Genesis 4:7 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”
Read John 8:1-11 The story of the sinful woman.
John 8 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Read John 5:1-15
The Healing at the Pool
5 Some time later, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool, which in Aramaic is called Bethesda and which is surrounded by five covered colonnades. 3 Here a great number of disabled people used to lie—the blind, the lame, the paralyzed. * 5 One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”
7 “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead of me.”
8 Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 9 At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.
The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, 10 and so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”
11 But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’ ”
12 So they asked him, “Who is this fellow who told you to pick it up and walk?”
13 The man who was healed had no idea who it was, for Jesus had slipped away into the crowd that was there.
14 Later Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jewish leaders that it was Jesus who had made him well.
*verse 4 is in some versions that an angel of the Lord went down occasionally and stirred the waters.
If you look at these two stories in the Bible they both have something in common. Jesus did not condemn the person, but the sin instead. He showed love and understanding to the person, even while telling them the truth about their sin. In both cases these people are apparently in a state of sin. The woman is an adulterer, and we are not told what the man’s sin is, but it is apparent that he is in a state of sin from Jesus telling him to leave his life of sin before something worse happens to him.
In both cases, these people are in a very lonely state. We know this because, other than Jesus, there is no one to stand up for the woman who is about to be stoned…she has no friends. In the case of the man who was paralyzed we know he also has no one who cares about him, as he tells Jesus that there is no one to help him into the pool to get healed. In both of these cases, not only did their sin separate them from God, but also separated them from their fellow humans.
So we can see that both in our heavenly relationship and our earthly relationships sin plays a big part. That is why God laid out some rules for living in community with each other in the Old Testament. Now, just because God laid out a rule addressing a situation doesn’t mean he is approving of the situation…sometimes the rules that God has laid down on a subject are there because he knows the situation is going to exist as long as mankind is separated from God. Thus, God laid out rules about things like slavery, and divorce. Even though, Jesus clearly tells us that divorce is not something that God wants to happen…God recognizes that such things will happen so he lays out a rule about it.
2 Some Pharisees came and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
3 “What did Moses command you?” he replied.
4 They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.”
5 “It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law,” Jesus replied.
6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’
7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife,
8 and the two will become one flesh.’So they are no longer two, but one flesh.
9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
Now this does not mean that if you are divorced or your spouse is divorced that you are unable to be forgiven…though I have observed that frequently this issue is a big source of pain to Christians who have been divorced or are going through a divorce, or married to someone who has been divorced. For some reason the issue of divorce is treated as some almost unforgivable sin among Christians. Now, I can reckon that it is related to the idea that we connect Christ and the Church with the idea of marriage…but this is an analogy…that only works when you are dealing with good marriages. Yes, in good marriages the two people are generally unified and like minded, but they are still individuals with individual thoughts and feelings and interests also. If they were not individuals then there would be no need for a marriage…they would simply be like clones existing together. The thing that Jesus wants us to know about marriage is that we are to treat each other as the most precious person who is like an extension of yourself…a person that you wouldn’t dream of ever hurting…either intentionally or unintentionally…someone to go through life with…a “help-mate”…who each helps the other to live a life which glorifies God. Divorce is not an unforgivable sin…it simply happens to some people…for whatever reason…the person cannot go back and undo it, so as Christians we need to not hold it over their heads, or make them feel that it is being held over their heads….that is what Satan does…he holds forgiven sins over people’s heads and keeps them worrying and beating themselves up over it.
The same thing goes for slavery…God gave rules to govern it because at the time of Moses it existed every where! God did not approve of slavery…he just knew that it existed and so he laid out rules on the treatment of slaves. Slaves had no rights at all prior to these rules….they had no hope for redemption…God’s rules were laid down to show that he recognized that the slaves were human beings who were his creations and they were to be treated a certain way with some dignity..and given hope for freedom from slavery. God did not want or approve of bondage of any kind, just as he did not approve of divorce, theft, murder, sexual promiscuity, lying, or any of the other sins listed in the old testament. It would probably be more accurate to say that God was resigned to the fact that mankind, in general, is selfish and self centered and immature and without rules will govern things according to what most benefits himself…even if it is at the expense of others. As long as man is separated from God, man needs rules to govern his relationship with others. These rules are a gift and should not be thought of as a punishment or a burden.
