The Outcast Sinner - John 8:1-11

Expositions by H. A. Wilson

Taken from Grace and Truth Magazine 1923


Memory Verse — I Tim. 1:15

The story of this poor sinful woman teaches us somewhat of the depths of God's love, and of the extent of the power of the cross. We must not suppose that it teaches that God winks at sin, or treats it lightly. On the contrary it shows that He takes sin into account, and recognizes its damnable character, but that in spite of it He purposes to save the sinner who will simply trust Him. It shows us, too, that the outcast, and the fallen are not the only ones who need this manifestation of God's grace, but that the need is universal and just as great for the moralist as for the degenerate.


John 8:1-9

There is no doubt of the guilt of this poor creature. She had been taken in the very act. And Jesus does not deny her guilt, for though the act had never been committed, still the eye which reads the hearts of men, discerns the guilt which lies like a load on every human heart. The sin which had been committed was one which was worthy of death. The law did provide that adulterers and adulteresses should be stoned to death, and the New Testament teaches that those who are guilty of this sin are shut out forever from the presence of God, unless His grace intervenes to save them. So, as this woman stood in the presence of Jesus she was convicted of sin, and condemned by the law. Rom. 3:23, Luke 20:10, I Cor. 6:9-10.

Jesus confirmed the Law and applied it 'in its full force. He did not seek to excuse the sin of the woman. He did not seek to deny the authority of the Law, nor its application to the present case. He merely gave orders for the execution to proceed. He ordered the woman to be stoned to death. He said, "Let him that is without sin among you cast the first stone."

But ah! He did more than confirm the sentence of death provided by the Law to punish such sin. He applied the Law as God intended it to be applied, and threw the responsibility for judgment on those who were innocent. What a searching command He gave. He commanded that the sentence of the Law be executed-. He commanded that the stoning continue. But He forbade those who were themselves sinful to judge another for the sin of which they themselves were guilty. This was characteristic of Jesus' ministry. He constantly applied the Law in its full force, and showed that only condemnation for all was to be found therein, and no hope of salvation. Rom. 2:1-3, 17-23.

The accusers were themselves condemned by the Law they had cited to convict another. The Jews were constantly limiting the application of the Law to outward actions. God meant it to discern the hearts, and to judge the intents and purposes of men. So these self-righteous Jews, boasting in their outward freedom from such sin as this woman had fallen into, were made to realize that their own thoughts and secret sins were known to God, and that the Law condemned them just as severely as it did the more gross, outbreaking sins. Perhaps none of them had been guilty of the actual act of adultery, but they had been guilty of adulterous and sinful thoughts. Truly the Law of God is as a sharp two-edged sword. When men try to use it to condemn another it becomes their judge. In the glaring, noonday light of the Law as Jesus applied it all saw themselves guilty and undone before God. And being convicted by their consciences which were thus enlightened, they went out one by one. Rom. 3:9-20, Gal. 3:11, Gal. 2:16.


John 8:9-11

The sinful woman believed in the Saviour. Only a moment before she had been cringing, weeping and guilty in His presence. Doubtless she cowered before the hail of stone she expected to follow His sentence. But as her accusers went out one by one, she gained courage to lift her head, and perceiving that the sentence of Jesus had been passed upon all alike, and that her accusers were condemned with her, she was filled with gratitude toward the One Who had so signally delivered her from a disgraceful death. By faith she perceived that the One Who so thoroughly understood the secrets of men's hearts, as to condemn them with a word, also had power to free them from their sins. She perceived that the grace manifested in delivering her from the physical punishment for her sin spoke of still greater grace to be manifested in forgiving that sin. She was willing to trust the One Who had so successfully undertaken to plead her case against the Jews, to plead her case before the Father in Heaven. Jno. 3:14-18, Col. I :i4, Heb. 11 :6.

This faith is evident from three things. The woman knew her guilt as fully as the men recognized theirs. Had she not believed and trusted Jesus for forgiveness she would not have remained in His presence, but when the last restraining hand had been removed she would have taken advantage of her opportunity to escape. The very fact that she remained in the presence of Him Whose word had only so recently condemned her , shows clearly that she realized that forgiveness awaited her, and believed in Him. Her faith is indicated, too, by the manner in which she addressed Jesus in answer to His question, "Has no man condemned thee?" Her answer was the faint voicing of the faith which had just been born in her soul, "No man. Lord." Jesus was more than "Rabbi, teacher," to her. He was her "Lord," her Saviour, for no man can say that Jesus is Lord but by the Holy Spirit. She believed in Him. She trusted Him for salvation. In addition to this evidence of her faith we have unmistakable evidence in Jesus' words to her. "Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more." He did not deny her guilt, for the words "sin no more" are an admission that He believed her a sinner. But He did forgive this sin. God cannot forgive sin without faith, so the very fact that Jesus forgave her proves that she believed in Him. I Cor. 12:3, Jno. 3:18-21, Heb. 11:6.


John 8:11

What wonderful grace was manifested in the forgveness of this sinner. By the Word of the Law, and by the Word of Jesus she deserved to die, but instead she received this assurance of forgiveness from the lips of Him Who by right was her Judge. The very contrast between the iniquity of the woman and the attitude of Jesus throws a flood of light upon God's grace in His dealing with men. He saves and forgives us not because of our merit, but because of our faith in Himself. Jesus' mind looked forward to Calvary. He saw the sin of this woman laid upon His own body there. He saw God's wrath poured out upon Himself because of that sin. So He could say to the woman that day, "Neither do I condemn thee." Those few simple words cost Jesus infinite suffering. spoken quietly and calmly as they were. They cost Jesus the suffering of the cross. They cost Him His very life blood. They cost Him the agonies of Hell. He could forgive this woman her sin, because He purposed to suffer for it Himself. God's justice must be satisfied, but He was willing to die that He might satisfy the claims of justice. So when the poor, weak, defiled sinner creeps up to the foot of the Cross, and, looking into the face of Jesus, says, "Lord," he hears the proclamation of pardon. It costs him nothing. All he does is to believe. But, ah! It cost the Son of God everything! Believers, should we not prize more highly the gift of God's love? I Pet. 2:24, 3:18, Col. 2:14, Acts 13:39, Acts 10:43.

The forgiveness of the sinner should be manifested in a life of holiness. Jesus said to that woman, "Go and sin no more." so He desires that all of His children should walk in holiness because He has forgiven their sins. His appeals to the believer are based upon His mercies. He desires that the world may realize by our changed lives that He has forgiven us and cleansed us from our sins. The forgiveness of our sins does not make it impossible for us to sin further, but such sin does not make us any the less His children. Should we not seek so to yield to Him that by their very holiness our lives shall become a testimony to His saving and keeping power? Rom. 12:1-2, Col. 3:1-5.