We are all made with the ability to decide. God has placed within us reasoning powers. Those reasoning powers cover the whole of life, every area, and make us continually responsible. Some have developed this ability to a high degree. In the legal profession they are appointed judges, to interpret the laws of our communities and to hand down decisions. Though not as highly developed, everyone of us has this ability because we are human. Because of this we must be sure we use our powers properly and impartially.
Most of us judge our neighbors much more harshly than we judge ourselves. It may be because we do not have all the evidences. So our judgment is unfair of them and most likely unfair of us when we judge ourselves.
During the life of Jesus people came to Him with many of their problems. They wanted help. On a number of occasions certain persons planned to create a situation which left Him no real choice, no way to decide without violating God’s holy law. Such an occasion is reported in John 8:1-11.
1 Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
In this experience we should see the several CONCLUSIONS that are necessary to help us be more careful how we judge.
For example, the first Conclusion:
Guilty in Act.
The evidence was proof. They brought her. They said she was taken in the very act. So they set her in the midst as a victim. They awaited the verdict. They went to the law of Moses, a very good and legitimate law. They said Moses said in the law to stone her, that such a one should be stoned.
What’s your verdict? What do you say? Here is one guilty, taken in the very act; how shall we judge her? How do you judge her? They were very quick to condemn. Had they not delayed bringing her to Jesus to tempt Him to find out what He would say, they would have stoned her on the very spot.
The second Conclusion guilty in the act. But there is also:
Guilty in Heart.
They put Jesus on trial, so they did. Instead of answering them immediately He began to write on the ground. We do not know what He wrote, but they kept pressing Him. They kept asking for a verdict. They kept wondering how and what He was going to say. So He raised Himself up and said, “The one who is without sin, let him cast the first stone at her.” Then He went on writing.
Now did you notice in the text that they were convicted in their hearts and began to leave, from the oldest to the last? Guilty in heart they were. Surely they found her guilty in act but they were guilty in heart. So they left. It is very important, my friend, in your process of judgment that you search out your inner spirit before you begin to condemn. Yes, it is easy to be very harsh until the case is turned to you, yourself.
After they were all gone, except Jesus and the woman, He looked around at her and said, “Where are your accusers?”
This brings me to the third Conclusion:
Guilty but Pardoned.
There was Jesus and the woman. She was still waiting for the verdict. When He asked her, “Has nobody condemned you?” she said, “No, no one.” Listen to what He said to her. Jesus spoke to her like this: “Neither do I condemn thee. Go and sin no more.” He acknowledged her guilt. Yes, He did. But He said, “I’m not going to condemn you.” The One who could have by His verdict thrown the first stone, the sinless One, said, “No, I don’t condemn you.” Evidently this poor woman was repentant so He said, “Go and sin no more.” Imagine how she must have felt, deep in her soul, that she was not condemned to death for Jesus had pardoned her. Ah, but He said, “Sin no more.”
When you judge, be sure you take into account these conclusions: the guilty in act and who has not sinned; the guilty in heart and who must not confess that; guilty but pardoned, who does not want to hear Jesus’ words, “Neither do I condemn Thee. Go and sin no more.”
If God were to deal with us as we deal with one another there would be no hope at all. But once pardoned, the word of Jesus should restrain us to go and sin no more.