The Sin of Slander
By David J. Stewart
Proverb 11:9, An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour...
There are many reasons why people love to slander others. Perhaps it is because they got their feelings hurt and are upset with that person. 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 only a fool does so. Proverb 10:18, He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool. The Hebrew word for slander here is dibbah, which means, an evil report. Notice that the Bible mentions those who cloak their hatred with "lying lips." So many religious people today cloak their self-righteous hatred for others, hiding behind the Scriptures. There is a fine line between Biblical discernment (judging righteously) verses condemning someone. Looking for fault in a person, so you can defame them, is to sinfully condemn them. Rebuking someone who openly sins is a different story.
Please notice what the Apostle Paul said in 1st Corinthians 5:1, "It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife." The sin was "reported commonly." Paul didn't sent out spies to find out who was committing sin, which is exactly what many self-righteous hypocrites do today. Paul simply addressed a situation that had become public.
Much slander and condemnation is sinfully done in Jesus' name. It is evil. Some people are hateful, malicious and rotten, searching and looking for one's sins so they can parade them publicly to destroy that person. I don't condemn anyone on my website, for the Bible condemns all of us as guilty, dirty, rotten, hell-deserving sinners. I certainly don't go looking for anyone's personal sins, God forbid. I expose the unfruitful works of darkness as Ephesians 5:11 commands. If you're looking for a big sinner, you've found the biggest one right here. And if you don't feel the same way about yourself, then you're not right with God. You are self-righteous in your own eyes. My salvation solely rests in Christ's righteousness, because of the precious blood that He gave for our sins. Jesus Christ is my righteousness.
I admire Chuck Norris, who professes to be a born-again Christian. As a martial arts instructor, he teaches a code of honor to his students and one of the things he teaches them is... If I have nothing good to say about a person, I will say nothing.1 Amen to that! That is an honorable and Christian principle to live by. This is not to say that those who sin openly in public, and those who brag about their wickedness, shouldn't be exposed. This doesn't mean berating someone for the rest of their life because of a sin they committed. To do so would be pure hatred. Many people accuse preachers of condemning others, and no doubt some do; however, preaching against sin itself is Biblical.
Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001) once said, Great minds talk about ideas; good minds talk about things; weak minds talk about people. It would be a good idea for Christians to cease their fellowship when they leave off talking about ideas; certainly before they begin talking about people. Even casual talk will often deteriorate into criticism.2
An unsaved man once told me that he enjoys gossiping because it's a cheap form of entertainment. His attitude is the same as many people today, they thrive on gossip and slander. Without it, what would they do? It's usually the same people who love to sit and read all the bad news in the daily newspaper who also enjoy gossiping about everyone. Gossip is a sin, which Proverb 11:9 calls hypocrisy. What right does anyone have to sit in judgment upon another?
Who's the Real Hypocrite?
The Bible teaches in Proverb 11:9 that only a hypocrite goes around slandering other people, An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour...
The most damaging gossip is true gossip. It is quite often in a prayer meeting for someone to slander another person under the guide of caring for that person. This goes back to the "lying lips" which hide hatred (Proverb 10:18). The Bible teaches in Proverb 11:9, An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbour... Again, some people are hateful, malicious and rotten, searching and looking for one's sins so they can parade them publicly to destroy that person. This is horrible sin. The entire newsmedia are a bunch of evil hypocrites who destroy people's lives by their manure-spreading.
Any time you point your finger at someone else, you've got 3 of your own fingers pointing right back at you. It's a Sunday School lesson that every child learns, but few adults live. Matthew 7:5, Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. Scripturally we are not to condemn anyone as being a worse sinner than ourselves, for we are all dirty, rotten, hell-deserving sinners; however, if that person is doing something that is harmful to society, like teaching kids that homosexuality is acceptable, then as Christians we are expected to expose those works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). A lot of people attack me out of hatred against me because I expose false doctrines, false prophets, the evils of Rock 'N' Roll, the evils of feminism, the sin of divorce, et cetera. I am one of the most hated men America, because I take an uncompromising stand for God.
The hypocrite is not the person who says one thing and then goes and does another, that is called being a sinner. Everyone is guilty to some degree of not doing what pleases God. We are all struggling sinners, at best. The Apostle Paul had the same struggle in his Christian life, For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do (Romans 7:19). Paul was NOT a hypocrite, he was a struggling sinner. Yet we find Paul preaching against various sins at the church of Corinth throughout the Book of 1st Corinthians. Was Paul a hypocrite? No, he was a sinner, just like you and me.
The hypocrites were the Pharisees, who brought a woman to Jesus in John chapter 8, who had been caught in the very act of adultery (allegedly). The Pharisees wanted her stoned to death. Jesus asked who amongst them was without sin. No one could answer. From the eldest to the youngest they departed, and Jesus forgave the woman of her sins.
In Paul's case, he was living for the Lord and preaching, but he struggled with sin in his own life. In sharp contrast, the hypocritical Pharisees didn't even try to keep God's Law. They were self-righteous (Matthew 5:20). The Pharisees condemned that poor adulterous woman to die. Just let a preacher sin one time and all the self-righteous hordes of Hell will attack him; but the wicked can sin all day long and people don't have a problem with that. It is because we live in a wicked generation.
A hypocrite is one who views someone else as being a worse sinner than them self. I am the biggest sinner I know (and so are you). We are all big sinners. James 2:10 says to be guilty of even one sin makes us guilty of ALL. I am not condoning sin, not at all; I am simply saying that a hypocrite is someone who looks down on another person in self-righteous judgment.
Contending for the Faith verses Slander
Having said that, please don't mistake Biblical preaching for slander. 1st Timothy 5:20 states, Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. This verse speaks about those who openly sin in public. It doesn't mean that you go searching for dirt to destroy someone. God knows your heart. There are many professed Christians today, who are imposters, leading America's youth into worldliness and sin. It is our duty as Christians to shine the Light of God's Word upon Satan's works of darkness and expose them. Ephesians 5:8 and 11, For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light ... And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
It is right and proper to warn people concerning false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15). I expose a lot of false works through my ministry that are dangerous influences upon the public. I do not condemn anyone, for I am as big a sinner as anyone else. I am only saved by God's merciful grace.
John the Baptist preached against Herod's adultery (Mark 6:18). John was not condemning Herod; but rather, warning him concerning the judgment to come. John didn't go tell everyone in Jerusalem, he confronted Herod. Many critics of the Bible love to accuse Bible-believing, sin-hating, Christ-honoring Christians of being judgmental; but we're simply obeying God's command to reprove the unfruitful works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). That doesn't mean that I am better than anyone else, God forbid. I am the biggest sinner I know, and if you don't feel the same way about yourself, you need to get right with God. The Apostle Paul called himself "the chief" of sinners. 1st Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." This is humility.
Certainly, there is a balance between loving people and taking a stand against sin. A God-fearing Christian does both. A lot of church members are hypocritical, quick to condemn and reject sinners; but they are self-righteous and saturated with sins themselves. On the other hand, there are church members who fail to take a Biblical stand against sin and what they perceive as love is really sinful compromise. There must be a balance. We find so many churches today at one extreme or the other, either hating sinners or else loving their sins. Biblically, we're supposed to love the sinner, but hate the sin. Preachers ought to preach against sin and not people. I don't expose people, I expose their evil works.
1st John 5:19, And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
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