“And Jesus said, ‘I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.'” (John 8:11)
Jesus’ response to the woman caught in adultery was an amazing display of His mercy and grace, and the story has touched the hearts of millions who have heard or read it. But we must not miss the last sentence He spoke to her: His consequent admonition that she sin no more.
Jesus did not give this woman a “free pass” to sin without impunity. There is nothing here of what Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace”: no forgiveness without repentance. His final words here show us conclusively that Jesus is very serious about sin. His message to her is very clear: Do not do it any more!
This is the virtually the same message, by the way, which He directed to the man He healed at Bethesda: “Do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” (John 5:14)
The Lord made it very clear to these people — and to US today — that His gospel is NOT “it doesn’t matter if you sin; I’ll just forgive you. Go and continue in it and I’ll overlook it.” This kind of message is a perversion of the Biblical gospel. Jesus was very direct: Do not sin any more. Sin is serious. It has consequences. It destroys lives. It separates people from God. And it ultimately led to His agonizing death on the cross, bearing our sins, which was the only way our sins could be forgiven, and that we might receive that forgiving grace.
So yes, Jesus is a Lord of amazing grace. But that grace is all the more amazing in that it is not merely a grace which forgives, but also a grace which calls and enables those who truly receive it, to a life of holiness. Don’t miss the holiness which is an intrinsic part of His grace.