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Caught in the Act Part II

"Neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."1

Yesterday we talked about the Pharisees trying to trap Jesus over the woman caught in the act of adultery. The last thing Jesus said to these pious religious bigots was, "Let the man who has never sinned be the one to cast the first stone."

Their own accusations had boomeranged on them. The silence was deafening. And now, like frightened puppy dogs, they tucked their "religious tails" between their legs and got out of there as quickly as they could.

Jesus was left alone with the woman. He knew she'd been used. He understood her deepest need and gently asked her, "What happened to your accusers? Where did they go? Isn't there anyone left to condemn you?"

"No, Lord," she replied, "they've all gone."

Then Jesus made a simple but profound statement: "I don't condemn you either. Go, and don't commit this sin anymore."

The dynamic in this story is that before Jesus told this woman to go and sin no more, he first met the basic need in her life, the lack of which was causing her to sin. This is such a profound truth, it desperately needs understanding.

Let me explain. Counselors tell us that many a prostitute or a loose-living woman, for example, is a woman who has been hurt deeply by her father in her early life. Deep down she is still hostile towards him. He didn't meet her needs for love, acceptance, and approval. Neither did he confirm her womanhood. For one or many reasons she felt rejected by him. Or he or another significant male in her early life may have sexually abused her. She doesn't come to this conclusion consciously, but the greatest way she can hit back at her father or men is by becoming a prostitute or a loose-living woman. She is also desperately searching for the father's love she never received as a child or as a young woman and is unconsciously trying to prove to herself that she is a woman. She is being driven into acts of sin because of unresolved hurt, anger, and by an unmet need for love and acceptance—especially that of a father's love.

The same principle applies to the man who is running around using women. His problem includes lust, but it goes far deeper. He is not the great masculine figure he pretends to be. He may be angry at his mother and be using other women as a means of expressing his hostility. Or he may be still searching for the mother's love he never received as a child as well as trying to convince himself that he is adequate as a male.
Behind all external acts of sin, there is almost always a deeper sin, fault, unmet need, or damaged emotion. In other words, all behavior is caused or motivated. There is a reason why people do what they do. This is not to excuse their behavior. Not at all. Jesus didn't condemn the woman for her sin, but neither did he condone her actions. He told her not to do it again. However, he knew that this woman had a deep emotional need in her life and it was this unmet need that was driving her into acts of sin.

In meeting her unmet need, Jesus could realistically say to her, "Go and leave your life of sin."

To be concluded …

Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to always be sensitive to the true needs of others when they fall, and seek to meet them at that point of need just as you did with the woman caught in adultery. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."

1. John 8:11 (NIV).


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.