“Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” (John 8:10)
She dodged a bullet that day, by the skin of her teeth.The men noted that “Moses commanded us to stone such women” (v.5) They had already humiliated her, shamed her, and turned her into a social outcast. Then Jesus intervened.
The woman “caught in adultery” (v.3) — yes, we might wonder how the guilty man had managed to escape — faced the test of her life (and perhaps a test for her life) that day. She faced hostile accusers. She was a victim many times over; a victim of her social circumstances or emotional needs that drove her to adultery; a victim of the exposure which would permanently change her status in the community; and a victim of these accusers who merely wanted to use her as bait for Jesus.
Sin and accusation tend to pile onto each other like that. They stifle and suffocate our spiritual lives.
The Bible reminds us repeatedly that we face three real accusers in our lives; Satan (the name itself means “Accuser”), others, and ourselves. Yes, sometimes our harshest accusation is self-accusation.
The accusations often have to do with our actions or our failures. But they can quietly morph into redefining who we are and how we see ourselves. Guilt (for things done) becomes shame (for who we have become). We experience the subtle, imperceptible shift from actions to identity. We not only failed but we have become failures. We not only dropped the ball but we became unworthy. We not only fell again but we are useless and hopeless.
Accusations work that way. They diminish us, demean us, and demoralize us. They strip us of value, and suck away hope.
This season of Lent started two days ago with a call for repentance. But Lent also invites us to stand in grace and be strong in grace (Romans 5:2; 2 Timothy 2:1).
Jesus asked the woman “Where are your accusers?” They had skulked away when He exposed their hypocrisy. Then He added, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way; from now on sin no more” (v.11).
Who have you been listening to lately? Accusers tend to be aggressive and persistent. Has Satan had his way with you? Have others had too much sway? Have you been particularly punishing with yourself?
In our fast today, let’s listen intently instead for the gracious, healing, and redeeming voice of Christ.