Who Is Without Sin Among You?

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” ( John 8:7). This is a verse of Scripture that is used entirely out of its context by many brethren to excuse sin. Their contention is that since none are without sin, none may point out the sins of another. This, of course, is absurd. The Lord does not refer to one who was absolutely sinless in every respect in this verse. That requirement would have made it entirely impossible for anyone to be punished under the Old Law. Ecclesiastes 7:20 clearly states, “Surely there is not a righteous man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” What, then, did the Lord mean here?

The scribes and the Pharisees had brought a woman to the Lord who was “taken in adultery, in the very act” ( John 8:4). Where was the man? They invoked Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22 and stated that “Moses commanded us to stone such: what then sayest thou of her?” ( John 8:5). They overlooked the fact that the Law required that both the man and the woman should be stoned.

Were the scribes and the Pharisees truly concerned about the Law of Moses? No! They were concerned about putting our Lord in a dilemma ( John 8:6). If He, thinking that the stoning would have been too harsh, said to turn her loose, He would have been in violation of the Law of Moses. If He, on the other hand, had said to stone her, He would have been in violation of Roman Law (for only Rome could condemn one to death). Either statement would have furnished the Pharisees an unjust excuse for accusations against the Lord. However, our Lord maintained and upheld the Law by imposing upon them a condition that they had overlooked. That is, the one who executed the law must be free from the same sin, lest by stoning the woman he condemn himself as worthy of like death. The Pharisees knew that He knew their lives and that they were as guilty as the woman they had brought. He had previously called them “an evil and adulterous generation” (Matthew 16:4). These scribes and Pharisees forgot, too, the demand of Moses (Deuteronomy 17:5-7) that the
witnesses (accusers) should cast the first stone.

The Lord’s answer to them apparently hit like a lightning bolt. There can be no doubt that His words impressed upon them the truth that freedom from the outward act did not imply inward purity or sinlessness. Covered with shame, they left one by one.

Given this, the only conclusion possible is that the Lord meant the ones who cast the stones must be innocent of the sin for which they wished the woman to be slain.

Friends and brethren, please do not misapply this verse. The question is not: “Who is without sin?”—the Bible makes that clear—“for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The question is: “Who has humbled himself in the sight of God and repented of his sins?” May we all do so.