- Sermon Notes
Caught in the Act!
As we get back into the gospel of John, we come to chapter 8 which is the story of a person who is caught in the very act of a sin. It could have been the worst day of her life; instead it turns out to be one of her best.
Perhaps you’ve read stories of people that have been caught in the act; we know that it often doesn’t end well. For example, there was the day that two would-be muggers saw Chuck Norris walking down a city street alone and decided to mug the martial arts expert. Let’s just say that one didn’t end well.
There was another case of a would-be thief who saw a large motorhome and thought he would siphon off some gas. He probably would have gotten away with it had the owners not come out and found him writhing on the ground, holding his stomach and throwing up. Apparently, he inserted his siphon hose into the wrong tank.
John chapter 8 is the story of a woman caught in the act of adultery. The Jewish leaders seize upon it as an opportunity to trap Jesus upon the horns of a dilemma. You know right away they’re not trying to uphold the Jewish law because they only bring the woman. If she was caught in the act, then they also had the man, but the woman is more suitable for the trap they are trying to set.
Instead of being caught in their trap, Jesus turns the table on them and they walk away humiliated and defeated. But the glory of the story is really about the amazing forgiveness of God.
I. It’s not Worth It
- We’re going to look at what’s happening in the heart of these Jewish leaders, but we can’t move on until we’ve talked about this woman.
- The Jewish leaders see this as an opportunity for accusing Him. They’re not concerned about keeping the law otherwise they would have brought the man as well.
- Their trap is set so that if Jesus says that the woman should not be stoned, He would be defying the Law of Moses. If Jesus says that the woman is to be stoned, He would be the defying the Roman law.
- Jesus answered, “Let him who is without sin be the first to cast a stone.” He confronts their hypocrisy and the hardness of their own hearts and they leave embarrassed and humiliated.
- But this woman is in fact caught in the act of adultery and there is actually much to learn from her story, especially when you see the grace of God when Jesus refuses to condemn her.
- First of all, if you’ve ever done this sin and have been forgiven and restored I know what you would want me to say, “Tell everyone that it’s not worth it! Don’t do it!”
- The problem is that the world makes it seem so appealing. But we should not define our character by the world around us; we should define our character by God’s Word.
Proverbs 12:15, The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.
- Another problem is that it’s the ultimate in selfishness. There’s nothing honorable or caring about it; it’s all about selfish desire.
Philippians 2:3, Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit…
- Another problem is that it’s based on blindness. A person in this sin or considering this sin is deluded by their own thinking.
Proverbs 9:16-18, “Whoever is naïve, let him turn in here,” and to him who lacks understanding she says, “Stolen water is sweet; and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there; that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.
- When we say, “Don’t even consider this sin,” it means, don’t even think about it. The mind is the ground upon which the seeds of sin are sown.
1 Timothy 1:19, Cling to your faith in Christ, and keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, they have suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.
- ‘Cling to your faith’ is wisdom from God. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are saved.” Proverbs 18:10
B. This sin is extremely destructive
Illus - In the Old Testament there is the story of Jacob and Esau. Though these boys were twins, Esau was born first and therefore owned the birthright. One day Esau came in from the field and was famished. Jacob had prepared a red stew and Esau asked for it, but Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.”
- Everyone reading the story would have shouted at Esau, “It’s not worth it!” But at the moment all he could see was what he wanted it, but it came at a great cost. So it is with the sin of adultery.
- I’ve applied that story in many different ways and have asked myself, “Am I being offered Jacob’s stew; a moment’s pleasure for a lifetime of pain?”
- It damages your spouse. When you’re married, two become one and if you become one with someone else, it will absolutely damage your spouse.
- That’s why there’s a release clause by Jesus in Matthew 19. It is grounds for divorce, but it’s important to remember that when there is true humility and repentance, it’s also grounds for forgiveness.
- It damages your self. It is a sin that affects every area of your life because it’s not just one sin, other sins go with it. There is lying and cover-up, living a secret life, character is compromised, a pattern develops and it permeates every area of your life.
