Studies in John's Gospel -- Part 12
Conscience Concepts Contrasts (II)
By: A.J. Higgins, M.D.
Passage: John 8
In our last article we considered the activity of conscience in the dramatic incident in the outer Temple. The incident also teaches another important lesson. It revealed men’s concepts as well. There in that outer courtyard was the great confluence of all the representative philosophies concerning sin. Consider the woman first of all. Only prejudice singled her out over the man. She is nevertheless before us. In her we see the guilt of sin. She had gone in for her sin with little thought of the consequences. Shortsighted and selfish, the only thought was the moment of satisfaction and pleasure. Now sin has brought with it the shame and inevitable punishment. But she is not alone here. Moses is introduced to the company. His presence is not literal but representative in the law. His attitude to sin is governmental. God had pronounced that sin brings death. The law could reveal sin and punish sin, but never remove it. The men
"The Law could reveal sin and require punishment, but never remove it."
who shamelessly paraded the woman before others are here. Their attitude towards sin is evident. Callously and unfeelingly they have displayed this woman with little thought about her feelings. Sin to them is not a cause for concern, it is only a tool for advancement; it is a game; an opportunity to display the incongruity of absolutes and to remove from Christ His authority.
But what was Christ’s attitude to sin? He stood morally apart in incarnate purity. As the woman is brought before Him and the crowd her crime proudly announced, He stoops down to write in the ground. Many have been the conjectures through the ages as to what He wrote. Suffice it to say that there was in Him moral sensitivity that was repulsed by the open callous exposure of sin. Open humiliation was never the tactic of the Christ. Twice the accusers had to prod Him to say something. Only upon their insistence did He turn the tables by telling those who were not guilty of the same sin to lead in the stoning. Of all the assembled throng there that day, Christ alone knew the true meaning of sin. He knew it, not by personal experience, but by
"Christ.. knew the true meaning of sin. He does not excuse sin…He forgives it."
virtue of His own moral impeccability that saw it as the antithesis of all that God is. He does not however excuse sin. He does something completely consistent with Deity. He forgives sin. The woman was left alone in His presence. All her accusers had retreated. The only morally fit Judge was before her. The Lord’s words to her reveal His attitude toward sin and His thoughts towards the sinner. "Go and sin no more." Her deed was sin. Her life was no longer to be characterized by it. There is no overlooking or minimizing of her sin. "Neither do I condemn thee". There is full forgiveness for her sin. His attitude is summarized in that unique characteristically New Testament word: grace.
Heaven will be peopled by a company who upon earth have come into the good of God’s thoughts about sin (Rom. 3:23; 7:13), but also into the good of His thoughts about themselves. A company of people who like the woman of our chapter have found themselves exposed in all the vileness of their sin before the holy eye of God, but who have found in the finished work of Christ upon Calvary the great remedy for sin. "In Whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin, according to the riches of His grace." (Eph. 1:7).
"In Whom we have...the forgiveness of sin..."
The grand news of the New Testament is that men destined for eternal banishment from God’s presence can have the absolute assurance here upon earth of the forgiveness of sins and their eternal destiny. Allow the words of the aged apostle John to put an end to doubt in this matter. "I write unto you dear children because your sins have been forgiven you for His Name’s sake." (I John 2:12). "These things have I written unto you that believe on the Name of the Son of God that ye may know that ye have eternal life." (I John 5:13)