Friday, July 13, 2007

Scripture Meditations - W.F. Bell


John 8:1-11; Psalm 119:113; Romans 7:21

"Casting stones" seems to be a popular religious sport, and I have sadly engaged in it myself through the years. By God's grace, may we learn to stop doing this, as we have no stones to cast which could not be cast at us!

The story of the woman "caught in adultery, in the very act" (John 8:4) is most definitely in the Bible for our admonition and learning, just like Old Testament lessons (Romans 15:4). This New Testament story vividly demonstrates not only the power and love of Christ to forgive, but also teaches us how to deal with others who sin. The "scribes and Pharisees" here were seeking to entrap the Son of God, seeking "something of which to accuse Him" (v. 6). They quote Moses, but were not really interested in enforcing Moses' law (Leviticus 20:10; Deuteronomy 22:22-24). They ask Jesus, "But what do You say?" (v. 5).

Our Lord twice "stooped down and wrote on the ground" (vv. 6, 8); what we do not know. After the first writing, not satisfied, those "testing Him," wanted a personal word of commentary on the situation. What they got was not liked for sure, but here it is in all its plainness of speech: "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first"
(v. 7). How veryhumbling and humiliating this must have been to these religious, self-righteous Pharisees (and to us). What powerful conviction gripped them,so they took off "one by one" (v. 8). That's what we better do too.

I once taught so many "legalistic" things (following the likes of several other preachers I admired). "Don't go there; don't watch that; don't wear that; don't eat that; Christians shouldn't pay taxes." Sound familiar? But, thankfully, God taught me His wondrous grace, where the emphasis is not on minor, outward things, but on Christ's imputed righteousness, and God's free justification of sinners through the mighty work of the Cross(Romans 3:24-26). Now, we even "hate vain thoughts" (Psalm 119:113), and this includes good thoughts of ourselves! No time now to cast stones.

"I find then a law," Paul says, "that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good" (Romans 7:21). "Woe is me" is all we can say. And let us remember these tender words of our precious Savior: "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" (v. 10). After stating, "No one, Lord," Jesus gives this consolation to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more" (v. 11). That's not being "soft on sin," but it is being forgiving of sinners. And only here (in gospel forgiveness) do we have hope.


"Oh, my cruel sins, my cruel self! What can I do? Tears are a poor show of my repentance; my whole heart boils with indignation at myself." C. H. Spurgeon

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