- It takes a child two years to learn to talk; it takes a man all his life to learn how to keep his mouth shut.
- It would be better to leave people wondering why you didn't talk than why you did.
- A closed mouth gathers no feet.
- Saving face is often accomplished by keeping the lower part of it shut.
- It's impossible for a worthwhile thought to enter your mind through an open mouth.
- If your mind should go bland, don't forget to turn off the sound.
- There is a danger when a man throws his tongue into high gear before he gets his brain a-going.
- Birds are entangled by their feet and men by their tongues.
- A slip of the foot you may soon recover, but a slip of the tongue you may never get over (B. Franklin).
- If you wouldn't write it and sign it, don't say it.
- What isn't said can't come back to hurt you.
- Wise men think without talking; fools talk without thinking.
- Man's ears aren't made to shut, but his mouth is.
- Most people will agree with you if you just keep quiet.
- It is usually the person with a big mouth that bites off more than he can chew.
- It is impossible to keep your mind and mouth open at the same time.
- Watch your tongue; horse sense is seldom hitched to a waggin' tongue.
- Keeping you chin up also keeps your mouth closed.
- Long tongues will mean short friends.
- Even a fish would stay out of trouble if he kept his mouth shut.
- As a man grows older and wiser, he talks less and says more.
- Think twice before you speak, and it will do no harm if you keep thinking while you speak.
- It is better to keep you mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
- Two times you should keep your mouth shut – when you are swimming and when you are angry.
- Speaking without thinking is like shooting without aiming.
- Those who jump to conclusions may land with a foot in their mouth.
- Usually the first screw that gets loose in one's head is the one that controls the tongue.
- What should not be heard by little ears should not be said by big mouths.
- When you get into deep water, keep your mouth shut.
- The only substitute for brains is silence.
- Words break no bones, but they do break hearts.
- If a man's life be lightning, his words are thunder.
31 July 2008
Proverbs 25:15 says, By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.
The power of a soft tongue. We really don't think that way, do we? We often think that powerful words are loud and rapid, or maybe large and impressive; that the way to win an argument is to increase the volume or to "sling mud" at our opponent. But the Bible says that a soft tongue breaks bones.
You might not have been this way, but if one of my parents sat me down and gave me one of those long, calm, "I'm disappointed in you" talks it hurt way worse than a belt or a paddle or a ranting.
We ought to remember this when witnessing. Let's allow the Lord to govern. Let's not allow some idiot to control our emotions and get us in his face screaming right back at him…because that's not going to do a bit of good.
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. –Proverbs 15:1
Proverbs 26:28 says, A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it; and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.
Let's take a bit of a closer look at the sin of lying [especially the gossip type of lying…spreading falsehood concerning another]. Two truths are obvious from this verse:
1. It hurts others
2. It reveals a hatred for the one(s) it hurts
Going back in the context of Proverbs 26, verses 24-26 read: He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him; When he speaketh fair, believe him not: for there are seven abominations in his heart.
Whose hatred is covered by deceit, his wickedness shall be showed before the whole congregation.
"Dissembleth." That is, to dis-assemble; to tear down; to destroy. The NT says we ought to seek to edify, to build up our brothers and sisters in Christ (Romans 15:2). Tearing down believers is the devil's work. Let's be busy about OUR father's business!
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. -1 John 3:15
The first two verses of Proverbs 27 contain simple, practical, wisdom that we all need to be reminded of. Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips. Enough said.
Proverbs 14:23 says, In all labor there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.
A couple of obvious points.
1. Hard work is a good thing!
2. Talking gets you nowhere.
Penury is defined as want of property; indigence; extreme poverty. The instruction from the book of Proverbs is to put action to your words. Don't we all know somebody who "dreams big" but never gets anywhere in life or somebody who has a million interests or ideas but never pursues any of them? They'd be well advised to shut up and just get to work on something. Less talk and more work is a good formula for success.
As in other aspects of the Christian life, Jesus Christ sets the example for how we should use our tongue.
In 1 Peter 1:21-23, the Bible says, For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.
Never man spake like this man (John 7:46), and never man kept silence like this man. And He lives within all believers. May we yield our tongues to His control!
Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. –Romans 6:13
Thus far our study of the tongue has encompassed the following topics: deadly poison, a well of life, think before you speak, vain religion, a time to speak, trapped by your own words, actions speak louder than words, sins of the tongue, and what is acceptable.
Having finished all of that, I'd like for us to take a look at some more peculiar and/or interesting passages in the Bible that make reference to the tongue.
The first of these is Psalm 12:3-4, The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things: Who have said, With our tongue will we prevail; our lips are our own: who is Lord over us?
Flattery, boasting, mischief, rebellion…all are evidenced by the tongue in this passage. God says that He will cut off those who talk this way. Now that doesn't mean He's going to send a preacher with a knife and scalpel to perform some type of operation rendering you incapable of speech. The phrase "cut off" is used frequently in the Bible and simply means to put a sudden and abrupt end to something or someone.
What is this person's main problem? I would say it is identified by the phrase our lips are our own: who is Lord over us? May we all continually bear in mind that we are bought with a very great price and that we are not our own (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Jesus Christ has the right, the power, and the authority to govern our lives…and our lips. Let us yield to Him full control of all we say and all we do.
Proverbs 21:6 says, The getting of treasures by a lying tongue is a vanity tossed to and fro of them that seek death. You've heard this over and over, and you're probably sick of hearing it, but it's the truth; and we need to hear it and know it and believe it.
There is nothing wrong with treasures, there is nothing wrong with riches, there is nothing wrong with money. But if those things are what you live for, if those things are what you devote your life to attaining, then you're headed down a very troublesome, very empty path. You might think you're seeking "life", but God says you're going after death.
What is the problem with the "will" to be rich? 1 Timothy 6:9 says that it pushes you into temptations, snares, and many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. Did you notice what Proverbs 21:6 said? Is it not true that there are many who have found material success through dishonest means? Is it not obvious that the greater the desire to obtain material wealth, the greater the temptation to do whatever you have to do to get it? To throw away your convictions, your standards, your righteousness, your service to God, because they might rob you of the opportunity to become more wealthy?
For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. -1 Timtohy 6:10
For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? -Mark 8:36, 37
Let's conclude our consideration of speech that is acceptable by putting some thought to not only what we say, but how we say it. Any female can tell you that both are important and that how you say what you say can make what you say have a totally different meaning. Guys, I know we don't understand it all that well, but both what you say and how you say it really are important. And the Bible does say that there is a way in which a Christian should speak.
