Taming the Tongue

In college, although I was a professing Christian, out of curiosity to learn more about my own spirituality, I began to study things that I now know were a part of New Age teaching. Some of the books that I was reading did mention God and even quoted the Bible, so I believed this new information on how to live out my faith to see progress and success in my life would strengthen my Christianity. One of the major teachings, called The Law of Attraction, centered around my thought-life; making sure to focus on positive things versus negative things. These positive thoughts would act like a magnet to draw to myself positive outcomes and results regarding my dreams, aspirations, and even material possessions that I desired. 

A step further would be to speak out loud positive declarations and affirmations about myself and what I would like to see happen to shape my future for the better. After I graduated college, when I met my husband at the church he grew up at, there was a lot of emphasis on this very same teaching (although they never called it The Law of Attraction) as well as being very cautious on what words you spoke. We were told that we needed to pay attention to our tongue- our words needed to be “in faith” and “in line with God’s Word.” 

We now know that these teachings are rooted in what is called the ‘Word of Faith’ movement, which was influenced by a metaphysical movement called ‘New Thought.’ Thus, Word of Faith doctrine essentially embraces New Age’s Law of Attraction and is contrary to sound, Christian doctrine. Sadly, scriptures on the tongue were taken out of context to promote the idea that you can attract what you say and declare. God alone, not man, is the One who calls things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17). The Bible does have much to say about the power of our words, but it has a lot more to do with reflecting Christ in our speech, words filled with the fruit of the Spirit, than attracting things or situations to you or “manifesting” the things you are declaring “in Jesus’ name.” Let us be wise to know the difference and understand these verses in their proper context.

James 1:26 offers us a sobering statement about our speech:

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

(James 1:26, ESV)

A religion is simply a particular system of faith and worship. If you are a believer in Christ, your religion is Christianity. James equates your profession of faith in Christ to how you choose to use your tongue. Our words point to what we truly believe and live by.  

Are your words pointing others to God and His truth, always giving Him glory, or do your words always seem to point to yourself and the things and systems of this world? Do you control your tongue, or do you let your mouth rule you or cause you to puff yourself up in pride or get you into trouble with others? Our speech should reflect Christ and be seasoned with grace, humility, and love. If we confess our faith in Christ, there should be evidence of our changed speech as well as our changed life and behavior. When people meet us, they should hear and see something different than the rest of the world who does not follow the Lord.

Even in disagreements, we should continue to speak with a heart of love for others and not use profanity or offensive remarks that would hurt or cause pain. We should also be careful to not grumble or complain, but to use our tongue to proclaim our thankfulness unto the Lord. Taming the tongue is something we must grow in each day as the Lord sanctifies us. The good news is that we are never left on our own to walk in that type of self-control regarding our words. It is not something we can do apart from the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. The temptation to use our tongue for our own benefit and reputation is strong but let us be quick to ask the Lord for His help daily as we continue to grow in the likeness of Him, especially in our speech.

Father, without realizing it, I may have embraced a very self-centered and self-gratifying teaching on the importance of how we speak. I repent for using my tongue to puff myself up above others or hurting others with painful words that cut deep to the heart. I need Your help to control my tongue in times of strife or disagreement with others. I want my words to glorify You and share Your truth and gospel. I pray that my actions would also reflect my speech. I long for my walk with You to match my profession of faith. I do not want be self-deceived; I do not want my Christianity to be called “worthless” in Your eyes. Thank You for continually working in me and through me, so that I may look more and more like Jesus in word and deed. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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What does it look like to be led by the Spirit?

What does it look like for the Holy Spirit to lead in the Christian’s life?

From the onset, I believe it is helpful to define Biblically as it relates to human experience, the work of the Holy Spirit. In John 16:7-8, we see that the work of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement. With this being established, in the life of the Christian, we are continually being conformed by God’s grace, to the likeness of His Son. We seek to obey the commands of scripture and live our lives in obedience to Christ. Being led by the Spirit is the antithesis to being led by the flesh (Galatians 5:17-18). When we are being led by the Spirit, it means that we are putting to death the ways of the flesh because the sins and desires of the flesh are against the Spirit. 

