Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament epistle of the apostle Paul to the saints which were at Rome, and more specifically, is found in the first seventeen verses of the chapter. This particular passage of Scripture is perhaps one of the misted noted and quoted passages within the New Testament. In all reality, if this chapter were a song, or perhaps even a speech in our generation, there would be a number of sound bites that would be taken from it. This chapter begins and opens up with a powerful statement and declaration to the saints of God—one that countless men and women are aware of, and perhaps even quote, yet they aren’t as accustom to actually living out and experiencing. The first verse of this chapter begins with a powerful statement of freedom that is found in and only in the person of Jesus Christ. What’s more, is that within this opening verse isn’t merely about a freedom that is found in Christ as a person, but also the appropriation of our relationship to and with Christ. The apostle Paul did not speak of or declare that there is now therefore no longer any condemnation and end with those words. The apostle Paul—when speaking of condemnation—boldly and emphatically declared that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. There is a place that exists where there is no longer any condemnation within our hearts and lives, yet that place is only found in Christ and not outside, apart from, and without Christ. There are a number of men and women who think and perhaps even believe they can live in and experience this reality of no condemnation, yet they are attempting to do so outside of, without and apart from Christ, and allowing themselves to be in Him.
The more I consider the words of the apostle Paul regarding there being no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, the more I can’t help but consider specific references within Scripture that directly speak to this reality of condemnation and judgment—condemnation that can be self-inflicted, inflicted by others, or even inflicted by the adversary and his forces of darkness. In all reality, condemnation has never and will never arrive from one place and one place alone, for it can arise from many different places. What’s more, is that condemnation may very well come at us from many different angles—angles we are not and were not prepared to deal with. I can’t help but turn and direct my attention back to the eighth chapter of the gospel of John, for it is within this particular passage where we find a powerful example of condemnation and judgment coming at and against one single woman in a moment of time. I have to admit that the more I study this particular passage found within the gospel of John the more I am completely and totally gripped by the tremendous truth that is contained therein. Consider again if you will the words and language that is found within this passage of Scripture: “Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning He came again into the Temple, and all the people came unto Him; and He sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto Him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting Him, that they might to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not. So when they continued asking Him, He lifted up Himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, Woman where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:1-11).
This passage which is found in the eighth chapter of the gospel of John is perhaps one of the most powerful examples and accounts of condemnation and judgment being directed upon an individual from many different angles. What is so incredibly interesting about this particular passage is that condemnation and accusation didn’t merely come against this woman from one single individual. Have you ever wondered where the man was who had engaged in the act of adultery? Have you ever wondered if the man was also there with a stone in his hand ready to stone this woman? This passage of Scripture seems to suggest that it was only the scribes and Pharisees who brought this woman unto Jesus in order that they might tempt Him to find reason to accuse Him. CONDEMNING OTHERS AND ACCUSING JESUS! How absolutely incredible it is that this woman had her sin publicly exposed in the presence of Jesus, in the presence of all those who had gathered unto Jesus to hear Him teach, before the disciples of Jesus, and quite possibly before those who had come to the Temple to worship the true and living God with their sacrifices and offerings. There is not a doubt in my mind that this woman was the only one engaged in this act of adultery who was brought unto and into the presence of Jesus. I do not believe for a single moment that this man was brought into the presence of Jesus, but rather that this woman was brought alone into the presence of Jesus and into the courts of the Temple. There is absolutely nothing within this passage that seems to indicate that this man who was engaged in the act of adultery with this woman was present at this time, or even that he was there with a stone in his hand to pronounce judgment upon this woman. Could you imagine if this man was somehow brought into the courts of the Temple and into the presence of Jesus along with the scribes and Pharisees seeking to pronounce judgment upon this woman. If there is one thing I have learned about adultery and fornication and affairs it’s that it is never one-sided, and there is in almost every encounter mutual consent between both parties. Adultery, fornication and an affair never take place without and apart from a mutual consent between two parties to engage themselves in the act.
