1. Subjects previously covered in our study of James include:
a. "facing temptations" (1:2-18)
b. "hearing and doing the Word" (1:19-27)
c. "respect of persons" (2:1-13)
d. "faith and works" (2:14-26)
e. "a warning for teachers" (3:1)
f. "use of the tongue" (3:2-12)
g. "true and false wisdom" (3:13-18)
h. "strife among Christians" (4:1-10).
2. Throughout this letter, controlling the tongue is emphasized (1:19, 26; 3:2-12).
3. (4:11-12) A specific sinful use of the tongue is addressed: "speaking evil of others."
I. (vs.11a) CHRISTIANS ARE FORBIDDEN TO SPEAK EVIL OF ONE ANOTHER
A. Speak evil: speak against, slander, backbite (usually done behind a person's back with the
intention of harming his reputation)
B. This sin is addressed many times in the Bible.
1. "Backbiting" is a sin that caused God to give up on the Gentiles (Romans 1:28-30).
2. "Revilers" will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
3. Paul did not want to find the Corinthians "backbiting" (2 Corinthians 12:20-21).
4. Christians are to put away "evil speaking" (Ephesians 4:31; Titus 3:1-2; 1 Peter 2:1).
C. To illustrate the seriousness of evil speaking, it is a characteristic of:
1. fools (Proverbs 10:18b)
2. hypocrites (Proverbs 11:9a)
3. Satan (Revelation 12:10; Job 1:9-11; 2:4-5).
D. Factors that contribute to evil speaking include:
1. having evil in the heart (Matthew 12:34)
2. idleness (1 Timothy 5:13).
II. WHY CHRISTIANS MUST NOT SPEAK EVIL OF ONE ANOTHER
A. (vs.11b) One who speaks evil of his brother becomes a judge.
1. Judging: to unfairly find fault in others, to condemn
2. One who slanders his brother becomes a giver of law rather than a doer of the law.
B. (vs.12) We are reminded that there is only one lawgiver.
1. God alone is able to save and destroy, and He is to be feared (Matthew 10:28).
2. God's children must not put themselves in His place.
III. HOW TO OVERCOME AND AVOID EVIL SPEAKING
A. We must realize that evil speaking is a sin, and we must desire to overcome it with the Lord's help.
B. We must take care of occasions when we speak evil of others (James 5:16a; 1 John 1:9).
C. We must go to the root of the problem -- "the heart" (Matthew 15:18; Proverbs 4:23).
D. We must practice "the royal law" (James 2:8; Matthew 22:39; 7:12).
E. We must appreciate the value of speaking correctly (Proverbs 25:11).