Lucia's Blog: 2020-03-08
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, March 12, 2020

BE CAREFUL LITTLE LIPS WHAT YOU SAY

"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."
Matthew 12:36-37



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.  Wisdom speaks with a loud voice about the words of our lips. They are the fruit of wisdom, righteousness, and understanding.  On the other hand, our words 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.  God calls on us to choose life and good, not death and evil (Deuteronomy 30:15).

Our people think that lying, cursing, swearing, and vulgarity are skills, a right. 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.  When they use God's name in vain, they are disrespecting and profaning His name, showing a lack of reverence to God whose name is Holy (Psalm 111:9).  Many use God's 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.  God will not tolerate anyone who abuses His Holy Name.  He will hold men accountable.  Take heed!

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.

Our words express what's inside our hearts.  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 have been ruined because of our words.  Sadly, some use their words to lie, gossip, slander, backbite, defame,  hurt, and destroy others.  Their words become a lethal weapon for hypocrisy, sarcasm, corrupt speech, profanity, discord, complaining, cursing, misjudging, talking too much, and such.  We must be cautious with our words, guarding them well to preserve our life and not cause us to sin against 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!    They cause deep sorrow and wound others with injuries that are beyond repair. 



I.   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.”

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 hereSince 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.


Thus, let us be extremely careful about 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 keeps his soul out of trouble, 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 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 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 them (Eph. 5:11). Otherwise, you will be in danger of losing your soul eternally.  Think about it!

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."  
"A man that flattereth his neighbour spreadeth a net for his feet" (Proverbs 29:5).

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).  

Sadly, we, human beings, like flattery.  It is like music to our ears.  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."

We must 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.”  

We must 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 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 the Word of God.

    “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” (James 3:9-12).

    I am always 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!  
    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 are righteous that we might not fall into judgment.  An idle word is one that does not produce good or righteousness. 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 wrong kinds of jesting. 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.

    • To Complain and Criticize:  
    Using our tongue to complain or criticize with the 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!


    CONCLUSION:

    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).  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 words to offer praise, 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.  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).

    Let us always be aware 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).

    Let us be careful with our words, for they can 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).

    Our words can destroy lives, souls, friendships, reputations, and hearts.  Let us not allow our words 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).  

    So why not 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 our words be few.  Remember that the Message of Christ and His church can get lost if we use unnecessary, foolish, and sinful words.

    May we always remember that we will give an account to God for every word that comes out of our mouths, Matthew 12:36, 37.  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 words 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 hearts.  Finally, may we never under any circumstance underestimate the power of our words.  They can wound, destroy, inspire, and heal.  The choice is ours!



    Luci



    Wednesday, March 11, 2020

    GOD HAS THE FINAL WORD!

    “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!”  
    Isaiah 5:20-21



    It was wrong for Pilate to declare, “I find no fault in him” and then deliver Jesus to his soldiers to be crucified. However, Jesus Himself declared them guilty of greater sin who delivered Him over to Pilate. Sin is sin, right is right, wrong is wrong, and some sins are more sinful than others.  Our generation has a difficult time finding a reason to condemn even the grossest of immorality. They walk in darkness because they invent their own "ethics." Let us consider what God has to say about the "ethics of right and wrong."


    I.   WHAT IS RIGHT AND WRONG?

    There was a time when our people understood clearly the concept of right and wrong in our nation.  Even those who committed crimes understood such criminal acts despite knowing better.  Up until the last half-century, all recorded history was characterized by a clear understanding of moral absolutes.  From the Babylon Code of Hammurabi to Bible faith ethics, every culture acknowledged certain behaviors as wrong and evil.  Our nation's standards for moral principles of conduct and ethics emerged mostly from the Ten Commandments, the New Testament teachings of Christ and the apostolic teachings, especially the written letters of the apostle Paul.  Our society generally accepted certain foundational laws and moral absolutes.  The following things were considered good and right:
    1. Human life.
    2. Loyalty.
    3. Respect.
    4. Trustworthiness.
    5. Fidelity.
    6. Commitment to family and marriage.
    7. Responsibility.
    8. Kindness.
    9. Generosity.
    10. Forgiveness and
    11. Love.

