Same Sin, Different Day

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Prov. 11:13 π Prov. 16:28 π Prov. 18:8 π Prov. 20:19 π Prov. 21:28 π Prov. 26:20 π Mt. 18:15-17 π Mk. 7:21-23 π Jn. 1:5 π Jn. 3:19-21 π Acts 17:11 π Gal. 6:1 π Eph. 4:29 π 1 Ths. 5:21 π 2 Tim. 3:16-17 π Jas. 4:17

One must wonder at the gullibility of postmodern man. He looks at his high technology toys as if they had been around forever and as if they would always be around. The folly of this should become evident to anyone who contemplates just what a 3-4 day, large-scale power outage would do to the "civilized" world. But the folly doesn't end there, for postmodern man seems to abhor those things which got him through the first 6,000 years of his existence.

And there is indeed something that has been around much longer than any piece of modern technology and we quite often ignore it entirely. If our technology has been present for less than 1/6th of one percent of human history and yet we devote a good portion of our time, energy, and money to the possession of it, why do we ignore something that has been present for over half of our 6,000 years of human history and is responsible, either directly or indirectly, for nearly all the good that has been done throughout human history? I speak of course of the Bible.

The Bible began to be written approximately 1,400 BC and was not considered complete until shortly after 100 AD. It is the record of God's revelation of Himself to mankind throughout human history. The Bible's historical accuracy is proven and demonstrable to any who care to objectively weigh the evidence, even when that history was written and recorded in advance of the occurrence of the event being written about. The Bible's moral and ethical teachings have been accepted as the standard for behavior among men in almost all countries that have come under the Bible's influence. The effect that Jesus Christ, the central "character" and theme of the 66 books of the Bible, has had on history is incalculable and extends from moral standards to the very date by which we reckon the passing of days.

That the sinful and sin-loving world would begin to turn its back on the Bible, as has been done primarily in the last century in our country, is no surprise. Light has come into the world but the world could not overpower, capture, comprehend, apprehend, nor appropriate that Light. ( Jn. 1:5 ) Men who were exposed to that Light refused to come to the Light because their deeds were evil and they liked their evil deeds more than they liked the Light - and they could not keep both. ( Jn. 3:19-21; top ) So that the world would not embrace the Light is no surprise. Jesus said that the world would hate Him - and they do.

But what about the people who claim to follow Christ? What about those who claim to belong to the Light? If our life so much centers around the Bible, why do we so rarely consult it to mine out its depths of wisdom? If it has been around so long and contains God's wisdom, why do we not consult it to see what it has to say about the problems of life today? Surely God who created us and who loves us should have some insights that mere mortals do not possess. And He does.

Those that have consulted the Bible find that it points out the complete depravity of man, the absolute holiness of God, and the uncrossable gap between the two. But as they read on, they find that God, to whom nothing is impossible, found a way to bridge that gap through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. After an individual receives this Living Way to God through life-entrusting belief in Jesus Christ as both Savior and Lord, God then begins to enable the believer to behave more in line with one who has the Spirit of Holiness dwelling inside of him.

It is here that the Bible's morality begins to make sense. For only a perfect person could completely obey all the commands of God contained in the Bible. And it is Jesus Christ, the sinless God-man, whose life is now given to the believer to be lived out in the believer's life, who is alone capable of perfect obedience. So we see the Bible works hand in hand with the Spirit of Holiness and with God's enabling grace so that the believer can exhibit more of the characteristics of God in his life.

This essay is about new things and old things. The believer, upon receiving Christ as Savior and Lord, is a new creation, the old things are passed away. But we know that the old habit patterns, the old sin nature, still resides in the soul of the man. And that old nature fights against the new Spirit that now dwells in the man. The old nature will fight the growth and progress of the new nature at every opportunity with every conceivable attack.

In closing this essay in a similar vein of looking at the contrast of things old and new, I want to point out something else that has been with humanity ever since there were enough people to have someone to talk about. I point this out because it is an old thing, even older than the written Bible, and all the new and modern remedies and cures seem incapable of eradicating it. Instruction is given in the Bible on how to counteract its effects, but we, in our postmodern technological society, will probably be more likely to look to the latest technical journal or psychological journal for the latest technique to overcome this "problem" rather than have to dust off a Bible to consider what it might have to say about this.

