Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 8. The sin of slander . The sin of slander (Part 4)

. The sin of slander (Part 4)


This is my last sermon in the mini-series on slander, and my last sermon for this year. We have come to realise that slander is a very serious issue, and the lines are thin. A person could be slandering in a simple prayer request. It all comes back to why I am sharing what I am sharing. Even as I have shared over the last few sermons some of my personal experience in being slandered, you feel half guilty for sharing those illustrations as it could possibly in itself be slander. However, I do not want to concoct illustrations to make a point. Reality is always a good teacher, and reality showed me again just how dangerous slandering is, and how easily good people and so called ‘brothers’ or ‘family’ in the Lord can enter into the realm of slander.

So let’s get back to the text before us.

James 4:11-12 (ESV) “11 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. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbour?”

In my last sermon we ended with the whole issue of love as far as the law is concerned. If you slander, you do not love and if you do not love, then you regard yourself as above the law, and you actually judge the law. To slander is equal to not being a doer of the law. So to slander is to break the law, as love is at the heart of the law, and to slander is not an expression of love.

We saw Christ and Paul’s view on the matter of love and the keeping of the law. James has his own bit to add which we see in James 2:8 (ESV) 8 If you really fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself,” you are doing well.”

So, if we defame someone, if we speak maliciously against someone, if we get our tongues wagging with gossip and slander and backbiting and saying things that are not true or even true, we violate the law at its very heart because at best the law is an articulation of love's principles. So, James says in chapter 4 that such kind of speech speaks evil of the law and condemns the law. In other words, it shows utter disregard for the divine standard. It says that I am above the law, or maybe the example of Satan slandering God is the best explanation. Remember when Satan said: “did God say?” “But, I Satan am telling you…” Slandering is simply saying that God’s rules regarding slander are stupid, and I will not uphold it. Okay, God said that we must not slander, but listen to us, ‘you will not kill slander, so live with it and actually join in it because it is here to stay’.

So, how do we conquer this evil of slander which is produced by the heart and expressed through the tongue? I presented you so far with two truths based on the text before us that you need to consider to help you deal with this. We saw last week that we must first of all consider our family. If we see one another as family, and realise that the blood of Christ that binds us together is much, much, much thicker than water we will not slander each other. We saw in the second place that we must consider the law. The whole of the law and the prophets hang on two commandments namely to love God and love my neighbour. I do not slander God because I love God and I do not slander my neighbour because I love my neighbour. So, slander is a violation of brotherhood and slander is a violation of law. There is a third one.

3. Consider God.

Let’s go now to verse 12: 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbour?”

There is only one lawgiver and one judge. Simply, the throne of God is only big enough for God. God does not need you to make laws and God does not need you to judge laws or people. You are simply called to obey. So if God says ‘do not speak evil of your brother, or do not slander him, or do not speak him down’, guess what, it stands. Our opinion on the matter is not asked and it is of no consequence.

So slander does not only assert that I am above the law, but it asserts that I am above God. I am big and God is small. My throne is higher than God’s throne. Slander simply says that God is not worthy to make the rules, and God is not worthy to judge His rules. God is desperately in need of me and my opinion on the matter, and my opinion is that slander is an unnecessary evil, you cannot eradicate it, and it will always be among us, so let’s all enjoy it. Slander and any other sin by the way is based on our disregard for what God says. That is why any sin is actually against God in the first place. Now fasten your seatbelts for this statement. If David’s sins were against God to the point that he said in Psalm 51:4 (ESV) 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment,” then slandering our brothers is primarily a sin against God. Many were impacted by David’s sin, just as many are impacted by other sins and the sin of slandering, but David and we are firstly sinners against God, because we do not consider God in our sin, only ourselves. There is a sad opinion amongst many today that sins that hurt others are bad and are dealt with on a different level, and all other sins are of lesser consequence. But all sins, great and small are sin, it is missing the mark, and it is against God and His standard. As soon as we elevate the effect of sin on others we tend to downplay the effect on the integrity and throne of God.

Every sin including slander is in effect saying that God is unnecessary and I make my own laws. No matter what law you break, no matter what sin you commit, it is against God, as we nullify His laws by our behaviour, by our judgment thereof, and we set ourselves up us the lawgivers. When we slander we are guilty before God. It is not this simple little sin that is surpassed by the greatness of adultery, divorce, sexual immorality, murder, theft etc. It is a sin that is hated by God, and violates God’s laws. God says, no to slander and He is in charge, like it or not. I think we have over this series come to realise that God hates slander, right? It is simply all over Scripture and even in the list of the seven things God hates most.

Sin attempts to depose God. Sin taunts the power of God and dares Him to show His vengeance. Sin disdains the omnipotence of God. And sin even despises the grace of God and the mercy of God by abusing the fact that He is forgiving. And slander is sin.

Isaiah 33:22 (ESV) says: 22 For the Lord is our judge; the Lord is our lawgiver; the Lord is our king; he will save us. There is one who gives the laws, and only one who will judge the law breakers.

