9/12/2021 Evening Service – Close Encounters of the Best Kind – Des Steyn
This evening, I want to continue the little series called Close Encounters of the Best Kind Encounters that people had with Jesus. Some of the encounters, like we said, were not that pleasant for them because Jesus told them what they needed to hear, not what they wanted to hear. And but it was still their best encounter simply because they were in the presence of Jesus, who told them what they needed to hear. The one that I want to share with us this evening is simply about the Pharisees and the adulterous woman.
The title of my lesson is the rank and file, but I crossed out the word file and I put the word vile. The rank and vile in John Chapter eight verses one through eleven says this. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives at dawn. He appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him and he sat down to teach them the teachers of the law. And the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery. They made a stand before the group and said to Jesus teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery in the law of Moses in the law. Moses commanded us to stone such a woman. Now what do you say? They were using this question as a trip in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started writing in the ground with his finger when they kept on questioning him. He straightened up and said to them, If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her again. He stooped down and wrote on the ground at this, those who heard began to go away. one at a time. The older ones first until only Jesus was left. With the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, woman, Where are they? No one has condemned, you noone, sir, she said. Then neither do I condemn you. Jesus declared, Go now and leave your life of sin. And so we noticed right here that she was from the rank and file. She was a normal individual, just like the rest of us. She a woman typical of all mankind, and she had no defense.
They caught her and they brought her to Jesus in Romans chapter three verses nine through 18. This proves that that we are all in the same boat together. Paul, talking about the self-righteousness of the Jews, says this. What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For I have already charged that all men, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin as it is written. None is righteous. No, not one. No one understands. No one seeks for God. All have turned aside. Together, they have gone wrong. No one does good. Not even one. Their throat is an open grave. They use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood in their paths are ruin and misery. And the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God in their eyes. Now we know that whatever the law says, it speaks to those who are under the law so that every mouth may be stopped and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
And so what he was Paul is saying here is that we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Every single one of us, not one of us, is exempt from that judgment. We go to the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve, and they were there and God put the fruit in the middle of the garden. And he said to them, You can eat anything you like. Only you do not eat of this particular fruit from this particular tree. And we all know the story. The Serpent came along and beguiled them and he said to them, You can be like God. And so they thought, Well, there we go. There was a sing a sting in that serpents tail and they ate the fruit. And because of that, their eyes were opened. God came and visited them. And the next thing that they knew they. They were expelled from the garden. And that's us, that's a story of a type to describe our lives because we when we're born, we are innocent babies. We are innocent children. But then we begin to discover that we can do wrong.
We can sin. We can go against the law of our parents. We can be disobedient and they reach what we always call the age of accountability, where they have realized they've come to realize, you know what, I'm a sinner and I need help. And and through that, they confessions. They're baptized into Christ, and they're raised and into a new life. I have a friend who when every time he baptized somebody, they would be standing in the baptistery and he would say, we are about to commit murder. And if you hadn't watched him do that before, he gets everybody's attention right there. And he quotes Romans Chapter six, verse six that says, when we are buried with him in baptism and raised to new life, we have put off the old man of sin. And what he says is we're killing the old man of sin. Therefore, we are committing murder. Well, I don't know about you, but that sticks when you see that actually happen and all the heads shrink to see what's going on. And it's true we do kill the old man of sin, which is literally what the Greek calls it, the old man of sin. Of course, other versions use the word nature. We killed the sinful nature. And yet at the same time, we all understand that it's like being in a swimming pool and having a beach ball and trying to push the beach ball under the water and holding it there. And you hold it and you hold it. And every now and again, it will pop up and bounce back up again. Well, that old man of Sin tends to keep standing up, doesn't he? When we put off that old man of sin, he tends to come back again, and that's where we have a tension in our lives. This is where we struggle with the our faith life, and we do battle keeping ourselves in check for the glory of God.
In James chapter two verses eight through 13, a few verses in those chapters in that chapter. first of all, James is talking to people who are giving favor to the rich people. In Verse eight. If you really fulfilled the royal law, according to the scripture, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. You do well. But if you show partiality, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors for whoever keeps the whole law. Let me repeat this again. Say it carefully for whoever keeps the whole law, but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it. So speak and so act as those who ought to be judged under the law of liberty for judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy yet mercy triumphs over judgment. And this the very first time I read this passage, I thought it's impossible to be saved because if we just break one law, we'll get, we are guilty of all of it. And and what I think of that James is trying to tell us here is there are none righteous. No, not one. And it's easy for us sometimes to be able to be at peace with with our sins, with the things that we do wrong and we get used to it. And we we find peace with it and then easy for us to condemn other people who do things that we don't do. And yet, at the same time, we recognize that every single one of us is in need of grace is in need of the blood of Christ.
