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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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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Seeking Self-Control

2 AM. 

There I was, scrolling Instagram mindlessly once again and getting sucked into the black hole of the pages of “influencers” advertising product after product, sale after sale, deal after deal. It was getting so out of hand that I was finding myself clicking “add to cart” and hiding the packages from my husband when the boxes showed up on our doorstep a few days later. I knew it was wrong, but it felt like the temptation was too strong to stop this familiar cycle of impulsive buying. But this was a lie. No temptation is too strong for us to overcome. 

It is important to remember that we don’t base truth off our feelings. We must look to what God’s Word says to renew our minds with His truth and gain wisdom on making healthy and righteous choices. When it comes to self-control and overcoming any temptation that we face, we can find truth in 1 Corinthians. The apostle Paul states:

“No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it”

(1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).

God is faithful to help us walk in righteousness. He gives us the grace to walk in freedom from alluring and enticing nature of sinful habits. If we allow our flesh to rule us, we will follow it into a pit of unrighteousness. There is forgiveness for us in Christ, but we must repent when we find ourselves continuing on a path of unrighteous choices. We may feel like the temptation is too much to bear, but God always provides us a way of escape; we must ask the Lord to give us wisdom and spiritual eyes to see the way out. For me, personally, the wisdom was to unfollow these influencers’ Instagram pages so that the temptation of what they were sharing was no longer before my eyes continually. 

The Holy Spirit is faithful to continue to give us wisdom and guidance and strengthen us when we submit our ways to Him. He will convict our hearts, remind us of what the Bible says, and cultivate the fruit that we have received, especially the fruit of self-control. As believers, we have received the fruit of the Spirit, and just like fruit in the natural, it must be cultivated. The longer we walk with the Lord and study His Word, the more our fruit is developed and strengthened within us. May we continually ask for God’s help when we are tempted and trust that He will help us overcome sin when we are struggling. 

Father God,

This life on earth comes with many trials and many temptations. We are not promised a life free from temptations, but we are promised that You will always give us the strength and grace to overcome those temptations, as well as a way of escape to make Godly choices in obedience to You. I am not able to walk in obedience without Your Spirit. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for convicting my heart when I am walking in disobedience and giving into what satisfies my flesh. I long to be obedient to You, Lord. Help me cultivate the fruit of the Spirit, especially the fruit of self-control. You are a God of self-control, and I long to look like You in everything I say and do. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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