My Thoughts. . .
Was the woman who was brought before Jesus and charged, guilty of that sin? She was caught in the act. She did not deny the charge. She was expecting to be stoned for her sin. The ones who caught her made a correct condemnation of her act. They also knew what the scriptures said about her sin and what punishment she must receive. Jesus knew what she did. He also knew the scriptures. Yet, he told her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:3-11 KJV). Some today might condemn Jesus for ignoring scripture and being “too soft on sin.” Since her accusers left, she did not have any eyewitnesses to her act. Jesus did not ask them to spare her life. He made a simple statement, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” What sins had they committed that quickly disbanded those accusers? Maybe several of them had been that woman’s customer and that was how they knew where she was and what she was doing? Notice how the woman’s partner is not mentioned. Was he one of the accusers? Scripture does not say. Jesus did not condemn her, but his last words were, “Go and sin no more.”
Perhaps that woman learned from that episode and stopped committing adultery? Did she stop “sinning”? If Jesus could forgive a person of adultery, could he not forgive her of any other sin? John 8 stirs up a number of questions. Did she ask Jesus to pray for her? John does not tell us. Did she ask him to forgive her? If so, John does not record it. Did Jesus command her to “Repent”? Again, John is silent. We assume things which the passage does not reveal. If she did not repent, does God forgive without repentance? Later, if she stumbled, fell, and cursed, would God overlook that explicative without repentance or confession of sin? Some believe this part of John 8 has been added by a later writer and John did not pen it. Perhaps they thought it seemed to put Jesus in a compromising situation and to keep that from happening, it should be removed?
When an individual submits to that burial in water that Paul wrote about, and was raised to walk in newness of life, he was completely cleansed (Romans 6:1-11). Although he is no longer “a slave to sin” and he has been “set free from sin” (vv.6-7), he does not remain sinless. For some, that is a contradiction. Paul informed Christians that all have sinned. We are not perfect. We continue to trust in Jesus because we have “died to sin” so it is no longer our “master,” and we are no longer its slave (v. 14). Thankfully, we are now “under grace.”
Paul saw how some might think this gave them the freedom to sin. He told the Roman saints, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid” (Romans 6:1-2). There are two extremes. First, one may keep on living in sin thinking God’s grace will cover him despite that digression. The second extreme is that one must remain sinless after becoming a Christian or he is lost again. Both are extremes and each is false. Since grace is in the picture, so is the cleansing blood of Jesus. Notice Paul’s stated, “continue in sin.” Should we once more become slaves to sin? No. Yet, Christians do sin from time to time. Yet, that sinner does not lose fellowship with God because he continues to trust in the price Jesus paid.
1 Corinthians shows how an entire congregation, despite their error in doctrine and practice, continued to have God to dwell in them. Yes, God had Paul to write two letters of correction, but these were not written, sent, nor read in a few weeks period. Despite their error Paul instructed them to discipline only one member and withdraw fellowship from him. They did. The guilty one later repented, and they accepted him back. In the second letter he continued by warning them as he closed it. Warnings, yes. However, neither Paul nor God withdrew fellowship from them.
Some believe an individual loses fellowship with God if he commits one sin. That disobedience causes him to be lost until he repents and confesses it. Having fellowship with the 1 Corinthian church today would be an impossibility for some to consider, much less practice. Yet, God still indwelt them. What would that do to any congregation that might contemplate withdrawing fellowship from Corinth? Would they not be withdrawing from God since He continued to indwell the membership? Was the Laodicean church not guilty before they received their warning letter? Had God already vomited them out of His fellowship before they received and read it (Revelation 3:14-22)?
Extremes. There are different assumptions by Christians on the topic of whether a believer is lost or saved. Where is that illusive middle? How far from the middle may one wander before he is no longer in fellowship with God? One thing is clear. It makes grace a wonderful gift from God for those who are members of the body of Christ. Due to our imperfections, God knows that we continue to need His grace!