It's not enough to say the right thing. We are called upon by God to say the right thing in the right way. Quick example. A Christian should talk about God's judgment, true? Yes. But when speaking about God's judgment, it would be wrong for a Christian to sound excited or happy as if he cannot wait for that judgment to fall. Plain enough. Simple enough.
So here are a few principles.
1. Be completely honest. Tell the whole truth. Remember guile? Don't tell the truth in such a way as to give a false impression. Tell the truth in such a way as to give a right impression.
- Proverbs 8:7-8…For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them.
- Jeremiah 17:16…That which came out of my lips was right before thee.
- Malachi 2:6…The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips.
2. Use tact. Wisdom is the proper application of knowledge. A Christian ought to speak the truth of what he knows, and he ought to do so in such a way as to benefit others.
- Proverbs 15:2…The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
- Proverbs 15:7…The lips of the wise disperse knowledge: but the heart of the foolish doeth not so.
3. Be kind. Be gracious. Be merciful. Your mouth shouldn't drip with syrupy mush, but if you're talking about God, love is a large part of His nature. And that should be evidenced in how we say what we say.
- Proverbs 25:15…By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.
- Proverbs 15:1…A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.
- Proverbs 31:26…She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is a law of kindness.
- Proverbs 16:21…The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.
- Ecclesiastes 10:12…The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.
- Colossians 4:6…Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.
- Ephesians 4:15…But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
May the words of our mouths be acceptable in the sight of God.
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Philippians 4:8 is a great passage that lists the types of things that we as Christians ought to think about – things that are true, honest, just, pure lovely, well reported, virtuous, and praise worthy.
The Bible also has much to say concerning what we ought to speak about, it's just not all in one passage. So let's take a look.
1. GOD'S RIGHTEOUSNESS
- Psalm 35:28…And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.
- Psalm 51:14…And my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
- Psalm 71:15…My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day.
- Psalm 71:24…My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day long.
- Job 36:2-3…Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God's behalf. I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
Every minute of every day, our great God is maligned and falsely accused. He gets blamed for what goes wrong and gets no credit when things turn out right. Don't you ever get tired of how people talk about your God? May we as His children be faithful to stand up and speak in His defense. May we be faithful to stand up and speak on His behalf.
2. GOD'S JUDGMENT
- Psalm 37:30…The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.
- Psalm 119:13…With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
This kind of talk will probably get you thrown in jail before too long in this country. But how is anybody going to understand and properly respond to the love of God (which they don't deserve) without a proper understanding of the judgment of God (which they do deserve)? May our witness be a fervent warning to flee from the wrath to come. May we be careful to remind a lost and dying world there is no escape for those who reject God's salvation.
3. GOD'S SALVATION
- Psalm 71:15…My mouth shall shew forth thy righteousness and thy salvation all the day.
- Ephesians 6:19…[Pray] for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel.
Is it not the great duty of every Christian to make known God's wonderful salvation? May the Holy Spirit fill us each with the boldness we need to carry out this charge.
4. GOD'S FAITHFULNESS
- Psalm 89:1…I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:21-22). He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able (1 Corinthians 10:13). He will preserve us blameless in Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:8-9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). He will keep us from evil (2 Thessalonians 3:3). He succours us in time of temptation (Hebrews 2:17-18). All because He is faithful. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He does not change (Malachi 3:6). Praise the Lord!
These are the things that a Christian ought to continually be speaking about – all the day long…continually…all the day…to all generations. Just stop and ask yourself right now, have any of these things been a topic of conversation for you within the past couple days? The past week? What do you talk about? It couldn't get much better than the righteousness, judgment, salvation, and faithfulness of God!
The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable…
Proverbs 10:32 says, The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh frowardness. In Psalm 19:14 David prayed, Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
If God is going to judge us one day on the basis of our words (Matthew 12:37) and on the basis of His words (John 12:47-50), then it would be well worth our while to find out what is acceptable to Him.
Our next three lessons will focus on what the Bible says about:
(1) The good things we should use our tongue, lips, mouth to do
(2) The good things we should speak about
(3) The good way in which we should do so
Today let's draw our attention to 4 good things we can use our tongue to do.
1. SING GOD'S PRAISE
- Psalm 40:2-3…He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.
- Psalm 51:4…My tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
- Psalm 63:3…Because thy loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.
- Psalm 71:23…My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing unto thee; and my soul, which thou hast redeemed.
- Psalm 89:1…I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.
- Psalm 119:171…My lips shall utter praise, when thou hast taught me thy statutes.
- Psalm 126:2…Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The Lord hath done great things for them.
Has God delivered you from the pit? Is He righteous? Has He proven Himself loving and kind? Have you been redeemed by His grace? Is He merciful? Is He faithful? Has He directed your steps in the counsel of His word? Has He done great things for you? Then it would be an acceptable thing to praise Him in song.
2. SPEAK GOD'S PRAISE
- Hebrews 13:15…By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
- Psalm 34:1…I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
- Psalm 51:15…O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
- Psalm 71:8…Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honor all the day.
- Psalm 109:30…I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude.
- Psalm 145:21…My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.
- Psalm 149:6…Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand.
- Romans 15:6…That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
You don't have to be in the church house with an open hymnal to offer praise to the Lord. Do it in the prayer closet, in the shower, at the restaurant, on the job, in the public place. "God is good – all the time," so let's praise His name – all the time.
3. PROCLAIM GOD'S WORD
- 1 Peter 4:11…If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God.
- 2 Samuel 23:2…The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.
- Psalm 119:172…My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteous.
- Hebrews 13:7…Remember them…who have spoken unto you the word of God.
God does not speak to man in an audible voice from heaven. He speaks to man through His word. It is the Holy Spirit's desire to reprove of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:7), and the only way for Him to do so is if Christians speak His words. The Spirit and the bride say, Come (Revelation 22:17).
God's words are quick and powerful (Hebrews 4:12). God's words will not return void (Isaiah 55:11). May we spread His message to all the world.
- Psalm 21:2…Thou hast given him his heart's desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips.
- Psalm 54:2…Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth.
What a privilege it is to enter the presence of God and speak to the Almighty Creator. God delights in the prayers of His children (Proverbs 15:8). Let's not forget to daily spend time in fellowship and communion with Him.
