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[Home]>[How to Measure Your Beliefs]>[7. The Power of the Tongue]
This is the 7. Chapter of
"How to Measure Your Beliefs
by Frank L. Preuss
7.1 We Confess the Word of God
7.2 We Keep Our Tongues From Evil Words
7.3 The Vocabulary of Silence
7.4 Led by the Holy Spirit
7.5 The Real Battle-Field is the Mind
7.6 Untrustworthiness, Gossip, Lying
We have learned from Jesus that the success of a prayer is not so much a matter of great faith, because he says in Matthew 17:20, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed.
And this statement is also recorded in Luke 17:6. When Jesus speaks of a mustard seed, he talks about something small; he compares the magnitude of our faith to something out of our physical world and he does not use as an example a huge rock or a large building, but a small grain of seed, which we would hardly see if it were lying on the floor.
Our faith does not have to be that big. What really matters is explained by Jesus straight afterwards: Ye shall say unto the mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you (Mt 17:20). In Luke 17:6 Jesus expresses the same principle with these words: Ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
Jesus says: You shall say. When we believe, even when our faith is small, we can say and what we say will happen. Jesus even concludes: Nothing will be impossible for you (Mt 17:20).
This means that even with only little faith, nothing is impossible for us. The only thing that we really have to do is the saying.
This sounds simple, but when we start to measure our faith and hear what comes out of our mouths, we might have our doubts.
From different examples and Scriptures, we have seen that believing and saying are closely linked to each other and that our words are the barometer of our faith. Because our speaking is so important in our lives of faith, we want to explore this subject under the guidance of the Bible.
When we say we confess God's word, we mean that we speak positively. When we are God's servants, everything that brings God's kingdom closer to the world is positive. In Ephesians 6:17, Paul says: Take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The weapon in our spiritual warfare is the word of God. In his discussion with followers and enemies, Jesus always refers to Scriptures of the Old Testament. Again and again he quotes verses out of the Bible and when he speaks to the devil he does it in a very formal way, he says: "It is written." In the beginning of both chapters - Matthew 4 and Luke 4 - he resists the devil three times, and every time he quotes from the Bible.
Here Jesus clearly demonstrates how we use our weapon in warfare. And we follow him and do the same.
When the devil comes and attacks us; when he leads us into temptation by putting negative thoughts into our minds, we fight these thoughts the same way Jesus did. Our victory is based on our words and on the fact that we are believers. In Revelation 12:11 it is expressed this way: And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.
We have to put the word of God into us first. It can only come out of our mouths when we have read it and heard it; when we have grasped it and accepted it and when it has become part of our heart. The more often we speak it out, the more confident we will become in the use of this word. The more word we have in us, the more we will be able to fight; that is why Paul says (Colossians 3:16): Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
John expresses it this way (1 John 2:14): I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.
And Peter puts it in these words (1 Peter 4:11): If any man speaks, let him do it as one speaking the very words of God.
And he also tells us that we have to consider the words of the Old and the New Testament (2 Peter 3:2): That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandments of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.
In Hebrews 3:1 it is put this way: Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.
We confess the same words that Jesus confessed and said. Whenever we confess God's word, Jesus is our example: his word is our weapon (Hebrews 4:12): For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and the joints and marrow, and it a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The word of God discerns thoughts. Every thought that comes from the devil, is judged Ė discerned - by the word of God. We do it by confessing it and professing it (Hebrews 4:14): "Let us hold fast our profession.
Paul encourages us to confess and to profess: Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearer (Ephesians 4:29). Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses (1 Timothy 6:12).
We see that the Bible often speaks about the fact that we must confess God's word, and in the following we want to list Scriptures from the Old Testament that don't need any explanation:
The Lordís law may be in thy mouth (Exodus 13:9).
And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shall teach them diligently unto they children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
And Micaiah said, As the Lord liveth, even what my Lord sayth, that will I speak (2 Chronicles 18:13).
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer (Psalms 19:14).
Hear; for I will speak of excellent things; and the opening of my lips shall be right things. 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. They are plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge (Proverbs 8:6-9).
A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth: and the recompense of a manís hands shall be rendered unto him (Proverbs 12:14). Heaviness in the heart of a man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad (Proverbs 12:25). A man shall eat good by the fruit of his mouth: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence (Proverbs 13:2). The wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit (Proverbs 15:4). A manís belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat its fruit thereof (Proverbs 18:20-21).
Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips (Proverbs 22:17-18).
That confirmeth the word of his servant, and performeth the counsel of his messengers (Isaiah 44:26). And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand (Isaiah 51:16). So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it (Isaiah 55:11).
Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth (Jeremiah 1:9). Then said the Lord unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12).
God puts his words in our mouths and carries out the words of his servants and fulfils the predictions of his messengers. When we speak his words, he is watching to see that these words of his are fulfilled. What a blessing could we be if we could have all of God's words ready on our lips.
The real secret to a successful faith life is to keep God's word in our hearts and to have it readily on our lips - to speak the words of God.
When we hear a person speak correctly - speaking in agreement with the word of God - we can measure his faith and know that he has faith. And such a person not only has faith, he also has God's spirit. John the Baptist says in John 3:34: For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
The more we speak God's word, the more God gives us his spirit. If we only speak words of God, then he gives us his spirit not by measure: without limit.
The key to a successful faith life is to speak correctly. And the key to correct speaking is to refrain from wrong words.
Even if we often say the right things, it does not benefit us much if we make the wrong confessions in between. Wrong words; words of unbelief, cause us to lose our faith goal. If in between we confess the opposite of our faith goal, we are operating in doubt, we waver, we vacillate between faith and unbelief and we are inclined to unbelief. We are sliding in the wrong direction; we are backsliding.
We want to have a look at quite a number of Scriptures and we want to let them speak for themselves.
Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile (Psalms 34:13). Thou art snared with the words of they mouth, thou art taken by the words of thy mouth. (Proverbs 6:2). The wicked is snared by the transgression of his lips (Proverbs 12:13). There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health (Proverbs 12:18). He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: but the soul of the transgressors shall eat violence (Proverbs 13:3). The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of the fool poureth out foolishness (Proverbs 15:2). A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare to his soul (Proverbs 18:7). Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles (Proverbs 21:23).
Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him (Proverbs 29:20).
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. For a dream cometh through the multitude of business; and a foolís voice is known by multitude of words. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou has vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shoudest vow and not pay. Suffer not they mouth to cause the flesh to sin; neither say thou before angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands? For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God (Ecclesiastes 5:2-7).
