“Neither Do I Condemn Thee”

When the Pharisees brought a woman to Jesus whom they claimed was caught in the act of adultery, John tells us that their purpose was to tempt Him, “that they might have to accuse him” (John 8:6). How heartless they must have been to use her in that way! But as the Savior ignored their impertinent question, they must have begun to have second thoughts. When Jesus said, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” they left, “convicted by their own conscience” (John 8:7).

Sister Amy A. Wright reminded us that we know very little about this woman. “No one’s life can be understood by one magnificent moment or one regrettable public disappointment,” she said. But the Savior, who understood how to “judge righteous judgement” (John 7:24), said to her, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).

The second half of that statement may have been a gentle rebuke, but it was also a vote of confidence. Sister Wright explained:

Another way to say “go, and sin no more” could be “go forth and change.” The Savior was inviting her to repent: to change her behavior, her associations, the way she felt about herself, her heart.

Christ Heals That Which Is Broken,” General Conference, April 2022

In Joseph Smith’s revision of the Bible, he added a significant sentence to the end of this story: “And the woman glorified God from that hour, and believed on his name” (JST, John 8:11, footnote c). She responded favorably to the grace she had received from Him.

As Jesus explained to Nicodemus, “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17). Jesus came to save us, not to condemn us. If we become more aware of our weaknesses as we follow Him, the goal is not for us to become discouraged but to be more humble so that He can make us strong. (See Ether 12:27.)

The instruction, “Go, and sin no more,” reminds me of Alma’s testimony. After crying to the Savior for relief, he said, “I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more” (Alma 36:19). I don’t think a knowledge of his former sins was permanently erased from his brain. I just think those sins didn’t weigh him down any more. Like the woman in the story above, he recognized that he could change, that he could be different, and that the Savior would honor his new self, not penalize him for who he used to be.

Today, I will be grateful for a Savior who encourages me to do better and to be better. I will remember that He came to save me, not to condemn me. Therefore, instead of focusing on the past, I will look to the future. Instead of being weighed down by my former sins, I will move forward with a determination to “sin no more.”

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