Being led by the Spirit is not a passive or mysterious leading or “subjective feeling,” but rather an active, ever-present fight in the life of the Christian. Some believe they are led by the Spirit by the dreams they have as they believe that God is trying to tell them something or that they saw a butterfly flying in a certain direction and that’s “how they knew God was leading them” vs. the Bible. Unfortunately, this subjective, experience-based reliance leads to many misunderstandings of what it looks like to be led by the Spirit. Therefore, Bible study and prayer time is critical. 

Thankfully, we as disciples of Christ are not left to human subjectivity and confusion, we have God’s Word as a lamp to our feet in a world of darkness and sin. The Spirit will always use the Word to guide us.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105, NKJV).

If we need direction in our life, the best way is to fill our heart and mind with God’s Word. This will increase our trust in God, and we will no longer live in fear of the “what ifs” of life but rely solely on His divine providence to overshadow every step we take. As we study the scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate truth to us, we learn to rest in God’s sovereignty, trusting He is in control and will care for every detail, give you wisdom, and help you resist the temptation of the flesh. 

Father God, I need direction in my life. I often want some type of external, tangible evidence or sign that will give me the answer or show me the way. I know You have called me to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh. I trust that the Holy Spirit guides me by the Truth that is found in Your Holy written Word. I repent for looking to signs, omens, and dreams, which are subjective, and build my life upon Your Word that is a strong foundation that cannot be shaken or changed. Give me a hunger to study the scriptures so that I may know You and Your will and walk in wisdom to make righteous decisions that please only You. Please strengthen my faith and trust in Your sovereignty so that I can rest in knowing that Your providential hand leads me every day even when I cannot always see it or understand it. Thank You for Your Word that is a light to my path and lamp to my feet so I can see the narrow way clearly that You are calling me to walk on. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

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Live Not By Feelings

A few years ago, after lovingly warning a friend of the dangers of a particular false teacher she was going to see at a conference, she got offended with me and said something along the lines of “Don’t you think I have discernment?? I have the Holy Spirit! I will be able to discern or sense conviction if something’s not right??”

In this instance, my friend was putting an emphasis on what she believed the Holy Spirit was telling her by how it made her feel at the time and calling it discernment and conviction.

Beloved, that is not how we as Christians are to live. We are to walk in the Spirit and the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth (John 16) which is found in the Word of God. Relying on our feelings means we are putting our confidence in our flesh, and our flesh will only lead us away from righteousness and God’s truth. Since the human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), it can lead us astray if we rely on or try to follow its sometimes emotional leadings. 

If the Word of God has spoken on something, you have been convicted. You don’t need to wait to feel conviction to obey, you have been led by the instruction of God-breathed scriptures to obey. We must search the scriptures to be able to learn how to walk in God’s ways.

Studying the Bible is how our mind is renewed and how we are sanctified as believers. We cannot walk in righteousness by how we feel if something is right or wrong and call it conviction.

I am sure there are ways I am accidentally or unknowingly violating God’s perfect law even though I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit- I still wrestle with a sin nature even as a believer. I must abide in Christ and die to self daily. We abide in Christ through faith by abiding in His Word by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. Faith in Christ comes by hearing the Word of God after all:

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word [k]of Christ”

(Romans 10:17, NASB).

Since we cannot fully depend on our feelings to determine if something is sinful or not, we also cannot depend on our feelings to determine if something is true or false either.

In regards to discernment, are you testing against scripture?  That is where we gain knowledge to be able to test all things and judge righteously. We must make sure everything we are hearing preached in the name of Christ lines up with His Holy written Word.

