John 4:18 “You have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.”
John 8:11 “And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
Three references, three situations, but the same theme. That’s how the Bible often speaks to us. In John 4 Jesus is speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well. He exposes her sin by asking her to “go bring your husband.” She replies that she has no husband, which was true. But what she didn’t reveal to him was that she had been divorced five times and was then living in fornication with someone that wasn’t her husband. Jesus knew everything about her, of course, including the details of her past and present life.
In the John 8 reference Jesus is speaking to a woman caught in adultery who had been brought to him by the scribes and Pharisees. They wanted to stone her. Here Jesus says those famous words “Let him that is without sin cast the first stone.” When they all dropped their stones and walked away Jesus asks the woman “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you – go and sin no more.”
In each case Jesus is very aware of the sin in these women’s lives – just as he is very aware of the sin in each one of our lives. In each case the sin is exposed – in one case by Jesus himself, and in the other by the accusing self-righteous religious crowd. In neither case does Jesus excuse the sin. But in the end, Jesus’ words lead to great joy.
We can be sure that Jesus is God and that Jesus hates sin. But we can also be wonderfully assured by these passages that Jesus is ready and willing to forgive the sin in one’s life when it is confessed and forsaken.
No one should take any comfort in the fact that Jesus forgives sin if they continue to live in it, whether it be fornication and adultery, in the case of the two women, or self-righteous hatred in the case of the scribes and Pharisees. God’s Word, Jesus’ words, act to expose sin in one’s life, which should lead to sorrow in the heart. But the ultimate purpose of this is to lead people to repentance. 2 Corinthians 7:10 states that “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret.”
Everything Jesus has said to us is meant to lead us to Him and the forgiveness that only He can give. It is that wonderful forgiveness which will ultimately lead to fullness of joy. The Samaritan woman was seeking joy in relationships that always left her unfulfilled. Marriage hadn’t worked for her, so she was now seeking joy in a relationship that God condemns – and joy can never be full in such a situation. Are you listening to His Word and acting on it? In confession, repentance, and obedience is fullness of joy. And isn’t that what each of us longs for in the end?
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