A Just God and Saviour
By John Nelson Darby
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John 8: 1-11:

Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again
into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught
them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in
adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto him, Master,
this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law
commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they
said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped
down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them,

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
And again
he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being
convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the
eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing
in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman,
he said unto her,
Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man
condemned thee?
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither
do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

There is in all persons a certain knowledge of good and evil; such and such
things they say are good, and such and such things are evil. But perhaps no
two persons fix exactly the same standard either of good or evil. What people
do is to fix such a standard of good as they can come up to themselves, and
such a standard of evil as shall just exclude themselves, and include others.

For instance, the drunkard thinks there is no great harm in drinking, but would
consider it a great sin to steal. The covetous man, who is every day perhaps
practising some cheating or deception "in the way of trade," satisfies himself
by thinking "it is necessary and customary to do so in business, and at all
I do not get drunk or curse and swear as others do." The profligate
person prides himself upon being generous and kind-hearted to others, or, as
he says, "he does nobody any harm but himself" The upright moral man,
and the domestic amiable man, satisfies himself with doing what he calls his
duty, and looks round and pities the open sinners that he sees; but he never
considers how many an evil thought, how many a sinful desire, he may have
cherished, unknown to others, in his bosom: and
that God judges the heart,
though man looks only at the outward conduct.

Thus each congratulates himself upon his not having done some evil, and
compares himself with some one else who has committed the sin, which he
thinks he has managed to avoid.
Now all this proves that men do not judge
themselves by one regular fixed standard of right and wrong, but just
take that which suits themselves and condemns others.
But there is a
standard, with which all will be compared, and according to which
all will
be judged
, - a standard of righteousness, all who fall short of which will
be eternally condemned
; and that is no less than the righteousness of God.
When a person begins to find that it is not by comparing himself with others
that he is to judge, but by comparing himself with God, when his conscience
begins to be awakened
to think of sin as before God, then indeed he finds
himself guilty and ruined
; he will not then attempt to justify himself by trying
to find out some one that is worse than himself, but he will be anxious to know
whether it is possible that God, before whom he knows himself condemned,
can pardon or forgive him.

Now the scribes and Pharisees, mentioned in this eighth chapter of John, were
very moral and religious people, and were greatly shocked when they found
this wretched woman taken in such open sin, and very indignant against her.
Justice and the law of Moses, thought they, demand that she should be made
an example of - it is not fit that such a sinner should live.
It comforts and
quiets the depraved heart of man, if he can only find a person worse than
himself: he thinks the greater sin of another excuses himself; and whilst
accusing and vehemently blaming another, he forgets his own evil. He
thus rejoices in iniquity.

But this is not all; for not only do men thus glory and exult in the fall and
ruin of another, but they cannot bear to see, or think of, God exhibiting
grace. Grace-- which means the full and free forgiveness of every sin, of
every evil, without God demanding or expecting, any thing from the one
so forgiven - is a principle so opposed to all man's thoughts and ways, so
far above man, that he dislikes it; his own heart often secretly calls it
He does not himself deal in this way, and does not like to think of
God doing so. It is very humbling to be obliged to own that we are dependent
upon grace entirely for salvation; and
that nothing we have done, and
nothing we can in future do,
has made us, or will make us, fit subjects even
for grace; but that
our misery and sin and ruin are the only claim we have
upon grace.
The scribes and Pharisees could not understand this; and not
liking to own that they were themselves sinners, they wished to perplex Jesus;
and if He acquitted the woman, then say He was unjust; or if He condemned
her, then say He was not merciful. "Such should be stoned," say they; "but
what sayest thou?"

True the sentence was just, the proof of the woman's guilt was undoubted,
and the law was clear; but
who was to execute the law? Man may easily
condemn, but who has
a right to execute? "He that is without sin, let him
first cast a stone at her."
Who could say "Without sin?" and if not one of
them could say, "I am without sin;" there was not one of them but was under
the same sentence as the woman - that is, death, for
"the wages of sin is
Here, then, was a strange situation, - the accused and her accusers
alike involved in the same ruin-criminals all. Not now "such should be stoned,"
but all should be stoned. From the eldest to the last,
all convicted sinners.

