Sowing discord among brethren often involves back-biting and gossip, all of which God hates. Are you doing the devils work for him?
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This afternoon I'd like to address a topic that I hope you'll find helpful, especially as the biblical admonition is to all of us, that we must be extremely careful in the world in which we live, because we're living in dangerous times, to say the least. It's called the "End Times", and there's much commentary right now about the end times and the events that are happening on the world scene. Most of us in this working world of coming and going, day in and day out, we face a lot of different things, and I would like to address something today that we all face and have to do combat with in our spiritual warfare of overcoming, and it's something that really touches close to a nerve in God's makeup, and He wants us to understand how serious this is.
It has to do with a subject that we will encounter, whether we are in the work place, whether we're in school, in High School, Grade School - just in generally in dealing with people. And unfortunately sometimes it even invades the Church of God. History has shown it has done so, and we need to be alert to it. Hopefully that's not a problem for any of us at this time, but nevertheless, the Bible does address it and it's something we need to be mindful of so that we are not caught flat-footed when this ugly monster raises its head.
What we're going to talk about today is the subject of gossip and back-biting - gossip and back-biting. It actually ties in, and the actual title for the sermon that I have for you is entitled in the following area: "He That Sows Discord Among Brethren" - that's the title of the sermon - He That Sows Discord Among Brethren. Well, let's see a little bit about that as we get to the Scriptures that deal with this particular topic. But it's a very important one, because you and I are affected by it whether we realize it or not. We live in a world where we're told in Revelation, twelfth chapter, that Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and he's accusing us day and night before God's throne. Because as human beings we're frail, we - (that our spirit is willing, but we all stumble) - we all falter from time to time, and there's not a one of us that may not have fallen prey to this problem of gossiping and what have you, and back-biting, either as a victim yourself, or maybe you experienced it as an observer, or maybe unfortunately you were a participant in this particular element, and hopefully that is not the case.
Well, this is a subject, that again, needs to be looked at from a biblical prospective and so I wanted to give you some biblical advise today on this subject, because we're told in Matthew 12 and Verse 34 that we are to be very, very much aware of what we say, because we are going to be evaluated, it says, by every idle word that is spoken. Now, actually that's where gossip and this thing of back-biting come in, and that's why we need to take a look at it, because you deal with it in this world - if you live in this world, you're going to face it. Either you have had people who have said things about you behind your back, or people who have gossiped and given lies and misrepresentation. But consider, if you will, the world that we live in - half of the publications that you see in the various stores when you go to the shopping centers, you've got all these little "slurry journals", I call them, and what are the designed to do? They're designed to say, "Oh, so-and-so did such and such", and then they end up getting sued because they didn't really say that. You know, they're just marketing evil to sell products. And it happens in this day and age more than we care to admit maybe sometimes, and you and I are told to come out of her my people and be aware of what's going on around you, so that you don't get caught up into it and just find yourself falling prey to it, because you can get involved in it if you're not careful. And the Bible puts some strong, strong junctions against those who get caught up in it.
So I thought it might be a good topic for us to review as members of the Church of God, because obviously, on the up-front side, none of us want to do this. But, we could be exposed to it, we could unfortunately be sucked into it, maybe as a participating participant, and that's something we certainly don't want to do. So we‘re going to look at this subject a little bit more in depth.
The subject of gossip, for example. That word is not in the Bible - you can't find gossip per se, but the principles of gossiping are there. Gossip is malicious or idle talk, you know. That's where that thing "every idle word", - because people get involved in it. If you remember the old TV show years ago about -- called "Hee Haw"? They used to have the old fence there, and so forth, and they're going to gossip and talk and get the latest juicy little "tidbit"- well this is the type of thing people can get sucked into. We've all seen it, and we can laugh at it, and so forth, but it's not a laughing matter when you're on the receiving end, as you're going to see from the scriptural point of view. It really cuts deep, and it has some very, very strong reprimands from God's point of view.
But, it's usually about the affairs of other people - that's usually what gossip involves. And when we can't find something better to do with our time, that's when most people get caught up, saying things, talking about other people, and that's when they get in trouble. It's usually degrading and belittling, putting a person down, and this is something Jesus Christ forbids us to do. We are not to belittle or put anyone down, but to view all in the context of God's merciful word, and He tells us that we that are without sin, then you can cast the first stone. And if you are like all the rest of us, in that state of sin, (all have sinned and come short of the glory of God), well then we have to bow to the deference of God's word, because He's the final word on this matter.
