The Condemned

John 8:7 “But as they continued asking Him, having lifted Himself up, also He said to them, “The one sinless among you, let him cast the first stone at her.”

Typically a common trait found among people is the aversion to being condemned.

Most people try to maintain a certain view of themselves they can live with. Even the greatest fools I’ve ever met have a particular standard they live by, these standards are not found in a biblically founded morality but rather a standard they prefer.

A common trait found among the homeless is the propensity to steal from one another. One person will hang out all day with someone they like and then steal their backpack when the other falls asleep. The one robbed will ask the other if they’ve seen the backpack to which they will reply, they hadn’t and then they will help them look for it.

I’ve yet to meet someone on the streets that hasn’t had this type of betrayal or some other form of betrayal occur in their life. Accuse someone of being a liar and a thief and you’ll get an aggressive response. A person will pathologically lie and steal all day without even a slight bit of remorse, but if you bring condemnation against them, prepare yourself for a fight.

Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you will be judged.”

One of the most common scriptures people are familiar with is this verse in Matthew 7:1. Those who don’t even have the slightest clue of biblical doctrine will have this verse memorized and they will share it with anyone who accuses them of being immoral. The attempt to bring condemnation against someone who they feel condemns them is the drive to silence the accuser and reveal hypocrisy.

The moral self justification people gain by making themselves of greater moral integrity than another, helps them live with the sin they so readily commit.

The Condemners

Is it wrong to bring accusation against people who sin?

I think for most christians who read their Bibles, they know the correct answer to be, no, it’s not right to accuse others, but many people do it anyway.

Having been in the church for 45+ years, I’ve witnessed many accusers. I can pick on some people in the church because there have been times when I have been no better. It’s very easy to bring condemnation against others in the church because we are constantly reminded of the foundational standard of morality—God’s Word. The more we know of God’s Word, the more we can look at ourselves (or others), and see we are not living according to this standard.

We may silently repent of our sins, particularly when a sin is clearly committed, but then hold others to the same standard publicly and bring ridicule. If you’ve been in the church long enough, you know what I mean.

“The pastor is just not teaching the whole Word of God”. “I saw the deacon at the store buying alcohol, I didn’t realize he had a drinking problem.” “I’m pretty sure that couple is sleeping together and they’re not even married, don’t they know that’s fornication?”

The gossip and condemnation within the church is disguised as a genuine concern for holiness and a desire to uphold God’s standard.

Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven;”

Jesus didn’t mince words, particularly when it came to the self-righteous. It must have been very difficult for Him, having come from His position of purity and righteousness in Heaven to living among the world. Watching people condemn one another must have been like watching a room full of convicted murderers accuse the others of being bad people.

The Condemned

Who then are the ones that are condemned?

Mark 16:16 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

  • Those who have rejected Christ stand condemned.

You may ask, why does rejecting Christ leave a person to be condemned? It seems like there are much bigger crimes against humanity that are worthy of this title of condemnation.

To answer this question, we have to first start with what brings condemnation.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

I find it interesting how Paul describes the “unrighteous”. The list of sins that followed are often reflective of those who have attempted to justify themselves before others. Paul wasn’t listing the ‘worst’ sins, he was listing the sins the people in Corinth had learned to live with.

It’s so easy to quantify sin.

In other words, people will attribute a negative value for a particular sin and then rank themselves on this scale. “Sure, I may have beat another person senseless, but I didn’t beat up a woman like Frank did.” “I admit I can be a bit angry when I’m drunk, but Tom killed a person while drinking a driving.”

The rationale people use to elevate themselves into a position of moral superiority is a way to make themselves feel less condemned than others.

Romans 3:19-20 “Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

Everyone stands condemned before God. There is not one person righteous in His sight.

The Justified

Righteousness is defined as acting in accordance with God’s divine or moral law. In other words, those who have never broken God’s laws can look at themselves and declare their own self-righteousness.

Do you know how many people hold this position?—not one.

Acts 17:30 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,”

God’s patience with us is a reflection of His mercy and grace. Watching the world in condemnation try to justify themselves is one thing, watching His people try to justify themselves is another.

The world for the most part doesn’t understand God’s righteousness. They know what they’re doing is wrong, they just don’t understand why it is wrong.

God’s moral law brings understanding of sin.

Romans 7:7 “What then shall we say? Is the Law sin? Never may it be! But I have not known sin, if not by Law. And indeed, I had not been conscious of covetousness if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.”

The only way the world can know sin is they must know why they are sinners. The moral law (10 commandments), brings the knowledge of sin. The world doesn’t need condemnation, they need to know their position before a just and holy God.

I’ve known of many people who have left the church because the church focused on a particular sin rather than the state of sin. The church has been guilty of quantifying sin as much as the world has.

The only way for anyone to be found justified (just as if they’ve never sinned), is to receive God’s grace.

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

The only one justified to condemn others is God. He personifies righteousness and therefore He is the only one morally positioned to condemn.

When the woman who was caught in adultery was brought before Jesus, He looked at all the self-righteous bringing condemnation against her and He bent down and wrote on the ground. What Jesus wrote no one knows for sure, personally I think He was writing out the moral law to remind them they were just as guilty. When Jesus looked up from writing He reminded the accusers that “whoever is without sin, cast the first stone”, there were none who remained.

John 8:10-11 “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?

”She said, “No one, Lord.”

And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

The only way we can be condemned is to reject the grace of God in Christ alone. No one else may condemn us, we all stand guilty. When a fellow believer brings God’s standard to another, He does so in love. The standard is to remind us of what we live by today. Believers don’t want to see others subjected to the yoke of sin and so they encourage one another by the Word of God. Unbelievers must know the necessity for God’s grace, otherwise they will die in their sin and be cast into Hell.

Let believers share the moral law with the lost, that Jesus might be glorified by His grace. Let believers share the moral law with one another, that others might be encouraged to live in the freedom God has granted.

Let’s stop condemning one another…lest we also be condemned.

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