Introduction Jabulani Dube
Prayer is needed for the mission in order that it will not be taken over. We will lose out on so much - youth conferences twice a year and the numerous congregations that are affiliated to the mission. Employees, especially of aQuelle will lose their jobs. There is a boycott against aQuelle due to the present allegations, although many of the allegations have been answered, there is no conclusion. Many people have been blessed through the ministry of KwaSizabantu. They come from all over the world and our country with drug-related problems and they are helped free of charge. The boycott on aQuelle will have far-reaching effects on the economy of SA. So many have benefitted from aQuelle and all the income is channelled back into the community as we do not request money.
We want to kneel down in faith in accordance with Mark 11:24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received[a] it, and it will be yours. Let us kneel and ask God who is gracious and who has promised that if we ask in faith He will give us what we ask. Satan does not rest. He is hard at work with his own agenda but at the same time God is also at work.
Wind and storms are necessary because the roots of the tree grow deeper down. Farmers do not have all the answers. Each area that he farms has different climate and soil but he continues trying and eventually he masters his craft. A hailstorm can destroy everything in 5-10 minutes and the farmer prays and begins again.
I thank Baba Dube for his prayer this morning. The attack on the church is ferocious. But this is not the first time and it will not be the last. It is a good sign. Reverend Stegen has always said that the devil hates what we do but may He, by His grace, grant wisdom and grace. We have experienced so many things in the last few weeks which we would never have learnt had we not faced these circumstances. The devil wants us to doubt what the Lord has taught us since the beginning. He wants us to question what Reverend Stegen has done and how the Lord has worked through him. May we never reach that point. Peter doubted when he did the impossible. When Peter saw the ferocity of the storm which he had to face, he doubted. But God graciously stretched out His hand and grabbed hold of Peter who was sincere and upright in what he tried to do.
You must be very careful if you look at things and listen to the malicious talk. You need to pray that God will keep you safe. God never makes a mistake. He knows what He is doing. We might think that this ship has gone rogue – never ever! It is God who steers the ship. Why do I say this? Last week I received the same verse from three different people across the world who do not know each other.
No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall refute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication[e] from me, declares the Lord.” Isaiah 54:17
This pertains to the church of Christ. He says, “This is your heritage.” Those who wanted to denounce and destroy Christ will do the same with the Church of Christ. When Christ was nailed to the cross Satan saw his greatest victory, only to experience that it was man’s redemption in this world. One thing is sure, God is victorious and He said that not because of what we are, or what the church is but because of His holy, glorified name.
Today’s text is a well-known portion.
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.” John 8:1-11
Jesus was teaching the people. They wanted to hear what He said and were overcome by His words, however, while He was teaching, others were planning something different. The devil strikes at the least expected moment. That is why the Lord taught us to watch and pray.
6 This they said to test him that they might have some charge to bring against him. A group of religious men wanted to test Christ in order to accuse Him. Over the centuries this has been the norm in the Christian church - people rise up to accuse men of God. When you meet Christ, you invite the devil to accuse you because one of his names is the accuser, his other name is Diabolus, the confuser, which is how he attacks many Christians. So when a man accuses you, hold your peace. He accuses you because he is like that. The Pharisees and scribes were part of a group who devised a plan to bring Christ down. Remember, a few sit down and plan, the rest move along. They are confused. They are misused because they do not know what the real plan is.
I heard of a group that would always meet. One man could not get along with the other. When he said something the other would oppose him. Why? The one had a grudge against the other which nobody actually knew about and they attacked each other because of what was in their hearts. Be careful of the motives of your heart. What lies behind your words and deeds?
The real enemies of Christ were the ones who hatched this devilish plan. Commentaries say that they misused the woman. She was part of their plan to discredit Jesus. They did not care about her, they were concerned about their plan. They must have known this woman and her lifestyle so they set a trap for her. To catch somebody in the act of adultery, they must be caught red-handed. It cannot be a surmising or thinking. There always had to be two witness. Over the centuries, very few stonings took place because it was not easy to catch the people in the act. The law stated at that time that witnesses to the act were needed. Commentators say that she was set her up. These men were educated, learned men but this does not mean that they were men of God. It could mean the opposite because of what they were busy with. They did not commit the crime, oh no, they were holy but they got others to do it. They were guiltless. I believe that this women just found herself surrounded by these men. She did not know their plans but they knew what they were doing.
