Summary: Artificial Faith is marked by critical, judgemental spirit.
Foolproof – JUDGING Faith
Recap: We’ve been studying in James about how to have a foolproof faith – a faith that can’t be fooled into embracing anything not of God if you’re saved, and a faith that can’t fool you into thinking you’re saved when you’re lost.
Setting: Throughout the letter, James has been offering verifiable proofs that authenticate genuine faith in a believer’s life. In the first (3) chapters James specifically addresses the saved people in the church, but starting in chapter 4, he turns to the lost people w/in the church who think their saved. As we discussed last week, these well-meaning unregenerated people can be identified by (4) actions: they create conflict, they’re judgmental, they’re defiant, and they’re greedy. Today we’re going to look at the second issue of a slanderous, judgmental spirit.
Text: Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him, speaks against the law, and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it. There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? James 4:10-12
Note: As James begins to address the issue of judging, he points out that a critical spirit manifests itself w/ a slanderous tongue. Here we go again. The tongue is a troublemaker that causes us to trip and fall. (see Pr. 13:3)
Trans: A few months ago, a pastor friend of mine was diagnosed w/ nodules on his vocal cords. This isn’t a good problem for a preacher since he has to speak so often. His only cure was to not speak for 2 months – which meant he couldn’t preach, teach or counsel. We were talking about it one day and he commented, “You would be amazed at how godly you can be when you can’t talk.”
Note: As I have thought about his statement I couldn’t agree more. Our mouths get us into more trouble. More times than not, it is my children’s unguarded words that get them into trouble more than their actions; and the same is true for most people. According to James, slander is just the tip of the iceberg to a much more crippling issue – a critical, judgmental spirit.
I The RULE of Slander and Judgment
Text: Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law, and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.
Word: slander (katalaleo) it refers to mindless, thoughtless, derogatory, untrue speech intended to tear down other people.
Note: Slander is kin to gossip. Gossip is spreading truth about someone w/ the intent to defame and injure their person and credibility, while slander is spreading untruth w/ the same intention.
Note: But I want you to see something especially frightening about slander – it is authored by Satan – he is the master slanderer. One of his names (devil) means to slander. Satan unveiled this malicious tactic in the Garden of Eden when he slandered God’s integrity and motives before Eve. Think about it. The first act of slander was tied to the very first sin in human history.
Note: Now before I go any further, I want to be clear. Everyone is capable of spreading untruth w/ malicious intent – Christians included. Thus, while James might be focusing on the lost people in the church and their destructive tendencies, he’s speaking to every one of us. Slander can’t ever be a part of any Christian’s life.
A It DEMEANS Other People
Note: Slander tears people down destroying their personhood. It is exactly the opposite of God’s heart for His people.
Verse: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, 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 H.S. of God, w/ whom you were sealed for the Day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along w/ every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph. 4:29-32
Note: Paul commends us to be sure the only words that come out of our mouths are useful to building others up. In fact, anything that comes out of our mouths that doesn’t encourage grieves the H.S. b/c they’re sinful and destructive.
Story: A few weeks ago when I spoke on the tongue in James 2, a member told me a sad story about the power of harsh words. She told me that at one time in her life she took great pride in her ability to be sharp and quick w/ her tongue. Then one day she met a girl at work who was different and was being ostracized by others. She told me about how one day she had a brief encounter w/ the girl where she spewed several cutting, harsh words. At first she was proud of the vile that had proceeded from her mouth, until the next morning the girl didn’t show up to work b/c she committed suicide the night before. She told me that day changed her life forever. While she knows that it wasn’t her words that sent that girl to her death, she recognized she held some responsibility. She said she wonders what might have happened if her words had been helpful instead of hurtful – would there have been a different outcome.