PSALM 12 TALK
THE BATTLE OF WORDS
(GOD’S WORD VERSES THE PROPAGANDA OF EVIL IN MAKIND)
I have entitled my study on Psalm 12 “The Battle of Words”, as this Psalm sets out the battle we are always caught up in, the war between good and evil. The Psalm will teach that this war is fought in the realm of thoughts and words. Rebellious mankind is engaged in an often-vicious propaganda campaign against God and his people. Wikipedia defines propaganda as, “a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position’. It goes on to point that propaganda often manipulates messages to produce an emotional rather than a rational response to achieve a desired response often at the expense of the truth.
The most devastating historical example of evil propaganda was that of Nazi Germany where Hitler appointed a special minister of propaganda, Joseph Goebbels. Goebbels did things like strict control of entertainment mediums and every form of news outlet to virtually brainwash the German people to go to war, eradicate Jews and believe everything Adolf Hitler said was the only truth to believe in.
In Psalm 12 we will see that David felt he was completely surrounded by his Godless enemies who sought to bring him and God down by the words they spoke. David looks to God in prayer for help and for the first time in the Psalms we hear God himself speaking in verse 5 to condemn his enemies and offer his protection and help to his followers. We will also look at some New Testament passages on the use of the tongue and some words of advice on combating false teaching in the church and the world we live in.
Note : The Psalms heading gives an instruction for the Psalm to be presented “according to sheminith” Which the Bible Encyclopedia defines as, “the lowest note sung by men’s voices”. In 1 Chronicles 15 : 21 we see this term used outside of the Psalms,
“and Mattithiah, Eliphelehu, Mikneiah, Obed-Edom, Jeiel and Azaziah were to play the harps, directing according to sheminith”
This is part of the description of the setting up of worship officially in the city of Jerusalem by David when he set up a place of worship in a great tent containing the newly found “Ark of the Covenant”. This means, like many of the Psalms it was used in Jewish worship. It was one of there many songs of worship and the things we will learn from study of this Psalm should be used in our worship of God today as well.
This psalm can be divided up into three sections :
- THE POWER OF UNGODLY PROPAGANDA (1 – 4)
- GOD’S ANSWER TO UNGODLY PROPAGANDA (5 – 6)
- THE ONGOING FIGHT AGAINST UNGODLY PROAGANDA (7 – 8)
1. THE POWER OF UNGODLY PROPAGANDA (1 – 4)
When David wrote this Psalm he certainly felt he was going through a very bad time he speaks of the “the Godly being no more” and “faithfulness vanishing from among men” in verse one. Many other famous Old Testament felt the same as David like Micah he says similar things in Micah 7 : 2,
“The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains. All men lie in wait to shed blood; each hunts his brother with a net.
Isaiah also speaks this way as well in Isaiah 57 : 1,
“The righteous perish, and no one ponders it in his heart; devout men are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil”.
But the most famous Old Testament example of a Godly man feeling this way is of course Elijah when he ran from King Ahab and his evil godless wife Jezebel, hiding out in a cave in the lonely mountainous area of Horeb. Here in sulks in prayer to God in 1 Kings 19 : 10,
“I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
Elijah was in a lot of trouble and he certainly faced a vicious and Godly nation but part of God’s reassuring words to him are words we to should take comfort in when we feel alone and depressed as followers of Christ. We read God’s reassuring words in 1 Kings 19 : 18,
“Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”
God is saying to Elijah he is not alone in being faithful to the true God and not bowing down to the false God of Baal and in fact there are seven thousand of them. We might seem to be small in numbers but we are not alone and even in the darkest times of this world God has always had a faithful remnant to uphold his name on earth.
I’m sure David knew that faith in God had not vanished from the earth but this is how he felt, his enemies were so strong and causing so much strife he felt almost overwhelmed by them.
David then goes on to describe the weapons his enemies are using against him. I wont you to note the weapons David describes here. They are not swords and bows but words as we see in verses 2 and 3,
“Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception. May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue”
As I said earlier one of Nazi Germanys greatest weapons was there propaganda. Through their propaganda machine they convinced the German people to follow them into all kinds of Godless and wicked activity that included the annihilation of the Jewish people. Many true Christian believers suffered at the hands of the Nazi’s and I’m sure they could testify to the power of propaganda as they faced the dreadful lies and boastful taunts of their Nazi captures.
We to are caught up in a great battle of words both in and outside the church of God. Peter talks about the battle of words inside the church in 2 Peter 2 : 1 – 3,
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping”.