James takes our consideration of God one step further and reminds us that God can save, and God can destroy. We have just seen that God can save us in Isaiah. But, He is able to save and to destroy. Look again at verse 12: 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbour?” That's how He applies the law. In the application of the law He saves those who are protected from the law because of the faith in Christ and He destroys those who are unprotected because of no faith in Christ. The word "to save," sozo in the Greek, means "to rescue from danger, to rescue from destruction, to save from perishing." Lost men are perishing.

So, if we say that slandering is okay, then we have unseated God from the throne. So, rather move over and let God have His place alone. He gave the law, He applies the law, He saves people and He delivers people over to destruction. God is God, He is on the throne, and He reigns forever. To slander, makes me the judge of the law, and the judge of God and His wisdom.

So to assist us with regards to this sin of slander, we need to consider our family, we need to consider the law and we need to consider God. There is a fourth truth by which we can control our tongue and refrain from slandering.

4. Consider self.

Let’s look again at verse 12 and drive the final nail into the coffin of slander.

James 4:12 (ESV) 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbour?”

We have considered God and concluded that He is the lawgiver and judge. Besides that He is the one who saves and He is the one who destroys. So for now and all eternity, God is on the throne and nobody else. Isaiah 43:10-11 (ESV) says: 10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. 11 I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no saviour.”

So, church family, God is it, and God is it forever, there is no other god and there is no other Saviour. So, the logical question to ask ourselves then is who are we to judge our neighbour? And speaking evil of or slandering our neighbour is judging our neighbour. You are making a value judgement on them and their behaviour, and instead of allowing God to be the judge, you are the judge and you make sure that the whole world knows your verdict.

The word ‘judge’ in verse 12 is a present participle which simply refers to one making a habit of slandering, talking down or judging our neighbour. As soon as I talk down my neighbour I have made a value judgment of them in comparison to a value judgement of myself. Just who do we think we are? Did you know that the basis for most slander is simply personal opinion, as most slandering has one aim and that is to elevate self, while taking down another? Again we have the example of the Pharisee and the publican. The Pharisee did not simply tell God who is on the throne and the final judge how good he is, but He made sure that God who in any case knows everything knows how bad others are. This was a prime example of slander through prayer.

I trust that you have considered God and realised just how big He is, but that you will now consider yourself and realise just how small you are. There are too many Christians who simply have too much of an inflated opinion about themselves, their righteousness, their holiness, their knowledge, their abilities. This is not Biblical humility. I showed you in the first sermon on slander that verse 11 & 12 exist in the context of humility.

Now let me show you a circular effect of this final point in the series. If you do not have a right view of yourself, you will not have a right view of your brother, you will not have a right view of the Law and you will not have a right view of God, and this will lead you to judging slander as really a non-issue as you are beyond and above the law, and God’s view on the matter is of no consequence, and you will slander your brother. You can actually take this circular effect and start it at any point and go around reaching the same conclusion.

The tongue is like a match and it can set the world alight, it is like the rudder of a ship and it can turn the whole ship. It destroys people, it destroys nations, it destroys churches and slandering is simply the tool through which havoc is wrecked. Slandering remains one of Satan’s favourite tools as Mr Diabolos himself, is a slanderer and an accuser of the brethren.

The power of a slanderous tongue, can create havoc in the world, but it slanders God Himself. So James says stop doing it and if you continually do it, you better test the genuineness of your faith.

So, we have seen over the past four sermons the devastating effect of slander. I shared with you some of my own experience as I have been the target of slander. I have shared other stories with you as well. Remember the woman who hung her two children and herself simply because of slander.

So, each one of us must search our own hearts regarding this topic. Think about it. Do you ‘speak people up’ or do you ‘speak them down’. Have you maliciously spoken of others whether it was using the truth or the lie? It is time to realise that when we do, our primary sin is against God. So we need to repent of it because He is the law giver and the judge and He is the one who saves or destroys. So let’s get off that throne of our own opinion and rank slander equal in the list of that which is sin, and let’s judge it with sober minds based on the law and put it away.

And if you say today that you have never committed the sin of slander, I do not want to say that you are lying, the truth just sounds very farfetched. If you have never slandered you are perfect as James also teaches us in James 3:2 (ESV) 2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.”

And my friend, if you are perfect, then you can ask God to move aside and you can proudly take in your place on the throne. Otherwise, let’s humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, deal with this issue and worship Him alone, who sits on the throne as lawgiver and judge. He is the one who judges our motives and knows the things done and said even in secret. He will save, He will condemn, let’s bow before Him, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Alpha and Omega whose words stand forever.

Maybe the best way to end this series is by praying together the prayer expressed by Peter Marshall: “I need Thee, O Lord, for a curb on my tongue; when I am tempted to making carping criticisms and cruel judgements, keep me from speaking barbed words that hurt, and in which I find perverted satisfaction. Keep me from unkind words and from unkind silences. Restrain my judgements. Make my criticisms kind, generous, and constructive. Make me sweet inside, that I may be gentle with other people, gentle in the things I say, kind in what I do. Create in me that warmth of mercy that shall enable others to find Thy strength for their weakness, Thy peace for their strife, Thy joy for their sorrow, Thy love for their hatred, Thy compassion for their weakness. In thine own strong name, I pray. Amen.”


Logos Community Church: 29 December 2013