When instructed by his wife to curse God and die, Job answered, Thou speakest as on of the foolish women speaketh. What? Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? And then the Bible makes this amazing statement: In all this did not Job sin with his lips (Job 2:10). No doubt he was sorely tempted to do so. No doubt if anybody had an excuse, Job had an excuse. But he didn't sin with his lips.
What temptation or trial in our lives is greater than that which Job faced? What excuse do we have to say anything in violation of God's word?
Job further resolved (27:4), My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. David purposed that his mouth would not transgress (Psalm 17:3). He said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle, while the wicked is before me (Psalm 39:1).
Below I have listed several sins of the tongue the Bible speaks out against. I've copied down the definition and several references for each. Choose one or more of these for your own personal study sometime.
- False praise; commendation bestowed for the purpose of gaining favor and influence, or to accomplish some purpose. Direct flattery consists in praising a person himself; indirect flattery consists in praising a person through his works or his connections.
- Psalm 5:9; Psalm 12:3; Psalm 78:36; Proverbs 28:23; Proverbs 20:19
- Emptiness; want of substance; fruitless desire or endeavor; idle show; ostentation; arrogance; empty pride
- Psalm 10:7; Proverbs 17:4; Matthew 12:36
- Glorying; vaunting; ostentatious display of personal worth
- Psalm 12:3; Psalm 17:10; Proverbs 27:1-2; Romans 3:27;
- Exertion or contention for superiority; contest of emulation, either by intellectual or physical efforts; contention in anger or enmity; opposition; contrariety; contrast
- Psalm 31:20; Philippians 1:15; Philippians 2:3
- That which is done or spoken with the intent to ensnare, cheat, give a false impression, or cause to accept as true or valid what is false or invalid
- Psalm 50:19; Psalm 52:2; Psalm 52:4; Psalm 120:2; Proverbs 24:28; Isaiah 53:9; Jeremiah 9:8; Micah 6:12
- To utter a falsehood for the purpose of deception; an intentional violation of truth; exhibition of a false representation
- Psalm 78:36; Psalm 109:2; Psalm 120:3; Proverbs 6:17; Proverbs 12:19; Proverbs 12:22; Proverbs 21:6; Proverbs 26:28; Jeremiah 9:3
- The act of slandering the absent; secret calumny [calumny: false accusation of a crime or offense, knowingly or maliciously made or reported, to the injury of another; false representation of facts reproachful to another, made by design, and with knowledge of its falsehood]
- Psalm 15:3; Proverbs 25:23; Romans 1:30; 2 Corinthians 12:20
- Disposition to cross or vex; untractableness; crossness of temper; a disposition uncomplying, unaccommodating or acting in opposition to what is proper or what is desired by others
- Perverseness; reluctance to yield or comply; disobedience; peevishness.
- Proverbs 2:12; Proverbs 4:24; Proverbs 6:12; Proverbs 8:8; Proverbs 10:31-32; Proverbs 15:4; Proverbs 16:28; Proverbs 17:20; Proverbs 19:1; Isaiah 59:3; Acts 20:30; 1 Timothy 6:5
- an excessive degree or implacableness of passions and emotions; sharpness; severity of temper; keenness of reproach; piquancy; biting sarcasm
- Psalm 10:7; Romans 3:14; James 3:10
- Depravity; wickedness; perversion or deterioration of moral principles; loss of purity or integrity; debasement; taint; or tendency to a worse state
- Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 3:8
- Craft; cunning; artifice; duplicity; deceit; usually in a bad sense; to speak the truth in such a way to give a false impression favorable to oneself or another party
- Psalm 34:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Peter 2:1; 1 Peter 2:22; 1 Peter 3:10; Revelation 14:5
In Hebrews 13:7 we find that one who is given the responsibility of ministering the word of God MUST have a life that backs up the message they preach. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. A preacher who allows his life to be directed by the word of God is one who adds a certain level of credibility to the truth he preaches.
As Christians, it is our responsibility to minister and represent Jesus Christ. And we know that it is not enough to talk about Jesus' saving power. We have to live a life that backs up that message. We must preach Christ, and we must allow others to see Christ in us…BECAUSE ACTIONS DO SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.
In Matthew 15:8 and Mark 7:6 Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites and said, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. In Matthew 23:2-3 He warned, The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses' seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
1 John 3:18 instructs us as believers, My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. We have Jesus Christ as our example. He did not just declare His love for us, but (v. 16) Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
What evidence is there in your life of the power of Jesus Christ to deliver from sin? Is there any evidence in your life to suggest that you really do love God? That you love others? Forget about what you say, what do your actions reveal about the condition of your heart?
James 2:14 says, What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? The two examples given in this chapter are from the lives of Abraham and Rahab.
Abraham was said to be justified by works when he offered up Isaac (James 2:21-22; Genesis 22). By comparing scripture with scripture, we find that Abraham was justified by faith many years prior to this event (Genesis 12:1-4 w/ Hebrews 11:8-10; Genesis 15:1-6 w/ Romans 4:1-5, 12-13; Genesis 21:1-8 w/ Romans 4:16-22). However, up to the point in Genesis 22 when God tested Abraham and Abraham passed the test, there was no visible evidence in Abraham's life of the faith he possessed. Who would have called Abraham a righteous man? Sarah? Hagar? Ishmael? Abimilech? But after Genesis 22, who would have denied it? It is in this sense that he was "justified by works" – his works were the evidence of his faith IN THE SIGHT OF MEN. When Abraham acted by faith in Genesis 22, men could see and say that he was righteous (this is the strict definition of justification – the word does not always have reference to salvation – see 1 Timothy 3:16).
If you read Rahab's testimony in Joshua 2:9-11, she had faith in the one true God before she ever met the 2 Hebrew spies. But who would have known it? She was a harlot! On the contrary, after she hid those spies and let a scarlet chord out the window and escaped God's judgment in Jericho, who would have denied it? Her works proved that she had the faith she claimed to possess.
What about you and me today? Are we justified by works in the sense that no one would deny that we really do have the faith we claim to possess in the One true God and Savior Jesus Christ?
Lifestyle evangelism will never work. God commanded us to preach the gospel (Mark 16:15; 1 Corinthians 1:21). But it is important to back up the talk that we talk with the walk that we walk. The disciples in Antioch didn't call themselves Christians. They were called Christians (Acts 11:26) because the life of Jesus Christ was evident in all they SAID AND DID.
