One Lawgiver

One Lawgiver

Pastor Don Carpenter / General

Slander / James 4:11–12

The Critic

A little seed lay on the ground,

And soon began to sprout.

“Now, which of all the flowers around,”

It mused, “shall I come out?

The lily’s face is fair and proud,

But just a trifle cold;

The rose, I think, is rather loud,

And then, its fashion’s old.

The violet is all very well,

But not a flower I’d choose;

Nor yet the Canterbury bell—

I never cared for blues,”

And so it criticized each flower,

This supercilious seed,

Until it woke one summer morn,

And found itself—a weed.

1 Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 87.

It is so easy to evaluate (judge) critique and slander each other these days. The sin is not unique to our time, but the ability to get on the internet and spew our judgmental ignorance and hatred to the entire world is. This evening as we meditate on our text passage, we will discover that the reason we dare not judge and slander other brothers and sisters in Christ is that there is A Lawgiver, it is not you or me, and there can be only one!

Do Not Slander Your Brother.

James 4:11 KJV

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

Do Not Lie About Him

1 Peter 3:16 KJV

Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

2 Timothy 3:3 KJV

Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,

Proverbs 6:19 KJV

A false witness that speaketh lies, And he that soweth discord among brethren.

Do Not Broadcast Truth With Evil Intent.

Ephesians 4:31 KJV

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

1 Timothy 3:11 KJV

Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things.

Proverbs 11:13 KJV

A talebearer revealeth secrets: But he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.

Proverbs 18:8 KJV

The words of a talebearer are as wounds, And they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.

Proverbs 20:19 KJV

He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets: Therefore meddle not with him that flattereth with his lips.

Proverbs 26:20 KJV

Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: So where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

If You Slander Your Brother, You Are Judging Your Brother.

James 4:11 KJV

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

Romans 14:14 KJV

I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

Matthew 7:1–2 KJV

Judge not, that ye be not judged. 

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Romans 2:1 KJV

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

Romans 14:10–12 KJV

But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 

So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

If You Judge Your Brother, then You Are Judging and Slandering the Law.

James 4:11 KJV

Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

Leviticus 19:16 KJV

Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbour: I am the LORD.

 It is thus the slandering damner who runs afoul of James’s words. Such a person is actually slandering and judging the Torah because he has usurped the role of God in the act of condemnation and has chosen to defy what God has said not to do. In this way, the slandering damner defies God and transfers authority from God’s Torah to himself.381 So, 4:11b’s words make sense only by assuming what is about to be said in 4:11c and 4:12a: that judgment belongs to God alone.1

1 Scot McKnight, The Letter of James, The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011), 363.

There Is Only One Lawgiver.

James 4:12 KJV

There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

4:12. Only One is above the Law. He alone has the right to modify or overrule it. God is the one Lawgiver and Judge. “Lawgiver” is a compound noun used only here in the New Testament (nomothet?s, from nomos, “law,” and tith?mi, “to set, place, constitute, or lay down”). God not only authored the Law; He also administrates the Law. He serves as both the executive and judicial branches of the divine government. God is King; He institutes and declares His Law. God is Judge; He upholds and enforces His Law.1

1 J. Ronald Blue, “James,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 831.

Only God Can Save Or Condemn

Matthew 10:28 KJV

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Deuteronomy 32:39 KJV

See now that I, even I, am he, And there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: Neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.

How Dare You Presume God’s Role? Who Do You Think You Are?

But you—who are you to judge your neighbor? is another of James’ typical penetrating rhetorical questions. A humble attitude and just actions are essential for spiritual growth. James then went on to show how these qualities of life militate against empty boasting.1

1 J. Ronald Blue, “James,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 831.

The point is clinched with a devastating question. The disjunctive pronoun is sarcastic, emphasizing the sheer folly of the world to judge, while the vigorous proleptic you serves to widen the gulf between God’s judgment and man’s. “And who are you that pass judgment on another?” To which John Wesley replies: “A poor, weak, dying worm.” For James, as for us, however, the best answer is scornful silence.1

1 James B. Adamson, The Epistle of James, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), 178.

 A man was applying for the job of private secretary to Winston Churchill. Before introducing him, an aunt of Churchill’s told the man, “Remember, you will see all of Winston’s faults in the first five hours. It will take you a lifetime to discover his virtues.1

1 Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 87.

Do not slander your brother or sister in Christ. 

There is only one Lawgiver! Do not presume authority over your Brother of Sister. There is only one Lawgiver. Do not presume authority over the Law. There is only one law giver. It is not you. It is God, now let Him work!

Exported from Logos Bible Software, 11:22 AM September 25, 2020.

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