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Saying No to Slander (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
September 5, 2023 4:00 am

Saying No to Slander (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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September 5, 2023 4:00 am

Gossip is destructive on many levels; it harms the person being slandered, certainly, but it also damages the gossiper and the listener. Learn to identify subtle forms of slander—and resist its lure—when you study along with Alistair Begg on Truth For Life.


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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!

Insight for Living
Chuck Swindoll
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg

Gossip is destructive in the nuclear family. And those from the same bloodline slander one another. And something has gone badly wrong in the spiritual family when the same takes place. That's why from the very beginning of the Bible, God is concerned about these things.

In Leviticus, he urges upon his people, you shall not go up and down as a tailbearer among your people. Tittle-tattle. The tattler.

The little juicy pieces of information. Why not? It's incongruous.

And it's wrong. We should never report what may hurt another person unless to conceal it would hurt worse. We should never report what will hurt another person unless our concealing of the fact would cause greater havoc. Somebody said, when we are tempted to engage in slander, we should breathe through our noses.

You can try that on your own while you're driving home. And we should keep in mind when we are interested in receiving the information—because, remember, a slanderous tongue needs two ears that love that information to really do its work. If you've got some information and you can't tell anybody it, it's really frustrating, especially if it's bad, and bad news travels fast. Did you hear about so-and-so? Don't want to hear. Don't want to hear. Oh, someone else, someone else.

No, it takes the two ears, you see. And listen carefully. Keep in mind that whoever gossips to you will also gossip of you. That's why David sets us on the right track when he says, I'm going to have nothing to do with that stuff. I will be a ditch to that information. As in the forest fires of Southern California, when you see the helicopters moving and trying to douse the flames, at the same time feverishly digging out are people trying to create a wide enough ditch so that the fire which is now here may not be able to jump to there. And the wider the ditch they can make it and the faster they can make it, the less chance there is of the fire being able to jump to the next canyon. Our lives in Christ are supposed to be like those ditches when it comes to slander. So that the slanderer says, Well, there's really no way I'm going to be able to get it over to there, passing it through her. Because she's just like a big ditch.

She doesn't really like to listen to it, and she never passes it on. That's right. First, then, slander is not impossible, but it is incongruous. And secondly, that we're guilty in this regard cannot be denied.

That we're guilty in this regard cannot be denied. James is not addressing a hypothetical situation here. He's not saying, Brothers, do not slander one another. Of course, I know you don't slander one another. Sorry, I didn't really mean to write that down.

No. He's saying, Brothers and sisters, please don't slander one another. It's not hypothetical for Paul when he signs off at the end of his second Corinthians as we have it in our Bibles. And he says, I'm afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder. Oh, boy, that's something to look forward to, isn't it?

Can't wait to come and see you and visit with you in your church. However, I fear that there may be… Again, he's not addressing a hypothetical situation. Peter is not addressing a hypothetical situation, where in 1 Peter chapter 2, having reminded his readers that they have been born again to a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, he then says to them, Therefore, 1 Peter 2 1, rid yourselves, get rid of all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

Now, why is the command issued? Because we're guilty. I am guilty of slander when I report negatively on a person's views of a subject without knowing what those views really are. This may be unique to pastoral ministry or to theological would-be's, but it is a sore temptation to take a soundbite without ever sourcing it, without ever finding out how comprehensive it is, and then passing it on to someone else. Did you hear what so-and-so said on the radio the other day?

Did you hear what was reported the other night? Whatever it might be. And I haven't done the hard work of finding out whether it was taken completely out of context or whether it represents a genuine expression of the person's convictions, but because there is some sinister design and desire to exalt oneself, it just adds a little sugar and spice to it to be able to pass that on with all of the negative inference. It's slander.

I am guilty of slander when I act as if I know the motives of people and then impugn those motives. Oh, the only reason she's helping is because. Well, the only reason he's saying that is because.

Well, that's to jump ahead, isn't it? James says in 12, he says, who do you think you are? Who are you to judge your neighbor in this way? You don't know the motives of people's hearts. Oh, I'm sure the only reason she was invited was because.

See? It's all slander. I'm guilty of slander when I call into question the commitment of my brothers and sisters, when that commitment doesn't meet my expectations. See, we're very good on commitment. Well, is she committed? No, I don't think she's committed. Is he committed to the thing? No, I don't think he's committed. Why not? Well, because I've got an expectation of what commitment means.

It may not be a biblical expectation, but it's my expectation. And as long as the person doesn't meet my framework and my design, then I can just write them off as uncommitted. They're not committed.

Slander. They may be as committed as they can be. I don't know what their circumstances are.

I don't know what they face at home. I don't know what's going on inside of their heads or their hearts. I can make inferences from what I see on the outside, but that's all that I know, and that's all that I see. And on the strength of that, if I then determine that the issue that we're confronting here is the absence of commitment, then I just put myself in the position of God. And there's only one person who gets on that throne. That's God alone.

