You have likely seen the banners declaring that God hates gays, or God hates America, or God hates sinners. Some go as far as to say that God rejoices when sinners die. You may have even seen these things on picket signs at funerals of high profile celebrities by a vocal group that seeks constant attention. Consider this truth in Ezekiel 33:11a
Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.
This truth was so important that God said it twice in Ezekiel. Does God hate gays? Does God hate sinners? Those who declare such things are blind to their own sins. The truth is that sin is sin. The original sin is pride. Satan was the highest angel in heaven and perfect until pride arose in him. His goal was to be independent of God and then exalt himself. And what was Adam’s fall? The temptation was, “You will be like God.” Satan tempted Adam with pride by luring him to seek independence from God. Pride caused his fall and consequences followed Adam’s attempt to become independent of God.
Who struggles with pride? Perhaps a better question would be, who doesn’t? When I do something right, I’m proud of my efforts or accomplishment. When I look down on someone’s sin, I am enthroning myself and exalting my self-righteous attitude over the other. Just as the Pharisee felt proud of his righteousness and condemned the sinner in front of him, the Christian falls into this same trap when they look down on homosexuality, addicts, thieves, or other sinners as though they are worse than themselves.
But which is worse? Homosexuality or pride? Drug addiction or self-righteousness? The truth is that the ground at the foot of the cross is level. We all are in need of God’s mercy and His power to overcome our weakness of the flesh.
I’m driving home this point because I want the reader to recognize that there are no hierarchical sins. What is big in our eyes is not in God’s. What is small in our eyes is still sin in God’s eyes. And the Lord does not seek our condemnation, but our deliverance.
When the religious leaders brought a woman caught in adultery to Jesus, they said, “The law says she must die. What do you say?”
A few questions come to mind immediately. First, where was the man she was with? That is the nature of religion. The very people trying to condemn others excuse the sins that are inconvenient to their agendas. No one keeps the law, yet they try to use the law against others. Jesus proved this truth as we’ll soon see.
The second question is, why did they feel the need to bring the woman to Jesus? They didn’t acknowledge His authority and certainly could have executed the woman without His input.
They came to Jesus because they knew that His desire is always for mercy. The Bible says that Jesus was God in the flesh and full of grace and truth. Even Jesus’ critics understood His heart of grace. They knew the law condemned the woman, but they also thought the law could condemn grace.
Jesus stooped down and started drawing in the dirt. I envision Him drawing out words like, Adultery – lust is adultery in the heart. Greed – idolatry in the heart. Covetousness – stealing in the heart. Jesus often showed our need for grace by pointing out that even if we don’t show outward behaviors, sinning in our heart makes us just as guilty as the physical act.
They grew impatient and said, “Jesus, the law says she must be stoned, what do you say.”
After a few more impatient demands for an answer, Jesus stood up and said, “Whoever is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”
Those who boasted of their abilities to keep the law looked at Jesus’ words on the ground and their own consciences convicted them. One by one they walked away until Jesus was alone with the woman. “Where are your accusers?”
“There are none,” she answered Jesus.
“Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
Do you see the glorious message of grace? While the law and others stand as our accusers, God is the only one not accusing. While we think God is our accuser, the truth is that He alone offers grace. God rescues you from sin and then gives you His Spirit. When you are walking in the Spirit, sin has no power and you can go and sin no more.
When you are in the flesh, sin is inevitable. This is true whether you have evil intentions or good ones. In the Spirit, you are abiding in Christ’s righteousness and in Him there is no sin or condemnation.
Whether your sin is substance related, sexual, or anything else, there is no condemnation. God loves the sinner. Every child of God was once a sinner rescued by grace. God is not looking for those who can measure up to a godly standard. Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost.