Caught in Sin; Released by Yeshua

Caught in Sin; Released by Yeshua

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 2/25/2023

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

Everyone went to his home. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him.

But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again, He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

                                                                                  John 8:1–8:11 (NASB95)

Before we begin I’d like to make one comment about this passage. Most all Bible translations note that John 7:53-8:11 is not found in the best manuscripts of John’s gospel account. There are many reasons to believe this story was added to this account late but most biblical scholars agree this is an authentic story, even though it was not recorded in the original Gospels. That being said, this is a passage of contrasting lives – we see the quiet worshipful life of Jesus, the turbulent and judgmental life of the religious leaders, and we see the dark guilt and nature of all humanity.

The secret to the calm and peace in the life of Yeshua is because He manages to get alone with God the Father. The Mount of Olives is a favorite place to escape the crowds and draw close to the Father. Here He is able to meet face-to-face with the Father for strength and encouragement and to be alone with His disciples.

It is early morning when Jesus begins teaching at the Temple. John says the people were coming to Him and He began to teach them. In the Greek translation, “coming” and “teach” indicate this is a continuous action. The people “kept coming” and Jesus “kept teaching.” In our passage today, the teaching will be, ultimately, on forgiveness and freedom from sin. In this teaching, the woman caught in adultery is a picture of all humanity; likewise, when forgiven and set free, she is, once again, a picture of all humanity, for we too have been Caught in Sin; Released by Yeshua.

Having been caught in adultery, a woman is brought before Jesus. The scribes and Pharisees say she must be stoned, according to the Law of Moses. In an unexpected twist, Jesus says those who are without sin are to cast the first stones against her. Slowly, those who condemn her, turn to leave. She was Caught in Sin; Released by Yeshua and commanded to sin no more.

The woman caught in adultery pictures the sin of all humanity. Only those who are without sin can bring condemnation against another. There is only One who can condemn us, but we must remember, we were Caught in Sin; Released by Yeshua, guilty, but now forgiven and set free, commanded to sin no more.

In this message we seek to understand the implications of being Caught in Sin; Released by Yeshua in the life of the Christ follower.

The Christ follower must beware of condemning another in hypocrisy.

1). When the Christ follower has been Caught in Sin; Released by Yeshua, we were once guilty but must now guard against vindictiveness and seeking revenge.

We must be careful that our self-righteousness and criticism is not coming from a lack of love.

The guilt of every person is portrayed in this passage. It is easy for us to focus on the sin of others, while completely overlooking our own sinfulness. The religious leaders bring a woman caught in the act of adultery, a very serious sin under Jewish law. Now, we all know it takes two people to commit this particular sin, but it is only the woman who is brought forth. We are not told, and we have no idea, what has happened to the man. However, it is NOT the woman we need to focus on but the SIN.

The sin pictured here represents the sin of every person – all people of all time. All sin is a work of darkness. All sin is dark, and most sin is done under the cover of darkness or shrouded in secrecy. In most cases, people think their sin will not be discovered – that no one will ever know. However, in the vast majority of cases, sin has been or will be discovered – as careful as a person might be, they still slip up or make a mistake, not to mention all sin is seen by God. Also, notice WHEN this sin took place. It occurs during a Feast, in a party like atmosphere where men and women are brought together by drinking and dancing. Such an atmosphere can lead even those with the best of moral intentions to corruption.

Some of the witnesses are guilty of a different sin – vindictiveness and revenge. Vindictiveness is the intent to cause anguish or hurt. It is a strong desire to “get back at” someone. Revenge moves from intent to action. This is the act of inflicting hurt or harm on someone; we retaliate for an injury or wrong from that person. It is unlikely this woman and her male counterpart were seen by the scribes and Pharisees – they are much too strict in their rules and regulations. Whomever these witnesses were, they wanted to strike back at this woman.

The point is this – the witnesses against this woman were sinners as well. They were vindictive and revengeful, seeking to have her exposed in a public fashion. Under Jewish law, what should have happened, the woman should have been kept in private, held in custody, until judgment was passed. Instead, she is dragged before the public to expose her sin, shame her, and then punish her. As the woman is dragged to the authorities, people would naturally become curious and follow along. The Jewish religious leaders saw an opportunity to test Yeshua. So, they drag the woman before Yeshua hoping to discredit Him.

If Yeshua did not find her guilty, He would be too soft on sin. If He found her guilty and should be stoned, He would be breaking Roman law which did not find adultery a sin worthy of death. The Jewish leaders would criticize Him for lack of mercy and love, compassion, and forgiveness. No matter what Yeshua would say, the Jewish religious leaders would use this to discredit Him.

The dark nature of all humanity is seen in the sin of these leaders and the crowd seeking to join in the public exposure of this woman. They had a hard, self-righteousness and condemning spirit. A spirit of self-righteousness that lacked forgiveness; criticism that lacked love; judgment that lacked compassion. They had a spirit of censoring that lacked understanding; condemning that lacked restoration. They had a spirit of savagery that lacked caring; destroying that lacked a second chance, and they had a spirit that had a deceptive purpose – they sought something to trap Yeshua into saying something they could use to discredit Him. On top of all of this, they are hypocrites! They felt they were better than this woman – free from any sin serious enough to be exposed in public. They even went so far as to use Scripture to support their right to condemn her.

These religious leaders have failed this woman. They have failed to give her what each and every one of us has needed at some point in time – to be embraced and pulled OUT OF THE SIN AND HURT griping us. They completely failed to keep this sin quiet – to keep it out of the public eye and say nothing to anyone except the one caught in sin; and they failed to begin the ministry of restoration and reconciliation to God and those hurt by the sin. Yeshua, however, refused to give in to the people – the religious leaders, the witnesses, and the public – He refused to give them what they wanted.

