studies in scripture by David and Renée

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Like the Adulterous Woman
I forsake my sin because God has forgiven all my past.

“Guilty as charged”—no doubt about it.

The woman tossed to the ground in front of Jesus had nothing to say. Dragged weeping from her bedroom to the somber Temple floor, she needed no lawyer—because she had no excuse. God’s law clearly commanded, “Do not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). She couldn’t deny the sordid facts.

Of course, the religious leaders gathered around her cared little for the woman’s fate. They cared even less for Moses’ law that required punishing both the woman and man caught in adultery (Leviticus 20:10). They only wanted to trap Jesus after demanding that he pass judgment on her behavior. They thought they had him trapped no matter what. But Jesus ignored their twisted game, stooped down, and wrote out his verdict against the hypocrites who stood ready to condemn him. After realizing that their sins had been exposed, they quickly slipped from the crowd.

Jesus kept writing on the ground. The adulterous woman sat there quietly as the Lord spoke to her heart. She suddenly realized that Jesus cared as much about not breaking God’s law as about not breaking God’s heart. Quietly, she turned her heart back over to God. When he stood up, Jesus asked where her accusers were, and then declared her “Forgiven,” “Cleansed,” and “New!” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Like the adulterous woman, you and I no longer face condemnation if we belong to Jesus Christ (Romans 8:1), no matter what we’ve done in the past.

FURTHER STUDY: The Code of Hammurabi (18th century BC) in Babylonia provided a punishment of death by drowning for adultery. In ancient Greece and in Roman law, an offending female spouse could be killed, but men were not severely punished. The Jewish, Islamic, and Christian traditions are all unequivocal in their condemnation of adultery. The culpability of both men and women is more explicitly expressed in the New Testament and the Talmud than in the Old Testament or the Qur'an. In strict interpretations of Islamic law, or Shari'ah, men and women are equally liable to harsh punishments for adultery (Arabic: zina'; properly, any extramarital sexual intercourse), including death by stoning—a punishment still applied in the early 21st century in some countries, including Iran and Afghanistan.

Detail from painting by Rosso Fiorentino
, c. 1521


This excerpt is from the Living Faith™ Bible (Tyndale House Publishers)
Copyright © 2003, 2000 David and Renée Sanford

" Dragged weeping from her bedroom to the somber Temple floor, she needed no lawyer—because she had no excuse."

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