    Sadly, things have changed for the worse, and the effects of these changes are noticeable all around us. We see these changes on the internet, in social media, in the news media, in our homes, and in our churches.  Moral chaos permeates our schools, our streets, even our homes, and churches.  In fact, there are as many as 1,000 unwed teens who will become pregnant, 500 adolescents who will begin using drugs, and 6 young teenagers who will commit suicide as I am writing this study.  That is not in a year, or a month but every twenty-four hours in our nation and society!  Even those who are Christians and should be walking in the Light, setting a positive example for our younger generations, are walking in darkness and setting the pace for immorality and lawlessness.  They invent new ways to "push the envelope" of degraded behavior.

    In our society, it is common to hear about prominent politicians, professional athletes, business leaders, and even preachers and leaders in the churches committing adultery, abusing drugs, indulging in all manner of illicit sex, and on the home-front domestic violence.  How on earth did we get to such a place?  What on earth had happened?  How on earth did we get to a place where our young teens boast about killing one another, where schools are required to have extreme security checkpoints and our young interns fall prey to corrupt politicians?  Some suggest that we should spend more tax money on education reform, urban development, family planning clinics, win the war on drugs, and build bigger prisons.  But the truth is that we have lost our foundational understanding of moral ethics of what is right and wrong.

    It is sad, but in our nation, from our leaders to our youngest school-age children, our people don't want to adopt values, ethics, and morals as their own. Values are core beliefs that guide and motivate our attitudes and actions.  Ethics is the standard of conduct that stresses how one must behave on moral issues that arise from principles of right and wrong. Unfortunately, our professors, politicians, preachers, and those in authority teach their own set of ethics Who is right about right and wrong?  It boils down to just one foundational question:  What is Truth?  It is impossible to know what right and wrong are without finding out what is trueIt will be hard to know what is right in any given situation or make decisions about morality or social behavior without the Truth. From 1950 to today, our nation's understanding of Truth has significantly shifted.  What was once clear is now clouded with uncertainty and confusion.  There has been a vast number of issues, cultural events, and philosophical changes that have brought us to this point.

    The Bible provides us with a pattern for human conduct.  God's Word furnishes us with principles of righteousness to help us make the right choices or decisions in all areas of human conduct:  gambling, abortion, the sanctity of life, chaste behavior, etc.  The Bible contains "present Truth" for "such a time as this" that we may walk the straight path (2 Peter 1:12; Esther 4:14).  The Grace of God has appeared to bring salvation unto all men, "teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world" (2 Titus 2:11-12).

    The apostle Peter inspired by the Holy Spirit says that "His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence" (2 Peter 1:3).  The world around us makes minimal effort to live by God's moral standards or principles of righteousness.  As a matter of fact, they even scoff at the authority of the Bible.  But for us Christians, we have no other alternative but to submit to the Lordship of Christ and His rule.


      II.   RIGHT AND WRONG ORIGINATE WITH GOD:  

      When studying the subject of ethics, one must carefully discern two different things, right and wrong.  We all know and believe there is a right and a wrong.  This is interwoven with our actions.  Some actions are right, and others are wrong.  That which is right is what is morally required.  That which is wrong is what is morally or ethically prohibited.  According to God's Word, right and wrong are closely linked to God's will.  God declares what is wrong and contrary to His will, what is holy, righteous, loving, and just.  An action is right when it conforms to the will of a holy and just God.  He declares the standard for human conduct, which is objective, universal, eternal, and exalted, worthy of respect.  Christians view their moral life as obedience to the will of God.  Their view transforms moral truth into the will of God to obey and honor Him.  Objective right (morality) is composed of those actions that are right according to moral or ethical standards.  Subjective right is those actions that are believed to be right whether or not they are actually right.

      Often what a person thinks is right according to his own conscience, might actually be right (subjectively and objectively).  But this is not always the case.  So, is there really a right and wrong in life?  Many people in our culture believe that society dictates what is right and wrong: the majority rule.  They allow their society to set the norms and make the choices for them. The problem is that a society can change their belief causing all sorts of outcomes, whether good or bad. But one who has a Christian worldview knows that right and wrong originate from God, as written in the Bible.  The Bible has laws that must govern our conduct of behavior according to God's will.

