One of the most important things about relationship is to understand the person with whom you’re gong to have relationship, and that also applies to God.
You need to understand the basic nature and character of God in order to have a healthy relationship with Him. Misunderstanding His character and nature is one of the reasons many people don’t have a positive relationship with Him. This is exactly what happened in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were tempted by the serpent. They entered into temptation, ultimately disobeyed God, and plunged the whole human race into sin. This is actually a part of the temptation.
The story in Genesis 3:1-5 is familiar to most people: “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree in the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the free which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods [God], knowing good and evil.”
They were tryi8ng to get Jesus to carry out the Old Testament commandment to stone a person taken in the act of adultery. To show they weren’t sincere in trying to get a proper judgment but were try8ing to entrap Him, the Bible says that she was taken in the very act of adultery (which means a man had to be present), but they didn’t bring the man. They brought her, knowing Jesus had been preaching that God loves us even if we have sinned and fallen short and wants to extend mercy to us. They knew the woman would solicit sympathy from Jesus. If He failed to pass the judgment prescribed in the Law, they would be able to kill Him. If He did execute the judgment and stoned her, His followers would leave Him because His message of mercy, grace, and forgiveness would be compromised.
There is a subtle statement by Satan here that God is not really a good God… that He was trying to withhold something from Adam and Eve… that He didn’t want them to reach their full potential… that He didn’t want them to be like Himself… and that the reason He made the rule about not eating of the tree of life as to hinder or hurt them. In a sense, Satan came against the very nature and character of God when he maligned Him and said God did not want the best for them. The same thing is exactly what’s happening to people today. Satan tells them, “If you follow God and don’t experiment with all these things that are contrary to His Word, you’ll never experience true happiness. Life will be boring… dead.” The sad fact is that people experience after the fact that the drugs, alcohol, sex, rebellion, indulgence of self, success in jobs, and all the other things they tried didn’t satisfy them. By the time they realize it, they’ve already destroyed their lives, their families, and their health.
They thought this was a no-win situation for Jesus, but He ignored them, reached down, and began writing on the ground. When they asked Him again, he got up, said the person without sin should cast the first stone, and they began to be convicted by their own consciences. Scripture doesn’t tell exactly what He wrote, but I believe He was making some kind of statement. Perhaps He was writing some of their secret sins, using His supernatural ability to look into their hearts to know what they were thinking. Whatever He wrote, they were convicted by the power of the Holy Spirit that they weren’t without sin, and they left. He said to the woman in John 8:10-11, “Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?
The truth is that God is a good God, and His will for us is only good. But Satan uses the same temptations on us today that came against Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden; basically implying that God is not a good God. Those who have only a little understanding of the Bible could get that impression because there are instances in the Word where He treated people in harsh, cruel ways. In Numbers 15:32-36, a man picked up sticks on the Sabbath Day and was stoned to death for failing to observe the Sabbath. That sounds harsh, but there was a purpose behind such punishments, though it’s not obvious to most people in a casual reading of Scripture. Careful study reveals that Old Testament law was given to make the sin that we’ve committed become exceedingly sinful, as Paul says in Romans 7:13. The purpose was that people didn’t realize how deadly their transgressions were and that they were an offence against God. They made the mistake of comparing among themselves and measuring their actions by what other people were doing.
If someone committed a sin and wasn’t struck dead, they thought sin must not be so bad, and they lowered their standards. They had lost the true perspective on what right and wrong was. God had to bring mankind back to a plumb line, a proper standard of what right living was, so they would reject the devil and his temptations and recognize what the end result of their wrong choices would be. Then when He had to enforce the law He gave. God did not give the Old Testament commandments for the purpose of saying, “Until you do all these things, I can’t accept you or love you.” That is not his nature or character. Rather, He gave them to make our sense of right and wrong more acute and to bring us back to the fact that we need a Saviour. The problem has been that people thought God was demanding perfection before He could love them, which led to the attitude may have that His love for them is directly proportional to their performance. They fell that until they try to do everything exactly right, they will not be accepted by God, and that is not the message of the Bible.
She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her; Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.” Jesus didn’t condone her sin but told her to go and sin no more, extending mercy to her. Contrast this to the Old Testament that says the woman should have been killed and shown no mercy. Jesus was God manifested in the flesh. This same God that gave the commandment to stone a person to death and show them no mercy turned and showed mercy to a person taken in the very act of adultery.
That appears to be contradictory, as though there are two different Gods. Will the God of the Old Testament or the God of the New Testament be the God we serve? The truth is that the Bible says Jesus is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. God has never changed. His love for mankind has never changed. He has always sought to reconcile mankind to Himself, and the Old Testament Law with its harshness was not a true representation of Him. It was true in the sense of justice, but it didn’t reveal the mercy and heart of God. Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus was the express image (exact representation) of the Father, a perfect manifestation of God’s heart, and He shows us His real heart.
God’s heart is to reconcile mankind to Himself not to judge them… not to impute their sins… not to hold their sins against them. That’s the heart of God for people in the Bible and also His heart for us today. We need to understand His real heart, that “God is Love” (1 John 4:8). He seeks to take away your sins and anything that would separate you from Him. He’s already done it though Jesus, and He’s offering you relationship today, not based on your performance but on your faith and acceptance of Jesus bearing your sins. You can have relationship with God today regardless of the failures in your life. All he asks is that you put your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God bless you as you consider that today.
There are many illustrations of this in the Word. There is an example in John 8 where a woman was taken in the very act of adultery and brought to Jesus for judgement. The people who brought her weren’t really trying to get a proper judgment form him but were using the situation to entrap Him. John 8:3-7 says, “And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, They said unto him, Master this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her”.