Do you remember the story of the adulterous woman whom Jesus forgave and gave a second chance? Although the story is not in the oldest and best Greek manuscripts, we still love it, for it sounds like something that we imagine the Savior doing and saying. It also illustrates Jesus’ two-part remedy for sin referred to by the beloved hymn “Rock of Ages” in the lines:
“Be of sin the double cure;
cleanse me from its guilt and power.”
Whether or not Jesus personally spoke the words, “Go and sin no more,” they express his message, and the message of the New Testament Scriptures as a whole. “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” Paul asks rhetorically, and as quickly answers, “By no means!” (Rom. 6:1-2). Indeed, “the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people.” But instead of encouraging or perpetuating sinful living, this grace teaches us “to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives (Titus 2:11-12). Jesus gave himself to redeem us — not only from sin’s penalty but also from its practice, and to purify us for his own purposes (Titus 2:13-14).
Peter says the same. Because Christ suffered for us, we should stop our sinning and devote the rest of our lives to doing the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-3). John warns us not to be deceived in this matter: Jesus came to take away sins, which means that we should not keep on sinning (1 John 3:5-7). Jude denounces as “ungodly” any people who twist God’s grace into sensuality, charging them with denying the Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 4). God, who cleanses us from guilt, also intends to make us pure.