Our Legacy By Dr. Mike Murphy What do you see as your legacy? What have…
The Power of Our Words
By Bud Hancock
The old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”, has been around since at least the mid-1800’s, possibly much longer. I remember hearing it many times when I was growing up, mostly as a way of saying that someone may be able to hurt me physically, but, no name-calling, or insults, will ever cause any lasting harm. Responding to someone who is insulting you by using this old adage is a way of saying: “Your words have no power over me”. I’m not sure I can totally agree with the adage; insults and name-calling can be very harmful, especially to young children. But, even then, time usually has a way of easing any pain such words might cause, leaving only dim memories of the insults or harsh words. The debate over the lasting effects of words spoken against others could be a very long one indeed.
While words spoken against another person may, or may not, have any lasting or harmful effect, words can still be a person’s worst enemy, or his greatest asset. I will attempt to explain this statement in this article. Indeed, there is much truth to be discovered concerning the little understood ‘power of words’, especially among Christians.
Let me ask you a question: “What are words?”. The Meriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘word’ as (a) “a speech sound or series of speech sounds that symbolizes and communicates a meaning”; (b) “a written or printed character or combination of characters representing a spoken word”. However, until they are spoken aloud, or written down, words are mere ‘thoughts’ that have not been expressed openly. The human voice gives audible and visible life to the thoughts that otherwise lie hidden in the hearts of men.
Having the ability to express our thoughts using words is one of the primary differences between humans and animals. This ability allows us to communicate with each other, either orally or through written words and makes it possible for us to share and express our thoughts. But, the power of words goes far beyond the ability to communicate with others. In fact, God’s word has much to say about OUR words, and the way in which we use them. I compare the way that God feels about our words to ‘keeping score’ in an athletic game. I really enjoy baseball, and, in a baseball game, every time a player crosses home plate a ‘run’ is added to his team’s score. At the end of the game, the team with the most runs scored wins the game. There is a scorekeeper whose responsibility is to keep track of the runs scored so that there is no question who won the game. In life, there is also a scorekeeper whose responsibility it is to accurately keep track of our words. (See Matthew 12:36)
Words in Creation
In the account of creation in Genesis, everything God did to create all that we can see, hear, touch, taste or smell, was done by Him, using HIS words. Read the first chapter of genesis and note carefully how many times “God said”. Whatever God wanted or desired, He spoke the words that made His desire, His will, appear. By recording the creation, and by making it very clear how the creation occurred, God was setting a pattern for all men to follow regarding the power of, and the proper use of, words.
God does not waste words and His words are never idle. Once He speaks, His words are actively carrying out His will. God and His word cannot ever be separated. We are told that God’s Word is so important that, even though God and the word ‘were one’, the word was a separate spiritual personality and entity from God the Father. The pre-incarnate Jesus was known as “The Word”; God and The Word were together, and ‘were one’ long before this earth ever appeared, and they will be together and will ‘be one’ throughout eternity. It was for the benefit of mankind that the human person known as Jesus of Nazareth, came into being, the result of a word from God to Mary, and that being is the same as the word that was with God, and the word that was God.
The Bible makes it very clear how important words, and The Word, are to God. The Apostle John said, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made”. (John 1:1-3). Imagine the power that God invested in words: everything in creation was made using His words.
Jesus Speaks Regarding Words
Jesus, our Lord and Saviour, had much to say about the words we speak. In Matthew 12:34-37, Jesus, scolding the hypocritical Pharisees, said: “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned”.
Notice that He said, “every ‘idle’ word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment”. One translation, The Holy Bible from the Ancient Eastern Text, by George Lamsa, uses the word ‘foolish’ in place of ‘idle’. The word translated here in the KJV as ‘idle’ is Strong’s 692 (Greek argos, pronounced ar-gos’) and is defined as ‘inactive, i.e., unemployed, (by implication) lazy, useless, barren and idle’. It almost sounds as though God expects us to be so careful about the words we use that no such word should ever escape our mouths, but that everything we say should be spoken for the sole purpose of, and always ready to, accomplish something. After all, when God spoke in the creation, no word was idle or barren; all of them accomplished exactly what God wanted and expected.
