Publish It Not
by: Dr. Allen Domelle
We live in times when a week rarely passes without some new accusation coming out about someone. It never fails that people throng to the accusation to read about the dirt, slime and allegation that is being thrown at an individual. Sadly, much of the accusations that have been thrown at people are nothing more than conjecture, lies, and attempts to bring down someone that those who accuse don’t like.
The same has happened in the Christian world since the days of Christ. It was the accusations thrown at Jesus that led the majority of people to have Him killed and Barabbas spared. It was the accusations thrown and spread about the Apostle Paul that led to his imprisonment and eventual death. Many have been caught up in the whirlwind of the moment of accusation only to find themselves on the wrong side of truth.
The common line of these who spread accusations is that they are tired of “coverups.” They then take it to another level and want to blame the whole independent Baptist world as being guilty of all these coverups. My answer to those who think the independent Baptist world is guilty of massive coverups is that a handful of people who have covered sin doesn’t make the whole movement guilty of coverups. It is Satan’s tactic to condemn this movement so that lost souls will never listen to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I am all for the truth being known and the guilty being punished. I AM NOT for the guilty getting away with sin; however, I am against this thought that the whole world needs to know about matters that is none of their business. I am of the school of thought that the news media shouldn’t even have the right to publish about someone being arrested until they have been proven guilty by a court of law. Likewise, independent Baptists should stop spreading dirty laundry when what has been accused hasn’t even been proved by a court of law.
When David was informed about Saul’s death, his response was the response every believer should take when someone has been accused of sin. David said in 2 Samuel 1:20, “Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon; lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph.” David didn’t want the enemy to have a reason to rejoice when Saul and Jonathan were killed. Was Saul guilty of doing wrong? Yes! However, David still knew it was wise to handle these matters rightly and privately so that God’s name was not marred among the heathen.
With this story in mind, let me share with you some thoughts about how to handle an accusation about a believer. Yes, you are going to have to deal with it, but you certainly want to be sure to deal with it scripturally and in the right spirit.
1. Accusation doesn’t prove guilt.
Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty. Just because someone has accused another person of wrongdoing doesn’t mean it is true. If someone is guilty of wrong to the point that they have broken the law, let the law deal with it, but publish it not. Just because someone says that they have proof doesn’t make it right to spread accusation. My friend, I would rather be wrong about believing in someone’s innocence than to be wrong about believing in someone’s guilt. Just because someone has accused another person doesn’t make it truth.
2. Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.
The internet has made it too easy for someone to post their opinions and accusations about others to destroy them. Psalm 101:3 says, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” If accusation causes me to turn aside to look, accusation has then taken me away from what the LORD has called me to do. You would be wise to say that you will “set no wicked thing,” including accusations, before your eyes. Nearly every church, pastor, and individual has had to put up with the accusations posted on the internet or digital media. Let me caution you that just because it is on the internet, and just because it may sound believable doesn’t make it true. Again, I go back to my first point that accusation doesn’t prove guilt.
3. It’s not your business.
If you are not an involved party, it is nothing more than gossip. Why do we think we have to know about all the dirt being spread? Let me go a step further and ask, why does someone think they need to let the whole world know about their disagreement or spread an accusation that has yet to be proven. Philippians 4:8 gives the believer what they should think about when it says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” If it is not a “good report,” it is none of your business. Don’t complicate your life by soaking your mind with the dirt of accusation. If it has nothing to do with you, you would be wise to stay out of it and keep your mind focused on what you are supposed to do. I am not saying that one is right and another is wrong; I’m saying it’s not my business, and it’s not the whole world’s business to know of something that is not their scriptural right to deal with, nor will it help the cause of Christ in reaching the lost.
4. It is a local church matter.
God chose the local church to handle these matters. It is amazing to me that those who throw the “coverup” card say they believe in the local church; yet, they want to use a universal church philosophy in handling these complicated situations. If we believe in the local church, why are we trying to deal with this in a universal church mindset? Matthew 16:17 says, “And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.” God didn’t say to tell it to every church; He said to tell it to the church which is the local church. How a local body deals with something is not another local body’s business. Every person would be wise to stay out of the business of another local church.
5. Jesus’ example was to save, not destroy.
Again, I am not for the guilty walking free. All you have to do is read my book, America, Under Attack, and you will see that I am not for covering up sin. However, our Saviour’s example was given that He didn’t come to destroy, but to save life. Matthew 5:17 says, “…I am not come to destroy…” Notice that the Saviour made it clear that He didn’t want “to destroy.” The Saviour’s desire and focus is found in His statement in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The believer should never be bent on destroying anyone, but on trying to save everyone from sin. The believer’s mindset on how to deal with sin is found in James 5:20 which says, “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
6. What about restoration?
Whatever happened to the mindset of trying to restore the fallen? Galatians 6:1 says, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” Maybe the reason we are so quick to destroy another is because we are not “spiritual.” If you have followed my preaching, you will know that I believe that a person must come clean before they can be restored, but it is not my job to do the work of the Holy Spirit and try to convict another of their sin. The believer’s job is not to keep the fallen down, but to restore them. Jesus never dealt with sin to destroy, but to restore. Remember the woman caught in the act who others wanted killed; Jesus dealt with her to restore her from her sin. The believer should be busy about trying to pull the fallen out of the slime pit of sin instead of trying to push them down further in hopes that they can never be restored. The mindset that someone should never be restored is not of God but is of Satan.
7. God chose to publish it not.
David said, “Publish it not…” It is harder for one to be restored when they have been drug all over the world with accusations that are not always true. God never said to bring sin before the world; He only said to bring it before the local church when they refuse to repent. Again, I go back to the fact that sin must be dealt with in the local church, not on the world wide web.
8. The harvest will always be hindered when people focus on scandalous accusations.
The harvest of souls is always hurt when someone chooses to spread accusations. My friend, I would hate to have blood on my hands of the lost who wanted nothing to do with a Baptist church because someone felt it was their job to clean up the church in a universal church manner. If one soul goes to Hell because one believer decided to spread an accusation, it is one soul too many. Heaven and Hell are real, and never underestimate what Satan will use to keep one person from getting saved. Let me remind you that the lost world can see what is published on the internet just like the believer can.
9. The innocent and weak are often hurt the most.
The sad part about accusations is that many innocent will quit church and never return only to find themselves living in sin and experiencing sin’s punishment all because someone thought they should go outside of the boundaries of the local church to handle matters. My experience over the years has been that many will stop going to church because they don’t want to be a part of the dirt being spread. The sad part is that their children also stop going to church. Many of these who stop going to church will never again get involved in serving the LORD to their detriment. I know that some think they should be more spiritual than this, but many are not. God had it right when He let the local church handle matters of accusation and sin. God knew fewer people would be hurt if we handled these matters through the confines of the local church, and let the law handle matters where laws have been broken.
My desire for this article is not to attack anyone, but to warn of the dangers of going public and getting involved in accusations. You may ask, “Bro. Domelle, who do you think is telling the truth?” My answer is; it is none of my business. Whether the accused or the accuser is right is not my area, it is my area to try and reach the harvest. Unless it is something that involves your local church, it is best to stay out of the fray of accusations and stay involved in reaching the harvest.