Upon my Word:
Speech as a Moral Force
Sabbath Day Sermon: Saturday 10 November 2001
For the last two or three weeks I have been talking to a lady from the United States who has major spiritual problems. For the most part I have been listening to what she has to say in order to try and get a handle on her particular difficulty and I suppose altogether we have clocked up about 7 or 8 hours' counselling time. And as I have listened, one thing as been crystal clear - she does not believe that she is accountable to anyone for anything. Whenever I confront her on something that is unquestionably sinful in her life, the answers I typically get back are: "God knows my heart" or "I'm saved and heaven-bound" or "This is the only way I can cope with all my inner pain."
The tragedy of the situation is that this lady was ritually abused by Satanists when she was a little girl which all but destroyed her. For people in such situations - and sadly there are more and more of them as witchcraft and the occult become more popular - surviving in a cruel and hostile world is about the only level they can operate on. Learning to understand such people is very important if we are to help with them and the first level we must always begin on is simply by accepting them as they are and demonstrating, in a world where true friendship is hard to come by, that we truly care about them and want to be their friend.
The lady in question has made great progress over recent years, in spite of being trailed by various tragedies which have threatened to destroy what has been achieved. Satan does not let go of his victims easily which is why great effort and perseverance is required. And we, who have not been through such horrible experiences as they, must learn to be patient and long-suffering as we ease them, one painful step at a time, into the light of Christ's peace and freedom. Helping these victims gain a sense of self-worth is perhaps the first and most vital step in their spiritual rehabilitation because without that one doesn't have the strength upon which to build ones life. This means that we must constantly give them affirmations of our commitment, care and love for them. There is nothing more catastrophic for a person than to lose their trust in you. If they detect the slightest trace of dishonesty in you or pretentiousness, they will not open up to you and you will be confronted by a wall. It is for this reason that ministers labouring with such people have to be of the highest moral quality.
One thing that I have always found interesting in the years as a minister is just how vitally important the things we say are in the building of relations. The tongue is undoubtedly one of the most powerful healing instruments that man has, but at the same time one of the most potent and destructive weapons too. And it is not for nothing that the Bible has much to say about the things we say in daily life. The woman counsellee I have been speaking of did not think a great deal about the things she said. For her all that seemed relevant was that God knew her heart and that because of this she believed she was unaccountable for the things she said.
Yes, God truly does judge our hearts, but were that to be the only thing that mattered, the words we speak would then become utterly irrelevant. All concepts of promises, oaths, vows, covenants, and the things we tell others would become utterly meaningless. Yah'shua (Jesus) saus that our "yes" should always mean "yes", and our "no" always mean "no". He said:
"Let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one" (Mt.5:37, NKJV).
Absolutely truthfulness in our words is expected by Him, and anything else is regarded as evil and from the devil himself. We can, of course, argue about this as only human beings know how, but unless we have God's perspective on the matter of speech, we are going to be leading lives of self-delusion. To begin with our Heavenly Father, Yahweh-Elohim, tells us that one of the characteristics of God is that every word which He speaks counts. Solomon writes: "Every word of God is pure" (Prov.30:5, NKJV). Not the majority, but every single one. Everything that Yahweh has ever uttered is devoid of any corruption whatsoever. There is no deceit, dishonesty, insincerity, or any other negative connotation. In the Old Testament, when Yahweh gave His Law (Torah) through His prophet, Moses, He said:
"So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of Yahweh" (Dt.8:3-4, NKJV).
This statement, given at Mount Sinai, was quoted by Yah'shua (Jesus) to Satan when the devil tried to tempt Him by misusing Scripture. When Satan tempted Him to turn stones into bread, what did the Saviour say? "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Mt.4:4, NKJV). Not only does this confirm that Christ regards the words of Yahweh in the Old Testament as binding, and which He later affirmed many times when He said that not a single letter of it would disappear (Mt.5:18), but it serves as a reminder to us of just how important to our very existence God's Word is.
The great lie of this generation is that somehow the heart - our feelings - are more important than our thoughts. It's worth pointing out here once again that in the Hebrew, the language in which Yahweh chose to reveal His Word, that no moral distinction is made between feelings and thoughts. There are, for example, no separate words for "mind" and "heart" because to God, and to His chosen people, they are not to be regarded as separate. The Hebrew word lev, which we translate as "heart" in our Bibles, refers to both a man's thoughts and his feelings. When God examines our hearts, therefore, He is also looking at our thoughts. He says through the apostle James:
"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account" (Heb.4:12-13, NKJV).
