Thursday, May 07, 2009


"Do not speak evil against each other, brethren." 
-James 4:11a

by Arthur Pink

"That which is here forbidden, is the saying of anything, be it true or false, to the harm of another. God requires that our words should be governed by "the law of kindness" (Proverbs 31:26), and anything which would hurt or injure the reputation of another, is to be rigidly shunned. Whenever I cannot speak well of my brother or sister, I must say nothing at all. To speak evil of others, proceeds from ill will or malice--desiring that they should be made odious in the esteem of others.

It is devilish to take delight in exposing the faults of fellow-Christians, and stirring up prejudice and bitter feelings against them (Rev. 12:10). God requires that our words should agree with love--as well as with truth. Since Christians are brethren, the last thing they should be guilty of is defaming one another!

Except where the glory of God plainly requires it, and the good of that person demands it--we must refrain from all evil speaking of others. If we are duly occupied with and humbled over our own many faults--we shall have neither time nor inclination to dwell upon or publish those of others! If we properly heed the exhortation of Philippians 4:8, we shall cultivate the habit of admiring the graces in our brethren--instead of being like filthy flies, settling on their sores!"


Rick Frueh said...

A good teaching from Pink. This illustrates the fallacy of a contrived ministry that is nowhere found in the New Testament called discernment. All of us should be discerning, but to devote entire blogs to searching for and referencing the sins and errors of others is a tortured manifestation of an Old Testament watchman.

The article by Tim Challies was spot on, and he confronts error without becoming self righteous or entertaining. Pink is my second favorite Calvinist, only second to the preacher whose anointed writings edify me most - CHS.

* Watch for my upcoming expose on Spurgeon's heretical use of tobacco. :)

Kirby L. Wallace said...

Isn't there a "spiritual gift" specifically called "discernment?"

richardabanes said...


Amen, brother.


I believe it's actually discerning of spirits....not just some kind of free-floating "discernment" (see 1 Cor. 12:10).

Here seems to be a fairly nice write up on it:

Also, from the Matthew Henry Commentary (online: "To another the discerning of Spirits, power to distinguish between true and false prophets, or to discern the real and internal qualifications of any person for an office, or to discover the inward workings of the mind by the Holy Ghost, as Peter did those of Ananias, Acts 5:3."

Sadly, it seems that a lot of people these days are falsely claiming to have this gift. And the results have been tragic.


eric opsahl said...

In the spirit of not speaking evil against each other, let us all pray for Driscoll as he visits the Crystal Cathedral. That he would very clearly proclaim Gods word.

SJ Camp said...

In the spirit of not speaking evil against each other, let us all pray for Driscoll as he visits the Crystal Cathedral. That he would very clearly proclaim Gods word.

Amen my brother. MacArthur has always said that he would go anywhere and preach the Word as long as he could preach the Word and no one told him what he could or could not say.

May Mark proclaim the gospel of grace and cut straight its truth as he goes to minister there.

Eric, thank you!

Kirby L. Wallace said...


I came out of the early 80's charismatic movement, and I can assure you that I personally operated in that and all other spiritual gifts.

I charitably and lovingly prophesied all manner of discerning teachings in tongues and immediately followed up with the interpretation!

Man, am I glad God rescued me from THAT!

Kirby L. Wallace said...

One of the things I prayed for earnestly, after that, was that

1) God would forgive me (which of course He did), and

2) That God would mitigate the damage that I had done in the lives of others by teaching them false things.

I mean seriously, there was a time when I was ministering at the altar call, laying hands on people's heads and speaking in tongues and trying to pressure them into doing the same.

And worst of all, I KNEW it was wrong when I was doing it. I didn't know why it was wrong, but I always knew something wasn't quite right about it all.

But one thing I will admit, I did have an actual experience that really was creepy - and I mean like spiritually creepy. In fact it was so creepy it is the reason that my "girlfriend" (now wife) and I left the church and never went back.

Our church had Rick Godwin come in and preach. Typical charismatic message followed by typical charismatic altar call. But this was different. This time, there was like a strong spirit to it.

It was like you could feel a numbness come over your thinking.

Then tingling in my fingertips that moved up my arms to my chest. Wild laughter, moaning, all around you and yet stillness for me. I couldn't turn my head to the left to see my wife. With a lot of effort, I managed to move something - I think it was my hand or something, and that seemed to break the spell.

It was a VERY powerful hypnosis technique, I'm sure. But I consider that a form of spiritual manipulation. There was something seriously demonic about it.

I pulled my wife out. We went out into the hall and basically said, "What was THAT? That wasn't God, but it certainly wasn't just man, either.".......

We left not too long after that and never went back.

Not just because of that episode. That was just the straw that broke the camels back. We had already by then been getting marginalised within the church because of my (percieved) obstinacy. I wasn't a team player. I didn't engage in the altar call ministry like the guys in the band, for instance.

But I didn't because all of it was completely unscriptural and I knew it and was beginning to get uncomfortable with doing it anymore.