WHERE WAS THE MAN? It would be very easy to read this passage of Scripture and focus solely on this woman, yet the truth of the matter is that there was another party that was involved in this act of adultery. If this woman was caught in the act of adultery, and yet this woman alone was brought into the presence of Jesus for judgment and condemnation, why wasn’t the man also brought before and into the presence of Jesus? I would dare say that the fact that this man wasn’t also brought into the presence of Jesus reveals an incredibly dangerous truth that more often than not is found in a number of our churches in this generation. The dangerous truth is that there are times when we believe we can and should be selective when it comes to passing judgment and condemnation upon others. What I mean by this is that while this woman was engaged in adultery with another individual, the scribes and Pharisees were only concerned with this woman. It could very well be suggested that this act of adultery was somehow a trap that was set in order to bring this woman into a place of judgment and condemnation. I have heard it suggested before that this woman was somehow allured and enticed into a place of adultery and fornication in order that she might be brought unto Jesus to determine what He would say and how He would respond. I find it to be absolutely astounding that there is absolutely no mention of the other party who was engaged in and involved with this particular act of adultery. Only this woman was brought into the presence of Jesus by the scribes and Pharisees who sought to pronounce judgment upon her as they hurled against her their stones of condemnation and accusation. What’s interesting to note is that there wasn’t necessarily anything this woman could deny in the presence of Jesus, or in the presence of all those who were present. If there is one thing we must take from this passage of Scripture it’s that condemnation might not be wrong when it pertains to our lives. IN other words, we might very well be guilty of that for which we are being accused of, and that which others may demand judgment for in the presence of Jesus. This woman could not deny that she had engaged in an adulterous affair with another individual, and what’s interesting is that even when this woman was found in the presence of Jesus, there seems to be no mention of her defending herself.
ARE YOU TIRED OF DEFENDING YOURSELF? ARE YOU TIRED OF MAKING EXCUSES FOR YOUR SIN? The more I read and consider this passage of Scripture, the more I can’t help but get the very real and powerful sense that this woman was indeed and was in fact caught in the act of adultery, yet there seems to be no indication that she made any attempt to defend herself in the presence of Jesus. This woman was caught in the act of adultery, taken from the place of adultery, and then expected to be judged for her adultery, and yet there seems to be no indication that she made any defense before the scribes and Pharisees. The question I can’t help but ask based on this passage of Scripture is what the journey of this woman was like as she was taken from the place of adultery unto the place of sacrifice. TAKEN FROM THE PLACE OF ADULTERY UNTO THE PLACE OF SACRIFICE! Isn’t it quite interesting that this woman was taken from the place of adultery after being caught in the very act of adultery, and she was brought into the place of sacrifice and offering in order that she might be judged by those who were present on that day? This woman was brought unto the place of sacrifice and offering—the place where men and women would come to bring their offerings and sacrifices to fine atonement for their sins before a holy and just God—and yet instead of sacrifice and offering upon the altar, there were stones taken up to cast upon and against this woman. WHEN SACRIFICES UPON THE ALTAR ARE REPLACED BY STONES OF CONDEMNATION! Is it quite possible that sacrifice was temporarily halted on this particular occasion as not only was Jesus teaching those who had gathered themselves unto Him, but also as the scribes and Pharisees brought this woman who had been caught in the act of adultery sought to stone her according to the law of Moses. WHEN THE LAW IS DEMANDED IN THE PLACE OF SACRIFICE! WHEN THE LAW IS DEMANDED IN THE PLACE OF OFFERING! I can’t help but wonder what the atmosphere and environment in the Temple was like on this particular day when this woman who had been caught in the act of adultery was expected to be stoned according to the law of Moses.
