Tag Archives: Pharisees

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 6

Image Credit: The Erratic Muse
Image Credit:
The Erratic Muse

Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, 2 but early the next morning He was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and He sat down and taught them. 3 As He was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.

4 “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 The law of Moses says to stone her. What do You say?”

Image Credit: this fragile tent
Image Credit:
this fragile tent

6 They were trying to trap Him into saying something they could use against Him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with His finger. 7 They kept demanding an answer, so He stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” 8 Then He stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

9 When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. 10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” ~ John 8:1-11 — NLT ~

the stoning of sorayaThis story has always moved me deeply, but never more than now, after having watched, “The Stoning of Soraya M.”a true story about an Iranian woman falsely accused of adultery by her adulterous husband and stoned to death. As I watched this heartrending story of the atrocities committed in the name of Islamic law, I couldn’t help but think of a very familiar and similar story of the adulterous woman in the book of John.  I also couldn’t help but think of the Mosaic Law, which carried the same punishment for adultery as the Islamic law, and compare it to the Law of the New Covenant, which those who are born-again now live under.

In this series, Live By the Law/Die By the Lawwe have learned much about the Old Testament Law, as we examined whether we are called to Live By the Law and Die By the Law or not…

  • Image Credit: Anna Popescu
    Image Credit:
    Anna Popescu

    In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1we learned that the Law does not have the power to save us, for salvation comes only by the grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.

  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 2we learned that God gave the Jews Ten Commandments, (also known as the Law of Moses and The Old Testament or Old Covenant), and from these ten Laws, the Jews created 613 laws, (known as the Tradition of the Elders), which were meant to supplement the Law of Moses.
  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3we began an in depth study of the first two Commandments…
    • “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.” ~ Exodus 20:2-3 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments.” ~ Exodus 20:4-6 — NKJV ~
  • Image Credit: Groupthink Rescue
    Image Credit:
    Groupthink Rescue

    In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4we continued our in depth study of the Ten Commandments, starting from the third Commandment and ending with the tenth…

    • “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” ~ Exodus 20:7 — NKJV ~
    • “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” ~ Exodus 20:8-11 — NKJV ~
    • “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.” ~ Exodus 20:12 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not murder.” ~ Exodus 20:13 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not commit adultery.” ~ Exodus 20:14 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not steal.” ~ Exodus 20:15 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” ~ Exodus 20:16 — NKJV ~
    • “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” ~ Exodus 20:17 — NKJV ~
  • In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 5we discovered that the purpose of the Law was to show people their sins, and that it was only supposed to last until Jesus, the Christ came. It was never intended to be an eternal law.

the stoning of soraya 2

Never did it become more clear to me just how very wonderful and merciful our Lord is than after I watched “The Stoning of Soraya M.” last night. You see, if we still lived under the Old Covenant, then not only would we be bound to obey every command, we would also suffer the  punishment meted out for every command that we break… According to Old Testament Law, we would be subjected to stoning if we committed any of the following sins…

    • 13 “Suppose a man marries a woman, but after sleeping with her, he turns against her 14 and publicly accuses her of shameful conduct, saying, ‘When I married this woman, I discovered she was not a virgin.’ 15 Then the woman’s father and mother must bring the proof of her virginity to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. 16 Her father must say to them, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to be his wife, and now he has turned against her. 17 He has accused her of shameful conduct, saying, “I discovered that your daughter was not a virgin.” But here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.’ Then they must spread her bed sheet before the elders. 18 The elders must then take the man and punish him. 19 They must also fine him 100 pieces of silver, which he must pay to the woman’s father because he publicly accused a virgin of Israel of shameful conduct. The woman will then remain the man’s wife, and he may never divorce her.

20 But suppose the man’s accusations are true, and he can show that she was not a virgin. 21 The woman must be taken to the door of her father’s home, and there the men of the town must stone her to death, for she has committed a disgraceful crime in Israel by being promiscuous while living in her parents’ home. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you. ~ Deuteronomy 22:13-21 — NLT ~

    • 2 When you begin living in the towns the Lord your God is giving you, a man or woman among you might do evil in the sight of the Lord your God and violate the covenant. 3 For instance, they might serve other gods or worship the sun, the moon, or any of the stars—the forces of heaven—which I have strictly forbidden. 4 When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, 5 then the man or woman who has committed such an evil act must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. 6 But never put a person to death on the testimony of only one witness. There must always be two or three witnesses. 7 The witnesses must throw the first stones, and then all the people may join in. In this way, you will purge the evil from among you. ~ Deuteronomy 17:2-7 — NLT ~

    • 18 “Suppose a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, even though they discipline him. 19 In such a case, the father and mother must take the son to the elders as they hold court at the town gate. 20 The parents must say to the elders, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his town must stone him to death. In this way, you will purge this evil from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid. ~ Deuteronomy 21:18-21 — NLT ~

The examples above are just a few of the reasons that  someone who lives under the Law of Moses and The Tradition of the Elders could be stoned. There are numerous other punishments and judgments meted out against those who break the Law, and each punishment seems quite harsh, especially to those with a western mindset. To those who reside in the Middle East, they are deemed appropriate. Indeed, as the movie, “The Stoning of Soraya M.”revealed, these punishments are still leveled against people.

woman-caught-in-adultery (1)This is why Jesus’ response to the adulterous woman was considered to be so radical. Not only did He refuse to condemn her for the sin she committed, He turned the tables on those who wanted to condemn her with His challenge…

… “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” ~ John 8:7b — NLT ~

Suddenly, instead of looking at this woman, who was caught in the very act of adultery, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees were forced to look inward, and examine themselves. No one knows what Jesus wrote on the ground, whether it was related to their accusation or perhaps their own sins, or not. All that is known, is that the powerful words He spoke forced each of her accusers to stop.

Who, among them, had the right to pick up a stone and throw it? Who, among them, could be brazen enough to cast the first stone, thereby administering the punishment she surely deserved, when by doing so, he would be declaring before God and his cohorts that he had never sinned? I can  just imagine the youngest ones, full of zeal and self-righteousness, respectfully waiting for one of their elders to cast the first stone, so they too, could join in, only to witness each one drop his stone  to the dry and barren ground, as the very oldest left with their heads bowed low in defeat and consternation. As each one of the elders left, one by one, the younger condemners were also constrained to realize that they had no more right to throw the first stone at the woman than their senior counterparts.

Image Credit: glogster.com
Image Credit:
glogster.com

Now, in case you’re wondering where I’m going with this post, and how it ties in with the series Live By the Law/Die By the Lawplease allow me to enlighten you. There are many, many men and women born-again believers who get caught up in trying to live by the Law. Now, please don’t misunderstand me, God loves it when we obey Him, but He does not love it when we get so caught up in trying to live by every jot and tittle of the Law, and we also place that demand on others. You see, living by faith and living by the Law may produce the same outward effects, but the difference between the two lies within the hearts of mankind.

1 Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of His death on the cross. 2 Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the Law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. 3 How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? 4 Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?

5 I ask you again, does God give you the Holy Spirit and work miracles among you because you obey the Law? Of course not! It is because you believe the message you heard about Christ.