Today, let's take a look back at the verse we used to introduce this study. Proverbs 18:21 says, Death and life are in the power of the tongue. We noted that God compares our tongues to fire, swords, bows, arrows, and poison with the ability to smite, destroy, and slay others.
Today I'd like for us to consider from the Bible the consequences in our own lives when we use the power of the tongue in the wrong way.
It's amazing how many phrases and sayings we use everyday come from the Bible [had a link for a list of 75]. Another example of such is the phrase, "trapped by your own words."
- If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse (Job 9:20).
- Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea, thine own lips testify against thee (Job 15:6).
- Thou art snared with the words of thy mouth, thou art taken with the words of thy mouth (Proverbs 6:2).
- A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calleth for strokes (Proverbs 18:6).
- A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul (Proverbs 18:7).
- The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself (Ecclesiastes 10:12).
- For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned (Matthew 12:37).
- And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant (Luke 19:22).
Improper words have the potential to greatly hurt others. And saying the wrong thing can also get us in big trouble. Let's be careful.
Ecclesiastes 3 says, To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven…a time to keep silence, and A TIME TO SPEAK.
Last time we considered the fact that a Christian ought to be able to keep his mouth shut, namely at those times when his tongue would shoot out deadly poison. On the other hand, what we'd like to focus on today is the fact that there are time when we ought not hold back, namely at those times when our words can be a well of life. Let's take a look at 4 such opportunities we ought not let pass us by.
Psalm 40:9 says, I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O, LORD, thou knowest.
Why don't we make it our purpose and prayer to never miss an opportunity to declare the saving gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ! May the Lord fill our hearts with boldness and resolve to make known HIS saving power!
- Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy (Psalm 107:2).
- I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians: both to the wise, and to the unwise. So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth (Romans 1:14-16).
- [Pray] for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19).
Proverbs 27:5 says, Open rebuke is better than secret love. And 28:23, He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue.
There are times when I am wrong and in need of correction. There are times when you are wrong in need of correction. This is one of the main reasons God has placed us in the body of Christ together. Let us not be afraid to (lovingly) take a friend aside and point out some sin or error in his/her life. We'll all need it at some point or another. A true friend knows that it'd be better to risk the anger or resentment of that friend who needs to be rebuked than to allow that friend to continue down a path that leads to destruction. Are you more concerned with your friend or with yourself?
- Iron sharpeneth iron: so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend (Proverbs 27:17).
Proverbs 31:9 says, Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy.
We're so quick to jump to our own defense and many times hesitant to speak in the defense of another. Too often we give ear to gossip that either we know can't be true or have no way of knowing if it is true. Instead, let's make it a point to turn a deaf ear to the gossiping tongue and speak up on one another's behalf.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says, And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Let's determine in our hearts not to miss a chance to speak an encouraging word to a brother or sister. The Holy Spirit instructs us to seek to excel to the edifying of the church (1 Corinthians 14:12). May we each look for ways in which we can build up the body of Christ. Many times it's as easy as talking to a brother or sister about how God has blessed, or provided a need, or given you strength, or an answered prayer, or showed you something in your Bible reading.
Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin (James 4:17).
James 1:26 says, If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.
Ouch! Did you see what God just said? An individual can go to church, read the Bible, go out on evangelism, be separated from the world, have the right standards, the right music, the right friends, etc. (all of which is GOOD!), and yet, if that individual is unable to bridle his tongue, the "religion" he has is empty.
The lady with a skirt to the floor and a tongue twice as long is only kidding herself when she thinks about how "holy" she is. God said the guy who "really knows the Bible" but has a tongue as sharp as a butcher knife may think he's "spiritual," but he's really good for nothing (1 Corinthians 13).
Temperance is a necessary virtue in the Christian life (Galatians 5:23; 2 Peter 1:6). We need to cultivate the ability to deny the desires of the flesh and subject the temporal body to the regenerated spirit (1 Corinthians 9:25-27). And according to the Bible, one of the highest marks of "spirituality" or "true religion" is this ability to bridle the tongue.
Brother, sister, there are times we need to learn to shut up! There are times when we'd be much better off not speaking a word. We may think it will kill us to keep our mouths shut (Job said, if I hold my tongue, I shall give up the ghost), but to my knowledge nobody has ever died of "holding their peace."
Take a look at these Bible passages:
- Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred (Job 6:24).
- Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile (Psalm 34:13).
- I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue: I will keep my mouth with a bridle (Psalm 39:1).
- Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips (Psalm 141:3).
- In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise (Proverbs 10:19).
- He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction (Proverbs 13:3).
- Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding (Proverbs 17:28).
- Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles (Proverbs 21:23).
- For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile (1 Peter 3:10).
Be careful little mouth what you say. Is your religion vain or is it pure? Can you bridle the tongue? May the power of the Holy Spirit make us able.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another. (Galatians 5:22-26)
Is there anybody else who has had to do this often enough that you've developed a taste for your own toe jam? Or is there anybody who talked back often enough to develop a taste for bar soap (never got used to the liquid variety)? Please tell me I'm not the only one!
Anyway, we've all heard it said that we should THINK BEFORE WE SPEAK. Simple advice. Practical wisdom. Great idea! Wouldn't we all get in much less trouble if we actually did this from time to time? How often would a moment of thought have prevented some idiotic comment from being uttered, sparing a great deal of hurt to someone else and/or a great deal of embarrassment to ourselves.
Now, even though "think before you speak" is not a phrase that can be found in the word of God, the principle is definitely there. Considering that death and life are in the power of the tongue, we must be diligent to take careful thought before we open our mouths and speak.
- James 1:19…Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.
- Proverbs 15:28…The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.
- Ecclesiastes 5:2…Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.
In reference to Moses, Psalm 106:33 says, Because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips… Have you ever been provoked in spirit and spoken unadvisedly? Have you ever been overcome by your emotions and ended up saying something you wish you could've taken back? Many times the reason we end up inserting a foot into our open mouth is that we speak in "the heat of the moment."
David said in Psalm 39:3, My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue. The context of this statement is David's desire not to sin with his tongue (verse 1). Notice that his heart was hot. Notice there was a fire burning inside. Maybe it's anger, maybe it's depression, maybe it's sorrow, maybe it's joy, maybe it's "love," but whatever it is that has our emotions worked up, we need to be careful about what we say because being overcome by our emotions is no excuse to SIN with the tongue.
