The Serious Sin of Slander

 

What is Slander?

 

“Words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another; to charge falsely or with malicious intent; to attack the good name and reputation of someone; an abusive attack on a person’s character or good name.” 

 

Note: Typical slanderous statements start with “I feel,” “it seems to me,” “some people feel,” “there seems to be a feeling of.” These are non-factual statements, often justified as “it’s just my opinion, aren’t I allowed to have an opinion?”  Opinions are not allowed when they are slanderous!

 

It is often a result of undealt-with hurt.  Good hurt can come from a challenge that hurts our pride. Bad hurt can come from insensitivity or sin.  Either can lead you to want others to feel your pain.  This is malicious slander. 

 

Ezekiel 36:3 “Therefore prophesy and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Because they ravaged and hounded you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people’s malicious talk and slander.”  

 

No one should be slandered, absolutely no-one, not friends, leaders, politicians, bosses at work, other work colleagues, sports stars, other churches, family, enemies, or fallaways.  We must separate sin from individual or risk alienating those we want to save. 

 

(Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament)


I. THE USAGE IN THE O.T.

 

A.    Backbiter

a.     Ragal – “One who goes about maliciously as a slanderer, one who speaks maliciously about another.” Psalm 15:1-3

b.     Sether – “A secret slanderer, or hidden gossip, one of the sly tongue.”  Proverbs 25:23

B.    Slanderer

a.     Dibbah – “Whispering, defamation, evil report, to spread a rumor, to slander.” Proverbs 10:18

b.     Lashan – “To use the tongue boldly (in an evil sense); hence, to slander, to backbite.” Psalm 101:5

C.     Talebearer

a.     Nirgan – “Wrong speech (evil secret) hence; a whisperer, a backbiter, a gossiper.” Prov 18:8

b.     Rakil – “A slanderer, defamer, detractor.” Lev 19:16, Proverbs 11:13, Proverbs 20:19

D.    Whisperer

a.     Again, the Hebrew word, “nirgan,” which means “a backbiter, a talebearer, a gosspier.”  Proverbs 16:28

b.     Thus, in the King James Version there are four English words translated from six Hebrew words

 

 

II. THE USAGE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

 

A.    Whisperer

a.     Psithurismos – Literally “to speak into one’s ear (in an evil sense); hence, secret slander, backbiting.”  (Thayer’s and Vine’s Lexicons).  Used only in 2 Cor 12:20, Romans 1:29-30

B.    Backbite

a.     Katalos – “To slander, to speak evil of, to backbite, synonymous to whisperer, only more open.”  Again, used only in 2 Cor 12:20, Romans 1:29-30.

C.    Busybody

a.     Periergazomia – Literally “to be working round about, instead of at one’s own business (peri, “around,” ergazomia “working”); signifies, to take more pains than enough about a thing, to waste one’s labor, to be meddling with or bustling about other people’s matters.”  2 Thess 3:11, 1 Tim 5:11-15

D.    Meddler

a.     Allotrioepiskapos – Literally, “another’s overseer; an overseer of the business belonging to another, a busybody.”  1 Peter 4:15 – “meddler in other men’s matters.” All of this is from one word.

E.    Prating

a.     Phluareo – “To bring unjustified charges against, malicious gossip, unfounded rumors.”  3 John 10

F.     Tattler

a.     Phluaros – “The adjective of phluareo (prating), and means: to prat against another; to raise false accusations; to gossip about another.”  1 Tim 5:13

 

 

Titus 3:1-2Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.”  

 

Jude 1:9 “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”  

 

Point 1. What must be our attitude towards this bad attitude?   

 

A. Slander is wrong and God hates it.  You should hate slander if you love God. What we say determines whether we are “in” or “out” of God’s presence.

 

Leviticus 19:16-18 “‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people. “‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.  “‘Do not hate your brother in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in his guilt.  “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” 

 

Proverbs 6:16-19” 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 man who stirs up dissension among brothers.”  

 

We must get rid of it in our lives. 

 

Ephesians 4:31-32 “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.”  

 

Colossians 3:8 “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”  

 

1 Peter 2:1 “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”  

 

See it as a blessing if people slander you.

 

It is a compliment from God. Winners focus on winning. Losers focus on winners.

 

Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”  

 

Point 2. What are the consequences of it in our lives? 

 

A.    It will separate you from God. 

 

Psalms 15:1-3 “Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman…”  

 

B.    Stops you from going to heaven. 

 

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”  

 

C.     Unchecked, it can lead to murder.  Think of Cain and Abel. 

 

Psalms 31:13 “For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life.”  