6 In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”7 The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. ~ Galatians 3:1-7 — NLT ~

You see, one who lives by  the Law does so because he/she is trying to gain the approval of God and mankind. One might try to obey every letter of the Law in order to receive the accolades of man. Or one may try to obey the Law for fear that if he/she doesn’t, he/she may lose his/her salvation. A person who lives by the Law may do so because he/she believes that he/she must be an example for others to follow. One who lives by the Law is usually self-righteous, and lacking humility, though this person may not even realize it. A person who follows the Law often sees the sin in others, and sometimes feels superior to those who just don’t “get it.”

10 But those who depend on the Law to make them right with God are under His curse, for the Scriptures say, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the commands that are written in God’s Book of the Law.” 11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the Law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.” 12 This way of faith is very different from the way of Law, which says, “It is through obeying the Law that a person has life.”

13 But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the Law. When He was hung on the cross, He took upon Himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” 14 Through Christ Jesus, God has blessed the Gentiles with the same blessing He promised to Abraham, so that we who are believers might receive the promised Holy Spirit through faith. ~ Galatians 3:10-14 — NLT ~

On the other hand, one who lives by faith walks in obedience because he/she loves the Lord, and it feels good to do those things that please Him. One who walks by faith does so regardless of what others may say. This person walks in the Spirit, doing those things He leads him/her to do, confident that he/she is a child of the Most High God, saved by His grace through faith. This person knows that his/her salvation has nothing to do with his/her behavior, and that he/she did not choose Christ because it was Christ who chose him/her. The person who lives by grace is humble, fully aware that he/she is no better than anyone, even the vilest sinner. 

1 So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the Law.

2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you this: If you are counting on circumcision to make you right with God, then Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 I’ll say it again. If you are trying to find favor with God by being circumcised, you must obey every regulation in the whole Law of Moses. 4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the Law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. ~ Galatians 5:1-6 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, the whole point of this post and of this series, Live By the Law/Die By the Lawis that those who choose to live according to the Law rather than by the Spirit, must understand that they will then be judged according to the Law, and it is important to remember that there is no one who is righteous. Other than Jesus Christ, no one has ever obeyed the entire Law.

20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are. ~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. ~ Romans 3:21 — NLT ~

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23 — NLT ~

Beloved reader, I am not saying that the Law is evil. What I am saying is that we must live by the Spirit, not by the Law. I’ll close with the following scripture, and I encourage you to pray about this post, and seek the Lord’s face regarding what we have studied here.

30 There is only one God, and He makes people right with Himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law. ~ Romans 3:30-31 — NLT ~

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 5

Image Credit: Jeff Hughes
Image Credit:
Jeff Hughes

In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3 and Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4we studied each of the Ten Commandments, and its meanings. We also examined our own hearts to see which of the laws we have been guilty of breaking, as I confessed to you that I have been guilty of breaking all of God’s Laws. Of course, I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not, but even if you have only ever broken one command of the Law of Moses, you’re just as guilty as I am, according to Scripture.

For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. ~ James 2:10 — NLT ~

Image Credit: M. Leone Bracker
Image Credit:
M. Leone Bracker

Before we move on with our study of the Law, I want to share a comment that I received in reference to the third commandment, from a fellow blogger and biblical teacher, Ben Nelson, author of the blog, Another Red Letter Day. The third commandment is, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain,” and I offered up several examples of what it is to take the Lord’s name in vain. However, Ben offered an excellent example that I hadn’t thought of until I read his comment. In fact, for me, it was an “aha” moment, and because it is so prevalent among many people, I felt that it was very important to share his comment with you. Ben stated, “I have often thought along the lines that Taking the Lord’s name is when I take the name of Christ as my own – aka – i am a Christian, and then i live like the world – i have taken His name and polluted it before men.” I have nothing to add to this or take away from it. Ben is right, and this is an excellent example of how many people take the Lord’s name in vain. Indeed, it’s an excellent example of how I once took the Lord’s name in vain.

Now, in our continuing study of the Law, we’ve reached the point where we discover that each and every one of us is guilty of breaking the Law. Indeed, the Law’s purpose is to reveal our guilt, and it does this well…

Why, then, was the Law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the Law was designed to last only until the coming of the Child who was promised. God gave His Law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~

Now, we must understand if we are to continue trying to follow the Law, or should we just cast it aside? Are we required to maintain the Law, in order to maintain our salvation? If we choose one, do we lose the other? How can we determine what we are required to do? What does the Word of God tell us about the Law?

Image Credit: parablesblog.blogspot.com
Image Credit:
parablesblog.blogspot.com

31 “The day is coming,” says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the Lord.

33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. “I will put My instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. 34 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the Lord.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know Me already,” says the Lord. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.” ~ Jeremiah 31:31-34 — NLT ~

According to this scripture passage, the Law of Moses was not an eternal law. It was only temporary, lasting until God’s new covenant was established. Also, according to Galatians 3:19, the Law was only designed to last until Jesus came. 

14 He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. 15 In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross.

16 So don’t let anyone condemn you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating certain holy days or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. 17 For these rules are only shadows of the reality yet to come. And Christ Himself is that reality. 18 Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, 19 and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For He holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.

20 You have died with Christ, and He has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, 21 “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”? 22 Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. 23 These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. ~ Colossians 2:14-23 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, don’t you see that the Law was given to reveal mankind’s sinful nature, but Jesus cancelled the record of charges against us, by nailing them to the cross? Think about this, the Law has NO power to save anyone. It is the blood of Christ that has saved us from bondage to sin and death, certainly not because we follow the Law. 

Indeed, by following the rules of the world, we do no one any good, because these rules provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires. As a matter of fact, it was Christ’s death on the cross that destroyed the enmity between Jews and Gentiles, and because of His death on the cross, those who believe in Him have been set free from the Law of sin and death. Therefore, why would His followers continue to subject themselves to the Law, which led to death?

14 For Christ Himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in His own body on the cross, He broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in Himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of His death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. ~ Ephesians 2:14-16 — NLT ~

7 The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. 8 Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? 9 If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! 10 In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way. 11 So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!

12 Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who put a veil over his face so the people of Israel would not see the glory, even though it was destined to fade away. 14 But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ~ 2 Corinthians 3:7-14 — NLT ~

Image Credit: meanmesa.com
Image Credit:
meanmesa.com

Beloved, does a veil cover your eyes? Do you see that the Law brings only death? If so, turn your eyes upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. Look to Him for salvation, and love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength. For those who truly love Christ and walk in His Spirit will obey His commands, which are to love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we love Jesus and follow these commands, then we are following the Law that God has written on  our hearts, rather than the Law written on stone tablets, which were destined to fade away. 

Therefore, beloved brothers and sisters, will you choose to live by the Law and therefore die by the Law? Or will you choose to love the Lord Jesus with your whole heart, thereby fulfilling His Law? The choice is yours… 

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are. ~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3we studied the first and second commandments and how each one exposes the sin within us. In this post, today, let’s look at the other Commandments in light of the scripture above…

Exodus 20:2-17
~ 3 ~

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.”

Image Credit: Jeremy Myers
Image Credit:
Jeremy Myers

Okay friends, I’m sure everyone thought of those people who curse using God’s name, am I right? I don’t know about you, but I confess, that I was guilty of doing this before I came to the Lord, and even as a young Christian.

