20 March 2017

THE DEADLY SIN OF SLANDER


James 4:11-12

Humility is vital part of the Christian Life as we look at last week! Why? When we have been humbled before God, it inevitably affects the way you and speak to one another. This is something that is of great importance, because James hasn’t stop talking about the issue of the tongue. I think we can all agree…….that we live in a fallen world that is filled with all kinds of sinful qualities, some more noticeable than others. But there is one particular sin that goes unnoticed/under the radar that has the ability to causes a great amount of damage …..It’s the sin of slander!

“Slander” according to the Bible is referring to mindless, thoughtless, careless, critical, belittling, untrue speech directed against others. A display of slander can be found throughout the bible from…. Laban sons when they accused Jacob of taking all of their father’s possessions. Gen 31:1. Saul’s servant Ziba who slandered Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth about him plotting to usurp David’s throne. 2 Sam 16:3. Slanderous remarks about John the Baptist having a demon. Matt 11:18. Our Lord and Saviour. “Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death,” Matt 26:59

We need to understand that “Slander” originated in the Garden The bible says “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.' " Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." Gen 3:1-5. (v1) Satan slandered God’s integrity “indeed has God said..” (v5) Satan slandered God’s motives. “God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God….”

Which implies by the way “God is selfish and He is withholding something good from you.” Slander is a very serious sin! This issue is worldly speech and discourages one another and dishonors God. “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.” Prov 6:16-19. A person who stirs up trouble among the brothers. See slander strikes peoples dignity, defames there character, and destroys their reputation. To be honest this is a person’s most priceless worldly asset.
  
As Prov 22:1 says “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.” A person’s dignity is worth more than gold or silver…….and slander always has a way of crushing that dignity through means of words. There are many reasons why people love to slander others. Perhaps it is because they got their feelings hurt and are upset with a particular person or group/church. Another reason is envy. Some people slander others simply because they are carnally-minded and don't like that person. Sometimes it's because of self-righteousness, which causes one to view someone else as being a worse sinner than them self. Although there are numerous reasons for which a person slanders his neighbor, the Bible tells us that they are the foolProverb 10:18 says “The one who conceals hatred has lying lips, and whoever utters slander is a fool.” 

The bible has a lot to say about slander, for example in the Old Testament…

It’s never the character of a godly person. Ps 15:2-3 “He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart;  who does not slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend;”

It’s always the character of the wicked. Ps 50:19-20 "You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit. You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother's son.”

It is also one of the Ten Commandments. Exo 20:16 "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  
In the New Testament we see the same examples…..

It’s the source of an evil heart Mat 15:19 “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.”

It’s so bad it defiles or pollutes a person. Matt 15:20 the verse that follows says “These are what defile a person.”

Every careless [slanderous] word will be brought into judgement. Matt 12:36 “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,…”
Slander has devastating effects and it very harmful to the soul.
Slander has the capability to destroy friendships, marriages.
Slander has the capability to afflict deep wounds that takes months to years to heal.
Slander has the capability to destroy people….spiritually and physically.

How destructive are defaming remarks? How serious are slanderous remarks?
No matter how big or small it is the outcome is devastating and it destroys everything in its path. Slanderous act only takes a millisecond for the tongue and an angry heart to make things turn terrible for someone. That’s why it’s destructive it’s the silent assassin that comes in under the radar to destroy whatever is in its path. Remember what James earlier in his letter “And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” 
James 3:6

What is James is saying? Those who misuse the tongue are guilty of spiritual arson; a mere spark from an ill-spoken word can produce a firestorm that annihilates everything it touches. A slanderous tongue corrupts the whole person. It doesn’t take long for a fire to get momentum when we are motivated by rage, bitterness or resentment towards to the opposing party. James is very clear in this passage that we have no right to confront another believer if our mouth is filled with a slanderous heart! Again understanding the underlining theme to this letter is to present tests of a living, genuine, saving faith.

