The past few months have been pretty astounding. People are getting targeted for something they did years or even decades ago. What they did was clearly wrong but that offense (or offenses) in their past is enough to get them fired or at least publicly disgraced.
If you keep up with the news, you’ll also see an article every now and then about someone who, on their own, stepped aside in shame for what they did years ago. I read an article a few moments ago of a lady who admitted something she did about 8 years ago. What she did was wrong but the language she used broke my heart. She was condemning herself … but there was no knowledge or hope of cleansing and forgiveness. It seemed like she only understood condemnation. So sad.
It reminds me of the story of the woman found in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11). On a side note, I always wondered why those judgmental Pharisees never brought the adulterous man. The woman was “caught in the act” so they knew who the man was. Maybe he was one of their own. (If this is true, that would only have increased their own guilt with such injustice.)
Anyway, those Pharisees looked down their self-righteous noses at that woman. They had rocks in their hands and they were ready to kill her for what she had done. There was no mercy in their eyes. No hope of restoration. Only condemnation.
Yet, when we listen to Jesus, He first targeted those self-righteous Pharisees by saying: “If you are sinless, then go ahead and throw the first rock.” The passage also tells us that He was writing in the sand during this time. I wonder if He was writing their sins in the dirt and publicly exposing them all as the guilty sinners that they were. This may explain why the Pharisees were so agreeable to dropping their rocks and leaving post haste. They didn’t want to be publicly humiliated even though they were so quick to publicly humiliate someone else.
Then, Jesus looked at the woman. I suspect that He saw shame and self-condemnation in her eyes. He told her: “I don’t condemn you either. Go and don’t do it again.” Then, He eventually went to the cross to pay the price that her sin required so that the Father could legally forgive her.
Friends, I’m so glad that I’m a Christian and understand the Gospel. Yes, the Gospel condemns us. It labels us all as guilty sinners who have broken God’s laws. We are deserving of death – eternal separation from God in a place called Hell.
Yet, the Gospel doesn’t leave us in that place of condemnation. Jesus holds out a hand to us saying that He can forgive us. In fact, it is His love for us that has caused Him to pay such a high price so that we can be forgiven and brought into a wonderful relationship with Him in this life and in the life to come.
(Of course, there may need to be consequences for offenses. The forgiveness offered in the Gospel shouldn’t keep a thief from going to jail. However, the Gospel makes it clear to the thief that he has been forgiven by Almighty God. While he lives with the consequences, he doesn’t have to live with condemnation.)
Then, as we read the Bible, we come to realize that we are called to forgive others just as He has forgiven us.
Colossians 3:13 (CSB): “…Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive.”
Matthew 6:14–15 (CSB): “For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive others, your Father will not forgive your offenses.”
So, as our current society condemns with no hope of restoration, it is evidencing the attitude of the Pharisees. There is no hope, only condemnation. Further, the ones who condemn are guilty of separate offenses as well.
But, we proclaim the Gospel when we acknowledge that we are all guilty before God but that there is a wonderful Savior who can remedy our sin problem and bring us into a perfect standing with Himself.
The Gospel really is GOOD NEWS!