Pastor Don Sturiano Faith column: July 12, 2014

July 12, 2014 

Facebook and other social media are wonderful tools I love to use to share The Gospel (The Good News) of the Kingdom of Heaven.

Others use it for sharing various events with friends and family, even what they are eating at the moment, along with other positive utilizations.

And, of course, there are the annoying, negative and sometimes offensive posts that appear on our newsfeed of our various devices.

Today, I would like to share with you what I am confident is a use of social media that is offensive to God and grieves The Holy Spirit: exposing sin of another brother or sister in Christ, especially leadership.

Before I move on, let me state I believe in grace. But I do not believe grace is a license or loophole to sin, but rather grace is for the empowerment for righteous living.

"So that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?

Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." -- Romans 5:21 -- Romans 6:1-4(NKJV)

I also believe in the "Biblical" method of dealing with sin in the life of a Christian. See Matthew 18:15-17, which ends with taking the sin to the church.

Never in scripture will you find a principle for a believer to expose it publicly to the world.

Obviously when a crime occurs, such as against children, harming others, or breaking the law by a believer, we are responsible for taking that to the proper authorities, see Romans 13:1-5. But that is not what is being addressed here.

In John 8:1-11 you will find the well-known story of the woman caught in adultery. As I am writing this article to believers, I am presuming you are familiar with the various nuances and details from these passages.

We know the religious leaders are using this situation to trap Jesus to go against the Law of Moses. What you may not know is it is required by the law to produce two witnesses to the act to be able to condemn her to death.

These religious leaders do not really care about the law or her sin. She was their patsy, set up as a snare to trap the loving and merciful Christ. To make this happen, all of them are guilty of the sin of hypocrisy and deceit. And at least two of them are guilty of adultery of the heart and lust of the eyes as peeping Toms, perhaps, gazing through a window.

And let us not forget the one who volunteered for their "undercover mission."

You see the extreme of a "religious spirit" is so powerful it will cause a believer of the law to break the law to expose the sin of the guilty and even trap the innocent. We find both prevalent in scripture.

You may be thinking you would never do something like this! But isn't gossip, which causes division in your church because you disagree with the leader, sin?

Yes it is.

Proverbs 6:16-19 (NKJV) 16 These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.

Back to the story: John 8:3-5 Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?"

Hesitating, not giving a response nor entering a theological debate, He allowed wisdom and the gift of a word of knowledge to dictate His next move.

John 8:6-9 (NKJV) This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear.

Let he is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." One by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last, they left and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.

Notice what He is writing is for their eyes only! Two-thousand years later we can only guess what it was. Some believe it was their sins; others believe it was the names of those who had also been with that woman. I do not believe His point of not letting us know was to keep us guessing or have us create sessions for Biblical debate. But rather it was for a much greater purpose.

His motive: Mercy, Grace, Forgiveness and Love. You see not only did Jesus, not condemn the woman of her sin; He also did not condemn, nor expose the greater sins of those church leaders who were trying to destroy Him.

It is so easy to post failure, a sound bite of a leader's life forgetting the years of ministry that touched many lives and advanced the Kingdom of God on the Earth. One of my many goals in my quest to be like Jesus, is to remember what He remembers, and learn to forget what He forgets.

Don Sturiano, pastor of Kingdom Life Christian Church, which meets at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at 825 Ninth St. W., just across from Turner Donuts. Information: 941-776-0026. Faith Matters is a regular feature of Saturday's Herald, written by local clergy members.

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