Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 14 Unification of Logos & Houtkruis . The sin of slander (Part 3)

. The sin of slander (Part 3)

THE SIN OF SLANDER (PART 3)

 

Last week we ended with a reference to 1 Peter 4:8 (ESV)8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” I need to say more on this verse.

Now remember that we are talking about the sin of slander.

Last week I spent quite some time with Matthew 18, by which I simply wanted to indicate that there is a process in place to deal with a sinner or somebody who has sinned against you. Slander is not part of that process and will never be part of that process. Sadly Matthew 18:15-17 is a section where many theologians force their opinion on the text. I can obviously be guilty of the same. All I desire to do is to be as honest with the text as possible and to try and understand it in its immediate context than to interpret it on the basis of the post Acts 2 church.

1 Peter 4:8 is another text where we are not told exactly what Peter means. Peter says we must love one another earnestly, because, or since ‘love covers a multitude of sins’. Some theologians believe that it simply means that repented sins are covered by love. I am not sure that I fully agree with that. Otherwise the implication will be that where there are unrepented sins that we function in a loveless manner. It also means that the focus of love is towards the abstract and not the person.  It is difficult to pick up the meaning from the context, and it is unfair to try and force our understanding of issues like love and sin into the mind of Peter. Now remember, that Peter is throwing a whole bunch of short statements at the church.  Reading it from verse 7 makes more sense 1 Peter 4:7 (ESV) 7 The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. 8 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”

In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul says that love is the more excellent way, Peter says that love is ‘above all’.  Love is paramount, love is a more excellent way, that is why it is above all and it will be needed all the more as the end draws near. Why? Because the pressures and stresses and tribulations of the last days will put relationships under tremendous stress. Also, we are prone to sin against one another, to hurt one another and to disappoint one another. It does not mean we ignore sin. We have covered that last week. But in these days, we will need each other, and the world will be watching to see if we are real. If we slander one another, and shoot our wounded, we are our own worst enemy, but on the contrary when we learn to forgive 70x7 then we display the heart and mind of Christ. Will we cover and bear and endure each other’s’ faults and weaknesses and sin rather than be driven by policing one another all the time for error and slandering one another? Yes, we must hate sin, but we must love each other, and a loving environment is a much better one to deal with sin than a harsh condemning environment. It is fine to be hard on principle, but you must be soft on people.

My reason for bringing up 1 Peter 4:8 in the first place is to simply say this. Where there is slander, there is not a covering of sin, but a revealing of sin to the detriment of the body. I have major problems with announcing a person’s sins in a public forum like a church service. All it does is to provide fodder for slander. Think about it, when the church leadership announces the sin of a person to a whole congregation, whether it is real or imagined, we need to ask two questions. Firstly, are all in the congregation therefore pure or sinless, and secondly are they all mature to handle such announcements no matter how accurate or how faulty the announcements are? I have seen it so many times even on denominational level where the announcement is made in such a way that it is left open so wide for interpretation and for everybody to add their own twists and tails and it opened the floodgates of slander. That is again part of the reason why I believe Matthew 18’s ‘church’ is not the Post Acts2 congregation but a group of responsible, wise, Godly judges for the lack of a better word that are called to judge a sin issue between two brothers. I do not believe that Christ meant it to be slander fodder for all. Love covers a multitude of sins, it simply does not expose it.

There is a time and a place to rebuke a person publicly. There are examples in Scripture, but they are few and far between.  1 Corinthians 5 which I have mentioned in my past two sermons comes to mind.

So finally, back to 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?”

As I mentioned before some translations like the NIV translates it:11 Brothers, do not slander one another.” The verb here is (katalaleo) which means to speak evil of another or to slander, or be slandered or to speak against someone. It is a present, active imperative verb, which means that moment by moment I do not speak evil of my brother, I do not slander my brother whether it is the truth or a lie.

