Yesterday, as I was home enjoying Presidents Day, the warm weather beckoned me to lace up my tennis shoes and go for a long brisk walk. Grace to You website is where I went on my phone and selected the “sermons” category and listened to Part 1 of Dr. John MacArthur’s message, “The Blasphemous Sin of Defaming Others.” It was the fastest hour I’ve ever walked. The time flew by because I honestly couldn’t get over what he was saying when it comes to how God hates gossip. Hates slander. Hates the speech that injures the reputation of another believer. He went on to teach (using Old and New Testament Scriptures), why it is not only a dangerous and destructive sin, but it is one of the evidences of someone who has not experienced a regenerated heart if this is the pattern of their life. If they “walk in gossip and slander” … meaning, they have a habit of talking about others behind their backs, by proclaiming falsely about them, by saying unkind things concerning them with a malicious intent…with impure motives and intentions. They have a habit of back-biting, a habit of talking in such a way that other people will think less of the one they are injuring with their words.
As I got home, I immediately went to Part 2 of his sermon and at this point, it was time to pick up my notebook and take some notes.
(At the end of this post, I have provided the links to both Part 1 and Part 2 of his message, “The Blasphemous Sin of Defaming Others.”)
One of the truths John MacArthur said, (and the entire hour message is one to take the time to listen to), but one of the things he said that was so powerful to me was this:
Now, to begin with, before we look at the text itself, just a general look at what the Bible has to say about this sin, this sin of slander, of saying something false about a person with a malicious intent and publishing it around. You perhaps remember that very, very familiar passage in the sixth chapter of Proverbs – you’ll remember it as soon as I read it. “These things does the Lord hate, these six things, yea, seven are an abomination to Him: a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that are swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaks lies and he that sows discord among brothers.”
God hates a lying tongue. God hates false witness. God hates that which sows discord. Three out of those six, yea, seven things that God hates have to do with how you speak about other people. In Exodus chapter 23 and verse 1, you have the command of God against this sin, a command that is reiterated with tremendous force in the New Testament in these words, Ephesians 4:31, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking” – same term is used here – “be put away from you with all evil.”
And what he is talking about there are the sins that destroy personal relationships, one of which is slander, and he says all those sins that destroy personal relationships need to be put away. In Psalm 50, there are two verses, verses 19 and 20, which basically describe the wicked as characteristically addicted to slander. It is characteristic of wicked people to slander. Jeremiah 6:28 and Jeremiah 9:4 say essentially the same thing, that evil men walk with slander. It is to say that it is for them a way of life. Nothing makes people feel better about themselves than to slander somebody else.
In Matthew 15:19, our Lord Jesus associated slander with the VIOLENT sins that proceed out of a grossly wicked heart. Scripture chronicles the devastating affects of this kind of speech, this defaming speech. In Proverbs 16:28 and Proverbs 17:9, the Scripture says it utterly destroys friendships. In Proverbs 18:8and 26:22, the Scripture says it leaves deep, scarring wounds in the soul of the one slandered. In Proverbs 26:20, it reveals how it leads ultimately to conflict. And Proverbs 6:19, as I read to you a moment ago, how it sows discord among the brothers.
When you ask professing Christians, “what does God hate?,” majority will respond quickly in saying, “divorce.” Which is true. They are referring to Malachi 2:16 that says, “For I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel. But did you know there is a comma that comes after the word ‘Israel’? There is more to that one verse and it says this: “For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel, and him who covers is garment with VIOLENCE,” says the Lord of armies. “So be careful about your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”
Now read what MacArthur teaches concerning a violent and treacherous experience King David had due to lies, slander, and people falsifying his attitude to others. The speech [garments] of some people were covered in the violence of lies, slander, gossip, falsely accusing to injure the reputation of David. This is a most disturbing story in the Bible to me because it not only demonstrates God’s hatred for the dangerous sin of slander and gossip and back-biting and lying and falsely accusing, but it shows how destructive it all is on relationships and especially the one who is being slandered. Yes, God hates divorce, as He hates destructive and malicious speech that is violent in defaming the reputation of others, speech that is full of gossip and slander, lies and falsifying the attitudes of others, causing division and discord.