And have you thought of that? that you and all the world are guilty before
It is not what your amount of sin, as respects others, is; but can you say
you are "without sin" before God? If not, death, then, is your sentence.
soul that sinneth it shall die."
And in this sad condition what have you done?
Perhaps the same as the scribes and Pharisees did, when they were convicted
by their own conscience -
left the presence of the only One who can
pronounce the forgiveness.
Adam in the garden had done the same before;
he went and hid himself from God when he knew himself guilty;
he turned
away from his only friend just when he most needed His help. And so it
is still. Man is afraid of the only One who is ready to pardon.

You may be able to persuade yourself that you are not so bad; you may find
others manifestly worse; but are you a sinner at all? What is God's thought
concerning you? Does not even your own conscience say, "I am not quite
without sin." Well, then,
death is the sentence. God cannot lie, it is His
sentence. And if we only heard that God was just, there could be no hope.
But He is "a just God and a Saviour." He has condemned, and He has
also the power to execute; the only question that remains is, can He

"And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst." She was
before One who could say, "Without sin," and who therefore
could cast the stone.
She was alone with One whom she owned as Lord; and
what would be His sentence? The law had already condemned her; would He
execute it? What a moment of intense anxiety must it have been for her! How
all surrounding objects must have been as nothing in her fright! She was alone
with One who had the power of life and death. Everything rested on His word.
What would He say? Man had not dared to cast the stone; now what would
God do?
"Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more."

Such is still the gracious message to the ruined sinner, pronounced by the
very Judge Himself.
But it is only to the ruined sinner, standing consciously
before the Judge, that it is spoken. The righteous Pharisees heard it
not. They were indeed convicted; but they liked not to confess their sin, and
they sought to get rid of their convictions, to bury them in some good works
of their own; and they would not put themselves in the same condemnation
with the wretched woman, who got this blessed word of peace. And so it is
If you desire to have God's full and free pardon, it must be your
place to stand first as the guilty sinner. To be alone with Jesus,
consciously self-condemned. To have no one else to trust to, no one else
to compare yourself with. Not to make resolutions of amendment, not to
try to get better first, before you come to Him; but to be brought to Him
by your very sins, to stand in the very place of condemnation, and before
the very Person who has the power to condemn. To make your very guilt
the reason of being alone with Him.

And the Lord gave her no conditional pardon. He did not say, "Neither will
I condemn you, if you will not sin any more." No, He gives her
full and
complete forgiveness first
, and that He knew would enable her to avoid the
sin in future. If you desire to have power over your sins, you must first know
them all
pardoned by God through Christ But if you try to master your evil
before you know the forgiveness of God, you will obtain neither the one nor
the other. Through faith in Jesus you must be justified freely from all things,
before you will ever be better as before God.

Now, some who really believe on Jesus do not clearly see this, and they are
seeking to have peace by holiness of life, or the fruits of the Spirit, instead of
first acknowledging themselves as ruined sinners fully and freely pardoned,
and then letting their life and conduct be guided by the knowledge of
that pardon,
and the love to God which the knowledge of His mercy must
necessarily create. Begin with,
"Neither do I condemn thee." Let your peace
come from faith in the blood of His cross, by which He has made peace. God's
knowledge and estimate of your sin is much deeper than your own,
but He
has provided the blood of His Son. He says that blood cleanses from all
The more I see and know my own sin, the more I shall value that precious
blood by which it is put away; and the more anxious shall I be not to grieve the
heart of Him who, in His own love, has provided such a wonderful sacrifice
on account of my sins.
Hence, the deeper I know my own guilt, the more
secure will be my peace; for the greater will be my value for the blood,
through which peace has been made.

May you know the peace and joy of having all your sins forgiven through
faith in the blood of Jesus
, and the consequent victory over the power of
those very sins by which you have been led captive.

~J N Darby

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