(opens in prayer) Father God, You are so good to us! Lord, like we just heard in the last session with Janet [Parshall], You are the One who is always seeking us. God, it's not that we have been seeking You, but in Your mercy You come and seek us and You find us, and You have real answers for our fumbles, for our mistakes, for our serious sin.
God, today, if there are some women in this room who are looking for some answers—"Where do you go from here? How do you deal with it?"—I pray that You would get very real and personal with them. God, I pray that You would meet with them face-to-face. Lord, I pray that Your voice would be the loudest voice that is heard in this room today.
God, don't let us leave here the same, but let us leave here changed. It's in Your name that we pray all these things—the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
John chapter 8 verse 2:
Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" They said this to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him (vv. 2–6).
Now before we get on to the woman here, we need to set the stage. First of all we need to talk about these scribes and these Pharisees. They were a group of people who were always trying to pin Jesus to the wall with their theological questions.
They were always trying to trap Him, so that He would discredit Himself in front of the people who were leaning in to hear what Jesus had to say. And this time, honestly, they had developed the ultimate trap—they thought, in their minds, they had Him. There was no way He was getting out of this one! They had caught this woman literally in the act of committing adultery.
Now you notice in the passage, the man isn't brought; it's just the woman. Which makes a lot of theologians and people who study these passages wonder if the man was actually part of the trap, because in the Law it doesn't just say the woman is to be stoned, but it says the man and the woman—but the man is not here.
So I want you to get a picture—here is this woman, she's taken out of the arms of a man that she is involved with in adultery, she is shoved in front of Jesus in the middle of the temple with all kinds of people around as Jesus is teaching. Put yourself in that woman's place. What do you think she's feeling at the moment?
Let's look back at verse 5: "Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?" In Leviticus chapter 20 verse 10, the Bible says that both the adulterer and the adulteress should be put to death. So in all this time, as Jesus has been walking on the earth, He's been following the Law of Moses. Remember, He grew up in a Jewish home, all the people around Him are following the Law of Moses, and so they've got Him in a trap.
If Jesus says, "Don't stone her; let her go," He violates the Law of Moses that they've all been commanded and that they're following. But if Jesus says, "Do stone her," He ruins His reputation, because—think about the pages of your Bible. Think about what Janet just taught us.
Who has Jesus been hanging out with? The commoners, right, not the scribes and the Pharisees, not the most religious people on the scene. He's been hanging out with Matthew the tax collector and Zacchaeus and the woman at the well. Jesus has been building up a reputation for Himself as a friend of sinners, as a humanitarian, as One who's willing to leave His "lofty position" to walk with those of us.
And so if Jesus says, "Stone her," then the people would look back at Him and say, "Yeah, He had that reputation, but it was just a show. He didn't mean it, that isn't who Jesus really was."
Believe it or not, the issue in this story is the most profound moral issue in the entire universe, and the scribes and the Pharisees are bringing it to a head, right here. It looks like this: How does God harmonize His justice with His mercy? If God is a God of righteousness and judgment and justice, then this lady has to die.
But if God is a God of love and of grace and of kindness and of mercy and of forgiveness, then the lady has to live. So how in the world do you mix the two? How do you resolve this issue? The scribes and the Pharisees thought, "This is it, we've got Him." So they brought the woman as an object lesson. That is our dilemma. How can God be a God of justice and forgive sin, and how can God be a God of love and pour out His wrath on sin?
Go back to verse 6 in our story: "This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground." Nobody knows for sure what He wrote. He could have been just playing in the dirt. I don't know. I liked what Janet said this morning, that maybe He was writing down their names and addresses in the sand there—He knows it all.
But we need to get the picture of what is happening here. These scribes and Pharisees, these men, are standing around this woman who is half-clothed but covered in her shame. These men are standing there with stones, ready to let her have it. There's tension in the air, there is anger, there is a cry for blood if you will, not only this woman's but also Jesus', who they're trying to trap and nail Him to the wall. So that is going on.
