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?
R2248 col. 1 ¶7 and col. 2 ¶5 - All Christians of experience in the good way and in the battle against sin and self have learned that there can be no outward or presumptuous sins that have not first had their beginning in secret faults of the mind. The sinful thought may be one of pride suggesting self-exaltation; it may be one of avarice suggesting unlawful acquisition of wealth; or it may be some other fleshly desire: the mere suggestion of the thought before our minds is not sin; it is merely the operation of our faculties, and of the influences which surround us, inquiring of our wills whether or not we will consent to such thoughts. Many consent to thoughts of evil who at the time would utterly repudiate any suggestion to commit evil deeds; but if the thought be entertained it is a secret fault, and the growing tendency would surely be toward the more outward and presumptuous sinful conduct, the tendency of which is always from bad to worse. For instance, to illustrate, suppose the suggestion should come to our minds of a method by which we could advance our own interests of fame or honor or reputation by the undermining of the influence and reputation of another, how quickly the evil, selfish thought, if entertained, would lead to envy and possibly hatred and strife. Almost surely it would lead to back-biting and slander and other works of the flesh and the devil. The beginnings are always small, and correspondingly much easier to deal with than in their developed form. Hence, the prophetic prayer, "Cleanse thou me from secret faults" and thus restrain or keep me back from presumptuous sins.
In the Epistle of `James (1:14,15`) we read, "Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own desire and enticed. Then when desire hath conceived it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." Here we have the same thought differently expressed. The temptation consists at first in the presentation to the mind of suggestions which are impure or unkind or unfaithful to obligations; but there is no sin, no fault, as yet. The fault begins, when we harbor the evil suggestions, begin to turn them over in our minds and to consider the attractions which they may have to offer. This is where desire (taking hold of the evil thing instead of resisting it) causes a beginning of the secret fault; and it is only a process of development which in many instances under favorable circumstances may be very rapid, that sin, the presumptuous or outward acts of sin, results;--for instance, bearing false witness against a neighbor, or slander, or other evil deeds. And the evil course having begun in the fostering of the evil suggestion, and having progressed to presumptuous sin, there is a great danger that their entire course of life will be ultimately affected thereby and bring the transgressor into that condition where he will commit the great transgression --wilful, deliberate, intentional sin--the wages of which is death, second death.
R2568 col. 2 ¶2 - Another lesson here is that temptation does not imply sin. As our Lord was tempted "without sin" so may his brethren be if they follow his example and with purity of heart, purity of intention, seek only the Father's will. Sin could only come through yielding to the temptation. But let us not forget that hesitancy after the wrong is seen increases the power of the temptation. And we may note here that while Satan is a tempter, endeavoring to ensnare us into wrong paths and wrong conduct, God is not so; "he tempteth no man" (`Jas. 1:13`), and even tho he permit the Adversary and his agents to beset his people, it is not with the object of ensnaring them, but with the opposite object, that they may by such trials and testings be made the stronger, developing character through exercise in resisting evil. Let us remember too for our strengthening, the Scriptural assurance that God will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able to resist and overcome but will with the temptation provide also a way of escape.
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?
James 3:2 - For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.
R2447 col. 2 ¶2 - The public servants of the Church are to some extent specially its "tongues," and what an influence they wield for good or for evil, in the blessing and upbuilding of the Lord's people, or for their injury--cursing! How necessary that all the tongue-servants of the Lord's Body be such, and such only, as are of his spirit! Their influence not only extends to those who are in the Church, but in considerable measure they are mouthpieces heard outside. And the same principle applies to every individual member of the Church, in his use of his member, his tongue. He may use it wisely or unwisely, with heavenly wisdom or with earthly wisdom. He may use it for strife, and tearing down the faith and character of the brethren, in overthrowing love and confidence, or he may use it in building up these graces of the spirit. How many have proved the truth of the Apostle's words, that the tongue has great possibilities, either for defiling the whole body, the Church, and setting on fire the course of nature, by stirring up the evil poisons and propensities of the fallen nature! How few amongst the Lord's people have conquered the tongue to the extent of bringing it into subjection to the will of God, that they may minister good, and only good, to all with whom they come in contact! Let us, dearly beloved, be fully resolved that by divine grace (promised to assist us) the present year shall witness great progress in our control of this most important member of our bodies, bringing the same into full subjection and obedience and service to the King of kings and Lord of lords--to him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.
R2157 col. 1 ¶1 - In the choice of leaders for meetings the "tongue" qualification, as here laid down should not be overlooked. The fiery tongued should not be chosen, but the meeker, the moderate, who "bridle" their tongues and endeavor carefully to "speak as the oracles of God" only. Such tongues constrain, while others more frequently wound and repel. The Word of the Lord is quick and powerful and sharp and cuts "to the heart" without bitter and acrimonious and uncharitable human expletives to enforce it. Hence the divine instruction that we "speak the truth in love."
F249 ¶2 - They should be generous men, men of pure lives, having no more than one wife; and if they have children it should be noticed to what extent the parent has exercised a wholesome influence in his own family--for it should reasonably be judged that if he has been derelict in his duty toward his children, he probably would be unwise or derelict in his counsels and his general ministries amongst the Lord's children in the Ecclesia, the Church. He is not to be double-tongued or deceptive, not to be a brawler or a contentious person. He should be one of good reputation amongst those outside the Church: not that the world will ever love or rightly appreciate the saints, but that the world should, at least, be unable to point to anything derogatory to their character as respects honesty, uprightness, morality, truthfulness. There is no limitation made respecting the number of elders in a Church or Ecclesia.
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.