Don't speak unadvisedly. Take advise with yourself. It'd be better to talk to yourself and decide not to say something sinful or hurtful than to blab whatever comes to mind and have to suffer the consequences. When you're mad, when you're sad, when you're glad, muse before you open your mouth. Give thought to what you say.
Think before you speak.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)
What a difference between a member that is yielded to unrighteousness and one that is yielded to the Lord! If we go one direction, we can destroy, smite, and slay one another with the fire, sword, bow, arrow, and poison that is our tongue. And yet that same tongue has the power to bring life from death, peace from turmoil, and hope from despair.
Let's take a look at what the Bible says about the good we can do with the words that we speak:
- Psalm 17:4…By the words of thy lips I have kept me back from the paths of the destroyer
- Proverbs 10:11…The mouth of a righteous man is a well of life
- Proverbs 12:6…The mouth of the upright shall deliver them
- Proverbs 15:4…A wholesome tongue is a tree of life
- Proverbs 15:23…A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, ho good is it!
- Proverbs 16:21…The sweetness of the lips increaseth learning
- Proverbs 20:15…The lips of knowledge are a precious jewel
- Proverbs 25:11…A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver
- Ephesians 4:29…[Good] communication, to the use of edifying, minister grace to the hearers
- Ephesians 4:15…Speaking the truth in love, grow up into him in all things
We can use the power of the tongue to lead a lost person to the Way of eternal life, to deliver a brother or sister from error and destruction, to instruct a fellow believer, to build each other up, to minister grace, to bring joy…Inside your mouth today is a well of life (speaking of refreshment), a tree of life (speaking of nourishment), a precious jewel, and a golden apple (speaking of priceless value).
But yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (Romans 6:13)
In preparing for this next series of devotions yesterday afternoon, I was surprised to learn how much the Bible has to say about the tongue. I checked just about every biblical reference to tongue(s), lip(s), and mouth(s). In all, these 3 terms are used 699 times in the Bible…which says to me that there is much God would have us to learn about this matter.
Our first couple of lessons will be centered around the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21 says, Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
I am certain that many times we do not realize the tremendous impact that what we say can and does have upon those around us. The Bible says that the choices we make regarding the words we speak are a matter of life and death. We can use the power of the tongue in 1 of 2 ways: death or life, cursing or blessing, damage or benefit.
Let's take a look at what the Bible says about the tongue's ability to wreak absolute havoc. THE passage on this would have to be James 3:5-8. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beats, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poision.
Consider a few others:
- Job 5:21...the scourge of the tongue
- Psalm 52:2...tongue like a sharp razor
- Psalm 55:21...his words were drawn swords
- Psalm 57:4...their tongue a sharp sword
- Psalm 59:7...swords are in their lips
- Psalm 64:3...whet their tongue like a sword, bend their bows to shoot out arrows
- Psalm 140:3...sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders' poison is under their lips
- Proverbs 12:18...like the piercings of a sword
- Proverbs 16:27...in his lips there is as a burning fire
- Isaiah 30:27...a devouring fire
- Isaiah 49:2...my mouth like a sharp sword
- Jeremiah 9:3...bend their tongue like a bow
- Jeremiah 9:8...their tongue is as an arrow shot out
- Romans 3:13...poison of asps is under their lips
God compares our tongues to fire, swords, bows, arrows, and poison…having the ability to smite (Jeremiah 18:18), destroy (Proverbs 11:9), and slay (Hosea 6:5) one another. Remember that the next time you get ready to speak some insult or criticism or rumor or lie or evil report or deceit or crude remark. Death and life are in the power of the tongue.
Well, we've wrapped up our study on the biblical doctrine of "the law," and next week we'll start taking a look at what the Bible says about the tongue. Thanks to Noelle O'Brien for the suggestion…I trust it'll be a blessing to all of us.
Today I'd like to give you something I got out of my Bible reading this past week. Psalm 63:8 says, My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.
When reading through the 63rd Psalm Thursday afternoon, my mind immediately went to the passage I claim as my life verse, Philippians 3:14. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Paul said he PRESSED. David said he FOLLOWED HARD. And there is a certain aspect of effort, of struggle, of exertion, of perseverance, of disciple, of self denial, of flat out hard work inherent in the process of Christian growth, in the process of conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. The very word follow implies the idea that the object we're after is not stationary. I can run toward a telephone pole, but I wouldn't follow it…because it's not going anywhere. The point is that if we're not moving forward in the Christian life, we're losing ground. It's as if the object we seek to apprehend (Philippians 3) is in constant motion. And so we can never quit pressing. Daily we must renew our minds, renew our hearts, renew our resolve, forget what's behind, and reach forth to what's before. Strive, press, march, follow hard after God!
In light of all that, what a blessing that in the midst of such perseverance and steadfast pursuit of quite a lofty goal, we are upheld by the right hand of God (Psalm 63:8). While there is a certain aspect of working hard to grow in Christ, what a blessed truth that the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20)! What a blessing that God works in us to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13)! Praise the Lord that He which hath begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6)!
So while God requires that we put forth some effort, He knows that without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5), and so He supplies us with the power of His Holy Spirit to lead us, to guide us, to teach us, to empower us, to enable us, to make us perfect in every good work to do His will, working in us that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ (Hebrews 13:21).
To Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen!
Before wrapping up this study on the right and proper use of the law, let's summarize what we've learned to this point.
- By definition, the law is that body of commandments which constitute an amendment to the covenant God made to Abraham given for the purpose of governing the life of the Israelite nation in the land of promise.
- The NT says that the law is a good thing because it points to Jesus Christ by (1) convincing man of his guilt and need of a Savior, and (2) by way of typology (Passover lamb, Day of Atonement, cleansing of the leper, etc.)
- God never intended for any man to be saved by keeping the law…because He wants all men to be saved, and no man can do it.
- However, the NT Christian is subject to certain commandments from God (including the 10 given on Mt. Sinai) and is enabled and empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry them out.
- The most powerful motivation for adherence to God's commandments is love – love for God and love for others.
In concluding this study, I would like to answer a question that you may or may not be asking.
Based on the above facts, we have stated that the law is a necessary and effective tool in witnessing. However, we have also taken note that the law was only given to the Hebrew people. The question is this: how and why am I to use the law in witnessing to a Gentile, when technically that man is not subject to the law?
I believe the answer is given in Romans 2:11-16:
For there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.
