Berean Studies / Ber08 - Evil speaking and Evil Surmising
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1. What is evil speaking?
2. How prevalent is this fault among even those who profess to be Christians?
3. What is the power of the tongue?
4. What is meant by a ‘tongue set on fire of gehenna’?
5. What are the baneful influences of evil speaking, and what are some of the excuses and subterfuges offered by the fallen ...
6. What is evil surmising and what is its relation to evil speaking?
7. What are ‘secret faults,’ and of what two kinds are they?
8. Is an evil suggestion a sin, and how does it become a secret fault?
9. What is a ‘presumptuous sin,’ and when does a secret fault become a presumptuous sin?
10. What is the ‘great transgression’ to which these sins lead?
11. How may we purify and keep our hearts pure from these sins?
12. How is the Lord judging us?
13. Why should we render to God a daily account of any ‘idle’ (pernicious) words?
14. How are words the index of our hearts?
15. What does purity of heart signify?
16. What is the importance of a pure heart?
17. How may purity of heart be attained?
R2734 col. 1 ¶5 to 2735 col. 1 ¶1 - But how can this condition of purity of heart be attained? Is this to be our message to sinners--"purify your hearts"? No, the Gospel does not call sinners to purify their hearts: on the contrary it declares it to be an impossible thing for the sinner to purify his heart; a fuller's soap, which the sinner does not possess, is needed to cleanse the heart and bring it into that attitude of relationship with God and his will which will be pure and acceptable in his sight. On the contrary, sinners are called to repentance--called upon to confess that not only their outward lives are imperfect, short of the glory of God, but that their hearts also are rebellious, impure and in sympathy with impurity. After the sinner is repentant for sin, desiring to come into harmony with the Lord and his righteousness, he is pointed to the great atonement for sin, and is drawn to the great Redeemer, through a desire to be made free from sin and to come into harmony with God. When this step has been taken --when the sinner having repented of his sins, and having made restitution so far as possible, accepts Christ and the pardon he offers, and seeks to walk in the way of righteousness, then he is justified,--justified freely from all things, from which the Law could not justify him--"justified by faith through the blood of Christ"--brought nigh to God, into relationship with him, and caused to know the joy and peace of his forgiving love.
When this is accomplished, when justification by faith has been established, when the sinner is reckoned and treated as no longer a sinner, but as reconciled to the Father, then his heart may be said to be pure, cleansed from "the sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." But now arises a new question with the reformed one: while past sins are graciously covered, weaknesses of the flesh are present, and temptations of the adversary are on every hand. He starts to walk forward, but finds himself beset by the world, the flesh and the devil: what shall he do? A heart searching probably begins there: finding himself incapable of guiding himself, or of keeping himself, his proper course is to accept another offer of divine grace, namely, the second step in our great salvation. He hears the voice of the Lord, through the Apostle, saying, "I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God [manifested in the covering of your sins], that ye present your bodies living sacrifices, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service."
The reformed one, if rightly instructed, realizes his inability to stand in his own strength, realizes that his only hope of maintaining justification granted to him lies in getting the Lord to take charge of him. At first he may think to go into partnership with the Lord, and to say, "Some of self and some of thee," some of my own will and some of the Lord's will; but rightly instructed he finds that this will not be satisfactory to the Lord; that the Lord will accept him, and become responsible for him, and guarantee him glorious victory and eternal reward, only upon this one condition, namely, a full self-surrender, a full consecration of heart.
It is after the sinner has come through all this process and has made a full consecration of his heart to the Lord, that he is of the class described in our text, one of the pure in heart, under the law of love, the law of the New Covenant. But notwithstanding the purity of his heart, his motives, his intentions, his will, to fulfil the Lord's great commandment, which is briefly comprehended in one word, Love,-- he will find that he has a battle to wage, that the law of his members, depraved through heredity in sin, is a strong law of selfishness, in opposition to the new law, to which he has pledged himself, the law of his pure heart or new heart or will,--the law of Love.
Hence, as the Apostle suggests in our text, we must learn that the ultimate end or object of the divine commandment or law, means LOVE,--even tho we do not find ourselves thoroughly able to live up to every minute particular and requirement of that law. Yet our inability to live up to the requirements of that law must be through no lack of the will, or intentions of the loyal and pure heart toward the law, and toward the Lord whose law it is: whatever failure we make, however short we may come of the grand ultimate object before us, it must be solely because of weaknesses of the flesh, and besetments of the adversary, which our pure hearts, or wills failed to resist.
