Have We Become a People of Unclean Lips?
Isaiah, when he came into the presence of God and saw His holiness, could only cry out, "Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:5). Isaiah knew and understood that he was a sinner and that his words made him a sinner. He also recognized that the people around him were sinners because of their words. Now, you must wonder: of all things, why did Isaiah consider his words and not his deeds? We want to take a closer look at this so that we too may understand the sin of our words. We want to start by looking at Scriptures that refer to our tongue and the words that we speak.
James 3:1-12 addresses the tongue. He tells us in verse 2, "For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well."
James continues in verses 5-6, "So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell."
He goes on to say in verse 8, "No one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison." These are strong words by the apostle James, and they show us that our words carry weight and consequences.
James goes on to tell us that "We bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth comes both blessing and cursing." James adds, "These things ought not to be this way."
We want to continue to see what God's Word tells us about the things we say, for out of the heart man speaks. "The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart" (Luke 6:45).
The heart is the battlefield of life. Matthew 15:19 says, "For out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, and slanders." Yeshua tells us in Matthew 15:11, "It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man." Yeshua, in Matthew 5:21-22, tells us that we murder through our words: "Have you not heard that it was said from the beginning, ‘You shall not murder,' and whoever murders is liable to the court of law? Yet I say to you that whoever is enraged against his brother baselessly is liable to a court of law and whoever says to his to his brother "Reka" (good-for-nothing) is liable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever calls him a reprobate is made liable to the fire of Gehinnom." How many times do we say things like this about people? Yet we never think that we are sinning, let alone murdering at that!
Yeshua tells us in Matthew 12:36-37, "Yet I say to you, every worthless word that the sons of men speak, they will give an account for it on the day of judgement. By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be liable." Yeshua Himself, the one who will judge us on judgement day, tells us that every word that gives a slander or false testimony, every word of murder and judgement of another, will be given account to.
Yeshua tells us in Matthew 7:1-2, "Do not judge lest you be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you." Measure for measure is a kingdom principle, and Yeshua will use the measure by which we judge others to judge us. So Proverbs 4:23 tells us, "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life."
Let's look at what Proverbs tells us about our words.
Proverbs 10:11: "The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life."
Proverbs 10:31-32: "The mouth of the righteous flows with wisdom, but the perverted tongue will be cut out. The lips of the righteous brings forth what is acceptable, but the mouth of the wicked, what is perverted."
Proverbs 12:9: "With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered."
Proverbs 12:18: "There is one who speaks rashly like the thrusts of a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."
Proverbs 12:22: "Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal faithfully are His delight."
Proverbs 15:4: "A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but perversion in it crushes the spirit."
Proverbs 17:5: "He who mocks the poor reproaches his Maker; he who rejoices at calamity will not go unpunished."
One last scripture: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain" (Exodus 20:7).
How about you? Have you thought about what comes out of your mouth? Maybe gossip, murder, lies, curses, slander, even though the next words may be, "I am a Christian." You will give an account on the day of Judgement, for this is what our Messiah has said. Maybe it's time to repent and turn from your ways and start considering what comes out of your mouth before you speak, for Yeshua tells us, "We are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again?" And so Paul tells us in Colossians 4:6, "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person."
Yeshua tells us that we are to love God and our neighbor as ourselves. Are love, mercy, and grace coming out of our mouths? If we believe in Yeshua, living water should flow from us (John 7:38). James 3:10-11 tells us, "From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and saltwater?" We can not talk from both sides of our mouths with an undivided heart and still say we are believers in Yeshua.
Let's look into that mirror that James talks about, and let us not forget who we are: "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing" (James 1:23-24).
The book of James has good advice for us today, so "Let every person be quick to hear and slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God" (James 1:19-20).
We are going to look more into that mirror next month.