To make matters MUCH worse, I started teaching this to the youth at my "Home Church Group" ministry that met in the home of one of the parishoner's, and where I was the teacher.

That got me officially booted from the ministry.

And a lot of the parents of the kids who attended that group complained to the pastors about them getting rid of me (I was quite popular among the parents of these kids).

This caused no small stir including a lot of the kids leaving the home youth fellowship and the regular church youth group meetings.

The pastors here pretty much accused me of splitting their church.

Now, frankly, I don't care if your church (their church) splits or not.

If they are teaching heresy, it prolly ought to be split. In fact, as soon as I properly discern that what;s being taught is leading people into an eternity in hell, I'm going to do everything in the power that God has given me to stop it. Because I think God expects that of everyone. If He's given you a certain talent, He expects you to use it in the way that it is designed to be used.

But I'm preaching to the choir here, I know. I'll just stop now. I'm getting all worked up! ;-) [huge grin]

Coram Deo said...


How do you define "speaking evil against the brethren"?

In Christ,

SJ Camp said...

Coram Deo
John Calvin really defines this well. I will defer to him in answering your question to which I fully agree.

11 Speak not evil, or, defame not. We see how much labor James takes in correcting the lust for slandering. For hypocrisy is always presumptuous, and we are by nature hypocrites, fondly exalting ourselves by calumniating others. There is also another disease innate in human nature, that every one would have all others to live according to his own will or fancy. This presumption James suitably condemns in this passage, that is, because we dare to impose on our brethren our rule of life. He then takes detraction as including all the calumnies and suspicious works which flow from a malignant and perverted judgment. The evil of slandering takes a wide range; but here he properly refers to that kind of slandering which I have mentioned, that is, when we superciliously determine respecting the deeds and sayings of others, as though our own morosity were the law, when we confidently condemn whatever does not please us.

That such presumption is here reproved is evident from the reason that is immediately added, He that speaketh evil of, or defames his brother, speaketh evil of, or defames the law. He intimates, that so much is taken away from the law as one claims of authority over his brethren. Detraction, then, against the law is opposed to that reverence with which it behooves us to regard it.

Paul handles nearly the same argument in Romans 14, though on a different occasion. For when superstition in the choice of meats possessed some, what they thought unlawful for themselves, they condemned also in others. He then reminded them, that there is but one Lord, according to whose will all must stand or fall, and at whose tribunal we must all appear. Hence he concludes that he who judges his brethren according to his own view of things, assumes to himself what peculiarly belongs to God. But James reproves here those who under the pretense of sanctity condemned their brethren, and therefore set up their own morosity in the place of the divine law. He, however, employs the same reason with Paul, that is, that we act presumptuously when we assume authority over our brethren, while the law of God subordinates us all to itself without exception. Let us then learn that we are not to judge but according to God’s law."

What do you think? I would be interested in your thoughts...


Coram Deo said...

What do you think? I would be interested in your thoughts...I think this is a very good representation by Calvin.

And for the record the intent behind my question wasn't (and isn't) to "trap" you in your words, but to genuinely seek to better understand where you're coming from in the various recent posts you've set forth here.

I will admit, however, to having had one follow up question in reserve which depended upon your response to the first query.

How do you define "the brethren"?

Given your POV on these two matters I believe I will be better equipped to respond to you on this subject Biblically.

In Christ,

SJ Camp said...

Corem Deo
Brethren is a term that marks the chosen of God in genuine conversion - the beloved in Christ Jesus.

Before the cross we are called Friends (John 15:14); Sheep, (John 10); Branches (John 15:1); Disciples (Mt. 16:24); Servants (John 13).

But only after the cross and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ does He now call us "My Brethren." Listen to His words to Mary at the empty tomb: “Jesus said to her, Do not cling to Me for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My Brethren and say to them I am ascending to My Father and your Father and to My God and your God.” (John 20:17).

The writer of Hebrews mentions this as well as pertaining to the elect of God. "For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why He is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Heb. 2:11).

This is a rich term of endearment for those who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord by God's gracious gift of grace and faith and have been born again unto eternal life (cp, Heb. 2:12-13).

The context of verse 11 is sanctification; not so much in terms of daily cleansing and conformity to Jesus, but of regeneration. This term was used of our Lord in His redemptive work of salvation on the cross - "I sanctify Myself" (John 17:19).

As His people, we are being sanctified daily by the Father and the Word - John 17:17; by the Holy Spirit - 2 Thess. 2:13; and by Christ - 1 Cor. 1:30.

As you know, to sanctify means to set apart from something and unto something. At the moment of our salvation we were set apart from this world AND set apart unto Christ. We were translated from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of the Son of His love. From darkness to light; from death to life.

There is a positional surety and a present reality to this. Positionally, we have been sanctified in salvation (1 Peter 1:2); and presently, we are being sanctified daily conformed to the image of the Son (Eph. 5:26).

This is how we know brethren is meaning the regenerated in Christ Jesus the Lord and not all people in general saved or not.