But, can that actually be true, that our words are so important to God that He set strong guidelines for what we are to say while on this earth? Well, yes. Notice that, in the next sentence Jesus said, “For by thy words thou shall be justified and by thy words thou shall be condemned”. It is important to look closely at the words ‘justified’ and ‘condemned’ to understand exactly what Jesus said and what He meant. The word ‘justified’ is the Greek word dikaioo (Strong’s 1344, pronounced dik-ah-yo’-o) and it means to render (i.e. to show or regard as) just, or innocent and it is also translated as ‘free’, ‘justify’ and ‘be righteous’. The word translated as ‘condemned’ here is the Greek word katadikazo (Strong’s 2613, pronounced kat-ad-ik-ad’-zo) and it literally means to ‘adjudge against, i.e. ‘to pronounce guilty’, hence ‘condemned’.
To sum it up, Jesus, the Word that was with God, the Word that IS God, lays the responsibility for our salvation upon us, based on the words that we allow to proceed from our mouths. I know that many will argue against this, but, the words of Jesus are recorded, and if you have a problem with it, take it up with Jesus.
The Pharisees’ Traps
Many times, Jesus had confronted the religious Jews, the Pharisees and scribes, who were always trying to trap Him in His words. However, He was able to discern their evil thoughts and was always prepared to stop them cold. Not once was He caught off-guard by them. These religious Jews debated often about their Jewish traditions, for example, what could be eaten, and eating without washing their hands. Jesus used their traps to correct their flawed thinking. In the 15th chapter of Matthew, Jesus said: “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying? But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch. Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable. And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? 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 (words) come forth from the heart; and they defile the 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 15:11-20).
The Power of Words
Every author in the Bible had something to say about words and their effect on, and in, our lives. In his letter to The Romans, Paul, trying to teach the believers in Rome about faith, and how to use faith, said: “But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above): Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation”. (Romans 10:6-10)
The Gift Received by Our Words
When we purchase a gift for someone, whether a friend or family member, we sometimes wrap it to make it a surprise, something that can only be acknowledged by opening the container and seeing it with our eyes. When the gift is offered to the recipient, it is expected that the recipient will take it in his or her hands, open it and then acknowledge it, hopefully with thanks. At that point, receiving the gift required no act of faith, but only a physical act, taking it into one’s hands; the gift was visible and could be felt and held in the hands. Then, when it has been transferred from the giver to the receiver, the ownership changes to the receiver who then has the gift.
Bear with me, I have a point to make here.
The great gift of salvation is a spiritual gift, not one that can be held in the hands or seen with the eyes. The Father offers it by His words, the ones recorded by the prophets and apostles so that all men may know of the availability of the gift simply by reading about it, then accepting it and giving thanks for it. To receive a gift that cannot be seen or touched requires an act of faith, the belief in the honor and integrity of the one offering the gift. According to the words of Paul in Romans 10, we acknowledge the gift by ‘the word of faith’, by our confession to the honor and integrity of the God who made the gift available to us. Our confession, our words, then make Jesus the Lord of our lives, and rightly so because His selfless act of offering Himself in our place, to pay for our debt, acknowledges that Jesus has ‘purchased us back’ from Satan, the slaveholder who held us in bondage. When we are born again, or ‘saved’, it is said that we have been ‘redeemed’. In Galatians 3:13, Paul said “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us:”. That word ‘redeemed’ is the Greek word, ‘exagorazo’, (Strong’s 1805) pronounced ex-ag-or-AD’-zo, and it means ‘to buy up’ or to purchase from’. Since Jesus bought us back from our unsaved, lost and spiritually dead state, our acceptance of the gift of His sacrifice means that we now belong to Him, He has become our Lord.
It seems very plain from this text that man is expected to open his mouth and use words to accomplish something, that something being the receipt of the great gift of salvation. So, believing that God raised Jesus from the dead comes first, but then, the mouth must speak and confess, aloud, that Jesus is the Lord. Heart belief alone is not enough; God expects all believers to use their mouths to proclaim that, because Jesus was killed, buried and raised from the dead on the third day, He, and He alone, is Lord over all. After all, this IS the gospel, the good news, that Jesus came from God the Father, to live perfectly among us, qualifying Him to be the only sacrifice acceptable to God that could possibly erase, or totally blot out, all our sin. Is it too much to expect that we should be ready, willing and able to proclaim that eternal truth to the whole world? Whether the world listens to us, or not, is their responsibility; ours is simply, using words, to proclaim it and allow the Holy Spirit to take it from there. That act of proclaiming is a simple step toward being declared just and righteous by God.
