And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7
The poor woman caught in adultery was in dire need. Her predicament was no joke to her. She had been brought before the judge and sentenced according to what the law stated: “Stone her to death.” This was not music to her ears. Her heart froze in fear. Her only hope was in the man who was writing on the ground. But she was surprised when he said, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Sinners, like this woman, are the ones who belong in Christ’s kingdom. Christ doesn’t want sinners who refuse to admit that they’re sinners. They think that because they haven’t sinned notoriously, they don’t need the help of God. I used to act like this when I was a monk. I would say, “Today I did nothing evil. I was obedient to my superior. I fasted and prayed. Therefore, may God be merciful to me.” I thought God should forgive me for the sins that I didn’t really consider sinful. In fact, these sins weren’t real sins at all. Yes, I was inventing them.
Sins that we invent ourselves are stupid sins. God’s compassion isn’t concerned with made-up sins. They must be real sins—such as not fearing, trusting, or believing God; not loving your neighbor, not praying; not listening to sermons; not doing what the law of Moses commands. In other words, real sins break God’s law, which no one can ignore. These are the sins that require genuine forgiveness, not meaningless forgiveness. Let’s go back to the woman caught in adultery. She was caught, not merely in imaginary sins, but in adultery. So we must guard against real sins. But it’s also to real sinners that the gospel reaches out.
Barnas Sears, D.D.
An historic and comprehensive biography of early Christianity’s most influential leader of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther.
Controversial and visionary, Luther’s life is revealed in this rare presentation of his work as an educator and church leader. From his birth and childhood, to his religious education, and the events leading up to the Protestant Reformation, you will discover the views and experiences that led to his excommunication by the Pope in 1520. Correspondence and accounts shed further light on Luther’s defiant translation of the Bible from Latin to the language of the common man.
This unique biography is reproduced from an 1850 American Sunday School Union original, and in it you will be introduced to the pivotal life of this enigmatic man before, during, and after one of Christianity’s defining events.