The Tongue is Set on Fire of Hell - James 3:6
When Christian Leaders Speak Evil of Men
©2009 Earl Jackson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Tit 3:2 To speak evil of no man
The instructions of Paul in the third chapter of the epistle to Titus, are very simple to understand, and they speak directly to an issue commonplace within our society today. The issue is very easy to recognize and document, and it is indicative of a dangerous “I don’t care” attitude of the so-called evangelical right leaders. Many of these leaders are pastors of huge evangelical churches, many of them famous evangelical TV personalities, who are using their positions, power, fame and money as a platform to voice political vindictiveness and hatred. Without mentioning names, and without becoming politically involved myself. Let me just say that I have heard some of them say that president Obama is a Nazi, is the Anti-Christ, and other hateful pejoratives were used.
My objection is not to the right of freedom of speech which these preachers are free to use. That right is guaranteed by our Constitution. My objection is based on a higher and more important document…The Bible. For a Christian, the Bible is the ultimate document defining the limits and uses of everything in our lives. The Bible clearly limit’s the free-speech of a believer. It limits it in a way which is very restrictive, but necessary for the people of God. WE ARE TO SPEAK EVIL OF NO MAN! That seems simple enough. Even a first grader should be able to comprehend these words. Well if that is the case, then why aren’t the religious leaders, in high places, following God’s clear instructions?
In case someone thinks that I may be misapplying these words, or taking them out of context, I would like to point out a few exegetical considerations. Verse one of the chapter, sets the tone, and the context for the command to speak evil of no man. Look what it says.
Tit 3:1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work.
Paul is discussing the civic responsibility of believers. He has in mind some things that clearly relate to political issues. When it comes to a believers stance toward existing governments. We are reminded that we are “To be subject to principalities and powers”. We are not to be leaders in insurrection and disobedience. We are not supposed to be the voice of treason or ridicule of the government. We are to submit. We are to obey the magistrates. The whole passage is a reiteration of the longer passage in Romans 13.
Rom 13:1-7 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
These verses teach plainly and incontrovertibly that believers are to live peaceably within whatever secular governance system they find themselves under. Think of Jesus words to “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars’, and to render unto God the things that are His”. Clearly for a believer there are two levels of governance. There is the government of God, which is reflected in His kingdom, which is not of this world, and in which every believer is a kingdom tenant. And then there are the governments of this world, which are not the kingdoms of our Lord, but which are never the less ordered by Him, and which all living people are tenants of, and are subject to. Neither Jesus nor the Apostles, ever indicated displeasure or insurrection against the evil Roman governance of the first century. It is not because they approved of Herod or Nero. Nero impaled Christians and used them for party lights in his garden. How wicked can a ruler be? They could never be approving of stuff like that. But did they lead in tea parties? Did they use the gospel or the scriptures as a political platform? No. Not once did they act like our modern right wing evangelical preachers and evangelists. Christians did not lead in revolts. Christians did not speak evil. Why? Because they knew that it was inconsistent with their higher kingdom citizenship, to be entangled with the affairs of this world’s kingdoms. Jesus submitted to Pilate’s authority. It cost Him his life, but He submitted none the less.
Of course the same old issues keep springing up time after time today. What about Abortion? What about Gay marriage? What about the Ten Commandments in our courthouses? What about prayer in school? On and on it goes. Guess what? For a Christian, if our government does not endorse or sanction our beliefs and our values, so what? The world will never endorse God’s commands or Gods demands. The natural men do not receive the things of the Spirit of God. Men love darkness rather than light. So what? The lost mind will remain lost and blind no matter what government is in place, no matter what government may say, do or legislate. So what? That should not surprise us. Long before our government ever made abortion legal, women were getting abortions with coat hangers, knitting needles and abortive herbs. That’s nothing new. So what? It just shows how wicked and lost men really are. Government laws will never change any of that. In fact, as believers we should not want our government to legislate morality, or dictate religious ideals to the population. We should let the world be as wicked as it wants to be. God is capable of dealing with it. Look what he did with Sodom, and Babylon, and Egypt. He is capable of dealing with wicked societies, and with wicked men. But if we are believers, we are representatives of a higher kingdom. We are to be Light shining in the darkness. We are to be salt, savoring itself in the midst of a crooked and adulterous generation. That means that we obey our Lord. We obey His word and will for the heavenly citizenship of which we are a part. He says, in this context of civic responsibility…SPEAK EVIL OF NO MAN! Seems pretty forthright and simple. So why don’t the Christian leaders obey God?
Five Reasons Men Ignore and Disobey This Command
I would like to submit five possible reasons why these Christian leaders willingly ignore and disobey God’s word to speak no evil of anyone.