There are two words in the Greek for ‘to speak’, the one is ‘lego’ from which we get Logos which means to say something that is logical and implies thought. The other is ‘Laleo’ which is part of the word in the text before us in contrast describes a sound that has no reason, logic or presupposed thought. Normally when somebody speaks like that they are saying nothing more than blah, blah, blah. Now ‘kata’ which is the other part of the word is a preposition which means ‘down’. It therefore means to speak down about a person. What I am saying has no value it is simply blah, blah blah and has no aim other than to harm or harm a person.

So, what James is forbidding under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is the careless babble that runs people down. It is in stark contrast with how we deal with people and their issues. Another word that is often used for slanderers is ‘backbiters’.

In Romans 1 Paul tells us what wicked people look like, people that God has given over to their sinful nature.  Romans 1:28-30 (NIV) 28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. (now what ought not to be done?) 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity (like what?). They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents…”

Look at 2 Corinthians 12:20 (NIV)20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.”

James continuous in verse 11 by saying that “The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother,” I don’t want to go into this. We did a whole series entitled ‘who are you to judge?’ Go and read it on the web. Just to say that ‘judging’ means to condemn someone. Slander is to speak evil and then you go one step further and you become God and you sentence people to judgment. You see, that's the thing Jesus condemned. May I remind you simply of the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1 (NIV) 1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” Now, from our series we did we know there is a right kind of judgment and a wrong kind of judgment, and what James has in mind here is the wrong kind. Very simply, it is judging the things that are not in our view and the motives of a man’s heart according to 1 Corinthians 4 and going beyond what is written. In Matthew 7:5 (NIV) Christ sums it up nicely. 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank (beam) out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” We cannot play God, we cannot play Holy Spirit either. He will convict the world of sin, righteousness and judgment.

Where does slander and judgment come from? It comes from our hearts, doesn’t it? Matthew 15:18-20 (NIV) 18 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’”

So how do we prevent ourselves becoming slanderers? I am going to from the rest of the text give you a few truths by which you can guard your tongue and not speak evil of other.

1. Consider your family.

Look again at verse 11: 11 Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him (his brother) speaks against the law and judges it.”

This is going to make a huge difference in our thinking. Do we realise that when we slander we are slandering family, we are slandering brothers and sisters? If you are willing to slander, then the word ‘brother’ means very little to you. To slander your own family is totally unacceptable. On the contrary you are expected to walk a road with your brother, to protect your brother. You must love your brother as you love yourself. One of the saddest statements I have ever heard is when somebody said: “The Christian army is the only army where they shoot their wounded.” When you slander your brother, you slander yourself. Remember that Satan slanders us because he is not part of our family. We are brothers and sisters. We all know in the normal family sense that blood is thicker than water, but I want to tell you this morning that the blood of Jesus Christ that makes us one family is much, much, much thicker than water. We are joint heirs. You are not the only child. Don’t join the prodigal son’s brother in looking down on your brother, rather rejoice when he has failed, he has wandered, and he has come home. And let us make sure that the church is such a loving environment that they will want to come home.

Again, where there is sin, we deal with it in a loving way. I will not propagate for one moment that we ignore sin. Surely when we really love one another we want to help one another and stand with one another in conquering sin. And when a brother is rebellious we will act accordingly and consistently. But we do not tell lies about our brothers, we do not backbite, we do not gossip, and we do not slander.

So, the first controlling factor to stay clear from slandering is to see others as part of your family. They are your brothers and sisters and you must love them warts and all, realising that love cover a multitude of sins. You do unto them what you want done unto yourself.  The golden rule for our speech towards one another is found in Colossians 4:6 (ESV) 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

So, let’s march on to a second controlling truth for today and then in my next sermon we will try and wrap up this topic.

2. Consider the law.

James 4:11 (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.”

