Bible Study Tools / Satan

Gossip: A Tool of the Devil

by David Palmer
Photo by Keira Burton on Pexels

Can someone in God's church ever become a pawn in the hands of the devil?

Have you ever allowed Satan to influence your decisions? We are warned to be careful, that Satan is extremely subtle and can influence people much easier than we might think. How does Satan devour? The dictionary describes the word devour as to "prey upon", "destroy," "consume," "bedevil," "dispose of," and to "make short work of" "to get caught up in," and to "watch or listen with eager persistence."

Jesus referred to false teachers as the instruments of Satan and told us "beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves," (Matthew 7:15). And the Apostle Paul issued this warning, "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:29).

What did Jesus mean "ravening wolves," and why did Paul call them '"grievous wolves." These powerful adjectives were meant to make us stop and consider the influence of the roaring lion that sets out to devour God's people. Ravening refers to "a ferocious wild animal extremely hungry and hunting for prey" (Oxford Dictionary).

Paul used the word grievous (KJV) as if to imply something damaging, something heinous. The translation in the New King James uses the phrase "savage wolves."

Since the beginning of creation Satan has held sway over this world, and in fact is called the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). His influence corrupts in an attempt to devour, to destroy God's greatest creation, the human race. He used Eve to help persuade Adam to eat of the forbidden fruit, and influenced Cain to kill his brother Abel. History is replete with examples of his influence, from the Caesars of Rome to Adolf Hitler, from Judas Iscariot to Attila the Hun.

If someone wanted to devour, or destroy God’s Church, how might they do it? In ancient Rome, the devil's method was cruel persecution. Today, with freedom of religion in most of the world, the devil uses a different set of rules, a method we call divide and conquer. Remember what Jesus said about casting out demons, that if He was of the devil and cast out demons, how would Satan’s Kingdom stand? (Luke 11:18)

One tool can be gossip: simply described as idle talk. Furthermore, the information passed on does not have to be false to be considered gossip. Even truth, especially in a negative light, is also gossip. ‘Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story,’ seems to be the slogan for most tabloid publications, based on the premise that inquiring minds want to know. But those stories are often based on innuendo and half truths. Like the glass of water that has a drop of poison added, which tiny drop makes the water undrinkable. Similarly, a little poison added to gossip becomes distorted truth. Paul used the same analogy in his letter to the Corinthian church when he wrote, "a little leaven leavens the whole lump" (1 Corinthians 5:6)

Remember the childhood saying: "sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me?" This simple children's rhyme is untrue. Words can be much more harmful. Physical bodies can heal, but wounds caused by gossip can last a lifetime. "He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates friends" (Proverbs 17:9).

God says He hates gossip. "These six things the Lord hates, yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren." (Proverbs 6:16-19). Gossip lacks discretion, and often involves meddling in someone else's life, "He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips" (Proverbs 20:19). In many ways gossip is like a time bomb. It can cause an explosion scattering fragments, bits and pieces of truth, mixed with exaggeration and lies. And it will often cut people who were once the best of friends so deep that the wounds, at least in this lifetime, may never be fully healed.

Gossip is one of the worst curses we have in this world and if we let it, it can be a terrible curse for God’s church. Almost all gossip begins as rumor, and is then embellished. The problem is simple, but solving it is extremely difficult. We know what gossip is, we know we should not get involved, yet how often do we pay attention?

Notice this poignant instruction concerning going to fellowship: "Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few (Ecclesiastes 5:1-3).

Our Saviour made it abundantly clear. The words we utter could eventually come back to haunt us. "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:35- 36).

On the Day of Atonement, consider the part that gossip can play in our lives and just as the devil will be imprisoned, strive to imprison any such tendency on our part. Before we repeat a story, let’s consider whether it is true? Ask, Do I really need to know this? Or, do other people need to know it? Is it fair, is it necessary?

Allow the lessons of Atonement to have a lasting effect upon our spiritual lives. Mastery of our words is an important lesson. A lesson we can all work on, because the last thing any of us want to be is a tool of the devil.

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