Yes, God hates divorce for many reasons, primarily for it causes in relationships, and He also hates the violent speech of one who gossips, slanders, lies and falsifies the motives and attitudes of others and defames them because of what it all causes in relationships – destroys, sows discord, leads to conflicts and leaves deep scarring wounds.
Scripture makes much of this, as I said, more than any other single sin in the Old Testament and speaks of its devastation in every dimension of life. To look at a couple of illustrations, take your Bible to the Old Testament for a moment and the tenth chapter of 2 Samuel. The tenth chapter of 2 Samuel. I want you to be there for a moment because I’m going to read through the section and you’ll find it fascinating, to say the least. “It came to pass after this that the king of the children of Ammon died and Hanun, his son, reigned in his stead.
“Then said David,” and of course the Ammonites, you remember, were of a category of enemies to the people of God, “Then said David, ‘I will show kindness unto Hanun, the son of Nahash, as his father showed kindness unto me.’” Even though there was a certain sense in which they were enemies, there had been kindness in the way that David had been treated by the father of this new king, and David wanted to return that and show great kindness to this son by the name of Hanun.
“And David sent to console him by the hand of his servants for his father.” When his father died, David wanted to show a bit of gentleness and sympathy and consolation, and he sent that kind of message and perhaps some attending gifts to express his consolation. “And David’s servants came into the land of the children of Ammon. And the princes of the children of Ammon said to Hanun, their lord, ‘Do you think that David does honor your father that he has sent comforters unto you?’” Are you so stupid as to believe this guy is sincere? “Has not David rather sent his servants unto you to search out the city, to spy it out and overthrow it?” This is a plot.
And so his intimate associates lie to him about David. They maliciously slander the motives and intentions of David, who really did want to comfort the guy in the death of his father and wanted to maintain some kind of peaceful coexistence. But when Hanun heard this – and as any king would be, he was somewhat paranoid. And he took David’s servants and shaved off one half of their beards. You say, “Well, is that so bad?” Well, a beard in that time of the world and in the Middle East was a sign of your dignity, was a sign of your manliness, and so it was really a mockery and somewhat of a human desecration to do that.
That wasn’t the half of it. Shaved off one half of their beards, cut off their garments in the middle, even to their buttocks, and sent them away. And that was, of course, even more embarrassing. They have been embarrassed, defamed, dishonored, and, of course, for a Jew to be exposed in that way was a fearful thing. And all of this to guys who came to be nice, and the whole thing was convoluted because of the lying advisors that Hanun had.
“When they told it to David, he sent to meet them because the men were greatly ashamed.” I mean they were out in a bush somewhere, they wouldn’t even come into town. So he sent somebody out to help them. “And the king said, ‘Tarry at Jericho until your beards grow.’” Obviously, their clothing wouldn’t grow, so they had to get new clothing, but their beards would grow. They wouldn’t come into town without their beards. That was very, very much a part of their male identity. Stay at Jericho until your beards grow. It’s got to be – I don’t know how long it takes to grow a beard, I tried it once. But it was a while.
“And when the children of Ammon saw that they had become odious before David” – boy, David was upset – the children of Ammon sent and hired the Syrians of Beth-rehob and the Syrians of Zobah, 20,000 footmen and King Maacah, a thousand men, and of Tob, 12,000 men.” They went out and got a bunch of mercenaries, getting ready to fight because they figured David was so mad, they were going to have a war.
“And the children of Ammon came out and put the battle in array at the entrance of the gate and the Assyrians of Zobah and Rehob and Tob and Maacah were by themselves in the field.” And here comes this army and nothing has happened. David was being nice. He was being gentle. Some lying, slanderous people falsified his attitude and it created here an armed war.
“And Joab, who is the captain of David’s army, saw the front of the battle was against him before and behind.” Now they’re at war, they’re at war over absolutely nothing. They’re at war because of slander. And so they had – says he took the choice men of Israel and put them in array against the Syrians. “And the rest of the people he delivered into the hand of Abishai, his brother, that he might put them in array against the children of Ammon.”
So now he’s got the Syrians, who are the mercenaries, the Ammonites, who are the ones that cut off the beards and cut off the clothes, and he’s got his two generals, as it were, on the one hand Joab, on the other hand Abishai, and they’ve got their troops and off they go. He said, “If the Syrians are too strong for me, then you’ll help me. If the children of Ammon are too strong for you, I’ll come and help you. Be of good courage, let’s play the men for our people.” In other words, let’s be men and go to battle. “And for the cities of our God and the Lord do that which seemeth to him good.”
