"Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?" ... So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." …And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more." (John 8:2-5, 7, 9-11; New King James Bible).
"Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?" Jesus said to him, "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:35-40, New King James Bible ).
No matter what our nationality, family, religion or lack of religion, we've all had to deal with the good and evil that appears in our world. So, from our earliest childhood experiences, we've carved out our survival practices that allow us to be as good as we can, but with the reservation that our human choices aren't always clear-cut between good and evil; more often than not, our choices lie somewhere between doing the lesser of two evils, just in order to survive physically and emotionally. So, in this material sense of creation, we often do destructive things against others in order to protect ourselves. The wars around the world bear this out. In this material state of mind, we even kill our enemies to protect ourselves.
Thus, we seem to have a dilemma that stays with us throughout our earthly experience: How do we continue to love ourselves, when we carry the guilt and regret for the many wrong things that we've done in our history, both collectively and individually? We can't honestly claim to be free of sin and our destructive reactions to the evils we encounter in the human experience. So, we just don't love ourselves the way we should.
It helps to realize that material existence is an altered state of consciousness. We aren't perceiving reality correctly. Just as someone in a drug-induced state of mentality acts out of a faulty perception, so does sinning humanity act out of a faulty physical, rather than spiritual, perception of things.
We have all accepted, to some degree, the view of ourselves as miserable sinners. Deep down inside, at our emotional centers, we accept our own unworthiness because of the wrong we know we've done to others in our past, and the wrongs we'll probably repeat in our future. Loving ourselves does not seem to be a probable result of our destructive actions. Our survival instincts make neither loving creatures out of us, nor creatures who feel we deserve love. Because of the human, material inadequacies we've sometimes expressed, we do not comprehend the sinless, innocency of our true, spiritual nature—our spiritual Self that is worthy of continuous love, despite what we do in this altered state of material consciousness.
But there is a holiness within every one of us that does deserves love; and an awakening to this fact can erase any self-loathing and guilt, proving that we are able to turn away from 'the dark side' of human nature, without repeating it. Christ Jesus bore witness to the holiness that was at the core of all being. He saw this holiness in all mankind, even while those around him slept in the sleep of material illusion. It was the holiness of our spiritual identities that he addressed when dismissing sin in people, telling them to "sin no more." He was trying to lift their thoughts to perceive their innate, higher nature and sense of safety in the Kingdom of God, invisibly present with them, making all sin (and its resulting self-loathing) unnecessary. He was our spiritual brother, trying to reveal the Christ identity (the spiritual identity) of everyone, not just himself.
In the first of the two biblical accounts quoted at the beginning of this article, Jesus showed no condemnation (or even mild criticism) of the adulterous woman he saved from stoning. Instead, he brushed aside her wrong-doing and told her to 'sin no more'. That was it! No punishment, no guilt-trip, no anger. In fact, Jesus seemed to react to wrong-doing without any divine punishment or censure. The directive to correct one's behavior seemed to be the Master's response and advice to all destructive actions.
Surely, (we might reason within ourselves) God must have been displeased with the adulterous woman for disobeying a so-called 'sin of the flesh'. Yet, Jesus dismissed her 'sin' as something that wasn't necessarily a part of her. He did not view her indulgent behavior as something to hang around her neck or keep attached to her. He only wanted her to stop it and remove it from herself, showing that God's love for her was still intact, no matter what her human behavior had been.
So, just examining Christ Jesus' manner of evaluating an individual (who was clearly guilty of a human wrong-doing in her earthly experience) isn't there something being shown here about the value, which each one of us has before God, and the equality (in God's sight) of all sinners? If God loves all the human sinners in the world, should they not find the reason for such love and learn to love themselves?
This reason can be found in the clarification of identity. When we identify ourselves as strictly fleshly creatures, we've built up a persona, much that way that actors build up the characters they play on the stage or screen. The persona might appear to be real, with traits and characteristics that are both good and evil; yet, the persona is only a temporary part that the actor is playing. When the play or movie is over, the actor is back in his actual human identity, untouched by any evil he did in the play or movie.
Likewise, to devalue or hate our human persona is to only devalue the false sense of who we are. We cannot devalue our real Self—our divine identities, known to God. Our divine, spiritual Selves within are fully awake to spiritual truth and reality, never having to battle evil or sin in ourselves or others. No such evil tendencies spiritually exist.
Our Christ identities (spiritual identities) have never sinned. Our divine Innocency is untouched by the goings-on, so to speak, of this human experience. It was this divine Innocency, no doubt, that Jesus saw in humanity, where others saw blameworthy wrong-doers. He saw the divine goodness at the core of each one's true identity, despite human behavior. Thus, the real individual's goodness is always intact. To be forgiven and released from whatever guilt we mentally carry about ourselves, we need only realize the Christ Self within to handle evil tendencies and return us to our innate goodness of character.
Our true identities, awakened from the dream of mortal, material identity, have never been guilty of anything we've done while on this lower level of conscious awareness. Unenlightened and unawakened to the spiritual reality of our divine Selves (God's true images and likenesses) we go about following an illusory path bobbing back and forth between good actions and bad actions, until we outgrow the whole childish drama.
In the second biblical account at the top of this article, Jesus said that love for God was the greatest rule to follow; but the next-greatest thing to do is "love your neighbor as yourself." Never did he say, "love your neighbor more than yourself," or "love your neighbor instead of yourself." No, he made the distinction of just how much we are to love our fellow travelers here on earth: we are to love all others equally with the love we are to have for ourselves. And he was speaking to all the unawakened sinners in the world!
