Lucia's Blog: August 2016
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

THE GLORY OF OUR FREEDOM IN CHRIST

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.  But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."  
2 Corinthians 3:17-18



Men dedicated to murder and mayhem have been detained in Guantanamo prison for nearly fifteen years because many fear that if they are freed, they will return to their old habits. Over the past several months, many have been released with the proviso that they not join the forces of those at war with us. Nevertheless many have returned to the forces of ISIS. Jesus came to a world imprisoned by the guilt and practice of sin and offered freedom. He still offers us freedom but with the proviso that we not return to the service of the Enemy.

We celebrate our Independence Day as a nation each 4th of July.  It is a blessing to experience our special freedoms for two centuries: the freedoms of speech, of the press, privacy, and the freedom to worship without government interference.  Freedom is a wonderful blessing for anyone.  I cannot imagine life without freedom or that anyone would reject the concept.   However, none of these special freedoms can measure up to the freedom we have in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The Lord’s freedom is much more significant, priceless and eternal for those who are in Christ.  The price of our freedom is the blood of the Lamb.

You see, when God saw our hopeless condition, He sent His Son to make us alive together with Him since we were dead in our sins. Our Father in heaven showed us His lovingkindness when He sent His beloved Son to die on a cross for our sins.  It was through His Son's death that He was able to grant pardon and freedom to us.  Our Lord Jesus Christ set us free from the bondage of sin, the yoke of slavery.  Jesus, our Lord, paid an extremely high price.  He laid down His life for you and me.
"13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross."  (Colossians 2:13-14).  

Our souls are so precious and valuable to our God that He sacrificed His innocent Son.  I cannot fathom the depth of God's love for the souls of men!! 
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."  (John 3:16). 
"2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."  (1 John 2:2).

Our Lord Jesus is the sum, the essence, the end and the support for both the Law of the Old Testament as well as the Law of Christ under the New Testament.  Paul wrote in Romans 10:4,
"For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."  

He contrasts the Law of Moses with the new Message of Christ.  It is through Christ that the Spirit of God brought freedom from:
  • the darkness of sin;
  • the freedom from prejudices and superstitions (as in the case of the Jews);
  • freedom from the slavery and bondage of sin; 
  • freedom from the fear of death; 
  • freedom through the Gospel of Christ through His Grace toward us.  It is through the Gospel that He makes us glorious; transforming us and changing us into His glorious image.  We can be like Christ!

Let us focus on Galatians 5:1,
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."  
and Galatians 5:13-15,
"13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. "  

Both passages speak of our freedom in Christ and the responsibility that comes with it.


I.   "IT WAS FOR FREEDOM THAT CHRIST SET US FREE." 
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."  (Galatians 5:1)

When Paul wrote the letter to the Galatians, there was no freedom for those who were under the Roman Empire, such as we have today.  In the first century, the most significant form of freedom was the freedom from slavery.  Both men and women who were slaves had no rights or civil liberties.  A slave was to submit to his master(owner) who told him what he must do in every circumstance.

In Galatians 5:1, Paul was not talking about a political freedom but rather the freedom from the yoke of the Law of Moses.  He emphasized freedom from religious bondage.  Paul spoke of one being physically a slave while being spiritually free in Christ.
"21 Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) 22 For he who was called in the Lord as a bondservant is a freedman of the Lord. Likewise he who was free when called is a bondservant of Christ. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become bondservants of men. 24 So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God."  (1 Corinthians 7:21-24).

You see, in the days of Judaism (in the first century), the Jewish brethren were enslaving the Gentile brethren by demanding that they be circumcised, offer the right sacrifices, keep the correct holy days, and follow Jewish traditions.  They enslaved their followers, insisting that they follow the traditions and doctrines of men so that they could have an acceptable relationship with God.  Apparently, they ignored that Jesus condemned all such religious oppression.  God gave Jesus to free everyone who obeys Him.  He gave Jesus to free men from the old ways of sin so that he could serve Him.  He gave us freedom and responsibility.

So, how does one obtain freedom in Christ?

In John 8:31-36 Jesus said,
"31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, 'If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' 33 They answered him, 'We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?'  34 Jesus answered them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.'"

Here Jesus is speaking to those Jews "who had believed Him."  To be a disciple of Jesus, one must abide in His Word with complete obedience.  Being a true disciple is not just a vocation or doctrine one believes but an action. It is a life lived in total surrender to His Lordship, (Luke 6:46; Matt. 7:21-23).  A true disciple of Christ will refuse to be in bondage to the traditions and doctrines of men, (Colossians 2:20-23).  He refuses to be in bondage to anyone except Christ, (1 Cor. 7:22-23; 2 Peter 2:19).  He obeys only His Master, (Matt. 6:24)

John 8:32 states, 
"32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.'"
To know the Truth is to hear, believe and obey it.  The Truth is useless if one does not put it into practice.  A mental affirmation of the Truth is not enough to set one free, (James 2:24).  If one fails to apply the Truth to his daily living, he runs the risk of being lost.  The Truth has the power to give us freedom: freedom from the bondage of sin and guilt, the cares and worries of this life, and finally freedom from the fear of death.


II.   "THEREFORE KEEP STANDING FIRM."  
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."  (Galatians 5:1)

We have been given other exhortations to stand firm in:
  • our faith, (1 Cor. 16:13); 
  • in our spirit,  (Phil 1:27);
  • in the Lord, (Phil. 4:1; 1 Thess. 3:8); 
  • stand firm and hold to the traditions that were taught by the apostles, (2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6).
The Galatians were being manipulated by Jewish Christians who insisted on imposing the Old Law system on them.  Paul declared that it was impossible for a Christian who was not a Jew to do the things that the Jews did in the past under the Law of Moses.  Sadly, the Galatian brethren were being pressured by a crafty Jewish force, (Galatians 5:6-12; 12-16; Phil. 3:1-3).

Today, the Lord's church is still being threatened in many forms as it was in the days of the early church:  
  • dispensationalism 
  • premillennialism 
  • sectarianism 
  • liberalism
  • humanism 
  • modernism 
  • socialism
  • evolution 
  • human philosophy
  • psychology
  • feminism and 
  • many other destructive ideologies.  

Satan’s goal is to destroy our faith, especially the faith of our vulnerable young people, (1 Timothy 6:20-21).  Another major problem the church faces is loyalty to men whose primary goal is to push false doctrines and man made religions, foreign to the Word of God.  They willfully ignore 1 Peter 4:11 that says,
"11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything. God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." 

Division among us is another problem many churches have to face because everyone seems to be fighting.  They are so busy fighting among themselves that they are neglecting to teach the lost, (Galatians 5:15).  This really grieves my heart!!!


III.  "AND DO NOT BE SUBJECT AGAIN."  
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."  (Galatians 5:1)

The world's freedom is deceitful.  Why?  Because they deceived themselves into thinking that they are free when in fact they are not.  They are entangled in the desires of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, worldliness, and everything that's against the Word of God, (1 John 2:16).  They are enslaved to their sinful living, their riches, worldly success, and weaknesses.  They think that this is freedom.  They say, "if you just plan enough and set enough goals, then you will find freedom."  I am not going to deny that these accomplishments can bring one a sort of freedom, but it is only earthly freedom, not God's freedom. God's freedom is to love and serve, to trust Him and, most important, to do His will.  This fleshly slavery renders them helpless without any way of escape unless they surrender to the knowledge of God's Truth.

Sadly, the affairs of this life, worldliness, and ungodliness are most likely the greatest dangers the Lord's church is facing today.  "14 And as for what fell among the thorns, they are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature."  (Luke 8:14).

It is all the worldly affairs of this life that keep us from loving God's Word and from serving Him faithfully.  Our faith then becomes like the religion of a spectator.  We desire only to come on Sunday mornings (if we make it at all!).  We sit and watch what is going on as a "spectator."  We refuse to get involved in our Lord's business since our minds and hearts are engaged in something else.  We are too busy to visit the sick, so we burden our preacher with the job for us.  