But, have I broken this commandment since then? Sadly, if I’m to be completely truthful, yes, but not by cussing using His name. To take God’s name in  vain is so much more than using His name as an expletive. Have you ever spoken in His name, when He didn’t tell you to do so? Have you ever presumed to speak for Him, without His permission? Have you ever said, “O my God” or “Jesus”? Have you ever spoken His name thoughtlessly, without really thinking of Him at all? Have you ever prophesied to someone, telling them, “The Lord said…” when in reality, you didn’t Him speak?

My friends, all of those things are examples of what it is to take the Lord’s name in vain, and I confess to you that I have taken His name in vain, and I’m so thankful for His mercy on me.

~ 4 ~

Image Credit: Groupthink Rescue
Image Credit:
Groupthink Rescue

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

Well, my friends, have you ever or do you break this command? Now, I can just hear some people saying, “I go to church every Sunday, so this is one command that I don’t break.” But, I’m going to question that… Does going to church on Sundays equate to remembering the Sabbath day and keeping it holy?

When you get up on Sunday morning and get ready for church, how are you feeling? Do you awaken with joy in your heart, feeling well rested and thankful that this is the day that the Lord has made? As you’re preparing yourself for church, is there aught in your heart against anyone? As you are on your way to go and worship, have you already begun to worship? Are you thinking about God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, or are you thinking of who you will see when you get there? Are you already singing His praises, or are you irritated with your children? As you enter into His sanctuary, were you glad when they said, “Let us go into the House of the Lord?” 

While the service is going on, are you seeking the Lord’s face, or is your mind wandering? Are you intent on worshiping the Lord, or are you bored? As the word is being preached, are you thinking about what you’re going to have for lunch? When you leave the worship service, is your mind still set on the Lord, or are you thinking of other things? Do you spend the rest of the day resting and thinking of the goodness of God, or do you spend the rest of the day thinking of other things?

Honestly, in light of this, I seldom remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. How about you?

~ 5 ~

Image Credit: Holly Barrett
Image Credit:
Holly Barrett

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.”

Now, maybe you’re thinking that this one doesn’t need any explanation, and perhaps you’re right. It’s easy to honor parents who were good to you, but what if you come from a dysfunctional family? How do you honor a father who abused you? How do you honor a mother who didn’t protect you? Or how do you honor a father who abandoned you? How do you honor a mother who turned tricks for a living?

Does it honor them to hold a grudge against them? Of course not. We all know that Jesus commands us to forgive others as our Heavenly Father forgives us. And what if you forgive your parents for hurting you, but they never repent of their behavior? Does it honor them for you to pretend the abuse never happened? Does it honor them for you to continue allowing them to abuse you?

Oftentimes, church leaders can harm those members who have been abused, by heaping guilt on them because they do not have a close relationship with their parents. Sometimes, they will insinuate that you haven’t truly forgiven them, because you don’t visit them or talk to them, and often, they will cite the fifth commandment when doing so.

I want to speak to those of you who want to do the right thing, and yet you struggle, because you don’t know how to honor parents who have been less than honorable. I speak to you as one who has struggled with the same issues. I loved my parents, despite years of abuse, and no repentance, and I forgave them. I spent many years apart from my parents, while much of my family judged me as a bad daughter, because they didn’t know of the abuse. The fact is they probably still feel that way, because most still don’t know.

So, how did I honor my parents? I honored them by staying away. I honored them by refusing to pretend the abuse didn’t happen. I honored them by respecting their wishes when my stepfather told me to leave and never come back. I honored them by staying away, so they wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable around me, and by staying away from the rest of the family and letting them believe the worst of me, so they wouldn’t turn against my parents.

I honored them by obeying the Lord’s gentle prodding to enter back into their lives the last couple of years they lived. I honored them by forgiving them each time they added to my hurt. I honored them by loving them, even though they never said the three words I desperately longed to hear, “I’m sorry, Cheryl.” I honor them by continuing to love them.

Is this how I recommend others, who have been hurt and abused by their parents, to act? Partially. I understand that every circumstance is different, and our heavenly Father understands that as well. My only two recommendations for you are to love and forgive your parents. By doing this, you honor them. As far as the rest goes, treat your parents as you would want your children to treat you, and by doing this, you will honor them, regardless of whether they are good or bad parents.

Have you broken this commandment? I did, many times, but by God’s grace, I learned to honor my parents.

~ 6 ~

Image Credit: M. Leone Bracker
Image Credit:
M. Leone Bracker

“You shall not murder.”

I know, most of you think you haven’t broken that commandment, but I’ll be honest and confess to you that I have. In fact, you could say that I’m a serial killer, in light of these scriptures…

Anyone who hates another brother or sister is really a murderer at heart. And you know that murderers don’t have eternal life within them. ~ 1 John 3:15 — NLT ~

21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ 22 But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell. ~ Matthew 5:21-22 — NLT ~

Beloved readers, are any of you as guilty of breaking this commandment as I am?

~ 7 ~

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Image Credit:
beyeready.org

“You shall not commit adultery.”

Beloved readers, before you say you haven’t broken this commandment, let’s look at Jesus’ definition of the command…

27 “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. ~ Matthew 5:27-28 — NLT ~

In light of Jesus’ definition of adultery, have you broken this law?

~ 8 ~

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Image Credit:
wholeworldinhishands.com

“You shall not steal.”

When I was young, I used to “borrow” my mother’s jewelry and makeup, and wear it to school. Whenever my conscience pricked me, I would reason that I was only “borrowing” her things, and that I would put it back. However, the fact is that I knew my mother did not want me to take her things, and if she ever found out, I would be toast.  I knew that what I was doing was wrong, and I also knew that when you take something that isn’t yours, without the owner giving you permission to take it, then it is stealing.

I knew this, even though I wasn’t a Christian yet. I knew this because even though I didn’t yet know Christ, God’s law was written on my heart.

14 Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know His law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. 15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. 16 And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life. ~ Romans 2:14-16 — NLT ~

Not only that, when you work for someone, if you lie about the hours you work, it is stealing. If you spend the time you are being paid to work, doing other things, you are robbing the person who pays you. If you take anything that belongs to your place of employment, it is stealing.

Have you ever “borrowed” something without asking for the owner’s permission first? Have you ever goofed off or slacked off, when you should have been working? Beloved readers, that’s stealing. Have you ever broken this command?

~ 9 ~

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Image Credit:
sites.google.com

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Have you ever lied and said someone did something that they didn’t do? As a child, this was one of my worst traits. I can’t tell you the number of times that I blamed my younger sister for the things that I did. Of course I would excuse myself by reasoning that since she was the favored child, she wouldn’t be beaten or punished as severely as I would have been, but even though this may have been true, it couldn’t cleanse me from the guilt I felt for lying and bearing false witness against my sister. Beloved reader, has there ever been a time in your life when you bore false witness against someone else?

~ 10 ~

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” 

Gollum by: DarDesign
Gollum
by: DarDesign

Have you ever wanted something that belonged to someone else? Have you ever thought to yourself that the other person doesn’t deserve that treasure as much as you do? Beloved readers, that’s coveting. Have you ever broken this command?

