Berean Studies / Ber08 - Evil speaking and Evil Surmising
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Single Click a triangle below to see the references CT Russell selected for the associated question. The study questions (with the references) are also included as an attached Adobe PDF file at the bottom of this page.
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?
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?
F407 - We Should Judge Ourselves
"If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged [punished, corrected of the Lord]." 1 Cor. 11:31
The Golden Rule would surely settle this disposition to "gossip" about others and their affairs. What slanderer wishes to be slandered? What gossip wishes to have his matters and difficulties and weaknesses discussed either publicly or confidentially? The "world" has little else to talk about than gossip and scandal, but the New Creation should preferably be dumb until the love and plan of God have furnished them with the great theme of which the angels sang--"Glory to God in the highest; on earth peace, good will toward men." Then the "words of their mouths and the meditations of their hearts" will be acceptable to the Lord and a blessing to those with whom they come in contact.
The Apostle, commenting upon the tongue, shows that this little member of our bodies has great influence. It may scatter kind words that will never die, but go on and on blessing the living and through them the yet unborn. Or, "full of deadly poison," it may scatter poisonous seeds of thought to embitter the lives of some, and to blight and crush the lives of others. The Apostle says--"Therewith bless [honor] we God, even the Father; and therewith curse [injure] we men,...out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?" James 3:8-11
R3030 col. 1 ¶1 to col. 2 ¶1 - The Apostle explains that the commands of the decalogue were merely attempts to bring down to the natural man's comprehension the real spirit of the divine law. And yet the prohibitions of that law, "Thou shalt not," in respect to various things that would be injurious to the neighbor, could never fully express the comprehensiveness of the divine will. The prohibitions of the decalogue were proper enough for the "house of servants," but when the "house of sons" was instituted (`Heb. 3:5,6`), and when these sons were begotten of the holy spirit so that they could appreciate the law of Love, it was substituted, as higher every way and more comprehensive than the prohibitions of the decalogue. Thou shalt not commit adultery; Thou shalt not kill; Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not bear false witness; Thou shalt not covet;--because all these things would be contrary to the law of love under which alone the "new creature" is placed.
But the new law of the New Covenant--Love--is so much more comprehensive than the decalogue which was the basis of the Jewish Covenant, that as the Apostle says, if there be any other commandment, any other thing that should be prohibited, any other things contrary to the law of God, it is briefly comprehended in the declaration "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." The law of love marks as transgressions many things which would not have been violations of the decalogue: for instance, the decalogue commanded the house of servants not to bear false witness against a neighbor; but the law of love indicates to the house of sons that they should "speak evil of no man" even if such witness would not be false; it instructs them further, that even if it be necessary to tell an unpleasant truth--if it becomes duty or obligation of law--even the truth is to be spoken in love without acrimony, hatred, malice, envy or strife. Oh, what a valuable lesson it would be to the house of sons if they could all equally grasp this comprehensive thought,--if their obligations not only to each other and to their families and friends, but also to their neighbors and their enemies--to love them, to so consider their interests and their welfare in general, that they would do nothing and say nothing to the contrary; but gladly at the sacrifice of their own convenience, assist them in any and every way,--"Doing good unto all men as we have opportunity, especially to the household of faith!" This is loving our neighbor as ourselves--not as he loves us.
THIS IS THE GOLDEN RULE--LOVE.
Since love works blessings to the neighbor and seeks his welfare, it follows as a matter of course that "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor." Will we not, as the Lord's consecrated people, seek to put this lesson into practice in our daily lives? Will we not learn to consider the words of our mouths, and to remember that we can smite and injure a brother or a neighbor with the tongue as truly and more seriously than with our hands? Will we not learn that in even mentioning anything uncomplimentary respecting a brother or a neighbor, we are surely working him ill, doing him an injury,--injuring his reputation and standing--however true the uncomplimentary thing may be; and that in so doing we are violating the law of God, the law of love? Will we not learn that the only instance in which we would have a right to mention an uncomplimentary thing would be in the event of our seeing a brother or a neighbor in danger of injury by another and thus out of love for him be called upon to warn him of the source of danger?
This warning we should be sure was necessary, before giving it; and it should be couched in such language as sincere love for the dangerous one would dictate. Will we not learn to think charitably of the words and actions of others, and to suppose their intentions good, until we have positive evidence to the contrary: and will we not learn that then we should go to the offender, alone, according to `Matt. 18:15`; subsequently, if occasion require and the matter seem to be of vital importance, taking with us two others, fair and impartial in judgment, that in the presence of the wrong-doer they may hear from him as well as from us and give their judgment or opinion. And even if they agree with us and the wrong-doer is not yet corrected and the injury to us is still unabated, we are still not at liberty under the law of love to make mention of the case to others, but to call a meeting of the entire congregation and there, with the condemned one present, to have a hearing and a judgment of the Church in respect to the matter.
Let us learn much more thoroughly the meaning of this expression "Love worketh no ill to his neighbor"; and again, "Speak evil of no man." Love is the fulfilling of the law; and our hearts, at least, must fulfill this law--whatever mistakes of tongue or deed we may unintentionally make--else we cannot hope to be reckoned as having reached the "mark" for the prize for which we are called to run with patience. It will require patience in dealing with ourselves and bringing our hearts into conformity with this divine law, but it is necessary, and the sooner and the more perseveringly undertaken, the greater and surer will be the blessings, and our ultimate acceptance to joint-heirship in the Kingdom.
R2688 col. 2 ¶2, 3 - But this rule, while thus inculcating justice, goes beyond this and inculcates benevolence;--such benevolence and so much of it as we, with properly balanced minds would be disposed to ask of others if we were the ones in need, in straits. O how grandly rounded out in spiritual character would all of the Lord's true saints become, under the influence of this Golden Rule! It would not only affect the actions of life, making them first just toward all with whom they had dealings, then, benevolently disposed toward all needing their assistance to whatever degree they were able to render assistance without doing injury to others,--and, additionally, the same law in force would extend also to their every word. Under the regulations of this golden measurement how few bitter or angry or slanderous words would be used--for how few would like to have others use such to or of them--to speak to them in anger and with bitterness and rancor, or to slander them. No wonder the Apostle tells us that those who have put on Christ must put off all these--anger, malice, hatred, strife, envy, slanders, etc. Additionally, this Golden Rule would lead to kind words, gentle actions, considerate demeanor; for who would not wish such from his neighbor? As the Apostle again declares, we are to put on as Christian graces,--gentleness, meekness, patience, longsuffering, brotherly kindness, love.--`Col. 3:8-10,12-15`.
This Golden Rule, beginning with the outward actions, and progressing to our words, would very quickly extend to our thoughts; and as we would not wish to have others think ungenerously or meanly of us, nor put a bad construction on our every act of life, but would rather that they would view our words and deeds generously and lovingly, so we in turn would find, that under the influence of this Golden Rule, our thoughts of others would become more generous, more noble, less suspicious, etc.
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.