Indeed, we have missed the point of being a true disciple and servant of the Lord.  We are also too busy in our worldly affairs to study and to teach God's Word, so we give that responsibility only to our preacher. We don't seem to find time for praying anymore, thus neglecting the furthering of our soul and the kingdom as well. We ought to be ashamed to behave in this way, ignoring our God-given responsibility to Him and our neighbor.  It is all about me, me and no one else.  "3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him."  (2 Timothy 2:3-4).  Take heed!


IV.   "TO A YOKE OF SLAVERY."  
"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery."  (Galatians 5:1)

The yoke here was the one the Judaizers were imposing on the free Gentile Christians, (Acts 15:10). We must avoid other yokes that are not the yoke of Christ.  
  • Sin is a yoke of slavery, (John 8:34); 
  • unequal yoke with unbelievers, lawlessness, darkness, idolatry, (2 Cor. 6:14-18);  
  • the yoke of social ties that lead us Christians into sin.  
  • Christ is our only yoke, (Matt. 11:29-30).  He has set us free from the slavery of sin.  
Therefore, this freedom we have in Jesus makes us:
  • slaves of righteousness, (Romans 6:18); 
  • slaves to our only Master, God, (Romans 6:22); 
  • slaves to serve Christ alone, (Romans 14:18; Col. 3:24); 
  • slaves to serve from the heart, (Eph. 6:6).

Our freedom in Christ must not be abused to satisfy our flesh without restraint, (Galatians 5:13). Our freedom in Christ does not give us license to indulge our fleshly desires, "perverting the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."  (Jude 4). We must not under any circumstance turn our freedom in Christ into licentiousness that we may continue in sin so that grace may abound, (Romans 6:1, 15).  Yes, we are free from the old Law (the Law of Moses), free from sin; free from fear.  Yet, we must not use this freedom as a covering for our sins or lawlessness but rather to serve God in righteousness and holiness as faithful servants and heirs of God. (Gal. 4:7, 31; 5:1; Psalm 110:3).

It is in living within God's true freedom that we are going to find who we truly were made to be by our Creator.  All other worldly pursuits are but temporary.  They can never free the heart of sin.   They can only bind us to the world of darkness and unrighteousness. They cannot make us slaves of righteousness.
"and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness."  (Romans 6:18)
Many people do wonderful things that are worthwhile and good but still are not free from the slavery of sin.  They are still slaves in bondage.  They sink deeper because of the snares of this world.  Their heart, soul, and mind can not find true freedom.  The only true freedom is from the One, who made us. God knows that we were made to glorify Him and that we can only accomplish this by surrendering completely to His Son.  It is when we find this freedom that we find peace.  We start doing the Father's will, and we are no longer bound to serve two masters.


V.   "FOR YOU WERE CALLED TO FREEDOM, BRETHREN."  (Verse 13)
"13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. "  (Galatians 5:13-15)

Though the Gentile brethren were sons of the free woman rather than the slave woman (Galatians 4:21-31) and should have grounded on that freedom; some still wanted to keep "days and months and seasons and years," which were weak and worthless elemental things.  They wanted to be enslaved to such elemental things all over again.  (Galatians 4:8-11).

Notice that in the letter to the Galatians, Paul uses the word "freedom" eleven times.  He used the same word seven times in his letter to the Romans; he used it eight times in his letter to the Corinthians.  You see, "freedom" is a precious gift from God that one must protect and treasure at all costs.


VI.   "ONLY DO NOT TURN YOUR FREEDOM INTO AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE FLESH."  (Verse 13)

"13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. "  (Galatians 5:13-15).

The Truth does not make us free to sin, but rather it frees us from sin.  The Gospel set the Jews free from the yoke of the Law of Moses.  "14 For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace."  (Romans 6:14).
  • The Grace of God teaches us (Titus 2:12); and
  • that same teaching is the Law of Christ (the "Law of faith," Romans 3:27).  
  • It is the "Law of the Spirit of life" in Christ Jesus, (Romans 8:2). 
  • Paul was under the "Law of Christ" (1 Cor. 9:21).

You see when Paul tried to teach about Grace some wanted to believe that this meant freedom from all law.  Therefore, they could persevere in sin.  But Romans 6:1-4 answers that distortion of liberty:
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life."

Protestants (especially the evangelicals) emphasize or stress substantially that we are not under Law but Grace.  For them, this implies that we are under no Law at all.  They have a hard time differentiating between the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ.  For them, law is law, and there is no law for the Christian!  And when one reminds them of the commandments (laws) that must be obeyed, they shout "legalist!"

So my question is, Of what are we free?  
  1. Free from the guilt of sin, (Acts 2:38).
  2. Free from the power of sin, that is, free from the slavery of bad habits, fleshly desires, materialism, pleasure, etc. (Romans 6:12).
  3. Free from the fear (terror) of God's wrath, judgment, punishment, (1 John 4:18).
The freedom we have in Jesus does not make us free to indulge ourselves in whatever we want to do without the fear of God's wrath. That would be to turn our freedom into licentiousness.  Therefore, we must "Live as people who are free, not using our freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God."  (1 Peter 2:16). "They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved."  (2 Peter 2:19).

God freed us from sin so that we could serve one another in love, (Galatians 5:13-14).  Yes, God freed us to serve!  We are not free from all bondage.  Why?  Notice what Paul says:  "Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus."  (Romans 1:1).  "18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.¨  (Romans 6:18).  Likewise, we must be servants ourselves of one another.  Those who refuse to learn this cannot comprehend the real meaning of what is "freedom in Christ."

Paul did not want anyone to bear the yoke of the Old Law, (Acts 15:10) but rather the yoke of Christ. A yoke that was easy to bear, (Matthew 11:28-30).  Christ's yoke is the perfect Law of liberty, (James 1:25; 2:12).

We are free from the dominion of sin. There is a war going on between the flesh and the Spirit.  "17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do."  (Gal. 5:17).  In Galatians 5:19-21 we have a list of the works of the flesh.  Likewise, in Galatians 5:22-23, we have a list of the fruit of the Spirit.  Don't you think they are there for a reason?!

It grieves me to see such a lousy relationship among some brethren who profess to be faithful or "conservative" that pretend to preach and teach only "sound doctrine."  They boast about following the "Biblical pattern" only and "speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent." But apparently, their primary desire is to bite and devour each other.  They seem to be driven by the spirit of wild beasts rather than the spirit of love.  Those who behave in this manner are not free but rather are slaves of their flesh.  They are carnal rather than spiritual and must repent if they don't want God's judgment on them.  Carnal or fleshly minded brethren have simply not learned yet how to become gentle and meek children, (Matt. 18:3-4).  They think of themselves more highly than they ought to think, (Romans 12:3).  They belittle and humiliate their brethren when they treat them this way.  They love to grumble or complain against their brethren with a bitterness of heart forgetting that the Judge is at the door watching them, (James 5:9).   They refuse at all costs to be "peacemakers," (Matt. 5:9).  Why?  Because they are not "poor in spirit," (Matt. 5:3).  Let us be careful and not fall into the hands of an angry God.  Take heed!

Such men still slavishly serve corruption (their carnal passions).  They promise freedom but are still slaves to the flesh, that is, their sinful carnal habits that cause destruction (2 Peter 2:19).  Therefore, it is vital that we free ourselves from the works and passions of the flesh that we may be approved of God.


VII.   "BUT THROUGH LOVE SERVE ONE ANOTHER."  (Verse 13)

"13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. "  (Galatians 5:13-15).

So how does one demonstrate freedom in Christ?  By accepting another class of service.  We stop being servants of sin to become servants of righteousness, (Romans 6:12-18).  We then become servants of Christ when we serve one another in love, (Matt. 25:34-46).  When we refuse to be servants of Christ and one another, in reality, we are abusing our freedom in Christ.