This does not condone her lifestyle. The Bible says that people like these are outside the kingdom of heaven whether they are men, women, family members or not. The hatred, the viciousness, the jealousy and the bitterness of these men drove them so far that they were prepared to sacrifice others to do their dirty work. Friends, let us never misuse somebody else because of what we want to achieve. Let Christ lead and guide our lives. We are all different. We must accommodate each other and that is why Christ brought us together and that is we grow in grace and strength.
I had to think of Joseph who was set up. Why? The Bible says he was handsome, I believe he was spiritually handsome, and the devil set a trap. Joseph who had no evil motives. He found himself alone in one room with this evil woman. She must have prepared herself for these minutes - her clothing too tight with everything sticking out. She was there to bring this man to the ground but when she saw that Joseph was not enticed by her to sin, she grabbed hold of him. Fathers, brothers, does this entice you? If you would find yourself in that situation what would you have done, how would you have reacted? But Joseph escaped her grip and left his jacket behind. She had the best evidence the world could have - his jacket. The media would have had a feast because they always report evil but good is ignored. We would have seen things like ‘Joseph wanted to rape the queen or the wife of a Potiphar.’ The devil will set up traps and if you are drawn in this direction then your life is in danger. What was the evidence? The coat which belonged to Joseph, which nobody doubted, and he was found guilty. I do not know whether she ever spoke the truth but God did. Joseph was condemned for his righteousness. If a man or woman sins, they must carry the sin but the danger is if you do not make it right, you will influence the generations that follow.
The Pharisees knew when and where to strike and they had the guts to do it in the temple. While Jesus was teaching they made such a commotion about this evil woman. Where was the man? Why was the man not placed in the centre with the woman? The law stated that the witness should throw the first stone. They knew and Christ knew. He understood their aim. He ate with and spent time with sinners – now they wanted to use that very thing against them.
When young men were brought to the mission to be helped from their sinful lifestyle, here was an outcry. These sinners will defile this place. Have you made that right? Have you ever admitted that you were part of that crowd that stood up against Christ and what He was doing? This is how we know KwaSizabantu – the place where people are helped but for some people, this was a grave mistake.
The Pharisees set this thing up. This was a test. There was something hidden in what they were doing. Thank God that Christ had discernment. Reverend Stegen always taught us that we should pray for the gift of discernment. We have children of God, servants of the Most High, who know and recognise evil from afar off, people who understand the way God works and the attacks of the evil one. This is why they are viciously attacked (maybe because they are Africans). Africans have something very few whites have. How wonderful that we can live together. The world hates these godly people but what would we be without their guidance and help.
What will you achieve by finding the mistakes of others? Will this put you into heaven? If you want to find fault with Dietmar, you might find it but I want to grow. I want to continue and learn God’s way. This does not stop me from saying what I have got to say. If you want to find mistakes in others, you will find them even if they are not mistakes but in your eyes they will be mistakes. We need to be so careful that the way we do things, we are always there to build, lift up and strengthen.
5 Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” Christ ignored them. They continued but he looked at the ground and wrote in the sand. He took no notice of them. This is the only time that know that Christ wrote something. While they were accusing, he was thinking of what He would write. Some commentators say that He wrote their sins in the ground, others say that He wrote the names of the accusers. Jesus knew everything. If you have the Spirit of Jesus, that Holy Spirit, (there are those who have the gift) you will understand and know. Jesus took time. When I look at my own life and the mistakes I have made, these were the times when I was in a hurry. There is time to take a sip of cold water. There is time to contemplate your reaction and words. There is time for everything. The Lord took His time. The accusers must have been mad, forceful, ‘we want an answer now!’, ‘don’t keep quiet!’ Why are quiet? But Jesus wrote. He took His time. There is a word from the Old Testament:
O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you] shall be written in the earth, for they have forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living water. Jeremiah 17:13
The Pharisees must have known this and that is why He wrote it. Their names are earthly and the earth will be destroyed. Our names must be written in the Book of life, in the palm of His hand. This is where we are safe, but if we depart from His ways...Test yourself. Are you living a life of accusations, fault finding or whatever excuse you have? It is clear that your name is written in the sand - earthly heroes who will be destroyed.
