The word “Variance” can mean contentious disagreement or strife and Constance deals with that facet of “Variance” among brethren in her comments.
The foundational basis of spiritual unity, is full unity with God, and “Variance” is varying or striving against the spiritual standard of unity, which is the whole word of God.
Variance means to disagree with some part of the word of God, and to rebel against doing what God has commanded in the way that he has commanded. It means doing what we want or think right; contrary to what God says is right and what God wants.
For example, the sanctity of the Sabbath, or following a man-made calendar in place of God’s Biblical Calendar; or placing layers of men as idols between God and the brethren, instead of the elders being helps to keep all focused on the whole word of God.
In the body of Christ variance is rebellion against the standards and positions taught by Jesus Christ and contained in the whole word of God which is Jesus Christ in print.
Disagreement with the word of God, by justifying standing on what we think is correct, instead of standing on what the word of God says is correct; brings division from God and disunity, chaos and confusion in the body, as each one follows his own way instead of following the word of the HEAD of the body.
It is this “Variance” from the word of God to follow our own ways and traditions, which afflicts the church of God groups today, as each group seeks to do what is right in their own eyes.
Today, the church of God groups VARY from the Word of God, doing as they want, instead of being zealous to do as God commands; which is the sin of “Variance!”
All of these things are different facets of the same sin which is a rejection of any zeal to learn and to keep the whole word of God with passionate enthusiasm!
To VARY away from and turn aside from the whole word of God; is rebellion against God and a form of witchcraft, as we recently studied!
Works of the Flesh: Variance
This week we are looking at the work of the flesh that is called “variance”. What is the definition for variance?
The English definition is:
1.the fact, quality, or state of being variable or variant: difference, variation <yearly variance in crops>.
2. the fact or state of being in disagreement : dissension, dispute.
3. a disagreement between two parts of the same legal proceeding that must be consonant.
Synonyms are: conflict, discord, discordance, discordancy, disharmony, dissension (also dissention), dissent, dissidence, dissonance, disunion, disunity, division, friction, infighting, inharmony, schism, strife, discord, war, warfare
All of these things are what “variance” looks like, and are the attributes of this work of the flesh that Paul puts with his list in Galatians 5:19-21; things that ought not to be done if we desire to inherit the Kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
The Greek word for variance used in this verse is
éris (Strong’s #2054) contention, debate, strife Of uncertain affinity; a quarrel, i.e. (by implication) wrangling — contention, debate, strife, variance. a readiness to quarrel (having a contentious spirit), affection for dispute. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance and HELPS Word-studies)
The most common word used for variance in our modern day language is “strife”, of which the Bible has many things to say.
Strife Separates and Divides
Strife is an evil that rips apart the bond of relationships, beginning with our relationship with God. Before we were called and repented we were at enmity [at variance] against God which means that we were hostile to Him. To be hostile against someone, is a type of strife as well.
Romans 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.
But once we repent, apply the sacrifice of Christ to our sins, and put away the old carnal man, we are reconciled to both the Father and the Son.
2 Corinthians 5:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
Strife is the work of the flesh that creates an atmosphere of anger that can stir up arguing, bickering, accusations, competition, all sorts of things that divide. Strife is a trap that Satan uses to destroy marriages, friendships, businesses, the Ekklesia, neighborhoods and even nations.
It is very important to understand what causes strife, how it puts us on very dangerous ground, and learn how to counteract this carnal nature with God’s Holy Spirit, and filling ourselves with God’s divine nature.
There are many things that cause strife but the very first is idolatry, which is to put other things before God. But when we put God first in our lives, we are trusting Him to provide us with everything we need.
When we refuse to acknowledge God as our Lord and Master and instead worship other gods or other things, God gives us over to a reprobate mind. Which means our minds and hearts become corrupt and they begin to fill up with all unrighteousness [the works of the flesh] because we are so full of pride. We covet things so strongly that we will use evil conniving to get what we want; like maliciousness, deceit, malignity, gossiping, backbiting, envy, debate, fighting, murder, all of which are elements of “variance”.
This is what Paul was referring to when he described how men reject their Creator even when the things about God are made evident in His creation, but they still refuse to glorify Him and are ungrateful to Him. Instead, they become vain in their imaginations and they become foolish with their hearts darkened. They then change God’s truth into a lie and worship other things, even worshiping themselves more than God. (Romans 1:18-25)
Romans 1:25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Romans 1:28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 1:30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 1:31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 1:32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
Strife Originates in Pride
Just as with hatred that we studied last week, strife began with Satan. The Father and the Son have been united and at ONE right from everlasting, and had never known strife. Strife did not exist until Lucifer, the created archangel became proud because of his beauty and his intelligence (which were not of his own making but were in fact gifts from God). Instead of being grateful to God for his very existence, he became filled with pride, he coveted to be in the place of God, and contention was given birth.