Now, the subject of back-biting is a little different. It's gossip that goes a little bit deeper, a little bit more poisonous in its relationship. It makes a verbal attack on someone, or some individual, behind their backs when they're not there to defend themselves - that's what makes it bad, because usually then a person could straighten it out right then and there. But sometimes people don't even know it's going on - don't even know that that's happening. Generally speaking, it's more malicious and it has more of an evil intent for those who participate in back-biting. It indicates a vendetta that a person has regarding individuals who they're doing this to, or it could represent a private warfare, or a feud that's going on, or it could be directed toward a person, or persons.
So, anyway, the bottom line is this: Jesus taught us that our mouths merely reflect what's in our hearts - out of the abundance of the heart, the mouths speak. So, when we run into people who start this process of either gossiping or back-biting, we know immediately this is a no-no from God's point of view - this is something we want to stay clear of like the plague, because it will destroy you. You'll see in a moment here why God is so upset about this very thing, because these attitudes of erupting in this end-time pictures something that is found in II Timothy, Chapter 3 beginning in Verses one through three (II Timothy 3, Verses one through three) if you'll turn there with me. And here we have the following admonition. It says:
II Timothy 3:1 But realize this , (take note of this and realize this) that in the last days difficult times will come: (and boy, nothing could be more true than that statement right there)
Verse 2:For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, (you know, people want to be involved, they'll do anything). All these TV shows right now - well, they'll do this for a million dollars, they'll do it for six million dollars, whatever it is - they'll beat a person down, belittle them, cut the rug out from underneath them just so they can get that particular monetary reward. They will be boastful, they will be arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,
Verse 3: unloving, irreconcilable, and malicious gossips - (in other words, they will be instruments in Satan's hands to feed the very thing that he likes to do, to accuse other individuals), and without self-control, brutal, and haters of good.
Now, it's important to understand that what these statements refer to is that the conditions you and I will be exposed to in the latter days - it's what you and I will have to deal with. So you go to school, you go to the work place, you go to your neighbors, etc. and you run smack-dab in the middle of this stuff, and how do you deal with it? Well, God tells us how to deal with it and He gives us specific instructions how to avoid the pitfall that we don't end up in this condition. We can expect these things because, again, it's the world we live in now. The good news is that a better world is coming in which this type of thing will not be allowed. People will be taught the right way and they'll learn how to esteem others better than themselves, instead of always putting the other person down. They'll learn what Jesus was always trying to teach in His day, is that you raise people up, you don't put them down.
We're all in that same boat as human beings, made in the image of God. God has a purpose for each and everyone of us to be a part of His family, and He doesn't want to see any of us out of that family. If anyone chooses to abort, it will be their choice, not God. He's not willing any should perish. But He will give us the free choice that He has promised, to choose either life, or choose death. He's not going to force it down our throats, but He'll give up the opportunity to make the choice.
How He reveals this marvelous revelation of Scripture is through His law. His law is the actual law that deals with relationships - our relationship with God, our relationship with our fellow human beings. And, also our relationship with the ministry that serves the flock of God. That becomes a very important part also in this whole picture and equation.
So, let's take a look at some of this and take note of the very fact that Proverbs, Chapter 6 gives us an important clue as to how God is viewing things when He looks at human beings, their behavior patterns, and He tells us through Solomon's wisdom, as written and recorded in the Proverbs, and it is a dynamic book to review. I mentioned this to you before, if you just want to learn and glean wisdom from the Scriptures, just take one day at a time: just like, say it's the first, go to Chapter 1; tomorrow's the second, read Chapter 2. You've got 31 chapters; for most months you've got 31 days. So you get a chapter a day of the wisdom of God, burned into your psyche toward the spirit of God. And it's marvelous what it brings to your forefront - it just helps you to remember things, and it's just a matter of "Oh wow!", this or that - and you might be tempted to -- but it says in the Proverbs, "Don't do that". So, you learn, you begin to understand how the mind of God works.