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgement. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned (Matthew 12:36-37).
Not that which goeth into the mouth defiles a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man (Matthew 15:11).
Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man (Matthew 15:17-20).
O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith (1 Timothy 6:20-21).
If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this manís religion is vain (James 1:26). For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body (James 3:2).
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 it is set on fire of hell (James 3:6).
Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be (James 3:10).
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).
So there are plenty places in the Bible that warn us of wrong speaking Ė speaking guile.
We want to have a closer look at this Scripture from 1 Timothy 6:20-21. Not only do these two verses fit in with our subject, but they also formulate a faith principle. Paul explains here to Timothy that some have wandered from the faith because of godless chatter and because of opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed. This is a clear statement that wrong words lead people away from faith. And wrong words are defined as godless chatter and as professing "knowledge" Ė or science.
Today we might call the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge the teachings of this world in opposition to the teaching of the Bible. The teaching of the world is rightly called opposing ideas, because the ideas of worldly people oppose each other and we should stay away from them; we should not profess them.
But this Scripture can also mean something else. When we look, then we perceive, and what we perceive becomes knowledge; a knowledge obtained by sight, by the use of our senses. The result is that we walk by sight; we fix our eyes on what is seen; we are guided by present circumstances. And we start saying what we see, and this is what Paul called godless chatter, because it is based on a false knowledge, not on a knowledge coming from spiritual insight. The more we become involved in godless chatter and the more we profess the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, the more we wander away from faith. Worldly talk is bad for our faith. Professing momentary circumstances is speaking evil words.
To refrain from wrong and evil words is the key to right speaking. And to speak right is the key to a successful faith life.
If we want to be faith people, we have to speak the right way and this we can only achieve when we stop saying the wrong things. And the key to this refraining from wrong words, is the vocabulary of silence.
We will only be able to stop saying the wrong things if we can keep silent.
The following Scriptures will convince us that the ability to remain silent is a great virtue. We should meditate on these verses and also read in what context they are used - study them in the Bible.
And Aaron remained silent (Leviticus 10:3).
And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout (Joshua 6:10).
But the people remained silent, and answered him not a word: for the kingís commandment was, saying, Answer him not (2 Kings 18:36; Isaiah 36:21).
So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great (Job 2:13).
O that ye would be altogether silent! And it should be your wisdom (Job 13:5).
I 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).
Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties (Psalm 141:3-4).
In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise (Proverbs 10:19).
He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his tongue. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret (Proverbs 11:12-13).
The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things (Proverbs 15:28).
He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding (Proverbs 17:27-28).
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he openeth not his mouth (Isaiah 53:7).
It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because the Lord has laid it on him (Lamentations 3:26-28).
Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time: for it is an evil time (Amos 5:13).
Keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom (Micah 7:5).
But let your communication be, Yea, yea,; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh from evil (Matthew 5:37).
And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus remained silent (Matthew 26:62-63).
And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly (Matthew 27:12-14).
And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season (Luke 1:20).
The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth (Acts 8:32).
If we want to learn the vocabulary of silence, then we will find one good teacher, and that is Jesus. Jesus was always in control of his tongue. He spoke that what he wanted to speak; what his spirit and his will decided. He spoke when he wanted to speak and when it was inappropriate to speak, he remained silent. To keep silent, was no problem for him.
But we want to have a look at a specific reason why Jesus was silent as he was on his way to the cross. Jesus remained silent because it was his faith goal to go to the cross, to be raised from the dead and to sit at the right hand of God. Jesus was prepared to suffer to save us the suffering; to do something that was completely against his whole nature, because he was life, he brought health, prosperity, joy and peace. The only way that people could hurt Jesus; torture and kill him, was if he kept quiet. If during this time Jesus had opened his mouth and spoke life, life would have been around him and angels would have transformed these words into reality (Matthew 26:53). Sickness and death would not have been possible.
Let us take an example from Matthew 26:63-64.
And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. "Yes, it is as you say," Jesus replied.
Here Jesus does not say with his own words who he is. If he did that, life and freedom would have been around him. He replied in an indirect way, "As you say".
From John 18:6 we get an impression of what happens when Jesus mentions his name.
When Jesus said, "I am he," they went backward, and fell to the ground.
Jesus here used one of the greatest names of God: I am. In Exodus 3:14 God identifies himself with this name.
And God said unto Moses, "I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM hath sent me unto you.'"
When Jesus got arrested and he said his name, the presence of God was so strong that the soldiers were slain in the spirit and fell to the ground. They could not remain on their feet. Jesus could have just walked off, but he did not do it. He even allowed this arrest and everything that followed, to become reality because he often spoke about it to his disciples. Because of his speaking; because of his words, it became reality.
From Jesus' road to Calvary we can see how the word of God, when we speak it ourselves, can bring life. Jesus had to keep silent; had he spoken life his death wouldn't have been possible.
John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus; his birth was endangered by the wrong and unbelieving confessions of his father, Zechariah, and God had to keep him silent by force. Only after he made the right confession; after he wrote, "His name is John", could he speak again (Luke 1:63-64). Something extraordinary had happened to Zechariah: an angel appeared to him and told him that he would have a son. But Zechariah said (Luke 1:18): Whereby shall I know this? For I am an old man and my wife well stricken in years.
So we see that unbelief can happen even to this high-ranking believer. While he was standing in the Holy Place, Zechariah received a direct word of the Lord via a miraculous appearance of an angel and he did not believe it, he doubted. He saw the natural circumstances; he walked by sight, he was not spiritual.
The angel listened to him, measured his faith and told him the result (Luke 1:20): Thou believest not my words.
And in order not to hinder God's plan in the beginning stages already, and to prevent Zechariah from stopping the coming of John the Baptist by unbelieving confessions, the angel made him dumb. And he made him silent, not able to speak "until the day this happens." The angel had measured his faith and had placed him on a level of "little faith". He knew that Zechariah would only believe after he has seen and checked the miracle. Until the day that these things shall be performed.
How often did we not receive because we did not remain silent? It is exceptional for God to make somebody dumb in order to prevent him from destroying his faith goal, but normally it is our task not to speak against God's word; to keep silent. Our success in receiving will depend very much on our ability to use the vocabulary of silence.
Whilst reading the last few chapters of this study, we have probably wondered why so many Scriptures were used. A list of Bible verses appeared and most of them even without an explanation; wouldn't a few examples have been enough? One reason is that the word of God always bears much more power than the word that comes from ourselves. But there is also another reason.