Agreement with The Word
Just because a man, or woman, has accepted the sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross, declaring Him to be Lord does not mean that they can continue ‘life as usual’ regarding the words they use. Paul, again in his letter to the believers in Rome, told them that, in order for them to ‘be not conformed to the world’ they should be ‘transformed by the renewing of their minds’ (see Romans 12:2). The Apostle Paul also declared that everyone who has made the decision to accept the sacrificial work of Christ is a completely new, and changed, creation. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-20). Notice that God expects us to be “ambassadors for (or in place of) Christ.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an ambassador as (a) “an official envoy; especially, a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment and (b) an authorized representative or messenger” It is a well-known fact that any ambassador, when dealing with all those where he has been sent, is expected to relay only the words that represent the precise policy of his government; in other words, it is as though the government leader, say for example the president, is doing the speaking. The ambassador must always be in complete agreement with the one who appointed him. That’s why Paul confirms here that ‘the word of reconciliation” is committed to all those who themselves have been reconciled to Christ. In the political world, any disparity or disagreement with the words of the president is quickly noted and can often be used against the ambassador. Being new creations, we are expected to leave behind the ‘idle, useless and barren’ words that characterized our previous existence before we became followers/disciples of Jesus.
The Word(s) that Can Heal
At the risk of offending anyone of those in the Body of Christ who have long suffered painful and often debilitating physical sickness, I must still place myself in agreement with the Word of God. After all, I am an ambassador for Christ, and to disagree with the Word would disqualify me as a representative of God. I refer to the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely, he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed:……..“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand” (Isaiah 53:1-5,10). Also, notice the words of the Apostle John: “The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 1-2).
I have suffered several different serious ailments in my life, and for years, I just accepted that they were something every human must put up with and ‘go through’. But, when I read these words, it became clear to me that suffering sickness and disease was not the will of God. Isaiah recorded in 53:10 that it actually pleased God to bruise Jesus, and, coupled with the statement that “with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 KJV), and the words of God through John that His (God’s) will for us is to “be in health” it must be assumed that being healed by Jesus stripes also pleases God.
Please, PLEASE, note that the word translated ‘healed’ in Isaiah 53:5 is the Hebrew word rapha, (Strong’s 7495, pronounced raw-faw’) and it literally means ‘mended’ (as by stitching), to cure, to (cause to) heal, to make whole. I already know that many have stated this scripture passage is speaking only about the healing of our ‘spirits’, but it takes much effort to deny that the passage is talking about the healing of our physical bodies. I personally believe that the reason so many Christians either fail or refuse to believe the truth of this scripture is that receiving healing, especially while the body is writhing in pain, requires a serous act of faith, and the enemy of our faith is always there to make us doubt the truth of God’s words.
Now, I also know from experience that, the easiest thing to do when sickness hits is to simply lay down and accept it, but that accomplishes nothing. It is also useless to simply moan and groan about how sick one is. The most logical response to sickness is to seek someone who can provide relief, although temporary, from the sickness. In most cases, this is a doctor, and thank God for doctors! Without them, many more people, including multitudes of Christians, would be dead and buried, their lives over.
But, the Greatest Physician of all time is Jesus, since He was there when the human body was brought into existence. It makes sense that He knows everything there is to know about the body as well as any sickness or disease that can attack it. But, just in case you haven’t noticed, Jesus is not presently walking the earth, laying His hands on the sick and healing them, as He did during His earthly ministry. But despair not, just because Jesus is presently in heaven at the right hand of His Father, does not mean that we are hopeless. We are told in Psalm 107: “Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:19-21).