No matter how small or how big our sin is, it is still a sin that separates us from God. And so those who she was from the rank and file, but those with the rank were also vile. The scribes and the Pharisees had an evil motive. Remember to trap Jesus. And so they brought this woman to him and they said she's been taken in adultery. What are you going to do about it now? If Jesus said, we'll just let her go? He would have been in trouble with the law. But if Jesus said well? stone her, he would have been in trouble with all of the the his followers who were listening to this message of Grace that he was preaching. And so they they try to trap him, which is what this bill says.
And yet at the same time, when we do look at the Old Testament, the laws of the Old Testament, it does say like Exodus Chapter 20, verse 14, you shall not commit adultery. Leviticus Chapter 20, Verse ten If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death. But Jesus came along, and here was this incident, which is a big deal that was presented to him, and he was going to change something just very subtly. He changed it, thinking. And we find in Luke Chapter 18 verses nine through 14, a few selected verses says this. He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and despised others. two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisees stood and prayed this with himself. God, I thank thee that I am not like other men. Extortion is unjust adulterers or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all I have, but the tax collector standing far off would not even lift up his eyes to heaven. He beat his breast, saying, God, be merciful to me, a sinner. And then Jesus says, I tell you this man went down to his house, justified rather than the other for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled. But he who humbles himself will be exalted.
And I think it's important for us to recognize that the very fact that we are sinners in need of grace and in need of the blood of Christ covering our sins, we we recognize that because we need that because we are no better than everyone else out there. We need to deal with them. And should we deal with sin? Absolutely, we should. We read in the New Testament that when a when somebody commits a sin and continues to do that, like in First Corinthians Chapter five, a man was living with his father's wife, the Apostle Paul says, You got to deal with him, separate him, hand him over to Satan so that he can come to his senses. We do have to deal with sin. We have to make judgment calls. But we don't have to pass the kind of judgment that only God gets to pass, and that is to condemn somebody. And so Jesus brought with him a law that showed Grace in there, it was called the Law of Liberty in Romans Chapter three verses 23 and 24 since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. They are justified by his grace as a gift through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. And I think that's why Jesus berated the Pharisees the way that he did in Matthew Chapter 15. Remember, they they came to him and they said, You're not holding on to the traditions of the elders because you are not washing your hands before you eat your meal. I don't know about you, but when you read all of these different incidences that Jesus and his disciples got into these little discussions, I almost think sometimes Jesus set them up. I think he he he probably said to his disciples, Don't wash your hands. Let's see what happens. There was a time they when they went through the grain fields and they were picking grain and and eating the grain. I would half say, Jesus said, Well, go ahead and work at picking that grain because I want them to take us on and to try to deal with us for working on a Sabbath. Maybe not. I wasn't there. I don't know, but I'd like to think so. I would like to think that Jesus set them up, and when they tried to set him up, he had already stepped in first and got them to be set up to begin with. So he tells the Pharisees, he says, you are. This is in my words, by the way, he said, you're concerned about us washing hands before the meal, he said. But you do not do well for your parents. Said you need to take care of your parents, He said, but what you're doing is you're saying, will this this help that I could have given to you? I cannot, because it is for God. And I have to put this money in the in the temple coffers. And we know that what the Pharisees were doing, which Jesus talked about, he says, when they would give their money to the temple, they would sound the trumpet, let everyone see what I'm doing. Look, I'm about to get put money in the temple coffer and and they would do that. And what happened was for them. For the Pharisees, everything became a show. Everything was done to show everybody else how religious they were.
And so Jesus says in verse six of Matthew, 15. So for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites. Well, did Isaiah prophesy of you when you said this? People honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. In vain, do they worship me teaching as doctrines, the precepts of men and when he said their heart is far from me, The only way I think that we can show God that we have a heart for God is to have a heart for our fellow man is to not condemn the way God condemns an evil sinner who does need to go to judgment. As long as we are alive, we correct. The Bible tells us to do that. We study to ourselves approved. And then we correct. We rebuke. We do all of these things on the basis of the scripture that we, we learn.