According to Romans 1 and 2, every man is given a basic understanding not only of the existence of God, but of our accountability to Him. God puts in every man's conscience a basic understanding that there is right and there is wrong. If you'll read verses 1-3 of Romans 2, you'll find that this truth is proven by the fact that a man can recognize when another man has done him wrong.
Though God has only given "the law" to a select group of people, He has written some form of "the law" in the heart of every living and breathing human being. All men must be convinced that they are guilty before God (Romans 3:19). The law is the tool that God has given us to that end. For there is no difference: For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:22-23).
Hope this all makes sense. Hope something we've studied has been a blessing. Pray we'll not only learn this truth, but put it into practice.
When Jesus was asked to name the greatest commandment in all the law, He answered (Matthew 22:37-39), Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
Then in the 40th verse, He makes this statement: On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Elsewhere in the New Testament, Romans 13:10 says, Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And Galatians 5:14, For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
The point I'd like for us to consider today is that commandment keeping (which we should strive to do) is all about one thing. And it's not self-discipline, it's not self-control, it's not will power, it's not hard work – though all those things are great and helpful. Adherence to the holy commands of God is all about love.
Think about it, Jesus summarized every command available to the people he addressed in Matthew 22 with one two-part command: LOVE God and LOVE your neighbor.
First of all, let's explain what this does NOT mean. Love does not trump other commandments. We are not clear to ignore certain commandments because we think doing so would be unloving. For example, Jesus commanded go and preach the gospel to every creature. The majority of people in this nation and around the world have been blinded by the devil and have this misconception that a Christian's obedience to that commandment is an expression of hatred. Quite to the contrary, Jesus preached hard (see Mark 9 and Luke 16 on hell, or see Luke 13 on the consequences for not repenting), but nobody would question that He was motivated by love.
At any rate, what the Bible is saying to us is that if we love God and love others, keeping God's commandments would be a whole lot more simple…because it would become almost natural. If I love God with all my heart, there is no way I am going to worship some other God, or set up an idol, or curse His name, or forsake the assembly of His people (commandments 1-4). And if I love others as much as I love myself, there's not a chance I am going to dishonor my parents, or kill somebody, or take another man's wife, or lie about him, or covet his property.
Our problem is that we love ourselves way too much. And that's the number 1 characteristic of the perilous times God said would come in the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-2).
Now, let's think about it. Is God not worthy of our love? Of course He is! Jesus Christ bled and died for our sins. He has given us forgiveness and eternal life as a free gift. He has sealed us and indwelt us with His Spirit. He has reserved a mansion for us in heaven. He gives us life and life more abundant…He gives us all things pertaining to life and godliness…He gives us all things richly to enjoy. And we ought to love Him for it. Jesus said the best and the only way to prove that love is to keep His commandments (John 14:15).
In considering the command to love our neighbors, the objection that could be raised is the fact that they are not worthy of our love. The counter argument is three-fold:
We don't deserve the love we give to ourselves, and yet we love "us" anyway O
Others show us love we do not deserve
Jesus Christ set the example by expressing the fullest measure of His love – when we were yet sinners! (Romans 5:8)
So how's your love life? Love God. Love others. Die to self. Keep His commandments, and be blessed.
We left off with a look at the first 4 of the 10 commandments. These are referred to as the "vertical" commandments, as they deal with man's relationship to God. The next 6 are the "horizontal" commandments, dealing with man's relationship to his fellow man. That's where we'll pick up today.
5. Honor thy father and thy mother…
Jesus Christ quoted this commandment in Matthew 15:4, Matthew 19:19, and Mark 7:10. It is also repeated in Ephesians 6:1-3 and Colossians 3:20. Focusing on the NT passage in Ephesians 6, there are 3 things we need to notice:
- There is no "if." It does not say "if" you agree with your parents, or "if" they're right. It says to obey – period.
- There is a dual command – to honor and to obey. As long as you are in your parents home or under your parents care or living off their income, you are to obey. Once you have your own home and you have established your own family, you are no longer required to obey, but you are still under obligation to respect your parents, remember how they raised you, conduct yourselves in an honorable manner, and be careful not to do anything that would cast reproach on your parents' name. REMEMBER THIS IF/WHEN YOU GO AWAY TO COLLEGE!!!
- There is a promised blessing. Ephesians validates the promise given in Exodus – long and blessed life on the earth. (For an interesting study, look up Ecclesiastes 7:17; Proverbs 10:27; Psalm 55:23; Proverbs 9:11.)
6. Thou shalt not kill.
- 1 John 3:15 says that a man who hates his brother in his heart is a murderer. How many times have you verbalized such hatred, perhaps toward a sibling? How many times have you harbored such hatred?
- Here's an interesting thought. 1 Peter 2:24 says that Christ bare our sins in his body on the tree. 1 Corinthians 15:3 says Christ died for our sins. That makes us guilty of manslaughter. Jesus Christ died because of our sin. Now, no wonder God has such a hatred for sin; it is the very thing that nailed His Son to the cross. So why would we tolerate sin our own lives? May God make us all like Job, men/women who fear God and eschew evil.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
It is my earnest hope and prayer that each one of you has committed to God and to yourself that you will keep yourself pure for the day you get married. But remember that God sees and judges the thoughts and intents of the heart. He knows what you look at; He knows what you listen to.
Jesus said adultery was a sin of the heart (Matthew 5:21-22; Mark 7:20-23). Peter said the act could be committed with the eyes (2 Peter 2:14). Purity is more than a promise to keep yourself for your spouse. It is a pattern of life. It is a manner of conduct. Thou shalt not commit adultery!
8. Thou shalt not steal.
Ephesians 4:28 says, Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
As Americans, we have this idea that somebody – the government, our parents, society – "owes" us something. But, let's be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1) and establish in our hearts that nobody owes us anything. The Bible teaches that we are to work hard for what we have; that we are not to take ANYTHING that does not belong to us. 1 Timothy 5:8; 1 Timothy 6:6-10; 2 Thessalonians 3:10; Hebrews 6:12
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.
This mandate is repeated in Romans 13:9, Ephesians 4:25, and Colossians 3:9. Notice the command is not to bear false witness AGAINST thy neighbor. If you think about it, I think it would be correct that a lie is always told for the benefit of one party (most often self) and at the expense of another.
Proverbs 26:24 says, He that hateth dissembleth with his lips, and layeth up deceit within him. Look at that word "dissembleth." I think of that as "dis-assemble." How many times has a rumor or a lie or a story you or I have told torn down or broken down the reputation or good name or confidence of another?