So, now, let us go back to how Jesus treated the people in the above two situations…the first thing to take note of again is that Jesus did not beat either one of these people over the head with their sins! He didn’t ignore the sin either…after all Jesus said that he did not come to condemn the world, but to save it! Beating someone who is in a state of sin over the head with their sin does not save them! Jesus knew this very well…he helped them each in the way that they needed help, and then he said, “Go and sin no more!”
The implication of this statement from Jesus is that we humans are capable of setting aside our sins…we are capable of self control…that God expects us to use self control in dealing with our sins! God does not accept the excuse that “the devil made me do it!”
Now, this may be an idea that is hard to swallow, but Jesus is not a liar…so we have to accept that we are capable of living lives that are not full of daily continual sin.
Does this mean that we will never sin? No, it means that once we know that something we are doing is a sin, then we have a responsibility before God to not continue to do that sin. We all have sin in our lives that we are not even aware of…God is good to reveal our sins little by little as we go through life so that we are not overwhelmed by them all at once. They are also revealed to us in such a manner and time that we are able to understand how that sin is hurting us, or hurting others around us.
Frequently, our sin is revealed to us by our gaining more knowledge of the nature of God, and maturing more and more in our relationship with God by following Jesus.
For example: A person who look at their horoscope in the paper each day, thinks to themselves that it doesn’t hurt anything to look at it and see how the “stars” say their day is going to go. However, when that person starts getting to know God, they realize that God is clear about this kind of thing in the Bible: Leviticus 19:31 31 “ ‘Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God.
The person starts to understand from reading up on the subject in the Word that God does not want anyone or anything to stand in between them and Him. So oops! Suddenly, the person realizes that by looking to see how the “stars” say their day is going, they have fallen into a state of looking to an idol, looking toward someone or something that is not God.
Think about it, if the person finds that the horoscope is right, and on occasion it will be by the law of averages, and that they are actually written so vaguely that they can be interpreted to be able to impact anyone….suddenly, that person is not making a move without consulting their daily horoscope, or palm reader, or something like that! That is a form of worship…God says not to worship anyone, but Him. (Commandment #1)
So here is this person who has been living in ignorance of their sin, thinking that it is harmless…who suddenly realizes as they seek after God, that this really is a sin, and it is a serious sin at that! (Not that all sin is not serious…in God’s eyes sin is sin.)
Now, they have the option to continue in that sin with their new knowledge, or to do as Jesus tells the man and the woman in the stories above…”Go and Sin no more!” Or another way to say it is, “now that you know what you have been doing wrong, stop doing that!”
Another two points to be made here: 1.) Temptation is not sin! (Jesus was tempted, yet he did not sin!), 2.) We are not born already filled with sin because our parents were sinful-that idea of “original sin” was not introduced into the church until Augustine introduced it which was well after the time of Jesus and his Disciples! Jesus and his Disciples believed in the idea of an “age of accountability” (Isaiah 7:14-16 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.15“He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. 16 “For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.”)
We are not told what this exact age is, and from study, I have concluded that it is different for each person, it is dependent on the moment when a person realizes what is right from wrong…or what is good and what is evil…what is sin and what is not. We all know that this is not an age set in concrete…even our court systems recognize this…that is why sometimes there are people who commit crimes, yet are found to not be responsible for their actions…we recognize that everyone is not the same in maturity…some folks may have mental disabilities that mean they can never be held responsible for what they do because they cannot understand right from wrong.
We can know that the idea of “original sin” is not a credible idea because if we were all born sinful because our parents were sinful, then Jesus would have been automatically been born filled with sin and he would not have been a good example to us, nor an acceptable sacrifice for us..simply because he was born of a human woman. We know that Jesus was not guilty of any sin, therefore we have to reject the idea of original sin…we have to reject the idea of being helpless to stop sinning! That idea comes from the evil one’s desire to keep us in bondage to sin…after all if we cannot help our sin then we can simply claim we have no responsibility for ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong here, I am not saying that any person can get salvation for themselves without Jesus Christ…that is not the case…Salvation from sin comes through Jesus Christ and Christ alone…that is the forgiveness for sins…I am talking about the thought that we are helpless to keep from sinning on and on when we know something is a sin. Jesus clearly tells us that we can stop sinning!
2Corinthians 5:21 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
I will leave you with this thought: God loves you…you are his precious child. In response to the love God has for you…turn away from sin….go and sin no more…take salvation seriously…glorify God with the way you live your life. When you become aware of a sin…repent promptly…asking his forgiveness in the name of Christ…and return to your task of living a life which glorifies God. Don’t let the evil one bind you with a lie about who you are based on what you have done.
38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,
39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.