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June 25, 2009 / beidson

Trespassing Words: How Biblical Authority Condemns and Redeems Our Tongues

With one seemingly small question, the serpent crossed a line which was never meant to be crossed: “Did God actually say . . . ?”mouth Moments later, Eve and Adam made the awful choice to step over that very same line, and brought the entire creation under a curse that has been far too heavy for us to bear.  At a single point in time, it was a simple question that trespassed holy boundaries and doomed our tongues to destruction forever . . . almost.

Our words are the fruit of our hearts–out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.  When our affections are set on a person or thing, you can be sure our words will give evidence of it.  And since we are born with inclinations to rebellion and blaspheme, so too our tongues are wild and untamable.  Even in conversations with friends and family we are often unable to restrain our lips from speaking deceit, or from tearing others down.  It’s no wonder; our tongues are set on fire by hell.  Like the serpent, our slithering tongues have moved past the boundary God had made for them.  In the most remarkable fashion, our tongues signal our rebellion against God’s authority.  We are liars and deceivers and manipulators apart from Christ.  Left to ourselves, our words are spoken with anarchical aims–we simply do not want to be under the authority of the Living Word.

“You give your mouth free rein for evil, and your tongue frames deceit.  You sit and speak against your brother; you slander your own mother’s son” (Psalm 50:19-20).  We are all like Cain, speaking to one another in a jealous rage, though we may appear calm and collected.  “His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords” (Psalm 55:21).  We are crafty, to say the least, and we are imitators of our father, the Devil, who has been a liar from the beginning.

Here is the whole point: in our flesh we absolutely loathe God’s authority over us.  He spoke the worlds into existence, but we have decided there is no speech that could do such a thing.  He upholds the worlds by the power of his very word, but we have deceived ourselves into believing there is a natural law which operates independently of Christ, who is the Word of God.  God has told us what is required of us, and yet we have believed that other scriptures are equally authoritative.  We love to mock preachers, who proclaim God’s Word, who speak on behalf of God, with the authority of one called by God to declare “Thus saith the Lord.”  In our work and schools, at home and at play, we use our words to twist truth and mock authority.  Even little children know how to frame an argument so that they might gain the upper hand, if it were possible.  And so do we all.  We cannot stand authority, and our words manifest our natural resistance to any Word which requires us to speak within proper boundaries.  In fact, Jesus himself will judge us soon for every idle word that comes out of our mouth, and the plumb line for judgment: the words which he has spoken to us.

But our tongues are not hopeless.  We may learn again how to use our tongues under the authority of God.  With our words we may again learn to rule and to submit.  We may again exercise proper dominion over our tongues, and so exercise proper dominion over our world.  When we bow the knee to Christ, our tongues will follow–every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.  He alone speaks with perfect control.  In Christ, we may again use our tongues to bless and not curse, to redeem and not destroy.  Not that we won’t every speak harshly or negatively–there are certainly times for rebuke and confrontation.  But even here we may know how to walk the line, like the Wise Man, and keep our tongues from trespassing their proper boundaries.

It was and is and will be the issue of authority that brings our tongues under a curse.  But it was and is and will be authority which redeems our tongues and puts them in their proper place.  The One who has all authority is able to deliver our tongues from evil.  We may learn again to inquire of the Lord without questioning his goodness and authority.  In Christ, our blaspheme becomes praise, and our slithering tongues are transformed into glorified flesh.  Our tongues will forever give evidence that we have been made new, and have learned again to be creatures who confess truth, at work and at play, in the Garden and in the City.

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