And here are some New Testament exhortations regarding honesty: Romans 12:17; 13:13; 2 Corinthians 8:21; 13:7; 1 Thessalonians 4:12; Hebrews 13:18; 1 Peter 2:12.
10. Thou shalt not covet.
Arguably the most ignored of the 10 in America today. Hebrews 13:5 is the most comprehensive NT reference to this command. Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Covetousness springs from a lack of contentment. The thought here is that why would anybody who has the abiding presence of Jesus Christ ever fail to be content? Is He not all that we need?
So we are not "under law," but we have not escaped all obligation to live in accordance with some specific commands from God – including these 10. Let's HONESTLY search our hearts and ask God how many of these things are part of our lives. Let's pray Job's prayer, cause me to understand wherein I have erred. And let's get those things right.
The 10 commandments are listed in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. These commandments are generally broken down into 2 categories. The first 4 commandments are said to be "vertical" in that they deal with man's relationship to God. The last 6 commandments are said to be "horizontal" in that they deal with men's relationships one with another.
Let's take a closer look at the first 4 and their application to us as New Testament believers.
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Any act of sin we commit is evidence that we regard someone or something more than God. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Proverbs 24:9 says, The thought of foolishness is sin… Any sinful thought or deed is said to be foolish in the sense that it fails to take God into account (see Psalm 14:1). How often do we speak or act or make a choice or ponder a thought without being mindful of the fact that there is a God in heaven whose eyes behold the evil and the good (Proverbs 15:3) and who will render to every man according to his deeds (Jeremiah 17:10)?
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…Thou shalt not bow down to them or serve them.
This commandment is similar enough to the 1st that the Catholic Church tries to cover itself by combining these 2 and splitting the 10th (one about coveting your neighbor's wife and another about coveting your neighbor's goods).
Ezekiel 14:3 sheds some light on this commandment. According to that passage, men can set up idols in their hearts. What person means more to you than God does? What celebrity, what athlete, what politician, what boy, what girl, what preacher do you idolize? It's a sad reflection of our nation's spiritual condition when one of the most popular TV shows around is American Idol.
Matthew 6:22 says that no man can serve 2 masters. What master are you serving? Money, popularity, sports, fashion, education, success? Or the living God?
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.
Everybody realizes that it's rude to dial somebody's number then hang up when they answer the phone. So many people today call on God and never want to talk to Him. "Oh, my God" isn't just a slang phrase used to express surprise or fear or excitement, it's blasphemy.
The very fact that people use the name of God or the name of Jesus Christ to curse and to swear is simply proof that down deep in their hearts they know He is greater than all. Why don't they swear by Buddha or Mohammed or Ghandi or Allah or Hillary or George or…? Hebrews 6:16 answers that question: For men verily swear by the greater…
Now, do you bear the name Christian (Acts 17:26)? Do you take the name of Christ upon yourself? Then don't do it in vain. Don't call yourself a Christian and ignore Jesus' commands.
4. Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
We don't have time right now to go into all the reasons the Sabbath law is not binding upon the New Testament Christian, but here are some references for you to check when you get a chance – Ezekiel 20:12, 20; Colossians 2;16-17; Matthew 28:1. With that, here are 2 more considerations: (1) 6 days of work is just as much a part of the Sabbath law as 1 day of rest, and (2) no one was to kindle a fire on the Sabbath day (Exodus 35:3)…which means nobody can drive to church for Saturday worship because you ignite a flame every time you start your vehicle and rev the engine.
The New Testament version of this commandment is found in Hebrews 10:25, Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.
Let's pray as David did in Psalm 119:35, Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
The devotional/study today is only loosely connected to the 10 commandments, but I think it's an important matter for us to think about.
We have mentioned previously the fact that one violation of "the law" makes one guilty of breaking it in its entirety. That one sin makes a man a sinner of need of God's salvation. The basis for this statement is found in James 2:10 and Galatians 3:10.
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. (James 2:10)
For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. (Galatians 3:10)
The cross reference for the Galatians passage is Deuteronomy 27:26, Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Today, I'd like us to draw two different applications from these verses and others.
one sin is often equal to another
one sin (un-confessed and un-forsaken) always leads to another
As to the first point, there are a couple of passages that clearly point out the fact that one sinful act violates multiple commandments.
Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry. (Colossians 3:5)
Remove me far from vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain. (Proverbs 30:9)
[let me know if you can come up with any more that equate committing one sin with committing another]
God equates covetousness with idolatry. He equates theft with blasphemy. Why? Because their root is the same. I think that so many times we think we're OK because "well I do that, but I'd never do THAT." And we don't realize that the fact we commit that sin is proof that the root of THAT sin is down in our hearts.
Faithfulness to certain commandments does not give us an excuse to break any others. You're not free to have a heart full of pride just because you don't deceive your parents like your friend does. You're not free to entertain and indulge your ungodly thoughts just because you're not as immoral as some other people you know. You're not cleared from your responsibility to witness for Jesus Christ just because you don't drink and party. You're not free to covet just because you haven't stolen anything (yet). You get the point?
Building on this principle, we can find an example of the fact that one sin leads to another in the story of David and Bathsheeba in 2 Samuel 11. If you read the chapter carefully, David broke at least 8 of the 10 commandments (some of which are capital offenses) in the matter of one chapter. He coveted what did not belong to him. That led him to commit adultery with Bathsheeba, after which he dealt dishonestly with Urijah and had him killed so he could steal his wife. It is obvious that throughout this course of events, he failed to put God first, dishonored his parents, and cast reproach upon the name of God.
Where did it all start? What sin caused David to take such a great fall (and if you read about the rest of his life, he paid dearly for his actions)? It all started with yielding to a simple temptation. It all started with the decision to take a second glance at what he knew he shouldn't look at. "Oh, be careful little eyes what you see!"
Now, though we are not "under the law" and though we are governed by the indwelling Christ and not by rules and regulations, we are given specific commandments in the New Testament (very close to the same 10 in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5). And we are not at liberty to pick and choose which we keep and which we ignore.
God wants us to keep them all…only because He wants our lives to be blessed in so doing. Ask God to pluck out whatever root of sin is in your heart because if you don't, that plant will grow…and it will be ugly.
Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)
Greetings to all in the name of our wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Hope you're having a great day enjoying the benefits He loads upon us daily (Psalm 68:19).