Well, notice what Solomon said here in this particular area, Chapter 6 and beginning in Verse 16. Here he states the following:
Proverbs:6:16 These six things does the Lord (that's Lordcapital, meaning the Self-existent One, the Almighty, the Everlasting, the I Am that I Am) - He says, these six things does the Lord hate,
Notice, now God is a God of love, but when it comes to these things, He says, "I hate these things, and I don't want these things in my sons and daughters to be". And so He goes on to say, "I hate these things and yes, seven, (whatever that seventh one is) - is an abomination unto Him: (Meaning detestable - it's not only things are bad, but it's detestable when we get to that seventh point, as we're going to see.
And he goes and defines in:
Verse 17: A proud look, a lying tongue, a hand that sheds innocent blood,
Verse 18: A heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that are swift to running to mischief, (Well, we've got all these things here today, alive and well on planet earth, do we not?)
Verse 19: A false witness that speaks lies, and number seven is: He that sows discord among brethren.
That's the one we more specifically want to take a look at, because these are the areas that God says, "I don't want you messing with" - And obviously, humanly, our spirit says, "I don't want to mess with these either". But in case we should fall into the trap by not being mindful of what God is saying, then we need to review just what is it about this sowing discord that God takes exception to?
Well, as I mentioned, God's laws deal with relationships; and relationships, the first portion of the commandments tell us what? - How to love God. The second portion tell us, how to love our fellow-man. And the final conclusion of the matter is this: Jesus magnified in the New Testament, (remember He came to magnifythe law), and He emphasized not the commandments in the context of first, second, third etc., but He emphasized it in the context of love - that the spiritual fulfillment of the law of God is when that love is made manifest. How is it made manifest? Well, according to the Scriptures, we're told in Romans:5:5 that the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts - it is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. So this is what the spirit of God is doing in our lives as men and women. It's producing the love of God that helps us to see what we humanly could not see of and by ourselves. And what it said according to Jesus, was that everything hinges on the whole commandments of God - hinge on this love toward God and love toward your fellow human being.
Now there's another aspect of this also, is that Jesus considers Himself one of the brethren when He says in Hebrews 2 and Verse 11 that He didn't consider it something that He was to be ashamed of, to call us His brethren. So Jesus is the Captain of our salvation - He sets the pace; He's the one who guides us. And He also gave us ministry. And we're told that in Ephesians, Chapter 5, Verses 11 through 13, that the ministry plays a vital part, by God's grace, to help feed the flock, to help them over the hurdles of life, to point out where the danger zones are - to guide them through the spirit of God away from that which is unacceptable in God's eyes, and to the area where they can be blessed of God, which is His desire.
And so we find also in Psalm 133, Verse 1. Why does God take exception to those that sow discord, and why must we stay away from that, for all that we're worth? Simply because He says, "How beautiful it is for brethren to dwell in unity". He loves to see His sons and daughters together in harmony and in a spirit of unity. He does not enjoy seeing them working behind the scenes and saying things they shouldn't say.
I was visiting a church many years ago, and - I think many of you realize, "years ago" means years ago, in a different organization and a time frame, not necessarily with the United Church of God - but I was visiting this Church congregation and lo and behold the lady who was there introduced herself to me, (my wife and I were there) - and she came up and she says, "Oh Pastor Martin, nice to meet you, and I'm ‘so and so' - I'm the local Church gossip"! And I was kind of taken back at first - I said "What?" And she says, "Oh, everybody calls me the local gossip". And I said, "Well Ma'am, I don't think you'd be wanting to wear that kind of sign over your head". And that's not a kind of thing that is pleasing - she may have been joking, I don't know what - maybe she talks a lot, (who knows) but it could be misinterpreted by people. And people do not like gossip; they do not like people who break confidence and things of this nature. And so the Scriptures are clear on this. But, that's why God is very upset - He wants peace; He wants harmony among His people. He does not want this stabbing and back-biting and whispering, and things of this nature, because that's what goes on in this world.
So the laws of God then do what? They reflect our relationship with God. He doesn't want anything that interferes, that sows discord with our relationship with Him, and He doesn't want anything that sows discord in our relationship with one another. And He doesn't want anything to sow discord between the relationship of the flock and the servants of God. That's very important, because again, we all are in this team effort together; this is part of it. So, moving along very quickly, let's take a look at some of these other Scriptures that deal with this subject, because it's a very important subject indeed.