Peter is not the only New Testament writer who speaks about the war of words in the Church of God as even in the times when the New Testament was being written false teachers arose to lead Christians astray. So it has been throughout the history of the Church and even today we face the war of words inspired by the prince of lies, the devil in our churches.
When I was in bible college many years ago I visited a church that had come out of the great Methodist movement of the 18th century and heard a sermon by a young minister in training where he spoke of the bible as not the word of God but containing the word of God. He then started to try and show us what was God’s word in the bible and what was not. I sat there in that little church quietly fuming with anger and rage at such heresy and deception I was hearing. I prayed quietly to God for some kind of chance to say something to this young man who like me was training for ministry but who had preached a sermon so destructive and deceiving in nature. At the door I had the chance to shake his hand and as I did so asked him if he had read any of writings of his churches founder John Wesley. He said he hadn’t and I then said well I strongly suggest you do so as I’m he would not have agreed with your interpretation of what the bible is. He politely thanked me for my suggestion and moved me on.
James tells in James 3 : 7 -8
“All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison”.
David is speaking in Psalm 12 about much the same thing that our tongues are the problem and his enemies were flapping them greatly to bring him down. They used their tongues to lies, boast and with their tongues declare they will triumph over him. David knew he had an ally in God in the Battle of words when he declares,
“May the Lord cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue” ( verse 3)
Paul tells us that the fate of those who use their tongues against God inside and outside of the Church will face the judgment of God. We see this in Romans 3 : 10 – 19
“As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.12All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” 13“Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”14“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”15“Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16ruin and misery mark their ways, 17and the way of peace they do not know.”18“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God”.
Paul is saying that one day the battle of words will be over and he will win that battle, “every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God”.
2. GOD’S ANSWER TO UNGODLY PROPAGANDA (5 – 6)
We have already seen from the words of Paul in Romans 3 how God will deal with those who are on the wrong side of the Battle of Words, now David has God speaking directly for the first time in the Psalms. God speaks directly a number of time in the Psalms and when he does it always seems to be a significant moment of truth. David’s enemies propaganda leads to oppression, the oppression of particularly the weak and needy.
Many ask, Why is their poverty in a world God created?
The bibles answer is simple, it is caused by sin, man’s rebellion against God. Paul declared in the Romans 3 passage, I read a few minutes ago, “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways and the way of peace they do not know”, such are the ways of those who do not follow God and who oppose him. It always seems to be the poor of this world who suffer the most in times of conflict and war. This is because those who oppose God are out to please themselves at any cost and the easiest target to aim at are the weak and needy or put simply those who are poor.
God’s word is breathtakingly short and devastating,
“Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise, I will protect them from those who malign them” (verse 5)
The fate of the poor seems to be of particular interest to the God of the bible and God’s condemnation of those who oppress and exploit the poor is, to say the least devastating. Like the example of this in the book of Amos 8 : 4 – 7,
4 Hear this, you who trample the needy and do away with the poor of the land, 5 saying, ”When will the New Moon be over that we may sell grain, and the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?” skimping the measure, boosting the price and cheating with dishonest scales, buying the poor with silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, selling even the sweepings with the wheat. The LORD has sworn by the Pride of Jacob: “I will never forget anything they have done”.
The full impact of this condemnation of those who oppress the poor is that God had provided in the law of Moses for the poor at harvest time. The poor had the rights to the sweepings of wheat, the poor leftovers of the harvest but even these scraps were denied of the poor in Amos time such was the oppression of the poor.
God seems to be a champion of the poor as David would later write in Psalm 140 : 12,
I know that the LORD secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy.
I sure David has not just got the poor who lack money in mind here. He is speaking about himself, after all verse five and six are in the context of the battle of words he is caught up in with the enemies of God. Jesus said in Matthew 5 : 3,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.
David was under attack and seemed out numbered by his enemies, he was seemingly out gunned by the words and deeds of his enemies so humanly speaking he was “poor in spirit” and so he would have taken great comfort from God’s direct word and he again would have gained the assurance that his God would protect him and fight for him.
Then we have even more amazing words of comfort and power for all believers. For in verse 6 we read,
“And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times”
These words in the context of the battle of words give all believers the confidence to trust in the word of God for it was David’s and indeed our great weapon in that battle.
Jesus fought the Devil in his battle with him in the desert as the Devil with the word of God as the devil used deceptive words to tempt him. Hebrews 4 : 12 tells us,
“For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart”.
To the Christian, the true believer God’s word is our great weapon in the battle of words. We need to read it, believe it and inwardly digest it so that we have, as Paul says,
“The sword of the spirit which is the word of God” ( Ephesians 6 : 17)
Note the sword is the only offensive piece of equipment Paul speaks of in his armor of God all the rest are for defense.