In the last post and this post, we reviewed the Law of Moses, also known as the Ten Commandments, and I don’t know about you, but I’m guilty of breaking every single command. Indeed, every time I study the Ten Commandments, I realize once again, how terribly I’ve sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, just as this Scripture tells us…

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are.~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

Friends, the Law was never meant to save us. The reason God created the Law was to do exactly what it says in the Scripture above. It was meant to show us how sinful we are…

Why, then, was the Law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the Law was designed to last only until the coming of the Child who was promised. God gave His Law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
the2520.com

Beloved, the Law of Moses was only designed to last until the Child, Christ Jesus, came. My friends, He has come, gone back to heaven, and is coming again, and He fulfilled every single one of the Law’s commands. Therefore, what are we to do with the Law, now? Should we turn our backs on it and live in complete disobedience to it? May it never be! We’ll look for the answer to this question in Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 5.

Meanwhile, continue to seek the Lord, study His word, and pray fervently for Him to open the eyes of your heart, so that He will give you an understanding of His will for your life. May God bless you as you not only learn and gain an understanding of His word, but as you also apply His word to your life.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Related Posts:

Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3

For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the Law commands. The Law simply shows us how sinful we are.~ Romans 3:20 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
mk16-15evangelismteam.com

In my last post, Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 2we learned that the Jews turned the Ten Commandments, (also known as the Law or the Law of Moses), into six hundred thirteen laws, known as the Tradition of the EldersTheir purpose in creating all of these laws, as convoluted as it seems, was to protect the Ten Commandments. They purposed that following the Tradition of the Elders would ensure the people’s obedience to the Law of Moses. If you haven’t been following this series and would like to start at the beginning, please click, Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1.

Why, then, was the law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the law was designed to last only until the coming of the child who was promised. God gave his law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~

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Image Credit:
probingfaith.com

In addition to learning about the Tradition of the Elders, we discovered the purpose for the Law, which is stated in today’s scripture, Romans 3:20and also in the Scripture above… Today we are going to study the Law of Moses or the Ten Commandments as it is best known, while keeping in mind the Law’s purpose, which is to show people their sins. As we make our way through each of these commandments one by one, I encourage you to search your heart to see where you have sinned and fall short of God’s glory, while I search my own.

Exodus 20:2-17 — NKJV
~ 1 ~

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Image Credit:
sandwichink.com

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”

This is God’s first command, and sadly, I’ve broken this command too many times to count. You see, before I knew Christ, as my Lord and Savior, everything came before God, and the truth is that even as a born-again Christian, there have been too many times when I failed to put God first. In fact, the truth is that even now, after serving the Lord for many years, there are still times that I have to repent because I’ve put my own desires ahead of Him and His desires for me. Do you ever struggle with this command?

~ 2 ~

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Image Credit:
churchhousecollection.com

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments”

When I was younger, I struggled with the meaning of this Command. Was the Lord saying that it is a sin to draw, or carve or paint? After all, it seemed that His instructions were very clear and specific. Do not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth…” Indeed, this is how this scripture has been interpreted by many people throughout the ages, and it sure seems to be the correct assumption, when you take this quote out of its context.

However, I always had a hard time believing that God hates art. After all, He is the giver of our gifts and talents. Now, as I grew in my love and knowledge of the Lord, I came to see that I was incorrect in the way that I had interpreted this verse. You see, this Command is not about the artwork as much as it is about the condition of the artist’s heart and/or the one who owns the art work. Let’s look at this Command again, in the whole context:

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Image Credit:
catholiccompany.com

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My Commandments”

Let’s also take a look at the Hebrew word translated as “carved image” in the New King James Version, and graven image,” in the King James Version of the Bible: 

Pecel = idol or image. 

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Image Credit:
slaveofjesuschrist.me

Do you see the whole picture? God doesn’t hate artwork. He doesn’t hate knick-knacks, pictures, paintings, sculptures or statues. His concern and His Command was about our heart, and our relationship with Him. Do you remember what the children of Israel were doing while Moses was on Mt. Sinai getting the Ten Commandments from God? They were melting their gold and and pressuring Aaron to create a golden calf to worship instead of the Living God!

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Image Credit:
hissheep.org

Do you imagine He didn’t know what was going on when He wrote that Command? Think about this, the same God who told the people not to create any images in heaven or earth, also Commanded the artists to create golden cherubim (which are in heaven) to go on top of the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant. He commanded the artists to create the menorah to resemble an almond tree with buds, branches and flowers (all of which are on the earth), and He commanded those who sewed the curtains and the veil of the tabernacle to weave angels into them.

Beloved readers, let’s examine our hearts. Do you, or have you ever worshiped any idols? Before you answer, let me share a few examples of idol worship with you… 

    • Do you, or have you ever worshiped or prayed to any pictures, paintings or photographs?
      • i.e. — I’ve seen people who in the midst of a disaster, will risk their lives to save photographs of their loved ones. I may offend you by saying so, but this is an example of idol worship.
    • Do you, or have you ever prayed to or worshiped a carved or graven image?
      • i.e. — This would include praying to a crucifix, using rosary beads, a picture of anything or any one, including a picture of Jesus. Again, this may be offensive, but if you worship or pray to any man made image, this is idolatry, even if you say that you are worshiping Jesus.
    • Do you, or have you ever prayed or worshiped a loved one or created a shrine for your loved one?
      • i.e. — This too, may be offensive to many, but I must speak the truth. When a loved one dies, if we respond to his/her death by creating a shrine for them, and go to this place to pray to or talk to your deceased loved one, this too, is idolatry.
    • Perhaps you’ve done none of the above, but do you, or have you ever chosen to watch a program on t.v., or attend a sporting event, when you felt the Lord calling you to spend time with Him? If so, beloved reader, this too, is idolatry.

I don’t know about you, but in light of all this, I have to confess that I have been guilty of idolatry. You see, beloved reader, we’ve only looked at the first two commandments in the Law, and the Law has already shown me that I am a sinful woman in need of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. For He alone can set me free from the bondage of sin and death. 

My friends, I don’t know if you have been born again or not, but, if you have broken God’s law, then you are in need of a Savior. We’ve only looked at two of the Ten Commandments, and I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of breaking both of those Laws, and here’s what the bible says about it…

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 6:23 — NLT ~

If you want to be set free from a life of sin and death, I urge you to call upon the name of the Lord, for whosoever calls upon His name will be saved. The bible tells us what we need to do…

9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. ~ Romans 10:9-10 — NLT ~

If you, like me are a Christian, who has sinned against God, repent and confess your sins to God, as He commands in His word…

But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. ~ 1 John 1:9 — NLT ~

Thank you for joining me for Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3and I pray you will join me for Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 4as we continue this study of the Law with the other Commandments. 

