The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought Hugh Hefner before Jesus and said to him, “Teacher, this man is a filthy sinner and has led many astray. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such people. Now what do you say?”
Jesus said to them, “Let he who is most morally outraged cast the first stone.”
The Ungospel of John 8:3-7
Last week Hugh Hefner died and the world has divided into two camps. Those that want to lavish praise on him as someone who “advocated free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom” and those who want him to burn in hell: “HughHefner was a Godless pervert and deviant who encouraged adultery and fornication. He objectified and demeaned women. Headed to hell.”
Non-Christians tend to fall into the first camp and so Christians tend to over-react to this and fall into the second camp. I’m sorry I keep using this CS Lewis quote but it is so important that we grasp this and not fall into Satan’s trap:
“[The devil] always sends errors into the world in pairs–pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors.”
Now, don’t get me wrong, the bible is clear that “God will judge the the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Heb 13:4)
But that’s God’s job not ours:
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?…God will judge those outside.” (1 Cor 5:12-13)
“There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbour?” (Jas 4:12)
What happens if we do fall into the second camp and judge him as a filthy sinner deserving of hell?
“You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgement against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgement on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgement?” (Rom 2:1-3)
Maybe we can read this and say to ourselves, “but I haven’t done what he did – so I’m better,” But Jesus was clear: if we have looked at a woman lustfully then we are an adulterer (Mt 5:28) – we have broken the law and we deserve punishment.
Sure we can claim that we’re less of a sinner than Hugh Hefner and I’m sure that means that our punishment in hell will be less – but it doesn’t get us into Heaven.
If you have (by the grace of God) never looked at another woman lustfully during the whole of your life (which I certainly can’t say) then I hope you can say the same for every other sin, because:
“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (Jas 2:10)
My understanding is that we all deserve eternal punishment for our rebellion – for we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).
Anything we receive other than hell is pure grace – nothing to do with our efforts, our goodness or moral superiority. It has everything to do with Jesus.
So we need to be careful because:
“For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Mt 7:2)
If we start judging people by the Law then God will judge us by the Law and will find us guilty – there simply is no other conclusion.
This is why we must:
“…Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgement without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgement.” (Jas 2:12-13)
We under amazing grace that saved a wretch like me – this grace is available to all, God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek 33:11) but he is patient wanting everyone to turn to him (2 Pet 3:9).
We are ministers of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17-19) – calling the world to repent and turn to the Father of love who lavishes his grace and mercy on all those who call on His name. We are still in the year of Jubilee before the coming day of judgement where everyone will get what they deserve except those who turn to Christ – they will unfairly get what Jesus deserves.
Let us never forget this gift and become like the unmerciful servant but let us pray for those who are lost and call them back to the Father with the love and mercy that He showed us while we were still His enemies (Rom 5:10).
Father, remind us each day of how great our sin is, but how much much much greater your love for us is. This love for us that led you to send your beloved Son to die the death we deserved so that we can become Your children. Then let this love flow out of us to others, so that we plunder hell to populate heaven. In the name of your precious Son, Jesus. Amen.