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May 14, 2009 / beidson

The Man Who Tamed The Serpentine Tongue: Truth-Telling For Toddlers

We were made to confess truth–all the time.  One proof-positive of our falleness is our total inability to control our tongues.  Oursnake-tongue tongues were made to use in ruling the world, but under the curse, we have become slaves to them.  Our speaking was meant to respond to the grace and kindness of God, but we have turned them into weapons against him.

When thinking about how to train my daughter to tell the truth, I found it has been very helpful to start with the snake, the father of lies, as Jesus said.  He is the master-manipulator, the rabbi of false teaching, the one who has set the tongue on fire.  If I can get my daughter to understand that her tongue was given to her to praise God by confessing truth, then I can save her from a multitude of sins, if she practices what I am telling her.

The snake is the ruler of this present age, and as such, he rules over our tongues.  Wherever there is a list of grievances in the Scriptures, you will be sure to find many that have to do with speaking.  Part of living in a dark world is losing sight of honesty and truthfulness, not just in an immediate sense, but in the grand scheme of things.  Speech ought not be disconnected from God’s overarching purposes in Christ.  After all, he is the Word of God, and at his word the worlds are held together, and at his word, every person will be judged.  Being dishonest about little things is a universal offense.  The whole creation groans for our tongues to be redeemed.

Bearing all this in mind, it is not okay for my daughter to stray from truth-telling even in the slightest way.  She understands that God made us to know and love the truth, and to speak truthfully and obediently in everything.  She knows she must choose to use her tongue wisely and obediently.  To lie is to obey the snake.

Here’s the story.  A man was made by God to rule the universe.  With his hands and feet and heart and mind and tongue he was to exercise dominion with his wife.  He heard God speak.  He spoke at God’s command.  He named every animal he saw; he even named his wife.  In the beginning, Adam’s tongue ruled with righteousness.  He obeyed God with his words.

But the serpent came with a lying tongue and cast doubt on the character of God.  He deceived Eve, and Adam abandoned her.  After they both sinned, Adam turned on his wife with the very same tongue he use to name her, the very tongue which should have spoke up in her defense before the serpent.  He was her advocate, but he had now become her accuser.  He was a good king, but now he obeyed the snake-king and turned on his queen.  Adam and Eve, King and Queen over all creation, fell to another ruler.  The serpent subdued them with his tongue, and in that moment, he became lord over their tongues too.

For thousands of years, men and women and children could not turn their tongues back toward God.  Their hearts were evil; they poured out hateful words, murderous words.  Even their praises to God were stained with sin.  They could not get their tongues back from the snake-king.  Words destroyed families and nations.  God was speaking through the prophets, and everyone knew his words were coming with a greater authority than the serpent’s, but people simply were not able to escape his clutches.

But another Adam came, and when he spoke, people asked, “By what authority does he say these things?  Who is this man?”  He spoke to condemn the snake; he held his tongue to save sinners.  When he was cursed, he did not curse in return.  When tempted by the snake to turn on what had been given to him, he refused.  With his mouth he cast out demons.  By his words he subdued the earth, even the universe.  He was the man-king the creation had been longing for.  He was stronger than the snake-king, and he crushed his head, tongue and all.

Now he is reigning from heaven, and by his Word he is ruling over all creation, subduing darkness in every corner, and using redeemed tongues to confess truth to those who are still under the sway of the serpent.  No man can tame the tongue, the Scriptures say.  But this one Man did.  And by his grace we can too.  We may once again use our tongues for righteousness.  We may once again confess truth.  We may again rule with our tongues and not be ruled by them.  And this King will come again to put an end to all lying.  He will rip out the tongue of the serpent and put an end to deceit.  And for eternity, the truth of God’s goodness to us in Christ will be spoken by the very ones who were at one time under the curse of the serpentine tongue.

When you hear the hissing of the father of lies, will you believe him, or will you understand that his hissing will soon come to an end?  There is a Man who has tamed the serpentine tongue, and he wants little kids to tell the truth.


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