“Neither Do I Condemn You”

At dawn He went to the temple complex again, and all the people were coming to Him. He sat down and began to teach them.

Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery. In the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do You say?” They asked this to trap Him, in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him.

Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”

Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. 10 When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, Lord,” she answered.

“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” (John 8)

The church has it backwards so often. We say, “You stop sinning, and we won’t condemn you.” But usually, the more we try to stop sinning, the more we do sin! When you really recognize that you deserve judgement and punishment, and when you really experience no condemnation, then you are free to stop sinning.

The Holy Spirit convicts; the devil condemns.

When the Lord led Israel out of Egypt and slavery, the only reason they made it out was because they put the blood on their doorways. It was a sign that the judgement of God was to pass them over and leave them untouched.

Which is a worse sin — adultery, or complaining?

By the time Isreal reached Sinai, no one had died. It was a short time after they had left Egypt. God had performed miracle after miracle. Yet, the people had done nothing but complain! Even still, they declared pridefully, “We will do all that the Lord has spoken.” (Exodus 19:8) What was the Lord’s response?

Put boundaries for the people all around the mountain and say: Be careful that you don’t go up on the mountain or touch its base. Anyone who touches the mountain will be put to death. (Exodus 19:12)

Whose glory is it? The Lord’s. And in the very next chapter, the Law is given, for the purpose of showing them — and us — our sin. Verses to contemplate this week:

Enter God’s Rest

The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. God worked many miracles and brought them out of Egypt. They were entering into freedom, but they had 400 years of slave mentality when they approached the edge of the promised land.

We also are born into a slave mentality. The Bible describes satan as the prince of this world, and we are born believing that we have to work to earn righteousness of any kind. There is a guilt and condemnation that comes, wondering if someone else perceives our work as good enough, or being punished when work is not good enough.

The Israelites were about to enter God’s rest, a land described as flowing with milk and honey. But when you have a slave mentality, you can’t accept that something so beautiful could be a free gift. When someone tries to give us a gift, we insist that we must pay them back somehow. We’re still hearing the voices of the taskmaster.

You have the faith to believe – but do you have the faith to enter into His rest? Can you rest in Him before you see an answer?

God told the Israelites He was giving them the land. But the people couldn’t blindly accept that – they decided to go check it out for themselves, sending in 12 spies to bring back a report. 10 of the spies said, “We can’t do this – there are giants in this land,” but 2 of them said, “Let’s take the land!” Because they didn’t believe, they wandered for 40 years in the wilderness, until only those 2 spies were left of the original people. They were the only 2 original people who got to enter into the promised land.

Listen to God. Don’t rethink the direction in which He sends you. Knowing God’s voice is part of being in His rest. Will you listen to the majority (the 10 spies), who speak of fear and doubt? Or will you listen to those speaking His truth (the 2 spies)? Follow Christ, even if His voice isn’t the loudest.

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:

Today, if you hear His voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers tested Me, tried Me,
and saw My works 10 for 40 years.
Therefore I was provoked with that generation
and said, “They always go astray in their hearts,
and they have not known My ways.”
11 So I swore in My anger,
“They will not enter My rest.” (Hebrews 3)

Rest is grace – it is undeserved, but the Lord gives it anyway. It’s easy to read the account of 12 spies and think, “If I had been there, I’d have listened to Joshua and Caleb (the 2 spies).” But in our own lives, we have giants, and we waver and don’t trust Him.

God has lots of time. If you won’t enter into His rest, he’ll wait for your kids, or grandkids, or whoever else will enter His rest. But He intends His rest to be for you, today. Jesus is the Good Shepherd; He wants to lead us into green pastures – places of rest.

 

Prayer

When we come to God in prayer, we need to be ready for Him to prune us, like a gardener pruning fruit trees.

16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5)

The Spirit is always desiring to lead us out of bondage and into greater freedom.

The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6)

Our Father in heaven,
Your name be honored as holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power
and the glory forever. Amen.

This prayer is for us, on earth, today. His will is prepared in heaven for the purpose of being released on earth. He wants to work through His people, in prayer, to accomplish His will. This prayer invites the prophetic to take place on earth.

31 “But seek His kingdom, and these things will be provided for you. 32 Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom. (Luke 12)

Hatred comes right on the heels of fear. People who have been in abusive relationships of any kind know what this is like. This is the sort of fear that many of us think of when we see the word “fear” or “afraid.” But Jesus’ definition of fear is worship. In Matthew 4, He says to satan, ““Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.” This comes from Deuteronomy 6:13, which says, “Fear Yahweh your God, worship Him, and take your oaths in His name.”

When you pray, what comes from the heart is even more important than the words you choose. If you refuse to pray, you are living in self-righteousness, relying on yourself for that which only God can provide.

“Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. (Matthew 6)

People praying in this way have no relationship with God. The Lord’s Prayer humbles us. It reminds us of Who He is. It builds our faith, hope, and trust in Him. It allows us to worship Him. It allows no room for compromise. It invites the miraculous to happen. It shows us grace and protection from that which we deserve. It tells us that we really must forgive.