"At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him." John 8:2-6a
The religious leaders were determined to put an end to Jesus' ministry. They thought they could trick him into implicating himself by putting him in a "no win" situation. If Jesus said that the woman should be stoned to death, he contradict all of his teaching regarding forgiveness, mercy and grace. He would be seen as a hypocrite. If he said that the woman should be released and allowed to live, he would be violating the law of Moses and he would be considered a sinner. Smugly, the Pharisees and teachers of the law waited for the trap to spring shut, silencing this rebel. "But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:6b-11
Jesus' answer was absolutely brilliant! He showed the woman mercy and grace without violating the law of Moses. Perfect! Confronted with their own guilt, the accusers silently walked away in shame. This was not the end their attacks, they baited him with more trick questions, but Jesus always had the perfect answer. They resorted to telling out-and-out lies about him, labeling him as a drunkard, glutton, agent of Beelzebub and blasphemer. They were out to "cancel" him, but he never succumbed.
The descendents of those accusers are with us today. Working to "cancel" Christians, they are labeling believers as "haters", "bigots" and a variety of other derogatory terms. As the use of this tactic is sharply increasing, we must be prepared to respond as Jesus would respond. He tells us, "I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves". Matthew 10:16 We must respond to our accusers with mercy, grace and irrefutable wisdom. Of course Jesus always came up with the perfect answer, but how can we possibly do that? Jesus knew the persecution his followers would endure, so he gave us these instructions: "Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit." Mark 13:11
See It as an Opportunity
We are children of God. We do not respond out of anger or hatred. We do not repay evil for evil. We are not out to win arguments, we are out to win souls. The Holy Spirit knows exactly what needs to be said in any and every situation. Take comfort in knowing that whenever and wherever you face your accusers, the Holy Spirit will give you the perfect thing to say. That is what Jesus promised and that is exactly what the Spirit will do. Every confrontation you encounter is an opportunity for the Holy Spirit to speak through you, dispelling the lies and revealing the truth.
Perhaps you are feeling relieved to know that you don't have to become some sort of theologian or debate team captain in order to be prepared for your proverbial day in court. Well, hold on, that's not entirely true. In the Bible, whenever we see God's people moved by the Holy Spirit to deliver a message, the core of that message is usually quoted directly from Scripture or at least be well rooted in Scripture. Jesus did this constantly. Paul is another excellent example. Beginning as a small child, he spent his life studying and memorizing Scripture. God used Paul's deep and wide knowledge of God's Word to impart truth, win souls and establish churches throughout the Roman empire. The better you know the Bible, the more the Holy Spirit will have to draw from as he inspires your speech. Be like Stephen who was "a man full of God’s grace and power". When opposition arose, there were many who began to argue against him, "but they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke." Acts 6:8-11
Before the Holy Spirit will give you words to speak, you must open your heat to him and have a sincere desire to hear from him. You must be willing to yield to and embrace whatever the Spirit is speaking to you and through you. The writer of Hebrews tells us, "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts." As a young boy, Samuel was taught by Eli, the High Priest, to respond to God's voice by saying, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” 1 Samuel 3:9 God speaks to and through those who are not only willing to listen what he has to say, but are also are willing to respond and obey without question.
Where Did That Come From?
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9 When you respond to those who persecute you, the words the Holy Spirit gives you will be filled with truth, wisdom and insight. They express thoughts you never could have come up with on your own. Perhaps, you will experience a "where did that come from?" moment, but you'll quickly realize it could only have come from God. This will be evident not only to you, but to your listeners as well.
Great is Your Reward
Throughout Church history, believers have been persecuted. Not only does God give us the words to speak to those who oppose us, but he gives us the grace to stand strong and remain faithful. "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you". Matthew 5:10-12 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world". John 16:33
* All Scripture quoted from the New International version