In a recent study of Romans 6, I talked about sanctification and how we are tempted to see the Gospel in the following terms. I enjoy sin, it brings me pleasure but at a great cost, the penalty of death. Christ pays that price so I am free from hell but in return he expects me by giving up all the nice things I enjoy to follow him. However, Paul shows us in Romans 6 that sin is not about enjoying all the nice things, it is destructive and harmful. We are set free from a cruel and abusive master. Sanctification is in fact a good gift from God.
I then suggested three questions to consider when responding to temptation to continue in sin: In what ways are you tempted to see this as a good and attractive thing to hold on to? In what ways is it ugly? In what ways is it harmful? In what ways does sanctification offer a better gift here? I thought it might be helpful to give some worked examples so today I’m going to start with gossip and slander:
In what ways are we tempted to see gossip and slander as attractive and desirable?
Gossip gives the feeling of connection and belonging. It enables me to belong to the group. It gives me power and control first of all within the group as people look to me for knowledge. Secondly, it gives me a sense of power and control over the person we are gossiping about. I have power and influence over their reputation. Gossip enables me to feel part of the drama, part of a story as it offers intrigue. Gossip fuels emotions, it enables me to express disgust and anger -to virtue signal and it can provide humour and the opportunity to laugh.
In what ways is gossip damaging and destructive?
Gossip is damaging and destructive first of all because it is unloving, it goes against faithfulness and quite often against truth so that it is damaging to my relationship with the God who is love, truth and faithful.
Gossip damages and destroys relationships. It breaks down trust, it means that the person who we gossip against will learn when they discover this not to trust us. It means that others looking on will see that you cannot be trusted with confidential information. Even those gossiping are signally to each other that they cannot trust or be trusted. Who knows what they are saying behind your back?
Gossip is destructive because it destroys the reputation of the one gossiped against but it also is harmful to those who listen to it. Gossip poisons the mind and the heart.
In what ways does salvation and sanctification offer something better?
The sin of gossip is ugly, damaging and destructive. It makes a false offer. Sanctification offers true friendship and relationship. This starts with our relationship with God. It leads to our relationships with each other. If I am not given to gossip, then people will learn to trust me and be genuinely open with me. In return I will find friends that I can depend upon. It may be costly to walk away from gossip, to be rejected by the clique and gossiped about myself. However, the alternative of real relationships with faithful friends is far better.