I recently saw the production of JESUS at Sight and Sound Theatre in Branson, Mo. My wife and I really enjoyed the show, so I highly recommend it if you are ever in that area. One of the Bible stories referenced in the show was when Jesus told the woman who committed adultery (John 8:3–11) to “Go and sin no more.”
As I sat in the chilly theatre watching the rest of the production, I thought about when I was a child and first heard the story about the adulterer Jesus encountered. I was so touched by the story I promised God I would never commit another sin in my life.
A few days after making the promise, I was playing baseball in my neighborhood. I recall running to home plate for the win, but I missed the base and was tagged before I could go back and touch the base. When I was asked if I touched the plate since there were conflicting accounts from those who saw me slide, I responded I had, which I knew was a lie. My team won the baseball game based on my lie, and we collected the money we had bet the other kids. I couldn’t sleep that night and spent the night crying because I thought I was going to hell for breaking my promise to God.
For years after the baseball game, I thought that “Go and sin no more” meant I should live in sinless perfection and because of that unachievable goal I lost hope and turned away from God. It wasn’t until years later I realized that Jesus was warning against a return to sinful lifestyle choices.
His words both extended mercy and demanded holiness. Jesus was always the perfect balance of “grace and truth” (John 1:14). With forgiveness comes the expectation we will not continue in the same path of rebelliousness. Those who know God’s love will naturally want to obey him (John 14:15). When we turn to Christ and receive his forgiveness, we experience a heart change (Luke 9:23; Acts 1:8).
I chose this devotion for today because I know in my own life, the temptation to sin has been much greater due to the stress caused by the pandemic. I pray we will all think about the grace God gives us and rather than hearing “Go and sin no more” in a judgmental tone as I had for years, to accept God’s grace and forgiveness and move on with the desire to obey God.
The woman caught in adultery did not return to her infidelity. She would not be perfect, but she was forever changed because she had met Jesus. Sin no longer held the appeal it once did. When we meet Jesus, sin no longer controls our lives. Grace changes things.
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved." – Ephesians 2:4-5
Written by Jeff Gentry, senior vice preside and chief financial officer at Buckner International.