What did Jesus mean when He said to go and sin no more?

John 1:14 in most this verse is rendered in the following way:

(King James Version)Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

It has long bothered me that Jesus, who forgave sins and never condemned, would tell the man to go and sin no more or a worse thing could come on him. Jesus, who went against the culture and the perception that sinning caused sickness.

We are at the mercy of the early translators and their ideas of sinning. Even literal translations are no help in many cases. So allow me, a non-scholar but someone who tries to read the scripture through the lens of grace, to play with the wording a bit, taken from the literal wording (from the Interlinear Scripture Analyzer):

….and he said to him, lo! sound you have become by no means longer be you missing(the mark)! (hamartane) that no worse something to you may be becoming.

I believe a better way to read this, in light of grace and Jesus’ authority to heal and forgive, is like so:

….and He said to him, Look! You have become sound. By no means are you missing the mark! So no worse thing may come to you.

Now this is a mind bender. We have been taught so long that sin brings bad things to us, including sickness, that to see it in grace is difficult. This is how it was under law, to the Jews. This is how we see it, because we have put ourselves under the same law mindset. We do it in ignorance, but we have done it nevertheless.

Jesus breaks the connection between sin and our situation by taking sin out of the picture.

Jesus never put anyone under law. He pointed out the excesses and errors that had arisen in the Jewish religion, but He never put anyone under all that. So why would Jesus tell someone to go and sin no more (the woman taken in adultery) and also tell the crippled man to not sin anymore lest something worse come upon him?

True, he told the man that in the temple after the healing had taken place. I have thought He said it so He would not be breaking any Jewish laws. But we aren’t told this in the text. And when He said it to the woman, all the accusers had gone away. In the temple, it seems more like He was making sure the religious leaders knew He had healed on the Sabbath. Jesus seemed to relish healing on the Sabbath.

I propose that Jesus healed the crippled man (and forgave the adulterous woman) and what we miss is that it was total. He told the man that he was well, or whole. When Jesus makes us whole, are we not whole? Does it matter which side of the cross this thing took place? When He forgave (did not condemn) the woman, is it not the same? When Jesus took away our sins, and forgave us, was it not total as well?

Under grace, we are forgiven of all, past, present, and future. Grace and truth came by Jesus. He embodied it. The timing of when He healed or forgave makes no difference. The man and the woman were no longer under the law as far as Jesus was concerned and therefore were no longer sinners. And He said as much, but we miss it.

By failing to see grace in these two acts of Jesus, we set ourselves up for double-mindedness concerning forgiveness and sin. If we can see that Jesus was not in fact telling people to sin no more, but was setting them free of it, we will have defeated the thinking of the world, the law keepers, and the rule makers. Our minds will be more renewed than they were yesterday.

Too often I’ve heard people say that someone is forgiven, but then must be careful not to sin again, based on these two verses. This is wrong headed. We are forgiven, we are dead to sin, and we are dead to the law by which sin is known. It is finished.

Grace teaches us, not the law. The divine influence in our hearts is our teacher. We don’t tell people they are forgiven, and then tell them not to sin again. And neither did Jesus. Preposterous.

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