A college friend once exhorted me to “learn scripture so you’ll know when you’re sinning against God. His Spirit will use the words to stop you and convict you and help you!”
I was a new Christian then, and so I set out to absorb God’s words to me. Some of the first verses I ever memorized were His admonitions to us about unwholesome talk. Those were the days before we read or memorized the Bible via hand-held devices, and so I’d walk my roommate’s dog with one hand and carry my newest memory verse on an index card in the other. Over and over I’d read His words and repeat them to myself. Up and down neighborhood streets, I worked to hide His words in my heart. Words which God still uses to stop and convict and help me.
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Eph. 4:29-31 NASB)
Then, and in all these intervening years, I’ve often thought:
How exactly do I rid myself of unwholesome, corrupting talk?
And that’s a really important question. But, I’ve also learned in these intervening years that the whys should often proceed the hows. So the first question should actually be:
Why do I rid myself of talk that dishonors my Lord?
Why do we fight to rid ourselves of any sin that hinders our communion with and knowledge of God? This is why:
- a Christian fights to rid herself of any sin (unwholesome talk in this case) because she loves Jesus and wants to imitate Him.
- She wants to be like Him.
- She’s learned more and more of Him and fallen more and more in love with Him — and so she desperately wants others to know Him, too.
- She wants to bring Him glory through her life and actions.
- She wants to honor her Father who first loved her and adopted her and transferred her into His kingdom of marvelous light.
And so, as she learns that He exhorts her to rid herself of unwholesome talk, she wants to obey.
Love, imitation, obedience — and something else
But not only does she rid herself of unwholesome talk because she loves and wants to obey Jesus, but also for this reason: She wants to show the world, by the very presence of the transformed speech He’s worked into her life, that He exists.
For behavior as seemingly mundane as transformed speech demonstrates the supernatural existence of God.
Eternity will be wonderful, but there is one thing heaven will not contain, and that is the call, the possibility, and the privilege of living a supernatural life here and now by faith before we see Jesus face-to-face. This is the demonstration that God intends in the world until Christ returns, and it is the Christian who is to be the demonstration … Christians are to demonstrate God’s character, which is a moral demonstration, but it is not only to be a demonstration of moral principles; it is a demonstration of his being, his existence. (True Spirituality, Francis A. Schaeffer, Tyndale House Publishers, p. 64)
So a Christian demonstrates God’s existence to the watching world when the supernatural work of the Spirit transforms her life (notice its a supernatural work, not a work of our own effort or our own strength.) As we, by the supernatural work of the Spirit, demonstrate more and more His character, His very existence is pointed to and highlighted.
Until He returns, we have the privilege and the possibility of, by faith, living a transformed life. Our transformed talk, spoken in the hearing of those around us, demonstrates to those listening the supernatural existence of God.
A supernatural work with a supernatural purpose
And the demonstration of His existence occurs because the taming of the tongue cannot be done in our own strength. The taming of my tongue’s deadly poison (and yours) requires God’s supernatural work.
“… the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness … no human being can tame the tongue …” (James 3:1-12)
But God is able! He delights to transform His child into His likeness. He purposes that you would be His poem, His miracle of grace, His adopted child who begins to more and more reflect the image of her Father.
Ponder this amazing thought. You get to live a life of declaration, one that announces to the world the most important news anyone can know:
God is, and He transforms the most unable.
Click here for the next post in this series — Part 2: So, what exactly does supernaturally-transformed speech sound like (and not sound like)? And then, Part 3: how do I fight the often subtle, yet deadly forms of unwholesome talk that proceed from my mouth?