Links Daily Devotional

Be Transformed: Stop Doing That

And Jesus said unto her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (John 8:11, KJV)

Though my father was a professional golfer and had an incredible amount of knowledge of the golf swing, he never forced himself on us as our teacher. However, he was always available for a quick lesson when I was really struggling with something in my swing.

Many times over the years I would say to him during one of those lessons something like, “Dad, every time I [fill in the blank], I hit a [blankety-blank shot].” Without fail, he would get this wry smile on his face and say, “Well, don’t do that.” (I’m still getting therapy for the emotional damage from those lessons!) As frustrating as that was to hear on the driving range, I realize now that there was actually a lot of wisdom in those words because in many ways that is the same response Jesus has given us.

On at least two occasions in the Gospel of John (John 5:14 and in today’s verse), we read that Jesus told someone to sin no more. Has anyone ever told you that in love?

“Hold on, Josh, but I’m a sinner and always will be!” you might say.

That may be true, but it isn’t what the great teacher, Jesus, would say to you.

Jesus never says to anyone that he has forgiven and redeemed, “You are forgiven, but you are going to keep on sinning. Don’t worry though, when you die and go to heaven you won’t sin anymore.” That’s become a common thought in Christian doctrine, but that’s not from Jesus. Instead, he says the same thing my dad says on the driving range, “Stop doing that.”

We’ve been given complete victory over sin and there is nothing that we cannot do with God’s Spirit empowering us.There’s a famous story in John 8 where the author tells us of a woman caught in the act of adultery being brought before Jesus by the religious leaders saying, “The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” In his wisdom he first responded with, “Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” His response showed great compassion and love to this woman, but it also resulted in these self-righteous accusers walking away. The only man remaining was the one without sin, who then said, “Then neither do I condemn you.”

However, he didn’t stop there, because that wouldn’t be God’s way. God’s way is the way of perfection and righteousness. So Jesus continued without qualification: “Go, and sin no more.”

This was not an isolated command. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told his disciples “you are to become perfect” (Matthew 5:29), and in several other places in Scripture we can find that the vision he gave to those he taught was that of freedom from sin and a pathway to perfection that started now. He told them to stop sinning because they were no longer condemned by the Law of Moses. Paul writes in Romans, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. Now you must give yourselves to be slaves to righteous living so that you will become holy.”

When Jesus took up residence by his Spirit in you, were you empowered to no longer sin? Or have you latched on to a human-derived theology that “you’ll always be a sinner”?

Just like in golf we’ll always hit bad some shots occasionally because of tendencies in our swings, in this life we will miss the mark from time to time because of our human nature; however, we’ve been given complete victory over sin and there is nothing that we cannot do with God’s Spirit empowering us—that includes being transformed into the perfect likeness of Jesus as we follow him.

Josh Nelson
February 17, 2016
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