Summary: For every action, there is a reaction and a series of events unfold. When we act toward God, we move unfold events to God’s glory. When we allow sin to move us, we move toward more sin.
Once again the Pharisees thought they had the perfect situation. They had a woman who had been caught in an adulterous act. Hebrew law said that she should be stoned, though divorce was the more common solution of the day. Still, if Jesus didn’t say, “Stone her,” they could show people that He was “soft” on God’s Law. But, and this is the beauty of it, if he DID say, “Stone her,” He was violating Roman law, and subject to Roman discipline. How could they lose? One thing leads to another, and here both choices were “poisoned”.
Jesus answer shocked them two-fold. First, He had once again sidestepped a very cunning trap. He made them look to be fools, or children who didn’t know anything about God or His authority. Second, and more powerfully, He forced them from external judgment to internal inspection. He made them look at themselves through God’s eyes, and showed them that they were lacking. One simple statement did all that. “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” This begs the question, what is sin?
I’ve told you before about Susanna Wesley’s definition of sin, but I believe it bears repeating here. Susanna was the mother of Charles and John Wesley. They once asked her, “What is sin?” Her reply was very insightful. She said, “Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off the relish of spiritual things, in short, whatever increases the authority of your body over mind, that for you is sin." Sin is what distracts us from God. It is that which becomes so compelling to us, that we subordinate God to it.
To truly understand what sin is, we have to look at a few other points first In Genesis 1:26 we find two very important points. The verse says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image…’”. The two points we have to ponder are 1) what does it mean to be in God’s image, and, 2) what does this text say about God.
The first point means we need to define who God is. 1st John 1:8 does that very plainly – God is love. This fits with the teaching of Jesus. Jesus didn’t command us to be humble, nor did he command us to be obedient. Jesus commanded us “to love one another.” Jesus taught us that the greatest commandment is “love the Lord your God with all you heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength. And the second greatest [commandment] is just like this, love your neighbor as yourself.” So God is love.
The second point, I submit, is a reference to the Trinitarian concept of God. Though both the Hebrew scriptures and Jesus state that “God is One”, none-the-less, we are faced here with a plurality. God is an Us. God is One. God is a perfect relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three are One. So, a proper inference here is that God is relationship.
So if God is love, and Perfect Relationship, being created in His image, we humans are created as loving, relational creatures. In Genesis 2:18, we see God declaring that it is not good for man to be alone, so he creates woman, to allow for relationship. As long as Adam and Eve are in proper relationship, everything is good. Its when they break God’s trust that they sin. They sever their relationship with God by going behind His back, by breaking His rules, and by trying to cover it. Their sin is one of divisiveness, one of self-love and not communal love, one which fractures relationship. Sin is anything which further divides us from our Loving God.