LOOK AT WHAT HE SAYS IN (v11) "Do not speak against one another" This is referring to speaking critically to someone else about another person. This is serious business! A person whose life is characterized by habitual slander and condemnation of others demonstrates an evil, unloving and possibly an unregenerate heart. As John MacArthur describes it as “their mouth become tunnels through which depravity exits their heart. This passage means: Lying with malicious intent to hurt someone.

This is damaging for the church…….this can kill a church.
This is damaging for your marriage…..it can bring about divorce papers
This is damaging for your children…..they could leave and never come back.
This is damaging in every aspect of your Christian life.
  
Listen to what John wrote in his epistle “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. I am writing to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven for His name's sake.” 1 John 2:9-12

“Judge” in this letter is not referring to evaluation, but to condemnation or blame.

Before we dive into this! We need to understand there is a misinterpretation when it comes to judging one another in the church! The saying you hear all the time “Who are you to judge?” sadly this is always taken out of context. A sinning brother or sister must be confronted with the end game of reconciliation. We (Christians) desire all sinners to repent and be restored back into fellowship. This outline is clearly explained in Matthew 18James warning in this passage complements or reflects what our Lord Jesus said in Mathew’s gospel.

"Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.” Matt 7:1-5
  
Slander is a serious violation of the Law and if you judge above the Law as James is saying here! What you’re doing is making yourself superior over God and that’s a big no, no! What a person is doing is ultimately submitting to our own authority over God. Your self-righteousness and pride super exceeds the authority given over your own life by a holy God through the written Word.
  
By such fearful disrespect the sinner, judges the law as unworthy of his or hers……

Attention to gain knowledge and understanding.
Affection to hold as precious and delight in my life.
Obedience to live by in my own life.
Submission to the Living God who is sovereign over me.

If you place yourself above God's Law, this means you are not bound by the Law’ because you are above the Law. Look what James writes about that in the next verse (v12) “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” Basically what James is saying in today’s language! “Who do you think you are sitting in condemnation on someone else?”

Do not think that you are above the Law.
Do not think you have the right to judge with malice intent.
Do not think you can judge with self- righteous intent.

We are not the final authority………..the Lord of all creation is! Remember! God gave His law to regulate people's love for Him and our fellow human beings! The Great Commandments are non- negotiable to the Christian Faith! Jesus said “… 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." Matt 22:37-40

Look at the language James uses in this verse!  “He who is able to save and to destroy” (v12b)

Why as Paul penned “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Rom 3:23-26. James refers to this Just and Justifier as the One [the Lord Jesus Christ] who is able to destroy. This refers to eternal destruction in Hell! In the gospel of Matthew Jesus said this! “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt 10:28. Paul puts it this way in 2Thess 1:8-10 “ in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” The sin of slander is no small matter it’s insolent, reckless, treason, deadly against a Sovereign Lawgiver and Judge of this universe.

But remember! The one that can destroy is also the same One that can save a soul. Save you from eternal damnation……save you from a place we all deserve [Hell] all He asks of you and me is to put our trust in Christ Jesus alone through repentance and faith. The One who bore my shame…….the One who was judged in my place by the Father. We are brothers and sisters of the Living God…….We need to stop destroying one another with malicious and slanderous behavior. Flee the evil of this present age and show Christian love by speaking truth with a pure heart. As Peter put it “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,” 1 Peter 1:22
  
Listen to late great Richard Baxter "We must feel toward our people as a father toward his children; yea, the most- tender love of a mother must not surpass ours. We must even toil in birth, till Christ be formed in them. They should see that we care for no outward thing, neither liberty, nor honor, nor life, in comparison to their salvation... When the people see that you truly love them, they will hear anything from you... Oh therefore, see that you feel a tender love for your people in your hearts, and let them perceive it in your speech and conduct. Let them see that you spend and are spent for their sakes." That’s a heart that cannot, and will not, slander another! That's what true Christian Brothers and sisters are to strive for! What does the Word of God say about your heart this morning in the way you speak about others on a daily basis? Because our prayer should be this! “O God of glory, may I never stoop to this level in my Christian life. I submit my mind, my heart, my voice and my life to You” 

Can you pray that prayer!

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