Do you recall the story about the adulteress brought before Yeshua? You can find it in John 8:3-11 (CJB):
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The Torah-teachers and the P’rushim brought in a woman who had been caught committing adultery and made her stand in the center of the group. Then they said to him, “Rabbi, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in our Torah, Moshe commanded that such a woman be stoned to death. What do you say about it?” They said this to trap him, so that they might have ground for bringing charges against him; but Yeshua bent down and began writing in the dust with his finger. When they kept questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “The one of you who is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then he bent down and wrote in the dust again. On hearing this, they began to leave, one by one, the older ones first, until he was left alone, with the woman still there. Standing up, Yeshua said to her, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” Yeshua said, “Neither do I condemn you. Now go, and don’t sin any more.”
When I last read this it occurred to me that there was no forgiveness given for the sin the woman was supposed to have committed. No one should be surprised that this situation was a set-up to disgrace and trap Yeshua; in fact, the Bible story tells us that is exactly what was being done. And the fact that the woman was caught in the act of adultery but the other party to that sin was not there is a clear indication that the whole thing was somewhat shady.
Of course, Yeshua didn’t fall for this trap. We know from what we read in the Gospel accounts that by reason of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) Yeshua knew what people were thinking, and although we will never know what he wrote in the sand, his actions were designed to show the accusers that he knew exactly what was going on.
I believe the woman was actually committing the sin of adultery, if for no other reason than the fact that it was the Pharisees who brought her before Yeshua. You see, to accuse someone of a crime that was not committed is a violation of the 9th Commandment about not bearing false witness. So, even though their intention was to trap Yeshua, I don’t think that a Pharisee would have violated one of the Big Ten just to trap Yeshua.
For the moment, let’s look past the actions of Yeshua and the men who brought her, and look to the woman. When Yeshua asked her who was there to condemn her, she said no one, but nothing else. She did not confess her sin, she did not ask for forgiveness, neither did she say one word about being falsely accused. If I was brought before someone and falsely accused, the first thing I would have said was that this was a frame-up. But this woman said nothing, and I believe her silence spoke volumes.
When Yeshua said he would not condemn her, he was obeying the Torah. In Deuteronomy 19:15 it says this (JPS Tanakh):
A single witness may not validate against a person any guilt for any offense that may be committed; a case can be valid only on the testimony of two witnesses or more.
Once everyone left, and Yeshua was alone with the woman, no accusation could legally be made against her, so Yeshua obeyed the law and told her to go.
But – and here’s the important part- he never said she was forgiven. In fact, he told her not to sin anymore. That statement (to me) clearly shows that she did sin, he knew she sinned, but since she never confessed her sin or asked for forgiveness, he didn’t give it. In my opinion, I think the woman had no intention of stopping her adulteress ways, which is why Yeshua warned her not to sin anymore.
In other words, she got off on a legal technicality and the judge told her she might not be so lucky the next time.
You might be thinking, “OK, so this is interesting, but what does it have to do with me?”
Everything! The lesson we learn from this story is that even though forgiveness is available to us, we must confess our sin and ask for that forgiveness. And if the confession is not a truly repentant one, God will not be fooled because he knows your heart and what is in your mind.
If you have been taught that because Yeshua died for your sins they are automatically forgiven, you have been taught a lie. No sin is automatically forgiven. Ever. We must first and foremost feel repentance: if you really aren’t sorry for the sin you committed, there is no chance of being forgiven. Next, your repentant attitude should cause you to confess your sin before God, which will then put you in a position to ask for forgiveness, which now, since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, can only be given by means of the sacrifice which Yeshua made on our part.
Even though Yeshua did forgive some people’s sins when he was performing his ministry, he is the Messiah, the Intercessor for all of us, and after his sacrifice, it is now only God who can forgive sin. Yeshua provided the means for forgiveness, but he is not the one who forgives anymore. Only after we accept Yeshua as our Messiah, repent, confess and ask God for forgiveness in Yeshua’s name, will we be able to receive forgiveness of sin.
And we need to repent, confess and ask forgiveness for each and every time we sin.
The “Once saved, always saved” policy is something some person created, and it is not a policy that God recognizes.
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Until next time, L’hitraot, Baruch HaShem…and don’t forget to wash your hands!