A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE
The TongueNothing in the history of mankind has wrought more havoc and sorrow than the uncontrolled tongue of human beings. A wise proverb states, "He that thinketh by the inch and speaketh by the yard should be kicked by the foot." Again, "Loose tongues get their owners into tight places."
God says in James 3:6, The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. Verses 9, 10: Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
A slanderous, vile, malicious tongue is indicative of one of two conditions:
(1) The slandered maybe a hell-bound sinner. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain (James 1:26). A wagging tongue is usually a symbol of an empty heart. God said so.
The Lord, speaking about those who are filled with all unrighteousness in Romans 1:28-32, mentions fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, whispering, backbitings, and other abominable practices. Now notice carefully that maliciousness (character assassination), envy (jealousy which produces gossip), debate (leading to boisterous argumentation), malignity, whispering (gossip in quiet, hushed tones), and backbitings are all partakers of the same judgment that shall be pronounced upon fornicators (sex-hungry maniacs) and murderers. Look at verse 32: Who knowing the Judgment of God, that they which commit such things are. worthy of death.
In Galatians 5:19-21, the Holy Spirit lists seventeen abominations, and uncleanness (a dirty, smut-filled mouth), hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, heresies, and envyings-all having to do with the REASON FOR or the RESULT OF a poison-filled, uncontrollable tongue-are under the anathema or condemnation of God. The devil's reward, at the end of the trail, for gossipers is stated in verse 21: They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
God hates these sins. How easy it is for self-righteous church members to condemn the sins of the flesh practiced by some, and overlook the wickedness of their own lives as they lacerate, mutilate, and cut to shreds other members of the human race with their razor-sharp tongues. However, Proverbs 6:16-18 states, These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, an heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Friend, what about the deadly tongue you possess? Will your tongue, described in the Bible as a fire, lead you into the fires of eternal doom? Fall on your face, confess your sin, get washed in Christ's blood and be saved for eternity.
(2) Second, a loose-tongued person may be saved, but carnal. Each hearer must determine his own spiritual condition before God. Both situations are taught in God's Holy Word, and a true messenger must present both viewpoints, and then allow the individual, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, to determine his own personal state before God.
The Corinthian church was filled with fighting, carping Christians. Paul, in writing to this carnal assembly, says, I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? (1Corinthians 3:1-3).
Fighting, bickering, and sowing discord among brethren is not a sign of spiritually, but of extreme carnality. Many who claim to be dominated by the Holy Spirit are constantly running off at the mouth. You are professing a lie if this is the case. It is easy to call the working of the Holy Spirit a second work of grace, an infilling, a baptism, and loudly proclaim an experience with the third member of the Trinity through signs and wonders. The real evidence, however, is in a love-filled heart and Spirit-controlled tongue. You don't believe it? Hear God in James 3:2: If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man. Again, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance (Galatians 5:22,23).
I was asked, "Do you believe in the infilling of the Holy Spirit?" Amen. "Have you had the evidence?" Which one-there are at least nine in 1 Corinthians 12-14, and a host of others found throughout the New Testament.
They replied, "Tongues."
I answered, "I am seeking a greater evidence than tongues; I am seeking to control the one I have." That's right; the fruit of the Spirit is love, peace, long-suffering, gentleness. These have to do with getting along with others and loving them when they treat you like dirt. You don't retaliate by spreading venom about them with the tongue. That is not the mark of a Spirit-filled human being.
You argue that the gifts and the fruit are two different things? Quit quibbling; they go hand-in-hand. That is what God is trying to say in 1 Corinthians 13. Charity, which is love, is the evidence of the blessed Holy Spirit's presence in one's life. One can talk about his experiences and visions until doomsday, but if the fruit of the Spirit-LOVE-is absent, all the speaking in tongues is but projected from the diaphragm. Don't get angry now, because that will prove my point that LOVE-the true evidence-is missing in your experience.
Listen to the Spirit of God as He writes, through Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:1: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. (More simply: Though I speak with angelic tongues and fight with everyone, I am just a lot of noise). The real evidence is found in verses 4-7:
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not [is not jealous]; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up [saying "I have the gift and you don't; I am spiritual and you apparently aren't"], doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things [yes, endures all things and will not try to get back with the tongue).
Is this your experience? If so, you have the evidence of the Spirit. Languages, signs, and wonders can be faked; but the above-mentioned love can only be produced by the Holy Spirit.
Some of you have roast preacher every week. You talk against every spiritual leader of the Church. One day your children will curse God and turn their back on religion, and your uncontrollable tongue will have been the cause. God hates gossip. The Word proves it:
Lying lips are abomination to the Lord (Proverbs 12:22).
A true witness delivereth souls; but a deceitful witness speaketh lies (Proverbs 14:25).
Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).
A wicked doer giveth heed to false lips; and a liar giveth ear to a naughty tongue (Proverbs 17:4).
A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish (Proverbs 19:9).
Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
Let your speech be always with grace (Colossians 4:6).
An Unforgiving Spirit
In Ephesians 4:30 we find: And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. It is evident that when the Spirit of God, living within a believer, is grieved, the believer feels the mood of the grief-stricken Spirit and shares in the misery. Because of it, fellowship with God is broken.
What causes the Spirit to be grieved? Verses 31,32: Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And [get it, please] be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
The same truth is taught in Colossians 3:13: Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any; even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
Since we are to forgive others as Christ did, what did He do differently? In Luke 23, we see the Saviour hanging on the cross. Thorns stick into the flesh surrounding the skull. Spikes fasten Him to the tree. One sees a mutilated, mangled form suspended between heaven and earth.
Is Christ bitter? NO! He looks at His torturers and cries, Father forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34). Had they crucified Him daily for the last 1,900 years, He would still pray for their forgiveness. I know that from Matthew 18:21-35. Peter says to Christ, How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? til seven times [49 times]? Jesus said, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven [490 times]. Oh, what love and what grace. If God expects us to forgive 490 times, then He too will always open His arms to those who come to Him with broken, heavy-laden hearts. Thousands reading this newsletter today, who had the vilest of sins canceled at the cross, now harbor bitterness toward some other brother over some insignificant nonsense that "once upon a time" occurred. Oh, you will be ashamed when you see Christ for not obeying His Holy Word: Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath for given you (Ephesians 4:32).
Stephen had this spirit of forgiveness. As angry mobs crushed him to death with rocks in Acts 7:59,60, he cried, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. He was as human as any of us, but was filled with the Spirit of God (verse 55).
It is easy to "fly off the handle," gossip about others, and run around with a grudge while talking about the power of the Holy Spirit-but it is all a farce. His Spirit will make you turn the other cheek; will make you love the unlovable, and will never seek revenge by hurting the one who hurt you.
God says if you want to spare yourself heartache and divine judgment, judge this sin in your own life and put it away. I am calling upon you to do this now. Remember, if my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Corinthians 7:14).
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