Let's go to Proverbs, Chapter 18, if you will join me there. Proverbs Chapter 18 and in Verse 8. Here it tells us (this is in the authorized version) that:
Proverbs:18:8 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost part of the belly.
Well, you know, I think all of us can agree with that. Have you ever heard that old saying, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me"? If you've ever been called a name, did it hurt? Sure did! I think we'd rather been hit with sticks and stones - but we don't know why it is, but just when somebody said something like that, umm, all emotions go south in a hurry, and you just feel terrible. That's why when somebody hits you with stuff like that and then they say, "Oh I was just joking" - then, "why am I bleeding? Why am I bleeding - why am I hurting, if you were joking?" Now, when you joke, you have to be sure who you're joking with; you've got to be sure you're on the same page with that person, or otherwise they can read you wrong. And joking - not everybody laughs at the same thing, but everybody knows how to cry, right? Everybody knows what hurt me, no matter what language you speak. There's an old saying, "Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry and you cry alone". Well, not necessarily - people all - they may cry alone, but they know everybody else has that hurting feeling down deep down inside. Well, God doesn't want that in His sons and daughters. So, here we're just reminded that it does hurt to the innermost part of the body.
Notice II Corinthians, Chapter 10. Now this was a Church, (remember that the Apostle Paul had many problems), where they were the people of God; they were a new Testament Church, but they had a lot of problems. Paul even said that on one occasion. He said, "You know" he said, "there is so much more I would like to tell you, but I can't because you are yet carnal". He says, "You're thinking like kids; you're thinking like children, you're acting like children - I have to feed you with the milk of the word", he says, "when I want to give you so much more, and I can give you that if you'll just let me". But, he had to fight his way through all kinds of difficulties and oppositions. In fact, one time he would refuse to even take tithes from the people because they would accuse him of, "Well, you want it for the money", you know. Well, do we hear that today from people, "Oh, minister's in it for the money?" I think of a lot of other opportunities in businesses you can get into that they pay a lot more that ministers - they just really do. Unless you happen to be one of those Tela-Evangelists that know how to "milk the masses", and fill the stadiums with all that do-good religion - now they're making the money! Sorry, we can't go there- we're responsible for the truth of God - we can't teach that kind of stuff. We have to stay with the little flock, where God has trained us to serve those who are faithful to Him - and you are precious in the eyes of God. And we who serve in the ministry can't thank you enough for that wonderful faithfulness to God, because we're with you. This is what we're all about. If this isn't it, I'm sorry, I don't know where it's at, because I've looked high and low, and this is what I've seen is the best thing on the market that God has given us so that we can worship Him in spirit and truth.
But in II Corinthians, Chapter 10, beginning in Verse 10, notice - these were some of the critical comments that were coming in Paul's day - poor Paul had to deal with these things. It says:
II Corinthians 10:10 "For his letters," they say, "are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech is contemptible." So they didn't like - you know - he didn't speak, I guess, just the way they thought he should speak. Well, there was even Jesus, you know, at one time - and they said, "if you don't like the way I look, just believe for the miracles sake." But people always can find something to pick at in this world, and all of us have suffered from that. The biggest thing that God wants is that we don't pick at one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. Everyone of us have foibles, everyone of us have idiosyncrasies that are uniquely our own - that's what makes us who we are. The important thing is that we just don't carry it and start using it against our brothers and sisters, because again, we're all in the same boat! Only Satan is the accuser - he's the one that would always like to hammer home, and when he does, it's for a purpose, as we'll see later on.
But in II Corinthians 10 now, it says in:
Verse 11: Let such a one think this, that such as we are in word by letters, he says, when we are absent, he says, such we will be also in deed when we are present. In other words, what he is saying in essence, is that: "you're saying, ‘boy he's strong in his letters, but when he's actually there, it doesn't really connect.'" But he goes on in Verse 12, and shows what the problem really is. He says:
Verse 12 : For we dare not make ourselvesofthe number, - (we are the elite) - those are the ones, you know, who have all the ducks in a row - everybody else is out of sync with us. He says, we're not to compare ourselves, and commend ourselves. But they that measuring themselves by themselves, comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. It's not a way to make your assessment; our comparison is to be with Jesus Christ, not one another, because all of us are on different levels of conversion. All of us have little elements of different understanding - we don't a hundred percent see everything. That's why it says we're maturing, till we all come to the maturity and the unity in Christ. And thank God that He doesn't just throw us to the wind, just because we don't understand a little something at a certain time - He's a very loving and a merciful and kind God, and He's provided that way of escape for us through His Son.
