Rescuing Verses in the Bible: Woman Caught in Adultery (John 8)

© Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw (24 August 2017)

After 36 years of ministry in various churches, I have often heard that Jesus changed the law regarding the penalty for adultery. Here is the passage:

3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 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. 7 And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 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. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:3-11 ESV)

Notice these points:

  1. The passage is not in the earliest manuscripts, but that is beyond our purview in this short article. There are over 5,700 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, though most of them are short and do not include the whole New Testament, and 900 of those manuscripts include these verses.
  2. If the woman was caught in the act, so was the man. How could the woman be judged and not the man also? Of course, that did not mean the woman was innocent. We hear constantly on the news that Hazel Woman or Jack Man was caught doing something but only one was charged. The conclusion often is that if both are not changed then both go free. But that is illogical to the core. If three men murder someone, but only two have sufficient evidence to be charged, does that mean the two should go free also? Should we let the two go free because we cannot find enough evidence to convict the third one? If we cannot convict all, does that mean we must not convict any? That is ridiculous on the face of it.
  3. Others say that Jesus relaxed His Old Testament law. The Old Testament required execution for adultery: “The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death” (Lev. 20:10 NKJ).
  4. Moreover, the Old Testament law is a revelation of the character of God and cannot change: “You shall be holy; for I am holy” (Lev. 11:44-45; 1 Peter 1:16; NKJ). It is clear, therefore, that if God is unchangeable, and the law is a revelation of His holy character, then His law cannot change.
  5. Notice that Jesus did not challenge Moses’ law, its holiness, or the penalty for adultery; rather, He supported it. He instituted formal procedure against her when He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” Here is one passage He had in mind: “The hands of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from among you” (Deut. 17:7 NKJ; see also Lev. 24:24; Deut. 19:18-19; 22:22). We see that Jesus, in keeping with the law given above, required the witnesses to cast the first stone. This would make them back up their testimonies to death. Being a witness was a very serious matter.
  6. Again, the witnesses were required to be innocent of the sin they were accusing someone else of committing. It was not any sin that someone must be guilty of but the sin in question, in this case, adultery. If being sinful of any sin whatsoever disqualified anyone from being a witness, no one would ever be such, for all humans are sinful.
  7. When Jesus carefully applied the law, He saw that all the accusers had gone. Since there were no witnesses innocent of the same crime, the formal procedure had to stop. Jesus said,

 

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. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:9-11 ESV)

There could be no formal accusation and no conviction if the witnesses were gone! The sin she was not to commit anymore was adultery.

Conclusion

Assuming John 7:53-8:11 is genuine (and I do), we see that Jesus followed the law. He could not compromise His own holy character by saying, in effect, stoning for adultery was too harsh in My law; therefore, I’ll lower the standard. There shall be no stoning for adultery. He required the witnesses to be innocent of the same crime, and to demonstrate their innocence by throwing the first stones. Let us NEVER put a division between the Old Testament and the New Testament as if there were two gods: an Old Testament one who was harsh and a New Testament one who was loving and kind. That would be idolatry. AMEN.

Celebration of Sin and the Sovereignty of God

© Curtis I. Crenshaw 9 July 2015

WhiteHouse

It was wicked enough to have a run-away court declare same gender “marriages” legal, but the Whitehouse celebrated it with the rainbow colors. This was, in reality, the whole country shaking its fist in the face of God with middle finger extended.

There are several lessons we must consider from this act of tyranny. First, the supreme law of the land is NOT the Constitution of the USA; rather, it is the law of God. His commandments as revealed in His moral attributes (His moral character) reign supreme. Yet there is a chain of command in governments so that they are supposed to administer justice as defined by the Triune God. God’s authority is attached to governments:

1 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. 4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. 5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. (Romans 13:1-6)

Second, this passage does not give governments the right to invent moral law. Indeed, we humans can no more invent moral law than we can invent the laws of science. In other words, every moral law enacted by man is either an application of God’s law or an act of rebellion; there is no neutrality. The Supreme Court is in rebellion, having challenged the Triune God that it can make its own morality with impunity. No human authority ever has the right to make up any moral aw and hide behind the passage above, thinking that its citizens must obey any law it enacts. The one we obey is the one we worship, and it is idolatry to worship any law but God’s law.