When we have a look at the practical side of faith, we come to the unsatisfactory conclusion that the Bible actually says very little about it. We find principles of faith, but not very much about the application of these principles. It is quite difficult to see the practical side of faith. The Bible so often speaks about the importance of faith; that we can't please God without faith and that everything that does not come from faith is sin. But how do we actually do this believing?
Not before we recognise the connection between believing and speaking will the door be opened to us. Only then will we slowly be shown that there are many passages of Scripture that state something about speaking; that deal with the power of the tongue; that give prominence to the importance of the word of God.
Innumerable examples in the Bible report about conversations between people or between God and a person. From many of these examples, we can learn something about faith. After our spiritual eyes have been opened, our understanding of these reports becomes clearer and we begin to grasp why they are actually in the Bible. The practical application of our faith principles therefore has a lot to do with learning from these stories that teach us about how we have to speak and - probably even more importantly - how and when to keep silent.
We want to have a look at a dramatic story in order to learn something about the vocabulary of silence. It is the report about the Shunammite and we find it in 2 Kings 4:8-37 and 2 Kings 8:1-6. The Shunammite urges the prophet Elisha to stay for a meal. So whenever he comes by, he stops there to eat. She and her husband even build an apartment for Elisha and furnish it. He lives there whenever he is in that area. He wants to show his gratitude and asks this well-to-do woman what he can do for her. But she has no wishes. Elisha hears that she has no son and prophesies a son for her. She says that he must not mislead her. She becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son. Years later, the son comes from the field, is sick and dies in her lap.
She probably experiences the greatest crisis a mother can endure. Her son, the only one, not even grown up, dies. The thoughts that come to this woman are tremendous. The purpose of her whole life, the most important thing God has ever given her, that she had born in her own womb, her only son, all this seems to have come to nothing. The future seems empty. God seems so far away. Panic, anger, despair, accusations, perplexity, sorrow, guilt, all these thoughts flash through her mind. What must she do? What is her husband going to say? Did she do something wrong? The devil comes from all sides; it is his opportunity to lead this woman astray.
Here we learn something about the character of the Shunammite. We already know that she is a well-to-do woman. She is God-fearing and interested in God's work. Outwardly, she does not bear an office, but she is a steadfast servant of God. She is led by the Holy Spirit. She recognises a man of God when she sees one. Her eyes are open. She recognises when it is possible for her to help. She can bring into action the gifts God has given her. She is practical. She is prepared to give; to spend quite an amount of money to brighten the life of one of God's servants; to create a place for him to rest and meditate. She respects her husband; she discussed her plans with him and she obtains his consent.
Such a person is persistent in her work for the kingdom of God and resolute in a crisis. Despite the turmoil in her mind, she knows one thing: The word of God is unfailing. She takes all her thoughts captive and makes them obedient to God (2 Corinthians 10:5). She goes to the word of God; the word that the man of God spoke to her: "You will hold a son in your arms." (2 Kings 4:16). She leaves her problem and goes to the solution. Her solution is the resurrection of her son. She sets her faith goal; it is in her heart; she does not even speak it out, but from this moment on all her actions and her words express her faith.
She has a plan of action. She knows that it is more than 20 km to Mount Carmel, and that the mountain itself is 20 km long. Her journey will take hours. She will have to prove her faith by a considerable amount of work and effort. The moment her plan is made, she takes action. She brings her dead son to the apartment of the prophet and calls her husband, saying (2 Kings 4:22): "Please send me one of the servants and a donkey so I can go to the man of God quickly and return."
Now the interesting words are the ones she does not say. The following events will show us that this woman masters the vocabulary of silence. Which mother would not first reach for the phone and call her husband and tell him the terrible news and expect his support. We would plainly consider it to be her duty to inform her husband, the father of the son. Let us imagine our son dies at home, and the wife phones us at work and instead of giving us the news she says, "Please send me the car quickly, I want to go to Elisha but I will be back soon" and we hear later that our son has died. We would question her common sense; her trust in us.
But the Shunammite knows that she has to endure this trial on her own. She only can rely on one and that is God and his prophet. In 2 Chronicles 20:20 it says: "Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful."
She knows Elisha is not some prophet but "his" prophet. She could rely on him. She relies on his word, which is for her the word of God.
All the actions of the Shunammite show that she is in control of the situation.
Her husband responds to her request and inquires if this sudden trip today is really necessary as there is no holiday. She, however, replies, "It's all right," saddles the donkey and orders to depart. She does not engage into a conversation. She has not got time for it. She knows that her husband knows her - that he can rely on her. But despite the urgency she remains considered. She is polite towards her husband. She is sensible. She does not loose time. But she is not over-hasty. She tells her servant to lead on; not to slow down for her unless she tells him. She remains in control of the situation.
Elisha sees her in the distance and says to his servant Gehazi to run and meet her. And Gehazi asks her as he is told (2 Kings 4:26): "Are you all right? Is your husband all right? Is your child all right?
And now we come to this almost impossible reply: "Everything is all right."
The Shunammite answers Gehazi that everything is all right. The prophet had also inquired after her son, and the mother says that he is all right. Just a few hours ago, she had this terrible experience and knows that her son is dead, and yet she says that he is all right. A person that is not a believer and does not understand the confession of a believer, will probably say that this woman is a liar.
The Shunammite talks to her husband, to her servant and to Gehazi, but to none of them does she mention the death of her son. She does not talk about present circumstances; about what she just experienced; about her "knowledge". She does not walk by sight, but by faith. And it would do her good to share her experience with somebody; all three persons know her son and they would show understanding, sympathy, compassion, pity, sorrow, consolation, respect, interest and readiness to help.
But this woman knows her faith goal, and does not share her problem with these three people. She remains silent; she only says what is essential and what is positive.
Only when she reaches the man of God at the mountain, does she start talking business. She knows that Elisha is known in the whole country as a man of faith, and she has experienced his faith in her own life. But she does not talk about her problem to him; no words of unbelief come out of her mouth. She takes hold of his feet and Elisha concludes that she is in bitter distress. She is in a emotional calamity, but her words don't show it, Elisha does not know the reason. The Lord has hidden it from him, and has not told him why. The Shunammite says (2 Kings 4:28): "Did I ask you for a son, my lord? Didn't I tell you, 'Don't raise my hopes'?"