All right - then we move along in this verse down here, it says - let's go on to verse 15 - it says:
Verse 15: not boasting of things without our measure, that other men labors, he says, but having hope when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly. In other words, being a servant to the people, that they would come to see and understand what Paul was really trying to accomplish.
Verse 16 : And to preach the gospel in regions beyond you, and not to boast at another man's line of things, made ready into our hand.
Verse 18: He finalizes - he says, For not he that commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.
And that's what we all want to strive for - we want God's blessing, that God commends His blessing upon us - that we don't get a higher idea of ourselves than we actually should.
Now moving along very quickly, in Proverbs 26 (Proverbs 26) - we're going to go through some Scriptures here very quickly. Proverbs 26, Verses 20 through 22 we're reminded of something: that tale bearing is a cause of strife among brethren. (This is Proverbs, Chapter 26 and beginning in Verse 20):
Proverbs:26:20 It says, Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; (well, that's common sense) - it says - So where there is no tale bearer, the strife ceases.
When people stop doing that, or that individual is asked, you know, "if you're not going to cease and desist, then you're just going to have to leave the fellowship - there's no reason for you to be around if you're so unhappy and all you do is pick away at people all the time." If you can't learn to love one another - as Jesus said - we're practicing and learning now, then what do we have to look forward to? The whole kingdom of God is a time of great love and rejoicing, and you can't even contemplate eternity out of the context of peace and love, as Jesus outlined. And so he goes on to say:
Verse 21: As coals are to burning coals , he says, and wood to fire, so is the contentious man to kindle strife.
God does not want to see any type of strife brought to bear in that area.
I Peter, Chapter 4 and Verse 15 (I Peter 4, Verse 15) - notice the connotation in which this is placed, (or the context, better put, not the connotation) - but the context:
I Peter 4:15 Now it says: But let none of you suffer as a murderer, (we don't want that), nor as a thief, (now we don't want that either), or as an evildoer, (and that's understood), or a busy-body in other men's matters. In other words, sticking our nose into people's lives; let people live their life, and don't try to micro-manage other people, or think they have to do a thing the way you do it, because they'll not always do it. There's that old saying: "You can skin a cat many different ways", and that's exactly what God is doing -He's watching how we skin the cats of life - in this particular case, to see how we're going to handle it. And He doesn't want us to be involved in other people's lives, sticking our nose in, in an unrighteous way. We want to be concerned about our brothers and sisters in Christ, but not to become busy-body, or nosy into things that really don't apply to us and don't help, one way or the other.
Let's take a look now at Proverbs, Chapter 11 (going back to the Book of Proverbs again). And in Proverbs, Chapter 11 we have the following admonition:
Verse 13: One who carries on as a talebearer ,it says,reveals secrets. In other words, they don't know how to hold confidence in the right way - but he that is of a faithful spirit conceals the matter.
In other words, there's no reason to pass things on - if somebody has asked you a private thing, it's kept private. That's why we have confidentiality of the ministry. When things are brought to the Administrator's attention, that's just between us and the individual. Now, when a person sometimes goes out from that confidentiality, (and sometimes people will do this) - they'll say, "Well, you talk to the Pastor? Well, what did the Pastor have to say?" And then - (blurt, blurt, blurt, blurt, blurt) - people sometimes blurt it out - "uh-oh, I'm sorry, don't ask me now to be bound by confidentiality - anybody ask me what happened, I can tell now, too, cause you just broke confidentiality." It's a two-way street - you tell me, alright I'll keep your confidence - but now, if you just go blab it out to everybody else what we discussed - and a lot of times people are curious - "Well, what kind of advise did you get?" "Well, if you want to know, go ask the minister". That's what you find out, but you don't break confidentiality - that's a sacred trust.
When we bear that responsibility we have to really watch that one carefully, because again, trust is a very important commodity, and we all know what it's like when trust is broken - it does something to you, and you want to make sure you maintain the values that God has outlined.
Proverbs:20:19 He that goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore, meddle not with him that flatters with his lips.