We are indeed free, but at the same time, we have responsibilities toward one another as part of that same freedom.  We have obligations.  The Law of Christ, the perfect Law of liberty, (James 1:25; 2:12) compels us to serve God with love.  It is impossible to love God if we don't love one another, (1 John 4:20).  The greatest in the kingdom of God is the one who is a servant; the one who serves the most as a slave, (Matthew 20:26-28).  By way of example, consider:
  • Dorcas (Acts 9:36, 39), 
  • Phoebe (Romans 16:1-2), 
  • the house of Stephanas (1 Cor. 16:15-16), and 
  • Gaius (3 John 5-8).  

To give one's life to the Lord means to give one's life in service to others.  Notice that in Galatians 5, Paul employs the expression "one another" five times (verses 13, 15, 26).  If we don't learn what it means to live in peace with our brethren in Christ and serve one another in love, we are violating the second commandment:  "14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14; Matt. 22:39).  It implies that we have not learned this second commandment.  It also shows that we are not free.

Most people on this earth are dependent on each other.  It is an inescapable reality.  That is "you help me, and I will help you back."  The world's philosophy is mostly self-interest or selfishness.  That is why Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."  (Matt. 16:24).  That is to say, disciples are not to be moved by self-interest but rather by a genuine spirit of service. There is no other way to be great in the Lord's eyes.  (Matt. 20:25-28).

A true follower of Christ serves in the hope of saving souls, strengthening and encouraging (edifying) the souls of all Christians so that they may continue in the faith. They serve because they want to save their souls and the souls of their hearers, (1 Tim. 4:16).

So as a Christian, how can I best serve in the kingdom of God?

We have several Scriptures that explain how we ought to serve one another:
  1. Admonishing one another, Romans 15:4.
  2. Restoring one another, Galatians 6:1
  3. Encouraging, edifying, admonishing, comforting, supporting and being with one another, 1 Thes. 5:11, 14.
  4. Stimulating one another, Hebrews 10:24
  5. Practicing hospitality, Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9.
  6. Meeting their physical needs, James 2:14-26; 1 John 3:17-18.

In serving one another and doing all of the above, we are serving our Lord Jesus, our Master, (Matthew 25:34-46).  My question:  What did the house of Stephanas do?  Consider what Paul has to say in 1 Cor. 16:15-16:
"15 Now I urge you, brothers—you know that the household  of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints— 16 be subject to such as these, and to every fellow worker and laborer."

Notice that they did not ask, "What shall we do?  Likewise, they did not wait for someone to tell them what to do or give them work to do.   They simply devoted themselves to serving the saints without being pushed or forced to do the job. They did not complain saying, "No one gives us any work to do in the church."
"I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, 2 that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well."  (Romans 16:1-2).  

Phoebe and Dorcas were sisters who served in many ways in the Lord's church (Acts 9:36, 39).  In Romans 16 we have several examples of saints who served and helped in many different ways in the church. When we attend to the needs of our brethren, we are serving Christ, (Matt. 25:35-40).  There will always be sick, poor, needy brethren.  Several Scriptures speak of the need to practice hospitality toward one another, (Rom. 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9, etc.).  The face of the earth is full of lost souls.  Sadly, the majority of them have never heard the saving Gospel of Christ.  As members of the body of Christ we each have responsibilities that we must meet if we want God's approval:  
  • visit, teach the lost, 
  • invite them to our homes for Bible classes, 
  • distribute tracts, etc.
  • make good use of the phone, the internet, etc. to teach the Gospel.  
There are endless ways to serve and be of good use in the kingdom of our Lord.  But there must be a willingness of heart to do it.

  • Love is Active:  
Love is known for its actions.  God loved, God gave.  Christ loved, Christ gave.  Love most be visible and evident.  One who indeed is seeking to find true freedom in Christ and freedom from the slavery of the flesh is not selfish, serving his own interests.  Rather with self-denial and a willing heart, he seeks the physical and spiritual welfare of others.
  1. He not only serves willingly but chooses to do it showing the fruit of the Spirit, (Galatians 5:22-23).  
  2. He is "filled with the Spirit," (Eph. 5:18).  Everyone can see it!  Because he is moved by love. 
  3. He does everything with a joyful heart.  
  4. He shows it in his conduct, way of speaking and service to others.  
  5. He is always a "peacemaker."  He lives peaceably with all, (Romans 12:18).  
  6. He does not try to appease or crush the sinner.  
  7. He does not compromise with sin and error but rather teaches and practices with long-suffering the glorious Gospel of peace.  
  8. He practices tolerance (patience) because he trusts (has faith and confidence) that the Word of God (the seed) will produce good fruit in due season.  
  9. Not only does he endure his brethren with patience, but also he helps them bear their burden in love.  
  10. He perseveres in doing good despite their ingratitude or rudeness.  
  11. Moreover, he is kind and gentle in spirit like the good Samaritan, Dorcas, and Barnabas.  
  12. He is always faithful, loyal, trustworthy and responsible.  
  13. His gentleness of spirit is known to all men, (Phi. 4:5).  
  14. He practices self-control in everything and with everyone.  

Therefore, if none of the above fruits are visible in us, cannot be seen in us, then they do not exist in us.  We are simply not bearing any good fruit.  Love is not about hidden qualities but rather about evident and provable ones.

Indeed, love is the source of freedom.  Let me explain how:  
  1. If you hate me, I choose not to hate you back; that is freedom.  
  2. If you slander me, I choose not to slander you back; that is freedom.  
  3. If you are bitter against me, I choose not to be bitter toward you; that is freedom.  
  4. No matter what evil you do against me, I choose to do good toward you; that is freedom. 
  5. Think of Jesus as your highest example:  
    • They spit on Him, yet He did not spit back.  
    • They slapped Him, yet He did not slap back. 
    • They cursed and mocked Him, yet He did not curse and mock any of them.  
    • They abused their power against Him, yet He did not abuse His power against them. 
    • They killed Him, but instead, He forgave them.  
    • They were slaves to corruption and evil, yet He was free of sin.  
    • Jesus was the freest person who ever lived on this earth.  Nothing could enslave Him. 
    • No evil ever motivated Him.  
    • Not even death had dominion over Him.  
My question is:  Do we want true freedom?


VIII.    THE WHOLE LAW OF CHRIST IS FULFILLED IN ONE WORD:  LOVE
"14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Galatians 5:14)

In Matthew 22:34-40, a certain lawyer of the Sadducees asked Jesus about the greatest commandment in the Law.  Notice what Jesus said to him:
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets."
In Romans 13:8-10, Paul told the brethren in Rome:

"8 Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law."'

The word "love" in the Bible does not mean just a feeling or emotion but rather an action (a state of being active).  It is seen in our service to others and our goodwill (our kindness, generosity, tolerance, friendliness, empathy, sympathy, understanding, wholeheartedness, warmth, earnestness, etc.).  Love desires the welfare and protection of the one that we love.  Love demands that we love even our enemies and persecutors.  Love demands that we pray for them, their souls that they may come to repentance, (Matthew 5:44-45).

What the Bible teaches about love is much different than what the world teaches.  The world's love demands that we love self.  It is all about us and little else.  Our world teaches that love is one's appreciation for himself, and the attention others pay us.  Love is Valentine's Day and Cupid, love songs and romance. Moreover, the world's concept of love is based primarily on feelings rather than on the loyalty and commitment we have made to those we love and to God.

So true love is not just a feeling or emotion.  In fact, love goes against our feelings.  Love is treating others they way we want them to treat us.  It follows the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12.  It involves self-denial rather than self-fulfillment.  It is considering others' interests before our own,

In John 15:13 we are given an excellent example of love, the love of our Lord and Savior who died for us.  What more excellent example of love can there be than this?!

The world's concept of love is selfish rather than sacrificial.  It is self-absorbed emotionalism. Designed to meet one's needs rather than respond to the needs of others.  It is conditional love rather than unconditional.  It is mutually exploitative.


