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. 

Prayerlessness (Lessons From Hannah and Eli)

Prayerlessness (Lessons From Hannah and Eli)
Robert Wurtz II

So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the LORD. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the LORD and wept in anguish. Then she made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” 

And it happened, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!” 

But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.” Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him.” (1 Samuel 1:9–17 NKJV)

It is hard to read this passage and not be riled by the complete lack of discernment that Eli showed when Hannah wept before the Lord. Here was a man ready to accuse a praying woman for being drunk, while his two playing sons Hophni and Phinehas were living like devils in the ministry unthwarted.  

Hannah wept because she had no son. Her husband tried to comfort her by giving her extra food to eat, but his other wife Peninnah, in her diabolic cruelty tormented Hannah until she couldn’t even eat. Then Hannah goes to the house of the Lord to pray about the situation and is met with Eli’s recklessness. the devil will use anything or anyone to discourage us from praying. In modern times, we might characterize Eli’s actions as criminal negligence. Nevertheless, while he was watching Hannah’s lips, God was hearkening to her prayer. In fact, he wist not that Hannah was praying in his replacement. 

Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. (1 Corinthians 10:11 ESV)

It is folly to pretend to have faculties of spiritual discernment and yet be void of basic common sense. Paul once told the Corinthians, who were keen on moving on the Spiritual gifts, “…does not even nature teach you?” (
1 Cor. 11:14a) Any person who had even the faintest understanding of Jehovah would have known how evil these boys were in His sight. For starters, they were having sexual relations with women in the Temple. To make matters worse Phinehas had a pregnant wife at home. Moreover, in their gluttony they would take the largest portions of the offering for themselves causing the offering of the Lord to be despised. It is sobering to think that a sinner could probably been called in to bring correction to such high-handed disregard for the things of God. That’s how bad they were. 

Why did Eli allow this to happen? God said it was because he honored his sons more than he honored YHWH (Jehovah God). Loyalty is when you will stand by a person even when they are in the wrong; faithfulness is when we will stand for truth no matter who it effects. Eli’s loyalty to his sons trumped his faithfulness to God. Absolutely nothing moved Eli to correct His sons. He was receiving undeniable and direct threats from God (not that God makes any idle threat). God spoke to him in the strongest of ways warning him of what would happen if he did not stop them. Nevertheless, he carried on into the 40th year as if God was not talking. 

Prayers and Players

Our times are little different than the day Hannah prayed as Eli’s sons played. There are people today who are vexed by the high-handedness of our times and pray that God will send revival. All the while the reports come in each year of another minister or worship leader who duped the people for years while living to a greater or lesser degree like Hophni and Phinehas. Men and women who were lauded as being “anointed” and how you could “feel the presence of God” while they preached and sang — turn out to be in adulterous affairs or worse. There is a blindness today that is the direct result of prayerlessness. Some hear these things and are disillusioned while others line up in their defense. 

While a chorus of articles will go on to press on the topic of “not judging” I think we need to ask a more pointed question; why do we seem to have so much sin in the camp and yet we laud the presence of God being among us? A cursory read of the Old Testament reveals that God does not dwell among people when sin is rife. I suggest that what people call the presence of God is not the presence of God at all. It’s the same goosebumps they would feel if they attended a secular concert. Modern technology moves people. In the old days people needed to pray so that God would honor the meetings. Today the musicians just play and the people think they are feeling God. Men can falsify the presence of God by creating an atmosphere with sound and lights. But the environment is often one of prayerlessness. Not prayer as in listen to your favorite worship singer and sing along… prayer as in getting away and praying with a pure conscience until you truly touch God. 

When a person is right with God they don’t need modern technology to prop them up. the presence of God in the Old Testament was akin to our concept of “face to face” or “eye to eye.” When our conscience is clear we can know the presence of God. However, a person can be playing around in sin, switch the power button on to the sound system and fool themselves and other people into thinking it’s the presence of God. This is how these scandals go on for years and people still think God is with the person

What happens? Prayerlessness is compensated for with music that generates a false presence of God. These are the cold facts. In the old days when someone was off of their game everyone could tell because they struggled to minister. They had no unction. Not today. Technology serves as a kind of life-support to keep things feeling and seeming to be spiritual. A preacher can crank up his microphone and many people will think he‘s anointed and “powerful.” Switch the power off and see what happens.

