Yesterday, in Did Jesus Abolish the Death Penalty in John 8? we looked at the story of the woman taken in adultery. Jesus made the famous statement, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” a reference to the Jewish Law requiring witnesses to cast the first stones. Read the post if you missed it and are unfamiliar with the Old Testament Law on this.
Most believers have encountered people who say, “You can’t condemn what he did because you aren’t sinless. You can’t throw stones unless you are without sin.”
This misses the point, trying to forbid moral judgment when Jesus was forcing them to face up to the Law’s restrictions on how executions were to be done. The sinless Saviour also threw no stone, for He was not a legal witness. As Glenn noted in the comments, Jesus certainly morally condemned her actions, calling them sin and telling her not to do it any more. God tells us to speak the truth about all kinds of immoral behaviour — this verse is not some kind of moral gag order.
Probably most of my readers know that. But I’ve found an effective answer to the abuse of “He who is without sin should cast the first stone:” “That’s true, but I wasn’t planning an execution by stoning anyway.“ Most who misuse this don’t care about understanding it anyway, and quickly move on to something else. But if they are interested, you can always take them to the passage in Deuteronomy I discussed yesterday, and explain it.
Maybe God will bless you with an opportunity to talk about how seriously He views sin, how gracious He is in giving safeguards, the need to repent and “sin no more,” and the forgiveness that only He can truly give.
I love that response – I hope I remember it the next time I get that charge!
I’ve used it a few times. Of course, it’s only the power of the Spirit that can change a heart, but it is always good to give an answer that clarifies Biblical truth. This accomplishes that and also, because it is both true and funny, can sometimes defuse hostility.
If the Lord wants you to use it, you’ll remember it.