Breaking the Power of Sin
A daily devotion for January 22nd
8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Then neither do I condemn you,Jesus declared.Go now and leave your life of sin.(John 8:11b)
In this passage, a woman caught in adultery was brought by the church leaders to Jesus. I do not know if we can accurately picture what was going on when this woman was brought before Jesus. I can see her being dragged in, red faced, her hair in disarray. She is angry, upset, rebellious, and bitter, perhaps striking out against her accusers. But when she sees how Jesus handles this crowd of hypocritical judges, and feels that his sympathies are with her, somewhere the mercy and love that was in his face and voice began to touch her. She realized how wrong she was, that she had sinned, and she repented. When she did, Jesus forgave her, obviously anticipating his death upon the cross for her.
The cross is always an eternal event in the mind of God. The sins of the people who lived in Old Testament days were also forgiven on the basis of the death of Jesus on the cross. There is no other way that God can forgive sin. In anticipation of that cross, Jesus forgave her sin. The proof of it is in the words he said,
Go, and do not sin again.
That is the word I would like to leave ringing in our ears. If we have acknowledged our guilt, and heard God's words of forgiveness, he is saying to us,
Go, and do not sin again. He could never say that to this woman unless something had happened within her; the power of sin had been broken. We do not sin because we are temporarily overwhelmed by a strong passion of the moment. We sin because we have a nature of sin, of self-centeredness; we hunger after things that are wrong and we easily yield to sin. We cannot help ourselves at times.
Man is born unto sin, the Scriptures say (Job 5:7). We all are born to share that fallen nature. Unless that power of sin is broken within us, unless God does something to free us and to give us the possibility of a new life, he never will say to us,
Go, and sin no more.
But when Jesus says these words to this woman it is clear that she has the possibility of fulfilling it. He never tells anyone to do something that he does not also enable him or her to do.
Faithful is He who calls you, and He will also bring it to pass. (1Thes. 5:24) Thus, he does not forgive us in order that we might go back and continue in our sins. The Apostle Paul wrote these wonderful words to his son in the faith, Titus,
He gave himself for us, to redeem us from all iniquity, and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds, (Titus 2:14).
This beautiful story brings us to that place in which we understand that when our sins are forgiven it is to free us that we might begin to live a different lifestyle by the power of his indwelling Spirit; never to go back to the things that we have left behind. Sometimes we are weak, and need again the forgiving grace of God. But forgiveness is always designed to set us free. That is why it is given. When our Lord forgave this woman that is what he did: He set her free to be a different kind of person than she ever was before.
You have set me free, Lord from bondage to sin! Help me to hear these words a new way,Neither do I condemn you; go and do not sin again.
Life Application: Do our lifestyles reflect confidence in God's freeing forgiveness? Do we honor the incredible price paid for our sin by trusting His power to transform our lives?
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