“And Jesus said, ‘…Go and sin no more.” (John 811b NLT)
A group of men came to Jesus and declared: “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?’” Actually, the law of Moses stated that the woman AND the man should be put to death (Leviticus 20:10), so it was evident from the outset that this wasn’t so much about the adulterous woman as it was about trying to trap Jesus. However, this passage highlights an important theme that runs throughout the Bible but takes on a whole new meaning in Jesus’ ministry. The issue of sin.
In the above referenced passage, Jesus “rescues” the woman from her would be assassins, and when no one is left to accuse her, Jesus says to her: “Neither do I, Go and sin no more.” The likelihood is that the woman in question was a prostitute whose livelihood was derived from illicit and indiscriminate sex. So, what Jesus said to her is like saying to a drug addict, alcoholic or any other sinner struggling with an addictive behavior: “Go and sin no more.” What does that mean? It essentially means to turn from whatever sin habits are holding us captive and by the power of the Holy Spirit, walk in a life of purity that then identifies us as a child of God, not a child of the devil.
We sometimes have the mistaken notion that because of grace we can essentially live any way we choose and God’s going to be okay with it. But to believe that is to negate nearly everything Jesus taught on sin. Read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Was Jesus “light” on sin? By no means! He not only said it was sin to commit adultery, He said: “anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:28 NLT) Or see what Paul said in Romans 6:1: “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of His wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?” (NLT)
Where did we ever get this idea that we have no choice but to sin? Certainly not from the Bible. Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 6:6: “We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love.” (NLT) Does this lifestyle happen overnight? Yes, and no. Yes, it BEGINS (or should begin) the moment we yield our life and allegiance to Jesus, but NO, we don’t immediately bear mature fruit, any more than a new plant or tree does.
Did the woman caught in adultery ever commit another sin? I have no Biblical evidence that she did, but it’s likely she struggled like every other human being. But did her life take a new direction? Will I meet her in heaven and hear her story? I believe I will.
I can’t “prove” this, but I strongly suspect that this woman is Martha and Lazarus’ sister, Mary. I do know from John 11:2 that Mary was the woman who poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. That account is found in Luke 7, where the woman isn’t named, but referred to as “a certain immoral woman.” (Luke 7:37 NLT) I believe her encounter with Jesus so impacted her life that she was literally never the same.
Think about it. How many women in that culture would have an alabaster jar filled with expensive, rare perfume? My hunch is, after she met Jesus, she didn’t need it anymore for her profession, so, as an act of worship, that took on far more significance to Jesus than she realized, she poured out her life at His feet, and without regard to what anyone thought of her, she pledged all she would ever hope to be to Him. She likely committed sin after that, but I believe she was done with prostitution.
John writes in 1 John 2:1: “My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin.” (NLT) Sin in this context has reference to sin as a habit, living in habitual sin patterns. Then in verse 3: “And we can be sure that we know Him if we obey His commandments.” (NLT) Devotion to Jesus is a heart matter that results in every area of our lives being lived under submission to His authority. It’s a conscious, moment by moment awareness that my life is not my own, it’s been bought at the price of the incalculable worth of my Savior’s blood. I cannot take that lightly.
The Lord willing, I will share more on this subject tomorrow.
Blessings, Ed 😊