At all times of the day and night, whether in conscious thinking or unconscious dreaming, God is examining our thoughts and feelings. And if that isn't uncomfortable enough, He says that we must "give account". Now that we dare not ignore. We can't afford not to notice these words. We are accountable for every thought and feeling that we allow to be birthed in our soul. Accountability means that we have to justify all of these thoughts and feelings at the Judgement Bar one day, meaning, we have to explain why we permitted such thoughts and feelings to manifest in our minds and hearts. Every single one of them. Yah'shua (Jesus) taught:
"For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man" (Mt.15:19-20, NKJV).
Notice, please, that is it not just murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, and blasphemy which defile a person - make him impure - but also evil thoughts. So long as we are defiled or unclean because of any of these things, then God's Spirit cannot be amongst us. For Yahweh told Moses:
"For Yahweh your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and give your enemies over to you; therefore your camp shall be holy, that He may see no unclean thing among you, and turn away from you" (Dt.23:14, NKJV).
Mark that well - Yahweh turns away from anyone - doesn't speak or minister to them - if they are deliberately living in a state of spiritual uncleanness. And that is why Paul said:
"Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor.6:9-10, NIV).
We must be absolutely clear that it is not just evil actions which make a person wicked, impure and defiled, but our very thoughts and feelings also. This is why Yah'shua (Jesus) taught:
"I say to you that whoever looks at a [married] woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Mt.5:28, NKJV).
There can be no doubt whatsoever that a condition for entering the Kingdom of Heaven is not only not sinning in deed, but in not sinning in thoughts and feelings also.
The way we think and feel is entirely a matter of choice. The scriptures teach us that it is a matter of training or self-education. Speaking of the pagans who behave in the ways of ungodliness, the apostle Peter said: "They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children" (2 Peter 2:14, NKJV). Covetousness, as you will remember, means to intensely desire something which is not yours. By training others to strongly desire things they are not entitled to, or by allowing ourselves to think and feel in this manner, we become "accursed children". The public is bombarded with a spirit of covetousness in the media every minute of the day on TV, radio, in magazines, and in other ways. By constantly listening, watching or reading these things, we unconsciously train up our minds and hearts to behave in the ways of the unsaved whether we claim the Name of Christ or not. Remember - and remember this well - it is not enough to make a profession of faith: our lives have to actually be in Christ in order to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven and not the kingdom of darkness. The lie taught by so many churches that we have only to passively believe that Yah'shua (Jesus) is the Messiah (Christ) has to be vigorously opposed for the lie it is. To be a saved believer and heaven-bound means to be living a life in Christ. It means to be living a life of virtue and holiness in thought, feeling and deed.
As I get older and meet more and more people, I am utterly persuaded of the truthfulness of this passage of Scripture quoted by Paul:
"Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness"; and again, "Yahweh knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile." Therefore let no one boast in men" (1 Cor.3:18-21, NKJV)
I was sent to arguably the best university in the world (Oxford) where I was not only trained to think clearly but where I also discovered that the wisdom and philosophies of men were utterly worthless. Everything that sets itself up against the truth of God's Word is utterly vain. It is meaningless. The thoughts of the worldly-wise are futile. The other night I was talking to a man from Hawaii who practices the pagan religion of that American State. Not only was his spiritual doctrine diametrically opposed to what Yahweh has revealed, but his logic was non-existent. He couldn't even think straight. That same evening I met a so-called "Christian" woman who was arguing that Christians are old-fashioned and sexually repressed, that they should be free to follow whatever sexual preference they have, and that God sees people's hearts and accepts them just as they are (how many times have I heard that one?). "Yes," I explained, "He accepts us just as we are when we first meet Him, but if we claim to believe in, and love, Him then He expects us to move on in obedience to His commandments and to change the whole pattern of our thoughts and behaviour. He does not continue to accept us as we were. Paul says:
"And that is what you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Yah'shua the Messiah) and by the Spirit (Ruach) of our God (Eloah)" (1 Cor.6:11, NIV).
And because she had no answer to the truth of God's Word, this woman proceeded to do what sinners always do when they are exposed in their wickedness - she attacked the Bible, claiming it was unreliable and politically motivated by men with a corrupt agenda to enslave women.
The reasoning of sinners is tediously the same. In order to justify their sinful behaviour, they blaspheme God and His Word, just as He said they would. Their agenda - the agenda of sinners - is always to justify sinful behaviour no matter what it takes. And in so doing they demonstrate that they are not candidates for heaven, but belong to the wicked who will be destroyed. Speaking of such people, the apostle James wrote: "Have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?" (James 2:3-4, NKJV). Yes, we are to judge, and we are to "judge righteous judgement" (Jn.7:24, KJV), but woe unto us if we judge with evil thoughts! Then, as Yah'shua (Jesus) said, we should "Judge not, that you be not judged" (Mt.7:1, NKJV), for then you will not be condemned for your own wickedness by God, and you will in turn be forgiven of your sins (Lk.6:37).