IX.   BITING AND DEVOURING ONE ANOTHER:
"15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another."   (Galatians 5:15)

The phrase, "if you bite" is often referred to snakes, vipers.  When Paul wrote this letter to the Galatians, a certain percentage of Christians had fallen prey to the teaching of the Judaizers.  Those evil men appear to have succeeded in their goal considerably.  According to Paul, they had threatened the welfare of the Lord's church by their false teaching and some brethren needed to be straightened out.  Their error had to be reversed.  But take note that Paul insisted that this teaching process from error to truth be carried out in love without their destroying one another (biting and devouring one another).  This process of correction had to be handled correctly in love.  Why?  Because if they handled it incorrectly, they were running the risk of consuming one another resulting in destruction. The destruction of their souls!  Paul was pleading with these Galatian brethren to make sure that their correction from apostasy from within did not cause any additional harm.  He reminded them that their love and concern for one another was the key to making this difficult task successful.

This, of course, does not imply that the church is not to engage in stern or severe action against error from within. Paul makes this point perfectly clear in 1 Corinthians 5 where he used hard words to correct the sin within the church.  And though love is what ought to motivate and move us when dealing with sin, there comes a time when that love means doing what's in the best interest of others, including all others in the entire congregation.  Sadly, such action is necessary for the welfare and health of the whole congregation.  But we must be cautious about how we do it since the souls of our brethren are at stake.  We do not want to handle it unwisely but rather responsibly.  Again, even though action is essential, we must do our best for the welfare of the church.  We must not consume each other and be lost as well.  Take heed!!

Do you know that we are made manifest to the world?  That the world is watching and observing every step we take?  

Jesus pleaded with the Father asking, 
"21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me."  (John 13:34-35).  
If the brethren are biting and devouring each other, the world (those who have not obeyed the gospel) will know that we are not Christ's disciples because of our wicked and ungodly conduct.  Therefore, they will conclude that we are not the Lord's church, those who have been redeemed to walk in righteousness and holiness.  Love for others will not permit us to destroy others in the name of freedom.  We must stop biting and devouring one another and start serving each other!!  

Sadly, many are backbiters who destroy entire congregations, (Prov. 25:23; 2 Cor. 11:20; 2 Cor. 12:20).

Let us be careful and not destroy our brethren in the name of freedom.  Love will not permit us to do that.  Freedom is found in love, not in reckless irresponsibility.  If your freedom is irresponsible, it will destroy others.


CONCLUSION:

It is such a great blessing to have freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right to privacy. But all these can be taken away with the blink of an eye.  And though they can be all removed from us, we Christians will remain free.  Free from what?  Free from the slavery of sin.  Free to righteousness in Christ.  Free from the condemnation of sin that we might have eternal life.  Jesus has already paid the price for our freedom with His own blood, the blood of the sinless and innocent Jesus.

You see "whoever commits sin is a slave of sin."  (John 8:34).  One who sins is a slave to sin, (Rom. 6:16-23).  When we are enslaved to sin, we are in danger of dying in our sins without hope, (John 8:24).  Jesus, the Son of God, makes us free through His Truth, (John 8:32).  In Him, we have eternal freedom, (John 8:36).  Sadly, many don't want freedom from sin.  They like to be slaves to their desires, pleasures, indulgences.  Some have the wrong idea about freedom, and they show it by acting and thinking irresponsibly.  Their freedom is unrestrained.  They are deceived thinking that freedom is whatever it takes to make them happy.  Others use freedom to gain and exercise control, that is, doing everything their way, surrendering to their traditions, presumptions, preconceived notions, and prejudices.

Only in knowing Jesus can we truly be free and find peace and contentment.  We can rest in Him and be free to walk with Him, abide in Him and have a diligent heart that freely listens to and obeys Him.  He walks on ahead showing us the WAY.  He is guiding us in the path of righteousness through His everlasting Word. We follow Him, setting our hearts free from the bondage and slavery of sin. Christ's true freedom is to love and serve.  It demands that we die to self, crucifying our ego which so many times gets in the way.  As we love and serve, we draw nearer to Jesus, His character, and His heart.  We conform our lives to only Him.  Only then do we find true freedom for our enslaved souls. It will bring joy in our walk with Him.
    "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed."  (John 8:36)

Our culture is fooled by books and entertainment and other worldly venues whose primary goal is to lie to us telling us what it takes to be "free."  They are ignorant of true freedom: freedom for the heart, soul, and mind.  Freedom for our earthly lives and eternal souls. A freedom that can only be found in the One, who laid Himself down for us, our Lord and Savior.  He sacrificed His life so that we might taste the freedom that can only come from God.  A freedom that will come to its full glory in heaven. Therefore, let us purpose to seek after Him and His kingdom of righteousness.  Let us pray for God to help our hearts be free from the chains of sin so that we may walk in freedom.
"Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God."  (1 Peter 2:16)

When we first seek God and His righteousness, we find true freedom.  Let us not be fooled.  The world can only offer false freedom, and when the veil is torn off, it is revealed to be just lies.  Our Lord Jesus offers us the only genuine and lasting freedom that exists.  That freedom is eternal and will never die!
 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33)

So, I leave you with the following question:  What can you do to serve in God's kingdom of righteousness?   Remember, that service to others is our best demonstration of love to Jesus who died for us.  Why not look for opportunities to serve Him as you serve in His kingdom?   Never forget that we have been set free from the bondage of sin to serve one another and not to indulge ourselves in selfishness.

May the Lord open our eyes to see His real and lasting freedom.  May He also free our heart, mind, and soul from bondage, that we may breathe the fresh air of Truth that He offers.  May He open our minds to a life of righteousness and holiness that brings honor to Him.  May we always desire to live in His freedom, breaking all the chains in our lives so that we may be enslaved to Him only.
 "22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life."  (Romans 6:22).

The following song, Oh! To Be Like Thee written by Thomas O. Chisholm expresses beautifully how we ought to imitate our Lord and Savior in a worthy manner according to our calling through His glorious Gospel.  Our Lord Jesus suffered and died leaving us an example so that we may walk in His footsteps.  (I Peter 2:21). When we exercise the character of Christ in our lives, we come to know Him and have a relationship with Him.  This is the glory of His New Testament.  The Gospel teaches us His glory transforming us, molding us and changing us into His image, His glorious likeness.  Praise the Lord for His glory reflected in His Gospel!!

"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."  (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Oh! to Be Like Thee

Oh! to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.

Refrain:
Oh! to be like Thee, oh! to be like Thee,
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.

Oh! to be like Thee, full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wand’ring sinner to find.

Oh! to be like Thee, lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer, others to save.

Oh! to be like Thee, Lord, I am coming,
Now to receive th’ anointing divine;
All that I am and have I am bringing,
Lord, from this moment all shall be Thine.

Oh! to be like Thee, while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love,
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.

Luci

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

THE POWER OF THE TONGUE: LIFE AND DEATH

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”
Proverbs 18:21


Our words reflect the degeneration of our culture. Jesus lifts us up out the mud and filth of our sins and the sinful habits that are expressed in our speech. It is no surprise that He has much to say about our words.

I have been reflecting upon Proverbs 18 lately.  Wisdom speaks with a loud voice about the words of our lips. They are the fruit of wisdom, righteousness, and understanding that produce eternal life to the soul.  On the other hand, they can be the fruit of unrighteousness, ruin, pride, contention, lacking in understanding, snare of the soul, and destruction. Indeed, how one uses the tongue will have eternal consequences since it reveals his heart.  Deuteronomy 30:15 calls on man to choose life and good, not death and evil. 


Let's face it, we live in a culture that is desensitized to sin. Our people think that lying, cursing, swearing, and vulgarity are skills, a right. They think it is normal. I am always amazed at how even Christians do not for a minute hesitate to insult one another.  They don't realize that words are powerful and can cause one to sin with the tongue.  Today many take God's name in vain.  This, of course, is one of the many sins of the tongue.  They are not aware that when they use God's name in vain, they are disrespecting and profaning His name, showing a lack of reverence to our God whose name is Holy.  They dare to use His Holy name to curse and slander others or as a form of expressing their feelings (exclamatory speech). Sometimes, they are just expressing anger or careless humor to exalt some and humiliate others. They, of course, don't acknowledge that His name is holy and awesome, (Psalm 111:9).  God will not tolerate anyone who abuses His Holy Name.  He will hold men accountable.  Take heed!