- Sometimes people say to themselves, “Well I’ll just do it; God will forgive me later.” Frankly, that is a very foolish perspective.
Galatians 6:7-8, Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
- It damages your children. This is truly a tragic aspect of this sin. Your position in their lives is undermined; their trust in you has been damaged.
- One of the tragic stories of the Old Testament is in seeing the consequences of King David’s sin of adultery in the lives of his own children.
- Lastly, and most importantly, this is a sin against the Lord; the one who purchased you with His own blood. When Joseph was being pressured by Potiphar’s wife, he responded with great wisdom.
Genesis 39:9-10, “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” As she spoke to Joseph day after day, he did not listen to her or be with her.
II. We Need the Heart of Jesus
- The story then turns to the conversation between Jesus and the Jewish leaders.
- What follows is nothing short of amazing. Jesus confronts the Jewish leaders with their own hypocrisy and defeats them with their own trap.
- Then, when the Jewish leaders go out one by one, beginning with the oldest, Jesus says some of the most beautiful words a person can ever hear, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more.”
A. We need the heart of Jesus toward others
- If you know someone is caught in a sin, how should you respond?
- Unfortunately, there are some who take on the attitude of the Jewish leaders and become the self-appointed righteousness police.
- The problem is that they often come with condemnation and apply the scriptures as if we were living under the Old Testament law. They lack the heart of Christ which is mercy and grace and calling people to repentance through love and the kindness of God’s forgiveness.
Romans 2:4, Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?
- The scriptures tell us that we need a spirit of meekness toward others and that the heart of God is to restore our brother.
- When they first brought this woman to Jesus and pressed Jesus to answer their question, He stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground.
- What did He write? Many have guessed, but we don’t know. But don’t you think the focus was now on the finger of Jesus writing on the ground. It was no longer on the woman. Did He write the names of the men who had been with her?
Jeremiah 17:13, “Those who depart from Me shall be written on the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters.”
- When they pressed Him further, He responded, “Let him who has no sin cast the first stone.”
- When they heard this, they began to go out, beginning with the older ones. There’s a bit more humility that comes as you get older; you become a bit more honest with yourself.
B. We need the heart of Jesus for ourselves
- When they had all gone away, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” And she answered, “No one, Lord.”
- Then He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way and sin no more.”
- First of all, He called her “woman.” This is the same word he used when speaking to His mother. It’s a term of respect. Amazing.
- What other names could He have called her? I’m not going to repeat them. Are we defined by our sin? Liar, murderer, adulterer, or alcoholic?
- Did He look at her and see her when she was a little girl? She once played with dolls and was held by her mother. There would have been something beautiful about her purity and innocence.
Illus - I look back at videos we took of our girls when they were young and playing with each other so innocently, not aware that the world is filled with troubles.
- At some point, the woman of our story grew up and began to blossom, perhaps she began to find her value in being desirable. There was a time when her heart began to harden and finally, she became accustomed to giving herself away.
- But now, here before her, was the Messiah, and having intimidated her accusers said to her, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way and sin no more.”
- She could have seen in His face compassion and kindness. But could she see the pain? He knew the price of her forgiveness.
- And then He said, “Don’t live this way anymore.”
- He set her free. Her sins were forgiven; now, don’t go back to who you once were.
- Would the tears have flowed or would they come later when she could grasp the depth of love she experienced that day?
Illus - When I was 18 I was driving my muscle car and got into a race with another student. It wasn’t until I drove that same road with my wife 30 years later did I realize how much mercy God had for me that day.
- On what level does this story connect with you? Are you caught up in this same sin? Repent of it; give it up because it will destroy everything you hold dear.
- Are you considering it? Dreaming of it? And there are so many other sins very much like it.
- Please note that God loves you and is trying to save you from damaging your life. “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.”
1 John 2:1-2, If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father…
Romans 8:1, Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.
John 8:1-11 NASB
1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?" 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him be thefirst to throw a stone at her." 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, "Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?" 11 She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more."]