Hebrews 12:14-15 (KJV)
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:  Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
James 3:6 (KJV)
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.
The main thing that causes conflicts in the church, breakdowns in relationships, and wrong responses to information is what the Bible calls an evil report. An evil report is a distortion of information, or incomplete/false information. It is given with wrong motives. It causes the hearer to draw wrong conclusions. It causes everyone involved to respond with wrong actions and wrong solutions.
Proverbs 16:28 (KJV)
A froward man soweth strife: and a whisperer separateth chief friends.
There are stages of defilement due to an evil report.
In many churches, Christians are ignorant of things they need to know in order to deal correctly with an evil report. They are ignorant of:
~how words destroy close relationships
~how the unclean will defile the clean. (Hag. 2:11-14) The unclean always defiles the clean. It would sure be wonderful if this were the other way around on many levels! Good bye housework! Good bye dirty dishes. Wouldn't it be wonderful to put some clean dishes in the sink with some dirty ones and come back later and find them ALL spotless?
Note to self: Ask God if dirt was dirty before the fall of Adam and Eve.
~what constitutes an evil report
~who gives evil reports
~the whisperer (spiritual cowards who won't deal with things Biblically)
~the gossip (one who sensualizes information)
~the slanderer (one who destroys the reputation of another)
~the busybody (someone who digs up things to talk about) (1 Pt. 4:15)
In the words of the APW version (the atypical pastor's wife version) MIND YOUR OWN SELF!
~what motivates evil reports
~how susceptible we are to evil reports-they can bring self exaltation or false vindication
~how Satan uses evil reports
~to discredit spiritual leadership
~to cause Christians to close their hearts to one another
~to multiply conflicts
~to promotes sinners to mock Christianity
Proverbs 27:12 (KJV)
A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.
I wish that people were more prudent, but it seems that it is so easy to enter into a conversation with someone with an evil report.
Proverbs 5:12 (KJV)
And say, How have I hated instruction, and my heart despised reproof;
Psalm 101:5 (KJV)
Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.
We must learn to detect a carrier of an evil report. A carrier will feel you out before giving you an evil report. They will:
~test your spirit before giving an evil report.
~check the acceptance of a report by observing what you do with it.
~get you to ask for the report by saying "have you heard?......"
~communicate an evil report by asking for counsel or sharing a concern, or by sharing an evil report in the form of a prayer request. (To me this is extremely wicked and probably nauseates God too.)
~invoke vivid details of evil like they are some kind of detectives of darkness or something
There are five questions you should ask to detect an evil report.
1) What is the reason you are telling me this?
2) Where did you get your information?
3) Have you gone to those involved?
4) Have you personally checked out the facts?
5) Can I quote you when I check into this? (This is my favorite! You get some very interesting looks! And a lot of back peddling.)
Proverbs 26:22 (KJV)
The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.
Receiving, believing, or acting on an evil report like it's true will defile you soul and spirit. If it is not cleansed from you, it will infect you.
Absalom is a perfect example of this.
2 Samuel 15:1-6 (KJV)
And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and horses, and fifty men to run before him.  And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel.  And Absalom said unto him, See, thy matters are good and right; but there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee.  Absalom said moreover, Oh that I were made judge in the land, that every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would do him justice!  And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance, he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him.  And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
Some symptoms that you have been infected by an evil report are:
~You believe it
~It causes you to form negative opinions
~It give you a negative focus
~It causes you to back away in Spirit from the person in the report
~It causes you to tell everything to others-now the contagions are spreading! (This is gossip, by the way. Gossipers WILL NOT inherit the Kingdom of Heaven!)
Proverbs 26:24-25 (KJV)
He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him;  When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.
The flattery of one (the giver of the evil report) while defiling the other (the subject of the evil report) is a perfection of abomination. The carrier of an evil report quenches the Holy Spirit by taking up the offense of someone else and making it their own. They set themselves up as judges and gather others to themselves. They believe that they are doing God's will.
How do we cleanse ourselves from evil reports?
~Ask God to cleanse our minds of all defilement, evil reports and our involvement in them
~Pray for a genuine love and humility towards the people we were once offended with (I have found from being in the ministry that there is a supernatural love that only God can give for people that you find annoying, frustrating, and irritating. And I'm pretty sure it's not just reserved for Pastors.)
~Ask for the forgiveness of those you have wronged through the evil report.
How do we know that our hearts are clean?
~You lose your urge to tell others an evil report. Love covers, not exposes
~You grieve over the fact that an evil report was given
~You have a genuine love for that person
~You are prompt to examine your own life for failures first.