Our culture today has no brakes when it comes to sinful forms of speech and communication: shameful, filthy or obscene speech; foolish talking and jesting and foul gestures of humor.  There is nothing that grieves me more than to hear Christians talk in a shameful manner, uttering words they shouldn't speak at all.  In Ephesians 5:12, Paul exhorts us saying that some things are so shameful and disgraceful that it is inappropriate to speak of them openly.  Our society has become so desensitized that they have forgotten that some things are shameful to speak of in public.  They speak as if they have a license to talk about matters of intimacy, ignoring to blush.  They remind me of Israel in the days of Jeremiah when God's people had forgotten how to be ashamed or how to blush, (Jeremiah 6:15). As Christians, our speech must be characterized by grace, edification, praising, softness and tenderness. God has given us tongues to proclaim His message of grace, for blessings and not cursing.   How do you suppose we can reach the lost if we behave like them and talk like them?  We will be stumbling blocks, and we will be held accountable before our Great Judge.

Throughout the Bible, the word tongue is used in both literal and metaphorical ways, especially in the Psalms, the Proverbs, and the New Testament book of James.  James speaks of the tongue as a small part of the body (James 3:5).  Yet, Proverbs 18:21 speaks of it as having the power of life and death. Indeed, this is true whether we're speaking of it as being life or death, whether spiritually, physically or emotionally.  Our tongue generates good and bad actions.  It can either kill or save our souls.  It can be "a fire, defiling the whole body,"  (James 3:6).  Proverbs 15:4 describes the tongue as a tree of life if used righteously or as “perverseness” crushing one's spirit.  Likewise, it can be used to encourage through our spoken words, Proverbs 12:18.  The tongue causes severe wounds that pierce the soul like a sword, creating a profound effect on others.


Our words express what's inside our heart.  Our thoughts become words which then become good or evil deeds.  The tongue has tremendous power over our relationships (husbands, wives, our brethren and our neighbor).  It grieves my heart to see how many lives and relationships have been ruined because of our tongue, or our words, producing fruits of unrighteousness such as lying, gossip, slander, backbiting, defamation, hypocrisy, cutting words, sarcasm, corrupt speech, profanity, discord, murmuring, cursing, misjudging, talking too much and such.  Therefore, we must be cautious with our words guarding them well that we may preserve our life from all lawlessness or unrighteousness that would cause us to sin against our God.


We must not speak foolishly.  It is foolish to express whatever thought that may come to mind. We must think before we speak.  Words bring death and destruction! Words injure the conscience of others and ours as well.  They cause deep sorrow and wound others with injuries that are beyond repair. Let us take heed!



I.    DEFINITION OF THE TONGUE:


From a medical point of view, the tongue is merely a big piece of mucous membrane enclosing a complex array of muscles and nerves that enable us to chew, taste and swallow. Very helpful, no? The tongue is a remarkable and complex instrument with many functions.  It is our principal source of communication that helps us to articulate different sounds so we can understand each other. Very essential, no? It is used as a sense organ; to chew our food for easy swallowing.  Our tongue has 9000 taste buds which determine different flavors such as bitter, salty and sweet.  But, in spite of how essential and valuable this muscle is in our mouths, the tongue is very volatile. James refers to it as a fire; a restless evil and full of deadly poison, James 3:6, 8. The tongue can be a very lethal, flaming missile which destroys with evil. The Bible speaks of the tongue as something powerful that expresses the intent of the heart.  Someone once said, “Many things are opened by mistake, but none so frequently as the mouth.”  Indeed, this is a truthful statement.  When one loses control of the tongue, the consequences are devastating.  Consider some improper and proper uses of the tongue:



II.   THE TONGUE IS A FIRE:

"For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body."  (James 3:2)
James cautions us, Christians, about stumbling.  In fact, we all stumble in many areas of our lives. The word “stumble” means to trip or fall; it speaks of the misuse of our tongue and the many mistakes we make with it.  James boldly expresses that only those who have reached maturity do not sin with their tongue; that is, he is perfect or complete.  The tongue is the most challenging and hardest part of the body to control.  Why?  Because we're prone to misuse our tongue, without restraining it in the way we speak; without enough discipline to keep our whole body under control.

In verses 3-4, James goes on to say,

3 If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4 Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.”
Here we have two illustrations:  to control one's tongue is to restrain the whole body.  A horse is much bigger in comparison to the small metal bit put into his mouth and attached bridle.  Yet the bit successfully and efficiently turns and controls the entire body of the horse.  In fact, this principle is also true for ships. Though they may be huge and moving against strong winds, yet the small rudder is what directs the ship wherever the captain steers it.  So what is the application for us here? Since we can control big animals and large ships using minuscule objects, then we must be able to control ourselves, if we control our tongue correctly.  This applies to all mankind.

In James 3:5 we read,

“5 So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!”
Here we have a warning!  Though the bit and the rudder are small, they can be used to accomplish many great things.  The same principle is true for our tongue.  However, if it is misused, even though it is small, it can cause considerable damage.  Despite how small the tongue is, it is very powerful and controlling.  Our tongue is like dynamite in that it can be used as an abundant blessing if we control it properly.  But it can be as dynamite causing devastating destruction if we misuse it without controlling it.

Our tongues function the same way as a forest fire that blazes for miles just by a mere spark.  Isn't that amazing!  It is hard to grasp how a single match can have so much power, causing a fire of mass destruction.  So it is with our tongue, our words.  Once the fire is lit, it can go out of control if one does not control it well.  When we speak without restraint, it can cause a blazing fire burning out of control.  Our tongues are like uncontrolled fire that causes us to sin, saying things that do not need to be said.  Such uncontrolled words consume individuals, families and destroy entire congregations. The sad truth is that once we get a forest fire going, we are unable to control it or stop the fire that blazes.  Once we utter evil words or say things about someone we shouldn't, such words are out and can never be taken back.  The damage is done!  Yes, one can apologize and seek forgiveness, but those spoken words can never be erased.


Therefore, let us be extremely careful how we use our tongue!  Let us speak only that which is edifying, that which we ought to speak.  Let us be wise with our tongue, the words that we speak since it is a fire (a world of iniquity) that can defile our entire body, setting it on fire by hell.  That is to say that when our tongue is misused (to sin), without control, it is like fire causing significant pain and leaving destruction behind.



II.   THE TONGUE IS UNTAMABLE:

“7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.”  (James 3:7-8).
James continues addressing the problem of the tongue by saying that no man can tame the tongue. There is a big difference between controlling and taming something.  You can control a wild animal by putting it in a cage, but it is still wild.  To tame the animal, you must train it.  The tongue is no different.  When the animal is controlled and trained, it won't get angry and hurt you.  James points out that man can tame an animal but that no one can tame the tongue.  You see, once one tames an animal, there is no need to keep him chained up.  Our tongue is a muscle that is untamable. Meaning, it cannot control itself. It defies being tamed!  Hard to believe, no? Impossible to domesticate! We need to cage it. And though we might be able to keep our tongues on a leash for safety and restrain it for a long time, we can still slip up and cause significant damage if we're not guarding our tongues well.  Let us then be careful and control our tongues since they are like snakes full of poison waiting to be used.  Please, let us be careful and watch our speech with extreme caution as we would do with a poisonous snake near us!

There are five things we must take into consideration when trying to control and train our tongues:

  1. To whom you speak.
  2. Of whom you speak.
  3. How you speak.
  4. When you speak and finally.
  5. Where you speak.
King David refers to it very bluntly in Psalm 39:1-2
"I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; 'I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.'  I was mute and silent.'"
So, what does it take to tame it? A tight muzzle on our mouth. It requires a lot of determination. Let's not wait too long and be condemned. With God's help, we can have victory over it! But, we must always remember two things:
  1. To think first before our lips start moving; mentally preview our words. 
  2. To talk less; try closing our mouths for a while; make our words few, but rich. 
Let's keep in mind that the tongue of the wise brings healing, Prov. 12:18. He who guards his mouth and his tongue guards his soul from troubles, Prov. 21:23.  Therefore, "let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."  (Ephesians 4:29)

James then goes on to say,

“9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.”  (James 3:9-10).
To bless God, we must use our tongue well.  When we use our tongue to curse our neighbors and our brethren, wishing evil upon them, we are hypocrites!  How?  Because man is made in God's image, not physically, for God is a spiritual being.  All mankind is created in God's image spiritually and morally (Genesis 1:26-27).  And since we're all made in God's image, when we use our tongues to swear or curse at our neighbor, brother or relative, we are cursing directly at God.  Take heed!