The same lack of discernment that characterized Eli’s life, and the same style playing around in the house of God is here today. Carnal professors of Christianity would rather rebuke the person who is trying to touch God than rebuke the people who are causing God’s presence to leave. The consolation that we have is that God will answer the Hannah’s of the world in due time. It took decades for things to turn around in Israel… but turn around it did.       

Unpublished Scandal (Lessons from the Pericope Adulterae)

Unpublished Scandal
Robert Wurtz II

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)

And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? (Romans 2:3 NKJV)

I have drawn attention to these two passages as a unit to illustrate a particular behavior pattern that the scripture denounces expressly. In John 8:3-5, we have the beginning of what scholars call the Pericope Adulterae — more commonly known as the woman taken in the very act of adultery. In Romans 2:3, Paul warns us not to judge others for doing something we “occasionally do” because that would be an invitation to the judgment of God. They taught things that they did not live by and then had the audacity to judge others who ignored their teachings. Apparently, certain religious Jews (perhaps teachers) lived as if they were immune to the law simply because they were Jews. Sadly, some Christians expect the same immunity. 

The story of the woman taken in adultery illustrates a severe character flaw in some religious people. How could a person condemn someone else for doing the very thing they do or have done in the past? Clearly, it is because they never got caught. Their sin was never widely known so they conduct themselves as if they never sinned. This is what the religious leaders attempted to do. It was not until Jesus told them, “You who are without sin cast the first stone” that they came to their senses. In fact, they were convicted by their own conscience. They would have had this woman stoned while deserving to be stoned themselves. Amazingly devilish!

Unpublished Scandal

There is nothing more disillusioning than to have a Christian condemn others for moral failures — only to have it discovered that they had moral failures in their own past. What is worse is when a person makes a life of condemning others for lesser crimes than they committed. Paul asks, And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God? (Romans 2:3 NKJV) Apparently, God despises this attitude. As Matthew Henry once said, “Preaching against sin does not atone for the guilt of it.” 

Moreover, if there is one thing the world resents it is to watch religious people feign perfection. God never excuses sin, nor should we. Nevertheless, we must have the attitude of Jesus who showed mercy when it was needed. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” (John 8:10–11 NKJV) Jesus had never sinned, and yet wanted mercy for this sinful woman. 

The attitude of the religious person is the opposite. They know they have sinned and need mercy, but are unwilling to extend that mercy to others. Why did they bring the woman? Why not the man? A religious spirit will always condemn the woman and let the man off scott-free. When Adam sinned God came calling his name not Eve’s. Notice their attitude was to condemn selectively and not universally. If they like you — you get a free pass. If they hate you — you get condemned. This is the hypocrisy of it all. People always show mercy to the people they love. If they don’t show mercy they don’t love the person. That’s the simplicity of it. 

Judgment Day Publications

There is coming a day when the pretenders who judged others for the very things they committed are going to be exposed for the frauds that they are.  Paul told Timothy, “Some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later.” (1 Timothy 5:24 NKJV) If God were to pull back the cover and expose everyones’ life sins we would all be mortified. The sad and perplexing thing is that people will walk around as if they had never sinned — knowing they had lived scandalously and if God were to expose them they would be utterly ruined. It is because God’s instinct is to cover that we have any hope. Love covers a multitude of sins. 

The right attitude is found in Paul’s writings to the Galatians 6, “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) Spiritual people work to gently restore those who have been “overtaken” in a trespass. The great Greek scholar A.T. Robertson comments on this verse, “The spiritually led (Galatians 5:18) are the spiritual experts in mending souls. Restore (katartizete). Present active imperative of katartizoœ, the very word used in Matt. 4:21 of mending nets.” We are to help people get back on track — not condemn.  