She knows the importance of words, and she remembers her own words several years ago very well. And she remembers the prophet's word, it is this word - the word of God - she stands on.
She had not asked for a son, but we can assume that it was a desire of her heart. The prophet was responsible for the birth of her son; the prophet's word became reality and she fully accepted this gift of God. When the son is taken from her, she remembers the prophecy and reminds the prophet of his part and of her own words, "No, my lord, don't mislead your servant, O man of God!"
She knows that this man is a prophet of God, that he is the successor of Elijah and that Elijah raised the dead. She knows that Elisha can do the same, and she appeals to his word, to the prophecy that came out of his mouth.
Elisha actually does not know what the matter is. God has not told him and the Shunammite has not told him that her son is dead. It can be that Elisha assumes that the son is sick or dying.
Elisha thinks about his situation, he probably thinks how his whole ministry will be endangered if this boy dies. His word is at stake; he is responsible for this boy; his faith is at stake and the reputation of God, whom he represents. Elisha had prophesied in faith; he cannot just stop believing now, he knows that he has to keep his faith going. His trustworthiness, and God's, are at stake; the whole of Israel will know about the outcome very soon.
Elisha tells Gehazi to take his staff, to run and lay the staff on the boy's face. The Shunammite does not seem to be impressed by this. Maybe she is more conscious of Gehazi's personality than Elisha. Maybe she does not trust Gehazi. Before she really got to know Elisha, she knew that he was a holy man of God. Later, after the healing of Naaman the leper, Gehazi behaved untrustworthily and lied to Elisha. It may be that the Shunammite senses something of this trait in Gehazi; also that Gehazi wants to push her away when she takes hold of Elisha's feet, tells her something of what was really in his heart. She says to Elisha that she will not leave him and so he gets up and follows her. He probably realizes that the matter is more serious than he thinks.
Many hours must be passing. Elisha arrives at Shunem. Gehazi was not successful but Elisha is, he gives her back her son, well and alive. The Shunammite falls to his feet and bows to the ground. She thanks Elisha. She walks in love and in faith. Whenever we come to a crisis, our thoughts should go to Shunem.
Elisha saves this woman from famine by telling her to go away. After seven years, she and her family return and God helps her to regain her possessions and even more. She mastered the vocabulary of silence and it made her strong in faith and successful.
There is a much longer story in the Bible, the story of Job and all his sufferings. But at the heart of Jobís story was a simple problem: he did not entertain the habit of the vocabulary of silence. But he finally realises that this was his problem and he told God that he will stop talking: "I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. I will say no more," he declares (Job 40:4-5). So if you are tired of suffering do as Job did, stop talking. And the beautiful thing about it is that you might be more blessed then you have been before. And Job was the greatest of all the man of the east before his suffering started and afterwards he was even more blessed. And so will it be with you Ė you will be richly blessed and you will be a blessing.
We speak of the power of the tongue. If somebody masters the vocabulary of silence, he no doubt has control over his tongue. In James 1:26, we are told that we have to keep a tight rein on our tongue if we want to serve God; if we don't control our tongue we deceive ourselves and our service is worthless.
To control our tongue is a must. We have to aim at perfection and we are perfect when we are never at fault in what we say; then we are also able to keep our whole body in check (James 3:2). This means that we are also able to remain healthy: to keep our whole body in check. Our health therefore depends also on our words.
In James 3:7-8 the Bible says something surprising: For every kind of beasts, 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 poison.
We can tame all animals, says James, but we can't tame our own tongues: But no man can tame the tongue.
James does not say that the tongue can't be tamed; he says "no man" can tame the tongue.
God can do everything; he can also tame the tongue of a man. But he can't do it against the will of a man. A man must want God to tame his tongue. God can do everything, but he is bound by his word. He can't act against his word. If God could not rely on his own word, he would be untrustworthy; he would not be a God of faith any more.
And God gave man authority; he gave him a will of his own. Man has got a will like God has one, a free will, because man is made in God's image; made in the likeness of God. And God can't change the will of a man - he can influence it. God has control over the physical universe and from there he can exert influence, but he does not have to do it.
If a man consciously or unconsciously acts against his own interest, God can do something about it; he can, but he does not have to. And in many cases he does not do it.
When I am completely on God' side and unconsciously I am about to strike my foot against a stone, his angels will protect me (Psalm 91:12). But if I strike my foot against the body of my neighbour and do it consciously, violently and in anger, it is very likely that God won't protect me from a hiding. Then I am not on his side; I have acted against his word.
I must make a quality decision when I want God to act on my behalf. If I want to have his protection and salvation, then I have to decide accordingly. If I want his protection so that I don't go to hell, then I have to make a clear decision. I make Jesus my Lord, and the protection is there.
If I want to live victoriously here on earth already, then I have to decide accordingly. The key to this is the control of the tongue, and when I know that I can gain this control only with the help of God, then I decide to use God's help.
The heading of Psalm 141 is "Against the attractions of evil" and in verses three and four, we are told how to ask for this protection against the attractions of evil; how to pray that God watches over our mouths. We therefore recommend the following prayer (Psalms 141:1-4):
Lord, I cry unto thee: make hast unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee. Let my prayer be set before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, keep the door of my lips. Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works.
This prayer we should only pray once and believe that God sets this guard over our mouth. Whenever we want to pray in this direction again, we should do it in the form of a confession. With a confession, we confirm our prayer and our faith, and confess that we have received what we have prayed for.
The following confession is a suggestion; it can be spoken as often as required. Only Scriptures are used.
God controls my tongue
My personalized profession
I am purposed that my mouth shall not transgress (Psalms 17:3). Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer (Psalms 19:14). Lord I thank you that you set a guard over my mouth; that you keep watch over the door of my lips. My heart is not drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds (Psalms 141:3-4). I put away perversity from my mouth; I keep corrupt talk far from my lips (Proverbs 4:24). I do not worry, saying, 'What shall I eat?' or 'What shall I drink?' or 'What shall I wear?' (Matthew 6:31). I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. I always do what pleases him (John 8:28-29). I call things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17). I do not let any unwholesome talk come out of my mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And I do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom I was sealed for the day of redemption. I get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice (Ephesians 4:29-31). There is no obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, they are out of place, but there is thanksgiving (Ephesians 5:4) Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - I think about such things (Philippians 4:8). I avoid godless chatter (2 Timothy 2:16).
The more I read through this confession and speak it out, the more I will understand the meaning of the words and I will accept them and I will recognise their positive purpose in my life and I will desire that they become reality in my life.