Isaiah 14:12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 14:13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14:14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Pride stirs up strife, rather than being content, trusting God for everything and being grateful for what He has already given to us.
Proverbs 28:25 He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife: but he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat [abundantly enriched and blest].
When we are filled with pride, we begin to think that we deserve more than what we have, or what we have been given; or that we are more deserving of others and think that what they have should be ours. Strife then takes root in the very heart and the person seeks to take by carnal means the things that he thinks should be rightfully his. The very means that he incorporates by striving to get what he lusts after, causes even more strife.
James 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
As we study through the list of the “works of the flesh”, we begin to see that all of these “works” can be traced back to Satan as the originator. They began with Satan and since the time that he rebelled against God, his spirit has infiltrated the whole earth and has influenced all mankind throughout all history. But God made men to be free moral agents and with God’s help we can resist that spirit, overcome these works, and be filled with the Spirit of God instead, partaking of His divine nature that He offers.
More Sources of Strife: Envy and Greed
There are many things can cause strife, but two causes the Bible mentions quite often are envy and greed.
If we trust God, we will never need to be envious of others. If we believe that God loves us and has a plan and a specific purpose for each of us and that His timing is always right, we will not have any reason to be envious of others.
And if we are grateful for what God has already given to us and satisfied with who we are and what we have, we will not covet things that others have, or things that we want but cannot have. People who are greedy and who are never satisfied with what they have, who always want more, stir up strife in their pursuit to get those things.
Our desire for the things of this world, whether it’s material things, money, a promotion, a title, or a certain relationship, etc., etc. can become our top most priority; and for most of the world those things are top priority. Most of the time people will utilize the “works of the flesh,” which means going around God’s ways and doing things to get what they want in their own carnal human power, instead of trusting and waiting upon God. Again, we can look at James 4:1-3 which tells us what is behind wars and fighting; and it is lust and a desire to have things that are unattainable.
When we want happiness for ourselves and think that “if only I could have this or that, or a certain person, or fame, a position, a new car, a new house, etc.; I will be happy.” Many in this world feel that the most important thing in life is to “be happy”. So when they are not feeling happy, they tend to become resentful, angry, dissatisfied, which can cause all kinds of strife inside their hearts. They take it out by causing trouble for themselves and others. The strife can come in a form of negative words or actions against a person that has what they want and who appears happy, so they will criticize, gossip, put that person down. But its not really other people or the circumstances that are making them discontent. Its because they are discontent with God’s provision and they lack a trust and faith that God will provide for them with everything they need; if they are seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness first in their lives.
And if we are seeking God first and we are finding our delight in serving Him and pleasing Him, then He will give us the proper desires that we are to have, rather than always desiring the things this world can give to us.
Psalm 37:4 Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
Seeking happiness as the top goal in our life will only make us miserable and discontent. God wants us to be thirsting and hungering after His righteousness and to develop the divine nature that He has; to use our time to prepare ourselves for the Kingdom of God. He has work for us to do in this life and He even says that He has prepared them for us to do. When we are so busy being about our Father’s business, we will not have time to worry about the things we can’t have, or can’t do. We can have faith that God will provide for us all that we need to live and to accomplish the tasks that He has given us to do. The world teaches us to focus on self-fulfillment and happiness. God teaches us to focus on glorifying God and serving humanity. Happiness [or real joy] will then come as a by-product if we are living in God’s will and doing His will.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Ways to Keep Strife Out of Our Lives
There are things we can consciously do to help keep strife out of our lives. One of them is to stay away from strife-filled and contentious people. What kind of friends do we have and who do we hang out with? There are those that have a propensity for always wanting to argue, or gossip, or start fights. We know that we cannot cut ourselves off from everyone in the world for we have to work in this world and interact with it. But many times we do have choices and we can actively avoid those people that cause trouble for us and others and not take part in their contentions. Jesus prayed that we not be taken out of the world, but that His Father would keep us from evil.
John 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.17:18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
Paul in instructing Timothy, advised him [and us] to just withdraw from these kind of people.
1 Timothy 6:4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 6:5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
When we have to be around negative and contentious people, we must guard our hearts and not let them influence us. When we associate with these types, it is very easy to become influenced with their anger and strife. If we know that we are tempted in that direction, it’s best to find other friends that will encourage us in the ways of peace and in the ways of God, rather than being friends with those who are always wanting to stir up strife with others.