As I close, I must say honestly that this aspect of your question seems to have an agenda attached to it. The agenda? For those who have hurled invective grenades at Carrie Prejean to justify their ungodly insults. I will be delighted to be corrected at this point. But there is no other rendering of the word brethren biblically. And for someone to parse a word whose meaning is obvious and clear within the context of James 4 and other NT texts, raises a red flag to me.

Here is my question for you my brother: do you acknowledge that what has been done to this dear gal by some Christian bloggers this past week (the judging of motives, name calling, labels, declaring her to be unregenerate, etc.) violates this passage of Scripture of James 4:11?

If not, can you define your reasons biblically?

Thank you.
Grace and truth,

SJ Camp said...

Coram Deo
One brief follow up comment that I hope will further this discussion between us:

Even in our proclamation of the gospel or a giving a reason for the hope that is in us to those who don't know the Lord, we are to do so with reverence and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16).

I have even read with great sadness these past few days some Christian bloggers given over to name calling, making sport of, and insulting Perez Hilton because he is a gay man. This to me was unbelievable. Think of it, the very ones that we all would long to see come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives are being made fun of or called names of derision by Christian bloggers. Does not this bother you too brother?

Contrast this with what Carrie and her pastor said of Perez. She bore him no harm and no ill will. They encouraged others not to have ought against him, but to pray for him that he would come to know Jesus as his Lord and to bless him.

Brings to mind this verse from our Lord Jesus: "But I say unto you. Love your enemies, bless those who curse you; do good to them that hate you; and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you" (Matt. 5:44).

That's a powerful testimony of God's grace in Carrie's life... amen?

There is a time to confront head on (Jude 3) and it is when anyone is proclaiming a false gospel as Jesus did in Matt. 23. But it must be done so with boldness, humility, love, truth and courage.

SJ Camp said...

Coram Deo
I just read a very long post that you wrote on another blog this morning.

It prompted several thoughts. So I have a few follow-up questions concerning a key text of Scripture - Gal. 6:1-3 where the Apostle says the following:

"Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness [meekness]. Examining yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself."

In light of Paul's words above, how do you define these terms:

1. gentleness or meekness

2. examining yourself

3. bear one another's burdens

4. fulfill the law of Christ

5. thinks he is something

I would greatly be interested in your thoughts. And as always, may I encourage you to define them biblically.

Lastly, I humbly ask you how have your words and the words of others whom you applaud who have been very critical towards Carrie Prejean honor the biblical passage above?

Do you think the Apostle Paul has also compromised the faith by encouraging us to approach others who are caught in a sin with meekness and gentleness... first examining ourselves... and to fulfill the law of Christ which is love?

I ask you this because you said the following words at another blog:

"If she is a professing believer then it’s woefully clear that her father completely abdicated his spiritual responsibility to raise her in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and the same holds true for her mother.

It’s also painfully clear that her pastor, the elders, deacons, and mature women of her local church have also jettisoned their spiritual responsibility to teach poor Carrie that friendship with the world is enmity with God and that a believer cannot serve two masters for he (or she) will hate the one and hold to the other."

How do you know this to be emphatically true? You speak with such unquestioned authority and dogmatism about these people.

Brother, do you realize with your words you have completely vilified her entire church leadership and her family and their leadership in her life?

Do you know them, walked with them, talked with them, spent significant time with them, been to church with them? Have spoken to her pastors, elders, deacons and mature women in her church about these things to make this kind of determination?

Surely you must have gone to them in brokenness and humility before (saying anything publicly) urging them to reconsider their counsel to Carrie and if necessary repent of any unbiblical advice they have given her not only on this issue, but through her entire life as a Christian?

And then I assume they rejected your continued grace-filled efforts over months and months of pleading with them, so that you now feel the need to publicly say these things in a dogmatic manner as if they are true?

When I speak of grace, charity, and humility it is not to excuse sin; it is to encourage others in how we approach those to whom we are accusing of any wrongdoing or unbiblical counsel.

I say this to you CD with humility, for I was doing that same thing far too long and the Lord had to convict me of it.

I await your reply. I will keep the thread open here until the end of the day and then it's time to move on...

Grace and truth,
Col. 1:9-14

Coram Deo said...


I just briefly checked in, and read your latest series of comments. Unforunately I only have a few minutes because I'm finalizing some touches on a last minute Bible teaching for tonight.

A dear brother at church had something come up at the last minute and I'm stepping in for him with very little preparation. As the Lord would have it I'll be teaching from Romans 2 on God's Righteous Judgment, which seems quite appropriate given the subject matter at hand.

I'd like to pick this conversation up later, God willing.

In Christ,

SJ Camp said...

Coram Deo
Sounds good. I will be praying for you this evening as you exposit God's Word.

Romans 2 is an interesting passage. Paul directs his warning against the moralist Jew for judging Gentiles while still practicing the things that they are trying to judge others for.

Whether Jew or Gentile, there is One Lawgiver and One Judge to whom we are all accountable.

Grace and truth to you,