James concludes by saying,

“Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”  (James 3:11-12).
Springs of water are either good or bad.  They cannot be pure one moment and then be polluted the next.  And so is the case of a salt-water fountain in that it cannot produce fresh water.  It is impossible!  The same is also true of our tongue. It is not normal for a tongue to be divided.  Why? Because a mouth that curses God cannot adequately praise Him since it is tainted.  If I cannot control my mouth during the week, then on the first day of the week (Sunday), it will be impure and worthless for praising God correctly or appropriately.  Therefore, to praise God with a mouth that is filthy and defiled is unholy and hypocritical.  May we all learn to praise our God with holy and righteous mouths full of real wisdom rather than blaspheming His name because of our unrighteous and unholy words.


III.   IMPROPER USES OF THE TONGUE:  

Consider some of the major sins of the tongue:
  • Lying:
To cover someone's sins, avoid hurting someone's feelings, take advantage of others, or to avoid problems.  God hates a lying tongue, Proverbs 6:17.  In Ephesians 4:25 we have been given an exhortation:  
“Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
So to lie to the IRS, employer, customers, brethren and so on is to deceive God!  
“All liars will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”  (Revelation 21:8).

Lying ranks high among the sins of the tongue.  Sadly, many think there is nothing wrong or dangerous about lying since everyone does it, even Christians, as long as they don’t get caught.  But that is not what the Word of God says:
“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, But those who deal faithfully are His delight.”  (Proverbs 12:22).
When one loves to speak the truth, he does not need to lie nor does he need to worry about remembering what he has said.  The truth will always be the same!  So why not always tell the truth even if it chokes you?!

Lying will keep one from entering the gates of heaven if he does not repent.  In Revelation 21:27 we have a severe and alarming warning: 
and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
  • Gossip, Defamation, Slander:
“You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people, and you are not to act against the life of your neighbor; I am the Lord.”  (Leviticus 19:16).
“A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends.”  (Proverbs 16:28).
“As surely as a north wind brings rain, so a gossiping tongue causes anger!”  (Proverbs 25:23).
Although this little fox of gossip can be small, it can inevitably destroy our soul.  The Bible speaks of gossip as evil speaking, tale bearing, whispering, and slander. The word gossip is defined as “small talk or chatter about someone, often about things heard from others but not known to be facts." However, it is not small talk with God.  I think that's why the Bible uses much stronger words than gossip.

In James 4:11 we are admonished to “not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”  

“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.”  (1 Peter 2:1).

Clearly, the effects of gossip are destructive.  Why?  Because it destroys love, friendships, and the trust that people have in others.  Let us then put into practice what the Word of God declares: “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”  (Colossians 4:6).

Sadly, many equate frankness with truthfulness, priding themselves in being honest toward all men. However, honesty does not give one license to defame or slander a child of God by gossiping about him.  God's Word demands that we “go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”  (Matt. 18:15).

Another way of gossiping is to pass on information about someone that might be damaging to his reputation.  Let us be careful and reflect on the danger of this matter.  Likewise, let us be wise and cautious and not be so eager to disclose the faults and failings of others.  Let us apply the golden rule spoken of by our Lord and Master in Luke 6:31, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”  

Undoubtedly, the wounds of gossip, slander, and defamation are devastating leaving behind painful consequences, which are sometimes beyond repair, Proverbs 18:8.  It is a terrible thing to do to anyone, especially in the body of Christ. Gossip separates friends, especially close friends.  
  1. It is evil, and one must repent of it!  
  2. Gossip also sows strife and digs up evil, (Proverbs 16:27).  
  3. Gossip destroys a man's soul, digging his own grave, (Proverbs 18:7).  Unfortunately, the gossiper not only destroys his own soul but the souls of others.  
  4. It is one of the worst of evil. 
  5. It is as harmful as unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, hate, and drunkenness, (Romans 1:29-30; Titus 2:3).
So the best way to resist a gossiper or slanderer is to let him know that your ears are not trash cans for gossip.  Being a good listener to gossip or slander will lure you into sharing your gossip with the gossiper.  Be wise and do not partake of this evil fruit of darkness but rather rebuke it, (Eph. 5:11). Otherwise, you will be in danger of losing your soul eternally.  Think about this!

If there is no need to talk, zip your lips and be silent!!  
  1. Are you one that likes to hear others criticize and condemn our brethren?  
  2. Do you make a habit of criticizing and making fun of other brethren so that you can feel more righteous and faithful?  
  3. Do you talk about others, even brethren, when they are not able to discuss Bible subjects or ideas well?  
You must remember that once someone's reputation is damaged, it cannot be repaired.  Try to release feathers in the wind and see if you can gather them up!  Remember that love must be without hypocrisy of heart (Romans 12:9; 1 Peter 4:8).  Love does not speak evil, backbite nor defame in the absence of others.  
  • Flattery: 
Flattery is another destructive sin of the tongue.   Malignant flattery is wicked and unrighteous. "For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulcher; they flatter with their tongue." (Psalm 5:9). Flattery is a form of lying, and it has no room in the life of a Christian.

In Proverbs, we have many exhortations about flattery.  Proverbs 26:28 says, "A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin."   Proverbs 29:5, "A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet."

Therefore, let us be wise and not partake or be taken in by the flatterer.  And though rebuke is not pleasant, it is more beneficial to us than flattery.  "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.”  (Proverbs 27:6).  

We, human beings, like flattery.  It is like music to our ears.  But we must be careful since there is much danger and it might hurt our soul. Instead, constructive criticism is better for the furthering of our soul. What do you think?

In I Thessalonians 2:5, Paul avoided using flattering words to reach the heart of the brethren.  He declared, “For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness."

It is vital that we understand that a flatterer feeds on giving compliments, that he himself does not believe, to take advantage of others and for his personal gain. Such compliments are mainly designed to inflate people's egos.  Sadly, many fall into this temptation since they have the tendency to love compliments.  What people do not love to hear good things said about themselves?

Those who are easily deceived by flattery are often the ones lacking in humility and are easily inflated with pride. This individual will embrace and accept flattery as a cat does its milk.  
Moreover, those with low self-esteem can be an easy target for the flatterer. Ironically, the flatterer does not usually have a clue about us since he thinks that his flattery will be effective.  

The sad part is that often our sincere and genuine compliments toward others might be taken the wrong way with fear of insincere flattery.  As a result, we neglect to praise and build up those who deserve honor and recognition.  We must be more complimentary of those who need encouragement.