I speak of the ever-divisive human activity we call gossip.

What is gossip? In spite of what modern psychologists would tell us, gossip is a sin. It is a sin against one's self (the speaker of the gossip), a sin against the subject of the gossip, a sin against the hearers of the gossip, and a sin against God. Only when we come to realize this fact and the devastating consequences of gossip will we be motivated to forsake this sin.

Prov. 11:13 (top) tells us that "A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret." There is the essence of gossip: a confidence betrayed. It is disloyalty, an injuring of a friendship or relationship through a breaking of trust that was placed in the one possessing the information to gossip about. The contrast is given here that "a trustworthy man keeps a secret." The trustworthy man knows how to keep his mouth shut, how to change the conversation, or how to just say "No" to divulging this information. May the Lord grant us the ability to be trustworthy.

Prov. 16:28 (top) tells us that "A perverse man stirs up dissension, and a gossip separates close friends." Here we see the fruit of gossip - separation and dissension. Strife, conflict, and broken relationships are what you can expect when gossip is permitted. Do we not have enough of these situations in our society already? Must we make more?

Prov. 26:20 (top) tells us that "Without wood a fire goes out; without gossip a quarrel dies down." When there is no gossip, legitimate quarrels must be resolved by the original parties. When will we learn that it is no one else's business? To change the metaphor, gossip is the equivalent of pouring water on a grease fire. It does nothing to put out the destructive flames and only makes matters worse by spreading the flames to a larger area. It is the duty of every Christian to help their brothers and sisters keep from stumbling by refusing to listen to any gossip and slander - no matter what the source or the subject.

So if it's our Christian duty to stop gossip, why do we find it so hard to avoid gossip? Prov. 18:8 (top) tells us that "The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to a man's inmost parts." Here we see both the enticement and the trap. The stories are choice, juicy morsels that excite and thrill and entertain us beyond belief. We love to hear the sordid details about another person's failures and sins.

Unfortunately, we both sin and participate in another's sin at the same time. Ham saw and laughed at his father Noah's nakedness - and was cursed for it. Noah's other sons, Shem and Japheth, backed into the tent with a blanket over their shoulders and covered his nakedness - and were blessed for it. In our high tech, computerized society, we have a phrase that is an appropriate description of what the person participating in gossip is doing to himself. When a computer programmer makes an error, either when programming the computer or when inputting data, we say, "Garbage in - garbage out." When misinformation is supplied, the result can only be confusion.

The same is true with gossip. Not only is there the likelihood that the person willing to gossip is either misinformed, biased, or is also willing to lie to embellish the tale, thus creating an error in data input, there is also a "programming error" being committed simultaneously on a spiritual level. Jesus said, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man." ( Mk. 7:21-23; top ) When the choice morsels of gossip go "down to a man's inmost parts" they are bound to come out as the "evil things" that "come from within and defile a man." Garbage in, garbage out. If the Bible had been written in our day, that byte of wisdom would be in Proverbs, I'm sure.

But if the Bible is so all-encompassing about life's problems, it must surely give some ways we can stop gossip, right? And it does. The first countermeasure is to check with the sources and subjects of gossip. 1 Ths. 5:21 (top) tells us to "Test all things; hold fast what is good." Ask the person who is telling you this wonderful tale, "Can I quote you on this?" If they are unwilling for you to use their name, you can be certain they are sinning the sin of gossip. You participate at your own risk from that point on if you do not instruct, correct, reprove, or rebuke them immediately.

Then go to the person(s) being gossipped about and see how different the tale is when he(they) tell it. The truth will be found somewhere within the different versions and, if you need to know, you will find the truth. But if you find that you don't really need to know, at least the person has been alerted that others are gossipping about him and, because you have permission to use the source's name(s), he will know whom to go to next to contain the situation and prevent it from blossoming into a truly devastating situation like a "church"-split. And for those who don't believe that "church"-splits come from just one person's gossip, well, you'd better do more studying in the area of church history - you are grossly under-educated.

