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Surprised By Grace [4-7-19]

Updated: Apr 23, 2019

John 8:1-30

We ended the first half of our conversation about the woman caught in adultery with this observation:

The first gift from this story is the recognition that we are not alone.

So don't let others condemn you. Their opinion doesn't matter. Don't let others look down on you. Don't let others try to make you feel guilty. Don't let others shame you. They're not better than you or different from you; they're just like you. We all sin. Sin is one thing we all have in common.

So, when it comes to sin, remember - we all do it. So don't get overly depressed over your sin. You are not alone. Does that mean I think we should celebrate our sin? Of course not. We don't downplay and we don't overplay it. We see sin for what it is…a common malady that can only be treated with a huge dose of the cross. So don't become overly depressed over your sin.

While it makes sense not to become overly depressed over sin, some people still can't help it. The get really discouraged. They say things like, "No one else has ever had it this bad." Or, "Nobody I know has faced this kind of temptation." I've had it said to me, "Pastor, you could never understand what I'm going through." Jesus is saying to this woman, and to us, that that's not true. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." All have sinned. That's everyone here. So you're not alone. Don't go thinking there are people who are better than you. Nope. We're all in the same boat. And God has more than enough grace for us. More than enough. We are all sinners saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. Forget your sin and remember your Savior.

Here's another passage to remember:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. - 1 Corinthians 10:13

If you've faced it, others have faced it. You are not alone. Jesus was telling the woman caught in adultery she was not alone. We all sin.

Here's the point where Jesus pressed the self-righteous crowd. At another time, Jesus said, if you have lust in your heart, you've sinned. He's saying basically the same thing here. When Jesus said, "Let the one who is without sin…" the phrasing connotes "unerring" or "faultless." In other words, if until right at this very moment your life has been free from even an impure thought, then by all means stone her. They all walked away.

The first gift from the story is we are not alone. The second thing we need to remember is:

When sin happens in our life, we are not condemned.

In verse 11, Jesus said to the woman, "Neither do I condemn you." We are not condemned. Sin is condemned, but not the sinner.

Here's the depth of those words. When the woman's accusers walked away, who was left? Right…Jesus and the woman. Jesus was the only left with her and he was the only one qualified to throw stones. Remember what Jesus said. "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." Jesus was the only one there without sin. He was the only one who met that qualification.

Jesus was without sin. Hebrews 4:15 says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." Two big things we learn here. One, temptation is not sin. And two, Jesus lived a sinless life. How else could his death on the cross be an acceptable sacrifice for our sin?

Over a decade ago I preached a sermon on the sinless life of Christ. It was a detailed message on this essential Christian belief. After the service, a long-time member said to me, "You don't really believe that, do you? Jesus could not possibly have gone his whole life without sinning." His sacrificial death on the cross would have been meaningless if Jesus were just like us.

When the Pharisees would not throw a stone, Jesus told the woman she was not alone. When Jesus would not throw a stone, Jesus told the woman, "You are not condemned." Has no one condemned you? No one, Lord. Neither do I condemn you.

Those are beautiful words to hear. How many times do others condemn us? How many times do we condemn others? How many times do we condemn ourselves? You were not built to be condemned. I was not built to be condemned. Jesus looks us in the eyes and he says, "You have value. You are useful. You are full of life and ready to serve. That's what you were made for." We weren't made to be condemned. So let's be gracious with ourselves. Let's be gracious with others.

Here's an important thing to remember. It's important because it comes before the last thing Jesus said to the woman. Condemnation is not the cure for sin. Condemnation is the punishment for sin. Condemnation comes upon those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Roman 8:1 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." {Let's say that together.} There is no condemnation. None. Here's something you might want to write down:

Believe your Savior more than your sin.

When guilt and shame play with your mind, remember that. You are not condemned.

The first two gifts from this story are:

  1. We are not alone in our sin.

  2. We are not condemned in our sin.

And finally:

We are responsible for our sins.

The devil didn't make us do it. Other people didn't make us to it. We chose to do it. And with the help of Jesus Christ, we can choose to walk away from it. I hope that makes sense.

There was a priest, Richard Holloway, who was the Bishop of Edinburgh in the Episcopal Church. Very liberal guy. He does not believe in a personal God. He says Christian doctrine is nothing more than poetry and metaphor. And he made a case for secular humanist morality. But, he says, don't go thinking he's an atheist or an agnostic. Anyway, he once said adultery was caused by genetics. We have no business condemning affairs as sinful and wrong.

What does Jesus say to the woman? "Go, and from now on sin no more." What was he saying? You are responsible for your sin. Go and leave your life of sin. She was able to do it. We are able to do it. That's the power of grace. It's the option to leave a life of sin. We do have a choice. While we are not condemned for our sin, we are responsible for the choices we make. And we don't have to choose sin.

Here's the final thought on chapter 8. While there's so much more we can focus on, I want to tie everything together with verse 12:

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.

What have we seen already in John's gospel? Jesus is the bread of life…he is the living water…and now he is the light. And what does light do? Light illuminates. Light shows us the way. After saying to the woman, "Go, and from now on sin no more," Jesus then says, "I am the light of the world." It is so beautifully simple. The alternative to remaining in our sin is following Jesus. And he shows us the way. Jesus is saying, "Here's what you need to do, and I'll walk you through it."

There is only one answer to the darkness of sin and death. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." Only Jesus Christ can answer our darkness. Only Jesus Christ can lead us out of sin and into the light. Psalm 27:1 says, "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?" Amen?

Notice Jesus didn't say he was a light, or some light. He said, "I am the light of the world." There is no other way to walk. It is Jesus or darkness. Today, will you choose to follow Jesus into light and life?

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