Grace for Decisions

John 8:1-12

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.  At dawn He went to the temple complex  again, and all the people were coming to Him.  He sat down  and began to teach them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees  brought a woman caught in adultery,  making her stand in the center. “Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman was caught in the act of committing adultery.  In the law Moses  commanded us to stone such women.  So what do You say? ” They asked this to trap Him,  in order that they might have evidence to accuse Him. Jesus stooped down and started writing on the ground with His finger. When they persisted in questioning Him, He stood up and said to them, “The one without sin  among you  should be the first to throw a stone at her.”  Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground. When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center. When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, Lord,”  she answered. “Neither do I condemn you,”  said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”  Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am  the light  of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” 

This story in John is one that has rocked me several times in my lifetime. If you are old enough, you will remember the hit by Rebecca St. James (oldest sister of for KING & COUNTRY) by the title, “Go And Sin No More.” It was a great 90s hit that you should check out. I will never forget the first time I heard the song inspired by John 8. I was standing at my desk in the offices of Honeymoon Hill Contractors. The simple idea that I was not condemned was so foreign to my heart at that time because some of the decisions I made were so worth condemnation. Although it was a very important concept to grasp at the time, and remains the central and most significant portion of this biblical story, it has deeper lessons in it than forgiveness.

Understanding forgiveness and the unmerited favor that we are given through Christ Jesus, as John 8 so beautifully depicts, is the foundational layer of God’s story with mankind. But what’s the lesson here in the day to day, when we have heeded the command, “GO! Sin no more,” and we are living in a place where overwhelming sin decisions are replaced with new decisions: “Should we buy a mini-van because the old one blew up? Should we send our kids back to school or find an alternative method during these crazy Covid times?” At this point, the only sin we think we are struggling with is cussing at the computer screen because the answer is not clearly given anywhere – there’s no website with all the answers. In reality, and an entirely different lesson altogether, our sin issue in those moments is worry (which is another thing we are told we can do away with if we just focus on Jesus).

But, I see something else in John 8. Jesus gave the woman the command first to “GO” and then, “Sin no more.” That’s not where He stopped though, and many times that’s where we stop that story. And if you’re not in a place where sin is chief in your life, you might skim past the story that years earlier changed what you knew as a shame-filled life thinking that you’ve learned all you need to know from this passage.

In the moments preceding the command to Go and stop sinning, Jesus asked the woman, “Where are those who condemn you, those who bring condemnation to you?” The woman looked around and could not find even one of them. Her accusers had fled the scene because the one who crushed the Accuser showed up. The accusations and condemnation could not mingle in Jesus’ presence because there is NO CONDEMNATION in Him. No shame. No accusation. No guilt. It left the scene of the crime. All of it came under the authority of Christ Jesus in a single moment for that woman!

But the lessons keep pouring out.

Accusation comes in the most subtle ways. From the beginning of John 8, the entire set-up started by a group of people trying to bring accusation to the Giver of Grace. They just could not accept the truth that Jesus was the Son of God. So they decided to ask baiting questions. But Jesus turned that around on them in just as subtle of ways and said, “Well by all means, the person among you who has not ever sinned, feel free to let her have it!” Jesus didn’t bring accusation; He simply spoke truth. What happened immediately after He turned that woman around toward grace is the part that was ironically illuminated to me when I read John 8:12. Read what it says:

“Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am  the light  of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” 

I AM the light of the world. I illuminate your world. I light up those things that are dark so you can have life. If you follow me, believe me, trust what I say is true, you won’t ever walk in the dark again.

You see, when we receive His grace we don’t have to live a life full of questioning God’s plan; we don’t have to strive to make the right decisions. We don’t have to walk around moaning that we don’t know what to do. We can GO, we can stop worrying, we can believe that He is leading us into good things and that He will bless the decisions we will have to make as we walk through this life. He told us in John 16:13-14, “When the Spirit of truth  comes, He will guide you into all the truth.  For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears His Father say. He will also declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.”

Many of my friends are being faced with big decisions about their children’s education over the next several weeks. Parents who never even let it cross their minds that a day could, let alone would, come where they might have to decide to send their child to school or homeschool are being faced with that decision. The information provided to help them make that decision is overwhelmingly complicated, and it doesn’t seem that anyone has great advice. And just like this decision, so many decisions we are faced with in life can feel like the right answer will never come, that we are just taking a shot in the dark and hoping for the best!

But as I considered how to encourage so many of my friends asking for advice about their children’s future I learned a new lesson from this passage: God gave me the ability to make good decisions because I choose to follow Him. He gave me permission to decide with help from the Holy Spirit, and to do so with confidence because He has brought light to what might feel like a shot in the dark; He gave me the Holy Spirit to guide me in all truth. He isn’t trying to conceal the truth from me. Just like He brought light to the darkness of sin in my life by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, to persuade me that I can live free from condemnation, He continues to illuminate the dark areas where I feel overwhelmed and incapable of making a good decision. He says, “I am giving you EVERYTHING you need that pertains to this life; you will NEVER walk in darkness again, I promise.”

Friends, whatever you are faced with today I want to first encourage you to GO! Go, and stop worrying that you aren’t capable of making a good decision for the life of your family. Go; stop condemning yourself for past decisions that may not have turned out the way you expected. There is redemption. He was there when you made that decision, because neither height nor depth nor the accusation of the enemy or the condemnation of others, can separate you from His love. And He is here for this decision to lead and guide you into all truth.

The real decision that needs to be made is simple: Do you believe Him?

Braving Grace means believing Him when He tells you that you are capable, you are smart, you know what’s best for your family. Braving Grace means you believe that He entrusted you with the decisions that affect your life, and then acting on that.

So be encouraged to make good decisions this week. Be encouraged to walk hand in hand with the Holy Spirit. He is there to lead you in all grace and truth. And please share with us where you could start Braving Grace. We’d love to walk part of your journey with you.

Go! Brave Grace!
Love,

Angela

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