Sin No More

By Jonathan Camiolo – 

When we think about the story of Jesus from the Gospel today, the phrase, “Love the sinner, hate the sin”, comes to mind.  I remember my father telling me that when I was young.  It is a phrase that has stuck.  It is a hard principle to truly live by.  At times, I find it hard to separate the sin from the sinner.

When we read the gospel, we hear the story of the woman caught in adultery.  The Jewish leaders who are trying to put Jesus in a tough position bring this woman before Jesus.  According to Jewish law, a woman that was caught in the act of adultery would be stoned to death.  She was to be killed in public to deter others from committing this serious sin.  She was to get justice.  She would be punished.  Jesus surprises the Jewish leaders with his response.  He says, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Jesus has outsmarted them.  His words lead each of the Jewish leaders to drop the stones they had in hand.  The story says that they each left slowly.  I can imagine that they left stunned at Jesus’ wisdom.  They were probably angry that he could outsmart them.  They probably left feeling guilty of their own sins.

The most important lines follow in Jesus’ interaction with the woman. John’s gospel reads, “Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She replied, ‘No one, sir.’ Then Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.’  Jesus shows us how to live the principle my father taught me.  Jesus is the example.  He does not judge the woman.  He does not condemn her.  He was the one person there that had not sinned.  He could have stoned her, even by his own standard.  He is the Heavenly Judge. He could have acted out the just punishment she deserved by Jewish law, but he did not.  He acts with mercy.  He responds with love.  He responds with a challenge.

He does not simply let her leave and go back to her life the way it was.  Jesus does not approve of her adultery.  Jesus is not saying, “It’s ok”.  Jesus is not making excuses for her; nor does He want to hear any.  He does not miss the opportunity to challenge her.  He tells her to “sin no more”.  Jesus gives the woman a chance to start again.  He gives her a standard to live up to.  He tells her she is capable of more and better.  He tells her that He expects more of her.  Jesus hates the sin of adultery, but He truly loves the sinner that commits adultery.  He loves the sinner, and challenges her to sin no more.

Let us truly be grateful that we have a God that loves us so much.  Let us be grateful that He loves us despite our sinfulness.  Let us all aim to be more of what He created us to be – more patient, more pure, more loving, more faithful, more courageous, more joyful, more merciful and forgiving.  Let each of us go too, and SIN NO MORE.

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