Thirdly—and then finally—what are we saying? That slander is incongruous, it is undeniable, and thirdly, it needs to be got rid of in obedience to the Word of God and in submission to the Spirit of God. You see, what we have to do with this sin—this respectable sin, as Jerry Bridges refers to it—what we have to do with this sin is drag the ugly beast out into the light of God's Word. It's a very uncomfortable thing.

It's a very painful thing. To read the Bible and for it to confront us that we are out of line with God, we're out of line with his truth. Brothers, don't slander one another.

But I do slander people. Oh, now I understand verse 9. Verse 9. Grieve, mourn, and wail. What does that mean? Well, it is to face verse 11 and say, I'm not supposed to slander people, and I have been slandering people.

What should I do about that? Well, first of all, I should repent. Which is to grieve and mourn and wail. In other words, it's to take seriously what God takes seriously. It is to call sin sin. It's to recognize that I feel guilty because I am guilty. This is not spurious guilt.

I can't externalize this. I can't blame it on anyone else. It is out of my own evil heart that these feelings and attitudes come, and then I give voice to them with my tongue.

Yes, it is devastating, isn't it? We need to learn to say routinely with John Newton, I am a great sinner, but Christ is a great Savior. I am a sinner. You see, until we recognize that the gospel is for sinners, that only bad people go to heaven.

We'll get this consistently wrong. The gospel, the good news, is for sinners. What did I just say in verse 8?

Wash your hands, you sinners. To whom is he referring? A different group of people? No, the same group of people.

Who are these people? These are the people who have been chosen according to the purposes of God, who have become the children of God through the instrument of God's Word, and who now are being fashioned as the firstfruits of all that he has designed for us. And it is to these people, changed by God, made new by God, included in the family of God, that he issues the exhortation, Wash your hands, you sinners. And then I say, Well, okay, fine. And then it goes, Don't slander anyone. I said, Oh, I guess I'd better wash my hands then. Because I just did. And instead of being superficial about it, well, it doesn't really matter. You know, if we confess our sins, he's faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all our righteousness.

You know, Scooby-doo, doobidy-doo, dip, dip, doobidy-doo, doesn't really matter. No, we've got it entirely wrong. Entirely wrong. That's the significance of verse 9. When we are aware of how magnificent is the love of God to us in Jesus and how disastrous is my own rebellious heart, then it ought to make me grieve and mourn in will. Not to treat it in some superficial fashion. Whereby I say, Well, this is not really an issue. It is an issue. It is an issue.

And indeed, it is the very respectable sins that are killing the church. The things that we say, This isn't really that important. A little deceitfulness here, a little slander there, a little judgmentalism over here, a little gluttony over here, a little self of aggrandizement over there—nah, this doesn't really matter. Yes, it does.

It does. Divides people, destroys praise, confuses the watching world. You see, when we're honest—and this is how to deal with it—when we're honest, we have to recognize that every day in a thousand different ways, we're all tempted to make ourselves the center of the universe. And one of the ways in which I know that I'm the center of the universe is when I think that I'm better than everybody else, and that's why it helps me just to pass on a little nugget of information that lets you know that Mr. So-and-Sir's really not such a terrific guy after all. Unlike moi. That's the inference!

Just want to let you know that this guy is a … or this guy said a … or she was a … feels so much better now. All we, like sheep, have gone astray. Each of us has turned to his own way. Is that just something that is a verse for us before we come to trust in Christ? I hope not. Because I am a wandering sheep.

I don't know about you. And every day in a thousand different ways, I am tempted to go astray, and in some of these ways, I do go astray. And when I am aware of the fact that I have gone astray, what am I supposed to do?

Where do I go? How does this get fixed? It gets fixed in the gospel, in the good news of the Lord Jesus Christ—that the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. That, as the psalmist says and then as Paul quotes it in Romans 4, you know, blessed is the man whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin the Lord does not count against him, who has been put in a right relationship with God on account of what Jesus has done, so that God, in 2 Corinthians 12, was not counting their sins against them, because he was counting their sins against him.

So that to be in Christ is to be covered over with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, whereby all of my acceptance is on account of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. That is good news that shows us our sin and shows us our Savior and brings us to faith. It is the same gospel that keeps us.

It's the same answer every day. I am a sinner. But Jesus is a wonderful Savior. He cleanses me not only, as Augustus' top lady says, he cleanses me not only from the guilt of sin but from the power of sin. Be of sin the double cure cleansed me from its guilt and power. To be in Christ is to have the penalty of our sin dealt with. There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. God does not drag that back up to us again. One day we will be saved from the very presence of sin, when in eternity we will enjoy a world, a new heaven and a new earth, that is uninfected by all of this. But in the meantime, how are we to deal with the fact that just as our hands get dirty all the time, I spend Sundays saying hello, shaking hands, and then running immediately to wash my hands?

And I think you probably do too. These are dangerous places. Hospitals are dangerous places. And just as my hands get dirty, so my heart gets dirty. And I go back again to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. I remind myself in the words of Graham Kendrick that God is at work in us, molding and shaping us, out of his love for us, making us more like Jesus.