At the same time, we see the tenderness of Jesus, kneeling down, probably one knee in the dirt, writing in the sand. Jesus isn't towering over her. He's not glaring. He's not demanding. He's not rehashing what she's just been involved in. He's not rebuking. But He's just quiet, humbly diverting the attention. They're all looking at Him; they're all looking at what He's doing.
Verses 7 and 8: "And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said, ‘Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.' And once more he bent down and wrote in the ground." Now, they're not backing off yet. The pressure is still continuing, the pressure is still mounting, and yet Jesus is stable. He's waiting; He's still diverting the attention from her.
Verse 9: "But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him." Now please don't miss this. As I've been studying the story, I've never really saw this before, until these last few weeks as I've been unpacking it.
Let me ask you a question: As all those men are standing there with their stones, and there's this woman, Jesus said, "Whoever is without sin among you, throw the first stone," and then it says, "Beginning with the older ones, every one of them left."
Now, you just have to kind of think, "Beginning with the older ones"? Why do you think it started with the older ones? Somebody said they had more sin to remember. How about some of you that the older you've gotten, the more hideous and the bigger the sin that you've committed has become? You've seen the wickedness of it. When you were in the midst of it, it seemed smaller.
These older men, the more they thought about their sin and saw it, every one of them left. Every one of them. Now think about that woman—you're sitting there, you're barely clothed, you're wearing your shame, you're looking around you, and everybody's leaving! What do you think your tendency would be, at that point?
Remember your situation—you're busted! You have just totally been caught in adultery. Do you think you might have had the tendency to think, "Man, they're kind of sneaking off. Jesus didn't seem like He notices all these men leaving. Maybe I could just kind of sneak off, too. Maybe I could just leave. Here's my chance to get out of here."
But she doesn't. She stayed. The men were convicted of their sin and they left. They didn't stay and meet with Jesus. She was convicted of her sin, and she stayed. Can I tell you, that was the beginning point of her healing, and for every woman in this room, starting with the one on this platform, that is our place for beginning our healing—to quit hiding, to quit running, and to stay and face Jesus.
When God's Spirit shows us our sin, we have a choice to make. We can withdraw from God and into the darkness of our own denial, or we can face it head-on in the light that God provides. Let me tell you a secret—not much of a secret, but it's powerful—when we face our sin head-on, our sin loses its power. When we agree to face it, as God reveals it to us, our sin loses its power.
This woman's destiny was determined by where she went when convicted by sin. She didn't run; she didn't hide; she stayed in the presence of Jesus. Let's continue our story.
Verse 10: "Jesus stood up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?' She said, ‘No one, Lord.' And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and from now on sin no more." When I read that word, "woman," I don't get a lot of love coming from that, do you?
I think Janet helped us this morning again, when she said when Jesus said the word "woman" He was seeing her as a person, not as an object, not as a little lower than the dogs, but as a woman, as a person. When my son Zack, he's fifteen now, but when Zack turned six, he came to me and said, "Now, Mommy, today is my birthday, and I'm just wondering, do I have to call you ‘Mommy' anymore?"
I said, "Well Zack, you don't have to call me Mommy, you can just call me Mom, that's fine." And he looked at me and he said, "Well, can I just call you ‘woman'?" No. No, I don't think coming from my six-year-old son that was a term of respect. But when Jesus was talking here, He was calling her "woman" as a person, as someone who He was showing respect to. It's a beautiful scene—we have a guilty sinner caught in blatant disobedience and yet given a full pardon by the King of the universe.
But let me ask you a question: How can He do that? It brings us back to our question. You remember our moral dilemma that we were just talking about? How do we reconcile God's justice and judgment with His love and with His grace? How can a holy God just stand there and say, "Okay, go on, don't do that anymore." Remember Leviticus 20:10? The Law said someone had to die for that sin.