In Ephesians 4:30, Paul says: And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
And the verses before and after speak of sins, words, anger, slander and so on. Paul says that this sinful behaviour, especially with words, is a grieving of the Holy Spirit of God. When we speak words that are not in agreement with the word of God, we grieve the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit lives in our spirit; he comes into our spirit when we make Jesus our Lord; we then receive eternal life and have fellowship with God. Our spirit gets born again. And we then start to be led by our spirit. The more we renew our spirit with the word of God, the better our spirit can guide us. And we learn to listen more and more to our spirit and are led by it.
There is a simple way to get used to the leadership of the spirit. Whenever we are going to say something that is wrong, we hear this voice of our heart, the voice of our human spirit. How often haven't we said or thought: I knew I shouldn't have said it, but then it slipped out anyway. Before we let these negative words come out of our mouths, our human spirit knew it already. It wanted to warn us. This inner voice of guidance was shouting: "Now you are going to say something bad" or "What you are going to say now is out of place" or "With these words you will disclose a confidential matter or you will nourish a rumour" and we hardly ever listened to this voice of our spirit. We didn't know what it was. We didn't know that besides our body and our soul - our mind, our will, our thinking - there was a spirit, our real self. We did not realise that we always say everything that comes to our mind. But the devil has got access to our mind; he gives us thoughts and tries to influence our will. The strength of a person lies in his ability to not always say what he thinks. The reason is that the devil has influence on our thinking also. That is the very thing the devil wants; he gives a thought and wants us to speak it out immediately. But we have to check a thought; we see if this thought is true, if it agrees with the truth, the word of God. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 the Bible calls it "bringing into captive every thought to the obedience of Christ." The same is expressed with other words in Hebrew 4:12, "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." We check a thought that comes into our mind: we take the word of God and judge the thought against it - we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Some people say: "He never says what the thinks," and with this they want to indicate a negative trait. But what they really want to express is that this man's heart does not agree with what he says. They feel that he has no love in his heart, and tries to hide this with words.
But there might be another reason why they make such a statement. They might actually be complaining that he is not putting into words the actions that are happening around him. Especially not the negative actions. He is not prepared to stabilise with words the events and bad acts of others. They might feel exposed by his silence. Because they are always sinning by fulfilling the desires of their flesh and by confessing everything what they see. They always have to put into words and to describe all the bad things around them. And now they feel attacked by a person who does not take part in this and they defend themselves by accusing him of never saying what he things.
When we are not taking part in worldly talk - in negative speaking - then we will cause a reaction from those who do. Our non-participation makes them conscious of their sinful behaviour and is therefore an effective way to be a witness. The vocabulary of silence lets them see their wrong way and calls them to repentance. They become conscious of their sinful behaviour and they might regret it - if their hearts are right. We therefore become witnesses of Christ when we become willing to be led by his spirit.
Our first step must be to recognise our inward voice as such. Whenever it happens again that the voice of our spirit warns us, we should think about it and meditate on it. And when we did not follow this warning signal and still said the wrong words, we should not give up. We should simply determine in our heart to always pay attention to our inner voice of guidance, to respect it and to react to it positively. And we should thank God that he dwells in us and our spirit and guides us through our spirit.
And this is only the beginning. First we are led by our spirit to gain control over our tongue. But then we go further and let our spirit guide us in all the aspects of our lives. We do not allow our tongue to control us but we control our tongue. Our body does not rule us but we rule over our body. We do not allow our money to control us but we control our money; uncontrolled spending has an end and we determine when money is spend; we decide this and we resist the devil when he urges us to buy things we do not need; but we also resist the devil when we have the opposite problem and want to hoard money; then we start to give money to the poor and get detached from the craving for more money. We free ourselves from the domination of the devil and we do it with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Paul says to us in Galatians 5:16, "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the desires of the sinful nature." We will then lead a successful life and sin will have no say in our life. And we are God's sons when we are led by the spirit. "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are sons of God" (Romans 8:14).
And we let God guide us and we believe that he is guiding us (Proverbs 3:5-6): "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
We learn to obey our spirit, our conscience, our inward voice. With this ability we will know in every situation what to do.
We have now got to the core of the matter, of how to live the successful Christian life. The successful, victorious Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit dwells in his spirit. He is led by his human spirit; by his own spirit in which dwells the Holy Spirit. This guidance enables him to control his tongue. He controls his tongue and therefore his whole body and all circumstances of his life. Because he can control his tongue - with the help of God - he masters the vocabulary of silence, he can stop talking anytime he wants to. This gives him the ability to refrain from saying the wrong things. His knowledge of the word of God feeds his spirit and he thinks and speaks in line with the word of God. He confesses God's word. He speaks the same language that God speaks. The word of God is final authority in his life. He has the ability to speak right and with this the key to faith. He knows how to speak and he knows how to believe - nothing is impossible for him.
Here we want to consider our mind. The mind is the part of the soul with which we think. Our mind is the actual battle-ground. When we learn to master our mind, we will have victory. With our will, we can determine what we want to think. This is an extraordinarily important realization. Many people have never thought about the fact that they actually can completely control what they are going to think.
A man can think about the depressing state he is in; think depression; think failure; think listlessness; think suicide; think darkness, or he can stop at once and think the opposite.
Often we just think what comes to our mind; we let our thoughts take their course; we let them wander off, or we are lost in thought. But we also have a will, and with it we can decide to stop thinking about a certain thing. With our will, we have the ability to decide to think about something else now. We can have control over our thoughts; we can do with our thoughts as we wish.
When we think about the devil's suggestions, we can carry on with it, but we don't have to; we can stop it and our will can decide to think about God and his word now. When we think thoughts of fear, our will can interrupt this and decide that we are now going to think about our God who protects us; whose angel encamps around us and delivers us and think that no weapon forged against us will prevail.
When the devil gives us negative thoughts about a man we forgave on Tuesday, we can welcome these thoughts. We remember Monday when this man just walked all over us and treated us as if we were still in kindergarten.
