Then Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,” she answered. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Now go and sin no more.”
“We should kill her! We should kill this nasty Jezebel!” The mob yells loudly, throwing a woman caught in the act of adultery at the feet of Messiah.
“What do you think Jesus?! Moses commanded us to stone someone such as this!”
Christ, stooped to the ground, begins writing in the dirt with His finger. Knowing they wanted to trap Him based on the Law, He does not give an answer right away.
“TELL US! What would you do to this woman?!”
In the dry soil, I can picture Jesus writing the words mercy and grace, because according to the Law of Moses–which could not be chopped up–this woman rightfully deserved to be executed. Some claim that Jesus was writing the names of each accuser, based on this Old Testament Scripture from Jeremiah 17:13:
“LORD, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.”
Either way, peeking up from His writing, He replied, “Whoever is without sin, cast the first stone at her” (see John 8:7). Sin according to what? The Mosaic Law. This wasn’t sin according to the preacher who is sweating profusely while running around like a madman trying to get the world to, “Stop all that sinnin’!”
No. This was sin, according to the Law.
This wasn’t sin according to the Betty Blue-Hairs who don’t like that “fast worship singin’,” or them short-pants and messy hairdos worn by “those kids” in the house of God. “How dare they do such a thing, Edith! Sinful disrespect, I tell ya! I feel sorry for them on their Day of Judgment!”
No. This was sin, infractions, according to the Law for the Jews. None of us Gentiles were included, even if we’re claiming to know exactly what sin is.
So when Jesus said, “Fire away if you’ve not sinned,” the Jewish people looked at one another with a guilty frown. All of them knew they were failing horrendously at following everything Moses commanded in the Law–which is required–so they dropped their rocks and walked away.
Jesus then stood up and looked forward. With compassion He asked the woman, “Where are your accusers? Has no one condemned you?” (John 8:10).
Again, accusers of what? Condemned according to what? The Mosaic Law. 613 commandments which included the Ten Commandments. One of those 613, the act of adultery, required both parties to be killed:
“If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.” (Leviticus 20:10)
This wasn’t even the “Thou shalt not commit adultery” commandment. This was, “You’re dead if you get caught cheating.” And where was the man whom she was cheating with? According to the Law, he would need to be killed as well. Was he one of the Pharisees in the crowd, cloaked with a stone in hand acting religiously innocent? We can only guess because it’s not written, but it takes two people to commit adultery and only the woman was being accused of breaking this law.
“No one, Lord,” she said to Jesus, after He asked her who’s condemning her.
“Then neither do I condemn you. Now go and sin no more” (see John 8:11).
“See Matt! GO AND SIN NO MORE!” a grace-confused person belts away at me for teaching this passage according to the New Covenant. “You’re just being easy on sin! Even Jesus said it right there, go and sin no more!”
Isn’t it a peculiar thing how we get infuriated when what we define ourselves by is threatened? For this person barking at me, they’re finding their identity in how they supposedly “go and sin no more.” But are they really going and sinning no more? No. No they are not. And if they say they are, they’re not telling the truth, therefore compounding their inability to go and sin no more. Do you see the hypocrisy?
This is the same reason the mob dropped their rocks and went home. They all knew they still sinned.
Unfortunately, many Christians today have a death-grip on sin-stones, one in each hand. They’re ready to pummel the first person they see who is caught in a failure, mistake, addiction, or mishap. They claim that I am being lax on sin, but who’s really doing so? My message–it’s impossible to go and sin no more based on the Law, which is the proper context–holds the standard of the Law in high esteem. Yet they are saying it is possible to go and sin no more, based on the Law, but can’t achieve this status themselves.
The Jews who were quick to walk away from the potential killing of this woman did so because they knew the Law required absolute perfection. If you fail at one of the 613 laws, you fail at all of them. This included the moral laws:
“Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2)
Growing up, I was taught that the Ten Commandments were the standard for Christians. This is wrong. What makes us think we only have to follow ten? The truth is, the Ten Commandments were only ten of the 613 commandments given to Israel from Moses after he brought them out of slavery from Egypt. And as you can see in the verse above, you can’t add to it, nor take away from it. Plus, we aren’t Jewish, so we were never even invited to obey the 613–let alone the Ten Commandments. If we tried, they’d laugh at us Gentiles and walk away saying, “Ha! We are God’s chosen people, not you! Heathens!”
If you do a quick Google search for “What are the 613 commandments in the Mosaic Law” you’ll be bored to tears before you even get halfway through reading them. Yet we, as non-Jews, like to pick out just ten–or nine plus tithing. So who’s really being light on sin? It’s the cherry-pickers of the Law. Modern legalists who couldn’t hold a candle to the “righteousness” of the Pharisees, yet believe they’re better than other Christians because of what they do and don’t do. It’s those who like to add to and subtract from 613 laws to their liking, then get mad at every person who doesn’t “obey” like them. Come off of it.
Friend, not only were we not invited to obey the Law, if we were, as Christ taught, perfection is the standard. Jesus emphasized this to the Jews in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matthew 5:48). James reiterates the measure to his Law-loving buddies who wouldn’t turn to faith in Christ, and Paul harps on the Mosaic perfection required to the Galatians who wanted to add Law in with the gospel. Here’s what they said:
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” (James 2:10)
For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” (Galatians 3:10)
“What are you saying, Matt?! That it’s okay to just go out and commit adultery?! Are you saying this woman didn’t need to stop her sinning?!”
