Thursday, September 5, 2013

Defamation of Character

For I have heard the slander of many: fear [was] on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.  ~Psalm 31:13
Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. ~James 4:11

Our corrupted and sinful nature is expressed in many forms and in many ways, but perhaps none are so widespread and prevalent slander and evil speaking. To defame and tear down others with our words is so easy to do and does not depend on any particular circumstance or requirement. We only need an opportunity to open our mouths to express the slander in our hearts. Pastor’s message this past Sunday was particularly biting because it hits all of us and should remove any notion that any one of us are some how immune to the effects of a sinful nature. Because it is so widespread, Pastor pointed out how much the Bible really has to say about slander:

  • God hates it (Proverbs 6:16-19) 
  • The outward source of it is Satan (John 8:44) 
  • The inward source of it is our heart (Matthew 12:33-37) 
  • It is the most often mentioned sin in the Bible 
  • The first sin mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 3:1-6) 
  • Destroys friendships (Proverbs 16:28) 
  • Stirs up strife (Proverbs 26:20) 
  • Afflicts deep wounds on all (Proverbs 26:22) 
  • Do not associate with anyone who slanders (Proverbs 20:19) 
  • God commands to stop slandering and repent (Ephesians 4:31,32) 

This is by no means an exhaustive list of what the Bible has to say about slander or evil speaking, but it is enough for us to understand our need to repent of it and stand guard against it in our own lives.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

Allowing our corrupted hearts to spill out of our mouths and tarnish the character of someone in the eyes of others is not supposed to be the fruit of a mature Christian according to Paul. Instead we are to speak what is good and builds up rather than tear down. Our goal in speaking at all times ought to be gracious and edifying words not hurtful and insulting. To do otherwise is to place ourselves in this particular category…

Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. ~Galatians 5:19-21

Paul places the slanderous and malicious in the same category with all the other works of the flesh which are evident in the lives of those who do not inherit the kingdom of God. So do you allow your tongue to be hijacked by sin and used to elevate yourself over someone else? Remember, Pastor also pointed out how slanderous speech is a way to elevate ourselves over God’s Word and even God Himself. Is that where you want to be? James warns us that evil speaking is an attempt at replacing God on the throne with ourselves.

There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor? ~James 4:12

There is good reason the name given to the devil is Satan. The word “Satan” means slanderer and he is the greatest slanderer of all. When we speak evil of a brother or sister in Christ, we are like Satan and are attempting to do the same thing he is trying to do.

You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. ~Isaiah 14:13,14

Pastor gave us a number of things we should do in our war against slander coming out of our mouths, the best of which is look to Jesus, who was slandered indeed.

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” ~Isaiah 45:22 

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.” ~John 3:14,15

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