Do you know what I believe Jesus was thinking as He stood there? I believe with all my heart Jesus was standing there thinking, "In a few weeks, I'm going to die for this sin. In a few weeks, I will be the One to take your sin upon My body, and it will be nailed to the cross, and God will pour out His wrath for that sin on Me." He was the only way—He knew He would take her sin on His own body in order to pay for her sin.
That's the reason He could stand there and say, "You're forgiven; go and sin no more."
It's not that the woman's sin went unpunished; it's not that our sin goes unpunished. It's that our sin—if we are in Christ—is punished on the cross, on Jesus. You don't have to pay for it anymore. You can't. Our sin was punished through Jesus on the cross.
He died for her adultery, and the same is true for us. He died for our adultery, our lies, our immorality, every evil thought, word, or action that we have ever committed. Where does God find you today? Are you still trying to pay for it yourself, or have you come to the foot of the cross and looked upon Jesus our Savior and said, "Thank You. You paid the price that I could not pay. You took God's wrath in my place; it was paid in full"?
Now the woman caught in adultery stayed to look into the face of Jesus and hear what He would say. And I think she expected to find shame and condemnation, but instead she found grace and forgiveness. And in Christ, God says the same thing to us, "I don't condemn you, go and sin no more." In Christ, our sin is covered. Jesus took all of our condemnation for us.
Now something that's always puzzled me about this story . . . do you notice that this woman was in the midst of just blatant sin? It wasn't like she came dressed in her finest that day to the temple to sit and hear Jesus speak. It wasn't that she was seeking Him out. It was the opposite. She was seeking out sin, and yet God showed up in the midst of her sin, and I've always wondered about that.
I've said, "But Lord, in Your Word, You know how You say when we seek You we will find You? When we seek You with all of our hearts, we will find You? So how do You reconcile this? That this woman wasn't even looking for You, and You found her." And just even this week in my quiet time—I wasn't even looking for this verse, I was just having my time with the Lord—and listen to this verse that He put in my quiet time this week.
It's Isaiah 65 verses 1 and 2, and it says this: "I permitted Myself to be sought by those who did not ask for Me. I permitted Myself to be found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am! Here I am!' . . . [This is God talking] ‘I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts.'"
Now think about your story. Is that your story? I know it's mine, that in the middle of my mess, God showed up. He is pursuing us, He is pursuing our children, He is pursuing our grandchildren even when we are not pursuing Him. That is the kind of God that He is. That is His character, that He is looking for us.
So let's figure out where the rubber meets the road on this. We have this story of this woman caught in adultery, and what God did for her. So you may be sitting here today saying, "I have a very similar story, and I see that in the pages of Scripture . . . but literally, how do I live that out in my life every day? I'm way more like Noble Doss, that I keep worrying over my fumbles and my dropped passes—I keep re-orbiting the same thoughts in my head . . . I did it, I hid it, I will never be rid of it. How do I go from there to being free in Christ? How do I make what I just read in that story a reality in my life?"
I'm going to give you four steps to freedom that God has been teaching me and taking me through, and I just need to tell you, I am still so in process. This is a battle for me. It's a battle for my mind and it's a battle for who I will believe—my own thoughts and opinions or what the Word of God says. I'm so in process.
Number one—first of all, release the old. A bullet point under that would be confess your sin. I said this verse this morning, Proverbs 28:13, "Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy." Do you want to know the truth of whether or not you've believed that verse? The proof of whether or not you believe what that verse says is, have you confessed it? Have you forsaken it? Maybe it's just to God and God alone that you've confessed your sin and you lay it down.
Maybe, though, you have confessed it to God, and you are still so bound in sin. Then you need to seek out a godly older woman in your church, and you need to get honest with her about your past and where you've been, and you need to say, "Help me. Open the Word of God and show me how to get from where I am to where I need to be."