One of God’s commandments is that; “we are not to covet”, which as we just saw, leads to all kinds of the works of the flesh including strife. (Exodus 20:17) God wants us to be fulfill and to be provided for and it is not wrong to desire the proper things that God says are lawful; but it is not God’s will for us to be coveting the things that others have or to be always wanting more and more and being greedy. To be covetous and envious is a very grievous sin. We can overcome covetousness by being thankful always and to be constantly giving God thanks, keeping our minds on the things above and not on the things of this world.
Colossians 3:3 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 3:5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
When our friends and acquaintances are blessed, we are to rejoice with them and to be genuinely happy for them, knowing that God is blessing us too, in maybe other ways. If we stay focused on the good things that He has already provided us with, we can keep strife out of our lives and then God can use us to be a blessing to all who we come in contact with.
Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
What Should Control Our Hearts?
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul gave the believers some more wise advice on this topic.
Colossians 3:12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 3:14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
“Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart” is the crucial antidote to striving and strife. When we are grounded in our relationship with Christ, with our focus on Him all day long, it makes it possible with the help of His Spirit in us, to be at peace. We are privileged to be able to know Him, to know His truth, and to be given the opportunity to be called a child of God. We also have all His promises which give us the hope of His eternal plan for us, our families, and for all mankind, and the fact that someday all variance and strife will be banished from the earth.
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
The Things that are of the Works of the Flesh will only Produce Bad Fruit which God Says He Hates
Proverbs 6:16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 6:19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Solomon tells us in these verses that the things that cause strife and division are the things that the Lord hates. He hates strife [variance] and what people do to sow discord among their families, or with the brethren in the Body of Christ. As we stated before, strife means to a quarrel, to compete, to contend, to rival, to be contentious, or to cause discord. These things are all based on self-centeredness and selfishness which are the source of pride, strife and conflict.
James 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
The apostle James describes these things as demonic and that they are the breeding ground for confusion and every evil work. They are God’s enemies and strife is an enemy to the Work of God. Satan tries to deliberately stir up strife and contentions between the brethren to hinder the maturing and growth in His people; for when we are all embroiled in strife and quarreling, it keeps us distracted and emotionally entangled with disputes and it is hard to do the work we have been called to do.
Paul gives more advice about how we are to deal with contentious and strife-filled and argumentive people.
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 2:23 But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.
As we know, when people give in to sin and oppose the truth of the Gospel, they open themselves up to pride, hatred, strife which is all demonic and then they become ensnared by Satan. These negative attitudes bring misery and hardship and take us away from all that God wants for us. We must recognize them them in our hearts when we are being tempted to feel these things. That is why we must stay close to God, and fill our minds with His Word daily and meditate on it day and night, and fasting occasionally to draw close to Him when we are prompted to do so.
The most important thing we can all do, is to daily put God first and to follow after righteousness, faith, love, and peace, keeping all of His commandments, ordinances, statutes. These things need to be top priority in our lives, in our talk, and in our walk.
When folks want to argue and quarrel just for the sake of arguing or because they want to be considered “right” and deemed “important” regardless of what is the truth of the matter, they actually are showing themselves to being arrogant, ignorant, and foolish. They are trying to appear wise in the eyes of others, but they show themselves to be fools.
These kinds of people will engage in extensive arguments, debating, striving, not because they are interested in the truth, but because they just like to argue and want attention.
Instead we can put our time to better use if we each personally submit ourselves to the Word of God and focus our attention on living a godly life. If we are actively seeking out God’s truth and proving all things that we believe from His Word, we will be much more equipped to teach others when they genuinely ask us about the hope that lies within us. This is what will benefit others, if we sincerely live out what we believe and try to be a good example for all who observe how we live according to what we believe from the Bible.
Galatians 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
2 Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 4:2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
2 Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 2:26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.
Strife in the church must be confronted and eliminated and repented of; so that it is not allowed to continually cause all kinds of confusion and wars by leavening the whole lump with this insidious evil.
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
To expand on this verse in more modern terms, the Amplified version says “we must do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than we do of ourselves].” (Amplified Version)
Pride and arrogance cause and intensify strife, but meekness will defeat it. If we are truly converted and filled with the Spirit of God, then we will humble ourselves to apologize and ask for forgive when necessary, and also forgive others when they seek forgiveness from us; in so doing, we will defeat strife and we will triumph over this work of the flesh.
Strife is one of the works of the flesh and is also the product of the other works of the flesh; hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, and dissensions. Having strife in our hearts will come through in our actions or words and will eventually destroy people and relationships.
So what is the antidote to “variance” which is also called strife? The antidote is to be seeking God and to be zealously obeying His whole Word. It is also being filled with all the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and temperance [self-control]! It is only through His POWER that we can overcome the works of the flesh and have victory over succumbing to them.
Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
The solution to living according to the works of the flesh and living at peace with one another and to have peace with God, is to replace the evil works with the “Fruits of Righteousness” and walk in the Spirit always!
Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
26:21 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
26:22 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
26:23 Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.
26:24 He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;
26:25 When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.
26:26 Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation.
26:27 Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.
26:28 A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.
Proverbs 26:20-28 Commentary
One way strife is played out is through gossip [or tale bearing] which can begin a vicious circle. Because people have strife, envy, or malice in their heart toward another person [and if they don’t check it or cast it out quickly], they may play out those negative attitudes by speaking evil or spreading slander about that person, thereby causing contention and even more strife.
But this in no way resolves the situation, for it will only feed the strife in their hearts and will cause more strife between themselves and the one they are gossiping about.
Solomon tells us in these verses that if there is no one “whispering” [gossiping], the strife will likely dissipate because the fuel that keeps strife alive is no longer being added to the “fire”. Or if one can deal with the strife by going to his neighbor privately to talk things out in a proper godly way, (Mathew 18:15) it is possible to squelch further strife by refusing to gossip and the fire will be put out.
The Bible has much to say about this destructive activity that involves the tongue and the things we say. Gossip is used as a weapon to hurt another person because of some form of hatred or envy for that person. It is usually a matter of pride that causes one to talk bad about another person and the desire to put him down in order for the slanderer to appear superior than the one he is talking about.
Solomon is teaching us that we should not gossip nor bear tales about others. In another proverb he says that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21) Our words and how we use them are more powerful than we realize!
*Proverbs 26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
A talebearer or a gossip fuels strife and if there would be no one gossiping about others or a certain situation, the fire goes out and the strife dissipates .
The Hebrew word for talebearer is nirgan (Strong’s #5372) and means: talebearer, whisperer, slanderer. Another Hebrew word that is similar is ragan (Strongs #7279) to murmur (rebelliously) whisper, backbite, slander.
The English definition of gossip is:
1. A purveyor of malicious murmuring with little concern for the truth.
2. Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature.
3. A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts.
4. A conversation involving malicious chatter or rumours about other people:
5. One who spreads gossip is also called: gossipmonger.
The Hebrew word for strife (variance) is madon (Strong’s #4066) and means brawling, contention, discord, strife.
Putting these words together, this verse means that if all of these things that gossip consists of: whispering, slandering, murmuring, backbiting, are put away; the brawling, discord, contention will cease.
*Proverbs 26:21 As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.
Strife (contention) is compared to a fire; it can cause burning passions to flare which will spark others to become angry by contentious words of gossip and slander toward them. It can rage unabated until it burns down bridges between friends and separates people into warring camps.
A “contentious man” (or woman) is a quarrelsome man (or woman) who likes to stir up trouble, contentions and arguments over insignificant or irrelevant matters. Such people are not happy unless they are actively undermining personal relationships; attempting to ruin the friendships of others. Someone who is contentious likes to keep adding coals [gossip/slander] to the fire to keep the strife ongoing.
We know that a fire has to be constantly kindled to keep it burning otherwise it will go out. Solomon tells us how to put those fires out. We can avoid strife by putting an end to spreading malicious words and by not adding any more to the thread of gossip that is going around and thereby prevent the consequences of it. If everyone would do this, they would bring forth peace and squelch the strife. We do this in two ways; we must not give in to the temptation to gossip ourselves, and we must not give ear to talebearers. Those who gossip feed the fire of strife and contention, and by listening to them we are enabling them to keep the fire burning and keep coals alive.
The people who spread gossip are like those who hand out fire brands. They keep the strife alive with their lies, by pointing out supposed character flaws in others, revealing secrets, misrepresenting words and actions, and imputing false motives.
By employing the practice of tale bearing, they attempt to turn those who listen to them against others, provoking hard feelings, suspicions, mistrust and discredit. They seek to alienate members; of families, the work place, neighborhoods, friendships, or church members one from another, and sow discord among them.
If no one listens to a talebearer, the strife and division he is causing would cease just as a surly as a fire will go out when it is no longer given wood to burn. If the person continues to try to cause division and strife, it may be necessary to banish the contentious man (or woman) from our company. We are not to tolerate whisperers and backbiters who want to instigate strife amongst us. Paul too was very firm regarding this kind of behavior including it in his list of the kinds of people who do these things that we are not to keep company with.
1 Corinthians 5:4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 5:6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 5:7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.
