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Unconditional Love not Unconditional Acceptance, but New Life

Updated: Oct 15, 2022

As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery. They put her in front of the crowd... Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, "Where are your accusers? Didn't even one of them condemn you?"

"No, Lord," she said.

And Jesus said, "Neither do I. Go and sin no more." John 8:3, 10-11

Loving someone has become synonymous with accepting and approving all of a person's behaviors. But Jesus who is the perfect model for unconditional love never expressed that love without calling out the person's sin and telling them to correct it. In this story in John 8, He didn't condemn the woman caught in adultery, but he did not just send her on her way, either. He told her to go and sin no more.

When we hang on to things of this world and make them important in our lives, we are giving them a place above Jesus and that will never be the best for us. When Jesus answered the rich young ruler (Matthew 19), he recognized what was keeping the man from fully following God, and expressed the man's need to give away all of the money and possessions that had a hold on him. The man went away sad because he knew his decision would require sacrifice and a turning away from earthly things. Nobody can hang onto the things of this world and truly live for Christ.

When we love unconditionally like Christ, we want that person to have the very best life ever, because that is what Christ wants. He knows that sinful lives may seem like fun now, but they won't eventually give us the greatest satisfaction. They are temporary joys that often become dismal as soon as they are completed.

When we lead someone we love to Christ or witness a loved one who has accepted Christ turning down the wrong road, we need to remind them that they are new creations in Christ and should not return to the old way of life. Paul tells us in Romans (6) that "We [should] not let sin control the way [we] live, do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of [our] bodies become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God." Romans 6:12-13

If we don't want to change our lives if we don't want to give up our sins, what is the point of accepting Christ into our lives? Isn't the reason we finally make the decision to make Christ our Savior because we see that the lives we are leading are not getting us anywhere? We see that our choices are continually taking away our joy, so we ask Christ into our lives to gain his joy.

So why would we even want to return to our old lives? Probably because our old lives are known and familiar. Even though how we live sends us down a life of disappointment and trouble, it is familiar so we have the urge to return to that life. But that moment of salvation was made to rid ourselves of the old life and live in the new. "And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” John 3 19-21

When we accept our or anothers' sins, we are condemning everyone to darkness. We must lead others to the light where the sins are exposed and Christ removes them from our lives. I think we are missing this promise in our churches today. And as long as we don't change our definition of unconditional love, our churches will continue to die. We must, like Jesus, remind people that with salvation comes redemption and the power to "go and sin no more."

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