Asking questions is a very good way to coax your pupil into examining himself. The Lord, throughout His Holy Word, has asked some outstanding questions. He is the ultimate questioner and the best teacher one could ever have. He asked a very good question in Proverbs 20:9, "Who can say, 'I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin'?" (NIV)
The rest of the Bible makes it clear that all have sinned, everyone has missed the mark, no human is good. So clearly, the expected answer to this question is no one.
This question reminds me of the time the woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus, who told the religious leaders that they were welcome to stone her as long as one of them without sin would begin the stoning. Obviously, that brought the ordeal to a screeching halt.
I am particularly amazed with the reason why the religious leaders brought her to Jesus in the first place. They were trying to find a way to discredit Christ, which is a common theme of the New Testament. What is so special about this particular instance? It seems to me that agreeing to stone her would have gotten Jesus off the hook completely. He would have been expressing obedience to the Law. The religious leaders would have been keenly aware of that possible option for Him. They would have seen that Jesus had an easy way out of the dilemma they created. But they realized that Jesus loved all people, sinners included, sinners especially. The religious leaders were sure that Jesus would not consent to stoning this woman. That would give them a chance to condemn Him for not strictly following The Law. Their faith that He would show mercy is a wonderful testimony to His mercy, His grace, His love, His forgiving nature. I wish I were more like Him.
Is there one who is pure from sin? Yes, there is One. Hebrews 4:15-16 says, "We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (NASU) Isn't that wonderful. Our Savior is like us but not like us. We can come to Him. We can find mercy and grace in Him. We receive it when we need it. That brings me back to chapter 20 of Proverbs. I think verse 8, "When a king sits on his throne to judge, he winnows out all evil with his eyes." is connected to verse 9, "Who can say, 'I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin'?"
It seems to me that we should see Christ in both verse 8 and verse 9. He is the King who sits on the throne of justice and winnows (disperses or scatters) all evil with His eyes. He kept His heart pure. He dispersed evil from His own life. No one ever faced as great a level of temptation and yet He did not sin. Time and again, in an effort to trap Him, evil men came to Him with deceitful dilemmas. Time and again, He dispersed them with His perfect answers. He also disperses evil in the lives of all repentant sinners who will repent and believe His offer of forgiveness.
Not only does Christ disperse the evil but He replaces it with mercy and grace that we need in just the time that we need it. All He asks is that we go and sin no more. What a wonderful Savior!
Pastor Steve Ellison may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.