you cannot condem and give life too March 11 07
You cannot condemn and give life too!
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Introduction: Last week I talked about the radical relocation of God in our lives—there are three stages that we see God in this radical relocation of Him! Most people we meet think that God is out there—He is separate AND separated from normal daily life—He is at best God from a distance— maybe some day they will need God’s help—but probably not today. The reason that He is not invited in to their lives is because they are afraid—afraid that he will judge them, afraid that he will condemn them, afraid that he will be angry with them; afraid that he will find them guilty at every twist and turn in their life—AND sometimes you and I TOO are afraid of those same things—We speak as though he is near, but we live as though he is out there!
The second stage of God may come at His Christmas revelation of himself—He is Emmanuel—He is God with us. In this relocation and revelation of God, we find that He is not an angry, uncaring God, who watches, judges, and finds us guilty at every twist and turn in our life. In Jesus—the God who is with us—we see one who has not come to condemn, but to love—one who has come not to be served—but to serve—("For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”" Mark 10:45, NIV). When Jesus comes into our life, He says to us, “what can I do for you?—Not what can you do for me? In Jesus we find that God really truly wants to be with us—because He loves us, because it is the desire of His heart. This is such an important relocation and revelation of Jesus for us—He is with us—He loves us—He is not angry with us—He does not condemn us. And as a beautiful illustration of this fact—we have the woman caught in adultery. Open your Bibles to John Chapter 8. I will begin in John 7 and then move into 8. Let’s Pray.
"They went each to his own house, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more." (John 7:53-8:11, ESV)
What an incredible story! The woman caught by these men is nothing more than human garbage to them—her only use is to be the trap that will catch and condemn Jesus. They declare the law to Jesus—she must be killed. Jesus agrees with them—how shocking! “You are right, let’s kill her. The one without sin, you begin the execution—you throw the first stone. Then Jesus bends over and writes something in the sand—I have heard lots of speculation on what he wrote—maybe you too—some think that it was the names of the woman’s accusers and the dates they had visited the woman—a compelling theory isn’t it? We don’t know. What we know is when Jesus looks up, all the accusers are gone—from the oldest to the youngest—they have dropped their rocks and left the premises.
Now the woman is left with the only person in the crowd WHO could throw the stone—the one person who is without sin. At this point in the story we begin to wonder how Jesus is going to deal with her. Most of us consider ourselves loving people and if we were Jesus—we would certainly want to moralize just a little—you know, this being a fantastic teachable moment—we would want to take a few minutes with the woman and talk about her life style choices—it is very obvious that the mess she is in is directly connected to the life she has lived. After all, maybe she has not made those connections for herself—and we would all think it would be helpful for her—don’t we? But look at the response of Jesus—where are your accusers? Doesn’t anyone condemn you? She answers, “no my Lord.” And almost as if unspoken—what are YOU going to do? Jesus makes this remarkable statement, “Neither do I condemn you. Now go—don’t sin anymore!” He doesn’t bring up her past, he doesn’t mention her lifestyle—He makes no comment of any kind on her condition. You see He has NOT come to condemn, but to give life (John 10:10) you can’t do both. You cannot condemn and give life too. It must be one or the other. Jesus does not condemn us either—He comes to give us life—and life that is in super abundance. God is Not out there—a God who doesn’t care about us—and He is not only now the God who is with us—the God who loves us, accepts us, does not condemn us, who is not angry with us—He is now in His final revelation of relocation—the God who is in us. Paul says in Colossians 1:27….”Christ in you, the hope of glory.” This is the mystery given to the Church—that God will no longer just be with us—He will be IN us. Joshua standing at the edge of the promise land says, I will not go unless you are with us—and you and I stand now at the edge of another promise land—all those lives of the people around us who do not know Christ—those who continue to feel unworthy, those who continue to feel condemned, those who continue to feel unloved—it is the promise of the Savior that He has come to seek and save the lost. And the story of the woman caught in adultery takes on a new dimension of promise for us—and for those like her—for God who is in us—desires with all His heart to lead us to those who are like her—the hurting, the guilt ridden, the judged so they can experience Jesus—Jesus who has not come to condemn, but to give life.
I love this beautiful and wonderful insight that Paul, the Apostle shares in Galatians chapter 2. It is beginning to take on more and more meaning in my own life and God lives in me. Let me share it with you. Open your Bible to Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20, NIV).