Christ tried to prepare us for it with scriptures that warn us “Judge not, lest you be judged. It is one of the simplest directives in the Bible, yet one of the hardest to follow. Why? Because out of our personal wounds come our cry for justice. Our focus becomes retaliatory needing to relieve pressure on the heart and mind for having been wronged. This is brokenness exposed. We can’t be confused; there is a biblical standard, and we as the church must address it when dealing with sin. I was recently accused of “taking a moral high-ground” in a matter as though my declaring a biblical standard was wrongly judging someone else. You can hear this so plainly in today’s generation. They say, “who are we to judge when we also sin?” I believe this is a facade of spirituality. It is to appear that we understood what God excused when he said to those about to stone the woman caught in adultery, “he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” We got a little bogged down in his challenge to the crowd, rather than paying attention to his response to the woman. He told her, “Go and sin no more.” He clearly called her actions sin. What he did when he told the guys to drop their rocks was call into question the condition of their own hearts to do as we must all do when dealing with another’s sin, and that is examine ourselves in light of the sin we are judging. Christ excuses her from the law of the day which said she deserved the penalty of death; He was modeling what was to come for all of them on the cross, displaying His power and authority to atone for sin. He did as He does today for each of us and offered her grace and forgiveness instead-but he did so with admonishment-“go and sin no more.” He never touted that it wasn’t sinful to have been caught in adultery. Clearly, he stated it was. And while it is probably a thought for a later blog, it is important to note that he did not say, “Why don’t we change the ten commandments and allow this sin, since you guys are all having a hard time keeping it?”
There is difficulty in understanding why we have to state a standard and stick to it. We cannot remove a standard on the basis of not feeling able to attain it. Nor can we excuse the standard because we are sinful; for no economy would survive such idiotic thinking. Obviously, I am sounding like a principal right now, but there have to be rules to govern and sometimes, we have to bring the hurt when needed to remind all why we have them. It is the process that I believe is of interest to the Lord, and the learning is for everyone on the dirt, the crowd and the woman. (the principal and the kid) With offense comes the opportunity for life-changing applications. I believe the process of continuing to learn how to lean into the love of Christ and be devoted to Him above our own fleshly desires-this is the work of our salvation (sanctification)and continuing to love people who have “sinned against us” is the work of the church. How can we not extend such grace, for all we have been forgiven compels us to do so? The minute we cry “how could you” we are prey to the Lord showing us the depths of the heart that could from within our own cravings and drawings toward naught. “Show me my sinful heart, Oh Lord” is a better place to begin in that it places my own need before God for His revelation in how to proceed with humility. “Show me your perspective, Lord” then brings me a purpose higher than myself and commands me to act courageously as I move forward in that purpose. If for whatever reason, I am positionally in the judge’s seat, I should find it much more desirable to walk someone arm-in-arm to the feet of Jesus, than to drag them to the seat of judgement. The first secures their healing and growth and the latter leaves them rejected and broken. Sin is not dismissed in either scenario; one just speaks to a preferred future. However, sometimes it is God who is being rejected no matter how hard you try to convince someone to “go and sin no more.” In that case, you have to let Him take it from there and trust He will and all will be as it should be. The work of all of it is to keep on trusting in God’s heart, and be rightfully aware of the condition of our own. Instead of getting bogged down in the injustice of it all, we must keep on praying to and believing God for hope and healing for all involved. Not one righteous parallels with Judge not, so that we ourselves will continue the journey in light of our sinful state understanding full well that all forgiveness and restoration depends on the work of the Holy Spirit through our present circumstances. Once we accept that truth as the gift it truly is, we will be much more consistent in our dealings with one another on matters of sin, both personally and in the church. If we just pick up a rock and throw it, we walk away condemned and our hearts will know it, and no one will be the better for it.
Recommended for further study: John 8; Deuteronomy 13:4.