And here the Lord's promises are helpful, assuring us that he knows our weaknesses and frailties, and the wiles of our great adversary, the devil, and the influence of the spirit of the world, which is contrary to the spirit of love: he tells us that we may go freely to the throne of the heavenly grace, and obtain mercy in respect to our failures to live up to the grand standards which our hearts acknowledge, and seek to conform to; and that we may also find grace to help us in every time of need. And, availing ourselves of these mercies and privileges provided through our great High Priest, we are enabled to fight a good fight against sin, to repulse its attacks upon our hearts, and to drive it off if it shall succeed in invading our flesh. Thus, and thus only, may the Christian keep himself pure in heart, preserving his stand as one of the fighters of the good fight, one of the overcomers of the world and its spirit.
There will be a tendency on the part of the flesh, and the mind of the flesh, to deceive us in respect to this commandment of Love. The mind of the flesh will seek to go into partnership with the new mind, and will be very ready to recognize love as the rule and law of life, under certain conditions. The mind of the flesh would recognize love in words, in profession, in manners--a form of godliness, without its power. Gentle manners, such as love would demand, may be exercised by a selfish heart deceiving itself, and seeking to deceive others; on the lip may be the smile, the word of praise, of kindness, of gentleness, while in the heart may be feelings of selfishness, of grudge, of bitterness, of animosity, which, under favorable conditions, may manifest themselves in more or less carefully worded slander, or backbiting, or reproaches. Or these, continuing in the heart and rankling, may, under favorable conditions, bring forth anger, hatred, malice, strife and other wicked works of the flesh and of the devil, wholly contrary to the proper course of a pure heart, and at utter variance with the commandment of the law of the New Covenant--Love.
We are, therefore, to have clearly before our minds the fact that the ultimate object of all the divine dealings for us and with us, and the ultimate significance of all the divine promises made to us, is the development of love, which is god-likeness, for God is love. And to have this love developed in us, in the sense and to the degree intended by the Lord, it is necessary that it shall come from a pure heart, in full accord with the Lord, and his law of love, and wholly antagonistic to the Adversary and his law of selfishness. To have this kind of love in its proper development requires also a good conscience: for be it remembered that there are bad consciences,--our consciences require regulating, as do all the other features of our fallen nature. If our consciences are to be regulated we must have some standard by which to set and regulate them. The conscience is like a watch whose dial is properly marked with the hours, but whose correctness as a time-keeper depends upon the proper regulating of its mainspring, so that it may point out the hours truthfully: so our consciences are ready to indicate right and wrong to us, but they can only be relied upon to tell us truly what is right and what is wrong after being regulated in connection with the new mainspring, the new heart, the pure will, brought into full harmony with the law of love, as presented to us in the Word of God.
18. How do we know our motive is pure, since ‘the heart is deceitful above all things’?
19. What is the relation between our conscience and purity of heart?
20. Might telling the truth be evil speaking?
21. Is it always necessary to tell all we know about every affair?
22. Is an uncomplimentary remark evil speaking?
23. Would it be evil speaking to criticize doctrines publicly uttered?
24. What is a slanderer?
25. What is ‘false witness,’ and is it possible to bear false witness without uttering a word?
26. How should we deal with a brother or sister who begins to relate an evil report?
27. How should we deal with persons of the world who do evil speaking?
28. Is evil speaking against a brother in Christ more culpable than against one of the world?
29. In order to avoid gossip, slander and evil speaking, what is the only proper and Scriptural way of redress for grievanc...
30. How should we deal in a matter of evil speaking against an Elder?
31. Why is ‘a bridled tongue’ a chief essential in an Elder?
32. How may we ask advice and not do evil speaking?
33. What is the relation between ‘busy- bodying’ and evil speaking?
34. How should the Golden Rule help us to overcome evil speaking and evil surmising?
35. What is the sole exception to this rule, ‘Speak evil of no man’?
36. What inspiration should we receive from Jesus’ example?
37. How can we overcome evil surmisings and evil speaking?
38. What additional thoughts are found in index of Heavenly Manna under ‘Evil’?
39. What special experiences and practices have helped you to overcome evil surmisings to some extent?
40. As we realize how insidious this foe of the ‘new creature,’ what should be our daily prayer?
Psalms 19:12-14 - Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. (13) Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression. (14) Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.