Sally Lloyd-Jones draws a picture of sneaky slander:
God had a horrible enemy. His name was Satan….Satan was seething with anger and looking for a way to hurt God. He wanted to stop God’s plan, stop this love story, right there. So he disguised himself as a snake and waited in the garden.
Now, God had given Adam and Eve only one rule: ‘Don’t eat the fruit on that tree,’ God told them….(You see, God knew if they ate the fruit, they would think they didn’t need him. And they would try to make themselves happy without him. …)
As soon as the snake saw his chance, he slithered silently up to Eve, “Does God really love you?” the serpent whispered. “If he does, why won’t he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit? Poor you, perhaps God doesn’t want you to be happy.”
The snake’s words hissed into her ears and sunk down deep into her heart, like poison. Does God love me? Eve wondered. Suddenly she didn’t know anymore. (Sally Lloyd-Jones. The Jesus Storybook Bible, (Zondervan.c0m, 2007) p. 28-30, italics mine.)
Here is a perfect example of slander and its effects. An attack on God’s character and reputation. Eve didn’t catch it, nor stand up to the lie and the liar. There is no hallowing God’s name here by either one of them. God’s reputation was at stack. Eve bought into the lie.
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16).
This commandment binds the tongue. And our tongues certainly need control. Remember what James said? “…no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God…Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. (James 3:8-9,11).
Remaining silent is bad too. If someone is slandered in your presence and you do not speak up in their defense but just receive it as true, then you are at fault too. We are to preserve and promote the truth (Zech. 8:16, Ps. 15:2, Eph. 4:25).
Thomas Watson suffered from much slander. His Anglican church leaders forced him out of his pulpit and took away his political rights and those of his children. He focused on doing what he thought was in accordance to Scripture. “A good conscience is a wall of brass, that will be able to stand against a false witness,” he said. There are consequences for defaming another’s reputation. He recalls for us the story of Jezebel who suborned two false eyewitnesses against Naboth in order to steal his land. She ended up being thrown down from a window, and the dogs then licked up her blood (2Kings 9:33). Slander and lying about another, calling another innocent when you know them to be guilty, or saying they did not do something when you know they did are examples of how this ninth commandment is broken. Doing these things under oath in court just magnifies the offence.
Of course, gossip is repeating slander or a little lie about another. Having contempt for another ( Ps. 35) can easily break out into an overt slander. Facebook is being used as a way to smear someone. A picture is worth a thousand words. This kind of slander is rampant among teens. Don’t share pictures of another person without their permission unless it really makes them look good! Be very careful what you post about another.
Children learn to lie very young. Apply this commandment to their hearts when you catch them lying. The best anecdote to slander or lying is a healthy fear of God. Children need to reverence God, yes, but they need a little fear of Him as well. Tell the story of Jezebel or of Uzzah who touched the ark of the covenant instead of grabbing it by the poles attached to its sides ( II Samuel 6). Kids are astounded that God killed him on the spot! A healthy fear of God will come in handy for you, as well, when gossiping is easier than setting the record straight about your friend, pastor or representative in Congress.
O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent? Who shall dwell on your holy hill? He who walks blamelessly and does what is right and speaks truth in his heart; who does no slander with his tongue and does no evil to his neighbor, nor takes up a reproach against his friend… (Psalm 15:1-3).
Of course, keeping this commandment will not earn you eternal life in God’s presence. Only faith in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ will do that. You will eventually slip up and learn how hard it is to control your tongue. But, don’t believe the antinomian lie either. They say that you don’t need to worry about keeping this or any other law.
I was crushed once when a friend said horrible things about me and my friends remained silent. I felt very isolated. I was shocked that it could even happen among Christian women. It turned out to be a very good lesson. In fact, I was blessed through it. Ernest Reisinger took time out of a very busy schedule to give me good advice and comfort. He started sending me books and some of his own writing. I did not know it at the time, but he knew all about how it felt to be falsely accused.
How will you handle it when someone subtly whispers a lie–either about you or in front of you?
When you are slandered, don’t be crushed. Remember what Jesus said, “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matthew 5:11-12). And respond with kindness, ” …So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). And Paul wrote,” …(Love) does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (I Cor. 13:6). The truth is that God does want us to be happy and He does love us and has provided a way for us to live in His presence now and forever. Eve knew that!