This is my prayer for each one of us as we continue to study the Law… Father, I pray that as we study what Your word says about Your Laws, that You would open the eyes of our hearts, so that we would not only gain head knowledge. Let Your word be planted deep within our hearts, and help us to apply all that we learn from You and about You, so that we would walk in Your Spirit, and not in our flesh. I pray Lord, that you would take our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh. I also ask You to give each one of us a teachable spirit, so that we would not harden our hearts against You and the truth of Your word, because Jesus said that we will know the Truth, and the Truth will set us free… And whom the Son sets free, is free indeed. Father, I praise You and I thank You for all that You have done, for all that You are doing, and for all that You will do for each one of us as we continue in this study of Your Law and what it means to us. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

LIVE BY THE LAW/DIE BY THE LAW ~ PART 2

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Image Credit:
aldenswan.com

For the Law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. ~ John 1:17 — NLT ~
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In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 1, we came to the conclusion that it is by God’s grace that we are saved through faith and not by our obedience to the Law. Otherwise, all would be condemned to eternal damnation, because no one aside from Jesus has ever been 100% faithful in obeying the Law, and the penalty for sin is death.
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As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous — not even one.” ~ Romans 3:10 — NLT ~
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For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. ~ Romans 3:23 — NLT ~
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Yet, because of God’s great love for us, despite our sinful nature, Jesus, who was completely faithful in obedience to God’s Law, paid the penalty for the sins of all mankind, in order to redeem us from the Law of sin and death.
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But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. ~ Romans 5:8 — NLT ~
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For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. ~ Romans 8:2 — NKJV ~
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Image Credit:
smithtonchristianfellowship.wordpress.com

In this, the second installment of Live By the Law/Die By the LawI want to further study the Law and its purpose. Let’s begin by defining the Law. Throughout the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testaments, you will see references to the Law of Moses. This refers to the Ten Commandments that God gave Moses on the stone tablets, while he was on Mt. Sinai.

These commandments were given to the children of Israel, (Israelites or Jews) and they were to live by these laws. Now, over time, the Jewish leaders and teachers of the Law took the Ten Commandments given to them by God, and created 613 laws, known as the Tradition of the Elderswhich were supposed to help the people obey God’s Ten Commandments. In theory, if the people kept these rules, they would be obeying the Law.

Isn’t it just like mankind to take something holy and pollute it with our own wisdom? Perhaps their intentions were good in developing these additional laws for men to follow, in order to protect the Law of God, given to them by Moses, but the outcome was not good. You see, the Pharisees who created these additional laws were very strict about following them, down to the smallest detail. In fact, they were so careful to follow all of the rules, that they lost sight of the Law of God, which dealt with the hearts of mankind…
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Image Credit:
maninthemaze.com

37 As Jesus was speaking, one of the Pharisees invited Him home for a meal. So He went in and took His place at the table. 38 His host was amazed to see that He sat down to eat without first performing the hand-washing ceremony required by Jewish custom. 39 Then the Lord said to him, You Pharisees are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and wickedness! 40 Fools! Didn’t God make the inside as well as the outside? 41 So clean the inside by giving gifts to the poor, and you will be clean all over.

42 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens, but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

43 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. 44 Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”

45 “Teacher,” said an expert in religious law, “You have insulted us, too, in what You just said.”

46 “Yes,” said Jesus, “what sorrow also awaits you experts in religious law! For you crush people with unbearable religious demands, and you never lift a finger to ease the burden. 47 What sorrow awaits you! For you build monuments for the prophets your own ancestors killed long ago. 48 But in fact, you stand as witnesses who agree with what your ancestors did. They killed the prophets, and you join in their crime by building the monuments! 49 This is what God in His wisdom said about you: ‘I will send prophets and apostles to them, but they will kill some and persecute the others.’

50 “As a result, this generation will be held responsible for the murder of all God’s prophets from the creation of the world—51 from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will certainly be charged against this generation.

52 “What sorrow awaits you experts in religious law! For you remove the key to knowledge from the people. You don’t enter the Kingdom yourselves, and you prevent others from entering.” ~ Luke 11:37-52 — NLT ~
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Sadly, all of those religious laws created by the Pharisees only  served to alienate the people from God. Instead of making it easier for the people to obey God’s original Ten Commandments, it only served to make obedience to God’s commands more difficult. The Law of Moses was complicated by the Pharisees’ additional six hundred thirteen laws.

When Jesus came along, He angered the Pharisees by speaking out against some of their foolish laws. Then, He took the Law of God, and simplified that which had been complicated by the Pharisees, dividing the Law into two parts. He revealed that the Law of God is summarized and divided into two parts. The first four commandments concern our relationship with God, while the second half of the commandments concern our relationship with mankind. The scriptures below show us how Jesus summed up the Law of Moses.
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30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:30-31 — NKJV ~
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You see, beloved reader, God’s Law was never about following ten rules or six hundred thirteen rules. God’s Law concerned the hearts of all mankind, and by obeying the first half of the Commandments, man could demonstrate his love for God. Furthermore, by obeying the second half of the Law, man would demonstrate his love for humanity, but sadly, because of our sinful nature, we are unable to follow the Law in its entirety, which is why Christ came to live, die and arise from the grave. He was and is our only hope for salvation and deliverance from the sin that binds each one of us.

For the Law was not given to the Jews to save them, for Christ is the One who saves. So, beloved reader, if the Law was not given to save mankind, why was it given?
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Why, then, was the Law given? It was given alongside the promise to show people their sins. But the Law was designed to last only until the coming of the Child who was promised. God gave His law through angels to Moses, who was the mediator between God and the people. ~ Galatians 3:19 — NLT ~
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We know now that the Law was given to show people their sins. In Live By the Law/Die By the Law ~ Part 3we’ll examine the Ten Commandments and see exactly how the Law still serves to show people their sins.

I pray that as we continue in this study, we’ll learn what it means to live in the love and liberty our Savior calls us to. May the Lord bless each of you, beloved readers, as you continue to grow in His grace.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Churchianity vs. Christianity (Part 2)

45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.” 

While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

Luke 20:45-47 & Luke 21:1-4 — NLT ~

Image Credit: maninthemaze.com
Image Credit:
maninthemaze.com

The other day, we started looking at this scripture passage, and we saw Jesus’ warning for His disciples to be careful of the teachers of religious law (scribes and Pharisees). Then He went on to list some of the things they were guilty of doing, such as parading around in flowing robes to gain attention and respect. 

45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets.”

Luke 20:45-46 — NLT ~

It’s funny. I never noticed this before, until my daughter-in-law and I were discussing this scripture passage… The very things that Jesus condemned in this passage are practiced in nearly every church here in the United States. I can’t speak for foreign churches, as I haven’t visited any foreign churches other than some in Haiti, when I was there on a mission trip, but from what I’ve seen in movies, I’d venture to say that they too, are operated in the same way.

Image Credit: Mike Dubose
Image Credit:
Mike Dubose

How many ministers dress in elaborate flowing robes when they preach, rather than dressing as everyone else in the congregation? And think about this, how many pastors, evangelists and televangelists sit up in the front of their sanctuaries, in special, throne-like chairs, rather than in the same pews the rest of the congregation sits on? Did you notice that this was one of the things that Jesus condemned the teachers of religious law for, stating, “And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets.”

Image Credit: St. Landry Catholic Church
Image Credit:
St. Landry Catholic Church

I can’t help but notice that the “messengers, pastors, prophets and evangelists,” who bring the word are given seats of honor in nearly every church that I’ve ever been in, how about you? And not only that, again, in nearly every church that I’ve been a part of, whenever there is a banquet or dinner, the pastor and his/her entourage are given seats at the head table. I’ve also noticed that all too often, while the other guests at the banquet must get up and fix their own plates, someone usually prepares the plates and serves them to the pastor, and his/her guests before everyone else is allowed to serve themselves. Don’t you find it ironic that the very actions Jesus found the religious leaders of His day guilty of, are the same ones practiced today, by Christian leaders, who claim to represent Him?

But that isn’t the only sin that has carried over into today’s church. Let’s examine the rest of this passage…

Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.” 