Now, I don't want us to rush past the second part of that verse. Do you see what the second part says? It says that when we confess and when we forsake, we will find mercy. Now, let me ask you a question. Was there a caveat in that statement? Was there an option, was there an out? When we confess, when we forsake, God gives us a promise. We will find God's mercy in our lives.
Let me just tell you a personal story for that point. When I was getting to know my husband, he wasn't my husband yet, we were dating, we weren't even engaged yet, but it just kind of looked like where this all was leading, so I knew there were things in my past that I needed to tell him.
I knew about him, that he got saved when he was fifteen and really lived a pure life before the Lord and witnessed to everything that moved. And even now I'll start to quote a verse—I do pretty good at quoting a verse, but I never know where it's found; I'm really bad with numbers. And so I'll be quoting a verse and I just have to look at Trent, and ask him where it's found. And he's kind of like this little walking concordance. He can tell me every time. My life was not like that at all, growing up.
We both knew that there were some things that I needed to tell him, and I remember forcing the words out of my mouth and telling him about my immorality and about the abortion. And I watched as my husband-to-be wept over my sin. Really, I didn't think I'd see him again, because here he had remained pure and here I was a mess, and I just thought that was it, that night. I wouldn't see him again.
But the next morning he came, picked me up at my friend's house. I'd told him all my past—the depth of sin, but not the details, because details have a way of coming back and haunting us—so you share the depth of your sin, but not the details of your sin. So I'd shared some of the depth of my sin with him, then stayed with a friend that night.
So the next morning I got up and I was supposed to have a date with him, but honestly I didn't think he would show up. But he did! He came and picked me up and we went and had a picnic, and that entire day was surrounded with the presence of God. He looked at me and he said, "Andrea, if it is this good for us in the hard times, what is it going to be like for us in the good times?"
He was sensing the same presence of God that I was. And that was not God honoring my life. Do you know what that was? That was God's mercy being dumped into our lives. That was God honoring His Word. When we do it God's way, we get the blessing of God in our lives, but we struggle so much with sharing it.
We just think, "If anybody knew my past, I wouldn't have any friends. No one would ever talk to me again. I'd be an outcast of society." And yet God's Word says just the opposite—when we confess and forsake, we will find mercy. It's a promise from God.
Here's another promise from God, 1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." We have to believe what God says about forgiveness. We can't just keep going on our own thoughts and feelings. We have to believe what God's Word said—if I've confessed it, if I've repented of it, it's done; it's under the blood.
I remember sharing my story with a group of women down in Florida, and when I finished, I had a lot of ladies I was talking to—and one lady was at the end of the line, she kept letting other ladies get in front of her—and by the end of it, I got back to her. She said, "I just needed to talk to you a minute. When you were up there, you shared about your abortion, but I have had five abortions."
She was looking at the ground; she couldn't even look at me in the eye. She was just wearing her shame. She said, "I've never told anybody that. I can't deal with it." The more we talked, the more I realized she needed to be just like this woman that we just read about in John 8. We will never get free from our sin if we won't face it head-on.
It's not in denying the sin, it's not in saying we didn't do it, it's not in trying to rationalize it away or excuse it or never owning up to it. In fact, we'll never be free until we do own up to it. And here's the beautiful thing about Christ—that woman's five abortions, as big as that is, Jesus' death is bigger. He's greater than our need; He's greater than our sin. His blood covers it all. There's not one thing that we could do that the blood will not cover. We have to realize that as we're thinking through what has gone on in our life.
Think about the word "conscience." Do you know the word "conscience," it is used thirty times in the Bible. Now I don't know about you, but my first thought when I hear the word "conscience" is Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket—do you remember that? [sings]"And always let your conscience be your guide." Is that how it goes? Kind of like that? And so that's what I think of when I hear the word "conscience."
And there's a definition for the word "conscience." It goes something like this (this is a definition from the Puritans). It says, "the soul reflecting upon itself." Our conscience is just our soul reflecting upon itself. God gave us our conscience to help us, but sometimes our consciences are damaged. The Bible says that our consciences can become wounded, calloused, seared, or weak.