And we've all run into people like that in the course of time, and hopefully we just don't have that in the Church of God, but again, should it ever surface you will know from God's point of view what course of action to take.
Proverbs:17:9 He that covers a transgression seeks love, but he that repeats a matter separates very friends.
Friendships can be broken and really damaged if an individual does not take into consideration that you must not repeat certain things - there's no advantage to saying it again to somebody else. What's the purpose of it? Well, again, the Bible just tells us what course of action to take.
Even many times when there's nothing wrong, people sometimes just like to tear people down - it makes them feel better, you know. "Hey! ‘I'm up here and you're down here.'" Well God's says, (according to the last time I read the Book), it says: All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We're all in the same boat - it's full of holes, and unless God plugs that hole for us, or saves us from that sinking boat, (by His grace we're saved through faith), we haven't got a chance. We're just there - lost, without hope in this world. But, we have the greatest hope going; we have the Son of God, Jesus Christ, as our one who is spearing our ship of life, and guiding us to the kingdom of God.
Now, in Proverbs 16, we see something - Proverbs 16, Verse 27. It says:
Verse 27 : An ungodly man digs up evil,
Well, you've heard - (some of you may be familiar, I forget the artist), - but there was a song years ago, in the country field, called: Digging Up Bones - remember that one, any of you? "Digging Up Bones?" Well, what are they digging up? They're digging up the past - they're looking for something, you know, to make an issue over something, and so they're digging up bones! Well, it says that's an evil person who goes around digging up bones, and we don't want to be involved with any kind of a relationship with a person like that. It says:
And in his lips there is a burning fire - that there's just something there that has a very burning effect, and it's not a good one. That's why, again, it is put in this context.
Talking behind another person's back is revealed in Scripture in the Book of Psalms, Chapter 41, as something that stems from hatred.
Psalm:41:7 It says: All that hate me whisper together against me; against me do they devise my hurt.
And you know, there's so much of that that goes on in the world today - they're just wise to do evil - people out there hurting other people - again, some of these TV shows that we reference from time to time - I don't know how you (if you've had a chance to ever look at some of those) find it. It's a good experience - just turn them on once - get a quick shot at it, see what's going on in the world, and you just see people are willing to hurt one another, and do things to each other at the drop of a hat. Especially if it's got monetary value they're willing to do that. But aah, that's not how you and I are called to live our life.
I John, Chapter 4 (I John, Chapter 4) These are important Scriptures, that if you haven't actually taken time to go through them from time to time and remind yourself, then you might not even realize some of these are there as a warning.
I John:4:19 It says: We love Him because He first loved us.
Verse 20: And if any man say, "I love God," and hates his brother, (speaks evil about them - back-bites, spreads gossip) - he says: he's a liar; for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
And that is so true. That's just a pious hypocrisy, saying "I love God", and then we turn around and just hate somebody else, and spit out things that are not right, and yet there are people who have done that. And we know that for a fact because many of us have lived through that in our own personal conversion process, dealing with people.
Alright - Let's take a look at Romans 1, Verse 29 (Romans, Chapter 1, Verse 29). This is, again, showing what is happening in our society today, how culture is beginning to disintegrate, and how they slowly go down hill, till finally they just collapse and implode. Now we're seeing today some of these very signs in our own beloved country, and it's a sad thing to witness. Now, if you'll take note of verse 29 - notice what it says:
Verse 29: These are individuals who are being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity and whisperers: "Did you know, did you hear about this?" You notice when somebody whispers, everybody moves up closer to hear. That's when we want to back away from the whisperers.
Now, this is a very interesting thing, because we live in a day and age today where that's the theme of movies, and what people see on television; all the different programs, all deal with these things. So, it's all around us - I mean, we see people treating each other with deceit, murders, and hateful - and we don't see the principles that Jesus taught. And you and I truly are lights in the world, when we see how little light is out there. Maybe we can talk about that at another time and another message. But right now, we're told that there is going to be a time when God is going to cut off the slanderers - Psalm 101 (Psalm 101). See, what most people have failed to take into consideration, is that they think they're free moral agents, that they can run around and do anything. And as I've mentioned to you before, they're only free to choose: either choose the right way or the wrong way. God is the Sovereign Lord - that 's why He is able to know the beginning to the end. He knows how this is all going to turn out, because this is His plan. People are not free to operate outside that plan; we're all in it. And He is working out His great plan and purpose in the lives of human beings, and we have chosen to align ourselves with God. There are others out there who have chosen to align themselves in a different direction. And so, as we look at this subject, notice what it says in Psalm 101, Verse 5.