While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

“I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

~ Luke 20:47 & Luke 21:1-4 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Kathy Howard
Image Credit:
Kathy Howard

Now, I know that most of you have heard this passage of scripture preached many times, as this poor widow is extolled for the great sacrifice she made for the Lord. The truth is, that’s how I’ve always heard it preached too, and I believed that the Lord was commanding us to give our all, like this poor widow. How about you? But then, my daughter-in-law shared some information with me that changed how I viewed this passage, and the sad thing is, that I could have understood this myself, if I had read this portion of scripture in its original context, as I teach others to do.

Image Credit: growingtogether.cc
Image Credit:
growingtogether.cc

Just to refresh your memory, the other day, I told you that the book of Luke was originally written as a letter or a report to a man named Theophilus, and when Luke wrote the letter, it did not have any chapters or verses. Therefore, there wasn’t the separation that we now see between Luke 20 and Luke 21. So, armed with this knowledge, let’s examine this passage as it was originally written, without stopping between chapters and verses.

After cautioning His disciples to beware of the religious leaders, who sought special treatment, and dressed to be noticed, Jesus then pointed out another, even more heinous sin that they were guilty of. For these religious leaders shamelessly cheated poor widows out of their property, while pretending to be pious by praying long prayers in public. The Lord has a special love for widows and orphans, and He hates to see them cheated…

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

~ James 1:27 — NLT ~

Cursed is anyone who denies justice to foreigners, orphans, or widows. And all the people will reply, “Amen.”

~ Deuteronomy 27:19 — NLT ~

Image Credit: Bless India!
Image Credit:
Bless India!

You can see the love God has for widows and orphans, and yet Jesus makes it clear that the religious leaders of that day took advantage of them, often forcing them to lose their property. So, how did they force them to lose their property? With their long and flowery prayers, the scribes tricked those who were poor and needy into giving all they had to the Temple treasury, leaving them destitute.

Sadly, this practice continues in the church today, as pastors, prophets, evangelists and televangelists, continue to trick the poor and needy into giving their all to the ministry. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say that if you want your prayers answered, you must first “sow a seed.” Or else they make the claim that if you don’t give sacrificially to their ministry, you are robbing God. I’ve heard them say that how much or how little you give to their ministry is a reflection of your relationship with God. I’ve heard some encourage their congregations to borrow money or pay their tithes and offerings with a credit card, and it makes me sick! I’ve even heard some say that you will “lose your blessing” or even be cursed if you don’t give sacrificially to their ministry, and I ask you, how are these religious leaders any different than the religious leaders, whose very same practices Jesus condemned?

Image Credit: Bless India!
Image Credit:
Bless India!

As for the poor widow who gave her all in her offering of the temple tax, do you really think Jesus was commending her actions, so that others would do the same? Or is it possible that as He was cautioning His disciples to beware of the religious leaders, He looked across the way, and saw this real life example of one of the widows, who was being robbed of her property, and pointed her out to them? How many poor and needy people do you know, who faithfully send money they can’t afford to the ministries of famous televangelists, who spend the money on their own lavish lifestyles, while they themselves, don’t even have enough to make ends meet? 

How many people have taken money from the mouths of their own family, in the hopes that they can earn God’s favor by giving sacrificially? And how many have given their children’s inheritance to the church, because they were afraid of angering God? How many have lived and died with nothing, because the church duped them into doing as this widow did, while its coffers are full and running over? Do you really think this pleases God?

And do you really think we can earn His favor if we just give enough money to the church? Do you really believe that you, His beloved child will lose His favor and perhaps even be cursed if you don’t obey the commands of religious leaders to give to their ministries?

Beloved, don’t you know that just as we can’t earn salvation, neither can we earn God’s favor. If you are a child of God, you have His favor simply because you are His child, and He loves you. Look at these words that Jesus spoke…

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”

~ Matthew 7:7-11 — NKJV ~

Am I saying that God does not want us to give? Of course not! What I am saying is that you must stop listening to men and ask God what He wants you to give, and to whom He wants you to give. And when you give, give cheerfully, because God has shown you what to give and to whom. Do not give because you are being pressured to do so by religious leaders. Instead, wait on the Lord and let Him direct your giving. And do not give because you want to earn God’s favor, or because you are afraid of losing His favor, because you can’t earn His favor with money or anything else. If you are a disciple of Christ, you have His favor simply because you are His child.

© 2014
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: Morality Play

Daily Prompt: Morality Play

by michelle w. on June 24, 2013

Where do your morals come from — your family? Your faith? Your philosophical worldview? How do you deal with those who don’t share them, or derive them from a different source?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us THE SOURCE.
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As soon as I saw this prompt, I knew I just had to respond. As I was growing up, my moral compass was set by my parents. Some of those morals were good ones…

  • Work hard to earn everything you get in life
  • When you have children, spend time with them and take them with you when you go out to dinner and on vacations
  • Don’t steal
  • Always do your best at everything you do Continue reading Daily Prompt: Morality Play

He’s Alive!

Image Credit: http://eveningstaraglow.blogspot.com/

The bitter bile of remorse rose up from his stomach, causing him to retch painfully as he sobbed, crying like a distraught child. Waves of pain and sorrow, guilt and regret washed over him as he cried unashamedly, while memories of another time played on the screen of his mind’s eye in vivid high definition. Meanwhile, he stumbled, weeping and gagging, as he made his way past the rioting crowds in the darkness as he sought a place of refuge, some place where he could escape the noise of the angry mob.

Finally, he collapsed in a heap beside the Dung Gate, while he continued to weep bitterly. “O Jesus,” he sobbed in anguish, “I have denied Messiah, Son of the Living God!” 

Without warning, as he spoke those words of agony, another image flashed before his mind’s eye, of him and his eleven comrades, co-disciples near Caesarea Philippi with Jesus. It was a barren place of emptiness and waste. There was nothing remarkable about the place to stand out in his mind, but it was what happened there that forever changed Peter.

Image Credit: http://victoryoutreachwhittier.files.wordpress.com/ 2010/12/loaves-and-fishes.jpg

Earlier that day, they had seen Jesus feed over five thousand people with just two fish and five loaves of bread, and afterwards, they crossed the lake to the other side. They were all so excited about all they had witnessed, that they forgot to bring any food along with them, until they got to the other side, and Jesus told them to beware of the yeast of the Pharisees. Not understanding what He was saying, they thought He must be referring to the fact that they had no bread.

They were so earthly minded, that it was often difficult for them to understand what Jesus was really trying to tell them, and yet, He continued to love them, and explain those things they didn’t understand, much like a mother teaches her children… “You have so little faith! Why are you worried about having no food? Won’t you ever understand? Don’t you remember the five thousand I fed with five loaves, and the baskets of food that were left over? Don’t you remember the four thousand I fed with seven loaves, with baskets of food left over? How could you even think I was talking about food? So again I say, ‘Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.'” Slowly, understanding dawned on them, and they nodded knowingly, like children, eager to please their father.

And then Jesus asked them another question, and like children eager to redeem themselves from their previous misunderstanding, they took turns answering their Teacher’s next question, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 

“Some say John the Baptist,” a few of them burst forth eagerly.

“Yes, and some say Elijah!” still others eagerly stated, their eyes glistening with the hopes that their answer was the correct one.

