Thus Jesus spoke to the woman caught in the act of adultery. Her accusers wanted to corner Jesus through this matter. After all, He had put them on notice concerning the righteous mercy of God and their own unrighteousness. Consider these previous events from the book of John:
Jesus drove the money changers and sellers of livestock from the temple.
He taught that God did not send His Son to condemn, but to save.
A Samaritan woman was given hope.
A man was healed on the Sabbath
The leadership of Israel was criticized for scratching each others backs while rejecting the truth.
Perhaps they sought to expose Jesus for His light touch with regard to sinners and seeming inconsistency to the Law – “Now Moses, in the law (Lev.20:10) commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” Jesus remained silent, writing with his finger on the ground. They continued to press Him. Jesus “raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’”
This account is very attractive. We all have sinned. And the idea of sinners condemning sinners. . . well it feels good to see this attitude put in its place. These men weren’t faithful to God. We know this because they had no heart with regard to repentance. The fact they didn’t produce the woman’s accomplice strongly suggests he was one of their own. They departed, being convicted of guilt.
Jesus did not come as a judge or arbitrator in our affairs. (see Lk.12:14) “Go and sin no more” is the expression of God’s good will. Redemption from sin has come. Though the seal of redemption had not yet been applied (through His death, burial, and resurrection) this woman was being prepared for salvation. “Go and sin no more” came from“God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.” (Rom4:17) Jesus’ words pointed to the fulfillment of God’s promise;“And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen. 12:3) The apostle Peter revealed the reality of this blessing; “God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.” (Acts3:26) Jesus came to free us from the bonds of our guilt, a Savior for lost humanity.
A cloud sometimes covers our hearts. The blessing of redemption can seem veiled behind these words “sin no more.” Ah, forgiveness we can gladly accept; but “sin no more” how can this be? Two elements of God’s grace come to mind:
Through grace we can receive strength to go and sin no more.
He gives us an Advocate as we learn to apply this standard.
Romans chapters 6 though 8 teaches what it means to go and sin no more. This excerpt is a sample: “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.” (Rom.6:12-14) According to these words, strength is committed to us to “not let sin reign.” Through Jesus, the things which once enslaved us, are now placed at our feet. I think this is the meaning of the Spirit when Paul wrote; “God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal.6:14) In other words, he was able to crucify the impulses of his flesh, to subdue them and kill them. The other part is that he was bound to be in the world bearing the burden of obedience to God. . (crucified) to the world. There is a real prospect for change in ones’ life through Jesus. What a hope! The liar, drunk, thief, fornicator, adulterer, homosexual, proud, and unyielding can be forgiven and given the capacity to maintain innocence.
Yet we are but children and have to grow in grace. John wrote: “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (I John 2:1-2) Jesus taught about forgiving our brother seventy times seven. (Matt. 18:21-22) If God expects this of us how much more can He do this for His children. For those of us who struggle with a sin after being converted, there is assurance that God is willing for our Advocate to stand on our behalf seventy times seven. He stands for the sake of our forgiveness and growth. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and victory is assured, if we will but confess and forsake our sins. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
“Go and sin no more” speaks of the power of God to forgive. Also, it speaks of His power to give us strength of life to sin no more. “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.’”(John 8:12)
Repentance is such an essential part of our salvation. As you rightly point out, Jesus offers His expectation to repent (“go and sin no more”) and offers the strength to make it a reality. We have no excuse.
Thanks for your comment. It is a given that the woman had a heart of repentance. Jesus wouldn’t have said what He did if she had been obstinate. I didn’t address that issue because I wanted to focus on what the Lord gave to her and how it relates to the fulfillment of our redemption.