Psalms 101: 5 Whoso privately slanders his neighbor, him will I cut off; and he that has a high look and a proud heart, will I not suffer - Notice, "I won't put up with it." God is not going to put up with the arrogance and the high-mindedness of man today. People think that they can just kind of do anything they want - and God can't do anything about it? Wait till God arises mightily and starts to shake the earth - Oh my, oh my! Will people get an eyeful at that time!
We're living in a day and age that you and I are told that we have got to be sure that we stop such talk in our own personal lives, if we have ever fallen prey to it; and we all have at one time or another, I'm sure. None of us are clean in any of these things; we all (maybe not deliberately) - but again, as we said, either as an observer, or as a victim, or a participant - one way or the other we've been exposed, because we're living in Satan's world, and we want to come out of it; we don't want to be a participant.
So, how do we operate? According to Jesus, let's take a look at Ephesians, Chapter 4 - Ephesians, Chapter 4, Verse 31. Here we have some positive instruction from the writings of Paul on this matter, and he says in Verse 31:
Verse 31: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, clamor, and evil speaking - you see that you can speak in an uplifting way, or you can speak in a bad way, to really put people down. Well that's called evil speaking, and we're told to put it away from you, with all malice. And how should we conduct ourselves? We should be just here, in Verse 32:
Verse 32 : And be you kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's own sake, has forgiven you.
Because we all need forgiveness, and who are we to cast stones at anyone else, because we ourselves are just as guilty. Jesus said it to those that were wanting to kill the young lady in adultery (caught in adultery): He said, you without sin, cast the first stone. They couldn't do it. Well, Jesus knew why, because again, all mankind is under the curse of sin, and unless God delivers us through His Son, there is no way of escape. Only those who receive that wonderful way of escape through Jesus Christ will find the answers to their personal problems.
I Peter, Chapter 2, Verse 1 (I Peter 2, Verse 1). Here again, a reminder - it says:
I Peter 2:1 Therefore, laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speaking - Because why? Well Verse 2 says:
Verse 2: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.
Leave that stuff behind that has contaminated your life - throw it out, and ask God to guide and help you with His spirit, so that you can master the flesh with the power of God's spirit. And that is the battle of overcoming.
Let's take a look at Titus, Chapter 3 (Titus, Chapter 3) - I'm giving you a lot of Scriptures, one right after the other, but they're very important, and they show you again - there's more here than meets the eye, than you would think of. Who would sit down and just normally go through all these Scriptures, but there they are, and it's designed to help the God-fearing man and woman be able to stand their ground. And in this particular case (Titus, Chapter 3) we have verses 1, 2, and 3 as follows:
Titus:3:1 But put them in mind to be subject to all principalities, and powers, and obey magistrates and be ready to every good work,
Verse 2: And to speak evil of no man - Now, you're going to hear at election time some of the most wicked verbalizing against other fellow human beings - they're going to speak evil like you have never heard evil spoken of. And of course we've referenced the book by Kupelian, on "The Marketing of Evil", that's going on right now. It's speaking evil of people, and we're going to hear a lot of it, and we don't want to be a part of it: to be no brawlers, but to be gentle, showing meekness unto all men. Why? Because Verse 3 reminds us:
Verse 3: For we ourselves were also sometimes foolish, disobedient, and deceiving, serving diverse lusts, and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.
That was our state of affairs until conversion came forth.
Verse 4: But after the kindness and the love of God, our Savior - what happened? - He appeared. Jesus came and showed us a better way.
Now the most important, effective thing that I can tell you in conclusion here, as we wrap this message up - and I wanted to make this short and sweet and to the point today, because again, it's something that again, hopefully nobody is practicing or involved in. But it is going on, and you will bump into it from time to time. God wants you to understand what that state of affairs is and how to avoid it, so that you don't end up getting hurt.