Our consciences are not always right—we can't always let our conscience be our guide. Because—guess what—sometimes they'll tell us, "Aw, you're good, no problem. That's no big deal; that's not much of a sin." That's when we're calloused or seared.
But other times our consciences will go the other way, and they can become weak and we are condemning ourselves over and over and over again because of our weak conscience. Here's a verse that God had me run to very early. It's 1 John chapter 3, verse 20 and it says this: "Whenever our heart [or conscience] condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything."
He knows way more than I know—He knows everything. So will I let this Word be the standard—what He says be the standard—or what I think and feel? It's got to be what the Word of God says.
Okay, point number two: Realize that He came to heal. Get to know God. Return to the gospels repeatedly in your time alone with Jesus. Remember even this morning, Janet did such a beautiful job of referring back to the women in Scripture, and that Jesus came to heal and that Jesus met with.
I have to spend a lot of time in the gospels. I read other parts of the Bible, yes, but I have to go back to the gospels, because that's where I see the heart of Jesus and the heart that He has toward me. Let me just give you a couple of examples.
Do you remember the four friends who brought the paralytic to Jesus to be healed? Listen to this statement, when the paralytic finally gets in front of Jesus, Jesus says this: "Take heart, son, your sins are forgiven." Jesus places courage and the forgiveness of sin in the same sentence. He knows it's going to take some courage for us to realize what He's done.
Another story, John chapter 11, Lazarus—you remember that story? When Jesus called Lazarus up out of the grave, that is such a picture to me of our lives in Christ. Because when Lazarus was in the grave, he was dead in his sin, and Jesus comes to him and says, "Lazarus, come forth!" That's the point of our salvation, right? This is an illustrative purpose, here—so as Lazarus comes out of the grave, that can be a picture of us in salvation.
We were dead in our sin, we were in the kingdom of darkness, but God brought us to light and the kingdom of life when He brought us out of the grave. Do you know the very next thing that Jesus says about Lazarus? He says, "Unbind him, and let him go."
Do you remember how they buried people back then? They wrapped them. So he was bound, with his head wrapped, his body, his face. What do you think those grave clothes smelled like? He'd been dead three or four days, and he had the smell of death upon him. Do you think he could have lived a very effective life or gotten much accomplished with his grave clothes still on him?
No, but that is exactly how many of us, as Christian women, live. God has called us out of darkness into the kingdom of light. He's given us new life and He's speaking into our lives, "Unbind her, and let her go," and do you know what we're saying? "No, Jesus, I deserve these grave clothes. I've done some really horrible things."
"No, I cannot be unbound." Do you think we have the smell of Christ on us while we choose to remain in our grave clothes? Do you think we can live a very effective Christian life? God wants us free, serving Him, able to love Him and others so that others see the life of Christ in us.
Remember, sometimes healing happens instantaneously, and sometimes it's a process.
Point number three: Restore your soul. Our hearts and minds are battlefields. They are targets for the evil one's flaming arrows of accusation. Remember that Jesus paid the full penalty for all our sin, but now we've got some work to do. We've got to replace all those lies that we've been believing with His truth. That is hard work. Anybody in that process with me? It takes a lot of work.
The enemy of your soul does not want you to know that you are not who you once were. So we've got to be prepared to fight for our freedom with some radical choices.
When I was in the fourth grade, I loved to read, and I had to read the biography of Booker T. Washington. Anybody else read that story? It's the story of a freed slave named Booker T. Washington, and the story is told that when Washington was growing up on the plantation, every morning he and the other slaves who were there with him woke up to the sound of a rooster crowing—every morning. That's what they had to wake up to.
