No one on earth is worthy to condemn you, and the One who is worthy to condemn does not condemn, but died for the ungodly.
1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them.
3 And the scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the midst,
4 they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.
5 “Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?”
6 And they were saying this, testing Him, in order that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with His finger wrote on the ground.
7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
8 And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And when they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the midst.
10 And straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”
11 And she said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more.”
(John 8:1-11, NASB).
This is part two on this story, read part 1 here: thereforenow.com/2012/11/grace-in-the-real-world/.
In the end, He doesn’t say, follow Me and sin no more. We often want to make it say that. He says, go YOUR WAY. He wants her to go HER WAY. It must be her autonomous decision, the way of her heart, her love, which goes the sinless way. She must not be led by any way except HER way. It is His intention that mercy produces an autonomously chosen holiness. In being rescued, in being shown undeserved mercy, she is asked to go her way.
It is not enough for her to go her way and sin. Nor is it enough for her to sin no more under coercion, against her way. Anything less than her way and sinning no more is less than Jesus’ best intention for her. Her way, and her sinlessness, were to be one. Jesus intended for her that the mercy extended to her produced this result: that her autonomous choice was holiness. He intended through extending mercy that the split between the aesthetic good and the moral good were reunified: she was to go her way AND sin no more. Non-sin alone without going her way was inadequate. Her non-sin was to be her way, her free choice, her love.
Jesus was saying, take your freedom, because none of these people condemned you, and neither does God. No one condemns you, you are completely free from condemnation. No one on earth is worthy to condemn you, and the One who is worthy to condemn does not condemn, but died for the ungodly. Being free from condemnation altogether, He says, you are now beyond all coercion and fear. Take your freedom, and being free, seek the greater value of holiness. Holiness imposed on the unwilling heart is not freedom, it is coercive slavery. Complete lack of condemnation from all sides, though richly deserved, is the open door to truly autonomous and sustainable holiness. Only radical and scandalous grace can produce the freely chosen repentance.
The only door to less sin is freedom, and the only door to freedom is mercy. This is why the sinners flocked to Jesus like moths to the flame. Jesus says this to each of us:
Is there no one worthy to condemn you? I who am worthy to condemn do not condemn you; who then condemns you? There is therefore NOW no condemnation. Go the way of your freedom and heart’s desire, and sin no more.