That same word was sent to all mankind nearly 2000 years ago, and it has not changed even one tiny bit since then, even though Jesus is not physically with us. The written word, recorded for our benefit has all the same spiritual power that Jesus displayed when He walked through The Holy Land speaking only what God told Him to speak, and healing all that were sick. If He has not changed, why should those who claim Him as Lord suffer the diseases that can make us totally unproductive and cause our lives to end prematurely?
I can testify to the difficulty of exercising faith to accept the healing that God provided through Jesus stripes. From the natural standpoint (and I’ve heard Christians voice this) why should it be so difficult to be healed? After all, if healing is God’s will, why does He not just ‘make it happen’? That sentiment tends to place the blame for sickness, and the lack of healing and health, back on God, and that is a serious mistake. In the first place, there is an enemy who delights in causing pain and suffering in all people, but especially in God’s children. If healing seems difficult, or impossible to obtain, look for the answer in two places: 1) Satan and his demons are actively working to destroy your body through sickness, and absolutely DO NOT want you to be healed, and 2) your own words may be working against you and making your healing difficult or even seemingly impossible to receive. But remember, God, in His wisdom, placed death and life in the power of the tongue, or in our words (Proverbs 18:21).
It is all too true that there is a being who loves nothing more than to cause us to be sick and make it difficult to receive what God has promised to us. He usually does so, or is at least aided in his devilish endeavor, when he can gain control of our tongues, or words. He is a thief/killer named Satan/Lucifer and, according to God’s word: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Not only is Satan the father/author of all lies, as well as the main cause of all sickness and disease, but, he and his minions listen for our words of doubt, hopelessness and fear, and are all too willing to do their worst to make those words come to pass. Knowing who and what he is, it is imperative that we, as believers, not allow him any place in our lives where he can wreak the havoc he loves. James, the half-brother of Jesus, said: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Resist the Devil…But How?
Resisting a spiritual force that is trying to destroy you, especially when you are in a weakened state of physical sickness or disease, is a very tall order, but, if God commanded that it be done, we can, and must, do it. We start by first submitting to God. Being submitted to God means being submitted to His Word, since God and His Word are one and the same. Being submitted to His Word means being fully in agreement with it. If we, as Christians know what God has already said about our healing (See Isaiah 53), and yet, we insist that we are sick and not healed, there is a serious disagreement and our faith will not work for healing. Of course there are other hindrances to receiving healing, such as unforgiveness, but there must first be an agreement with what God says.
Knowing that the adversary is out there working feverishly to steal, kill and destroy, how long should we be expected to ‘submit and resist’ so that we can receive? That’s easy: until the desired healing is manifested in our lives. Since this is a matter of life and death, there is no other choice. Giving up can be deadly, but remaining steadfast and immoveable until we receive what God has promised will give great glory to God., as well as healing to the believer.
I stated at the beginning of this article that words can be a person’s worst enemy, or his greatest asset. The very fact that God enabled us to speak words, just as He did when He brought His desire into being is further proof that we “are created in His image and after His likeness”. Just as God used His words to create us, He expects us to emulate Him and use our words to sustain us. To some, this statement may sound as though we are taking some of the power and authority of God and giving it ourselves. But, the fact is that God, as any good father would, wants us to be like Him and use words that will produce life and health and healing. To answer those who believe that God is sovereign and that He alone can determine whether we produce good or evil by our words, read what the writer of proverbs said: “A man’s 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 the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:20-21). Notice that the “fruit of his mouth” is closely aligned with the “power of the tongue”. The fruit of the mouth is ‘words’ and the ‘power of the tongue’ is in the words it produces. The fruit produced by a man during his life will be determined by the words he uses, and especially those that he uses on a habitual, day to day basis.
Christians who learn the awesome power of words, and then further learn to speak words that God has already said, will, out of the ‘good treasure of the heart’, display, through their lives, that words can indeed be a man’s greatest asset. But, a Christian who refuses to believe what God says about the power of words will, ‘out of the evil treasure of his heart’, soon learn they can also be his greatest enemy. I can assure you that, whatever is in your heart in abundance will certainly appear through your words.
It is incumbent on all of us, every believer in Christ, to learn how to control the tongue and use our words to emulate God. Such behavior brings not only health and prosperity to a person, but it gives great glory to God.