Who’s Guilty?

By John Fischer

Jesus once set a guilty woman free from her accusers by showing that the people who were judging her were just as guilty of sin as she was. “All right, stone her,” He said to the religious leaders who were ready with stones in hand, to deliver the judgment she indeed deserved. “But let those who have never sinned throw the first stones” John 8:7, NLT

This incident shows us something very important about our purpose as Christians living in a world of sinners. Our job is not to throw judgment upon sinners, but to identify with them. The Pharisees and religious leaders were trying to separate themselves from this sinful woman they had found in the act of committing adultery. By judging her they were going to be able to feel much better about themselves. Jesus put a stop to their little charade by putting them in the same boat with the woman they were accusing. They were just as guilty.

It is so tempting to think, especially after being a Christian for a while and spending a lot of time around Christians, that you are better than other people. You start to separate yourself from sinners, forgetting it was your sin that brought you to Christ in the first place. I know this because I’m so good at it.

The gospel comes best from people who identify with the sins of others, because they have become so familiar with their own sin. It is noted in the account that as the self-righteous leaders were convicted by the presence of sin in their own lives, “they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest” (John 8:9 NLT). That makes sense. The oldest would be the ones most aware of their own sinfulness. There comes a time in your life when you can’t fool yourself anymore. There were probably a few young, arrogant idealists who hung on as long as possible, but even they had to finally give in to the truth about their own guilt.

The proliferation of both spoken and unspoken judgment found primarily within Christians, has forced many into the world, unarmed and without a known Christian friend and mutual sinner. We are constantly trying to separate ourselves from a world that Jesus wants us in. Not only that, He wants us to see our own sin and not make such a big fuss over everyone else’s. Our sin nature is our connection with our neighbor, our salvation is our hope, and the good news of the gospel is our message.

Sinners can spot a mile away the hypocrisy of proclaiming a gospel about the forgiveness of everyone’s sins but your own.

Question: Jesus preached more about hypocrisy than most other topics; do you see hypocrisy in the church (or yourself) and how can we (and you) start correcting this?

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