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Adulterous and Sinful Generation


Why did Jesus degrade the society in which he preached, terming it as an adulterous and sinful generation? (Mk 8:38). We should understand adultery in a moral and a spiritual sense. Besides marital unfaithfulness prevalent in society, people were also unfaithful to God–that is spiritual adultery. Both involve a breaking of the covenantal relationship due to grave sin.

The relationship between God and Israel was compared to that of a husband and wife (Isa 54:5). Worshipping other gods was equivalent to adultery because it was Israel’s act of breaking the covenant with Almighty God. God found Israel as, “Adulterous wife, taking strangers in place of her husband!” (Ezek 16:32) Ezekiel 16 presents Israel’s adultery with other gods and nations. The Scribes and Pharisees adulterated the Word of God with their false applications. Jesus called the Scribes and the Pharisees as an adulterous generation when they asked him for a sign from heaven to prove his identity (Mt 12:39; 16:4). James presents friendship with the world as enmity with God and calls such people adulterers (Jas 4:4).

Isaiah said about Israel, “Ah! Sinful nation, people laden with wickedness, evil offspring, corrupt children! They have forsaken the LORD, spurned the Holy One of Israel, apostatized” (Isa 1:4). Besides adultery, the contemporaries of Jesus were a sinful generation. He used harsh words against the Scribes and the Pharisees, saying, “Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites” (Mt 23:13,15,23,25,27,29), “blind” guides (Mt 23:16,17,19,24,26), and “You serpents, you brood of vipers” (Mt 23:33). On the outside they appeared righteous, but inside they were filled with hypocrisy and evildoing (Mt 23:28). So, Jesus advised his disciples and the crowd thus, “The Scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens [hard to carry] and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honour at banquets, seats of honour in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi’” (Mt 23:2-7). Peter, in his first speech on
the day of Pentecost, said, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40). So, Christians should differ from non- Christians and also from the non-practicing Christians around them. They must boldly give witness to Jesus and his gospel.

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