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What sin is enveloping the church in these days?

Any sin is serious. And God's people are not immune to the enemy’s temptations, although we are given armor against them. To some extent, it is not unusual for God’s people to be sucked into whatever sin dominates our culture. But those who desire to be godly will seek deliverance from the sin of the world around us.

The sin that is shaking our country is slander. It is prevalent on Facebook and other social media. It seems to have consumed politics. And yes, it can be found even in God’s church. We are tempted to think that castigating those we disagree with or that we feel are attacking us is the right thing to do. That is an ungodly notion. The Bible clearly condemns slander.

In Mark 7:21,22 Jesus listed slander as one of those things that come from within our hearts and defile us before God.

In Ephesians 4:31 Paul directs us.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”

This includes all bitterness toward those whose politics, world view, or lifestyle we abhor.

1 Peter 2:1 calls God's people to stop slandering others. 

“Put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander.”

Like a number of sins, slander defies several of the Ten Commandments. First it breaks the command not to bear false witness. If you say or write something that you have not verified about anyone, a neighbor, a politician or a public figure, you are saying you don’t care as much about the truth as God does. I have heard people defend this by saying, “Well, most of what I said has to be true.” I wish I could say that ruins your whole argument. It certainly does for me. But in this post-truth era, people may not care whether everything you say is true or not. But you can be sure that God is not with you in that tirade.

Slander also breaks the command not to murder. You may be scratching your head at this one. In Matthew 5:22 Jesus said,

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

Jesus called hatred, murder in your heart. We need to strive not to minimize the seriousness of this evil.

Possibly a little more obscurely, slander challenges the first commandment. God said “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.” Pride and hypocrisy are the seeds of slander. The person committing this sin pretends to be better than the person we are slandering. Slander puts into words the worship of your own thinking, your attitudes, your fears, your politics, and even your bitterness.

Some of you are cut to the heart by what I have written. God bless you. Some of you have known all along that hatred of our enemies is not Christ-like. But what are we to do?

First we need to turn to God with a repentant heart. That includes those of you who have not participated in this sin as far as you know. We are all part of the church, and many in the church are guilty of outrageous slander. We must not approach them with an arrogant spirit. Before we say anything to anyone else, we need to pray like Nehemiah and Daniel prayed when they confessed the sins of their people. They had probably never participated in those sins, but they recognized that they were part of the people of God who had sinned.

We are to pray consistently, both for our enemies and for those who would hate and lie about them rather than loving them in the name of Christ. Pray for God to help us love both those who slander and those who are slandered.

And trust that God is sovereign. The saying, United we stand. Divided we fall. Can be traced back to one of Aesop. In a different context, Jesus said, “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” Although especially in this time of pandemic, I see bright sparks of unity in America, I fear that our nation might not survive the divisiveness in our culture and politics. Trust me, you will not enjoy the destruction this country. And whatever emerges will be worse, maybe worse than anyone could imagine. I am not suggesting that we not disagree with one another. I am crying out to God and to God’s people that we set an example for the rest by not hating or believing the worst about those with whom we disagree. However, even if God’s people seek to be holy in the midst of all this, I am not sure what will happen in our nation as a whole. I am certain that no matter what happens Jesus is Lord, He is coming back, and God is still on the throne. Our security is in Him. Therefore, “love one another, just as he has commanded us.” (1 John 3:23)



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