If somebody is plotting against you, out of jealousy, trying to do you harm, gossiping, back-biting, telling lies about you as an individual, what do you do? The answer is, be careful how you respond - be careful how you respond. The temptation is to fly right back in the same direction and to attack - that's our human weakness in the flesh, and Satan knows it. But now we are told in the Scripture, that we have examples like Daniel - Daniel who was attacked by all his peers back in his day. They were jealous of him, and so they began to concoct all kinds of stories about him, and saying he wasn't this, he wasn't that - but they couldn't find anything - they couldn't nail him down, that he had done anything wrong. And so why? Because it says: he served His God, and he served the king. He did what his job was supposed to be, but he served God; he didn't compromise in those areas. So it's very important that when he learned about the plan, and the plot to overthrow him, the first thing he did, he ran to God - he went to God in prayer. And that's what you do.
When you discover this kind of stuff going on, or you should become involved in it in some way, shape, or form, (may you God be blessed you never have it happen), - but if it should happen, go to God and bring God down on them; call God down on them, and say: "God, look what they're doing - look what they're seeking to do to me, and you are the one who is to fight my battlesfor me; please, deliver me from this - let their own ways come upon them." And God will fight that battle for you. He will deliver you from your enemies; He's promised to do that. And that is for the purpose of what? Praying and asking God for Hiswisdom, and Hisunderstanding, and His patience to deal with these problems, and also to remember that you never operate out of vengeance; God says, Vengeance is mine, I will repay - no matter how hurtful it is, I will take care of it - I see what they're doing to you, and I know what's going down - they may not think I do, but I do, and I keep accurate records, and I know what to do when the time is right.
That's why He's called the Sovereign Lord! He doesn't miss a trick! It's we human beings who fall through the cracks, but not God. And now, He also gives us a very encouraging admonition, that as we pray, we must always pray that in serving our God and asking for His help, that He may be glorified out of the whole mess - not you, not me - that He who fights our battles; He who will defend us against all enemies; He must be glorified and receive the honor. And He will do it, because He says: no flesh will glory in His presence.
So, that is something that God wants us to remember, is our plan of attack when we are attacked by the adversary, and to avoid falling prey to gossip. Three little filters might help, to filter through your mind: Ask yourself, Is what I'm hearing true? Is what I'm hearing good? Is it useful? Those three things: Is it true, good, useful? If not, don't pass it on to others, because if it is true, or good, or useful, you know, you have no problem - that's not gossiping behind someone's back. But if it's not true, not good, not useful, don't pass it on - don't be a participant.
It's very important to understand that it's a serious matter when a brother in God, (or the Lord, as the Scripture says), speaks evil of another. Let's take a look (final Scripture) in James 4, Verse 11. It says:
James:4:11 Speak not evil one to another, brethren - notice He's talking now to Church people; people who understand the plan and purpose of God, and the calling. Obviously, there's an application in dealing with people as a whole, but the people of God must really understand this more than ever. Don't speak evil of your brethren. He that speaks evil of his brother judges his brother, (or sister), and speaks evil of the law, and judges the law. But if you judge the law, are you not a doer of the law, but a judge?
And then it reminds us:
Verse 12: There is one Lawgiver, who is judge, (namely God, Himself).
We don't want to put ourselves in a position of judging others in a wrong and improper way. There's a right kind of judgment necessary in all of our lives: it's called judgerighteous judgment. Now what is righteousness? It's defined by the commandments of God. That helps us to understand what evil is: sin is the transgression of the law. So somebody who goes out and does wrong - just say: Well, that's wrong, they shouldn't have done that. And they'll say, Oh, but you're judging; yes, and I judge righteously, that is wrong! But, people don't want to hear that today; people don't want to hear anything - don't tell me - who are you putting yourself up on a high-horse and telling me that I'm wrong? It's the way they look at you today, because they don't know what right and wrong is anymore. They have done, unfortunately, one terrible thing: they have forsaken the law of their God, and God says, because of that, I have forsaken your children; you're left to yourself, and your house is ruined, because the leaders that are leading you destroy your path, O Israel.
And so the Church of God plays a very important part in this end-time. Now, we must be careful not to allow anything to happen that would impact on our spiritual lives as brothers and sisters in Christ. And one of the areas that Satan will use, he will try to use gossip, back-biting; but more important, the thing that God hates most of all, He does not want to see us ever guilty of sowing discord among our brethren.
With that, may God help us all to stay alert, to stay on top of things, and keep Satan far, far away.