The devil simply came into our thinking, dropped this building block of a thought and disappeared again. We, of course, have no idea that it was the devil. We start to play with this building block; we don't kick it out: no, we have a good look at it. We remember the whole situation on Monday so well. This success encourages the devil and he returns quickly. This time, he has got an arm full of bricks. Now we can really start building. Not only did this man treat us like nothing, he also has this other unpleasant quality, and actually has a weak character. Naturally the devil has to consolidate this success, and he brings a whole wheelbarrow full of bricks. Now we can really get going. This man is actually so impossible that we should do something about him, and we consider different possibilities. The devil realizes that now the work really starts for him and he comes with a whole lorry full of bricks and a trailer as well, loaded with sand, cement, a mixer and five bricklayers. And shortly afterwards the walls start to progress and a real bastion becomes visible; a stronghold. With these materials, we can really carry on and a proper scheme develops of how we can oppose this man. The next time we see him, we will let him know what we think of him: after all, he can't do a thing like this to us.
We could carry on with this story and the results are the following: Anger, hate, insult, strife, fighting, assault, manslaughter, murder. Murder starts with a thought, with the first building block of a thought.
Let us listen again to the words of Jesus, "Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man" (Matthew 15:11). Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man (Matthew 15:17-20). In our heart - in our thinking - starts all uncleanness; has murder its origin.
A real stronghold needs defensive and offensive weapons - a proper armament. The devil will prepare us for all his plans of murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.
And these contemplative lyrics the devil puts on video, so that when he finds us in the right mood he just has to press the button and the show is on - fully automatic. And at the end of the mini-series, a further part is added. He has got us; we react to his push button actions.
And so the devil has got a whole video library ready for us. There are mini-series for everything - for unforgivingness, for fear, for sickness, for poverty, for loneliness, for ignorance, for defeat, for failure, for unpopularity, for moodiness, for depression. For every situation, he has got his suggestion - darkness. He just pushes the button and we recline in our arm-chair and enjoy the show. He has got us at his fingertips.
We want to take up the story of unforgivingness again from the beginning. We think about the man that "insulted" us on Monday and whom we forgave on Tuesday. As we are busy getting all worked up over it, and the video starts running in front of our spiritual eyes, we are interrupted. Our human spirit has interrupted us. We have learned to listen to his voice. Our will decides to stop the video and to concentrate on Tuesday. We forgave this man on Tuesday, we made a decision to forgive him, and we knew what we were doing. It was a matter of faith.
We know that we are keeping to this decision, and that nothing has changed since Tuesday. We have forgiven this man. So what actually happened? The devil gave us the first thought in order to lead us away from our decision. He wanted to get us to say something negative about this man, and to break our word and to ruin our decision. He wanted to bring us under his control. He wanted to build a stronghold in our thinking for himself, a fortress that can't be conquered easily. The more we might have thought and meditated about the devils suggestions, the more powerful this stronghold would have become in our life and the more difficult it would have become to kick the devil out.
It is in our thinking that we have to fight, where the devil attacks. We want to read 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 again: "The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
When our human spirit interrupts us in our negative thinking, we have to demolish this stronghold. It makes no difference if it is only one brick or a couple of million. We pull them down. We do it by taking captive every thought of the devil, and we reorient our thinking so that it obeys Christ and his word.
We remember the decision we made on Tuesday and stand by it. It is also good to oppose the devil with words. We could say, "Devil, on Tuesday I forgave that man and I am not going to change my mind."
The devil is an unbeliever; he does not believe. After a couple of days he thinks the right opportunity has come. He presses the button and the video starts. But we react immediately and say, "Devil, I told you already that I have forgiven this man. If you come with this matter again I am going to pray for him."
After a couple of days he is there again and we start praying for this man. Now the devil will think twice before he comes again.
When we understand this process then we will also see that these principles apply to the big problems as well. The big problems that are perhaps there since our childhood and cause their work of destruction. When the devil is active since many years with his work of torture then we do the same to receive inner healing of these diseases: we forgive. It is a decision we take. And maybe it is a good idea to write down the day, the date and the hour and to refer afterwards the devil simply to that instance and to decline any further discussions about it. Every time the devil wants to start that subject again we simply kick him out of our thoughts. We take up our weapons. We do not fight with the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
This man who forgave on Tuesday was our first example. The childhood problem our second. Let us take a third example, another area where destruction can be encountered - destruction due to unforgivingness. A person has an aversion against somebody's political views. It could also be against a whole group of people. It could be against a political party. It could be against an ideology, against a political system of thinking that might even be worldwide. He might not like this whole way of thinking. He might go even further. He might not only hate what this people are thinking and doing, he might even hate the people themselves. And the devil uses this to play a whole range of videos at many opportune occasions. And this is destroying this person. And this destruction is not only mental, it is physical. Such people might get seriously sick, die early, and die a terrible death, die of terminal diseases. Watch for such people around you. It is quite tragic to see. Beware of such an attitude. Don't fall into such a trap of the devil.
So remember these three examples: The man who forgave on Tuesday, an everyday sort of thing; the childhood problem, a problem that keeps quite a few psychiatrists busy; and the person eaten up by his political hate.
But let us come back to our fist example. We want to take up the story from the beginning. The devil comes with his first building block of a thought. This time he is more subtle, he says, "You forgave this man on Tuesday, but that was not genuine, you are actually a hypocrite; you just spoke words; there is still hate and murder in you; you can't really forgive people; actually you are a bad person."
This is a very common attack of the devil. He uses the same method when we wants to convince somebody that he actually is not really a believer, that he is not saved; that he is too bad; that God does not want him. The devil also acts like this in matters of finance or healing or when we are lonely.
Our answer must be clear as daylight. We refer to the word of God. Like Jesus, we say, "It is written." And then we quote a scripture that suits the situation.
If the devil causes us to doubt our salvation, we say it is written that when I confess Jesus and believe in his resurrection (Romans 10:9-10) then I am saved, I believe and therefore I am saved, I am a Christian.
Or we say, "Devil, in 1 John 1:9 is written: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Yesterday I have sinned, but afterwards I confessed my sin and I know that God has forgiven me because his word says so. God forgave and I won't let you talk me into sin."
The whole thing is a matter of faith. Here we will see if we believe God's word.
When we become a believer, we have made a decision and we don't move away from this decision and we don't get influenced by feelings and impressed by doubts.
It is the same when we have decided to forgive this man. We have made a decision and we keep it; we keep our word. We are trustworthy. For us it is a matter of faith, our word is at stake.
We have forgiven this man and when negative thoughts towards him occur to us we take these thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
We have to control our mind. Our thinking must not control us. Worldly thoughts, thoughts that come from the devil, have to be thrown out, and we must think thoughts that come from our spirit. The more our human spirit has godly thoughts, the more it can give them to us. We therefore have to feed our spirit with God's word. The more the word prevails in our spirit, the more our spirit will influence our mind to think about the word.
