Ever notice how trying to not sin, thinking about ways to not sinning, leads to ... well ... thinking an awful lot about sin? It's kind of like that old trick: Do not. Think about. Pink Elephants! Stop it. I really mean it! ("Anybody want a peanut?")
Also ... how come (my inner child wonders) there are so many prayer methods that teach you to confess ... is that all there is to do with sin? Confess. Sure sure ... there is that conversation Jesus had with that one woman "Go and sin no more" (John 8:11). But how come for all the times we hear that - we don't hear Jesus saying to this woman (who - no offense - my mama would've have grounded sooooo hard) "Neither do I condemn you". Jesus said those words to her. She was caught - not just "kinda" but "in the act" - and was seconds away from losing her life for it. This was BIG sin - cause - you know - sin IS ranked - right? And Jesus just goes and tells her - "I don't condemn you"? How's that work? I don't know what's worse - that she "got away with it" - or that she didn't even ask! Maybe she didn't even repent.
But you know what that just sounded like? Yep. The very people who set that whole mess up. So I'm a sinner - and one of these miserable judges? Gah!!! Shoot!
And there we are - right there - we're staring in the face of why/how so often Christians get branded as Hypocrites. Heck. We're even looking - I think - right at - at least part of how we actually fall into acting like a hypocrite ... and how if I don't pause and reflect on what I'm doing - I end up in fact becoming a hypocrite. The sickest aspect of that however, is that I got there precisely by trying to avoid being there. Oh help. Don't we at that point just want to throw up our hands and quote Paul
"Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from [a]the body of this death?" Romans 7:24 (NASB)
There's something missing from this whole discussion though ... a really, really, BIG something. Something which I believe - changes everything.
No part of the above conversation mentions grace. We can say Jesus' actions manifest grace. But for all the prayer methods that encourage confession, for all the conversations about how not to sin, what things are/are not sin ... we're usually left with just the "Go and sin no more" part. I have personally never heard any one quote the other part: "Neither do I condemn you"
Is there a way - to embrace both "Neither do I condemn you" and "Go and sin no more"? Half the time the "Neither do I condemn you" part gets treated like an after thought - despite the fact that in the text, Jesus said that first.
So ... what gives? How do we do this?