      According to our culture, right and wrong are based on personal preferences as their ethical standards.  "I say what is right for me."  They believe that right and wrong change from person to person, for they are relative to each person (individual moral relativism).  So moral decisions are based on personal feelings or emotions.  According to this way of thinking (moral relativism), there are no absolutes and true beliefs because they are always changing.  The word "tolerance" has been badly corrupted and abused in our politically correct culture.  The word "tolerance" used to mean an act of sympathy for beliefs or practices that differ from our own beliefs.  The act of tolerance means that those holding different views can disagree without accepting the other person's opinion or belief.

      Today, in our politically correct culture, the definition of the word "tolerance" has changed for the worse since our culture claims that one's beliefs, lifestyle, and truth are all of equal value.  That is, everyone must accept their truths, claims, and lifestyles as our own.  They dare say to us, “You shouldn’t force your morality on someone else.” Yet they are forcing their beliefs on us! It is nothing more than cultural moral relativism, which is the belief that right and wrong are always changing from culture to culture (relative to each individual culture).  This way of thinking and belief lacks concrete and true standards.  Instead of each Individual determining what must be right and wrong, it is the culture that determines or dictates what is right and wrong.  It implies that each culture dictates what is right for each individual in that society.  Many ask the question, “Who is to say what is right?"  The answer is, “No one else but God!”

      A Christian worldview looks for moral absolutes to define the standard of right and wrong that must be applied to each and every person, regardless of time, location, personal preference, and culture. Of course, it points toward God, His character, His Truth, and the way He designed this world.  Most importantly, it describes God's unchanging and eternal nature, which must be applied to our ethical standards.  How often do we hear people make the statement, "If the Bible doesn't say it, I can do it."  They ignore that God has given us a Sacred Book that addresses every situation, every moral principle, and guideline. The Bible commands and lays down laws to abide by what, which are the right and wrong in society.

      God has created and established laws that teach and discipline men and women concerning Him and His love for us.  God's laws are for our good!  God has set eternal standards that apply to every situation, for they are moral absolutes related to God and His character. Many believe that our government has the right to dictate how we ought to live our lives safely when in fact, that's not their job and purpose in life, for they cannot lead us to a positive and confident path even when they set rules to follow.  God is the only One who can set the rules or standards for our own good.  He created ethical principles so that we may live according to His image and teach others His ways and thoughts, His principles of righteousness.

      Today, we live in a postmodern society of moral corruption that rejects the concept of absolute and validated Truth.  Many will try to convince you that there is no such thing as absolute right and wrong.  But, when they see someone behaving in a non-ethical way that would cause harm, pain, or suffering, they get very upset.  They would not hesitate to tell you that it is wrong.  All human beings are conscious of what is right and wrong.  The Word of God calls this a “conscience.”  Our conscience makes us feel sorrow when we do wrong, for it bothers us and makes us feel guilty until we ask for forgivenessRomans 2:15.  Sadly, many people’s consciences are seared.  They deliberately refuse to accept that right and wrong originate with God.  They get so accustomed to sin that they ignore the cries of their conscience.  They have hardened their hearts against righteousness, loving all lawlessness.

      The Bible tells us about the first sin in the Garden of Eden.  We know that sin originated with Eve when the Serpent's words tempted her.  She listened to the Serpent instead of obeying what God had said not to do.  
      "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate." (Genesis 3:6)

      The Bible account portrays man as created in all righteousness without sin.  Most theologians theorize that the first sin corrupted Adam and Eve and gave them a depraved nature, “total hereditary depravity,” which they have passed on to us.  Romans 5:12-20 is one of their favorite Scriptures to support their error. This is the first of the five points of Calvinism and is commonly called “original sin.”   Although they will not deny that man was created without sin, they still affirm that because of Adam and Eve’s sin (also known as “the fall”), man is now a sinner.
      "For as through the one man’s disobedience, the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous"  (Romans 5:19). 