The Greek word for railer means loídoros (Strong’s #3060) -reproach (reviling); used of injuring another’s reputation by denigrating, abusive insults, slanderer (HELPS Word-studies)
*Proverbs 26:22 The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
Solomon describes even more graphicly what talebearers do to their victims. Their words inflict wounds that are deep and penetrating right down to the pit of one’s internal organs. They wound by spreading false information, or it may be true but it is information that is of a confidential nature that is really nobody else’s business in knowing; or it could be something the person has repented of and has been long forgiven by God and others. Gossips hurt the reputation of those they slander and sometimes the wounds are so deep and severe that the damage they have inflicted is nearly impossible to ever be undone no matter how much it is retracted later.
Talebearers wound the love and close bond between family members and friendships and can separate them by making them to believe lies and evil surmising. How many of us have felt like we have been stabbed in the heart or like we have been punched in the stomach, when we hear what others have spoken against us or our loved ones; or have turned someone we love deeply, against us with their slander?
It is a grave sin to get involved in gossip and we must therefore not be tale-bearers ourselves at any time; nor should we give ear to or tolerate those who come to us with evil slanderous words about others. We must not associate or join in with strife-filled, contentious people, that try to draw us into their defamation of others, or those who pick quarrels upon the least provocation. These are people who want to argue, debate, and are quick to jump to conclusions and false accusations, who have hatred in their hearts toward others and want to destroy their reputations and their lives. These are contentious men or women who like to ignite and kindle strife. The less we have to do with such the better, for it is very difficult to avoid gossip when we hang out with those who gossip, and it is easy to get caught up with disputing with those that are quarrelsome. A little leaven, leavens the whole lump. In other places, Solomon has good advice along this line as well.
Proverbs 14:7 Go from the presence of a foolish man, when thou perceivest not in him the lips of knowledge.
Proverbs 13:20 He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.
*Proverbs 26:23 Burning lips and a wicked heart are like a potsherd covered with silver dross.
“Burning lips” can mean lips pretending love with a show of kind words but are really covering over a heart that is full of hatred and strife. He gives the analogy of a potsherd [broken vessel] that is like a scarred or dysfunctional pot that is covered with silver dross. What is dross?
“Dross is a mass of solid impurities floating on a molten metal or dispersed in the metal, such as in wrought iron. It forms on the surface of low-melting-point metals such as tin, lead, zinc or aluminum or alloys by oxidation of the metal(s). The term dross derives from the Old English word dros, meaning the scum produced when smelting metals. By the 15th century it had come to refer to rubbish in general. Dregs, and the geological term druse are also thought to be etymologically related. Metallurgical dross is referenced as a metaphor for worthless material in the Bible and in other religious texts.” (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)
This person’s words are of no real value even though it may appear like they are speaking words of friendship and respect toward one; but if it is hiding a wicked heart that is filled with strife, it is like a pleasant appearing veneer that is a covering over a heart full of evil thoughts toward the person they are speaking to or speaking against; just as dross does of silver. An attractive veneer can hide the very opposite nature beneath it; similar to what Jesus had to say of the Pharisees:
Matthew 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.
*Proverbs 26:24 He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; 26:25 When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.
Someone who hates others often disguises it with his lips, he may speak pleasant words but he is really harboring hateful thoughts in his heart. He may make a profession of friendship to you but he is really using “friendship” as a means to further his malicious agenda. This will eventually fall back on such a devious person, for sooner or later, people see the motive behind the friendly words, and will then find it hard to believe anything that person has to say anymore.
*Proverbs 26:26 Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation.
It may seem for a while like he is getting away with his lies and slander against us or others, but eventually it will become apparent to all. It may seem unfair at first, and sometimes it seems that they are not only getting away with what they are doing, but are actually prospering by their deceitfulness and slander. But they will eventually reap the consequences, even if it seems at the time that they are being rewarded and not punished for their actions. But in Psalm 73, Asaph came to see that no one gets away with their wicked works forever and that God is the one who will deal with those who are sinning.
Psalm 73:17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end. 73:18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.73:19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.
The “wickedness shall be shewed before the whole congregation” could be speaking here of either public disgrace at being finally exposed for his hatred; or punishment as in the case of disfellowship by the church assembly.
*Proverbs 26:27 Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.
Whatever a wicked person is trying to do to innocent people, the same will come back on himself at some point in his life. Troublemakers often make trouble for themselves. The rule of retribution is probably intended to be in conjunction with the things this person is doing in verses 23-26. It seems that the emphasis is not so much on direct divine judgment, but on the providentially self-destructive nature of bad behavior intended to harm others; but it results in coming back upon himself instead, eventually. Which means we really do reap what we sow.
Galatians 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Galatians 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
*Proverbs 26:28 A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.
Hatred (of which gossip is one manifestation), is the ultimate breakdown in human relationships. A person’s speech has enormous potential for evil, and its misuse cannot be lightly looked over. Both the apostles John and James have stern warnings about how we are not to hate our brethren but show love for them instead.