As you continue reading this passage of Scripture you will find this woman making no defense for her actions which had been committed on that day. The scribes and the Pharisees brought this woman into the presence of Jesus and demanded that she be stoned according to the law of Moses, for after all—the law of Moses demanded that such violators be stoned according to the law. ACCUSED, YET WITH NO DEFENSE! ACCUSED, YET WITH NO EXCUSE! It is absolutely unmistakable that this woman was in fact guilty of the adultery for which she was being accused, yet it appears she made absolutely no defense of her actions on that day—either in the presence of Jesus, or at the Temple of the living God. DEFENDING YOURSELF IN THE PLACE OF SACRIFICE! DEFENDING YOURSELF IN THE PLACE OF OFFERING! Consider that on this particular day, not only was judgment demanded in the place of sacrifice and offering, but this woman could very well have attempted to defend herself against the actions for which she was being accused. Is it possible that this woman recognized her guilt, recognized her shame, recognized that she had in fact violated the commandment of the living God on this particular day? What’s more, is that is it possible that this woman had perhaps engaged in the act of adultery prior to being caught in the very act on this day? Is it possible that this woman might have been allured into this place of adultery because the scribes and Pharisees knew her to be a loose woman who actively engaged in adultery? I can’t help but be reminded of Gomer whom the prophet Hosea married according to the word of the Lord, for the Lord had instructed to take unto himself as wife a woman of whoredom and adultery. What an absolutely powerful reality it is to consider that Hosea was instructed to take Gomer unto himself as wife, and even after she had engaged in adulterous affairs after their union in marriage, Hosea was instructed to take her again unto himself and to love her once more. IN light of Hosea and Gomer, we find this woman who had been caught in the act of adultery being accused in the presence of Jesus, and not only accused, but also expected to be stoned according to the law of Moses.
The question I can’t help but ask when speaking of condemnation is whether or not we are tired of defending ourselves, and whether or not we are tired of excuses. This woman was not innocent of that for which she had been accused, and Scripture made it very clear that she was caught in the very act. There was absolutely nothing this woman could deny in the presence of Jesus, in the company of His disciples, and in the presence of all those who had gathered into his presence to hear Him teach. DEFENDING YOURSELF IN THE PRESENCE OF SACRIFICE! DEFENDING YOURSELF IN THE PRESENCE OF TEACHING! If there is one thing I am learning about condemnation within our hearts and lives, it’s that the condemnation that is presented against us might not be wrong at all. That for which we are being condemned and accused of might very well be true, and deep within our hearts and minds we know and understand that we are in fact guilty. When I read the words of the apostle Paul in the eighth chapter of the epistle to the Romans, I can’t help but think that this concept of there now being no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus doesn’t mean that we were innocent of that for which we were condemned, or that we even have any defense we can attempt to mount in the presence of a holy God. The condemnation we may face and experience may very well be for acts we very well committed, and those for which we know and understand and recognize we are in fact guilty of. I do not believe that the words of the apostle Paul in this passage of Scripture speak to and suggest innocence before the living God of those things we have committed within the course of our lives. Pause for a moment and consider that reality, and consider it well—the reality that it is possible to be accused for that which we are in fact guilty of. It is possible that we can even be condemned for that which are and that which we have been guilty of. We tend to think of this verse as somehow our being innocent of that for which we are condemned, and yet the truth of the matter is that that simply isn’t the case. This woman was caught in the very act of adultery, and there was absolutely no defense she could mount in the presence of Jesus, or in the presence of His disciples, or even before her accusers.
We must reach the point and place within our hearts and lives when we might very well be guilty of that for which we are being accused and that for which we are being condemned for, and yet we choose to make no defense for ourselves. How many times do we not only get on the defensive when we are being accused of something we have committed, and yet we know that we are indeed guilty of that for which we have been accused? How many times do we immediately mount a defense for our actions thinking that we can somehow defend ourselves from and against the condemnation which is being hurled and lobbied against us? I absolutely love that when this woman was brought into the presence of Jesus she had absolutely no defense, for she had been caught in the very act. There was nothing this woman could do to deny her actions, and even to deny her guilt for engaging in adultery. IT’s worth noting that there were two actions this woman did not engage in once brought into the presence of Jesus—the first is mounting a defense for her actions, and the second is making any appeal for mercy before Jesus. NO DEFENSE OF OUR SIN AND NO APPEAL FOR MERCY! What is so absolutely amazing about this passage is that while this woman didn’t appeal for justice from Jesus, and while this woman didn’t appeal for mercy from Jesus, and while this woman didn’t attempt to ask Jesus to somehow rescue her from her accusers, Jesus nonetheless proceeded to do so. Isn’t it just like Jesus to come to our rescue when we are absolutely powerless to help ourselves, and when we have absolutely no defense for our actions. In all reality, I would dare say that Jesus is able to come to our rescue when we quit making excuses and when we quit attempting to defend ourselves. Have you ever noticed how hard it is to help someone who continually makes a case for their innocence and who continually tries to defend themselves against that for which they are being accused? It is incredibly difficult to find grace to help in time of need when we choose to constantly make a case for our innocence and attempt to mount a defense for our actions. There has to come a point within our lives when we grow tired of making excuses, and there has to come a point within our lives when we grow tired of trying to defend ourselves. Mercy and grace to help in time of need are incredibly difficult to find in a place of excuses and defense mechanisms. Oh that the Spirit of the living God would bring us into that place where we no longer making any defenses for our actions, and when we quit attempting to excuse ourselves and make excuses.