And when the devil comes with his thoughts, we chase him away. We can't stop the devil putting thoughts into our mind but we don't have to entertain them. We can't prevent a bird from flying over our head but we certainly can keep it from building a nest on our head.
Whenever the devil broadcasts into our mind, when he puts temptation in our head, we change channels.
Our speaking and our acting will depend greatly on what we are thinking. The more we think about the worldly system, the more we will speak about it and act accordingly. Our thinking, therefore, has to move away from this. We have to renew our mind, we must think about the word. To achieve this, we suggest the following confession.
God Controls my Thinking
My personalized profession
The word is very near me; it is in my mouth and in my heart so I obey it (Deuteronomy 30:14). I offer my body as living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - which is my spiritual worship. I do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but am transformed by the renewing of my mind. That is why I am able to test and approve what God's will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2). I take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). My mind is not led astray from my sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3). I am made new in the attitude of my mind (Ephesians 4:23). My mind is set on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2). God's words are reminders to stimulate me to wholesome thinking. I recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by my Lord and Saviour through our apostles (2 Peter 3:2). Because he - Jesus Christ - himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Therefore, I, who share in the heavenly calling, fix my thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess (Hebrews 2:18-3:1).
We think of God's word, we meditate on it. We don't think about what the devil suggests. We don't allow Satan to do the thinking for us. We take over the administration and supervision of our thinking. We take charge of our thoughts; we do what we want to do with them.
And what I think is what I say and what I become. The more I think like God, the more I speak his word and the more I become like him.
When bad imaginings come up in my thinking, I change those images. I do it by thinking God's word and by quoting it. I put an end to every bad thought so that it can't become an action. When I can conquer sinful thoughts, I will not have problems with sin. If I stop the thought it will not manifest itself with the deed. The actual battle-field is our mind.
Now this problem with managing our thoughts does not only affect baby believers. Even Jesus had to deal with it when he was in the desert (and succeeded). Strong believers have to fight the same battles.
We want to have a look at another example. An evangelist meditates about his ministry and the devil shows him that many sick people with all kinds of diseases have been healed, but a blind person never received his healing. It is of course the aim of the devil to get this man to confess this shortcoming.
The evangelist takes up this thought and meditates on it. He tries to figure out what the cause of this lack is. He can't really find an answer, and accepts this drawback, hoping that one day a blind person might get healed when he prays.
One day he has the opportunity to speak to a group of believers and he speaks of his experience with the gifts of the spirit and mentions also that no blind person ever received his healing. The devil had his victory.
The evangelist simply wanted to be honest. He wanted to share an experience with people who had the same interests. He wanted to say that he is not really so successful, that God does not use him in certain areas. Maybe he also hoped that he would get an explanation from his listeners.
The devil won the victory; he built a stronghold and the evangelist did not demolish it. The result was that the evangelist restricted himself in his ministry and he will not have success in future when he prays for the blind, because he believes that his praying for the blind is fruitless.
But what is even more important, is that he cancelled all the prayers that he prayed in the past for blind people. With his words, "A blind person has never been healed in my ministry" he confessed that he does not believe his prayers any more, or that he never even believed them in the first place.
He actually declared all his prayers for blind people null and void. He did not realize that the devil deceived him and he probably lied to him. Because the evangelist does not really know what happens after he prays for a person. A blind person can come to him and he prays the prayer of faith. The blind person does not believe, but the evangelist believes. After the prayer it appears as nothing has happened, but the next day the person can see. In the meantime the evangelist has moved to the next city, and never hears about this healing. And maybe many blind people have received their sight. Maybe many received it gradually.
And all these people stayed healed. But now suddenly the devil won a victory in the battle of the mind of this evangelist. It could be that many lose their healing because it was depending on the faith of this man.
When we pray the prayer of faith and it looks as if nothing is going to happen, we should not write many years later in a book about our experiences that a person did not receive his healing. Such a wrong confession could be the reason why this person loses its healing, and it also shows the reader that we did not believe, or at least that we don't believe any more.
Consequently the battle for the mind never comes to an end. Once we have started to believe we have to carry on; we can't stop later. Even after many years, a battle can still be lost.
Whenever we say something that is not right, we undermine our faith. We become untrustworthy towards ourselves. We simply know that we can't trust our own words, not to mention that other people will notice it as well. If there is something wrong with our words, then there is a problem in our faith life.
If we don't keep a promise we don't keep our word. People do not regard us as reliable; we become untrustworthy. They don't believe us any more when we promise them something the next time. Our word has a low value for them. They measure our faith by analysing our words. When we promise something and we don't keep our promise, we know that we have little faith. And when we then confess something: let us say we confess our health, we will not believe our words. It will be just empty words. We will not believe in our hearts because we know in our hearts that our words are not trustworthy.
In Psalm 15:1 David asks, "Lord, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill?"
And then David lists qualifications for this. In verse 4 we find this qualification: "He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not."
The point here is not to change a promise after we have given it, even if it is detrimental to us.
We want to consider an example. We talk to people before a trip and somebody invites us for a cup of tea in their home after the trip. We promise to come, and thank the person for the invitation. The trip starts and after a while we change our mind; we become tired and want to go home after the trip. So after the trip we speak to this person, apologize and say that we don't want to come because we are tired.
If we could have known how important it is to keep our word, we would have pushed aside our weariness and gone along. The other person is disappointed, and if he is aware of the underlying principle, he knows something about our level of faith.
The law of Moses speaks in detail of such oaths, pledges and obligations. They are important if we realize the value of our words. In Numbers 30:2 we have an example: "If a man vow a vow unto the Lord, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth."
And we hear more about it in the following verses, and also in Proverbs 6:1-5. The latter tells us what to do if we want to undo a given promise.
It is an advisable aim to give up the habit of making promises, and only to promise somebody something after we have thought it over. Too often we make a promise without really having planned and prepared the matter. It becomes a bad habit. We are too careless with our word and with our promises.
Often we do it just to be nice, to get out a situation quickly and easily. We talk to somebody, but we are in a hurry and as we leave we say: I will come to visit you in the next few days. But actually it is just a formula for a smooth departure. And nothing comes of it, because we forget or never really intended to go. We broke our word and our word became worthless. Maybe the other person also did not regard the matter as serious, but it also could be that he did. Maybe it was a lonely person and he waited for us or even prepared himself for the visit. And then we didn't come, and it becomes a real disappointment.
