Adultery, Crime and Sin

India is changing fast. The right to privacy is now regarded as highly sacrosanct. Gay sex is no longer a crime. Adultery has been decriminalized. People are celebrating this quick march towards a more inclusive and highly permissive society.

Adultery, in fact, had been decriminalized two thousand years ago by the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, himself. The Bible (John 8:1-11) narrates an incident that had occurred one day in the temple of Jerusalem. Jesus had arrived at the temple very early in the morning. Even at that hour, people gathered around him and he sat down to explain the scriptures to them. While he was teaching, a group of aggressive people barged into the place along with a woman. The self-styled judges introduced the woman to Jesus as one who they had caught in adultery, red-handed. They told Jesus that the prevailing law required that she be stoned. “But”, they demanded of Jesus, “What do you have to say?”

Jesus tried to ignore them at first, but their questioning persisted. Jesus finally got up and said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” After this ruling, Jesus sat down again and did not bother to intervene further. What happened was that the people felt convicted by their own conscience, and left the place one by one, leaving the woman alone.

When it was quiet again, Jesus asked her, “Where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” “No, Lord”, she said, “Not one.” Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you.” He allowed her to go, but added, “Sin no more.”

Even if adultery is not a crime, it continues to be a sin. Even if adultery is not illegal, it continues to be immoral. Of the ten commandments that the God of the Bible gave to his people, the seventh was that “You shall not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14) God’s laws are eternal and they cannot be struck down.

In the Bible, adultery has often had a wider meaning. Many times, Jesus addressed his audience as a wicked, sinful and adulterous generation of people. (Matthew 16:4, Mark 8:38) Adultery means being unfaithful and disloyal to anyone, God included. Cheating on one’s spouse may not be considered a criminal deed. But infidelity towards God remains a sin and will invoke consequences.

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Believe while Praying

Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you… for everyone who asks receives.” (Matthew 7:7-8) This is not just an advice, it is almost an assurance. However, there is a condition that applies to it. As Jesus clarified, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:24)

Jesus was once approached by a centurion for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.” Jesus asked him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “No, Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Jesus was amazed by his faith and said to him, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment. (Matthew 8:5-13)

In another incident, two blind men sought Jesus’ attention by calling out loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They replied, “Yes, Lord.” Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done to you.” At that moment, their sight was restored. (Matthew 9:27-30)

When Lazarus, a close friend of Jesus had died, he visited his home. Jesus asked Lazarus’ sister, Martha, “Whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” Thereafter Jesus called out Lazarus from the grave and gave him a new life. (John 11:1-46)

In the present world, it is common for people to first ask God for something, and if they get it, express their belief in God. But to first believe in God while praying, and then experiencing his grace in life, is the way shown by Lord Jesus Christ.

A Psalm for the Handicapped

Psalm 18 in the Bible was written by David and he sang it when the Lord delivered him from Saul and other enemies. It begins with David’s expression of trust in God and his total dependence on God’s security:

“I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:1-2 New International Version)

David then narrates his near-death experience and says, “In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice… He reached down from on high and took hold of me.” (verses 6,16 NIV)

Psalm 18 is about the victory of a beleaguered king on the battlefield. But strangely, it also connects with the small battles that ordinary handicapped persons have to fight in their ordinary daily lives, and how miraculously God helps them win. God’s right hand gives them the support they need (verse 35). He helps them to stand in high places (verse 33), something they can never do on their own. But much more than that, God gives them new feet, the feet of a deer! (verse 33)

Deer feet or hooves are described as anatomical wonders. They enable the deer to run extremely fast, scale heights, jump over obstacles, chase animals, all without stumbling. A hind is a female deer that can place her back feet exactly where her front feet had stepped! So she can run real fast and securely even in difficult terrain. The King James Version of Psalm 18, particularly mentions hind’s feet. David says, “It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places.” (verses 32-33).

For a handicapped person a small staircase or just uneven ground can present a great obstacle that may be impossible to negotiate. But David’s experience is that God “brought him out into a spacious place” (verse 19) and “made his way secure” (verse 32). “Thou hast enlarged my steps under me, that my feet did not slip”, says David in verse 36 (KJV). This verse has been explained more clearly and differently in the recent translations of Psalm 18. For example, the New International Version clarifies: “You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.” The Jubilee Bible 2000 says, “Thou shall enlarge my steps under me, and my knees shall not tremble.”  The Contemporary English Version says simply: “You clear the way for me, and now I won’t stumble.”

A handicapped person would like to get his weak ankles, folding knees, broken hips, or whatever, replaced with the feet of a deer, and have a dream run to great heights! But believe, God offers just that!

At All Times

While we struggle with time management, and strive to make the most optimum use of the 24 hours of the day, the Bible gives some very specific advice about how we are to spend our time.

Praise the Lord

David said, “I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1)

Meditate

David said: “Blessed is the one whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” (Psalm 1:1-3)

Give thanks

Paul said: “Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20-21)

Rejoice

Paul said: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)

Pray

Paul said: “Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)

Trust

David said: “But I trust in you, Lord; my times are in your hands.” (Psalm 31:14-15)

Fear Not

Jesus said: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

The Father of Lies

The story of Adam and Eve that is narrated in the opening chapters of the Bible (Genesis 2-3) is well-known. Many believe it, many do not. The story is basically simple: After God had created the heavens and the earth, he created the first man Adam and then the first woman Eve. God had created a garden named Eden as a paradise for them to enjoy. Everything was available to them except that God had commanded them not to eat the fruit of a particular tree and warned that if they ate it they would die. Adam and Eve would have continued to taste God’s goodness, but for the entry of the Devil into the story.

The Devil or Satan, who appeared in the form of a serpent, first planted doubt in Eve’s mind and then told a lie that she would not die even if she ate that fruit. Eve did eat the forbidden fruit and so did Adam later. With that lie, Satan led Adam and Eve, and eventually all humanity, to death. God had to send his son Jesus Christ to be the saviour of mankind through his own death on the cross.

Even in the present age, Satan continues to mislead people with his lies by entering their minds. What he says, and the manner in which he says it, convinces people that his lie is truth. He compels them into believing that they would not suffer if they break laws. He entices people to use his methods of deceit and spread lies on his behalf. What he did to Adam and Eve, he continues to try with everyone today. The Bible warns us to be alert and of sober mind as the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. We have to resist him, standing firm in the faith. We should cast all our anxiety on God who cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7-9)

Jesus described the Devil as the father of lies in whom there is no truth at all. (John 8:44) Lord Jesus himself is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Those who know Jesus will know the truth, and the truth will set them free (John 8:32).