David describes this word of God we have as being flawless and being like silver refined in a furnace of clay seven times over. Commentators suggest that this means that God’s word is like the purest of precious metals.
We should therefore guard and appreciate its value and use. This means people like the young Methodist minister who see the bible as containing the word of God rather than being the word of God are on the slippery path of devaluing the precious word of God as God has given us.
The Devil in his battle of words does not want us to know and use God’s powerful word and if he can convince us do devalue it he has more opportunities to defeat us with his corrupt and dangerous words.
3. THE ONGOING FIGHT AGAINST UNGODLY PROAGANDA (7 – 8)
David then returns to prayer to God to ask for God’s protection and help as he battles his enemies in the battle of words. David knew that his enemies were very strong and dangerous and without God’s protection and help he would be in great trouble. In fact he would be powerless as we read in Proverbs 28 : 23 – 28,
“He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue. 24 He who robs his father or mother and says, “It’s not wrong” he is partner to him who destroys. 25 A greedy man stirs up dissension, but he who trusts in the LORD will prosper. 26 He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe. 27 He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses. 28 When the wicked rise to power, people go into hiding; but when the wicked perish, the righteous thrive”.
These words from proverbs are both encouraging and also a warning.
They encourage us because they tell us the blessing and power we have in God if we live the way God tells us to in his word but a warning to those who, as verse 26 implies “Does not walk in wisdom”.
We find God’s wisdom in his word and it is his word that makes the difference. Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 : 16,
“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”.
It is not a book or just the words in the book that is our source of power but it is our faith in the truth of God’s word this book contains that is our source of power and hope.
When I was first preparing this talk there was a major incident taking place in America at the time of the impending remembrance of the 9 / 11 attacks. It involved a so called evangelical pastor burning Koran bibles in protest to the building of a Muslim Mosque near the site of the 9/11 attacks. Muslims in reply were going to burn Christian bibles. This whole incident points to the crazy reality of people trusting in a physical book. I say let them burn bibles but the truth that it contains cannot be burnt or destroyed.
In Psalm 119 : 89 we read,
“Your word, O LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens”.
People can burn books but they cannot destroy the word of God and likewise they can burn Christians (as they did in ages past) but they cannot destroy the faith they have in the word of God.
In the final verse David returns to another description of his enemies with these words,
“The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men”.
Why end this way? You might ask.
Well remember how David started he felt outcast and on his own by his enemies and their ferocious battle of words. He returns to what he sees as the prevailing attitude of the society around him. People are puffed up, full of their own importance and this is how the Godless often appear when we are seeking to live humble lives for God. However we need to exercise our faith in God when we feel this way and practice what David advices us to do in Psalm 55 : 22 – 23,
22 Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. 23 But you, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you”.
Again faith in Christ and what he has done for us is what we need to hang onto when we face great forces of evil in the battle of words.
3 NEW TESTAMENT INSIGHT
1. What James teaches us about the tongue in James 3 : 1 – 12
The little letter of James to scattered Jewish Christians is one of the most practical words of advice to how God wants us to live as people of true faith in Christ and James has a lot to say about what we say and how we use our tongues.
I would like to point out three things James seems to be saying about the tongue or the war of words.
1. Christian teaching is a serious and problematic activity
The opening verses of this passage speak of the seriousness of being involved in Christian teaching. James even says “many should not presume to be teaches”. This is because in the battle of words those who teach the word of God are those who have the biggest impact for good or bad. If those who teach God’s word get it wrong they can cause eternal consequences. As we saw from the study of Psalm 12 the main theatre of activity is in the battle of thoughts and words.
This why the young Methodist minister I heard that day was in serious trouble because not only was he teaching things that would lead to his own spiritual demise he was also helping others, his listeners to also go down the slippery slope of spiritual destruction. This seriousness can cause some Christian ministers and leaders to react in a very unhelpful way. I know known many churches where only the minister himself does preaching and teaching because he is so afraid that anyone else cannot be trusted to handle the word of God correctly. This is the opposite problem of letting just anyone have a go at preaching and teaching.
It is a balance between these two extremes we should seek. The bible says we should test those who teach and test or receive their teaching with a critical mind using the word of God as our guide. Paul had much to say to Timothy about this in his letters to him about how he should lead the church God had given him. Listen to what Paul says about the appointment of deacons in 1 Timothy 3 : 9 – 10
“They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. 10They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons”.