Why do you always fall back to your own sin? Your entire life has been like this – confessing the same sin. Is it because your name is written in the sand? There is no relationship with the heavenly but with the earthly. If we have a relationship with Christ and we walk with Him, the Bible says He will keep us. He will keep our feet from slipping and falling.
Christ never condoned a sin. The act was evil. But the greatest sin was the man who led her into that sin. There is no excuse. We must condemn it. (Jesus said that the greatest sin is with Judas was that he was prepared to sell Jesus out. The greatest sin is with the man who planned everything.) Immorality, any sexual sin, is a great evil and sin. We cannot get away from it and we will not. When you look at porn and defile yourself under the blanket or in the toilet, it is sin before God. When did you start defiling yourself? And you still do it? Is it because your name is written in sand? Cry to God today! Reverend Stegen always warned us to never be alone with a woman in a room or travel alone with a woman in a car. Can you fall after being warned? If you must listen to the confession of a woman, place a desk between the two of you. This place is not the place people say it is. It is an utter lie. We have received phone calls from people to tell us that they do not believe what people have said. Do not think that everybody believes your rubbish. If a person has sinned, confront the person about it. I often go on business trips and because I do not work with figures every day, I must take along someone who does. I always take my wife along because people will always think the most evil about me if they see me with a lady who is not my wife.
We must be wide awake! The devil is a roaring lion. Someone said to me, “Dietmar, I was plagued by sin. I would take it lightly, but then the word of God gripped my heart, it struck my heart to the deepest depths and the right godly fear gripped my heart.”
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26 – 27
This gripped this young man’s heart and he said, “Listen Satan. Do you hear what God says? He does not play around. He means what he says.” He took God’s word seriously. Look at your life. You are deliberately talking and doing things, but this man said, “Dietmar, that was the last time I ever touched that sin again. I knew God was serious.” There is no excuse. Do you hear that? We cannot excuse any wrong.
There is a word I dreaded, a word that drove fear into my heart and that was the sin against the Holy Spirit. This was something that I was scared of. I knew I had to run away from. But the devil is the enemy of the soul, he accused me. Friends, I know what it means, not sleep for weeks, to live under the dread of an accusation, not for 10 years or 12 years, Moses lived for 40 years under this dread, I thought that at least I have a chance, but friends, if you are in that situation there is no hope. God knew. God knew that I was not guilty. Almost daily Reverend Stegen would call me and say, “Dietmar, let’s go and look at the fields.” He would sit at the back and hold my shoulders and I knew God was holding my shoulders. One day it had rained and we fell with the motorbike. Reverend Stegen did not say anything. We climbed on again and continued. Do you understand why I want to give my life for that man? He saved my life. If you despise him and you don’t want him, shut your mouth, otherwise you tread where you should not. Then I learnt the depths of the gospel. There was no other way out. I had to seek the truth and with God’s grace and help He completely set me free. That is why I shudder when I hear people say things glibly and mockingly. I shudder because I know the dangers that lie there.
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.” For the first time Christ reacts. For the first time, He looks them squarely in the eyes. Has Christ ever looked in your eyes? Have you seen those compassionate, pleading eyes of His? Instead of passing the sentence on her, he passed the sentence on her accusers. He did not say that she should not be executed. He simply said, “You must demand justice. Justice must be upheld. If there is anybody amongst you without sin, (especially this sin they were accusing her of) then throw a stone.”
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. Matthew 5:27,28
Where was the guilty man? The Lord said, “If you have never committed the sin, then throw that stone.” He knew what He was saying because He knew the heart of man. In the heart and mind of man there are evil things going on, more than the deeds committed. That is why He said, “If you are guilty, if you do it, then throw the right stone.” It is a dreadful thing. Look at your heart and mind and then you will think twice before you say something. What kind of man are you? Is this in your mind all the time, or are you a man who overcomes, who is victorious? This is very, very interesting. When Christ had said that, the accusers, from the oldest down to the last one left. The oldest one was most conscience stricken – this is what God’s word says. The oldest ones had experience, they knew themselves and they left first because they knew that their consciences witnessed against them. But if Christ sets you free and He forgives you totally, you would be the last one to throw a stone. You would be the first one to put your arm around and say, “Come, let me help you.”