“That’s true,” others responded, “but we’ve heard people say that You’re Jeremiah or one of the other prophets!”

Image Credit: http://www.sunnyshell.org/2013/02/ jesus-christ-sympathizer-or-savior.html

While all of this questioning and answering was going on, Peter, who was normally so boisterous and vocal, stood there in silence, watching his Master’s every move, thinking of the miracles of healing and deliverance, the feeding of the multitudes, and the raising of the dead. He felt his heart begin to  pound loudly in his chest, and his ears began to ring, as Jesus posed another question to the disciples, “Who do you say I am?” 

A sudden blinding revelation came to Peter, as the answer to the question burst forth from him, like the flood waters forcing their way past a dam, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Sitting beside the Dung Gate, Peter continued to weep bitterly, as he remembered Jesus’ response to him that day, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven.”

Image Credit: http://newtheologicalmovement.
blogspot.com/ 2011/08/if-christ-is-rock-can-peter-also-be.html

“Heavenly Father,” Peter now prayed on the darkest night of his soul, “Forgive me. In my foolish pride and arrogance, I was so sure I would do the right thing, even though no one else did. I was so sure that I would stand with Jesus, that I would be the rock that He could depend on. I had so much confidence in my own strength and character, that I forgot my strength comes from You. Forgive me, Lord, for strutting around like a pompous rooster, so proud of all my achievements, when apart from Jesus, I can do nothing! El Hakadosh, apart from Him I have nothing — apart from Him, I am nothing,” Peter wept brokenly, as memories of his time with Jesus washed over him.

He remembered His first meeting with Jesus, who looked intently at him and said, “You are Simon, the son of John — but you will be called Cephas (which means Peter).” A few days later, he saw Jesus again, walking along the shore of Galilee, where he and  his brother, Andrew, who were commercial fishermen, were busy fishing with a net, while the sweat rolled off them. “Peter and Andrew,” Jesus called, as they stood in their boat holding the net. Both waved, happy to see Him again, as Jesus beckoned them, “Come,” He shouted to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 

Just like that, without even a second glance, both Peter and his brother Andrew drew the net back in, beached their boat, on the shore, and left it all, to follow Jesus from that day forward. He remembered that day on the Mount of Olives, when Jesus taught the people for hours. His words were like manna from heaven and Peter loved feasting on them, savoring each tasty morsel that came forth from Jesus’ tongue. He spoke with such authority — like no one Peter had ever heard before. He saw Him heal lepers, and many others who were sick. Jesus even healed his mother-in-law, who had fallen ill with a fever! He watched in awe, as Jesus gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, a voice to the mute, and even life to the dead!

Image Credit: http://www.myspace.com/487563782/photos/10777889

There was nothing He couldn’t do! He cast demons out of men and women, and calmed the raging seas! He even walked on water, and invited Peter to join Him! Never had there been someone more loving and compassionate than Jesus, forgiving people of their sins, no matter how great they were, “And how did I repay Him, Lord?” Peter groaned miserably. “I denied that I even knew Him,” Peter shuddered as he remembered his vehement denial of Jesus, as not once, not twice, but three times, he denied knowing the One who had given him the abundant life he had never dreamed possible.

Image Credit: http://biblicaljoy.wordpress.com/2010/07/05/ week-13-peter-denies-jesus/

He would never forget the look on his Savior’s face, when he denied knowing Him that third and final time, cursing and swearing as he did so, and then, as the cock crowed for the third time, in the midst of his cursing, Jesus turned and looked at Peter. For what seemed like forever, but in reality, was probably a matter of seconds, their eyes locked, and Peter was shocked at what he saw in Jesus’ eyes. As He stood there battered and bleeding, Jesus gazed at Peter with compassion and sorrow in His eyes! There Peter stood, ranting like a lunatic in order to convince everyone that he didn’t know the King of glory, while the King of kings stood swaying from the onslaught of the brutal beatings He had received, feeling sympathy for Peter!

Overwhelming shame engulfed Peter, as he took off running and crying like a baby. He had hurt the One that he loved most, and the last memory Jesus would ever have of Peter, the fool who had declared,  “Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will…” and when Jesus had responded that Peter would deny Him three times, Peter had passionately exclaimed, “No! Not even if I have to die with you! I will never deny you!” Those words tasted like bile in his mouth now. 

Image Credit: http://www.biblestudyforyou.com/bible-study/ entering-the-stories-part-ii/

After a night spent weeping bitterly, Peter picked himself up early the next morning, slowly making his way to the upper room, where they had gathered the night before for what was their last supper with their Master. His eyes and his nose were red from sleeplessness and crying, and he felt as though he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. Jerusalem was abuzz with gossip, and he had heard the outcome of the sham they called a trial, as he made his way back. He had heard the vociferous crowd as he quietly skirted around the back of them, wending his way to the last place where he and his brothers had been united as one with Messiah. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” the angry crowd shouted, and Peter fought not to begin retching again. “Give us Barabbas,” he heard them cry, as he entered the upper room and quickly slammed the door shut. 

He saw that most of the disciples had already returned there, and though some wanted to talk, he just waved them off, stalking over to the darkest corner of the room, and resting his weight there on the floor, he drifted off into a troubled sleep. In his dreams, he again saw Jesus looking at him with love and compassion, while he wept inconsolably. Scenes of the times they had shared together were woven into his dreams, and Peter heard the voice of his Savior speaking to him,  “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because My Father in heaven has revealed this to you… Now I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven… Get away from Me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to Me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, and not from God’s… 

Image Credit: http://hdchristianimages.wordpress.com/tag/ take-up-your-cross-and-follow-me/

“If any of you wants to be My follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow Me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for Me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul in the process? Is anything worth more than your soul?

“For I, the Son of Man, will come in the glory of My Father with His angels and will judge all people according to their deeds. And I assure you that some of you standing here right now will not die before you see Me, the Son of Man, coming in My Kingdom.

“No one can take My life from Me. I lay down My life voluntarily. For I have the right to lay it down when I want to and also the power to take it again. For my Father has given Me this command…

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to Me again, strengthen and build up your brothers.”

He was awakened later that evening to the sounds of screaming, both inside the upper room, and outside as well, as the tremors of a violent earthquake shook the city of Jerusalem. There was an eerie darkness that spread throughout the land, and they watched through the window in fear and amazement, as many tombs were ripped open, and the dead rose up out of those tombs. The men and women in the upper room were just as frightened as those outside were, and Peter again heard the voice of His Savior last night when He told him, “Simon, Simon… I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to Me again, strengthen and build up your brothers.” 

“I repent, Lord,” Peter whispered brokenly, “Forgive me, and help me to be the man You want me to be, Lord.” He looked around the room, at the frightened men and women who had gathered there trembling and crying, and he spoke to them. “Fear not, brothers and sisters, no one took Messiah’s life,” he said, as the tears traveled down his dirt stained, care worn face. “He gave His life willingly, for our sake. Even though there is darkness all around, let us trust in the Lord, with all our heart, and lean not on our own understanding. Let us pray together and stay together, until our heavenly Father shows us what to do next,” he said, as the men and women in the room nodded and knelt to pray.

Image Credit: http://memapapa.blogspot.com/2009/04/happy-easter.html

Three days later, Mary Magdalene came running into the upper room and told Peter and John, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!”