No. My friend, that’s not what I’m saying. Adultery harms countless families in many ways. Please turn from it. Stop. Repent. Do a 180. Turning from adultery is a very healthy thing to do because there’s no life in it. We weren’t made for it. Like God, we were made to enjoy covenants and commitment.
Physical and emotional adultery only causes pain for everyone involved, this is why Jesus said, “Go and sin no more.” It’s because He didn’t want this woman to be ensnared in the trap she just got out of. It’s good to go and not have sinful actions and attitudes, but this is not a commandment by Christ.
Remember, anytime Jesus gave a legalistic commandment He was setting that person up for failure so they’d lean toward faith in Him alone. If He gave an impossible-to-do task it was for that reason–because with man it would be impossible, but through Him, nothing would be impossible (see Matthew 19:26, Philippians 4:12-13).
The rich young ruler was told to sell everything when he asked Jesus a Law-based question on how to inherit eternal life. So Jesus not only gave him a Law-based answer but He added even more impossible tasks on top of the commandments in the Law to show the young man he needed a better way other than self-effort. He loved him enough to teach him that righteousness would never be found in his non-sinning choices. Many preachers today will use this parable as a way to hound their congregations to “Give until it hurts!” but this is not a “Be generous with your money if you want to go to heaven” passage. This was a teaching on legalistic, Mosaic pride (see Mark 10:17-27, Matthew 19:16-26).
After all, according to the Old Covenant, if you were rich you were seen as a righteous person because God blessed the Law-keepers with great wealth. Those who meditated on His commandments day and night, were prosperous (see Joshua 1:8, Psalm 1:2). This is why the disciples were bamboozled when Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to fit through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to make it to heaven. Such a statement went against everything they had been taught about wealth equaling righteousness (see Proverbs 15:6, Matthew 13:12, 19:23-25, 25:29).
The Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5, was the same. Jesus wasn’t speaking in hyperbole when He said “cut off your hand, pluck out your eye, be perfect like God.” Oh no. He was upping the standard of the Law of Moses for those who believed they were actually doing it. This is not a sweet teaching of “try your hardest” for Christians. This was a death sentence for the Jews who looked to the Law for righteousness. Repeatedly, He said, “You have heard this” and “You have heard that,” well what was it they had heard? THE LAW OF MOSES. His commandments. His laws. Not Jesus’. Why do you think they wanted to kill Him? He was unraveling their religious identity. That’s why.
The Sermon on the Mount wasn’t directed at believers, but blasphemers (see Mark 3:28-30). Those who refused to accept the Spirit of Christ into their own as their righteousness. For this reason, Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish the Law or the foretellings of the Prophets, but instead to reveal the true standard: perfection or bust!
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)
Every single person listening to Him was setting aside commandments, that’s why He said this. Therefore, none of them would be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Even the most devout Pharisees, such as Paul when he still went by Saul, would be sent to hell! (See Philippians 3:4-9, Acts 7:54-60, 8:1, Luke 13:27-28).
For those soaking up this sermon–just the same as the people who walked away from stoning the adulteress–everyone loosened their top button, gulped deeply and said, “I need you to save me, Messiah! I can’t do this!” That, or they yelled out, “Let’s crucify Him!”
What was Jesus doing? He was exposing their religious, sin-focused hypocrisy! As His Spirit does for us today, He was teaching them they couldn’t do all the Law required! They needed a better way!
A new, righteous spirit led by His Spirit in them!
The same spiritual relationship Adam and Eve had with God before the first sin! ONENESS! He was letting them know they had to be born again by faith in His forgiveness from their Law-breaking! (See John 1:12, 3:6-7,16-17, 14:6, Ephesians 2:8-9, Colossians 1:22, 3:3, 1 Corinthians 6:17,19).
So today, my friends, know this: When Jesus said, “Go and sin no more,” this was not a commandment. It was loving advice for a person who believed that sin would make them happy. It wouldn’t. Jesus knew that. Going and sinning no more is a very burdensome commandment–as was the entire Book of the Law. But Jesus’ two new commandments, apart from the Mosaic Law, were not burdensome: believe in Him and love as He has loved us (see 1 John 3:23, 5:3, John 13:34, Romans 7:8).
Do this, and you’ll sin no more, a whole lot more.
A prayer for you: Father, today I want to thank you for opening up my eyes to the true meaning of Jesus’ legalistic teachings. All along, it was meant to shut the mouths of every person who thought they were Law-abiding citizens–your Word says so in Romans 3:19. For years, as I read these passages I shuddered. But your Spirit has revealed to me that there’s no fear in your love. Instead, your love casts out all fear. 1 John 4:18 tells me that fear has to do with punishment, and you will never punish me for not obeying a single commandment given by Moses. Jesus’ commandments are better! I’m dead to all laws and alive in Christ! Thank you! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. So many of them are confused, Dad. They’ve been taught a mixture of Law and grace, and Jesus said doing so is the same as putting new wine into old wineskins–the wineskin will burst. Mark recorded these words in his Gospel, Mark 2:22, so I know it’s the truth. This happens when we mix Jesus’ impossible teachings in with our New Covenant message. The Jews couldn’t even do this stuff so what makes us think we can? The Law was never meant to be a part of our lives! Instead, Christ is our life! Take us deeper, Father! Reveal that sinning no more was only accomplished by your Son, from birth to death, and now He lives inside of us! What an amazing free gift of sinless righteousness! In His name, I pray, amen.
This devotional is from The Christian Identity, Volume 1. Get your copy here!