Third, if a citizen breaks God’s law, such as murder or sodomy, God has given the government authority to execute HIS justice. If the government refuses to apply His commandments and punish the violator, that means the government approves of the immoral actions.

Fourth, this further means the whole country is under judgment, not just the individuals who approve and/or disapprove of the sin. Every state in the union—and none has opposed the new definition of marriage—has sanctioned the new definition. Thus, the whole nation is under judgment.

Fifth, how ironic that we in the USA are fighting Islam, but giving them a free hand most of the time in our own country; and if they begin to celebrate Sharia Law, they will execute same sex people.

Sixth, there is already another civil war in our country, between God-hating liberals and those who love the Lord. (Notice I did not say political conservatives; many of them are part of the problem.) It is a spiritual battle with spiritual weapons, which weapons are the Gospel and the written word of God. In the long run, we Christians will win, but we’ll have to face much persecution for a long time. The war has just begun, and it is a fight to spiritual death. The Supreme Court and our states have declared war on the Triune God. Yet, we must demonstrate love to those who promote this new so-called definition of marriage, take an uncompromising stand against their self-destruction, and set up houses where we can administer to those who fall prey to the diseases that go along with such promiscuousness. AMEN. Ὡ

I Hate “Values”

20 May 2014

(Curtis Crenshaw, from my book, NOT Ten Suggestions, available here)

From Fox News, from Bill O’Reilly, from CNN, to American Family Association, I’m constantly hearing about Christian “values,” even from Christian news media, with the assumption that values are based on natural moral law.

But what is natural law? (1) With some, natural law is the right of the individual to decide moral issues without judges or legislation getting in the way. It is just the individual and his conscience. There is no static set of timeless truths, but each individual and each culture morphs into various standards according to the times. Thus for someone to tell a woman that she should not have an abortion is a violation of her right to choose for herself; it is forcing one’s morality on another. Of course, they don’t want to talk about forcing their morality of choice on a baby who then dies. This choice is especially demanded in the area of sexuality. This is what Judge Bork in his excellent book Slouching Towards Gomorrah calls a radical egalitarianism, which means no one can say anyone is wrong about their choices, for all are equal, and there is no God. But if each can choose, what should we do about murder? Government steps in, as it should, but this only reveals that it is impossible to have complete autonomy; there must be limits on what one can choose. How do we define those limits?[1]

(2) With others natural law is the government ruling according to social norms, and the Constitution must be interpreted by those norms. In this view, the Constitution is reinterpreted with each new generation, and this is the way it should be, they think. But this means the Constitution is not really a binding standard, just a wax nose to be manipulated.

(3) With still others, natural law can be an unchanging norm that is discovered by some human process that is devoid of divine input. They would say that there are moral absolutes, such as not murdering one another. But there are so many things that people cannot agree to that this is hopeless.

The problem with natural law in each case is that man discovers it based on who he is rather than it being revealed based on who God is. Suppose all morality was just natural law, which means we just discover it by ourselves, or make it up as we go along. (a) The first problem is the source for it, for if the world is just molecules in motion, how could immaterial morality arise from matter? If nature is all there is, then the way things are is the way they should be.[2] Thus if one is born homosexual, that is the way it should be. Of course, we deny that one is born homosexual but that people choose that lifestyle.

(b) A second problem, if morality is just discovered, is that morality is only conventions agreed to, for the moment. How do we get others to “discover” it, and who will enforce it? What happens if we can’t agree? If no one enforces it, then we have nothing. If we just discover it, how do we explain that all cultures punish people for murder and theft, and look down on adultery? This flux of morality would be like the murderer who thought it was unfair to be prosecuted because he was doing what was “natural,” according to what his wisdom had discovered. Some were predators and some prey. He was a predator, so why punish him for doing what was natural? We don’t punish wolves for being wolves, do we? Moreover, if morality was just a product of people thinking it up, whose thoughts would prevail? It would seem that we would be subject to majority vote so that the next time a Hitler arose, if he had enough votes, murdering Jews and Christians would be acceptable. But we all know that no amount of rational argument can justify murder, or can it? (Can you say “abortion”?)

