“Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?” This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him.” So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:3-11)
In John chapter 8, Jesus was in the temple, teaching the people of God when the Pharisees brought an adulteress to Him. Through this situation, we see the Lord exposing attitudes in the hearts of the Pharisees, and I believe He wants to expose these same attitudes in His worldwide church today. There is a danger when we take the direction of the Pharisees; when we set ourselves up as rulers and judges over people and have the same spirit that the Pharisees carried before the Lord that day. They wanted to prove somehow, that Jesus would not uphold the law. They wanted to trick Him. But Jesus stood before the people and he began to bring truth, in grace. He demonstrated another spirit and another heart when dealing with this women, and He says directly to these religious men, “If you are without sin, then you pick up the first stone, and throw it.” Of course, these men were conscience-stricken because they knew that they were also sinners, that they were weak men. In the presence of the Lord, they were exposed for who they truly were; judgmental, critical, self-righteous, legalistic men with only one motivation – to destroy someone.
“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Matthew 7:1-6)
These verses in Matthew chapter 7 state clearly that the measure that we use to judge others, will be the same measure that the Lord will use to judge us. That should bring some soberness to our lives. It is not my place to look at you and judge you by what I see as the speck in your eye. In fact, my heart’s desire should be to see you in the spirit and not in the flesh, and trust God for your life – even if you are failing, even if you are in sin, even if you are backsliding. You and I are called to give an account of our lives to the Lord. And can I give you some good news? The Lord judges righteously.
When we act in the same spirit as the Pharisees did, whether it is in our homes, our marriages, in the church or in our workplace; we cannot bring the life of Christ, we cannot bring the heart of the Lord. Instead, we will carry another spirit which is contrary to the heart of God, and will leave a bad stench. There is nothing worse than experiencing a critical and judgmental spirit in the house of God today, because that spirit of legalism and judgment causes havoc in peoples’ lives. It destroys Christians who may be struggling in some areas of their lives but who want to serve the Lord sincerely with all their hearts. What they don’t need is to feel condemnation because of their shortcomings. Christians need to feel more of the heart of the Lord in the church today.
In this situation with Jesus, the Pharisees and the adulteress, the problem was that when the Pharisees were exposed, they were merely convicted by their conscience, but their hearts never changed. When our hearts are exposed in different situations, and we see what we really are – lacking in grace for others, proud, critical, judgmental – it’s a good place to be! This is because it’s an opportunity (as it was for the Pharisees and those who were with Jesus that day), to be confronted, for the state of our heart to be exposed and for us to humble ourselves and repent. It is only through humbling ourselves and sincerely repenting of our sin, that we can trust the Lord to change our hearts and our lives, causing us to become more like Him.