 

D.    Slander is a characteristic of Satan. It will send you to Hell.

 

Revelation 12:10 “Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.”  

 

Revelation 21:8 “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars –their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”  

 

Read Job chapters 1 & 2 

 

God commands you to separate from a slanderer

 

1 Corinthians 5:11 “But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.”  

 

Proverbs 30:10 “Do not slander a servant to his master, or he will curse you, and you will pay for it.”  

 

E.     Slander will come back to bite you.

 

Proverbs 10:18 “He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.”  

 

F.     Unspiritual people spread slander

 

It grieves the Holy Spirit. 

 

Ephesians 4:29-32 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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.” 

 

Point 3. Where does it come from?

 

A. Our evil hearts, therefore we must take responsibility for it when we do it, there is never a justification for it. 

 

Luke 6:45 “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.”  

 

Mark 7:20-23 “He went on: “What comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean. ’ For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean.’”  

   

B. Slander comes from laziness and having too much time on our hands.

 

1 Timothy 5:13-15 “Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also gossips and busybodies, saying things they ought not to. So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander. Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.”  

 

Titus 2:3-4 “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children…”  

 

C. Slander comes from jealousy and insecurity. Slander is often rooted in people’s pride, which is insecurity in themselves, wanting to feel or look better than others in the eyes of men than they really are. 

 

Psalms 56:2 “My slanderers pursue me all day long; many are attacking me in their pride.”  

 

D. Slander is found very commonly in the religious, but unrighteous, or just unspiritual. 

 

2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self- control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”  

 

Jeremiah 9:4 “Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer.”  

 

Romans 3:8 “Why not say–as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say –“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is deserved.”  

 

Point 4. How should we respond to it when it happens to us. 

 

A.    Slander happens to all great men and women.  David was slandered by his enemies, Saul, his first wife, his son Absalom, his friends. 

B.    Bottom line slander usually happens to leaders.

 

Psalms 31:13 “For I hear the slander of many; there is terror on every side; they conspire against me and plot to take my life.”  

 

Psalms 35:15 “But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; attackers gathered against me when I was unaware. They slandered me without ceasing.”  

 

Psalms 38:20 “Those who repay my good with evil slander me when I pursue what is good.”  

 

Psalms 41:6 “Whenever one comes to see me, he speaks falsely, while his heart gathers slander; then he goes out and spreads it abroad.”  

 

Even if we were perfect, it would happen.  It happened to Jesus!  Take, for example, Matthew 11:19, when he was accused of being a “glutton and a drunkard.” 

 

C.     How should we respond to it?  

 

1 Peter 2:23When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”  

 

Talk to God about it, tell him our feelings about it, have peace in the fact that God knows the truth.  We do not need to tell everyone the truth about us or defend ourselves as God knows the truth. If God has not come to your defense, perhaps this issue lies with you.

 

When it happens, we should read the Bible, replace untruth with truth. Use God’s word to disciple our heart and our feelings. 

 

Psalms 119:23 “Though rulers sit together and slander me, your servant will meditate on your decrees.”  

 

We need to answer kindly; we must remove our personal feelings, our hurt and not take it personally.  We need to separate the sin from the sinner. 

 

1 Corinthians 4:13 “When we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.”  

 

1 Peter 3:8-12 “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”  

 

We need to not be friends with people who have this characteristic. 

 

2 Timothy 3:1-5 “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self- control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God– having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.”  

 

Of course, if it is a Christian who is doing it, we should challenge them. 

 

Psalms 50:20-21 _You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face.”  

 

When dealing with it in people: Dig deeper, as where there is slander, there is often much more sin.  Ask the difficult questions. 

 

Romans 1:28-32 “Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God- haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.”  

 

2 Corinthians 12:20 “For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.”  

 

If unrepentant, withdraw all fellowship from them. 

 

1 Corinthians 5:11 “But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.”  

 

Conclusion: 

 

We must deal with the sin of slander at a heart level. 

 

Zechariah 7:10 “In your hearts do not think evil of each other.”  

 

We must deal with slanderous thoughts in our minds, treating them as evil thoughts, stopping them at thought level. 

 

We must take our spoken words very seriously. 

 

Matthew 12:35-36 “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.”  

 

The solution:

 

Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

 

How do you know when you’ve crossed the line?

 

Is it true? Not “this sounds true.” Not “I heard from a reliable source.” But do

you know what you are about to say about your brother/sister is true?

Is it kind? Is it kind to the person being spoken about? Is it kind to the person you are speaking to?  

Is it necessary? Will this help the person I’m talking about? Will it help the person I’m speaking to? What good will it do to say this about this person?

That’s a good place to start!

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