Today I'd like to address this matter: Is the law binding upon the New Testament Christian? Are the 10 commandments binding upon the New Testament believer? Of course, there is no short answer to those questions.
Before we look at any scripture verses, let's remember that the law was given as an amendment to God's covenant with the Hebrew people for the purpose of governing their life as a nation in the promised land. Since probably none of us are of Jewish descent and none of us will probably ever visit – let alone occupy – any land in Palestine, the answer to the question is no, the law in its entirety is not, has never been, will never be "binding" upon you and me.
Next, let's look to the book of Romans.
For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (6:14)
1There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 5For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (8:1-9)
The point of the above passages is that the law had a dominating and controlling influence in the lives of men in the Old Testament. It governed and directed their lives. But they couldn't keep it. That law was said to be "weak through the flesh." And what God has given the New Testament believer is so much better. We are led and controlled, not by a law we can't keep, but by the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are governed and directed by One who indwells us and enables us to do what is pleasing to God.
A man under the law had no power to keep the law imposed upon him. But those under grace are given the ability to do those things that are pleasing in God's sight (because we are indwelt by One who always does what pleases the Father – John 8:29; Hebrews 13:20-21). Note, however, that freedom from the law does not release a man from any type of obligation to keep God's commandments. Rather, freedom from the law grants that man the opportunity to do so. "Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid" (6:1). "Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness" (6:18).
With that in mind, we could not conclude without pointing out the fact that each mandate contained in the Decalogue (fancy word for the 10 commandments) is repeated in the New Testament epistles…with the slight exception of #4. We'll list the references now and perhaps take a closer look at them later.
1. Thou shalt have no other Gods before me (Philippians 3:8; Hebrews 12:1-2)
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image (Acts 17:29; 1 Thessalonians 1:9)
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain (Ephesians 4:29; 1 Timothy 1:20; Colossians 4:6)
4. Remember the Sabbath (different, but similar command in Hebrews 10:25)
5. Honor thy father and thy mother (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20)
6. Thou shalt not kill (Romans 13:9; 1 John 3:15)
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery (Romans 13:9; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-7; Hebrews 13:4; Ephesians 5:3)
8. Thou shalt not steal (Romans 13:9; Ephesians 4:28)
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor (Romans 13:9; Colossians 3:9; Ephesians 4:25)
10. Thou shalt not covet (Romans 13:9; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Timothy 6:10-11; Hebrews 13:5)
In conclusion, then…
1. No part of the law is binding upon any non-Jew, especially a child of God…
2. However, the Christian is empowered by the Holy Spirit to do all that God requires…
3. And each of the 10 commandments is repeated in the New Testament epistles…
So I guess this means that we're not completely off the hook. But let's keep in mind that all of what God commands is for our good (Deuteronomy 10:13). Aren't you glad He loves you?!
We mentioned last time that the law points to Jesus Christ by way of typology – the lambs, the offerings, the high priest, the tabernacle, etc. all represent the Lord Jesus Christ in some way or another. The second way in which the law serves as a schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ is to show us our need for the salvation He offers – that we might be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24).
Over and over again, the New Testament states that the purpose of the law is to define sin, and in so doing to point us to the only one who can wash those sins away. Consider the following statements:
- Sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4).
- That every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God (Romans 3:19).
- For by the law is the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20).
- Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound (Romans 5:20).
- I had not known sin but by the law (Romans 7:7).
- I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died (Romans 7:9).
- Sin, by the commandment, might become exceeding sinful (Romans 7:13).
- The strength of sin is the law (1 Corinthians 15:56).
With this in mind, let's take a look at two passages.
We began this study with a quotation from 1 Timothy 1:8. But we know hat the law is good, if a man use it lawfully. Verse 9 says, Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane…Then verse 15, This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…
So what is the lawful use of the law? It is to show a man his sin. What is the purpose of the law? It is to bring that man to the Savior.
Now, read Titus 3:3-4. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared.
Notice the order in which the Holy Spirit arranges these verses. Verse 3 describes a man's sinful condition. Verse 4 follows with the appearance of the love of God. The point is this: a man who does not understand the fact that he is condemned before God as a sinner is not ready for the message of God's love. The gospel message becomes meaningful and effectual when a man understands that God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Let me illustrate it this way. If I go down to Orlando or Daytona or DeLand on a Friday or Saturday night, and I stand outside the bar, and I hug everyone who comes out and tell those people, "God loves you, God loves you," they are more than likely to agree with my statement. And from that statement they will conclude (1) if God loves me, then I must be okay, don't judge me, and (2) if God loves me, then He wouldn't send me to hell…both of which conclusions are obviously incorrect.
However, if a man comes out of that bar and believes the preaching he hears about the wages of his sin, he is ready to receive the Christ that died for him and rose again. So when you are giving the gospel message, be sure to emphasize the reason that Christ died – for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:3).
Aren't you glad that where sin abounded, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20)!
As we have stated before, the entire body of commandments given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai for the Israelite nation (the law) is an amendment to the covenant given by God to Abraham for the purpose of governing that nation of people in the promised land.
There are many today who believe and teach that some adherence to the law was required for people in the Old Testament to be "saved." They believe and teach a FAITH plus WORKS system was in place at the time. (Many of these people also believe and teach this system will be put back in place during the tribulation.)
Today, we are going to examine the book of Deuteronomy to find out the stated purpose for which the law was given. The book of Deuteronomy is said to be a second giving or a repeating of the law. It does, in fact, repeat much of the material found in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers…but it does so from God's viewpoint. While Exodus and Numbers contain the historical record of the giving of the law and the wilderness wanderings, Deuteronomy provides a spiritual record of the same material.
Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statues and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you. (4:1)
Thou shalt keep therefore his statues, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayeset prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever. (4:40)
Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess. (5:33)
Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. (6:3)
And the Lord commanded us to do all these statues, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is this day. (6:24)
All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers. (8:1)
Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey. (11:8-9)
And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the Lord thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessing shall come on thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God. (28:1-2)
Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do. (29:9)
In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. (30:16)
And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it. (32:46-47)
1. The law was given to the Hebrew nation. No Gentile was ever or has ever been responsible for any of it.
2. The promise given to the nation (not individuals) for keeping the law was prolonged, blessed life in the land of promise on the earth. No mention is ever made of eternal life anywhere.
The law was given to a physical people (Israel) with a promise of physical blessings (life, rain, crops, prosperity, victory over other nations) in a physical land (Canaan).