If we want to become strong in faith, we must stop breaking our word. If we break our word, we destroy our faith. We must not break our word; we must keep our promise, irrespective of what effect it might have on our plans. We keep our word even when it hurts.
It is worse with gossip, slander, defamation. The third verse of Psalm 15 says: "And has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbour no wrong and cast no slur on his fellow man."
We know that we must not gossip, that we must not talk bad about our fellow human beings. It is a bad habit and a sin, but it also has something to do with our faith.
If I tell my friend a rumour about a third person, he can draw the following conclusions: I heard something negative and found it to be interesting to tell others. If I were led by the Holy Spirit, I would have realized that there was a human need or lack behind the negative story. I would have done something about it; I would have prayed for the solution to the problem, or done something directly. If I prayed and believed, I would not have confessed the problem anymore - gossiped. My friend can therefore see that either I did not pray, or, if I prayed, I did it without faith.
When we gossip and talk bad about people we show a faith measuring observer that our faith level is quite low. And if there is no such observer present, God, at least, will know and, unconsciously, we ourselves as well. Gossip is a sign of a lack of love and of a lack of forgiveness. If we have forgiven a person we should not talk about what happened any longer.
We also can't pray for a person and gossip about the same person the next day. If we did that, it would just show that we said our prayer without believing.
We are not acting in faith when we are gossiping. Galatians 5:6 says: "The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."
If people gossip in our presence we should recognize it as such and identify it. If we were not to recognize it as gossip, we run the risk of considering it to be interesting information and of passing it on as such.
The damage defamation can cause is described in Proverbs 11:11-13, "By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. He that is void of wisdom despises his neighbour: but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter."
Many things we simply don't say, even if they are the "truth". If something is true, it does not mean that we have to say it. Everything we recognize as truth we have to keep and use in love. We must know that where there is no love the truth will only be a dead letter without worth.
If somebody confides in us; shares a secret with us, we should keep it. It can become a bad habit to share with other people things that we have heard while we were counselling somebody.
Such discussions also nullify our faith simply because we repeatedly confess the problem.
In Ephesians 4:25 Paul says: "Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour."
A person that lies can't be strong in faith. One does not believe a liar. Lying and believing are opposites. A liar can't believe his own words, and therefore he will always be weak in faith.
But to speak the truth also has a deeper meaning. If we really believe, we will not confess the problem anymore; it becomes a lie to us because we know that the solution is the truth. When we really have become believers and we know what we are in Christ and what we have in Christ, all negative things become lies and we can't confess them anymore.
In the following we have listed some of such lies: Our kids always get sick when we go on holiday. Cancer runs in our family. That probably develops into a real flu. Our daughter is allergic. I have a lot of problems with my teeth. I don't think he will make it after that accident. She always gets it in kindergarten. I always get a sore throat when I talk so much. Our granny will soon be leaving us. For years I have had rheumatism.
When I have accepted God and his word than I have accepted verses like these as well: "By his wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24) as well as "And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well" (James 5:15) and then all the bad confessions mentioned in the previous paragraph are lies and the word of God is the truth and it is this truth I should confess and believe. We have taken confessions regarding the subject "health" but it is only one subject out of many. Another subject is prosperity and there the following are lies: I can't afford it. My money is always gone in the middle of the month. My business is going downhill. I haven't got money. We will probably never get rid of our debts. Our staff is stealing from us. That is too expensive.
All these are lies because it is written, "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).
Another subject is fear: I fear the worst. What will become of our son? I am afraid of flying. I get scared when I see a spider. I do not go out at night, I am too scared. The thought alone terrifies me. I dread that day.
All these are lies because it is written, "For God hath not given the spirit of fear; but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7). This verse is truth and when it is truth then all our fearful confessions can only be lies - confessions that glorify the devil.
All these expressions are a glorification of evil in my life. With them I constantly create the existence of fear. As long as I continue to make such statement I stabilize this negative situation. And the longer I do this the greater the stronghold - the fortress - becomes in my life. All this what I say and what I believe becomes reality and determines my life. I again and again create new areas of fearfulness and my stronghold fear constantly becomes bigger and influences my life negatively.
We can extend these examples of bad confessions - lies - to many other areas: I don't know the will of God. I don't have time to read the Bible. My boss does not like me. I have a bad memory for names. I haven't got the brains to study. Our son does not progress at school. I can't talk in front of so many people. I find it difficult to get up in the morning. I always get tired or interrupted when I want to read the Bible.
Over the years, we got into the habit of using a lot of wrong expressions. Our whole life and that of the people around us, especially that of our family, has gone in a totally wrong direction. We have been deceived by the devil. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit (Proverbs 18:21).
We have to drop this habit. We have to renew our mind and we have to give up everything that does not agree with the word of God; with what the word says about us; with what we are in Christ; with what Jesus has given us.
It is imperative to get into the habit of speaking the word of God, but this virtue must not be rendered valueless by always making the wrong confessions in between. We must train ourselves to listen to our words and to measure our faith. And when we have measured our faith, we have to sit in judgement upon ourselves. Unbelieving words must be expelled by the vocabulary of silence.
An effective means to get out of the habit of making bad confessions is to enlist the co-operation of the people around us: if we just have one person at home and one at work who corrects us every time we speak darkness. It is the fastest method to overcome this evil. Every idea to achieve this should be used. The following suggestions will stimulate: "You again said something negative" or "You again speak so negatively." Or we agree with the other person in an exaggerated way: "Yes, that is right, your boss does not like you at all. Tomorrow this will be announced on the notice board." "Yes, you definitely will get the flu. Where is the telephone number of the undertaker?" This method of calling a person's attention to his speaking habits by exaggerating in a humorous way can be quite effective. We can also do it this way: "I heard that you are a Christian but when I listen to you I get the impression that you are on the side of the devil." Or we might say, "Today you are again giving the devil full honour in your life." Or, "You and the devil are agreeing again very much." Try to induce a person to take part in this exposing and labelling of wrong confessions and tell them that you will not be upset when they do it - that you will be very thankful if they help you in your growth. For both sides it will be a dramatic change in life. And when we again slip back into the old habit and we hear immediately something like, "O, are you back agreeing with the accuser?" we will quickly give up our habit. So it can be of great help if we ask people around us to always point out to us all negative statements we are making and our speaking will become more and more like the speaking of our Lord.
This is the end of the 7. Chapter of "How to Measure Your Beliefs."
Next chapter: 8. The Language of Kings
Contents see: "How to Measure Your Beliefs"
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