So it is hypocrisy to be a flatterer, and we must be careful not to be enticed by it.  It is pure hypocrisy to praise someone in our presence and then use a knife to stab him in the back in his absence.
  • Cutting and Contentious Words:  
Contention is sometimes unavoidable but can be prevented by proper control of the tongue. Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  It is vital that we learn the art of remaining calm when a storm of contention is brewing.  Proverbs 16:32,  “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city”  Soft words will stop arguments as well as to prevent disputes.  Usually, those who want to win arguments still lose. Sadly, many are left feeling inferior, hurt, disappointed, vengeful, and betrayed.  To win an argument often leads to losing a friend, a soul and our Savior's approval.  So why not follow the counsel of God?
    “A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”  (Prov. 15:1)
    “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, But the slow to anger calms a dispute.”  (Proverbs 15:18).
    “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”  (Colossians 3:19)
    • Sarcasm:
    Those who have been called to be godly and holy do not use sarcasm, ridicule, and mockery against the innocent.  However, the Bible gives us some examples of godly men like Elijah who used some sarcasm as righteous anger to mock the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:27). Likewise, Jesus used sarcasm as righteous mockery to ridicule the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and self-righteousness (Matt. 23).  Paul also used sarcasm toward the Judaizers (Galatians 5:12).  We still have to be wise and control our tongue, not allowing irony to manipulate us to sin.  The intent of both Jesus and Elijah was not to put down or insult but to build up and encourage, (1 Thess. 5:11). They spoke in ways to incite the hearers to hear the truth by becoming aware of the absurdity of their wisdom.  The following verses exhort us to not use words of sarcasm:
    "Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death is the man who deceives his neighbor and says, 'I am only joking!'"  (Proverbs 26;18-19)
    “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”  (Prov. 12:18)
    “They make their tongue sharp as a serpent's, and under their lips is the venom of asps.”  (Psalm 140:3)
    “Their tongue is a deadly arrow; it speaks deceitfully; with his mouth each speaks peace to his neighbor, but in his heart, he plans an ambush for him.”  (Jer. 9:8).
    • To Profane God's Name:  
      • Hypocritical Swearing and Cursing:
    Cursing when one is angry is sinful. “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”  (Eph. 4:31).

    Expressions such as “hell” and “damn” are curse words.  “Sissy cussing” are expressions such as “darn” or “heavens, no.”  It is the same as loose swearing.


    God warned the Israelites about this: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain. (Exodus 20:7).  He is very displeased when one curses and blasphemes His Holy name.  Notice how He warned the Israelites:

    “Bring the one who has cursed outside the camp, and let all who heard him lay their hands on his head; then let all the congregation stone him.”  (Leviticus 24:14).
    “And whoever blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of the LORD, he shall be put to death.” (Leviticus 26:16).  
    Regardless of what one might think, profanity is not a mark of strength.  Rather, it is a mark of weakness and folly. Those who profane God’s name show mental poverty and lack of self-control. The one who swears lays aside his character, inflicting pain on those closest to him.  It violates the Word of God.  He is in danger of losing his soul.  The one who curses and profanes the name of the Lord will find it difficult to submit to Him and please Him.  It does not honor our God.

    Sadly, this is a terrible sign of our culture.  In our times, most people are profane in the way that they speak.  Even among women and children and respectable society, it is common to hear vulgar language and what used to be called “strong language.” It is time for us to listen to what the Word of God says and exhort them with  James 3:9-12,

    “With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. 10 Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grape vine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh.” 
    I am perplexed and irritated when I hear someone bless and curse with the same mouth; speaking praise one moment and spewing poisonous or hurtful words of profanity the next.   Take heed!
    Therefore, let us not take God's name in vain since His name is Holy and awesome, Exodus 20:7; Psalm 111:9.
    • Corrupt or Evil Speech: 
      • Jesting & Idle Words:
    In Matthew 12:36 Jesus said,
    “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment.”  
    In Ephesians 5, Paul lists some things that were fruits of darkness.  He says, “Let it not be named once among you as becometh saints.” In verse 4 he concludes by saying, “4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.”  

    You see “jesting” is on that list.  Let us be careful that all of our joking and humor is righteous that we might not fall into judgment.  An idle word is one which isn’t working or producing good. It is a weed in the garden of speech. Humor has its rightful place. Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart does good, like medicine . . .”  However, there are some kinds of jesting that are wrong. For instance:

    1. It is sinful to make fun of or take advantage of, a person’s handicap. The law said in Leviticus 19:14 “You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the LORD.” 
    2. It is also wrong to jest at another’s appearance or misfortune. 
    3. The Word of God has a great deal to say about our daily speech.
    “29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”  (Ephesians 4:29).
    “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.”  (Ephesians 5:4).
    “34 You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”  (Matt. 12:34).
    And even though we live in a world full of lawlessness, we are not to be of the world (cf. John 17:14-18).  We don't have to behave like the world!  Rather we must seek that which is pure and holy, striving to speak no evil.  So any sexual jokes, insinuations, innuendos, voyeurism, TV, videos filled with corrupt language fall under this category.


    • Euphemisms:
    Our God is very displeased when men use His name in a flippant, frivolous, ungodly, unholy or profane manner.  In Exodus 20:3 we are admonished– “You shall have no other gods before Me.” Exodus 20:4 – “You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.” 

    The third commanded, “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7) This was designed to offer respect and reverence for God’s name. This is also repeated in Deuteronomy 5:7-11.  One is profane when he uses sacred things in an irreverent or blasphemous manner. The word “vain” in the third of the Ten Commandments, is translated from a word which means in a light, flippant, and contemptuous fashion.


    It is a grave thing for Christians to use words and phrases that amount to profanity. Words such as Christ, Jesus, Jerusalem, Heaven, Hell, Hades, as interjections and for emphasis. Although most Christians avoid such outright profanity, they will nevertheless use euphemisms (the substitution of a word or phrase less offensive or objectionable). With a little thought, everyone knows what you really meant to say. It is just “Christianized” profanity or “sissy cussing.”  Do these words reflect well on us as children of God?


    Consider some common euphemisms:

      • “Gee-Whiz” 
    Those in the body of Christ who use such euphemisms must be aware of the origin of many of these common by-words.  I bet they will be shocked when they find out the meaning of them.  Some common euphemisms such as “gee-whiz.” “Gee” is a euphemism contraction of the name “Jesus.” It is a slang and has no proper use in our Christian language. It is “a minced form of Jesus, used in mild oaths.”  Another euphemism is “Whiz” which is nothing but a slang word for anything excellent, a corker, sometimes applied to a clever person or thing of excellence. Something or someone of exceptional ability or quality.  The words “gee-whiz” are therefore an oath in which Jesus and something extraordinary or unusual are joined.
      • "Darn and Dang"
    These are watered down forms of the profane use of the word "damn."  Even the phrase "dog gone it" is a euphemism for "God damn it."  (Sometimes written as "goddam" in order to soften the harshness of the profanity).  
      •  “Gosh” 
    It is an interjection used euphemistically for God, an exclamatory slang expression indicating surprise.  The Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary says that it is “a softened form of God, used as a mild oath.” It is occasionally used in a hyphenated fashion such as “Gosh-awful,” which means, literally, God-awful.” In this form, it is often used as an adjective and euphemistically.
      • “Gad,” “Egad” 
    These are terms that are also interjections and are used euphemistically for the word “God” in mild oaths.  They indicate surprise, disgust, dismay, and similar emotions, and are exclamatory in character. They are often joined with other terms of further emphases, such as: “Gee Whilikers” (Dennis, the Menace TV show). The Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary says, “A softened form of the word God as used in mild oaths of which the second element is often a corruption or made up words."
      • “Golly” 
    This word, of extremely common use, is described by the New World Dictionary as “an exclamation of surprise, a euphemism for God.” It is often used in conjunction with the word “by” as in “By golly!” Which is to say “By God!” Sometimes it is used as a noun and at other times as an interjection for the word “God.” Jim Nabor’s character, Gomer Pyle, frequently used this word on his TV program.
      • Good Gracious!  Good Grief! My Goodness!
    These are all mild oaths where the word good or goodness is used for God according to Webster’s New World Dictionary. There are many forms of this usage such as: “Goodness sake!”  “Goodness knows!” “Thank goodness!” All of these are exclamatory expressions about the goodness of God but used in slang for emphasis.  One who thus speaks, calls for God to witness to the statement which the oath is associated with. The expression, “Goodness knows who it could have been” means God only knows, and I do not.  In the expression, “Goodness knows it wasn’t me” means God knows it and could affirm my statement.
      • Heavens! Good Heavens! For Heavens’ Sake!  
    These are all statements of exclamatory character, in which the heavens are called to witness to the truth of the statement, or to support the affirmation. Such expressions when used as by-words, as slang, and in a flippant, frivolous fashion, violate our Lord’s injunction set forth in the Sermon on the Mount and recorded in Matthew 5:34-35 “But I say to you, do not swear at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.” It is wrong to use the various names of God in our conversation when such usage is not reverent, respectful and sober.  It is a serious matter!  Take heed!

