I Have Done No Wrong

Reading the Word

This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.”(Proverbs 30:20, ESV)

Understanding and Applying the Word

We read of the adulterous woman who eats and wipes her mouth. The picture is of one who eats her meal, cleans up, and goes on. The adulteress treats her sin in the same way as eating a meal. It is just the normal, daily activity and no thought is given to the wrong. In fact, she says, “I have done no wrong.”

It is a dangerous place to be when we no longer even consider our sin. When our conscience is so seared that our sin becomes routine and we begin to lose sight of right and wrong, we can be sure that we have gone far from God. The sinful heart can lead all of us away from God’s will and can cause us to reject correction and even justify our sinfulness. We need God’s word, God’s Spirit, and the people of God to help us along. It is through these three means that we learn how to live as the people of God as we are both encouraged and corrected in our daily lives. Be sure to read the word, pray, and be a part of a loving church.

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Easy Divorce

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Reading the Word

Luke 16:18 (ESV)

18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 19:9; Mark 10:11-12

Understanding and Applying the Word

Luke’s Gospel does only addresses the issue of divorce in this one verse. Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:9, and Mark 10:11-12 give us a fuller understanding of Jesus’ teaching on this topic. Jesus’ teaching on divorce went against the common Jewish practice of his day. The common understanding, based on Deuteronomy 24:1-4, said that a husband could divorce his wife if he “found some indecency in her.” This was taken to mean that if the husband found anything at all he did not like about his wife, he could divorce her. This was known as an “any cause” divorce.

Jesus’ teaching stood in stark contrast to the accepted practice of divorce in his day. Jesus taught that marriage was given by God and that when a man and woman married the two became one. This union was to be lasting and only the most severe things should be cause for divorce. So, when a man and woman divorced for small or minor reasons, such a divorce was not recognized by God. When the man or woman then entered into a union with another, they were guilty of adultery because the previous marriage was still in force in the eyes of God.

Sadly, we have become a culture that treats marriage and divorce much like the people Jesus was addressing. We are quick to divorce due to the smallest problems, rather than keeping our vows to remain committed even in the difficult times. Our marriages are supposed to be a picture of God’s relationship with us. Though we are often guilty of neglecting him, he remains faithful to us and stands ready to forgive and renew. We need to learn to practice the same patience, forgiveness, and grace in our marriages if they are to last and reflect the love of God.

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The Woman Caught in Adultery

I am away at a conference for a few days and will not be able to post devotional content. I will post daily Bible readings from the life of Christ. Thanks for reading!

John 7:53-8:11 (ESV)

53 They went each to his own house, 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.2 Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. 3 The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst 4 they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. 5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” 6 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. 7 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.” 8 And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. 9 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. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

A Matter of the Heart

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Reading the Word

Matthew 5:27–32 (ESV)

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

31 “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus pointed back to the Ten Commandments in yesterday’s reading, he does again when he speaks of adultery. He quotes from Exodus 20:14. However, he does not simply repeat what the people had been told through their traditions and other teachers. He tells them that not only is the actual act of adultery a violation of the law, but so is lust. Sin originates in our hearts. It is not only something we do outside of ourselves. Jesus goes on to say that we should treat sin very seriously. He uses the extreme examples of removing our eyes and cutting off our hands to keep from sinning. While Jesus was using hyperbole to make his case, it is clear how Jesus thought of sin.

In verses 31-32, we read about the issue of divorce. In these verses, Jesus addresses the “easy divorce” culture of the time. It was common for men to divorce their wives for any reason they wanted, even if it was trivial. Jesus swings the pendulum the other way and tells them that marriage is supposed to be lasting. It was designed to be life-long. Divorce should be rare and only in extreme circumstances.

In these verses, Jesus teaches us that sin is ultimately a matter of the heart. We do not please God simply by going through all of the external motions of religion. That is what the Pharisees did and Jesus told his disciples, “Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” God desires true righteousness and holiness from his people. He desires pure hearts.

If we are honest, we know that we do not measure up to the standard that Christ lays out in his sermon. However, he told us that he came to fulfill the law (Matthew 5:17). He fulfilled it on our behalf. When we admit our need of a Savior and turn to Jesus, we receive his righteousness and he takes our sin upon himself. That is why he went to the cross. He went to pay for the sins of the world.

Praise the Lord for our righteous Savior whose righteousness belongs to those who trust in him. Now, as we walk in the forgiveness of Christ, let us set our hearts on holiness and righteousness as we show our love for him.

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God’s Plans or Our Plans?

matthew 118 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 1:18–25 (ESV)

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When Joseph found out the Mary was pregnant, they were not yet married. They were what we might call “engaged” in our current world. This presented a big problem. Pre-marital sex was not acceptable behavior in Jewish culture. The couple would be looked upon with suspicion and face ridicule from the community. Also, a who was the father? Joseph had to be wondering who Mary had been seeing behind his back. So, Joseph was ready to do what we would probably expect. He was ready to end the relationship.

As Joseph considered what he would do, an angel appeared to him and told him about Mary’s pregnancy and the importance of this child. Mary had not been unfaithful, but the child was of the Holy Spirit and was the fulfillment of prophecy from Isaiah 7:14. So, when Joseph awoke, he remained with Mary and they named the baby Jesus.

We should not quickly look past the impact the birth of Jesus likely had on Joseph. Mary’s pregnancy would have been a shock to the community and would have caused whispering and confrontation over improper sexual conduct. Joseph’s reputation likely suffered and he probably faced pressure to admit his sin or divorce his adulterous wife. Yet Joseph heard the word of God through the angelic messenger and accepted that this was the Lord’s plan for him. It would be difficult, but he was willing to do what God had called him to do. Would we be willing to do or go wherever God might call us, even if it meant difficulty for us? Do we trust the plans and purposes of God even when they interfere with our own plans?

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.