Paul has some further great words of advise to Timothy about how he should act as a faithful teacher of God’s church in 2 Timothy 2 : 15
“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth”.
2. We all will struggle in the use of our tongues
As I said before James teaching is some of the most practical advice in the bible and can be seen in the words of James 3 : 2
“We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check”.
James is telling us hear that in our use of the tongue we will fail from time to time. He goes on to tell us why in no uncertain terms. James 3 : 3 – 8
“When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison”.
James is telling us how potent is that small member of our body our tongue is. Of cause the tongue is but the instrument our mind plays to express our thoughts motivated by our hearts.
Jesus spoke of this in Mark 7 : 20 – 23
“What comes out of a man is what makes him unclean. For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man unclean”.
So we must guard the use of our tongues by seeking to tame the tiger within us which is sin and this can only be done by God’s spirit working deep within us to help make us more like Christ. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3 : 18,
And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever – increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”.
3. Use your tongue to Praise God not curse men
James finishes his practical words of advice about the use of our tongue with these words, James 3 : 9 – 12,
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring. My brothers can a fig tree bear olives, or a grade vine bear figs. Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water”.
Practical James is pointing out a important principle hear, you have a choice you either use your tongue to praise God or curse man. When you boil down the miss use of words or the tongue it usually comes down to one thing, you are seeking to bring someone down. You are pushing yourself forward at the expense of someone else. James has a cure or remedy for this problem. He says use your tongue to praise the Lord.
A funny Irish singer I like has a song called, “If your going to say anything say nothing”. I would like to change that song title to “If your going to say something that does not build someone up and does not promote God in their lives say nothing”. Of course the opposite is what James suggests here. We must use our tongues to Praise God and build one another up. As Paul advices in Ephesians 4 : 29,
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen”.
2. Paul gives Timothy advice on how to fight evil propaganda within the Church.
2 Timothy 4 : 1 –
I have met Christians over the years who argue we need the church to go back to the church of the New Testament times as though it had no problems and was pure and beautiful. The fact is we would not have a New Testament beyond the Gospels if the early Church did not have problems.
Paul, James, John and Peter would not have written their letters if the early church had not been under attack by false teachers and false teachers. Near the end of Paul’s life he wrote two letters to his main understudy Timothy to help him minister for God and fight what I call evil propaganda let me read a passage of the second letter where Paul gives Timothy some good advice in combating this evil propaganda in the early church of Paul’s time.
Lets now look at 2 Timothy 4 : 1 – 5
1In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
I would like to highlight 3 things in this passage.
1. The seriousness of upholding the truth of the Gospel.
Non biblical teaching is something Christ will consider on the Day of Judgment. Paul gives Timothy the charge of preaching the word and correcting error in the context of the last day when Christ will return and will judge the world. This means, to God non biblical propaganda or teaching is something God through Christ will judge and those involved in it will face God’s judgment and those who fail to try and correct it will also come under God’s judgment.
2. What God wants his ministers to do.
Paul tells Timothy, “preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction’. This is what God wants all who take up the ministry of preaching and teaching in his Church to do. They are to faithfully “preach the word”, and of course the word is the word of God the bible. This is not always the most popular thing to do. Paul goes on to say that people often get “itching ears” which means some people get tired of the word of God and look for something new and different. When my wife and I were visiting North America in 2003 we sought to go to Church one Sunday. We saw a interesting new Church building on the way into the town we were in at the time. We looked this Church up in the local phone book and its claim to fame was, “We teach the bible and beyond”. The bible was great but the beyond bit worried us. We ended up choosing a church called, “The biblical Evangelical Church” and heard a great bible based sermon on Joshua Chapter 1.
3. The basis of all false teaching.
Paul tells Timothy that false teaching comes about when they seek teaching that caters for their own desires and they turn away from the truth of the Gospel to teaching that turns from the truth to myths.
It’s interesting that evangelicals or bible believing Christians are people who believe in myths but the opposite is true, when we turn away from God’s inspired word we turn to myths. Any teaching that strays from God’s word quickly goes off the rails and becomes a myth something that has no real truth in it and is basically the figment of a man’s imagination. You can throw any teaching from what we call Christian sects and I will show you how it is simply just a myth. The most obvious iis The Mormon Church or The Church of the Later Day Saints. This sect came about because its founder, Joseph Smith came up with a extra book to the bible in the 1830’s and from this comes some of the most mythical ideas that when you read it it sounds like a crazy fairy story so far from the simple truth of the Gospel of Christ.
3. What Jesus teaches us about the words we speak and how that will be used in the final Judgment in Matthew 12 : 30 – 37?