We are to judge in the way we want to be judged, and the only safe way to be judged is by the common standard that Yahweh has given all men, His Word, the Bible, which is consistent and will not pass away. When we judge out of God's word, we also are judged, and if found guilty, cannot be forgiven for our own sins. So if anyone tells you we are not to judge at all, mark him down as a liar and a fool, for Yahweh has said that we are to judge righteous judgement in a Spirit of truth and love, meaning, a spirit which seeks healing and restoration. We are not to judge for judgement's sake, but for love's, and then only fellow believers. It is for this reason that Yahweh has established Elders in the congregations of Israel so that mature Christians, who know God's Word, can pass judgement on offenders. Yah'shua made His Church Order very plain when He said:
"Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that 'by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.' And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church (Assembly), let him be to you like a heathen" (Mt.18:15-17, NKJV).
Do you hear what Christ is saying? If a believer is caught in a sin and refuses to repent, then he becomes "like a heathen". He is no longer a true believer! He is no longer a true Christian! Someone who sins and wilfully refuses to repent having been exposed has lost his salvation. If such a person is regarded by the Congregation of Israel as a heathen, then that is what he is, no matter how much he may claim to be a Christian! It makes no difference what he says if his behaviour contradicts him.
What this tells us is that being a Christian is coupled to daily repentance from sin. Being a Christian does not mean that we are perfect or fault-free, for none of us are that, but what it does mean is that we are in a continual process of reformation. At ground level, a Christian isn't just someone who believes in Christ and the Bible but is spiritually moving towards perfection by repenting of, and quitting, habitual sin. Indeed, one who is properly saved doesn't resist repentance and reformation, but gladly embraces it. His heart is possessed of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) whose presence creates within the soul such a mind and a heart. Where you have a person who does not gladly repent upon being corrected, who does not rejoice in correction knowing that it will save his soul, you have someone who has no idea what the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) is, and someone who has never really been saved at all, or one who has moved out of his salvation and into the perilous realms of the flesh.
To be a Christian is to be walking in the Spirit. Paul said: "If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit" (Gal.5:25, NKJV). He said, in the verse before: "those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (v-24). And what are those passions and desires? Well, rather than focus on the negative, let us actually see, once again, just what kind of behaviour one who is walking in the Spirit has:
"... love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal 5:22-23, NKJV).
And he adds, pointedly, "Against such there is no law" (Ibid.). Against such there is no law. What that means is, if you are walking in this spirit, no-one can ever accuse you of anything because such a person needs no outer law because he has become the Law of Yahweh within. He has reached the goal, which is that Torah (the Law) has been written on his heart (Jer.31:31-34). He has reached the goal. He has hit the target. And remember, the word "sin" literally means "missing the target". To sin means to be off-course, moving in a direction away from the target. And what is the target? The Kingdom of Heaven! And if he misses the target, what then? Well, you all know what the destination of such a person is. It's called hell.
Now a target is a very small area, is it not? In archery, it is a circular disk. Miss that target and you get no points. A Christian who is missing the Gospel target is missing his salvation. But one who is full of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control is on-target. He is still making mistakes, meaning that he will not get a 'bulls' eye', but he is still on-target. You see, targets have rings on them, don't they, with different points if you hit them? The Kingdom of Heaven is like that too. There are different rewards for the faithful - for those who are on-target. But miss the target, and you have no promise of salvation at all.
Every word that we think and every word that we say counts. Our words, along with the other characteristics of one who is saved, tell the world whether we are in Christ or not. God does not regard them as being of no consequence. Solomon said:
"The simple believes every word, But the prudent considers well his steps. A wise man fears and departs from evil, But a fool rages and is self-confident" (Prov.14:15-16. NKJV).
Consider well your steps. Consider well the words you speak and the words you hear. Depart from evil and beware of vain confidence. The apostle Peter said of Christ:
"He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands for ever." And this is the word that was preached to you" (1 Peter 1:20-25, NIV).
Or as the King James Version beautifully puts is, "The word of the Lord endureth forever" (cp.Is.40:8). As you listen to this beautiful hymn sung by the choir of Westminster Abbey, whose theme is this passage, I would like everyone to soberly meditate on what their words mean to them, and how they believe, in the light of Scripture, God will judge or bless them. And may we all be found repentant and true. Amen.
This page was created on 9 November 2001
Last updated on 9 November 2001
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