Long before the daybreak the unwelcome noise would fill the slave quarters, reminding Washington and his fellow slaves that they needed to head to the cotton fields. But one day, Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and pronounced freedom for all the slaves. The very first morning after that Emancipation Proclamation had been signed, Washington again was awakened by the rooster—the rooster that had come to symbolize their dictated life of slavery.
Only this time, when he heard the rooster crow, he got up and walked out his door, and guess what he saw? His mother was chasing the rooster around the barnyard with an axe. The mother caught the rooster, killed it, and the family fried and ate that alarm clock for lunch. Their first act of freedom was to silence the reminder of slavery.
What do you need to do to silence all the reminders of your slavery? You probably already know it, and you may need to write it down right now in your notes. What needs to change when you go home? What do you need to do to silence that reminder of slavery?
For me, it was huge doses of Scripture . . . huge. I needed to make some radical choices about where I went, who I was with. God planted me in Proverbs chapter 7. Does anybody know what Proverbs 7 is? Proverbs 7 is the proverb of the immoral woman, and for me, what I needed to do is I made a list of all the characteristics I could find in Proverbs 7—I wrote all those characteristics down.
And then I wrote down all the opposites, and that list of opposites became my goal. It was amazing to me how I would be about to go and do or say something, and the Holy Spirit would speak into my head and say, "Andrea, the strange woman does that. The strange woman flatters." And I would say, "Ooh, I've got to back up. I've got to change." We've got to be in the Word of God.
Accountability . . . you need to get honest with what is going in your life, to your mom, to a good friend, to a godly older woman in your church. You need to let them know. You probably know this, but we tend to dysfunction around secrets. Also, when we sin, the power is in the secret. When you get it out in the open, you break that power—you break the power that that sin has over you. So go get it out in the open; don't keep it covered anymore.
God's Word is truth, and the more we are in it, the clearer our minds will become. Stay in the Word.
Number four, the fourth step to freedom (this is my favorite one): Re-crown Jesus as King of your life. Re-crown Jesus as your King. We need to live as debtors to Him. In Romans 8:12, it says: "So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh"—but to Jesus. Every day is a surrender to Him. Every day I give my body, my mind, my thoughts, my heart to Him, and I desire to obey Him more than anything else going on that day in my life. I live as a debtor to Him, because of the freedom that He sought for me.
It's not a debt I have to pay. Jesus paid the sin, but now that I've been bought I bring myself under His subjection. The best way I can describe this to you is by a favorite song I have that I sing often at my house. And it just goes like this, (sings) "I love my Master, I will not go free. I'll take Your name and live in liberty. My life is Yours forever, and I'll serve You faithfully, and I love my Master—I will not go free."
That's the response of a debtor. "God, I love You, and because I do, I'm not going to take one step away from You—not one step back into the life I used to live, back into the bondage where You found me." Second Corinthians 10:5 says, "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ."
So what do you do when a wrong thought comes into your head? It comes in there, it's wicked, you know it is. What do you do? You call it "wicked" and you say, "Lord, that sin is not of You, that thought is not of You. Would You please take that thought captive and make it obedient to You?" You may say that every five seconds when you first start on that journey—I did, every five seconds. "Lord, please take that thought captive, and make it obedient to You." But the more you bring it under Him, the less you're going to think that way.
And as you replace it with the truth, what you will start hearing is the truth over the lies. As we re-crown Jesus as King, here's one key to that: Think more about Jesus than you think about your sin. Think more about who Jesus is than who you once were. That's the key—getting our eyes, getting our focus on Him.
I don't watch much TV; I just don't have time. I have four kids, and I have a pretty crazy life. But one show I watch pretty regularly—you know, DVR, and so you can just turn it on and watch it whenever you want to. I like to watch What Not to Wear. Anybody else watch that show? Yeah, I'm just hoping that one day Stacy and Clinton will show up and help me out here. But I like to watch that show.
Recently, I saw an episode, and I'm telling you this woman on What Not to Wear was my favorite woman out of all of the ones that I've seen. I don't remember her name—I should have written it down. But I loved her spirit—she was just a free spirit—and I loved her story.
