Debate is next on Paul’s list, and seems to refer to the verbal strivings that are so often found among men of ill will.  Peace and forbearance is to reign among the children of God, and therefore this spirit of hostile debate should be excluded from them.  It does, however, all too often characterize the children of this world, for there is no peace to the wicked.

Deceit is the next tragic item the apostle mentions as an indicator of the reprobate mind to which God has abandoned the Gentile world.  David said once in his haste, “All men are liars,” and he was not far off the mark.  Another psalm declares, “The wicked are estranged as soon as they be born; they come out of the womb speaking lies.”  Lying becomes a way of life to the soul that is abandoned by God to practice all the corrupt inclinations of its own heart.  If our politics, our media, our education, our science, and even our churches, are full of lies and deceit, it is because God has abandoned us to the depravity of our hearts.  What more dreadful punishment could the Almighty inflict, when we consider that He Himself declared in Revelation 21:8, “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Malignity and whisperers conclude verse 29, two items which we may have thought could have come under the heading of some of the sins already listed, but are no doubt included by the Spirit of God for appropriate reasons.  The malignity in men’s hearts is seen in their evil plans and devices which they are constantly manufacturing for the harm of their fellow men.  Government and moneyed institutions are ever about the business of plotting evil things against the people of God, and for plundering the people for the purpose of their own enrichment.  Whisperers could perhaps have come under the covering of “debate” or “deceit,” but it appears the apostle wished to place a special emphasis upon the sin of gossiping and talebearing, to which this word would seem to point.  These sins are always characteristic of cultures alienated from God, and tragically, they often characterize even churches which have divorced themselves from the government of the scriptures and the Spirit of God.  The same may be said concerning backbiting, with which the next verse begins.  These are all sins of the tongue, which is that member which James tells us sets on fire the whole course of nature, and is itself set on fire of hell.  Backbiting is a form of hypocrisy, for those who do it usually pretend great friendliness to the faces of those that they malign behind their backs.  Those whose consciences are hardened through divine reprobation certainly will not be troubled by the hypocrisy or meanness of the way they use their tongues.