1. They think that this does not apply to them, because of a special calling. They feel that they have a calling to reshape America according to the standards of the founding fathers. That’s ok, for them to venerate the foundations of our country, but to associate this with some kind of Divine Calling is a huge error. It is certain that God calls men into the ministry. But does he call preachers to oppose standing governments, and existing presidents? That is very doubtful. Daniel is a good example of a man whom God appointed to a high political position. He was raised to one of the highest seats in Babylon, because he prayed three times a day, and was faithful to God. Not because he sought a political career or pursued a political agenda. The same is true of Joseph of old. He became the second only to Pharaoh in power and political position, but it was because He was faithful to God, and he prayed and God lifted him up, not because of political aspirations or dreams of reforming Egypt. As a matter of fact, even in the second highest position of power, he never tried to reform Egypt, change it’s laws, or convert it’s lawgivers. Joseph let the kingdoms of this world, be the kingdoms of this world, and he did not entertain vain notions that he could change them and make them to be more righteous, more holy, or stupid notions that he should try.
2. They hold to the philosophy that speaking evil is the easiest way to expose evil. This notion must be very common, because the practice of speaking evil is so widespread. Jude talks about the words of Michael the archangel in response to Satan. Nobody, or nothing could be more evil than Satan himself. And look what it says here… “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 9). Don’t miss this, it’s important. Michael did not speak evil even against Satan himself, who is the epitome of evil! “He durst not bring a railing accusation against Lucifer!” Why? Because he knew that the Lord would rebuke him. The Lord will handle the situation. Speaking evil against someone is not our business, it is up to God to rebuke the evildoers. That is not our job. (Let me just address the issue of exposing false teachers and false teachings. Defending and proclaiming the truth involves exposing heresy and false prophets. This is part of the job of a shepherd…he is supposed to protect the sheep. But there is a difference in pointing out errors and false teachers, and speaking evil of someone. Speaking evil is itself an act of evil. It is calling people untrue names and making false accusations against others. Calling Obama a Nazi, a Communist or an Anti-Christ would fall into this category. He is our leader, and the Christian posture is clear. “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king” (1Pet. 2:17).
3. They feel that the person whom they are speaking evil against, is sufficiently evil to warrant an exemption from God’s command to speak no evil. This person is so bad that they need to be torn apart, shredded, exposed and publicly violated, in order to teach them a lesson, and teach everybody else just how evil they really are. In situations like this Christians are supposed to open their mouths and proclaim it from the housetops, expose these men in the widest possible manner, on television, radio internet etc. That’s how they feel, and they self-justify their actions, based on the enormity as they perceive it of the evil leaders who need to be exposed. I will simply remind you how Michael did not speak evil of Satan. He is the most evil of all the evil ones who has ever lived.
4. They deny the Sovereignty of God over the affairs of earth. They do not really believe that he has ordained the kings, and that he has their hearts in His sovereign hand. They do not believe that the Holy Spirit is capable of administering God’s justice and setting up and tearing down of kings and kingdoms. They deny Him the right to allow evil among the nations of men, as He sees fit, and for His own purposes. They do not see His overarching purposes or allow Him the Divine prerogatives which come with being “THE KING of Kings”! They think that they have to take matters into their own hands, and that they have to convince all Christians that it is time to stand up and fight. God never tells Christians to do that, but these people do. Jesus said that it is precisely because His kingdom is not of this world that His people do not fight (Jn. 18:36).
5. They feel that they are protecting the unborn and future generations. But as lofty and as noble as this ideal might appear, it is without warrant in Scripture. God is in charge of the unborn and the future generations, and not us. As a matter of fact, we are absolutely incapable of changing anything in the future. We do not control it, and we do not change it either. Everything about the unborn and future generations is ordered by the Lord. This is why He was able to make prophecies known, which revealed future events and future people with absolute certainty. It is God who controls the future and not us. Someone will say, yes, God controls the future, but we can influence it. Look at the great Christians of the past, who influenced history, and who even impacted us today…people like Luther and Calvin, Guttenberg, Leonardo Da Vinci etc. Yes it is true that these men made great contributions to history. But did they change it? Did the alter the future? Not according to the Biblical doctrines of Divine providence and predestination. God is the potter and people are His clay. It is He who controls history, and not us. (Eccl. 3:14-15; Prov. 16:4; Isa. 14:24; 43:21; 44:24; 45:7,9; 64:8; Jer. 27:5; Ps. 33:11; 100:3; Lk. 1:17; 2Thess. 2:11-12; James 1:17; Phil. 1:29; Heb. 6:17; Eph. 3:11).
I would like to conclude by stating an important fact about this command. There are never any exceptions to it, for any reason any time. It applies to all Christians, all the time, in all circumstances. It is a command that greatly honors God, because it shows our trust and dependence upon Him.