Getting the Order Right

November 02, 2009

“Straightening up, Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Well, I do not condemn you either. Now go and from now on, sin no more.’” – John 8:11

The religious leaders caught a woman in the very act of adultery and brought her before Jesus to see what He would say. She was just a pawn in their desire to discredit Jesus. His response stunned them. Notice the order of Christ’s words. “I do not condemn you. Now go and sin no more.” Even though she deserved to die, according to the law, Jesus Christ said, “I do not condemn you” and then He told her to “sin no more.”

Sometimes the church gets this backwards. We say, “Look, if you’re willing to change your life, then you can experience the love of Christ. Change your life first, and then you can be welcomed here.” But Jesus is saying, “I’ve forgiven you, now change your life.” When someone realizes that their life has literally been saved from the penalty of their sin, their life will never be the same.

And so our responsibility as the church is to reach out to those who are broken and in need of a Savior. Our responsibility is to look at those who are outside the church as individuals created by God in need of a relationship with Him. When someone trusts their life to Christ, their life is made new. A new life means a changed life. The labels are gone. The shame is gone. The guilt is gone. They are a new creation. And, in gratitude at this incredible gift, there is an inner desire to change and live in a way that pleases God. If there is no change, there is no gratitude. If there is no gratitude, God’s grace has not been grasped.