But it is important for us to deal kindly, even with the crass sinner that is out there. But the Old Testament law almost seemed to foster that kind of behavior. A question that we might throw out was, was her sin any worse than ours? And I think we've already established that if we are guilty of one of them, we're guilty of of everything in first Corinthians Chapter six verses nine and ten. The Apostle Paul says, Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither the immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor sexual perverts nor thieves, nor the greedy nor drunkards nor revelers nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God. And then, he said, and such were some of you, but you are washed, you are sanctified, you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the spirit of our God. Now, when you look at that list of of sins that he lists, that there is sexual perverts and adulterers and some real bad ones, but there is also idolaters. And when we think of the word idolatry, I think oftentimes our minds go back to the Old Testament and we think of the sacrifices that are made to the pagan gods like Chumash and Dagon and Bale, where they took their babies and threw them into the fire that was was built in the the basin of the God. And we think of that as idolatry, when in fact idolatry is putting anything, absolutely anything before God.
If you have a nice red sports car and you spend Sunday morning shining that instead of meeting with the Saints, you have a red sports car that is your idol. And that's pretty scary because that reminds us over and over again that the number one important thing in our lives is God. And everything else next to that is not important. Even thieves, he mentions thieves, and we think, Well, I'm not a thief. Well, maybe not. I don't know. When was the last time you took a pen out from the office without asking for it? How? How fine how detailed do we have to get? And all I'm trying to say this morning is or this evening is that we need to recognize that we are all sinners in need of salvation, in need of grace.
And so the next thing that Jesus did is he came and he sank the trial. He sank the trial because he wrote on the ground twice. In fact, he wrote on the ground, and he kind of almost ignored what they were doing. They'd brought this woman and they said, What are you going to do about it? And he just carried on writing and it said they said to him again, What are you going to do about it? And then he he still stood up and he said that he was without sin cast the first stone.
We don't know what he wrote on the ground. There's been speculation. I don't know about you, but when I get to heaven, the very first question I'm going to ask is, Jesus, what did you write on the ground? That's this to me. It's just a huge. What did he write? Did he? Was it was he writing the different sins that people commit? Was he copying their names out of her little black book? Who knows what they were, what he was writing it about, whatever it was, combination of that and his question to them made them realize, You know what? We do not have the right to cast the first stone. And they turned around and they started leaving in Romans Chapter seven verses four through six, it says. Likewise, my brethren, you have died to the law through the body of Christ so that you may belong to another to him who has been raised from the dead in order that we may bear fruit for God while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions aroused by the law. We're at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the law did to that which held us captive so that we serve not under the old written code, but in the new life of the spirit. Romans Chapter seven then the few verses later the Apostle Paul. Having said that, having said, having talked about Jesus having come done away with the old, established the new, then Paul starts talking about himself. And he said, Well, that law is it. Is it bad? You said no. What the old law did for us is that it helped us understand what was sinful. We were able to see, OK. It tells us to do that and not that. And on the basis of that knowledge, we are able to understand what our accountability needs to be. Verse 14 of Roman seven. Then, he says, we know that the law is spiritual, but I am carnal, sold unto sin. I do not understand my own actions for I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate Verse 19 he says for. I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do Verse 22 for I delight in the law of God in my inmost self. But I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind and making me captive to the Law of Sin, which dwells in my members. And so, here's the Apostle Paul, if we think we're above all of that, we're not.
Because if the Apostle Paul was not above all of that, we certainly are not. But then in verse 24, listen to what he says. He looks at that. He knows that he is a human being struggling, and that is his wretched man that I am who will deliver me from this body of death. Verse 25. He answered it. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our lord. So then I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, I serve the law of sin. And so what is simply saying there is I will never give up, depending on God for salvation, because my sinful self just keeps on keeping on and I have to live a life of complete repentance right up until the day I die. And the final thing Jesus did is he came and he helped the lady smile. In five words he said to her Go and sin no more.
He didn't say to her, Go, You're OK. He said, Go and sin no more. She was given a second chance. I don't know if she smiled at that. I do know that she probably was extremely relieved because Jesus is a is a God of second chances.
Where do we fall? James, five, tells us that when a person falls and then and crashes, it is possible for us to bring back a sinner from the error of his way. And so that can happen in our lives. But as long as we remain faithful to God, we will receive the crown of life. And so in finally, when we recognize that we truly are sinners in need of grace and that that grace is only available through the saving blood of Jesus Christ, then the way we deal with others should be kind and gracious, but also justly. But at the same time, with love, we have the opportunity to respond to the invitation as we stand and as we sing.