The power of our words — and control of the tongue


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John1:14)

God created the world and all that’s in it through the power of His Word. He declared the world, and you and I into being.

The creative power of God’s Word is emphasised in Hebrews 11:3, Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear and the certain authority of God’s Word is expressed in Isaiah 55:11, So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

God also judges by the power of His word: The land shall be entirely emptied and utterly plundered, for the Lord has spoken this word. (Isaiah 24:3).

From the very first chapter of the Bible, God’s Word clearly reveals the power and authority of His word:

  • And God said, Let there be light: and there was light . . . (Genesis 1:3);
  • And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters . . . (Genesis 1:6);
  • And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together . . . (Genesis 1:9);
  • And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass . . . (Genesis 1:11);
  • And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament . . . (Genesis 1:14);
  • And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly . . . (Genesis 1:20);
  • And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature . . . (Genesis 1:24);
  • And God said, Let us make man in our image . . . (Genesis 1:26).

The power of our words
Our Holy Father created us in His image, by His Word, and gave us the ability to create. Our words are at the centre of our creative capacity, which has three elements — thought, word and deed, so it is vital that we are aware of the power of our words and choose to use them consciously, with great discernment. This is emphasised in Proverbs 15:28, The heart of the righteous studies how to answer.

The thoughts we think, the words we say, and deeds we do, not only create our reality around us, but the type of people we are being.

The influence that words have in our lives is repeatedly stressed in Proverbs, Death and power are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:2`) and The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the Lord, but the words of the pure are pleasant (Proverbs 15:26).

In The Power of Words and the Wonder of God by John Piper and Justin Taylor, we are told that: “Words carry immeasurable significance: The universe was created with a word; Jesus healed and cast out demons with a word; rulers have risen and fallen by their words; Christians have worshiped through words of song, confession, and preaching. Even in our technological age, politics, education, business, and relationships center on words”.

Piper and Taylor say that since the tongue is such a powerful force for good or evil “we are wise to ask: What would homes, churches, schools, even the public square be like if we used words with Christian intentionality and eloquence”?

Likewise, in Colossians 4:6 Paul advises us to: Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

However, if you are anything like me, then you often use words too flippantly, without thinking of their consequences or even of what you are about to say, and then regret having used the words you did.

We need to ask ourselves whether the words we use are an expression of love or bitterness, do they enlighten or confuse, are they helpful or obstructive, for words create outcomes that are encouraging or disheartening, provocative or calming.

It is important that we are not only discerning regarding the words we choose to say, but also with the words we decide to listen to and read.

Control over words spoken
I, unfortunately, have the habit of answering too quickly, instead of slowing down and listening more carefully. In short, I lack control over the words I speak, because I don’t think enough about what I am going to say before speaking.

James 3:1-12 talks of how the tongue can create chaos in people’s relationships and activities. An uncontrolled tongue can be the cause of evil and people need Divine grace to tame the tongue. In deed if one has control of one’s tongue one is in total control of yourself: If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.

On the other hand, James says, the tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell for no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.

In The Power of Words and the Wonder of God Sinclair Ferguson says how we use our tongues provides clear evidence of where we are spiritually.

“Spiritual maturity is evidenced by the use of the tongue… Tongue-mastery is the fruit of self-mastery.”

However he says nobody — Jesus excepted — has succeeded in mastering the tongue! Our only hope as we pursue the discipline of self that leads to mastery of the tongue is that we are Christ’s and that we are being made increasingly like him. But this battle for vocal holiness is a long-running one, and it needs to be waged incessantly, daily, hourly.

“So, James sees that the tongue is an instrument of extraordinary power, out of all proportion to its size. Whatever its anatomical connections, its most significant connection is to the heart — whether hardened by sin or recreated by grace,” says Ferguson.

I agree with Sinclair Ferguson that only Jesus has succeeded in mastering the tongue and that the battle for “vocal holiness” needs to be fought at all times. This battle has much to do with the struggle to be aware and fully conscious; it is about overcoming distractions and being focussed on Jesus in each moment.

Becoming aware of words and speech
It is vital that we guard our hearts, thoughts, tongues and mouths, become increasingly aware of our words and speech, and take control of what we express, consciously arresting each feeling, thought or word that is not fit to share with the Lord, repent of it and ask the Holy Spirit to think, speak and act through us for God’s glory.

It is entirely possible for us to choose to offer our words up as self-sacrifice and become co-creators with our Holy Father by deciding to allow His Holy Spirit to speak for God for us, thereby using us as channels or instruments for His will being done on earth as it is in heaven.

We are called on to walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25). The Holy Spirit will correct us from the inside out so that the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts are acceptable in the sight of the Lord (Psalm 19:14).

It’s a tall order that is not achievable by our own effort, only in surrender, by God’s grace, through His Holy Spirit, in Jesus Christ’s name.

However, it is an objective entirely worthy of our complete attention and application for once we have control over our tongues, self-control is within sight.

Our words should reflect the Holy Spirit working through us extending God’s love and grace to whoever we communicate with. They should be an expression of Jesus Christ within us and us in Him.

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed in Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John8:31)

Lastly, the importance of gaining control over the words we use is made clear by Jesus counselling us in Matthew 12:36-37: But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgement. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.

One Comment

  1. Peter Mc Gregor

    A very good article that gives Glory to Our father as the one that can, by His Spirit, steer us onto the right course if we are willing to accept the atoning work of the Risen Christ in our lives, and are willing to receive the HOLY Spirit as GOD’S gift to His sons who are born from above. GOD Bless,…Peter.