This is bizarre. I mean, it’s all for nothing, nothing happened. David didn’t want a war. The Ammonites didn’t want a war. And they got a war because some people slandered David.
“Joab drew near, the people who were with him unto the battle against Syrians and they fled before him. And when the children of Ammon saw that the Syrians were fled, they fled – then fled they also before Abishai and entered into the city. So Joab returned from the children of Ammon, he came to Jerusalem. And when the Syrians saw they were smitten before Israel, they gathered themselves together and Hadarezer sent out and brought out the Syrians who were beyond the river and they came to Helam and Shobach” – and all these names will be on the quiz – “the captain of the host of Hadarezer and went before them.”
And it was told David, he gathered all Israel together, passed over the Jordan, came to Helam, and the Assyrians set themselves in array against David and fought with him. Now get this. The Syrians haven’t got anything to do with this. They didn’t do anything. And now they’re in war with David. The Ammonites have split. “And the Syrians fled before Israel. David slew seven hundred chariots of the Syrians and forty thousand horsemen.” This is a massacre. “And smote Shobach” – that’ll teach him to take his Shobach and stay where he was – “the captain of the host and he died there.” Well, everybody’s entitled to a few.
“And when all the kings who were servants to Hadarezer saw that they were smitten before Israel, they made peace with Israel.” Yeah, peace with Israel after nearly 50,000 people are dead because some people lied about the motives of David.
Chapter 11 starts, “And it came to pass after the year was ended at the time when kings go forth to battle that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel and they destroyed the children of Ammon.” They wiped out the Syrians and they wiped out the Ammonites. Why? Because somebody lied. Some stupid people said things that were not true and tens of thousands of people were massacred. Incredible
So James is saying isn’t this kind of backbiting, gossiping, slandering stuff not only a breach of humility, as we saw from verse 6 to 10, but isn’t it a breach of love? Isn’t it a breach of love to maliciously attack and maliciously slander without truth, without evidence, for the fulfillment of some evil intent? That’s severe sin and it reveals a most basic flaw. Now, Christians can do it but I’ll tell you, if it’s a pattern, then it calls into question their spiritual condition. It calls into question their spiritual condition.
And they may say they’re Christians but if this is how they behave all the time, that kind of Christianity is questionable. On what basis? First John 2:8, “Again, a new commandment I write unto you which thing is true in him and in you because the darkness is past and the true light now shines, he that says he is in the light and hates his brother is in” – what? – “darkness.” “He that loves his brother abides in the light, there’s no occasion of stumbling in him, but he that hates his brother is in darkness, walks in darkness, doesn’t know where he’s going because darkness has blinded his eyes.”
First John 4:20: “If a man says, ‘I love God’ and hates his brother, he is a liar, for he that loves not his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he’s not seen? And this commandment have we from Him that he who loves God loves his brother also.”
So you show me a person whose life pattern is one of hatred and slander and venom toward others in the family of God, and you have every reason to call into question that person’s salvation. If the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts it’s going to manifest itself. And again John says in 1 John 5, “Whosoever believers that Jesus is the Christ is born of God and everyone that loves him that begot loves him also that is begotten of him. By this we know we love the children of God when we love God and keep His commandments.” In other words, if you love God, you’ll love whom God begets, you’ll love His children.
CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL SERMON – I highly encourage you to listen to this powerful message.
CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 OF HIS SERMON – grab a pen and paper because he will cover in both sermons is so much Scripture that you may want to write them all down. OR when you go to each sermon, on the right hand side of the website, you will find the options to print off the entire messages. I did, and they are both underlined, highlighted and prayers written in the margins!
But one thing for us to remember is this … forgiveness is not an option for someone who’s heart has been born from above. For the one who has experienced the regenerating work of God’s grace, and are born again, forgiveness is sought after. So, as we listen to these sermons, let’s be quick to ask forgiveness and quick to forgive.
Here’s a quote for us to ponder (biblically) as we listen to his two-part messages:
“It’s hard to destroy a relationship when you continually forgive every offense.” – John MacArthur