“Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much.” Jesus, Luke 7:47
I love this story. It is underlined, circled and highlighted in my bible. It fascinates me, inspires me and frankly resonates deep to my bones. This verse sits on my bookshelf among all my biblical geeky resource books, and they too ‘are many.’ This story of the sinful woman (as the title gives reference in this chapter) is the springboard for my more recent years of PASSION for God and His word.
The narrative states Jesus was invited to the home of Simon, a Pharisee, invited for dinner. While reclining at the meal “a woman who had lived a sinful life … brought a jar of perfume… weeping, she washes Jesus’ feet with her tears, wiping the tears with her hair, kissing them and poured the perfume on His feet.” (vv. 36-38) Simon knowing the reputation of this unnamed gal, thought to himself, “DUDE, if You were a prophet You’d know what kind of woman she is.” Oh He KNEW! In His knowing, He addressed it! After a short exchange of Parable and lesson learned, while looking at Simon, Jesus states “I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much.” Jesus tells the woman, “Your sins are forgiven… Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (vv. 47,48, 50) These are some of the most profound words printed in red.
Some would read this that she was forgiven ‘because’ she loved much, but if that were true, then her forgiveness would be based on ‘works’ – her loving, even loving the Son of God. Forgiveness is a FREE gift of God’s grace, NOT the result of our works; we can’t ‘earn’ it, even in loving, “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) Jesus said it was her FAITH that saved her. Oh and what faith it was! A woman, (that in its self at that time period, was beyond thinkable approaching a man) of her reputation, full of her uncleanness, came to Jesus… as she was. She didn’t disguise herself; she didn’t even hold back emotion. She believed (her actions a result of her belief) if she could get to Jesus, as she was, a repentant sinner, He would NOT send her away. The only sending was ‘in peace.’ Peace. The word is ‘eirene’ in the Greek; it literally means ‘to set at one again.’ What was once toppled over (mankind messed up in the Garden…sin) has now been picked up and set in its proper place as it was designed. Sinful woman comes to Jesus, forgiveness given, peace granted. Fascinating side note, in this brief Jesus encounter, the narrative states only one went away forgiven. A similar story; Jesus and another sinful woman and those holding the rocks to stone her disappear and Jesus writing in the sand, His parting words: “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 8:10-11)
Why this verse on my bookshelf? Well. I went through a very sinful rebellious season a few years ago, where I recklessly violated God’s laws. Oh I loved God, but in my disappointment, unmet expectations, and many hurts I allowed my heart to stray. I have a call on my life, planted there from before I was even born; a call that will, when used of God, heal, restore and deliver hearts and by golly there have been MANY attempts to thwart it, demonic attempts. But frankly (quite honestly and transparently) drawn away mostly of my own ‘undoing.’ (Can you say ‘STUPID!’) I love what Oswald Chambers wrote: “We blame things on the devil that are actually the result of our own undisciplined natures!” Paul speaks to this; “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway…Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:19,25) I had finally come to the end of myself; God graciously allowed me to see the immense damage I was doing to myself and the hurt to His heart. At that point I couldn’t get low enough, prostrate enough on the floor, I couldn’t cry out enough. (See link below for my story)
I am fully persuaded the gal in Luke’s story had to battle against the accusing voices, condemning voices of her past, some said to her and some self-condemning. I too have battled this, but “I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Phil. 3:13,14) And as the writer of Hebrews proclaims, I too say: “I throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and I run with perseverance the race marked out for me. Let me fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and Perfecter of my faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (12:1-2)
Be assured, that stupidity of days gone by has been replaced with gaining wisdom. Wisdom about applying God to every life situation, discouragement, expectation and hurt and when it comes to the thief (I won’t give him the honor of capitalizing the name or title) He “comes ONLY to steal, kill and destroy.” (Jesus declared, John 10:10) I have learned his tactics! They are everchanging. I will continue to dial in. I have placed Jesus before me, His word and that alone. I have set boundaries and asked Holy Spirit to make them impenetrable. My husband wraps his arms around me daily, covering me with his protective prayers. I have made myself accountable to godly women, who yes, look me in the eyes and ask hard questions. A bit extreme? Nope. I am FREE!
Now I in turn ask the hard questions: How about YOU? Do you have disappointments, unmet expectations, or many hurts? Guard, guard, GUARD your heart! Stupidity awaits! I am not belittling the potential sinful path ahead. Are you like the sinful woman(or man) who perhaps needs to muster enough courage to come to Jesus, no disguises, all emotions bare. Cry if need be. But come.
If this is your first time at His feet, believe/confess – “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10) He will grant you forgiveness and send you in peace.
Or, if you like me, love God, but find yourself just plain and simply ‘sinful’ (sin is sin, anything that redirects our focus off God and placed on something/someone else, pulling your affections away, behavior and attitudes follow… sin) – Paul writes to the CHRISTIAN, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) Remember, what may be ‘sin’ for me may not be qualitifed as such for you, “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” (James 4:17) Beyond the clear-cut words in print, if Holy Spirit guides me to do or not do according to my make up, personality or calling, if I violate that directive, then for ME, I walk in sin and out of God’s will for my life.
But please note, that we not splash around in grace haphazardly and become ‘grace abusers.’ Like Paul stated, “What shall we say? Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace may multiply and overflow? (Romans 6:1) “May it never be!” May we be sensitive to what breaks God’s heart!
When I reach for a book when I study, when I begin writing God stuff or walk to the front to teach bible study and those accusing words attempt to drift my way, I am reminded of this verse, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much.” And loving I will do, my ‘recklessness’ has changed, I am now abandoned to God, unrestrained, uninhibited, and unbridled for Him! Look out devil, she’s UP and going forth!
Please pass this on.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
See my personal testimony here: Restored, https://inspiredfountain.com/2016/06/21/coming-full-circle-restored-personal-testamony/