Slander in the Camp

February 2, 2015

Slander in the Camp

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Tim Lane

Slander in the Camp

A Note from Your BCC Staff: This post first appeared at Tim Lane’s blog site and is re-posted by the BCC with his permission. You can read the post at Tim’s site here.

The Evils of Slander

God’s Word is clear about the evils of slander.

“Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked person by being a malicious witness” (Exodus 23:1).

“There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up dissension among brothers and sisters” (Proverbs 6:16-19).

How many of you have witnessed the evils of slander? Sadly, it happens all the time in circles of people who name Jesus as their King and Redeemer. The more I speak with leaders and fellow Christians, the more I realize how prevalent this is.

Slander is a violation of the 9th commandment, “You shall not bear false witness.” The usual suspect we think of when it involves violating the 9th commandment is gossip. While gossip is clearly evil, we often leave out slander. My guess is that we don’t really think Christians will go there. Sadly, that is not the case.

Slander Defined

Gossip and slander are different. The difference between gossip and slander, though, is that slander is much more intentional. Slander is out to ruin the person or drive their reputation into the ground. Listen to the way Paul situates slander in his catalogue of sins of speech in Ephesians 4:31-32. He clearly places slander in the anger family. Notice that it is driven by the opposite of forgiveness and reconciliation:

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

In his commentary on Ephesians, John Stott defines the following words:

  • Bitterness (pikria): A sour spirit and sour speech.
  • Rage (thymos): A passionate rage.
  • Anger (orge): Settled and sullen hostility.
  • Brawling (krauge): People who get excited, raise their voices in a quarrel, and start shouting, even screaming.
  • Slander (blasphemia): Speaking evil of others, especially behind their backs, and so defaming and even destroying their reputation.
  • Malice (kakia): Ill will, wishing and probably plotting evil against someone.

Another word for slander in Greek is diabolos. It is the word that is used for Satan and means the “accuser,” the one who attacks the brethren. Slander is the passionate, determined goal of one person to destroy another. As you can see, it is driven by bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and every form of malice. It is diabolical.

The Way of Slander

What are a few ways that we may attempt to slander someone for the purpose of harming their reputation?

  • Sensationalism: Spinning what was said to sound evil.
  • Betraying Confidence: Using constructive criticism shared in private and telling the person not present what was said with an evil spin. This is usually done so that they will join in the brawl against another person.
  • Putting words in a person’s mouth that were never said. This is a more straightforward, outright lie.

Why is Paul writing this to Christians? Because Christians are as capable of this as any other person. As John Owen once said, “The seed of every known sin is in my heart.” Putting it simply, we are all capable of doing this. Churches, businesses, ministries, and relationships are ruined…not from without, but from within.

We are all capable of gossip and slander. Only by God’s grace can we avoid them.

Join the Conversation (Added by the BCC Staff)

How can we overcome the temptation toward slander through the truth and power of the Gospel?

2 thoughts on “Slander in the Camp

  1. I try to practice conscious thinking in my conversations. It’s so easy to talk without thinking and examining what you will be saying, and that often leads to inappropriate, slanderous conversation. We need to weigh and examine our words before they leave our mouths. We ministered in a church that thrived on slander. I found out the hard way that thoughtless speaking can create a maelstrom. Even careless speaking can be turned around by others and become slanderous.

  2. One of the most insidious forms of slander that I have encountered, even from the pulpit and published authors, is that of slandering those who are long dead and cannot defend themselves. Some obvious examples of this would be John Calvin or Westcott and Hort, who were not as bad as they are made out to be if one reads what they actually wrote instead of reading quotes taken out of context or sensationalized stories. Christian teachers must consider that to tell lies in order to discredit certain theologies is to play into the hands of the devil, who is the father of lies. The truth does not need falsehood as its ally.

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