What I found out about her was this lady had lost (before she went on the show) over 140 pounds—140 pounds, okay? So she's coming on the program. And you know the first day they give you the rules, they throw all your clothes away, and then they send you out to shop.
So as she's going out to shop, every size she'd go to—she'd be going through the racks, picking things that she thought might fit her. But every time she'd pull a size off the rack, guess what size it was? It was the old size! Yeah, it was the size she wore when she was 140 pounds heavier than she was now.
But still she'd take that size and she'd go off to the dressing room and she'd put it on and she'd come out, and they'd show her on the cameras, and I mean, nothing fit. It was baggy, it was hanging all off of her—she looked terrible. So Stacy and Clinton are videoing it and watching all the behind-the-scenes things.
So the next day, Stacey and Clinton show up to help, right? That's my favorite part. So they show up to help her and they go up to the lady, and the first thing they say to her is, "You do not know what you look like. You don't know who you are anymore."
So they take her over to this big white sheet of paper that they have, and they give her a black marker, and they say, "I want you to draw yourself. Draw yourself exactly how you think you look. Draw yourself on this white sheet of paper." So she did. She takes the black marker and she's drawing it; she steps back to admire her work.
I mean this thing is big; it is disproportionate; it doesn't look like the woman I've been watching this whole show. The proportions are all wrong. It's just not right, yet that's what she thought she looked like. So then Stacy and Clinton, they say, "Okay, now we're going to show you what you really look like. Stand up."
So she stands into the silhouette that she's just drawn, and Stacey and Clinton take a red marker and they outline this woman. And then she steps back and she turns around and she looks. In black, it was ugly; it was disproportionate; it was not who she was. But when we looked at the red, the red revealed who the woman truly was now. She was not who she once was.
Just like that red marker defined her, so the red blood of Jesus has got to define us. Through the red blood of Jesus, we can see who we actually are, not who we once were. We need to give up those old clothes of fear, of shame, of being so timid, to step into the role that God has called us to be as women.
Because we're still thinking that we look like who we used to be and, instead, we need to put on garments that are more fitting for a daughter of the King—garments of forgiveness, garments of grace, of deep joy, garments of righteousness that Jesus has given us. The Scripture says, "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21). That is the great exchange. Have you made it, and do you have to keep making that choice every time?
Pick it back up; believe the truth; reject the lies; continue on your journey of getting to know this God who loves you so, so much.
Can I pray for you before you leave? Oh, Lord Jesus, I do not know the stories of the women in this room, but I have seen the pain in their eyes as I've been up here. I see them tracking with me, and yet Lord, You are intimately acquainted with every detail, God—of every failure, of every fumble, of every dropped pass, of every play we wish we could go back and recover.
And yet, God, You are the Lord of it all, You are sovereign over all, and Your Word tells us that You can take what was meant for evil and You can turn it to good. And so, God, I pray right now as these women are here—they wouldn't be here unless they were seeking after You and after Your heart—and so, Lord, I pray that You would have them know that You are seeking them more than they are seeking You.
I would pray that You would get so personal with each woman, and that she would take the time to just get face-to-face in intimacy with You and see what is reflected back to her through Your eyes. It's right there in Your Word, where You say, "Neither do I condemn you; go, . . . and sin no more."
"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new is come!" (2 Cor. 5:17).
"There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8:1).
God, would You make the reality of what You did on the cross for us a reality in our lives? God, we want to be "oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD," so that You would be glorified. God, we ask all of this, not ultimately so that we could be free, God, we ask all of this so we can bring glory to Your name in the freedom that You have provided for us. Jesus, we love You. Thank You for the sacrifice of Your life on the cross for us. God, give us courage, as your women, to believe the truth. You say that we shall know the truth, and the truth shall set us free. It's in Your name that we pray all these things. Amen.