    The Bible indeed has numerous instances of correct usages. For example “God forbid,” “If God wills,” “The Lord grant mercy,” etc.   This manner of expression may be used correctly. The Jews regarded the name of Jehovah as ineffable and to this day refuse to pronounce it in Hebrew. Jesus found their euphemistic profanity equally offensive as He explained in Matthew 23:16-22. He said, "Swear not all!" (Matthew 5:34). It is the profane use of sacred things and names against which the Bible inveighs, all such expressions should be rigidly excluded from our vocabularies.



    • To Sow Discord Among Brethren:  
    This is the one who goes about trying to cause division, using his tongue to create strife among brethren.  Basically, these are troublemakers.  When they don’t like someone, they will deceive with empty words and deceit and do whatever they can to turn each member against the other.  He is never satisfied because he always finds something wrong with others.  He tries his best to turn people against them, using evil and idle words.  He likewise tries to find others who will listen to him when he does not agree with what is being taught.  He gets many to fight against them.  His primary goal is to say things to push his particular belief on others.  The Word of God warns us about such people since they are dangerous and can cause significant harm to the church.
     "Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.  7 Therefore do not be partakers with them."  (Ephesians 5:6)
    "Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ."  (Colossians 2:8)
    Paul also warned Timothy to avoid getting into petty arguments that have nothing to do with our salvation.
     "O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge”— 21 which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith."  (1 Timothy 6:20).
    "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.  18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple."  (Romans 16:17)
      Sowing discord among brethren is one of the seven things God hates, Prov. 6:16-19.
    • To Murmur or Criticize:  
    Using our tongue to complain or criticize with a wrong attitude of heart is sinful.  In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus warned, “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”  Jesus was not condemning the proper kind of judgment since He said in John 7:24: “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” 

    What Jesus was prohibiting was faultfinding and criticism where there was no basis (no law).

    “Do all things without grumbling or disputing.”  (Phil. 2:14).
    “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”  (James 4:11).
    • To Talk Too Much:  
    “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.”  (Prov. 10:19).
    We must be careful to tell every truth we know.  However, there is a lot of truth that should not be repeated.  Think before you utter words:
    1. Does it help?  
    2. Does it edify? 
    3. Is there any godly purpose?
    “The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”  (Prov. 13:3)
    “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.”  (Proverbs 13:3)
    Remember that silence is golden.  Don't we all need to learn this?  It would be better to use fewer words. Alas, how often are we guilty of saying too much, too many words! We must learn to cherish silence and measure our words with caution when we speak. In Ecclesiastes 5:2 we have a warning:

    “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven, and you are on earth. Therefore, let your words be few.”


    Again in Matthew 12:36-37:

     “36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned.”   
    "When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent."  (Proverbs 10:19).
    Consider other passages concerning the power of our words (James 3:5-8; Proverbs 18:21; Matthew 12:33:35; Ephesians 4:29; Proverbs 12:18; Proverbs 13:3).  We are going to be condemned or justified by our words. Likewise, we will give an account for every idle word that we speak. Let us develop better listening skills. Take heed!


    IV.   PROPER USES OF THE TONGUE:


    We have already covered several improper (sinful) uses of the tongue.  However, we can use our tongues profitably, but we must learn to use it well so that we can edify and give life.  Consider the following suggestions:

    • Using Our Tongue For Prayer:
    We have been commanded to “pray without ceasing.”  (1 Thess. 5:17).  What could be more spiritually profitable than using our tongues to pray?  Praying for strength to overcome all of life's trials, troubles, and temptations.  Praying for the sick and those who are seeking the Truth.  Praying for the furthering of the Gospel.  Praying for our weak and wandering brethren.  Praying for the church's growth.  Therefore, let us use our tongue to pray, pray, pray...!
    • Using Our Tongue For Praising and Thanksgiving:
    “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”  (Hebrews 13:15)
    “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18).
    As Christians, we must not consider our good fortune to be the result of chance circumstances. Every good gift is from God, (James 1:17).  Therefore, He is to be praised and thanked for His lovingkindness and goodness.  And what better way than to do it with our mouths, our speech.  Our mouths should be faithful in public praise through worship.  That is, we must be eager to assemble with our brethren to praise and worship God, using our tongues to praise Him in songs, (Eph. 5:19-20).  Therefore, let us use our tongues to offer thanksgiving and praise to our Lord always.
    • Using Our Tongue to Teach Others The Gospel:
    We must use our tongue to exhort and help others to obey the gospel of salvation.  Jesus, our Lord, commanded His disciples before He ascended to heaven saying: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”  (Mark 16:15-16).

    So why not use our tongues to preach and teach the saving Gospel message to every person?! 


    There is a lot of work to do!  Many souls need to be saved.  Therefore, we must use our tongues to convert many lost souls:  our family, friends, and neighbors.  It is our God-given duty to plead with them to believe and obey the gospel that they might be saved.  It is also our responsibility to restore our erring brethren.  May we all look for opportunities to teach the Gospel to save men from the terrors of eternal hell.  May we use our tongues to teach the "good news," exhorting all men to obey it!

    • Using Our Tongue to Encourage Others:
    In Romans 13:7 we are told, “Render to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”  Therefore, let us use our tongues to offer praises, compliments, and honor to those who are doing good works for the glory of God.  Likewise, let us use our tongues to encourage those who are struggling because of trials, whether they are personal failure, sickness, injury, bereavement or family problems.  Let us let them know that we are praying for them. Remind them of God's love and promises, Romans 8:28; I Cor. 10:13.  Therefore, let us use our tongues to encourage others with our words (preachers, elders, wives, husbands, our neighbors, our children, our brothers and sisters in Christ).


    CONCLUSION:


    My prayer is that this study may edify you.  I pray that if you have been misusing your tongue, you will begin using your tongue the way God wants you to so that you may not come to judgment.  It is vital for our hearts to be pure so that our thoughts and words may be pure.  Life and death are in the power of our tongue both physically and spiritually.  Therefore, let us bring our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.


    Remember that a wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit, Proverbs 15:4.  Our words must be pure and refreshing all the time!  “Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”  (Proverbs 16:24).  “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in setting of silver.”  (Proverbs 25:11).


    If we are not careful with our words, we might inflict extensive damage and cause others to be discouraged.  “If any man thinketh himself to be religious, while he bridleth not his tongue but deceiveth his heart, this man’s religion is vain.”  (James 1:26).


    To understand the power of the tongue is the first step in using it correctly.  Let us always remember that our tongues are capable of great destruction.  It is a little member that can start a great fire that rages quickly out of control, destroying lives, souls, friendships, reputations, and hearts.  Let us not allow our tongue to cause us to sin against God.  In the Day of Judgment, we must face the record of all our words.  Thus we need to pray: “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”  (Psalm 141:3).  “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”  (Psalm 19:14).


    Let us take to heart Jesus' words recorded in Matthew 12:36-37:  “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 


    Therefore, “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”  (James 1:26).  “I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence.” (Psalm 39:1).  Let us take heed!


    Let us learn to season our words with meekness and fear that we might be able to reach out to others and teach them the "good news," (the Gospel).  Rather than using our words to tear others down, let us use them to build others up.  Let us use the words of our mouths to encourage others and teach the lost. Let us use our tongues wisely and not foolishly.  Moreover, let our words be few and let us be careful with them.  Remember that the message of Christ and His church can get lost if we use unnecessary words.


    May we never make the Gospel Message more complicated than it needs to be.  May we always remember Matthew 12:36-37 that teaches that we will give an account to God for every word that comes out of our mouths.  May we always control our tongues in all circumstances; whether in public teaching or when we are angry at someone or telling a joke that we shouldn't. May we control our tongue when we are tempted to lie, gossip, curse, use profanity or vulgar language.  May we always be alert and remember that our God hears and knows everything there is in our heart.  May we always use our tongue correctly to edify and bless others.  Finally, may we never under any circumstance underestimate the power of our words.  They can wound, destroy, inspire and heal.  The choice is yours!


    Luci