The Church Meeting in Jesus’ Name
602 Oak Knoll Dr.
San Antonio, TX 78228
July 17 – 24 World Evangelism Conference
October 21,22 Men’s meeting
November 27 Thanksgiving meeting
Dinner on the grounds
January 13 – 21, 2017 Revival Meeting
with David Spurgeon
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. John 8
Modern Bibles cast doubt on the genuineness of this entire passage, because it is missing in all the “most ancient” existing Greek copies of John. Of course, “missing in all” means in the half-dozen manuscripts we still have of John 8 copied before the 5th century, all from Egypt. But the passage is quoted by early Christian writers such as Didymus, Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome and Chrysostom, and it is found in both the Greek Vulgate and Latin Vulgate traditional texts, copied faithfully by knowledgeable scribes for the vast majority of Christian history. That is, the great bulk of Christians since the Didascalia and the Apostolic Constitutions (both with it before AD 250) have had this passage in their Bibles. Why modern Christians allow “scholars” to trash their traditional Bible is a great mystery to me.
Trusting the common Bible to be accurate, we have here a significant treasure – Jesus stating a great principle – before you execute judgment on someone else you better take a look at yourself. This is similar to Christ’s famous warning in the sermon on the mount, “judge not, that ye be not judged” (Mat. 7.1). Sure, nowadays unbelievers and degenerate, unrepentant sinners use Christ’s words to portray personal righteousness as judgmental hypocrisy. Christians standing up for morality is depicted as bigotry or bullying or simply unkindness. Nevertheless, in neither of these instances is Christ prohibiting the clear definition of sin and righteousness, nor bold preaching in favor of the one and against the other. But both passages teach an important principle. Sinners cannot aptly sit in judgment against other sinners.
In Matthew the point Christ makes is that when a sinner despises another sinner he does so in hypocrisy, pretending to be better, or more righteous than the other. Despising sinners was the Pharisee’s strong point, and Jesus warns that their harshness toward others would be turned around on themselves. Jesus was not rejecting the identification of sin, even in others, but the attitude of overlooking sin in oneself that allowed such hypocrisy to flourish. When unrepentant sinners sense hypocrisy in religious people it angers them, and rightly so, but it does not absolve them. Hypocrisy in religion is no excuse for sin without religion. Both are condemned by the sinless judge.
Good Christians should heed Christ’s warning about self-righteous hypocrisy. (Bad Christians aren’t relevant here.) How often we esteem ourselves to be better than others because of appearances or advantages. The best Christian among us is just a sinner saved by grace. Our preaching should always keep this in mind. When hearers get the sense that we despise them personally, rather than their garment spotted by the flesh, we are failing Christ. Expressing the perfect balance of righteousness, forgiveness and patience is not easy for a Christian, and we often fail. But Jesus was the ultimate example. He preached repentance, embraced the repentant and was firm and patient with the unrepentant.
The passage in John about the woman taken in adultery adds another dimension to this challenge. While Matthew’s passage stresses our attitude John’s emphasizes our actions. In this case casting stones is not a metaphor for a judgmental attitude. Casting stones was the actual punishment for sin prescribed in Moses’ law. Jesus agreed with the law, but simply pointed out the higher principle. Imposing punishment on sinners can only be done appropriately by someone sinless.
Notice Jesus did not rebuke the Pharisees for calling adultery sin. They had made that judgment, and Christ was in perfect agreement with it. Today fornicators, drunkards and cheats defend themselves by rejecting the very concept of judgment, and use Jesus’ words against it. They euphemize and redefine words like slick lawyers. Drunkenness is “self-medicating.” Drug-dealers and gamblers are “businessmen.” Dishonesty in advertising is “marketing.” Socialism is “getting our fair share.” Abortion is “terminating pregnancy.” Sex is “love.” Dead-beat fornicators are “baby-daddies.” Whoremongers are “playboys.” Bastards are “love-children.” Lust is “orientation.” Sodomy is “gay.”
20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5
But here Jesus did not chide the Scribes for judging the woman. Their judgment was correct, and Jesus agreed with it. Adultery is sin. And by the same token shacking up is immoral. And homosexuality is abominable. And same-sex marriage is as stupid as it is wrong. And abortion is the ultimate wicked selfishness. And yes, cheating rich people is evil no matter what you call it or how you justify it. You get no comfort from Jesus by pretending that moral judgment is intolerance or bigotry. Even though these Pharisees and Scribes were hypocritical and severely flawed, they were right about this woman. She was a sinner. I don’t know that these Pharisees intended to stone her, even though caught in the “very act.” But they clearly used the case to put Jesus on the spot. Hypocrites don’t trifle with integrity, sincerity or honesty. Either way, Jesus was on the spot. And he was “spot-on.”
