John Chapter 8 is one of my favorite bible stories. This is the story of the adulteress woman. Here the scribes and Pharisees had brought this adulterous woman, but obviously not to justify the law, if so they would have also brought the man. He had broken the law just as much she had. The law required that both be stoned to death.(Lev. 20:10)

They were simply using this woman as a trap hoping to trick Jesus. The Romans didn’t permit the Jews to carry out their own executions, so if He had ordered her stoned they would have reported Him to the Romans; if He had said she should not be stoned, they would accuse Him of breaking Moses’ law. After all this Jesus says to the men “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” Of course none of them can. Jesus then began writing in the sand again. As he did this the men began go leave one at a time until the only ones left were Jesus and this woman. Here is where you always here the preachers jump straight to Jesus saying “Go and sin no more.” But that is not all he said. Before he gave her that famous quote he said to her (this is to me the most important part of the story) Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you”.

I am sure that this woman was full of shame. These men had drug her through the street naked making a public spectacle of her. Shame is similar to false guilt in that it is caused largely by someone who “shamed us” especially when we were young. That is, whenever we did something wrong, we got the message “Shame on you.” “You are a bad person.” “You are a disappointment to me!” “I am so ashamed of you,” etc., etc.

Such criticisms are damaging. As the old saying goes, “Give a dog a name and he will live up to it.” People will too—especially if a person was constantly ridiculed, put down and shamed as a child.

True guilt says you have DONE badly but shame says you ARE bad. If a person comes to believe that he or she is a bad person, she/he will act badly. In real life we don’t always act consistently with what we profess, but we always act consistently with what we believe. So if we believe we are a bad person, that’s the way we will act. Just because you have an addiction does NOT make you that bad person. It makes you a person with issues that need to be confronted and healed. The only way to do this is with God’s help.

We need God’s help so we will learn to treat others and ourselves the way God treats us. While he hates our sin because it destroys those whom he loves (us), he loves the sinner and doesn’t condemn or shame us. Shame and false guilt never come from God. They are man-induced.

Fortunately with God, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”2 When we confess our sins to God and ask for his forgiveness, and ask God’s Son, Jesus Christ, to come into our life as personal Lord and Savior, God forgives us fully and loves us totally.  “For God did not send his Son [Jesus] into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”

Steve Oh