(c) A third problem is that if moral law is based on human nature, whose human nature? The position usually assumes evolution, which means human nature is constantly changing as it evolves. In fact, some will be more morally advanced than others in their genetic evolution, and all will be different a thousand years from now. What will morality be like then? By contrast, we can trace God’s absolute moral law back thousands of years from now, and it has not changed because He has not changed.

“Modernist lawmaking is based not on morality but on ‘utility’ and ‘rights.’ ”[3] In other words, it is very subjective; it is not concerned with righteousness but with what makes people feel good, what people want. When we give up the objective standard of righteousness, society goes to war to fight over whose rights get upheld and whose rights are violated. This view creates moral civil war. People will say dumb things like “two people can do what they wish as long as it does not hurt anyone.” But that is just the point: All sin hurts those who do it and consequently those around them with whom they have interaction, both public and private. Since morality is a revelation of the character of the Triune God, it is not discoverable; He must reveal Himself to us.

Natural moral law has so far led us in the West to abortion, and is leading us to the destruction of the family with LGBT (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transsexual). It is time we Christians stop catering to the arguments of those who hate God and stand for His law-word. The world has values that constantly change. Christians are adopting their language, trying to appease them, and imposing a Christian standard of “values” on the world. Rather, we Christians could not impose a standard on the world if we had the opportunity; God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, has already imposed His moral standard, His character, and that is the standard by which we shall be judged. It has been clearly revealed to us in Holy Scripture.

The world tries to have “values,” which reveals that they hate God and are in rebellion. They self-destruct against the rocks of God’s law. Moreover, Christians do not have values either, but only the law-word of the great King. In other words, there is only one morality: God’s character, which does not change.

Another way to say the same thing is that morality is persons in relationship. Morality does not exists in the abstract, but it is assumed by persons who are in some relationship, as employee, spouse, sibling, citizens, and so forth. Thus, to speak of natural law as if it exists apart from persons is nonsense. There is only one perfect moral character, God’s, and thus only one moral law code, God’s. Every law enacted by mankind is either an application of God’s character or an act of rebellion against His character. There are no other options. There are no “values” that we can pick and choose but only the Ten Commandments of the Great King—nothing else. His character rules because He rules. Therefore, let us not talk of the world’s values or the Christian’s values but only the absolute, unbending and unchangeable moral law of the one God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. People are always bellowing that Christians are trying to impose their standards on the world, but the fact is that God has already imposed His moral character on the world. In fact, no one can be in any relationship without a moral standard, and each person seeks to make his moral standard the norm. The irony is that at the same time that liberals accuse us of imposing their morality on them, they are doing the same with their immorality. It can’t be otherwise. Every law enacted in Congress is someone’s morality (or immorality) imposed on the minority.

(to be continued next time) Ω

 

[1] Another way to say this is to ask if law is normative or descriptive? If it is normative, there is an unchangeable standard; but if it is just descriptive, then it only “describes” what people do. Those who take surveys to see what people and do and make standards from those surveys are idolaters, using man as the measure of morality.

[2] Philosophers say it this way: What is, is the way it ought to be. Watch for my booklet Is, Can, Ought on my website (www.ftstl.com).

[3] Philip E. Johnson, Reason in the Balance (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), p. 139.

Difference between American Independence and French Revolution

August, 2012, by the Rev. Dr. Curtis Crenshaw

In the 1770s before the defensive war for Independence, John Wesley wrote “A Calm Address to Our American Colonies,” in which he invoked the idea that we should submit to the governing authorities as ordained by God. An anonymous person responded with “A Constitutional Answer to Wesley’s Calm Address,” accusing Wesley of  plagiarism as well as a gross misunderstanding of the Constitutional law that bound the Colonies and England, that such law had been sorely abused by England, thus nullifying the agreement. Then I’ve added a third section on the “Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate,” which explains how we did things correctly to declare ourselves independent of abuse, and how that doctrine says the law is king (God’s law, that is), and denies that the king is the law. In other words, there is no divine right of kings to do as they please, but like everyone else, they are under God’s law. Please click here to get the pdf version of the whole thing.