What follows is the prescription every believer in Christ should absorb into our very souls. Executing judgment on sinners is not the place of sinners. That goes for personal vengeance – responding in kind, clearly forbidden in the Bible. But it also applies to high-minded, righteous-sounding retributive justice against the ungodly. Forming an opinion about right and wrong is perfectly acceptable, and absolutely necessary. Preaching God’s truth is imperative. Pointing out error in others is necessary often. But carrying out our own judgment against sinners is completely unacceptable. When Presbyterian minister Paul Jennings Hill killed Dr. John Britton because he was a sinner he was not acting on Christ’s command, but contrary to it. He made himself the angel of death, to mete out justice on his own personal authority. God has appointed ministers to execute justice on earth, governments and delegated authorities, such as kings, judges and policemen (Rom 13). What they do is not personal judgment, and they are doubly accountable to God for their decisions. But in no case are we to usurp that authority to impose our own personal judgment on others, not because our judgment is incorrect, but because we too are sinners.
In Orlando Florida a Muslim man, encouraged by a large segment of the Islamic religion, took upon himself to execute judgment on homosexuals. He killed or wounded over a hundred of them in a night club catering to them. His declared motivation was disgust toward them encouraged by his religious beliefs. (This may in fact turn out to be inaccurate, but that is what has been reported.) Many devoted Muslims decry the influence of filthy western thought on their culture, and many of them react violently against us. Many Americans wonder why they hate us so, but it is no mystery. On the whole, western “culture” has become filthy, immoral, abominable and dishonest. Alcohol and drugs are rampant, fornication is promiscuous, abortion is huge business, abandoned children are everywhere, men dressing as women are welcomed in Target girl’s bathrooms, every primetime network includes prominent “normalized” homosexuality, “pride” parades in every major city publicly display sadism, masochism, bestiality and worse, and every city mayor enthusiastically participates in them, and our leaders trip over themselves trying to be foremost in public acceptance of such depravity and serious mental illness. It is no wonder Muslims in other nations lump us all together and hate us even more than they hate Israelis.
But aren’t Muslims also sinners? Are Muslim nations not rife with corruption too? Is there no drug use among them? Will Muslims not be judged by God for their own sins, hatred, pride, lusts, etc.? I suppose Islam has no comparable teaching to Christ’s injunction against executing judgment on sinners, so I don’t expect to convince Muslims of this principle. But we are not Muslims, nor like them. Followers of Christ strive to live and preach righteousness, not to enforce it in others. Christians true to Christ focus on their own sins rather than on others’ sins. This doesn’t weaken Christian morality. It strengthens it.
Of course, the latest terrorist attack in Florida will be used to stress the prevalence of violence against homosexuals, and this will be used to discredit the Christian position of morality and boost sympathy for depravity. Worse, it also will undermine the prevalent Christian desire to help homosexuals overcome their sin. While it is true that there are instances of violence in the US against homosexuals many of these are initiated by the homosexual making an unwanted sexual advance (and disgust at male homosexuality is perfectly reasonable, natural and practically universal among men). And despite the false narrative in the Matthew Shepard “hate crime” that wasn’t, homosexuals are many times more likely to suffer violence at the hands of other homosexuals than of homophobes. Domestic violence among homosexual “couples” is triple that of natural couples, and much violence among them is unreported. Sadism, masochism, humiliation, bondage and other forms of violence are a significant part of the “LGBT sexual culture.” The six most murderous serial killers in American history were homosexual predators. 46% of homosexual men report having been sexually abused as children by men [see here]. Homosexuals report many times higher drug and alcohol abuse as the general population, and frequent more dangerous places, at more dangerous hours, and engage in riskier behavior, such as hooking up with strangers and riding off with them in the night. In America, homophobic violence is not where the danger lies. The real danger for homosexuals is homosexuality. And the only real solution is the Gospel.
The possibility of fanatical “Christian” violence against homosexuals may not be significant compared to Muslim and homosexual violence, but nevertheless it is real enough to make us revisit Christ’s clear principle. Personal execution of judgment against sinners is wrong. First of all, as Christians we should not judge others collectively. We are individuals and no one should be judged for other men’s sins. Homosexuality is complex and has many influencing factors. God will judge righteously and precisely someday. And even God delivered “just Lot” from Sodom before raining down fire. Secondly, no Christian (nor Muslim) has the right to harm or murder sinners, even the filthiest. Why not? Well, because as Christ warned, we are also sinners.