I so absolutely love and appreciate the fact that the account of this woman is recorded for us in the New Testament gospel of John. I am wonderfully convinced that this particular passage of Scripture describes for us the absolute freedom that is found in the person—and ultimately in the presence—of Jesus Christ. While this particular passage doesn’t specifically reference or speak to the reality of an individual being “in Christ” as the New Testament writers—and specifically, the apostle Paul—presented it, it nonetheless speaks to the reality of being in the presence of Christ. This woman was caught in the act of adultery, and she—along with her guilt, shame and humiliation—was brought into the presence of Jesus the Christ where the condemnation and accusation would be found. I can’t help but get the strong and powerful sense that it wasn’t until this woman was brought into the presence of Jesus that the condemnation actually began, and the demand for judgment accompanied it. We read the scribes and Pharisees informing Jesus that this woman was caught in the act of adultery, and that the law of Moses demanded that such a woman be stoned. Oh, I can’t help but wonder how many times we don’t experience condemnation, accusation, and even judgment except for in the presence of Jesus. What I mean by that is not that Jesus Himself welcomes and invites the condemnation and accusation, but that such realities are brought into His presence. Remember how it was before and in the presence of the angel of the Lord that Satan stood to accuse Joshua the high priest as is recorded in the Old Testament prophetic book of Zechariah. Remember how the apostle John records the powerful declaration of how the great dragon was cast down, and how that great dragon accused the saints of God before God both day and night. Remember also how Satan appeared among the sons of God twice before the throne and in the presence of God, and on both occasions, he sought to accuse Job who walked upon the earth. This woman was no different, for this woman was brought into the presence of Jesus, and it was once in the presence of Jesus that she was condemned and accused. I would dare state that when we seek to understand condemnation and accusation—more often than not, they are designed and intended on impacting our status before and with the living God.
The apostle John presents us with the reality of this woman being brought into the presence of Jesus, as well as into the courts of the Temple, and it was in and from that place she would stand accused and condemned. What’s more, is that it was in the presence of Jesus and in the courts of the Temple that not only did the law demand that she be stoned, but so also did the scribes and Pharisees demand that she be stoned. What I find to be so remarkable about this particular account is Jesus’ response when the scribes and Pharisees attempted to tempt Jesus with whether or not this woman should be stoned according to the law—“But Jesus topped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not.” Please don’t miss two very distinct and important realities that are found within this single verse, for within this verse are two absolutely wonderful and marvelous realities concerning the freedom and forgiveness that is found in Christ. On the one hand we notice that Jesus stooped down—undoubtedly getting down in the dirt and dust this woman herself had found herself—and there on the ground and in the midst of her dirt and dust, He began writing with His finger. What’s more, is that we also go on to read how when Jesus stooped down, and with His finger began writing on the ground, He also did so as if He had heard them not. Please don’t move too quickly past this concept of Jesus acting as if He heard them not, for that which they were speaking in His hearing and presence was accusation, condemnation and judgment. It’s actually quite powerful and extraordinary that John would write these words, for it almost suggests that Jesus chose to ignore the voices of condemnation, the voices of accusation, and the demands of judgment within the life of this woman. The very fact that we read how Jesus stooped down, and undoubtedly got in the dirt and dust of this woman—and not only got down in this woman’s dirt and dust, but also acted as if He didn’t hear the accusations and condemnations presented against this woman—presents unto us the powerful reality that Jesus is not afraid, ashamed, or even embarrassed to get down in the dirt and dust of and from our lives. What’s more, is that I would even declare that there are times within our lives when Jesus chooses to ignore the voices of condemnation and accusation that are lobbied against and hurled at us. Wouldn’t it be so incredibly powerful if Jesus chose to stoop down and get down in the dirt and dust in order to remove himself from the path of the condemnation(s) and accusation(s) that were hurled against this woman on that particular day?