Instead, Yeshua bends down and silently writes in the dirt. We are not told what He writes, so there is no sense in speculation, but this does give Yeshua opportunity to take a breath, to think through the situation. It also forces the accusers to repeat the charge. Perhaps this would help them see their lack of compassion. Whatever the case might be, we can safely say that Yeshua brought calm and peace to a chaotic situation. In His silence, peace came over the entire area – and then He speaks. What Yeshua has to say is unexpected at the very least. “You are right; the law says she is guilty and should be condemned to death. Let those who are without sin among you be the first to cast stones at her.” I would imagine you could hear a pin drop.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

What are you doing to guard against wanting to “get back at” or “retaliating against” someone for a hurt or wrong they have caused? If not, how do you fight this temptation?

How do you keep from lacking forgiveness? Or lacking love? Or lacking compassion? Or lacking understanding? If you lack none of these, what steps have you taken to prevent this from happening?

 In a situation filled with chaos, what do you do to remind yourself to stop and take a breath, before speaking? If you do nothing to remind yourself, why is this?

The Christ follower must beware of condemning another in hypocrisy.

2). When the Christ follower has been Caught in Sin; Released by Yeshua, we are forgiven and set free.

We too have been commanded to go and sin no more.

Yeshua remained silent, allowing His statement of blunt truth to sink into those who surrounded this woman. He upheld the Law, so no one could accuse Him of being against the law. But, neither did He excuse the woman’s actions. He simply stated those without sin must be the first to cast a stone against her. At this point, there is no need for further argument. You might say that Yeshua has drawn a line in the sand and dared the scribes and Pharisees to cross that line!

Think about this for a moment – imagine what might happen if someone begins to lift an arm to cast their stone at the woman. As they prepare to cast their stone, someone in the crowd might recognize them and say, “Hey! Wait a minute! I know your sin! Put that stone down!” Even the pious Pharisees could not take such a chance and had to step back to save face. The trap set by the scribes and Pharisees has snapped shut – but it is the scribes and Pharisees who find themselves trapped!

Slowly, beginning with the elders, everyone begins to drop their stones and walk away. Apparently it is true, with age does come wisdom, for the elders know their sin and are the first to stop, drop, and leave. Finally, after the last person has gone, this woman stands alone before Yeshua. No one could claim the sinlessness needed to condemn her. Yeshua exposed the hypocrisy of her accusers, and they have all turned and walked away – now all aware of their own sinfulness.

Once again, this woman is a picture of all humanity. First, there are no accusers, at least not among mankind. No human can condemn this woman then, or now. This remains true for each of us, even in our sin, there is no person alive today who can condemn us. Secondly, the woman, like each of us, stands alone before Yeshua. We stand naked before Him, striped of all righteousness, for none of us possess righteousness in ourselves. Finally, the only One who is perfect, who remains sinless, is Yeshua – both for this woman and for us.

Put yourself in this woman’s shoes for a moment. Certainly, she heard Yeshua state she is guilty of breaking the Law – she has been condemned and sentenced to death, but those who were supposed to execute her punishment have turned and left because of the blunt truth stated by Yeshua. None of them were without sin and could not throw a stone at her! Well, except for one person – Yeshua. What might have been going through her mind? “He is still here. That means He is sinless, right? Is He going to stone me?”

I can imagine this woman jumping – startled at the sound of His voice – “Where are they?” The realization that she stands before Yeshua – alone and frightened – sinks in. “Does no one condemn you?” A slight shaking of her head. “No Lord, no one.” Then He speaks again, “Then neither do I condemn you.” But Yeshua doesn’t leave it at that, “Go. From now on sin no more.” This is what happens to each and every one of us – for any and all persons – when we come before Christ, confessing our sin in repentance. We are forgiven – freely – and then set free. But Yeshua doesn’t stop there with us either. We too receive the command, “Go. From now on sin no more.”

Questions for discussion/reflection:

When was the last time you found yourself standing before Yeshua, naked and striped of all righteousness? How did you react? If you haven’t been, why hasn’t this happened?

Think of a recent time of confession before Christ. How did you react when He said, “Neither do I condemn you.” If you have never heard this, why do you think this might be?

What steps are you taking so that you might, “Go. From now on sin no more?” If you are not taking any steps, why?

The Christ follower must beware of condemning another in hypocrisy.

Yeshua is the only One who has the right to condemn us or forgive us. He is the only One who is righteous, the only One who is perfect, the only One who is guilt-free, He is the only One who is sinless. Therefore, He alone is worthy and able to stand in judgment. God hates sin, we can make no mistake about that. Yeshua stands ready to forgive ANY person, but confession, repentance, and a change of heart are the properly prepared ground for forgiveness.

Our intentions must be to not sin again. That does not mean we will never sin again, nor does it mean that God expects us to never sin again. What it does mean is that God expects our lifestyle to no longer be a sinful lifestyle. This is willfully living in sin – not the unintentional sin or the occasional fall – this is living life in sin, knowing it is sinful and separates you from God. Our desire should no longer be to live for ourselves and our pleasures, but to live our lives wholly and fully for God.

None of us are perfect, we will stumble and fall from time to time. But with the help of Christ and His Spirit living within us, we can overcome the sinful desires and cravings of our flesh. We must remember we are a work in progress, God has not finished His work within us yet. Each day we strive to take a step forward in our spiritual growth – we will not mature overnight. Remember, our faith is a marathon – it takes a lifetime to come to maturity in Christ – so we must pace ourselves to prevent spiritual burnout and to run the race in such a way that we win this lifelong race of faith.

Live in His word; rest in His presence; pray often; bring peace in chaos; forgive freely; practice understanding; show compassion; care for those around you, wherever you might be, but above all this, love others like the end is near.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord.

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 8:12-20

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