Does not this highlight the universal nature of divine Love, and the value that exists within God's heart, not just for all the neighbors we encounter in this earthly experience, but for ourselves as well? So, perhaps we need to clarify further the reasons to love ourselves as well as we love others.
Through the messages of Jesus (and other prophets) we behold a relationship of divine Sonship and Daughtership to God that does not exist in the material sense of things. This relationship has nothing to do with the fleshly lineage of humanity; rather, it rises above and beyond who we think we are materially or humanly and points us to that higher, deeper Self that really is related only to God as our real Parent. Christ Jesus spoke of this spiritual family when he said, "Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven." (Matthew 23:9, New King James Bible).
At another time, in making another statement regarding the falsity of material families, the biblical account records, " Then one said to Him, "Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You." And he answered and said to the one who told Him, "Who is My mother and who are My brothers?" And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, "Here are My mother and My brothers!" (Matthew 12: 48 & 49, New King James Bible).
Clearly, Jesus was addressing the issue of identity again; and he was now making a distinction between the physical families we seem to be in on this material level of thought, and the spiritual family we actually have. In refusing to accept a physical father as our source, we find our true Father and Source of all good in God, the Creator. We also find the loving Motherhood of God. Spirit is all-in-all to us, ever-present and willing to fill our every human sense of need. This recognition keeps us free of all the ills (or lack of any good) that the carnal mind threatens us with every day. It also establishes the brotherhood of all mankind, showing that our so-called 'enemies' are really part of our divine Family.
When we correct our faulty, material assessment of things, (including material parents and ancestors as our source of health and being) our so-called diseases vanishes from the body form, and our enemies become our friends. As consciousness awakens to the spiritual reality of being, healings of the flesh and discordant situations take place in the human experience. But as long as the material beliefs in evil powers remain with us and are acted upon, the ills of the flesh stay with us and reoccur.
Hidden within the faulty material sense of existence comes also the issue of mortality. But it is not mortality that we must die out of; it is our belief in mortality we must abandon. The resurrection of Jesus was to demonstrate that the children of God, infinite Spirit, cannot die. They are ever-lastingly spiritual—not material. (Even logically, to die in order to become immortal makes no sense. Immortal means 'without beginning or end'. Thus, to become immortal, one must already BE immortal.)
Physical death has no meaning for God's Sons and Daughter. That's what Jesus' mission was really all about. He came to show us our true selves—our spiritual selves—who have never been torn away from our heavenly home in Spirit. Nor is God mad at us! God wants us to awaken.
Jesus even resurrected a few regular people who had died physically, to prove this point. His own resurrection was proof that the spiritual, underlying identity of each of us doesn't actually die with physical death. The physical form is never our life or identity. Our Christ Consciousness is our true identity, in body, mind, and soul.
Thus, God's spiritual children (and there are no others) are eternally whole and eternally alive. We are not mortals in a material world; we are spiritual beings who were never born into the flesh, so we cannot actually die out of it. In this human experience, we are in a shared illusory dream, where our awareness of spiritual reality is partially shut down. The dream of material existence is the Adam dream, where God's spiritual creation was supposedly re-created into finite form. Our sense of reality is bounded by the dream of materiality. Yet, sometimes we can know, or perceive the spiritual reality, while still in the collective dream.
When we find this Self within, which has neither desire nor necessity to sin, we've found the Christ identity of each and every Son and Daughter of God. In that ever-lasting, truer identity, we also find the deep-down innocency of our true selfhood that knows too much spiritual truth to find a reason to sin. Our true, invisible identity can often rise above the sometimes unlovable, fleshly persona we each develop while battling all the evils of this material dimension.
No doubt, this spiritual knowledge of Jesus brought about this rather unexpected statement: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Matthew 5:48, King James Bible). To expect perfection from sinning humanity must mean that we have, within ourselves, an unperceived selfhood which has an ability for goodness and perfection we know not of. In this human experience, it is difficult to expect perfection in anyone. So, why would the Master say this? What did Jesus know of us that we don't know?
He knew that our true selves are still as perfect as the God we are each, individually, imaging. In spiritual fact, we were never miserable sinners. We were never guilty little creatures running around God's creation, hating or devaluing ourselves or others. We have never been thieves, adulterers, envy-driven creatures who have harmed, in any way, our spiritual brothers and sisters. We've never had the power to kill what God has created, so our physical killings have never touched anyone's true being, still safe and sound in God's spiritual kingdom of heavenly harmony.
But this human experience is like a school, where we must learn that evil has no power. We are the children of Creative Mind, and what we deeply believe, or will, can take finite form. The evil forms we produce in the human dimension never touch the spiritual kingdom of God, (nor God's Sons and Daughters) always present and invisibly safe from our worst expressions and activities of evil.
To our lower, material level of thought, these evils seem very real—often more real than good—so we may want to awaken to our spiritual Selfhood, invite it to come forward from our Christ Consciousness within, where both the Kingdom of Heaven, and our true Selfhood resides—forgiven by God for whatever we've done in this human experience, in our unawakened state of mind. And, when repentance from evil takes over our lives more and more, the love for ourselves finally begins to equalize with our love for all other Sons and Daughters of God.
Then a perception of the glory within each of us, upheld by the loving forces of Spirit, makes us worthy of the love we thought we didn't deserve. And loving our neighbors, just as much as we love ourselves becomes our new way of life.