When I think of the words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning there being no condemnation for those who are in Christ, I can’t help but think of this woman who was caught in the very act of adultery, and how at one point this woman was left alone in the presence of Jesus. LEFT ALONE IN THE PRESENCE OF JESUS SURROUNDED BY STONES! When I think of what the words of the apostle Paul mean concerning there being no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, I can’t help but think of and be gripped by the powerful concept of this woman being surrounded by stones. Not only was this woman surrounded by stones in the presence of Jesus, but this woman also undoubtedly heard the sounds of these stones hitting the ground. I can’t help but wonder what it was like when the sounds of condemnation and accusation were replaced with the sweet sound of stones falling to the ground. SURROUNDED BY STONES IN THE PRESENCE OF JESUS! There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus when we hear the sounds of stones hitting the ground, and we are ultimately left alone with Jesus surrounded by the very stones which were meant to judge and execute us. In all reality, I can’t help but get the strong sense that if the scribes and Pharisees sought to execute this woman for being caught in the act of adultery according to the law of Moses, they shouldn’t have brought her into the presence of Jesus. IF YOU ARE GOING TO ACCUSE OTHERS, BE SURE NOT TO DO SO IN THE PRESENCE OF JESUS! I am convinced that it was an absolute mistake for these scribes and Pharisees to bring this woman into the presence of Jesus and then expect her to be stoned and executed before all those who were present on that day. One of the most powerful pictures in all of Scripture is when the great dragon is finally cast out of and cast forth from his place and is no longer able to accuse the saints of God before the Lord either day or night. Eventually there is coming a point in time when the ancient serpent and the great dragon can and will never be able to accuse you before the throne of God—either by day or by night. This woman was left alone in the presence of Jesus after hearing the sound of the stones falling to the ground, and the sound of shuffling feet as her accusers left one by one. SURROUNDED BY STONES AS YOUR ACCUSERS LEAVE ONE BY ONE!
The apostle Pau wrote to the saints which were at Rome that “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus,” but He would go on to also include “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” When you read the final words which Jesus spoke to this woman before dismissing her from His presence, you will first read how He didn’t and wouldn’t condemn her, but in addition to that, you will also find Him instructing her to “go and sin no more.” It was this woman being brought into the presence of Jesus that dismissed her accusers and caused her condemnation to be dismissed and destroyed. It was this woman’s conscious decision to “go and sin no more” that would be her “walking not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” It is true that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, but the apostle Paul didn’t merely stop with those words. The apostle Paul would go on to declare that there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, AND who walk not after the flesh, but according to and after the Spirit. This woman could have found herself not being condemned by Jesus on this particular day, and having her accusers depart from her one by one, but if she chose to reject the words of Jesus concerning going and sinning no more, she might very well have found herself in the very same place once more. The concept of living a life absent and free from condemnation isn’t simply limited to our being in Christ, but it is also intended to include our walking after the Spirit and not walking after the flesh. This woman could have been brought into the presence of Jesus, Jesus could have dismissed her accusers one by one, and she could have found no condemnation in the presence of and from Christ, yet if she chose to ignore His final words regarding going and sinning no more, she would have taken absolutely nothing from that encounter. Oh, how many of us experience an encounter much like this woman—an encounter when our accusers leave one by one, the stones of condemnation fall to the ground one by one, and we find no condemnation in the presence and in the person of Jesus Christ—and yet when we leave that place we neglect to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh?
What we read and what we find in the eighth chapter of the epistle to the saints which were at Rome is how we are to live in light of there being no condemnation, and in the place of there being no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It’s not enough to have the voice of our accusers be silenced, and for there to be no condemnation for us who are in Christ Jesus, for we must also chose to allow ourselves to live a very certain and specific way. Consider if you will the words which the apostle Paul wrote concerning what I will describe as LIFE AFTER CONDEMNATION: “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye. Live after the flesh, the shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God” (Romans 8:5-17). The question is whether or not we are willing to live in response of there being no condemnation, and whether or not we are willing to live in order that we might remain in the place of there being no condemnation as we are in Christ Jesus, and as we walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh. The reality of the absence of condemnation is not only linked to being in Christ, but also in our conscious and deliberate decision to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh. Are you up for the challenge? Are you ready for such a challenge? Are you ready to make such a commitment before and in the presence of Christ?