Peter and John ran to the tomb to see, and John outran Peter and got there first, stopping at the entrance, where he stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there. Peter arrived shortly after, and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying to the side. Then the John also went in, and he saw and believed — for until then they hadn’t realized that the Scriptures said He would rise from the dead.

John looked at Peter with fire in his eyes, “He’s alive, Peter!” Both were stunned as they continued to stare at the empty tomb and the burial cloths, and then looked back to one another. “He’s alive!” John said exuberantly.

Later that evening, Jesus miraculously appeared in the midst of them, from out of nowhere, showing them His nail pierced hands and feet, as well as His side… 

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Cut It Off!

“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

So if your eye — even if it is your good eye — causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand — even if it is your stronger hand — causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30 NLT)

A life of following Jesus calls for us to be radical in our faith. Let’s dive in and deal with what He had to say about adultery…

Jesus dealt with the sin of adultery on several occasions, but in this instance, He spells it out for us. Most define adultery as voluntary sexual intercourse between a married person and someone other than his or her lawful spouse. Jesus makes it clear that adultery is not only the act of having sex with someone other than his/her lawful spouse – it involves the heart and the mind. 

The thought that immediately leaps to my mind is King David and Bathsheba. David’s sin began before he sent for her. His sin began when he didn’t go to war like he was supposed to do… Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 11:1 NLT)

  • Lesson 1 – when we’re not doing what we should be doing, it is sin and it can lead to more sin…
  • Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. (James 4:17 NLT)
http://www.ingodsimage.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/CityOfDavidFerrellJenkins.jpg

 Late one afternoon David got out of bed after taking a nap and went for a stroll on the roof of the palace. As he looked out over the city, he noticed a woman of unusual beauty taking a bath. (2 Samuel 11:2 NLT) 

Now, I’ve heard a lot of people give Bathsheba a bad rap for this… some have said she was bathing on her roof, but that is not what the scripture says! The Scripture says that David was walking around on his roof, and from the roof, he saw a woman bathing. If you look at the picture above, the rail at the top shows where David’s palace most likely was, so you can see, from this viewpoint, he would have easily been able to look down and see Bathsheba bathing, and she wouldn’t have had to be on a rooftop to be seen…

Regardless, David, who wasn’t where he was supposed to be, doing what he was supposed to be doing, was restless and got up out of his bed that evening and walked out onto his roof, perhaps surveying his kingdom, when he saw Bathsheba bathing. Now, if David’s heart had been in the right place at that time, when he saw the woman bathing, he would have looked away, perhaps gone back into his room or at least to the other side of the roof! But he didn’t. Instead, he looked a little closer and saw that she was beautiful.

  • Lesson 2 – When you accidentally see, hear, feel, smell or taste anything that tempts you to sin, don’t dwell on it or continue to look, listen, touch, smell or taste it – run from it!!!
  • Run from anything that stimulates youthful lust. Follow anything that makes you want to do right. Pursue faith and love and peace, and enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts. (2 Timothy 2:22 NLT)

He sent someone to find out who she was, and he was told, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” (2 Samuel 11:3 NLT)

Rather than running from the temptation before his eyes, David quickly ran to temptation.

Now, I have to be honest with you… David is one of my favorite biblical characters, because he has so much passion for the Lord! He didn’t care what anyone thought about him while he worshiped the Lord – he was more than willing to be undignified, and I love that about him.

The problem is, and I say this to caution myself and all brothers and sisters called to the ministry of the Lord, the people loved David and they flattered him. Now maybe that doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, but I have to be honest, when I’ve delivered a message from the Lord and seen His power at work, and people flatter me, I really struggle with it.

On the one hand, there is a part of me that longs for recognition and approval. I grew up in a home where it seemed that love and affection had to be earned, and there is still some of that little girl inside of me who craves affirmation. So when people flatter me, I get mixed feelings.

Yes, it feels good when someone admires something you’ve accomplished, but what if my ego gets puffed up? I can’t judge King David or anyone else who struggles against pride, because I constantly wage my own war with pride.

O Lord, I don’t want to shame You. I want to always glorify Your name and not my own. Please Father, keep me from stumbling and causing others to stumble. Hear my cries O Lord, keep me from shame.

  • Lesson 3 – don’t let the adoration and/or approval of others cloud your vision and make you prideful.
  • You younger men, accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, serve each other in humility, for “God sets Himself against the proud, but He shows favor to the humble.” So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in His good time He will honor you. (1 Peter 5:5-6 NLT)

 Then David sent for her; and when she came to the palace, he slept with her. (She had just completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period.) Then she returned home. 

http://www.sftawareness.org/archives/modern-day-bathsheba/

Now a lot of people and a lot of books have painted a pretty picture of one of the greatest love stories of all time, implying that David and Bathsheba had consensual sex, but that’s not how I read the story. David was at home with too much time on his hands because he wasn’t where he was supposed to be, doing what he was supposed to be doing. So, in his boredom and restlessness, he wandered out onto his rooftop, probably surveying his kingdom, when lo and behold! He saw a woman bathing.

Scripture does not say that she was on a roof bathing. For all we know, she could have been in her own home, or at a bathing spot where women may have gone during that time. It’s unclear where she was, but I don’t believe that she was sinning as she bathed, and she had no way of knowing that King David was at home or that he had wandered onto his rooftop and that he would be observing her as she completed the purification rites after having her menstrual period. There is nothing in all of scripture that suggests Bathsheba was ever unfaithful to her husband prior to this episode with King David, nothing to suggest that she was promiscuous.

Now, imagine the fear and worry she must have felt when she was summonsed to the royal palace. Did she worry if something had happened to her husband, Uriah, or if perhaps she had unknowingly broken some law? And how do you think she must have felt when she arrived to the palace, and David looked at her lustfully, undressing her with his eyes?

Do you think that as she shivered with fear, David, who had already committed adultery with her in his mind, thought she was aroused? Did her mind desperately search for a way to tell him no, while he caressed her? Did she fear retaliation against herself? Her husband? Her family?

I can imagine how she felt, as her eyes darted around the room, looking for an escape, and her heart felt like it was about to beat right out of her chest. I can almost see her desperation, as it quickly dawns on her that this is the king, and if she fights him, he could very easily kill her or worse, and no one would ever even know about it. I submit to you, that David not only committed adultery with Bathsheba – he raped her.

My reason for believing this is not just what I’ve written so far, but because of Bathsheba’s response when her husband died and the Lord’s response.  When Bathsheba heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. When the period of mourning was over, David sent for her and brought her to the palace, and she became one of his wives. Then she gave birth to a son. But the LORD was very displeased with what David had done. (2 Samuel 11:26-27 NLT)

Bathsheba mourned for her husband. Does that sound like the response of a wanton woman? Also, please note that scripture says that the Lord was very displeased with what David had done. If they had committed adultery together, consensually, the Lord would have been displeased with what David and Bathsheba had done.

I praise God that David repented of his sin, but I can understand why Jesus so strongly said, “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust in his eye has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

So if your eye — even if it is your good eye — causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand — even if it is your stronger hand — causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” (Matthew 5:27-30 NLT)

It’s a lesson we can all learn from, and none of us should ever even dare think, “Well, I would never do that,” because scripture says, “The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I know! I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9 NLT)

© 2012
Cheryl A. Showers