Friends, if I were just to depend on feelings, I would be wrong quite a lot. As believers we do not “sense it in our spirit”…that’s called human intuition.

intuition

nounSave Word

in·​tu·​i·​tion |  \ ˌin-tü-ˈi-shən   , -tyü-  \

Definition of intuition

1a: the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference

b: immediate apprehension or cognition

c: knowledge or conviction gained by intuition

2: quick and ready insight

We don’t rely on intuition; we walk in the Spirit, dear ones. 

Unless you are testing what the Holy Spirit is guiding you into by God’s Holy Word, you can’t be certain you aren’t being misled by Satan.

“No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

(2 Corinthians 11:14, NASB).

Let us stand firm upon God’s Word and trust He has given us all we need in it for life and godliness as we lean upon the help of the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth that conforms us day by day into the image of Christ. 

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Longing for the whole Truth!

Today, I’m simply here to just write.

Vent, I guess you could say…

…gracefully vent.

*Sigh*

I’m going through something right now. Actually, my husband and I are both going through something right now.

Little by little, we have been placed in situations of surrender and letting go of things we were holding onto for security and comfort and learning how to fully trust God alone.

The house.

The furniture.

The freedom of being a stay-at-home mom to then take on a side job to help out some friends.

And now our place of Sunday worship.

Over the last several months, everything that has been the foundation of our faith has been challenged, and we are left unlearning a lot of things once again. We are searching out the scriptures to discover why we believe what we believe. And what we have discovered is that we don’t believe, or agree with, much of what we have been taught.

Needless to say, it’s been challenging…

…especially for my husband, Paul, since he sat under the same teaching for 20 plus years of his life (almost 25), and after we left the church he grew up at in 2010, we were led to a church whose pastor also sat under that very same teaching for years.

When you hear the same teaching for 20 plus years of your life and you trust your pastor more than God, you embrace what you are being told as truth.

And sometimes as the only truth.

But there’s a problem with that- we need to find truth in the Word of God alone and not necessarily an interpretation of what you are being told is truth. It becomes a danger because we never line up what is being said from the pulpit with what the Word of God really says. We should trust the Holy Spirit to be our teacher. We cannot just embrace everything that proceeds out of the pastor’s mouth because, honestly, he should know more than us, right?

Sadly, this happens more often than not in the churches of America. Many people do not read their Bible, and we put all the responsibility on the pastor to feed us, teach us, guide us. His job is to definitely help us learn, but most importantly, encourage us and equip us to go home and study out what we just heard. He was never supposed to walk out our walk with God for us.

A scripture taken out of context and twisted to fit our methods, principles, main points, and often, our fleshly desires, has been genetically modified, my friends. #SayNoToGMO

We can’t just embrace everything we hear from people. It must line up with the totality of God’s Word, what is called the whole counsel of God. Not just one scripture…the WHOLE THING! Much of what is heard on a Sunday morning is out of context. We have experienced this first hand, and the Lord had to reveal it to us the more we studied out His Word for ourselves!

I don’t write all of this as a jab at any pastor or man/woman of God in particular, I’m just simply expressing where we are in our walk. We have been disappointed countless times by numerous teachers of God’s Word, whether those we have sat under, or those we have listened to through the information super-highway.

We aren’t giving up on the Church. Although we are disappointed, we aren’t surprised. The Word of God explains to us that this is going to happen in the Last Days. And clearly, we are in the Last Days!

My husband is responsible for our family. I am responsible for my own heart and what my son hears and has sown into his heart until he is old enough to guard his own heart.

Above all, we must always judge what we are hearing, even if it is coming from the pulpit.

Don’t allow people to tell you that you are not supposed to judge…

…that’s a real popular topic among believers and non-believers alike.

Jesus tells us:

“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

John 7:24, NKJV

What is “righteous judgment?”

“Judgment” in Greek in this particular verse means “the concept of determining the correctness of a matter.”

Use the word of God to discern what is false and what is unrighteous (Hebrews 4:12).

“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

1 Timothy 6:3-5, ESV

Let the Word of God light your way, every single step. The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth and peace.

I’m holding onto the Word, who is also Jesus, the Word made flesh! He’s our only hope in these times of testing and times of deception we all face!

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