Caught in the Act Part III
Jesus Christ said: "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."1
With the woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus saw beyond her external act of sin—her adultery—to the deeper cause of why she acted out in the way she did.
We tend to see sin as only the external act. But the external act is often just the tip of the iceberg. Sin is anything that falls short of the perfection or wholeness God planned for us. It includes our damaged emotions, our wounded personality, our mixed motives, our unresolved inner conflicts, and our supercharged repressed negative emotions. Added to our sinful nature, these are the pains that keep us in bondage and cause us to act out in sinful ways. These are the barriers that alienate us from God, from others, and from ourselves so that we no longer know who or what we truly are. Sin is the whole "iceberg," not merely the external tip.
Because of this, when Jesus ministered to the woman caught in adultery, he dealt with her whole person not just her sinful behavior. As already noted, to free her from acting out in sinful behavior, he first met the basic need in her life, the lack of which was driving her to commit acts of sin. Jesus loved and accepted her, and in doing this, possibly for the first time in this woman's life, she was loved and accepted by a man for who she was rather than for what she had to offer. Jesus knew her sin, her weaknesses, and her hurt. He understood her fully and loved and accepted her unconditionally. In so doing he confirmed her personhood and her womanhood. In other words, the needs that her father didn't or couldn't meet, Jesus met. In meeting these father needs for love and acceptance Jesus set her free and could realistically say to her, "Go and don't commit this sin anymore."
Or take the person with a drinking problem, a lying problem, a stealing problem, a drug problem, a gossip problem, or any other kind of sin problem. Behind the external act of sin lies a deeper fault, problem, or sin. The external act of sin is merely the symptom of the deeper sin. And when a person is hiding a deeper sin or fault, he tends to confess a lesser sin all the more vigorously.
Therefore, how unkind it is of me, how lacking in understanding, and how unlike Christ to condemn you and make you feel guilty for your sin without ever seeking to understand you and help meet the basic need/s in your life, the lack of which are causing you to act out in sinful ways.
It's easy to lay rules on you and make you feel guilty if you don't conform, and in so doing deceive myself into believing that I have been obeying God, which is anything but the truth. But how difficult it is to seek to understand you, to learn why you do what you do, and then attempt to meet your deepest needs—the lack of which are causing you to commit acts of sin. This takes true commitment to Christ and commitment to you—it is my being as Jesus to you.
Being a sinner myself, I do not have the right to tell you not to sin again. I only have the responsibility to accept you as a fellow sinner and help to meet your needs and, thereby, help take away your need for sinning.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please deliver me of the sin of being critical and judgmental and give me a spirit of understanding to be able to help any who genuinely need your help, healing, and deliverance. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. John 3:17 (KJV).