The second countermeasure against gossip is to be "noble Bereans" in regards to the Scriptures. This phrase comes from Acts 17:11 (top) , which says, "These [Bereans] were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." Often when gossip is ripping through a "church" fellowship, one side or both is relying on "proof texts" to justify some or all of their actions. When this is the case, we must calmly hear the story and the explanation and the use of these texts. Then we must go home and get alone in our prayer closets with God and see how He interprets these passages in relation to the present situation - tears and grief over the separation of brothers and sisters in the Lord are not inappropriate in this lonely setting, though few will even bother to take this step before taking one side or the other. And they will succeed only in making the entire matter worse. But only after we have been alone with God and learned His perspective and heard from His heart are we spiritually competent to render a spiritual opinion in regards to the rightful division of the word of truth that each side is claiming to have.

The third countermeasure against gossip, already briefly mentioned above, is to instruct, correct, reprove or even rebuke gossipers. You have the right and the responsibility to do so because they are sinning against you. Paul wrote, "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers." ( Eph. 4:29 ) If for no other reason than that the gossiper is in disobedience to this command alone, you have the right and responsibility to confront this sin. For a better understanding of the process of confrontation, see Gal. 6:1 and Mt. 18:15-17 (top) . If you must seek counsel in regards to this situation first, perhaps from a spiritual leader, be careful that you yourself do not inadvertently commit gossip yourself. Avoid using names if possible or, if it necessary to reveal identities, stress the confidentiality of this information and leave the counselor to deal with God if he or she violates the trust you have placed in them. Also be sure to spend time searching the Word yourself for that is your ultimate source for all instructing, correcting, reproving, and rebuking. ( 2 Tim. 3:16-17; top )

The fourth countermeasure against gossip is to simply walk out of the room. Refuse to participate. Prov. 20:19 (top) tells us that "A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much." Prov. 21:28 (top) tells us that "A false witness will perish, and whoever listens to him will be destroyed forever." It is in your own best interests, both because you are commanded to and because there are devastating consequences for disobedience, to flee from gossip.

In closing out this discussion of the Bible's treatment of gossip, only one example of many age-old sins treated within its pages, I leave you with James' warning: "Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." ( Jas. 4:17; top ) In our technology-oriented society, we have not progressed so far that we are able to leave our soul behind. Its flaws and failed "mechanisms" will catch up with us sooner or later. Having an obedient relationship to the maker of this human mechanism is no more an option than would be the relationship of a robotic machine to its computer brain.

While the analogy is incomplete - both God and humans do more than transmit and receive information and instruction - it holds a certain amount of appropriateness. If a robotic manufacturing machine no longer obeyed the commands of its computerized control panel, the engineers would soon shut down the machine and either repair and reprogram the damaged components or discard the machine as useless scrap. We humans would not get emotionally upset at such an action and we would both understand and approve of their dismembering of the machine.

But when God, the engineer who designed humans and gave them their complex programming which includes the ability to make moral decisions, decides that the human race is faulty because they made a wrong, disobedient choice, we scream bloody murder. Accusations of narrow-mindedness and judgmentalness fly and the situation gets ugly. But we're only quoting and applying the owner's manual.

If you can't deal with that, your only other option is to bury your head in the philosophical sand - of which there is a great deal about - and wait until judgment day when you will hear it from the manufacturer Himself. Of course, then it will be too late to make any adjustments in your particular model because you will either be permanently upgraded and reprogrammed to enter into heaven - or - you will be unceremoniously thrown into the painful and eternal trash dump called hell wherein all rebels, both human and angelic, will remain for all eternity.

So when you next face a choice - like whether to spend time with a modern "convenience" like radio or television so as to ignore the sinful situations in your life or to spend time with the God who was already ancient on the first day of human existence by reading His love letter to all men - be anachronistic and choose the latter. Forego the preconceptions and misconceptions that a deceived and dead "church" has given to our society and find out the benefits and changes you will experience by obeying the living and true God in all things. Don't settle for someone else's opinions - find out what your Creator thinks and feels. It will blow your mind in ways that no new drug can and expand your world like no new contraption ever will.

I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!

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