In other words, we need constantly—as someone has said, and Jerry Bridges has quoted—we need constantly to preach the gospel to ourselves. Because it is in this encouragement of recognizing that the approach of God to his erring child is not the picture of a large finger, as it were, pointing out of the heavens, but would actually rather be the picture of a large hand—which, of course, is an anthropomorphism—but would be a picture of a large hand coming alongside and saying, Come on, Begg, we're going to work on this together. It's the difference between a good teacher and a bad teacher, really. The bad teacher can walk around and say, You know what? You're an idiot. You're an idiot when you come into my class.

You're an idiot when you leave the class. You know, you don't pay attention to anything. You never do anything. You never do your homework.

You never do anything. Get out of my class. I'm fed up with you. Now, the teacher may justifiably say to me, Begg, you're an idiot when you come into class. You're still an idiot.

But you know what? And I've always told you this. I'm here for you every time you say help. I'm here for you every time.

It's the picture of a father teaching his daughter to ride a bicycle with his hand on the back of the seat, urging them along, Come on now. I think we're in. We're going. I think we're going now. We're going.

Here we go. If you have a picture of God, which is a large finger from the heavens, then you just need to read your Bible. Because the message of God's Word in the gospel is the good news for slanderers. It's not to say, Well, we did James 4.11a about slanderers, but I'm so glad I'm not a slanderer.

Because that would be a flat-out lie. It is to say, We just studied James 4.11, and I was convicted of the fact that I find it easy to slander. And the devil gave me a right good working over during the sermon.

He actually reminded me while that chap was speaking of some of the things that I've said. But I'm so thankful for the gospel. Because when Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within, upward I look and see Christ there, who made an end to all my sin. We are just saved sinners. Sin no longer reigns, but it remains. And the antidote to sin always in our lives, with our slander or judgmentalism or whatever it might be, is always to go back to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Because all of us like sheep have gone astray. Each of us has turned to our own way, but the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. In a sentence, it is the gospel that motivates us to be in our daily experience what we are in our standing before God.

Ethics is a call to try and do our best to fix ourselves by whatever endeavor we may prevail. And for some people, that is their experience of Christianity. They go to church, and somebody tells them, You're an idiot when you came in. You're an idiot when you leave.

But the best you can do is just go out and try and fix yourself. And I'll give you a few principles and just try and put them into place. That is not the gospel. That is external religion. The gospel is that what we are unable to do for ourselves, another has done. That all of our side of the equation is indebtedness and failure and disappointment and bankruptcy. And instead of God holding that to our account, as we come to trust in Christ, so he credits us with all of the righteousness of Christ and doesn't simply put us back to square one, because that would be just to go back to the Garden of Eden.

But he gives us all of Christ's righteousness in our account, and then he says, Come on, son. Come on, daughter. Be what you are. Be what you are.

That's what our wives need to say to us. Hey, Alistair, why don't you be what you are? You're a son of God. You're not acting like one. The devil's a slanderer. You shouldn't slander.

Be what you are. Well, that's right. I am. I'm in the family. That's incongruous.

That's wrong. Do you get it? You're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life. Alistair will be back in just a minute. If you were challenged or encouraged by today's message and you find yourself wanting to linger a little longer in God's Word, you can enjoy Bible study with Alistair every day when you sign up for the Truth for Life daily devotional emails. You can spend part of each day reading a passage from Scripture, followed by a brief commentary from Alistair. Then consider how to apply the biblical instruction in your life. The daily devotional is a free subscription.

Sign up at slash subscribe. If you have young children in your family or in your Sunday school class at church, kids you'd like to talk to about Jesus, you'll want to request the book we're recommending today. It's titled, God's Big Promises, Stories of Jesus. It's a terrific gospel conversation starter written specifically with preschoolers or young school-aged children in mind.

It's easy to read. It's a picture book that draws from the Gospels and teaches 21 stories about Jesus. As you read the book together with children, they'll learn how Jesus called his disciples, about his entry into Jerusalem, and about how the cross frees us from our sins. Each story just takes a little time to read, maybe four or five pages, makes it a perfect book to read after school, during dinner, or as part of your bedtime routine.

Stories of Jesus is a special collection of stories that was compiled just for Truth for Life. You won't find this book anywhere else. Ask for your copy today when you give a donation online at slash donate or call us at 888-588-7884. And if you'd rather mail your donation along with your request for the book, Write to Truth for Life, at Post Office Box 398000, Cleveland, Ohio.

The zip code is 44139. Now here's Alistair to close today's program with prayer. God our Father, for your Word we give you our humble thanks. What we do not know, please teach us. What we do not have, please give us. What we are not, please make us. And now unto him who is able to keep us from falling, to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only ones, God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power now and forevermore. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. Thanks for listening today. Tomorrow we'll learn more about how we can stop passing judgment on others by taking a closer look at our own heart. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-05 06:56:03 / 2023-09-05 07:04:45 / 9

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