As is the case with most of his sermons, yesterday my pastor pointed something out in Scripture that I’ve completely missed every time I’ve read it. Perhaps its because I’ve been so distracted by something unknowable that I missed what God is trying to show in this passage:
“And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.” (John 8:8-9)
I’ve either been self-consumed by or paid unnecessary attention to Bible teachers trying to figure out what it was Jesus was writing. There are any number of explanations, some so outlandish to make you wonder about the teacher. However, let’s say Jesus was writing out the sins of the adulteress’ accusers, what should have that told them about Jesus?
Here is where Brother Dennis showed us something I completely missed. Would not these men who knew the Old Testament front and back not have known only God in the flesh could have known such things? If Jesus was writing the Ten Commandments in the dirt with His finger, would that not have clued these learned men in whose company they were?
And yet verse 9 tells us they left Jesus one-by-one led by the elders. Instead of leaving Jesus because of their guilty consciences, these older men should have realized their need for Christ and led the younger men and themselves to the Savior. He was right there in front of them.
A guilty conscience alone will not bring salvation. It can bring remorse and regret, and a recognition that your unwanted circumstances are of your own doing:
“Then they said to one another, ‘We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.’” (Genesis 42:21)
If you continue reading the account of Joseph’s brothers, salvation did not come to them after their meeting. Reuben pulled out the “I told you so” card and they had to face their father with some very bad news, but these men did not repent of their sins. Guilt rarely equals repentance.
There are examples where guilt brings conviction of sin that leads to repentance. The greatest example is of King David realizing how he had sinned against God with his adulterous affair with Bathsheba, which ended up in David having Uriah murdered and his love child dying.
“For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” (Psalm 51:3)
David knew that without repentance he could not experience forgiveness. We cannot forgive ourselves if we know we’ve not truly received forgiveness. This is why confession is so important; it is my acknowledging my sin and agreeing with God that it is wrong and that it needs to be forgiven. This is what restores our relationship with God.
If you read the passage from John 8:1-12 (and I recommend you do), you will see that the adulteress woman receives forgiveness from Jesus. However, her forgiveness comes after she receives Jesus Christ as Lord:
“When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’” (John 8:10-11)
Jesus’ not condemning the adulteress was not because of no one else condemning her. It was because she called Jesus “Lord.” She knew to whom she was talking. She did not walk away when her accusers left. She could have though. However, in her shame she wanted to and needed to face her Savior and receive forgiveness of sins.
This is how salvation comes. It does not come through regret or remorse; it comes through repentance. Repentance means turning from your old lifestyle and turning to Jesus.
It means walking towards Jesus instead of walking away from Jesus.
I pray you do that today.
If you’re receiving these devotionals for the first time and would like to receive them on a regular basis, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and use “Please add to Devotional List” as the subject. You can purchase Dave’s six devotional books by visiting his Amazon author page.
Copyright © 2015 David Jeffers
Bible, Christianity, Faith, False Teachers, Forgiveness, Guilt, Honesty, Hope, Joy, Mercy, Revival, Sin, Truth, Wisdom