There are two stories used more than any other to point out how Jesus did not condemn people for their sins… so why should we. These two stories are the adulteress and the tax collector. But people using these scriptures as a way to make excuses or exceptions for sin are missing the point. People using these scriptures as a defense for accepting people in their sin are doing the most unloving thing they could.
In this scenario, “The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.” (John 8:3-6)
They believed they had trapped Jesus. Either He would have to stone her or ignore the law. But His answer not only foiled their plan but has become the excuse for everyone to now simply ignore sin. “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)
Many people end the story there and in so doing, fail to learn the REAL lesson Jesus was teaching. After everyone had left, and the woman was in shock, “Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:10-11)
He did not condemn her sins, but He DID call her to stop her lifestyle of sin.
This next example is no ordinary sinner. Levi was a tax collector and considered the scum of the scum. He was a Jew who was using the power of the Romans to enrich himself. He was hated by both the Jews and the Romans.
Jesus called Levi to Himself and Levi followed. He even held a banquet in Jesus’ honor. Of course a man like Levi would have other unappreciated people as his friend so Jesus was dining with “sinners and tax collectors”. When the Pharisees and scribes began to question why this “teacher” would associate with such people, “And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:31-32)
Again, not only was Jesus associating with these ‘sinners’ but he was calling them to repentance.
Now this Levi (his Hebrew name) went on to become knows as Matthew (his Greek name). As one of the 12 Apostles and the author of the first Gospel, it’s obvious he did repent.
It is important to understand the difference between committing a sin and living a lifestyle of sin. A person who has lustful thoughts here and there is still sinning, but a person is always lusting, viewing porn, going to strip clubs, etc… that is a lifestyle of sin. A person who occasionally drinks too much and gets drunk is sinning. But a person who is an alcoholic and is drunk or hung over more often than sober, that is a lifestyle of sin.
In both of these cases, we’re dealing with powerful addictive behavior, and both are temptations that have reached the powerful status of addiction. Just because someone has become addicted to their sin does not mean we are to accept that sin. We are to seek every way possible to help them escape that sinful addiction.
Go and sin no more does not expect us to live without sin (for that is impossible). But it DOES call us to change our lifestyle for one geared first at satisfying our selfish cravings, to a lifestyle of glorifying God.