Selective Mercy

Selective Mercy
Robert Wurtz II

“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1 NKJV)

“Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”” (John 8:3–5 NKJV)

The scribes and Pharisees, according to Stephen in Acts 7:51, always resisted the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the influence of the Holy Spirit was absent from their life except where He “goaded” them as He did Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:5). The Pharisees were not spiritual people. One must have the Holy Spirit in order to be spiritual. The scribes and Pharisees moved in the realm of the flesh. So it should not surprise us that they were basically unmerciful people. At least, they showed selective mercy. Saul, the ultimate Pharisee (Acts 26:4, Galatians 1:14), went as far as to have Christians killed believing he was doing God a service. Prior to his change he was a very unmerciful and violent man. 

Pericope Adulterae 

There is no evil quiet so wicked as that which is performed under the guise of doing right. The scribes and Pharisees pretended to be “righteous” while dragging and humiliating a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus. Their hypocrisy was soon discovered as each one was made to face their conscience after the Lord spoke the famous words, “He who is without sin let him first cast a stone at her.” Even these callous Pharisees had sense enough to know not to stone the woman after being reminded of the many terrible sins they themselves had committed. 

What is more striking in these verses is that these hypocrites failed to humiliate the man too. It is my experience that hypocrites often blame the woman first — though this has not been God’s pattern as evidenced in the Garden of Eden or with David and Bathsheba. Nevertheless, these experts in the law disregarded these plain facts and exercised their selective mercy upon the person of their choice. Was he a friend of theirs? Was he one of the men’s son or brother? Or did they let him off simply because they believed that men were superior to women? God only knows. It’s very hard to be consistent in your theology and righteous in its application when prejudice and familiarity are in play. 

What Do You Say?

Jesus was full of the Holy Spirit. His life was the prime expression of the fruit of the Spirit listed in the final verses of Galatians 5. He had no sin — therefore He was the only person worthy of stoning that woman. He did not. He simply said, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”
(John 8:11b NKJV) These are two essential things. Paul moves to the matter of fallen believers in Galatians 6:1 when he writes, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness (…).” Notice who are qualified to restore, the spiritual people. That is, the people who exude the fruit of the Spirit. People who have fallen in sin need spiritual people around them and not carnal folks like the scribes and Pharisees. 

Carnal people will think up all kinds of reasons not to restore a person. Again, they move in selective mercy so they would restore family, friends, peers, etc. What about the outcast? What about a person they dislike? What about their rival? Carnal professors of Christ will destroy those people and do it in the name of being righteous, protecting the innocent, keeping the standard, or any other excuse. The carnal just can’t find it in themselves to let certain people up. They will restore their friends and family; but they will expose and humiliate everyone else. 

The carnal believer will “throw the first stone” knowing they have done similar things. It does not matter to them. Their sins, their friends sins, and their families sins are all “under the blood” (forgiven). They get hostile if you bring their sins up. However, they don’t mind dragging up other peoples’ past to expose and humiliate them. I have personally known of so-called Christians calling pastors to expose people in their congregations who were trying to move on with their life. All the while they fear that someone would make that call and expose their past. Amazing! But it is happening. Some have slipped into relationships and dropped bits of information breaking up engagements (or attempted to). They wont let certain people get past their past — but they work diligently to make sure their past is not exposed. What hypocrisy! What happens? Everyone outside their “circle of love” is subject to the carnal treatment leveled upon the woman taken in adultery. This is a terrible and diabolical evil. People who engage in these type sins are carnal enemies of the cross no matter what their title is. Scribe and Pharisee was a pretty hefty title, but it did not shield them from the reality of their evil and in the end they were exposed for their hypocrisy.  

Again, Paul says it plainly “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1 NKJV) Notice the words, considering yourself. This is what spiritual people are to do when they are helping restore the fallen. They don’t ride their high-horse and act like they never sinned. They think about their own lives — what they have done in the past and where they would be had God not showed them mercy and grace. This humbles the spiritual and gives them the right spirit in which to handle fallen saints. On the other hand, the carnal scribes and Pharisees humiliated a woman and were about to stone her to death with sin riding on their own conscience. What evil! This is why hell is going to be so hot. 

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