I often find myself in a love-hate relationship with social media. This morning I strongly disliked what I saw. Belonging to an online group of like-minded women whose aim is to encourage one another with sound theology brought disappointment. I witnessed a woman respond to a sincere question of a sister in Christ with a harsh answer. What was said was true, but the tone was anything but loving. No doubt, she had the spiritual gift of rebuke!
This mini online conflict took me to the Word I had just read a few moments earlier. I love God’s timing. I couldn’t help but think how quick I am to sin in my speech. I was reminded of a battle that takes place 24/7 365 days of the year, not just online but within the Christian heart.
Psalm 55:20-21, “He has put forth his hands against those who were at peace with him;
He has violated his covenant.
His speech was smoother than butter,
But his heart was war;
His words were softer than oil,
Yet they were drawn swords.”
Our tongues can be so quick to tattle tell on our hearts. If we were to read the entire Psalm referenced above, we would see the Psalmist hurt from a betrayal by someone he worshiped with! Friends became enemies. Good and evil truly do reside within the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:20-21).
In the personal war, each of us wages against ungodly speech, we must first consider the source. Just like all wars, there is always a command post directing the next strategic move. What proceeds from my mouth is cold hard evidence of whether or not my spiritual command center is working properly. We can become careless in keeping our hearts, or our spiritual control centers, in proper fighting order. John MacArthur explains, “The heart is the control center of the mind and the will as well as emotion…it includes the thinking process and particularly the will.” We can fool some with our speech, but we can’t fool the Lord.
Matthew 9:4, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?”
I must keep my spiritual command center functioning properly in order to command my own speech to be life-giving to others. The Pharisees knew very well how to put on a show. But Jesus had no problem exposing what was really going on in their hearts to His true followers:
Mark 7:14-16, “After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”
The Pharisees were concerned about the dirty hands of those that had not participated in their cleansing ritual. As Jesus explained the parable to His disciples, He showed that He was most concerned about dirty hearts that led to all sorts of evil.
JC Ryle, “Sin and the devil will always find helpers in our hearts.”
Christ pointed out the many hideous things we are capable of apart from Him as well as their source – our hearts, or our spiritual command centers. The bottom line is, evil thoughts can only lead to evil speech. Our speech is a deed. We murder with our tongue, we steal God’s glory with our tongue, and we deceive with our tongue. We expose our jealousy and pride with our tongue. Oh, wretched woman that I am!
I should be concerned about the inner workings of my command center because it concerns God. God wants us to look like His Son; that is why He freely gave Jesus Christ for us. If we desire real change, we must understand the best way to instruct our heart, which will, in turn, affect our words. Ready to Fight? Here is how.
- Be On Guard
Proverbs 4:23, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”
“Watching” over our heart diligently is such a profound picture. While visiting Israel many years ago, I noticed there were watchtowers still visible in some of the fortified cities we visited. Much like the days of old, we are to be posted on guard, looking out for anything to sneak in or out that will be destructive. Scripture says we are to guard our hearts diligently. The idea from the original language is to keep it in safe custody. Gesenius’ Hebrew Lexicon says it this way: “keep thy heart above all things which is to be guarded.” We must guard it, or keep it, carefully, because the verse continues by telling us everything that flows out of it as we live our lives. We have a say over what is kept in as well as what comes out of our command center.
JC Ryle, “Thoughts are the parents of words and deeds.”
- Take Up Your Weapon!
Our heart’s best defense weapon is the Word of God. The guards and night watchmen could see quite well because of their strategic position. No doubt they also had weapons of defense when danger was lurking. Does your spiritual control center know how to protect from harming others with your speech?
Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
God’s word cuts deep and sees it all.
This can be both disturbing and comforting when we come to grips with the state of our heart. Because my heart is deceitful and sick (Jeremiah 17:9), I must look to the perfect One to see how He judges my heart. Praise God for the conviction of the Spirit through the Word of God! Diligently applying Proverbs 4:23 to see how our thoughts, intentions, and actions are matching up to Scripture should promote repentance, renewal, and change. As we seek real and lasting change, we must look at Christ’s work and example for His gracious help (Hebrews 4:16).
- Battle To The Death
2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”
We don’t usually think of victory in a war when there is a death involved. But death is required. Death to self is the source of victory over our words. Being controlled by Christ who died on our behalf should bring us to a greater awareness that we do not live for ourselves.
Are you willing to die to self in your speech, or do you have to have the last word or always be right? Ladies, THIS. MEANS. WAR! If we are not killing sinful thoughts, they will be killing us (and often others).
- Think Like a Warrior
2 Corinthians 10:5, “We are destroying speculations, and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.”
Many take this passage and use it wrongly thinking they are to rebuke demons and Satan. Instead, we are to rebuke and reform our wrong thinking. Our weapons should never look like the world’s worthless weapons of psychology, philosophy, or the false religion du jour. Instead, we take our EVERY thought captive to the obedience of Christ, and we do that as mentioned above with the only sufficient weapon; Scripture, rightly divided.
Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Ironically, this war, we are waging is for the sake of peace. When our mind is not on guard, we will not bring glory to God in our thoughts, words, or deeds. So often we willingly forfeit peace because our minds are not stayed on the Prince of Peace.
Plan of Attack
For, “the one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit (1 Peter 3:10).
In order to battle our thoughts and speech biblically, we must practice confronting ourselves. The following would be a good place to begin:
Read a chapter of Proverbs each day and make a list of all that is said about speech and thought life. Look at the correlating cross-references and include them in the list to use as a reference when examining your heart.
Pray for the Lord to expose any false thinking you have as you read your one Proverbs per day.
Memorize at least one verse from Proverbs or an applicable cross-reference per week that is most helpful to produce change
Walk in repentant faith by practicing wise thinking and words.
Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”
How will you purpose to wage war against your words?