THE CURE OF EVIL SPEAKING
One. From Matthew 18:15-17. Context: The Lord’s prayer: a command of “Thy will be done.” The command: “Speak evil of no man” (Titus 3:1-2). The definition: Nothing more nor less than speaking evil of an ABSENT person, whether true or not (even by discernment), IF Matthew 18:15 is not first fulfilled. Also backbiting: spiritual cannibalism (Galatians 5:15). Whispering: if it is lovingly (!) and softly spoken.
Two. How common! Who can say: “I am free of this, a watch has been set before my mouth” (Psalm 141:3)?
Three. Because this sin is so common, therefore it is difficult to resist. The church is so substandard. Pastor Scott practiced this at Midwest Bible Church of Chicago in the mid 50’s.
Four. This sin comes disguised; we think we are serving God in holiness like Paul before conversion, while we really are grievously sinning. There are a few brothers whose friends have heard no word cross their lips condemning an absent brother! See Dad Crittendon of Chicago – “Even the devil can be emulated for his zeal!”
Five. There is a cure: we through whom the offenses come! This IS the offense: evil speaking. NOTE: Matthew 18 is the FIRST Commandment to the church so named, and the most frequently broken. Matthew 18:15-17, if followed, is the CURE.
HOW DO YOU SAVE YOURSELF FROM THIS WOEFUL SIN?
One. If SURE of a sin, go IN RIGHT SPIRIT, ALONE. See Galatians 6:1, meek. First judge self in the same sin. Serve also as an intercessor.
Two. Go in the spirit of the gospel, as to a dear member of the body of Christ. BE CLEAR, but have no ill will or anger.
Three. Do it by a friend, a trusted one, if necessary, but DON’T shirk this way of the cross if POSSIBLE.
Four. Telephone or write as a LAST RESORT, or if in God he wouldn’t take it verbally. But again, do it in the right spirit.
Five. NO EXCUSES: “I WAS BURDENED, AND HAD TO SHARE IT.” But by this the Word of God has been trampled, and this is hating your brother in your heart. It is the same as saying: “I love my child too much to discipline him in the right spirit. By failing in this sin of omission, you yourself have now committed a sin of commission.
Six. Exception: If a brother’s sin could hurt another before he is corrected. But this is medicine like poison, so us it sparingly.
Note: FORGIVE, if he repents (Luke 17:3).
STEP TWO. (If step one refused.)
One. Take one or two more, of the same meek spirit, with good character. Choose those acceptable to the sinner, if possible.
Two. How? Say it with “no anger”. Repeat the first private conversation. All 3 or 4 judge next how to proceed.
Three. Maybe, repeat again what has been spoken; enlarge on it and confirm; show the mercy of this method; prove the additions mentioned.
Four. NOTE: This is the ONLY second step allowed by our Lord. After the first step and before the second, STILL DO NOT SHARE.
STEP THREE. (If step two is refused.)
One. Tell it to the church: the group of elders, where fellowship and service is found. Only then are you free of blood.
Two. Note: No exceptions to this format, though if elders are present, step two and three may coincide.
Three. Only now is your soul delivered. Still, don’t talk of him, but leave him to God. Treat him courteously, as a heathen, but not as a brother.
Four. Where is this followed? We don’t see it.
NOTE: If there were no HEARERS of evil, there would be no speakers. A burdened bearer of evil should deliver himself PROPERLY, as a woman with child.
Five. If we are derided let it be a derision of obeying Matthew 18:15-17. Lewi Pethrus suffered such derision cheerfully. The mystical body of Christ would be cared for. Also, the heathen would soon say, “How they love one another.” The world believes when we are ONE. How marvelous it would be to belong to a fellowship both in a local church as well as in a city church, where all people and elders could feel safe when absent one from another. They would know that no evil word would be spoken against them behind their back, but only to their face in a scriptural manner.
RULE: When should you initiate this procedure? If you cannot refrain from sharing a grievance behind the back of a brother, it is time you went to him personally.
NOTE: When a congregation or home church has a problem with a pastor, at least 2 or 3 from that group should go to the leader’s head pastor. If it is a morals charge that becomes proven, the person in the place of James of Jerusalem or Timothy of Ephesus is to rebuke that elder publicly, that others may be taught to fear (1 Timothy 5:17-25).
(The gist of these notes comes from Sermon 49 of Wesley’s “Doctrinal Standards.” This was intended for young preachers, especially those who conducted the class meetings. No wonder the early Methodist revival had such power! This is true Restoration preaching!) James A. Watt – 09-49.