What is our first instinct when we don’t get the outcome we want? When our day is unraveling and headed in the wrong direction? When our problems seem to be cropping up faster than weeds on a sunny day?
If you are anything like me, you may jump to conclusions that are full of condemnation.
God is unhappy with me.
God is punishing me.
I must have done something wrong.
Having dealt with people who are quick to accuse, blame, and punish, I begin laying their actions and proclivities onto God and presume that He is anxious to condemn me too.
I easily forget that God is different—He hasn’t treated me this way in the past and won’t in the future.
And so, once again, I must remind myself that God is not waiting to accuse me, judge me, trip me up, or punish me.
These are human characteristics, not Divine qualities. They are lies from the enemy, not biblical truth.
When I look to the Bible, I see story after story of God’s love and compassion for His creation.
Remember the adulterous woman who the Pharisees brought before Jesus (Jn 8:1-30)?
Caught in Condemnation
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. John 8:3-6a HCSB
She must have felt so ashamed as she was paraded through the streets.
People stared at her. Judged her. Whispered about her.
You bet people were condemning her.
I imagine the Pharisees took pleasure in making sure that people knew her crime. They believed that they were upholding the law by bringing this woman to judgment.
They were upright; she was impure.
The Pharisees pushed her in front of Jesus when there was a large crowd to witness His response.
Imagine how she felt with everyone’s eyes on her? Her sin being broadcast throughout the community.
I assume the crowd became caught up in the excitement.
Their hearts pounding faster, not out of empathy for the woman, but because this was their version of reality TV where they could watch the humiliation and degradation of someone from the safety of the crowd.
The Pharisees stood in their self-righteousness. Confident of their case. Their eyes taking in the crowd. Jesus. And once more the woman.
Thankfully, Jesus saw the drama for what it was—a trap to condemn Him and the woman before a crowd of witnesses.
Christ’s Unexpected Response
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.” John 8:6b-7 HCSB
Love did not motivate the Pharisees. No justice or right doing was in their hearts. This was simply a contest they wanted to win.
The adulterous woman was just a pawn.
Once again, Jesus refused to act the way the Pharisees thought He should. He didn’t shame the woman standing before them. He didn’t praise them for catching this woman and bringing her to trial.
Like so many other times when the Pharisees tried to trap him, Jesus turned the tables on them.
Silently they went away, one by one—unable to verbally address what Jesus wrote on the ground—unable to cast the first stone
In triumph, they entered; in silence, they left.
And how did Jesus treat the woman when her accusers retreated?
Better than We Deserve
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.” John 9:10-11 HCSB
Jesus showed the woman love, forgiveness, and compassion. He told her that He was not there to condemn her.
Humans are quick to accuse, condemn, and punish. But God does not use these tools on us.
He motivates us with love, not shame. He looks to our potential, not our past.
Instead of condemning us, He convicts us to change and gives us the tools to change.
God never leaves us in the pit of despair and sin. He pulls us out and offers us a better way.
Rather than ridiculing us, He covers our sins, calls us his greatest treasure, and adopts us into his family.
No Condemnation In Christ
Therefore, no condemnation now exists for those in Christ Jesus, because the Spirit’s law of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. What the law could not do since it was limited by the flesh, God did. He condemned sin in the flesh by sending His own Son in flesh like ours under sin’s domain, and as a sin offering, in order that the law’s requirement would be accomplished in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1-4 HCSB
God doesn’t hold our past, our sins, our mistakes, or our poor choices against us.
His goal is to save us, not to condemn us.
John 3:17 says, “For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”
The next time you think that God is the cause of your everything-gone-wrong day because He is punishing you for a slip-up or bad choice, remember how Jesus responded to the adulterous woman.
Our God is compassionate, not condemning.
He wants us to live in conviction and change. He invites us to walk in freedom, embrace His love, and delight to be His beloved.
If you are struggling with condemnation, we invite you to join us for “Storyteller,” a free 7-week Bible study exploring all of Christ’s major parables.
The parables teach us how to break free from condemnation and live confidently in Christ.
Each day we will sit at the feet of the ultimate Storyteller and soak up the wisdom and hope His words provide.
5 Reasons to Study Christ’s Parables
Jesus Christ’s practical illustrations will help us comprehend complex spiritual truths and equip us to respond in obedience.
● Parables invite us to listen, to gain insight, and to change course.
● Parables help us get past our presuppositions and fears.
● Parables challenge us to refocus our vision on the goals of the kingdom.
● Parables function as filters to help us grasp spiritual truth.
● Parables reveal the abounding wisdom of the counsel of Christ!
This e-mail-based Bible Study consists of thirty-five lessons delivered over the course of seven weeks (with two rest days each week). You will receive a welcome letter after subscribing, and the first devotional will arrive in your inbox tomorrow morning.
Theresa Boedeker has learned that God doesn’t condemn, but convicts and loves us. Mistakes, sins, and our past are used to help us and others. She enjoys people, flowers, being outside, and doing creative things. She encourages others to remember what’s important at TheresaBoedeker.com where she’s Unwrapping Life with Words. You can also find Theresa on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.