30“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. 33“Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit. 34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. 36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Again I would like to draw your attention to 3 aspects of what Jesus said in this passage as they relate to the battle of words.
- The unforgivable sin is to continually engage in anti – Christ propaganda.
The start of this passage raises an issue many Christians have had real problems with. Jesus seems to be putting limits on what he will forgive. This of course is not a proper understanding of what Jesus is saying here. It’s the context of these words that gives us a right understanding of what Jesus is saying. The incident that proceeds these words is the casting out of a demon in a blind and mute man. Some of the Pharisees who witnessed this, instead of attributing this to God in Jesus say it was by the power of Satan that Jesus was able to do this. This statement leads Jesus to say,
“He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come”.
If a person attributes evil or Satan as something that God has done and stays unrepentant of such a thing then of course they are outside of the forgiveness Christ offered to all mankind. This relates to the battle of words in that those who continue without faith and repentance in an anti God, anti Christ war of words are in the same boat as those stubborn and foolish Pharisees of Jesus day. This should serve as a warning to all people both within and outside of the Church of God that to oppose the true Gospel of Christ is to engage in speaking against The Holy Spirit who gives us this Gospel and on the last day God’s judgment will come upon them.
2. Where the evil propaganda comes from
As I have already stated before anti God and anti Christ propaganda comes via the words we speak but this originates from a far deeper source. Jesus says in verse 34,
“34You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks”.
Yes the Pharisees in Jesus day are the same a those who oppose Gold and Christ today they are people whose hearts are in darkness and are motivated by sin which is of course is rebellion to God. Even the great apostle Paul knew the truth of these words for he like those Pharisees was a once a Pharisee who opposed Christ and his followers. This led him to publically speak against Christian leaders of his day and have many of them arrested and even killed.
However one day on a road to Damascus as he was heading to arrest and lock up some more Christian followers he was struck down by a great light and out of this light he had a clear vision of the living Jesus who called him to follow him. Paul experienced that life changing event we all must have when in our hearts we turn to Christ, repent, believe in what Jesus has done for us and ask his spirit to come into our lives and help us to make Jesus our Lord and Savior for evermore.
3. By what we say we will be judged.
The final words of this passage contain a very sobering challenge to us all,
“36But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. 37For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Paul says in Romans 10 : 9,
“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”.
Making a right response to what Christ has done for us involves confessing with our mouths what we now believe in our hearts. This means that our words are very important to God. Jesus is saying in this passage that all men will have to give account of what they have said throughout there lives on the day of judgment.
Of course what we say on that day about where we stand in Christ gets us into heaven or not. However I think these words have a bit more application than just our Salvation into heaven.
One vexed question for me for many years is the Judgment of Christians after they are welcomed into heaven with Christ. From the bible there does seem to be some kind of reckoning of how we lived the Christian life and how we served the Lord once we are saved. Listen to what Paul says in 2 Cor. 5 : 9 – 10,
“9So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad”.
As I understand this Christian judgment at the moment, we don’t get into heaven through good works but by what Christ has done for us. However some kind of rewards in heaven do come to those who serve Christ more faithfully than others. In our Matthew passage Jesus speaks of our “careless words” and this should serve as another reminder that what we say to others is very important and I’m sure we all will be a bit embarrassed on the day of Judgment by a careless word or to all of us have spoken. So keep that in mind as you engage in the battle of words.
- What Psalm 12 has taught us about how the battle against evil is fought and how that influences how we live our lives today
We have seen that a David faced his enemies in his day, who were also the enemies of God that the main battle was in words. Words and ideas are used by Satan to try and bring us down and we must fight this battle of words primarily with pray and the word of God. Jesus fought the Devil head on in the temptations in the wilderness with the word of God. This means that we must read the bible, understand it and learn to use it in the day to day battle with the forces of evil in this world.
2. How can we fight this battle both within the Church and in the world outside of it.
As I have already said pray and the word of God are the main weapons we have in the battle of words. Satan will attack us both form outside of the Church of God and sometimes within. The church after all as Michael Griffiths once pointed out is not a museum of perfect specimens but a hospital for sinners. We need to encourage one another and sometimes even correct and discipline one another when we stray from the truth even in the Church. Let me close with these great words of advice at the end of the book of Jude : 24 – 25,
” 24To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present youbefore his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”
Lord, like David we cry out to you for help because sometimes we feel that those who oppose you and us are so strong and powerful. Give us your word to combat the false and damaging propaganda of those who oppose you. Help us to know your word better and finally help us to use your word in the daily battles of this life. This we prayer in and through the powerful name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen