Guilty conscience

While Jesus was teaching in God’s temple, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman to him that they said, “was taken in adultery, in the very act” (John 8:4). The religious leaders hoped to trap Jesus in a situation where he would say or do something that contradicted his own teaching and make himself out to be a hypocrite like they were. The men that brought the adulteress to Jesus suggested that she should be stoned according to the Mosaic Law, but Jesus’ compassion for the woman caused him to say to them, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” (John 8:7). The phrase “without sin” means without any sin. In other words, Jesus was making sinlessness a requirement for executing judgment against the woman that had committed adultery. It says in John 8:9, “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”

Jesus used the example of these men’s guilty consciences to teach the Pharisees a lesson about his divine purpose as the savior of the world. Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). The Pharisees were used to condemning others for their sins against God, but Jesus wanted them to know that it wasn’t necessary for them to judge lawbreakers. God was able to bring conviction of sin, or give someone a guilty conscience, through the love and compassion of his son Jesus Christ. The two Greek terms Jesus used, phos (light) and scotia (darkness) were meant to show the contradiction between love and hate in our actions toward others. Scotia (skot-ee’-ah) is used of secrecy and describes a condition of moral or spiritual depravity. The men that condemned the adulteress might have been guilty of adultery themselves or some other crime that could be punished by death. It may have been their own guilty consciences that caused them to lash out at this woman and expose her to public humiliation.

Jesus’ statement, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12) was a declaration of his ability to expose the inner thoughts and feelings of people trapped in a lifestyle of sin. It says in John 8:9 that the men that wanted to stone the adulteress were convicted by their own consciences when they heard Jesus say, “He that is without sin among you.” The human conscience is a mechanism by which God is able to reveal his will to us (4893). The Greek word suneidesis (soon-i’-day-sis) means “co-perception.” Another way of saying it would be to see both sides of the story. We are usually aware of our own thoughts and feelings, but not those of others, and in particular, the thoughts and feelings of God are typically hidden from us or outside of our awareness, but our conscience enables us to see what God thinks about our behavior. After the men that were convicted by their own consciences left the scene, Jesus asked the adulteress, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?” (John 8:10). The woman’s response acknowledged her submission to Jesus’ authority. She said, “No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more” (John 8:11).

 

Remember me

One thing that is clear about God is he has feelings just like we do. The type of things that upset us, also upset God and cause him to act in ways that we can relate to. God’s anger toward his people was justified in that they had intentionally turned their backs on him after he had blessed them and shown them undeserved favor. Everything God did for the Israelites, he did out of love and compassion for them and he did not punish them until it was evident that his people had rejected him completely.

In the book of Hosea, the children of Israel are portrayed as an adulteress who looked to other gods, and loved to get drunk on wine (Hosea 3:1). In spite of their infidelity, God promised to restore the nation of Israel and to unite the divided kingdoms into one. God’s love for the children of Israel was like that of a jealous husband because his emotions were involved in the relationship. God had a strong emotional attachment to his people (160) and wanted to remain in fellowship with them, even though they did not feel the same way about him (Hosea 3:1).

In his explanation to Ezekiel of the destruction of Judah, God revealed his personal anguish over the situation (Ezekiel 6:9). Once again, he promised to leave a remnant that would one day acknowledge him as Jehovah, the Jewish national name of God. He said, “Yet will I save a remnant, that ye may have some that shall escape the sword among the nations, when ye shall be scattered through the countries. And they that escape shall remember me among the nations whither they shall be carried captives, because I am broken with their whorish heart which hath departed from me and with their eyes, which go a whoring after their idols: and they shall lothe themselves for the evils which they have committed in all their abominations” (Ezekiel 6:8-9).

The Hebrew word translated remember in Ezekiel 6:9 is properly translated as “to mark (so as to be recognized)” (2142) and is suggesting that God’s people would stand out among the other people of the nations in which they would be living in exile. God intended for his people to be different in that they were not to worship idols, nor were they to practice witchcraft or the occult. The idea that God’s people would remember him among the nations where they were taken captive was about the continued worshipping of God without a temple in which to do it. Only those who truly loved God would be able to maintain their relationship with him. Over time, it would be evident who really believed in God and who didn’t.

Adultery

As a Christian, I thought I would be exempt from certain problems. One of my biggest fears about getting married was that I would end up like my parents, so I made sure that I married a Christian man thinking that would guarantee success. Little did I know that Christians are just like everyone else. They make mistakes and do stupid things, including committing adultery. When my brother asked me if I thought my husband would ever cheat on me, I said absolutely not! There is no way he could do something like that.

The Bible makes it clear that adultery is not so much about pleasure as it is about power and persuasion. Referring to an adulterous woman, it says in Proverbs 7:21, “with her much fair speech she caused him to yield, with the flattering of her lips she forced him.” The reference to force suggests an intentional effort to overcome resistance. In Proverbs 7:26 the use of force is more evident. It says, “for she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her.” The word translated wounded, chalal “is often used to describe the defilement which results from illicit sexual acts” (2490).

Even though rape and adultery are very different in the way they take place, the effect is the same. When my husband told me he had sex with another woman, it felt like I had been violated. If I had known he was cheating on me, I would not have continued to have sex with him. So in a sense, because my husband kept his affair a secret so that I would continue to have sex with him, I felt he had tricked me. My participation in our sexual activity had taken place under false pretenses and therefore, was against my will.

He didn’t like it

There are two times in our lives when we are most likely to do something really stupid, when we are at the peak of our success, and when we are in the depths of despair. David was at the peak of his success when he decided to tarry at Jerusalem while his army went out to destroy the children of Ammon.

And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of his house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. (2 Samuel 11:2)

There are a few things about David’s story that make it appear as if David planned what he was about to do next. First, “David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel” (2 Samuel 11:1)) out to fight. The last time all Israel had gone out, David was leading them, so it was unusual for him to stay behind. Second, David was in bed at eveningtide, around sunset, when the day is turning to night. Third, David was walking on the roof of his house, a place where he would be vulnerable to attack. Knowing that all his soldiers were out of town, David would have been an easy target for anyone that wanted to do him harm.

“And David sent messengers and took her; and she came unto him, and he lay with her…And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child” (2 Samuel 11:4-5). The woman David took was Bath-sheba, “the wife of Uriah the Hittite” (2 Samuel 11:3). Although it appears that David and Bath-sheba had only one sexual encounter, it is possible that they were together multiple times before and after the incident in which she is noted as becoming pregnant.

After David was told that Bath-sheba was pregnant, he tried to make it look like the child was Uriah’s by bringing him back home and getting him to sleep with his wife, but his plan failed, and so David had Uriah put in a position on the battlefield where he could be killed. This elaborate plot to cover up his sin is probably the most compelling evidence that David planned to have sex with Bath-sheba before he saw her from the roof of his house.

“And when the mourning was past, David sent and fet her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Samuel 11:27). The words translated displeased, ‘ayin and ra‘a‘ together have the meaning of seeing something unpleasant or perverted (5869/7489). Because the LORD’s eyes were continually upon David, he saw what David did with Bath-sheba and her husband Uriah and the LORD didn’t like it.