Erwin Lutzer, When a Nation Forgets God

Erwin W. Lutzer, When a Nation Forgets God: Seven Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany (about 140 pages)

This was just published last year, 2010.  Lutzer is a dispensationalist, which means he does not think the Church will win, but his analysis of how a nation degenerates is still basically on target.  (I would suggest that one get my book, NOT Ten Suggestions, for a more Reformed analysis of how a nation (or individual or denomination) slides into the abyss.  My Part 3 of my book is especially helpful for this analysis.)

The book is very easy to read but also insightful.  For example, the title of Chapter One is “When God Is Separated from Government, Judgment Follows.”  Indeed, sir, so it does.  The First Amendment has been interpreted to mean freedom from religion rather than freedom for religion.  Since Christ is King of kings, it is not possible for Him to be ignored or rebelled against without consequences.  Lutzer demonstrates how Hitler neutralized Christianity by making all the public schools atheistic and requiring children to attend them.  Moreover, Hitler made the church confine itself to the church building.  In the public arena, Caesar (Hitler) was lord, but the church, at first, could preach Jesus as Lord in the ever narrowing religious realm.  The German church thought appeasement to Hitler was the way to get along, but that is idolatry.  Anytime Christians spoke out, he complained that such was insurrection.  Today Christians speaking out is called “hate speech.”  Hitler wanted all vestiges of Christianity removed from government, much as the ACLU is doing today.  Then Lutzer says what I’ve been saying for 25 years: “We will not win these battles simply with politics.”  Amen.  We must preach Jesus as the Lord over all lords, the “president” over all presidents.

Chapter two is titled “It’s Always the Economy.”  Dictators have gained power from monetary crises, either ones they inherited or ones they created.  In 1923, one U. S. dollars was equal to a trillion marks.  The people cried out for a deliverer, and in gaining power, and they got Hitler.  Hitler used democracy as a stepping stone to dictatorship, and when in power, he murdered anyone who was perceived as a threat, especially Jews and Christians.  Winston Churchill said that Hitler’s achievements were “among the more remarkable in the whole history of the world.”  That was on his way to power, but once he had it, he revealed his true self.  Here were some of Hitler’s accomplishments on the way to power:

  • Revived a collapsed economy in four years
  • Instituted national health care
  • Gave millions of Germans attractive vacations
  • Established training schools for those unskilled and thus brought the nation to full employment
  • Brought crime under control
  • Built freeways

But once his power was consolidated, he murdered six million Jews and millions of Christians.  Given a choice, most people will choose bread and meat over morality.  In our country, people want the thriving economy back, and they don’t care how many little innocent babies are slaughtered in the abortion mills.  Lutzer quotes Benjamin Franklin: “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”  Amen.

The title of Chapter Five is “Parents―Not the State―Are Responsible for a Child’s Training.”  I have a section in my book on the same thing mentioned above, and one should read my 40 page booklet on this topic, Keeping Covenant and Educating Our Children.

Lutzer has a chapter promoting the idea that ordinary people can and do make a difference.  I can’t summarize the whole book, but it is an inexpensive paper back that can be read in a sitting or two.  Get this one!

Truth About Same Sex Marriage

Erwin W. Lutzer, The Truth about Same-Sex Marriage, 2004. This was written by a Christian pastor, extremely easy to read, but very powerful in many of its assessments of homosexuality, homosexuals, and the sometimes lack of compassion by Christians regarding these people. Everyone needs to read this one. He offers a way for us to minister to these people with compassion, love, and concern and yet without compromise.

Ten Commandments, Rooker

Mark F. Rooker, Ph.D., The Ten Commandments: Ethics for the Twenty-First Century, published 2010. Rooker is professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. The book is very readable, follows the same format each chapter (Introduction, Old Testament, New Testament, and some other insights, Conclusion), very conservative man who believes the Bible to be God’s word, but has some technicality from Hebrew throughout, limiting the readership.  His quotes from others, especially the early fathers, is very helpful. What is astonishing is that he does not mention abortion or homosexuality. Mildly dispensational. 240 pages.