Now, how does one speak evil against the law, and how do we judge the law when we slander? This is an interesting question, right? I think the answer is obvious when you understand the 10 commandments and then understand Christ as well as Paul’s view of the commandments and how they relate to love. I will get back to it a little later, but remember the words of Christ when He said that the whole law and the prophets rest on the commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and our neighbour as we love ourselves.  So, to slander my neighbour is to sin against the commandment of love. It is to violate God’s law, it is to say that the law is not applicable to you, which means you make a value judgment against the law of God which is false judgment and you through slandering are not a doer of the law, but you judge it as of no consequence to you.

So, what does love, have to do with the law? The 10 commandments on closer study all reflect attributes of love, love for God and love for our neighbour.

Exodus 20:1-17 (ESV) 1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 You shall have no other gods before me. 4 You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. 8 “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labour, and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Let’s first summarise the first 11 verses. I wish I had time to deal with it in detail.

The first four relate to our love for God. Firstly, we shall not have any other gods before God, because we love God and Him only. Secondly, we do not make any craven images or idols or likenesses of anything. Idolatry in any form is unacceptable. Our love for God insists that God alone is worshipped. Thirdly, our love for God demands respect for God, so therefore we do not use His name in vain. Love for God lifts Him up in praise, it does not degrade God or break Him down. Fourthly, setting a day aside for God whether it was the Old Testament Sabbath or a New Testament day, testifies of our love for God. It shows that love is set apart, it is dedicated, it is sanctified, it is reverent, it is devoted, it is loyal, it is respectful, and it is obedient.

So, the first four of the 10 commandments are clearly related to their love for God.

Now, from verse 12 the law addresses our love among men from the most intimate namely our spouse and family all the way to my neighbour.

12 Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 13 “You shall not murder. 14 “You shall not commit adultery. 15 “You shall not steal. 16 “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour. 17 “You shall not covet your neighbour’s house; you shall not covet your neighbour’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour’s.”

So, the six commandments there are simple.

Firstly, love and submit to your parents. Because you love them you obey them, and you do not rebel against their God given authority.

Secondly, you do not kill your neighbour because you love your neighbour and his loved ones. Love never, never murders the object of his love.

Thirdly, adultery. Adultery is passing your love from your spouse to somebody else. Adultery by the way is not simply the sexual act. Israel was an adulterous nation, nothing to do with sex in the first place. It is a heart condition in the first place, that is why Christ can say that looking at somebody else with a desire for them is adultery. Love remains focussed on the object of its choice, and remains committed to that.

Fourthly, love does not steal from its neighbour. Love gives, it does not take.

Fifthly, love does not bear false witness, it does not lie, it does not speak evil and it does not slander my neighbour. You do not slander that which you love.

Sixthly, love respects what others have, and love is content with what it has. The fact that your neighbour is more blessed than you do not give you the right to gripe and it does not give you the right to begrudgingly desire it. By the way you can desire to have the same as what your neighbour has. This does not mean that if he has a Jacuzzi, that you are not allowed to desire a Jacuzzi, desire your own, not his.

You see friends, love has everything to do with the law. In the Old Testament we are already taught in Leviticus 19:18 that we must love our neighbour as we love ourselves. You don’t need a law to love yourself, right? That comes automatically.

So, now you understand that when Christ says in Matthew 22:37-40 (ESV) 37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbour as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets,” you understand why the law and love are linked.

Therefore, if you slander your brother, you are not a keeper of the law, on the contrary you judge the law and pretend that you are above the law. You speak evil of the law. If you slander you are as guilty as those who break other laws. If you slander the thief, or adulterer or whoever, you are guilty of the same. Most pastors will teach that slander is always based on the lie, but you are as guilty of slander when you spread rumours of another man’s sins, as love covers a multitude of sins.

Let me end with the words of Paul who also joins love and the law together.

Romans 13:8 (ESV) 8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

So, you are either against the law, or you fulfil the law just as Christ came to fulfil the law. If you are going to fulfil the law, you love your neighbour, and if you love your neighbour, you do not slander your neighbour.

Amen!

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church – 26 November 2017