1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
James 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.3:7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
James 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
If we allow our selves to tolerate or become partners with such people, we in effect will join in with them and will reap the same punishment that is reserved for those who sin in this way.
The following proverb appears to be talking about lurking secretly to shed innocent blood and taking from those they harm; but this can apply equally to spiritually shedding blood, just as gossip and slander behind someone’s back most assuredly wounds and steals from its victims, as pictured in this analogy of killing and robbing a person. That is why this subject is so very important, for God warns us that we will reap the consequences if we wound others with our tale-bearing and gossip. It can seem so innocent and matter-of-fact at the time of doing it; but it is actually spiritual murder and robbery: “The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10)
Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. 1:11 If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: 1:12 Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: 1:13 We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: 1:14 Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: 1:15 My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: 1:16 For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. 1:17 Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. 1:18 And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. 1:19 So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
This is very much a tactic of Satan, as he appears to be our friend as first and uses flattery, kind words, has an appearance of “love” but it is only a guise to do his evil works and to seduce us to sin against God and others.
Satan is an enemy that hates God’s people, and yet when he temps us he usually speaks fair, as he did to Eve. In Genesis 3:1-5 he is described as being more subtle than any other creature when he came to Eve soon after God created the first couple and placed them in the garden. Satan lied to her about how God had not been honest with them and convinced her that he himself was to be believed instead of God. He slandered God with his words to Eve and she listened to him. She then believed him and did as he suggested her to do.
Judas betrayed Jesus, while at the same time pretending to be His friend even up until the last Passover. He later singled Him out to the soldiers with a kiss of friendship.
David too speaks of this tactic of fair speech covering strife and hatred in the heart of a so-called friend repeatedly in his psalms.
Psalm 55:21 The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.
Solomon cautions us when he says in verse 25 “When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.” What are the seven abominations”? Elsewhere Solomon talks of the seven things that God hates and then says that they are abominations to Him. These very are the very things that seem to fit as to what fuels strife and contentions. This passage is a succinct description of what gossip and slander looks like and what it does. And God says that He hates these kind of things!
Proverbs 6:16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 6:19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
People who use such tactics, will profess to have much regard and respect for us and seem to be concerned about our health or well being, but it is really only a ploy that gives them a cover so as to not be suspected or guarded against, and they will use the trust in the friendship to take advantage of us; or as the verse says “a flattering mouth worketh ruin.”
A sly person whose strife is covered by deceit will eventually be discovered and his wickedness will be exposed “to his shame” before the whole congregation; and when it is discovered it will make him seem detestable.
This passage in Scripture is trying to teach us to be on guard and to safeguard our calling. We have been taught that we will know true Christians by their fruits and by their whole-hearted devotion to following after Christ and keeping His commandments. But generating strife among people, including the brethren, is not the fruit of a converted Christian but is a very serious offense, as it can bring persons down to the pits and take away their crown and even their opportunity to be in the resurrection to spirit.
This requires discerning the fruits, for we are never to suspect others when they are kind to us or they give us sincere compliments. These are things that brethren are supposed to be doing, to encourage and to spur one another on to good works; and we are not to think evil of one another or to impute false motives (1st Corinthians 13:5).
Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting [encouraging] one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
But we are to become alert when people, even church members, use flattery with one hand, and on the other hand are tempting us to rebel against God and His commandments. This takes the WISDOM of God to decipher and then to take precaution to protect ourselves.
In Matthew 10, Jesus gives instructions to His disciples, commissioning them in their future work that laid ahead for them. The whole chapter is a good study about how we are to be about God’s work, how to handle persecution and how to conduct ourselves in our Christian lives; specifically in verse 16 as Jesus exhorts them:
Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
Jesus is warning them to stay alert and be on guard! The work that He was commissioning them to do was going to be risky work and it would be the same as if they were in the midst of a pack of wolves, even as they preached the gospel to those they were being sent to. The instruction He gave them was to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” So what does it mean to be “wise and harmless”?
The Greek word for wise used in this verse is phronimos (Strong’s #5429) which means: practically wise, sensible, prudent, i.e. mindful of one’s interests. Sagacious [discerning] or discreet (implying a cautious character); while sophos denotes practical skill or acumen;
If we are wise like serpents, we will have a good solid understanding of people and situations. We will have an acute and well developed sense of discernment. We will be prudent in using sound judgment when we have to deal with people and the circumstances we may find our selves in.
