In our last post, we talked about our value and where it comes from. We also wandered into the topic of GOD’s forgiveness. He created us, then, when we, as the human race, rejected Him, we were broken and became spiritually dead as a result of the Fall. He provided a way to provide redemption and forgiveness for us when we were totally unable to save ourselves from the consequences of our rebellious behavior.
We have value as image-bearers of GOD. But that image has been marred and broken by the Fall. We need a new heart that only GOD can give us.
GOD created us with value because we were created in His image. Then He paid the penalty for our sin and brokenness so we could be whole again. Until we become part of His family, that is not possible. GOD gives us a new heart with new desires when we become His child. We can now seek after Him where we didn’t before.
We are still valuable because we are created in the image of GOD, no matter how broken or marred. But He has provided a way for us to be changed, redeemed. He has provided a way for us to have a right relationship with Him again. That was through Christ and His sacrifice on the Cross for our sin.
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.
And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you.
I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant,
that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.
Ezekiel 36:26-30 ESV
As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,
you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house,
to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession,
that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
I Peter 2:4-5, 9-10 ESV
When we come to Christ, we become new creatures. He gives us a new heart as these promises show. He gives us a soft tender heart instead of a hard one. This new heart happens right away in one sense. But in another, the outworking of this new heart, happens over time as GOD changes us to become more in line with who we really are.
One illustration that shows how He feels about us is found in this story.
But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them.
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground.
But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him.
Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
John 8:1-11 ESV
This woman knew forgiveness in Jesus that the Pharisees didn’t know. They were trusting in their own self-righteousness! She knew she had no righteousness apart from Jesus!
This story is not found in every Gospel or even every manuscript. But somehow it made it into the Bible and as one commentator said, it sounds just like Jesus! This woman was dragged from a probable set-up situation, alone. I have no idea where her partner was, but it obviously took two people to participate in the adultery! Somehow, the man was able to get off…not unusual in that day.
Meanwhile, here is the woman alone to face public ridicule, being dragged in front of all the religious people! Even if she was a professional, this had to be embarrassing and shameful for her! Now she was standing in front of the synagogue in front of the prominent people in the community and this very well-known speaker, Jesus.
Of course, the Pharisees wanted to catch Him in a mistake. But He was able to show His compassion for this woman, and his awareness of their hearts.His recommendation? That the first man who hadn’t sinned throw the first stone. With that, they each realized they were sinful and none of them could stand up to Jesus’ standard of being without sin! One by one, they walked away.
With only Jesus left behind, the woman realized her accusers were gone…and He was not accusing her. What do we do to give hope to people like this woman?
This past weekend we had an intown retreat for our women. Our speaker was Abby Hutto and Abby Hutto. **She spoke about this woman with our afternoon group of leaders. These aren’t the women we always seek out, but they are often you and me in our times of need. We know we are a mess. We are horribly embarrassed for our failure, whatever it is. We can’t imagine that GOD isn’t at least disappointed in us and at most, ready to toss the first stone!
But He loves us. He is present with us in our time of need. He is drawing us toward Him if we aren’t part of His family. Oh, that our local churches would reflect His heart for the least, the lost, the hurting. That we would be part of the Encouragers who would be redressing these hurting people with the glory of GOD that He wants for them.
**One speaker, 2 links.