I taught a lesson last night at the youth group from our series, “Supposed contradictions in the Bible”. The lesson was whether or not Jesus broke the Law of Moses by not condemning the woman caught in adultery. I wrote an article on the supposes contraction and upon close study, we discovered that there is no contradiction. Jesus proceeded correctly. You can read that article here.
As I was preparing for the lesson, I discovered three important teachings that we can learn from this incident and I would like to share them with you. Let’s read the story first and then see what we can learn. John 8:1-12
I. Sin needs to be confronted
Many people latch on to what Jesus told the religious leaders, “he who is without sin can cast the first stone”, to say that “we are all sinners so we cannot say anything about another person’s sins.” Jesus never makes this statement. This would be a contradiction of what Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount, that believers are to be salt and light to this world. Light exposes darkness and drives it out. In order to do this, sin must be confronted. Salt stops the deadly decay that sin brings. Again, for this to happen, sin must be confronted, in our own lives and in the lives of others. If you do not believe that we are to condemn sin then you need to restudy Christ’s teachings as well as the inspired words written by the Apostle Paul.
Jesus confronted the religious leaders’ sin. When He told them “he who is without sin” He was referring to their sin at the moment, the fact that they were lying and had been caught. They claimed to have caught her in the act of adultery but they did not bring the man, which is what the Law of Moses taught. They were trying to manipulate Christ and the Scriptures. They were full of pride and did not think that they needed to learn anything. They were all general sinners like all of mankind yet they were caught in a specific sin here and did not want to admit it. Their sin was confronted yet they did not get the point that they could have been forgiven. The left rebuked and unforgiven.
Jesus also confronted the woman’s sin. She may or may not have been caught in the act of adultery. That is not the point. She was probably a lady who had a rough past (that is why the leaders chose her). She had probably had many different relationships with many different men. Jesus confronted her and told her to “go and sin no more”. Jesus confronted with a specific purpose, which we will see in a moment, as well as to heal and give life. Like a good surgeon, He has to cause a little pain to reveal the root of the problem so that He can offer healing, complete healing.
Sin needs to be confronted because it is the manifestation of a deeper spiritual problem. Why do we sin? It is because we have idols in our lives. The word sin means “to be bent, off center, not straight”. We are bent because we are building our lives upon idols and do not even realize it many times.
II. The root of sin is idolatry
Once our sin is confronted, our eyes are opened to the fact that we have idols in our lives. In fact, we realize that we are building our lives on these idols and the result of that is sin manifested in our lives. An idol is anything that takes the number one place in your life, the place where God is to reside. Noble things, given to us by God can become idols when we focus on the gift instead of the Giver. As I read the story of this woman, I immediately think of John 4 when Jesus spoke to the woman at the well. Jesus revealed the idol in her life, men. She was not satisfied with her religion. She sought comfort in the arms of men. Every man who showed her some attention became the object of her desire. She probably had this idea that “out there, somewhere, there is a perfect man who will love me and satisfy me”. That man does not exist, unless you refer to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the only person who can fully satisfy you. If you believe that a man will satisfy you completely then you are building your life on an idol. This lady, in John 8, realized the idols in her life and finally found the man who would fully satisfy her spiritual need, the Lord Jesus Christ. Her life was transformed.
Men, if you are building your life on your power and position in the community or workplace, then you are building your life upon an idol. The religious leaders had been building their lives on idols and finally got confronted. They could also have left that place transformed but they did not. They did not deal with the idols in their life. They just ran to the refuge of those idols.
If you build your life upon idols then one day, if not corrected, it will all come tumbling down. Of all the characters in this story, which do you associate more with? All of us are sinners, like those in the story. All of us will have our sin confronted at one time or another and our idols revealed. The question is, how will we respond, like the men or like the woman? Will we walk away or fall down at the feet of Jesus?
III. Complete forgiveness exists at the feet of Christ
The woman left forgiven and with a new chance at life. The men left as unrepentant sinners who had a chance to be forgiven yet chose to walk away. Jesus confronted their sins so that they would recognize their idols and receive His forgiveness. Forgiveness cannot be experienced until our sin and idols are dealt with. If we “receive forgiveness” without dealing with our sin and idols then that is like putting a little bandage over a gaping, gushing wound. The problem is not resolved. There may be a momentary sense of relief but in the end, the wound remains uncared for. I wonder how many people have tried to receive God’s forgiveness without dealing with their idols? I believe that we have churches full of people like this. If we were to deal with things the way that God teaches then would see tremendous change in our churches.
So, what will you do with what you have learned? Will you be like the religious leaders and just walk away, like the ostrich sticking its head in the sand to avoid its enemies? Or, will you be like the woman and humbly receive Christ’s rebuke of your sin, deal with your idols, and be completely forgiven? The choice is yours.