Sin And The Stone
by Stephanie Olson, Co-Founder Set Me Free Ministries
"Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Matthew 7:1 KJV)
It has been said that this is the most quoted Bible verse today by Christians and non-Christians alike. But when Jesus said these words, what did He mean? What context was He using? Often people use it in the context of live and let live. For example, if one of our friends is having an affair, we should mind our own business. It's not our place to tell them they are in sin, because we are not supposed to judge. Right? But let me ask you a question. If you discover that your neighbor is molesting children, do those same rules apply?
I understand that this is an extreme example; however, the point is that we are called to make judgments in our lives. We are called to love our brothers and sisters in Christ, and yet, if they are walking in sin, we are called to tell them that in love. That's not always an easy task. So, what is the difference between being a judge and making a judgment?
To answer that question, I want to share another highly quoted bible verse. "And [Jesus] said unto them, 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.'" (John 8:7)
John 8:1-12 tells the story of the woman who was caught in adultery. Right before this story occurred, Jesus had been upsetting the religious leaders of the time. He was in Galilee and had been teaching on things that they considered blasphemous. They wanted Him dead and were looking for ways to trick Him into saying the wrong thing.
They find their opportunity while Jesus is in the temple teaching. The scribes and Pharisees throw a woman down in front of Him. They tell Jesus that she had been caught in the very act of adultery, so she probably has very few clothes on, if any, and we can assume she is mortified. She is probably also terrified, because the Jewish Law at that time said if you were caught in adultery, you were executed. So, we can also assume she is aware that she is about to die
Now the religious leaders think they've got Jesus right where they want Him, because they assume He will be caught between Jewish and Roman law. But instead of addressing either law, Jesus bends down and writes something in the sand. We don't know what, but when He stood back up, He said, "He who is without sin among you, let Him throw a stone at her first." And then the Bible says, "Being convicted by their conscience, [they] went out one by one."
But what does Jesus say to the woman left at His feet? "Woman [which was a term of endearment at the time], where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She replies, "No one, Lord." And He says, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."
Jesus didn't take her sin lightly; sin is wrong, and it can't go on. But He didn't condemn her either, and He doesn't condemn us. Romans 8:1 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." There is a big difference between condemnation and conviction. When we are doing something wrong, we know it. God will tell us in ways that are very gentle at first, and then they get stronger but are still loving. That's conviction.
Condemnation, however, is Satan making you feel bad about what God is convicting you of. Condemnation is that voice that tells us, "You are no good. You're not worthy. Who will love you? You're wrong." That's not Jesus.
When reading this story, we also need to look at those people holding the stones. It's easy to see ourselves in this message whether we are the one caught in sin or the one ready to throw the stone. Are we spending our time judging those who are caught in sin instead of being Jesus in skin to them? Are we picking up the stone and preparing to throw it at others because their sins seem worse than ours?
When Jesus tells us not to judge others, He is not saying we should turn a blind eye to sin. Jesus didn't do that. Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2), and we are told in Romans 5:12 that sin is death. Sin is serious. At no time during this story did Jesus say, "You're okay, I'm okay. What you're doing is fine. I'm not going to judge you, and neither should anyone else. As long as you're not hurting anyone, you're fine." That may be what the world tells us, but it is not what Jesus tells us. He says, "I want what's best for you, and the life you're living is not it. I want you to have a life of victory-not perfection, but victory. The life you're living is not it. Come and follow Me and My ways."
So, back to the question: What's the difference between being a judge and making a judgment? A judge sits on the bench and announces the sentence. We are not the jury who determines guilt, and we are not the judge who determines the sentence. Only God will do that.
But scripture clearly teaches that we are to make judgments. We are told in Galatians 6:1, "Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself." We are not to keep silent, but we are to help them in love.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to love and encourage each other. God is so clear about that. He is also clear that we are to live righteous and holy lives, because He loves us and wants the very best for us. As followers of Christ, we are not supposed to sit as judge and jury; however, we are to call sin as sin. Not by our own standards, but by the Word of God. When we truly love our brothers and sisters in Christ, we want God's best for them, not the world's best for them. And at the same time, we must be an open book, so to speak. It is a blessing when someone loves us enough to point out that we are not walking in God's will. And praise God, there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)! As Jesus said to the woman caught in adultery, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."