This is very important; for God’s people have had to deal with this, especially in our past affiliations; and it seems that the majority currently are just not dealing very well with perceiving when we are being mislead. It seems that most of God’s people are entrapped in a stronghold about thinking we need to follow those who say that they are the leaders, but who are leading the brethren away from sound doctrine and misleading them from fully and zealously keeping God’s commandments as He tells us to.
What does this have to do with gossip and tale-bearing? It has a lot to do with it, as we have, or we may still be believing those who are teaching us not to believe what we read in the Bible; but instead to believe and follow them and their time honored traditions that are contrary to God’s Word. This is truly a type of gossip (or variance) and is actually slandering God and what He has to say in His Word by telling the brethren things that are not true, and turning men and women aside after tradition and the rudiments (basics, elements, principles) of the world.
Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Back to being wise as snakes. I found this very interesting because I was curious as to why Jesus would compare the wisdom the disciples were to have, to the wisdom of serpents (because usually serpents/snakes are thought of in a negative light) and how they would be considered an analogy for God’s disciples having wisdom in dealing with people while doing the work of God. Generally a snake is considered a detestable creature as pictured in Genesis 3:1-5. I found this on “HowStuffWorks”, Snake Basics.
Hearing – Although snakes are not equipped with outer ears like people, sound waves from the air hit their skin and are transferred from muscle to bone. When the sound reaches the ear bone beneath the skull, it sends vibrations to the inner ear, and the sound is processed by the brain.
Sight – Snakes do not see colors, but their eyes are equipped with a combination of light receptors: rods that provide low-light but fuzzy vision, and cones that produce clear images. The complexity of the eyes varies among species because of their different lifestyles. For instance, snakes that live primarily underground have smaller eyes that only process light and dark, but snakes that live above ground and hunt by sight have crystal-clear vision and good depth perception. Some species, specifically boas and pythons, have a second visual tool: Pit organs on their heads see heat sources in their surroundings like infrared goggles — an effective ability for nocturnal hunters of warm-blooded animals.
Smell – Like humans, snakes breathe airborne smells into nasal openings that lead to an olfactory chamber for processing; but snakes have a secondary system, as well. When a snake flicks its tongue, it is gathering odor particles for transfer to two fluid-filled sacs at the roof of the mouth — Jacobson’s organs — that lead to a second, smaller olfactory chamber. The tongue is used only to assist in this process; snakes do not have a sense of taste. (HowStuffWorks)
Apparently most snakes have very keen hearing and eyesight and they also have additional ways of sensing that they use as well, which makes them wise. The word wise here can also mean to be shrewd, wary, prudent, sensible, discreet, discerning, practical.
To spiritually discern, means to detect certain things with godly wisdom, in addition to what we can detect by physical means. This is a gift given to us when we receive God’s Holy Spirit and it is only given to those who obey God. Also, God gives understanding to those that keep His commandments.
Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever
It is such a wonderful and priceless gift to be able to understand spiritual things and God’s plan and purpose for us. It is only the spiritual people of God, those who have answered His call and who zealously obey Him, who can understand and perceive the spiritual things of God!
1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
With the spiritual discernment that God provides to His children through His Spirit, we see things that we would not normally be able to see.
Snakes are experts at detecting danger and they quickly escape away from what they perceive as threats to their safety. Snakes use their “prudence” for self protection by avoidance and by escaping to safety by retreating into rocks or high grass when they are accosted. Most snakes only bite when they are cornered and in self-defense and generally do not like to aggressively confront people; but instead will retreat away from whatever they consider to be a dangerous situation.
To be wise as a serpent, means we are to be alert to spiritual danger and from those that pose as threats to our spiritual well being. We then are able to avoid things and influences that could put us in precarious situations; we are to retreat from them. (Like strife and contention, but also every other wicked work as well.)
Snakes are very alert to danger, as we as Christians need to be. This admonition to “be wise as serpents” given by Jesus to His disciple, indicates that we are be on guard always to the spiritual dangers that are in the world, and to be alert to spiritual danger even in the assemblies.
Matthew 7:15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
Proverbs 27:12 A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.
Proverbs 14:8 The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way: but the folly of fools is deceit.
We are instructed that we are to be prudent by utilizing God’s gift of spiritual discernment, thereby perceiving evil and then fleeing from spiritual danger and/or tempting situations. (And we are to avoid even “the appearance of evil” which is one way of avoiding danger as well.)
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
We can resolve within our hearts like David did such as sins of the tongue and the strife it generates:
Psalm 39:1 I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me”
But also in conjunction with being wise; Jesus tells us that we are to be harmless as doves. How are we to be harmless and at the same time wise to danger?