      The book of Romans says nothing about a corrupt nature, yet they say that man by nature is always finding himself entirely "depraved" of the holiness or sanctity that is required in the Law of God.  They also claim that man is inevitably inclined to do evil and therefore under just condemnation, without defense or excuse.  This is what their church creeds and manuals state.  It is disturbing to say, but many of my brethren buy into this false teaching to one degree or another.  What these don’t want to accept is that Eve’s biggest problem was listening to Satan.
      "But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ"  (2 Corinthians 11:3). 

      Eve lusted, and sin was conceived.
      "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am being tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren"  (James 1:13-16).  

      It is lust that gets man in trouble to sin.  Eve blamed the Serpent, and Adam blamed Eve (Genesis 3:12-13).  The truth is that Adam and Eve sinned despite all their excuses.  The Serpent was cursed as well as the ground because of man, Genesis 3:17-18.  Adam and Eve were not cursed but sentenced with mercy and hope, Genesis 3:14-15.  We know that the woman was sentenced in Genesis 3:16. Adam was also sentenced or condemned in Genesis 3:17-19.  They were cast out of the garden, Genesis 3:22-24.  Many of our friends believe that there is a big problem with right and wrong because of the "fall."

      They say that the mind and conscience of men were impaired by that first sin.  And for this reason, the conscience does not work as well as it used to before Adam and Eve fell into sin.  This is absurd!  They seem to ignore what Romans 5:12 says. "Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned" (Genesis 8:21; James 1:13-15; Isaiah 59:1-2;  2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:6; 14:12,23; Ezekiel 18:4,20; 28:15; Matthew 18:3; Acts 17:28-29;  Romans 7:9; Galatians 4:4;  James 4:17; I John 3:4; 5:17; Ecclesiastes 7:29 and 12:14).

       Right and wrong are determined by God, for He has called us to be holy in our behavior toward Him and others.  It is God who determines what is morally right or wrong.  Christians must follow the teachings or doctrines of Christ and not the feelings of society, or the changing fashions of the moment.  We must obey God rather than men!  The Word of God is our standard for considering what is morally pure or impure, for it instructs us in righteousness, equipping us for every good work (2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:5-7; Hebrews 5:14).  Many use clever reasoning to justify their conduct contrary to what God demands.  We must not serve God according to human doctrine or philosophy!  

      Human doctrine differs from God's will.  People use human reasoning to justify behavior that God has condemned.  For example, though society agrees that murder is wrong, they are still in turmoil over other situations.  Some reason that murder is good if it is the murder of the unborn baby who might be handicapped or born into poverty, conceived out of wedlock, or as the result of rape.  Others justify killing the elderly or the ill, so they help them kill themselves.  They reason that they are helping them escape suffering and becoming a burden to others.  Germany, for instance, justified the Holocaust, claiming that certain groups of people did not deserve to live.  But God's Word clearly declares that those who commit murder will end up in the lake of fire, not in heaven (Rev. 21:8; 22:15).  

      Nowhere in God's Word do we see God making an exception, and justifying the murder of the elderly, the sick, and the unborn!  Rather, He has commanded us to have mercy and compassion toward them to help them through their hardships.  To justify murdering such people is to disobey God's Word, arguing that the end justifies the means.

      Some will agree that it is better to remain virgin, that is, remain pure and chaste before marriage, but our society seems to be confused and in turmoil about this.  Many of our young people justify premarital sexual relations and living together without a marriage license as long as they love each other. It is good and just in their eyes because they get to know each other better to find out whether or not they are “compatible.”  This ungodly mindset is outrageous!!

      They have really cheapened and degraded the concept of love to justify their immoral and sinful behavior.  Why not obey God and His commands and get married?  The saddest part of this is that I have seen some of my brethren support this worldly view among family members!  Many in our culture justify marriage even between two people of the same gender, for they say, "What can be wrong if they love each other?"  But guess what?  God's Word says that intimacy (sexual union) must be between a man and a woman who are married, not outside of marriage, for God said so in Genesis 2:24; Hebrews 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:9-11.

