Martin Luther on the Ninth Commandment

This past weekend at Eastbrook, I spoke about the Ninth and Tenth Commandments from Exodus 20:16-17 in a message entitled “The Neighbor.” I came across an interesting quotation from Martin Luther about the Ninth Commandment:

Knowledge of sin does not entail the right to judge it. I may see and hear that my neighbor sins, but to make him the talk of the town is not my business….Those are called backbiters who are not content just to know but rush ahead and judge. Learning a bit of gossip about someone else, they spread it into every corner, relishing and delighting in it like pigs that roll in the mud and root around in it with their snouts. This is nothing else than usurping the judgment and office of God, pronouncing the severest kind of verdict and sentence, for the harshest verdict a judge can pronounce is to declare somebody a thief, a murderer, a traitor, etc. Whoever therefore ventures to accuse his neighbor of such guilt assumes as much authority as the emperor and all magistrates. For though you do not wield the sword, you use your venomous tongue to the disgrace and harm of your neighbor. (quoted in David Hazony, The Ten Commandments, pp. 214-215).

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