The Greek word for harmless in this verse is akeraios (Strong’s #185) which means: unmixed, pure, unsophisticated, innocent, sincere, blameless; not a destructive mixture because it is not tainted by sinful motives (ambitions); pure (unmingled). (Strong’s Concordance and HELPS Word-studies)
To be harmless as a dove means to have the kind of gentleness that is pure, untainted by the things of the world, to have pure motives, to be unmixed, to be innocent, sincere, etc. Doves are known for their gentleness and their temperaments are generally peaceful and calm. They habitually seek out to be close to people; with their habitat being in places like city centers, city parks, tourist areas, and suburban gardens and farmlands.
To be harmless then is to lack the capacity to harm others; to be mild, calm, inoffensive, and to have a gentle, quiet disposition. Doves usually do not bite people even when being provoked and are therefore considered harmless. So to be harmless as doves is to have the kind of love that never harms that Paul talks of: “Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10)
The instructions that Jesus gave to His disciples to be “wise as serpents and harmless as doves” can very much be applied to avoiding strife and talebearing that seeks to stir up contentions that cause division and wounding. If we are wise as serpents, we will be able to retreat from those that are spreading slander and harmful words about others. And if we are harmless as doves, we will never partake of wounding others with our words or actions as well.
Does that mean Christians that should never criticize or give an opinion or warn others of an issue they feel is wrong? Of course not, as we need to put all this together with the whole Word of God using wisdom; as there are many other places that instruct us to warn, to go to a sinning brother, to be a watchman, to help others to detect and avoid spiritual danger in addition to ourselves.
We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves so we do need to watch out for and protect others and warn them; just as we would want to be warned of danger so that we can be protected from spiritual harm. In Isaiah 58 we are commanded to show people their sins: the “house of Jacob” is symbolic of the spiritual house of Israel, the Ekklesia, God’s people.
Isaiah 58:1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.
In regard to the warnings given in Proverbs 26:20-28; it is directed to a specific kind of sin that has to do with “variance” a work of the flesh as listed in Galatians 5:19-21 and we are to heed Solomon’s (it is really Jesus through Solomon) warning on how we are not to fuel strife by being contentious and argumentative or by spreading gossip.
We need to heed Jesus’ instruction to His disciples, and by extension to us, His modern day disciples; to be discerning, to detect and avoid danger, while at the same time giving no provocation or offense. He tells us to be wise and harmless in all things, and by doing so, we will not give fuel to the works of the flesh. God’s warning is very serious in this, for He says that He will cut off all those who slander their brethren.
Psalm 101:5 Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer. 101:6 Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.
In conclusion, we talked earlier how strife, and strife-motivated words and gossip, can wound us deeply. But what about God? There is none more maligned, slandered, lied about, persecuted than God, Himself. The whole world has believed Satan’s slander that God does not mean what He says, that His laws are not valid, and that we are not to take God seriously by believing in Him and obeying the whole Word of God. Most of mankind under the influence of Satan hates God and hates His commandments and everything He stands for.
What about us? will we believe what God’s tells us in His Word? And will we seek to know His truth and love His truth, searching the Scriptures daily to really know and understand what they teach? And then proving all things that we believe, to be sure that our beliefs and the doctrines that we hold measure up to His truth?
God opens the eyes of His called-out ones to reject the biggest “talebearer” who has ever lived; who has propagated his lies and delusions and has deceived the whole world with them. But we who are the people of God are to instead emulate Jesus Christ in being faithful witnesses to His whole Word and to teach humanity that whole Word which is the TRUTH.
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
The beginning of strife began in the heart of Lucifer, who became Satan, and this evil was then manifested as a spirit of variance at the time he began to spread his lies about God; first to the third of the angels that followed after him; and then to the first two humans at the beginning of man’s history on earth.
If we will answer God’s call to turn from Satan’s gossip about Him and His ways; and then believe the truly Good News that is all of God’s Word, then we will be the trail blazers and pioneer people that worked to put out the fires of strife and variance that the most notorious and the originator of all strife started so many eons ago.
If we will listen to the voice of God and hear His words, do whatever He commands; we will become the spiritual sons and daughters of God that will be resurrected to spiritual life to be with Him forever. If we are filled with strife and contention, we will not be a part of God’s Kingdom, for He will not allow strife to raise it’s ugly head in His coming world of peace, love, and righteousness.
1 John 4:66 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we [we can discern] the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
Who do we listen to and who do we believe? If we believe in God’s Word and keep all of His commandments, we will be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves; and God will guide us and spiritually protect us through this life.
Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God
hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside
to the right hand or to the left.
Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord
your God hath commanded you,
that ye may live, and that it may be well with you,
and that ye may prolong your days i
n the land which ye shall possess.
Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth;
but thou shalt meditate therein day and night,
that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous,
and then thou shalt have good success.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed:
for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.