Monday, April 7, 2014

James 4:11–12

11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another? 

If there is one sin that is so destructive, and yet is so often passed over amongst believers, it has to be speaking evil of ones brethren. And so here the Apostle James knowing peoples propensity to speak evil of others; for a myriad of reasons; seeks to bring an end to it all. At least amongst us all who are called, or call ourselves Christ's. For not only does it do harm to the individual. For just as fights and wars begin within ones own heart, so the abuse of others begins with ones mouth. It lays a groundwork by which Satan, called in the Bible the accuser of the brethren, and or the slanderer, can practice his destructive works and words amongst the people of God. And so if we are going too submit to God and resist the devil, so that God dwells amongst us and Satan flees from us, we are going to have to put away from ourselves personally, and our congregations collectively, all the evil speaking (whether done "privately" or openly) that has not only forwarded our brethren's harm, (whether knowingly or unwittingly) but has also done great harm to Word of God, of which we are all to be subject. And so what is at stake here is not only our witness personally, and or collectively, but more importantly our obedience and subjection too the Word of God. For that alone makes for peace and edification and unity and love flourish and grow amongst brethren. And so having at the start of this chapter rebuked our unfaithfulness to God, here the Apostle James rebukes our unfaithfulness to each other. For truly as the Scripture says: "love does no harm to another therefore love is fulfillment of the law." Rom 13:10
And so the subject of not speaking evil of one another is not just a matter of neighborly love, it is as the Apostle James reiterates here, a matter of Law. For it is by the Law that the obedient people of God are revealed, and those who are otherwise are exposed (1 Tim 1:8-11). Therefore to speak evil of ones brethren and judge ones brethren, is not only discordant with loving them as Jesus Commands us. But it is to exalt oneself above both the Law of God and the Giver of it! And thus is an act of utter arrogance and self assuredness. For it is God alone who is both Lawgiver and Judge. Therefore who are you to speak evil of or judge another believer? For to malign or vilify another believers person or character, whom the Lord has justified (Rom. 8:33-34) is not only to act as a judge of ones brother or sister in the Lord, but it is to exalt oneself as a judge of the Law of God itself! Which is a very perilous thing to do. Because there is only one Lawgiver and Judge, God, of whom we are all too be subject, and to whom we shall give an account of ourselves too (consider Rom 14:4, 10-12). For it by His Word that God will judge all flesh (Joel 2:11). And so we need passages like this as correction markers for us as we journey homeward on this narrow road. Because throughout the Bible speaking evil of ones brethren is not only outright disobedience to the Word of God; it is a sign of rebellion, wickedness, and or outright unbelief (consider Luke 6:45). Therefore, though God's people are often subjected too such evil, we are not to be participants in such evil (consider Num. 12:1-16; Psalm 15:1-5, vs. 3; Ps. 31:13-18; 35:11; Ps. 38:12; 41:4-6; Ps. 50:20-22; Ps. 52:1-9, vs. 4; Ps. 69:1-36, vs.12; Ps. 71:1-24, vs. 24; Ps. 101:5; Ps. 109:3, 16-20; 140:1-3; Prov. 6:19; 10:18; 11:19; 18:8; Jer. 6:28; Ezek. 22:9; Matt 5:11-12; 12:36; 1 Cor. 4:13; 1 Cor. 6:10; 2 Cor. 12:20; 1 Tim 3:11; Titus 3:1-2; 1 Peter 1:12; 4:4; 2 Peter 2:9-11; Jude 8-11).

Scripture Citations
The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982

Word Studies
speak evil, katalaleō vb.: Str 2635; GK 2895; TDNT 4.3; TDNTA ; LN 33.387 (James 3:113x; 1 Peter 2:12; 3:16) 5x Literally means to speak against, (i.e. speak evil of), to slander. In James it is used as one who stands as an accuser of their brethren, and thus sadly aligns themselves with Satan when they do (consider Rev 12:10).

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