      Thus, any other relationship outside of marriage is fornication or adultery.  Anyone who is a fornicator or a homosexual can never enter the gates of heaven or the kingdom of God!  Others have the nerve to claim that a married couple can get a divorce if they're unhappy in their marriage.  Some churches have even justified some members arguing that God has called us to peace, so they encourage divorce or separation.  Others justify remaining in marriages that are not authorized by God, claiming that it would cause severe hardship.  But Matthew 19:9 declares that the only authorized Scriptural ground for divorce is if one of the spouses commits fornication.  So anyone who divorces for any other reason but the one that God has authorized cannot remarry unless one of the spouses has died or fornicated.  If they remarry, they will be committing adultery, and God will judge them!

      There are many other Bible principles and guidelines for examining moral issues that determine what conduct or behavior is moral or immoral, right or wrong.  The Word of God is the only absolute standard of authority that reveals God's will about right from wrong.

      The ethics of right and wrong are fundamental to the Truth.  But we have a choice to obey the ethics or not.  Some Christians struggle with the question of right and wrong.  As a consequence of this, we have a people who call evil good and good evil, Isaiah 5:20.  Man, from the very beginning, has struggled with the question of what is right and what is wrong.  We have many examples in the Bible, as in the case of Judges 17:6.


      "In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes."


      CONCLUSION:

      The Word of God offers mankind a pattern for human conduct, for it gives us clear principles of righteousness to help us in all areas of conduct or behavior.  The Bible provides us a bright light to walk the straight path, for it is filled with God's Truth for "such a time as this" (2 Peter 1:12; Esther 4:14).  The Grace of God has appeared to us to bring salvation to us, teaching us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts so that we may live soberly, righteously, and holy in this godless world (Titus 2:11-14).  And though man's standards might change, presumptuously calling all evil good and good evil, placing darkness for light and light for darkness, the Word of God is settled in heaven forever (Isa. 5:20).  His Word has called all men to life and godliness.

      Sadly, our culture does not fear God and makes little effort to follow God's principles of righteousness.  They even mock God's authority!  But Christ's disciples have no other choice but to submit to His Lordship and rule.  For if we willingly reject His standards of righteousness, we are in the same position as our godless and pagan culture.  If we really care about God's standards and morals, we must start doing God's will, for we must obey God rather than men!

      We must not be conformed to our godless culture but rather choose to be transformed by the renewing of our minds into our Lord's likeness (Romans 12:2).  Since we have risen with Christ in the waters of baptism, we must seek God's heavenly things, not earthly things, for we have been buried with Christ (the old man of sin), and our life is hidden with Him.  So we must continue to walk His straight path of righteousness, keeping our eyes on Him alone and not on this world of sin and lawlessness.  Although our godless culture might condone lawlessness and sinful practices (sexual immorality, dancing, immodesty, profanity, gambling, drinking alcohol, smoking, and many sins such as these), we Christians must come out and be separate from them (2 Cor. 6:17).  We must start teaching and training our children in the way of the Lord, and we must pray to God for guidance and wisdom.  Of course, godly parents must model this in their daily life.

      Our godless generation has sinned against God by legalizing sins such as abortion, drug abuse, pornography, fornication, adultery, and homosexuality.  As our pagan culture legalizes and accepts these sins, bigger and catastrophic things will confront our nation or society.  And though we Christians may become strangers in a lawless and hostile world, we must remain faithful to God in Word and deed.  But we also must continue teaching the Gospel Message, showing patience and compassion toward sinners that they might repent and be reconciled to God.  We cannot afford to be silent on moral issues or compromise our faith!

      In every generation, God's Word can determine what is right, wrong, good, evil, and excellent (Phil. 1:10).  We must continue teaching God's holiness and righteousness to our profane and godless culture without compromising God's Truth.  It is time for God's children to unsheathe the Sword of the Spirit, moving forward to fight against our society's moral decay.  We must cry aloud, lifting our voices like a trumpet, showing all people their transgressions and sins.  Remember that the battle is the Lord's, and God is among us to help us fight against all evil! (Romans 8:31)

      God has given us His absolute, perfect laws that are intended to be used by all men at all times.  It is wrong, it is a sin, to disobey them.  His laws are the foundation of the Law of Christ.  We must use them to govern our societies and ourselves lest we perish!  Let us listen to them!
      “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work”  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

      May the Lord help us to discern right from wrong and good from evil according to His Sacred Word.

      Luci