Judging, but Not Condemning—John 8:1-20

In this and next week’s Bible lessons on John 8, Jesus will show us how to judge without condemning someone.

In our first lesson on John 8:1-11, we will see how the Pharisees condemned a woman for her sin and how they wanted Jesus to condemn her too. Because Jesus came as the Savior of the world, not to condemn the world, Jesus refused to condemn her. However, without condemning her, Jesus did judge that she had broken the revealed Law of God, one of the 10 Commandments listed in the Bible. Then, He began the process of trying to save her from her sins when He told her to go and sin no more.

The incident of the woman caught in adultery has a similarity to the man Jesus healed at the pool of Bethsaida. When Jesus saw him for the last time as far as we know, Jesus did not condemn him. Rather, He told him not to sin again lest something worse happened to him. We do not know what sins he had committed, but we know he had violated the revealed Law of God, and without condemning him, Jesus warned him not to do it again.

John does not tell us what the man and woman did after Jesus told them not to sin again. John may not have known. Hopefully, they turned from their sins and turned to Jesus; then, hopefully, they believed in Him and received the gift of eternal life from Him.

In our second lesson on John 8:12-20, we learn that the distinction between judging and condemning may not make sense to those who practice evil, such as the Pharisees and others. But as the light of life, Jesus did not come primarily to condemn or judge anyone. In addition to sacrificing His life on the cross for our sins, Jesus came to show and tell people how to follow Him and receive the gift of eternal life. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus calls His followers the light of the world; so, we too, as we follow Jesus, will show and tell people how to follow Jesus and live as children of God. We will also learn that some people, such as the Pharisees, judge and condemn others using human standards, whereas, Jesus judged using divine standards—the revealed will of God in the Scriptures. If we judge without condemning, we must use the divine standards of Jesus.

Sometimes following Jesus will mean that we will need to tell someone they need to turn from their sin and follow Jesus. Unhappily, they may take what we say and do as condemning them, even though we are seeking to free them from slavery to sin through faith in Jesus—that He might save them from their sins and grant them eternal life. As we follow Jesus, our intentions may be the same as Jesus’ intentions, but as with Jesus’, we may experience some of what He suffered. In John 7:7, Jesus explained to His unbelieving brothers, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil.”

As followers of Jesus, with prayer, with the help of the Holy Spirit, with the revealed will of God in the Scriptures, without condemning, we need to testify to the world that its works are evil—this will not be easy. As the light of life, Jesus did this, and He expects us to be the light of the world. In doing this too, some will think we are condemning them, and they will not hesitate to condemn us, just as the unbelieving religious leaders condemned Jesus—eventually leading Him to the cross. Still, with prayer, with the Bible as our guide, with the love of Jesus, and with the work of the Holy Spirit, through our showing and telling others about Jesus and what He taught as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, some will receive Jesus as Lord and Savior and begin to enjoy the life He has promised to all those who will follow Him.

Let us continue to pray for one another and for the preparation of these lessons — that they would glorify and honor God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as well as be true to the Bible and helpful. May we always love God and one another and remember one another in prayer!

Do you or someone in your Bible study group have a question? Send your questions to me at lgp@theiblf.com and I will answer them (or try to) here on the IBSF.

If you have not yet started to study the Gospel of John, you can join us and begin with the Bible commentary and Bible lesson on John 1:1-14, or you can begin with today’s lesson. Begin your study of the Gospel of John now!!  OR Go to the “Contents” page to begin with John 1:1.

May God continue to bless your Bible study and teaching and encourage you by His Word and Spirit!

Teaching the Truth in Love for the Love of God’s Word and His people,
L.G.