The Devil’s Device of Discouragement

The Devil’s Device of Discouragement
Robert Wurtz II

Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. (2 Cor. 2:8)

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Cor. 2:11)

I wish in this short entry to draw attention to this passage in order to demonstrate how the enemy of our soul will use discouragement to destroy a person if he is given the opportunity. It is one of his ‘devices’ or ‘strategies’. The church at Corinth was dealing with a young man that committed a terrible sin, worse than was even found among the Gentiles. He took his fathers wife to himself. Paul gives direction to them that they are to put away from themselves this wicked person. He has as a first line of priority the protection of the congregation. Fornication is a leaven that will leaven an entire church if it be not dealt with. So Paul deals strongly with it. However, it was not to destroy the person, but was always with a design of seeing the person come to repentance. 

 Restoring the Person

Paul never forgot about this young man. In fact, a close reading of the text reveals that he was very concerned about his time having been put out of the church. His desire was to see a godly sorrow bring about a repentance where the mind and behavior changed and did not change back. But there is a point in which leaving the person in the hands of Satan and this world could actually destroy them and their faith- rather than securing repentance. This is important to consider. Satan desires to destroy our faith. He wants people to feel unloved and bitter towards the church. Paul said we are not ignorant of the Devil’s devices. We know he will try to do this. The solution? Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. (2 Cor. 2:8) This is it. We must confirm our love. 

There are times when things go on in the churches of God that need to be dealt with, but we must ever be mindful that the enemy will try to jump right in the middle of what we are doing to bring confusion and destruction. He uses discouragement as a powerful weapon. Paul said if we are not careful Satan will gain an advantage over us. Literally the passage reads, “in order that we be not made gain of, or overreached, by Satan.” The Revised version renders it, “that no advantage may be gained over us.” Satan is opportunistic and when we let our guard down he will strike. Discouraged people are a primary target of Satan. It is during these times that he will move in with temptation and lies seeking to turn your heart away from God. 

Common Sense

Satan wants people mad at the church or mad at God. He wants circumstances to develop that may or may not be of our own doing that he can use to discourage us. It could be a misunderstanding or what C.S. Lewis spoke of in Screw Tape Letters when he described how Satan works on peoples minds. The devil talks to people in their mind and heart and he will work a situation with slander and lies until he has made a mountain out of a molehill. He will put the worst possible construction on an event and speak that into your mind. Where there are uncertainties he will fill the blanks in with all kinds of lies and exaggerations. Before we know what has happened Satan has brought the whole church low. Understand that the word discourage means to cause a person to lose confidence or enthusiasm. Both parties in a conflict could be right from their particular point of view and yet both end up discouraged because of the conflict of disagreement. This is Satan’s common sense strategy. Sow strife and confusion. 

Discouraged and Tempted

Don’t be surprised when Satan comes to tempt you during times of discouragement. It is his strategy. Thanks be to God we are not ignorant of it. He is liable to tell you to go back to the very sins that God set you free from. Stress and pressure can weaken our defenses and if we are not careful we can fail in the grace of God. Satan don’t discriminate, he wants to destroy the fornicator and the minister. He wants to destroy everyone he possibly can. So we have to be on guard. How? Recognize when Satan is bringing discouragement and try to deal with situations such as sin and disagreements without allowing him to prevail. Some situations are complicated and hard to deal with. Paul’s answer, again, Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. (2 Cor. 2:8) The answer is love. Why? because love counteracts the lies of Satan by compelling us to put the best construction on events. Satan will work our minds to put the worst construction on. We must not succumb to his slanderous ways. 

What about just overall discouragement? Satan will move in those times as well and we must be alert to his plan. If we get discouraged he will start talking into our ears and before we know it we are thinking carnally and reverting back to old patterns of dealing with things. Recognize these times and submit yourself unto God. We are told that if we will do this and resist the Devil- He will flee from us. (James 4:7)

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