Some may have evil thoughts and desires that trouble them and think that when they get married everything will be right then I will be victorious. Do not fool yourself. Sin does not grow older. The body does not grow old concerning sin. You have no guarantee. You must have the fullness of Christ, His life in you in order to live the life He wants you to. It can only be done through Christ and His grace.
Today sexual sins have destroyed many, many Christians and even men of God. Now you can understand why God revealed this Gospel to Reverend Stegen and those with him? Do you understand why he preached and preaches how we should live? He said that we should live pure lives. The world hates it, Christians hate it. They do not want you to marry in a pure way by being set apart firstly. They say there should be a ‘deurmekaar’ and later you no longer know what is right and wrong. Like Diabolus.
This is also why people no longer want to confess their sins and bring to the light all this filth of which they are ashamed. No wonder the devil is out to destroy this work because of the standard that God set for us. God will not lower the standard because of what you are doing – that is your choice. Christ came for our sins. We must change. God must change us. He must change the church.
Christ spoke to this woman, the one the world damned, the one the world wanted to destroy. Christ knew the frailty of man and said, “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.”
The religious leaders who should have brought life, created a situation themselves and Christ brought life exactly there. Imagine what she must have experienced. Imagine the relief she felt. She thought she would die a terrible death. She thought she was already judged. She knew her end was there. But along came Christ. He changed the whole situation. Remember when you were burdened under the yoke of sin? Remember how light you felt because you brought it. Imagine the relief of this woman. There must have been big stones because people like throwing big stones at you. She thought she would die but this man did not condemn her. It is dangerous to condemn somebody if Christ has forgiven, forgotten and brought life. You are only continuing in your own sin.
The Lord says, “Forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” These men at least still had consciences. They turned and walked away admitting thereby that they were as guilty as the woman. Then the Lord said, “I don’t condemn you either, but sin no more.”
That is what God has put down for us. She was relieved but a greater responsibility was put on her life when Christ spoke these words: sin no more. Christ did not just say things, He meant what He said. Thanks be to God who gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Albu van Eeden
The greatest example of someone who had been set up in the history of mankind was Jesus Christ our Lord. They laid false charges against Him - He was going to destroy the temple and raise it up in three days, He made Himself to be the Son of God and he finally went to the cross. Why did God allow it? God wanted Him to be lifted up before the world. He wanted to draw everybody’s attention to Him so that everybody would see the spotless Lamb of God dying for the sins of the world. To underline that, God allowed a murderer, a criminal to hang next to Him on the cross. This man had messed up his whole life but he could turn to Christ and say, “Lord, please remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.” God said, “Today you will be in Paradise.”
If you proclaim salvation through the blood of Christ, you will be set up, mocked and possibly tortured for your faith. This has happened through the ages. Judas, didn’t you see the man on the cross? Didn’t you hear what Christ said to him? Judas, you’ve been part of the enemies of Christ, your heart has become so dark that the Bible called you the son of perdition. Where were you when they had done all this evil to Christ? Didn’t you hear Him still proclaim salvation and forgiveness on that tree? Do not be surprised if they lift you up in a shameful way, bleeding and covered in spittle for the world to see. If they lift you up as a pathetic picture, hanging on the cross, (not because you are Christ but because you proclaim forgiveness through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.) There was still a chance for you, Judas. But you know why I think not? I may be wrong. Judas was with those who had set Christ up, the Pharisees and those who were against Christ. Instead of standing at the cross and watching the sacrifice of Christ, he may have been keeping company with the Pharisees, laughing and congratulating one another on their success. But finally when Christ died there was no repentance for Judas.
In spite of all this negative planning and strategising, Christ preached to every sinner. No matter how evil your sin is, how many lies you have told, how many people you have killed (maybe not physically) with your mouth, how many women you have committed adultery with, come to Me, confess your sin. Judas, you should have run up there, took the embarrassment before all and said, “God forgive me for what I did. You have forgiven this murderer, can you not forgive me?” No, he probably kept company with the Pharisees who had closed the door to Him.