveness and pardon, but He also gave her a challenge laced with grace.