The Shocking Power of Words

Dan Corner


The Power Of Words Is Much Greater Than Most Realize!

Everyone Should Know The Connection Between Our Words and Our Religion

According to the Bible, the power of the tongue (the power of words) is very great! The power of words far exceeds what most believe! The majority of the population speaks hundreds, if not multiple thousands, of words daily. We need words to communicate our thoughts. These same words which are spoken are vastly more powerful and revealing than most would ever tend to recognize, even to the point of affecting our salvation. What you are about to read are some very sobering facts about the power of words, as God sees them. Now is the time to adjust and make vital changes where changes are needed. For your own sake, as well as for others around you, take to heart what the Bible declares about the power of words that you have been, presently are and will yet be speaking.

The Bible speaks of two types of people—the wicked and the righteous, which at times are described with different terms. You might be surprised to know that the words spoken by these two types of people are vastly different. First let's notice some facts about the wicked.

Here is Why You Better Not Be Ashamed of Jesus Christ

The Power of Words Reveals A Wicked and Deceitful Heart

David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, described unsaved people. Notice what he wrote, especially about their words:

An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked: There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin. The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful; he has ceased to be wise and to do good. Even on his bed he plots evil; he commits himself to a sinful course and does not reject what is wrong (Psa. 36:1-4).

In summary, David said: (1) They don't fear God, (2) The reason why they don't hate or detect their own sin, (3) Their words are wicked and deceitful and (4) They plan evil and choose not to reject wrong. Here are more details about the words of the wicked:

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts of the cravings of his heart; he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD. In his pride the wicked does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. His ways are always prosperous; he is haughty and your laws are far from him; he sneers at all his enemies. He says to himself, “Nothing will shake me; I'll always be happy and never have trouble.” His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue (Psa.10:2-7).

But to the wicked, God says: “What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother's son” (Psa. 50:16-20).

A scoundrel plots evil, and his speech is like a scorching fire (Prov. 16:27).

Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous (Psa. 31:18).

They close up their callous hearts, and their mouths speak with arrogance (Psa. 17:10).

The Power of Words in the Mouth Of The Righteous

In contrast, the righteous speak differently:

The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just (Psa. 37:30).

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but violence overwhelms the mouth of the wicked (Prov. 10:11).

The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but a perverse tongue will be cut out. The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse (Prov. 10:31, 32).

The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value (Prov. 10:20).

The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the hearts of fools (Prov. 15:7).

The Power of Words Reveals and Identifies a Person

Again, words help to identify a person as wicked (or righteous) and not just one's actions. All through the Bible this truth is declared, that is, we can indeed identify who is saved and who is not saved, even though we cannot see their heart. (This Biblical fact, however, is flatly denied by the eternal security teachers who want us to think the elect can behave and speak just like the unsaved yet remain a Christian.)

Words, which come from the heart, reveal the present-tense spiritual condition of that heart. Jesus spoke to wicked people, whom he called brood of vipers, and disclosed some of the most profound and fearful truths about words found in the Bible:

You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. The 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. But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned (Mat. 12:34-37).

Imagine giving an account on Judgment Day for your words. The Bible clearly teaches this:

Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment! (James 2:12,13)

Jesus taught words proceed from the heart. Hence, words are a byproduct of one's heart revealing its spiritual condition. Have you ever noticed the disturbing words of the unsaved around you, especially when they blaspheme the precious, holy and saving name of Jesus? Few godly people haven't. The Bible declares the wicked misuse God's name:

They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name (Psa. 139:20).

While God's enemies misuse his holy name, the righteous praise his holy name.

The Power of Words Revealed Nabal As a Wicked Man

Notice how Nabal was described by some who knew him well:

He [Nabal] is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him (1 Sam. 25:17).

To be more precise Nabal was insulting (verse14), as well as surly and mean in his dealings (v. 3). But there is even more which reveals his evil heart—he was a drunkard:

When Abigail went to Nabal, he was in the house holding a banquet like that of a king. He was in high spirits and very drunk. So she told him nothing until daybreak. Then in the morning, when Nabal was sober, his wife told him all these things, and his heart failed him and he became like a stone. About ten days later, the LORD struck Nabal and he died (1 Sam. 25:36-38).

Nabal had a wicked heart and it was revealed by his actions and words. God killed Nabal.

Sinning In Word

Since sinning is such a serious issue, if for no other reason, one should speak less to avoid sinning. Have you ever thought about the various ways one can sin with words? Here are some of the ways: discord, slander, lying, filthy language, strife, blasphemy and disowning Jesus. Our own words can be our spiritual downfall. Perhaps that is why Christians are told:

But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (Col. 3:8).

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind (1 Pet. 2:1).

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21).

Our words can most definitely hurt and even destroy us spiritually:

A fool's lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool's mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul (Prov. 18:6,7).

Hence, we are told truths like the following:

When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise (Prov. 10:19).

Two extremely important truths are found in this last passage: (1) We can sin with words and will if many words are spoken and (2) A person is spiritually wise to speak less (and sometimes not at all). Similarly, we also read in the NT the importance of being slow to speak:

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires (James 1:19,20).

Be slow to speak and slow to get angry. Furthermore, you can actually prevent trouble (and disaster) for yourself in the future by guarding your words now:

He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity (Prov. 21:23).

Notice how your words (and behavior) steer the way your life goes. To alter the words that proceed from your lips will change your life for the better, if you modify them, according to Scripture:

Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech. He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (1 Pet. 3:10-12).

Hold your tongue, be slow to speak, guard your mouth and keep your lips from evil and deceitful speech is the repetitive language of the Bible. But that is not all—we should also pray regarding our future words as well:

Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips. Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies (Psa. 141:3,4).

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer (Psa. 19:14).

One of David's personal spiritual goals was to conquer his tongue and he prayed to God for help. Have you ever prayed like he did for such? Obviously, he was taking his own words very seriously, as we should likewise do:

A prayer of David. Hear, O LORD, my righteous plea; listen to my cry. Give ear to my prayer—it does not rise from deceitful lips. May my vindication come from you; may your eyes see what is right. Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin (Psa.17:1-3).

A psalm of David. I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence” (Psa. 39:1).

We are also told to guard our heart above all else, but notice what we are commanded immediately afterwards:

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips (Prov. 4:23,24).

How Serious is LYING?

The Power of Reckless Words

If you would unwisely reflect back over past hurtful events that you have experienced, you will recall reckless words that have been spoken. Some were voiced in so-called jest, but they still did their painful damage:

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment (Prov. 12:18,19).

Like a madman shooting firebrands or deadly arrows is a man who deceives his neighbor and says, “I was only joking!” (Prov. 26:18,19).

The Power of Pleasant Words

The Bible declares there are also pleasant words and mentions the benefits of such:

The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction (Prov. 16:21).

Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Prov. 16:24).

There are different Hebrew words translated pleasant. They mean sweetness, delightful and agreeable. Such pleasant words often come from the pure in heart:

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD: but the words of the pure are pleasant words (Prov. 15:26, KJV).

The Power and Importance of
Wholesome Words

Your words are very powerful and definitely do impact the people around you. You can build others up or tear them down spiritually by your words. Hence, you are commanded to do the following:

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 (Eph. 4:29).

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:19,20).

Speaking wholesome words is especially important for spiritual leaders, as Joshua was:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go (Josh. 1:9).

Words of fear or courage often affect others who hear them.

A Man Of Knowledge

A person who has even the most basic understanding of the power of his words will use them with restraint:

A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered (Prov. 17:27).

A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength (Prov. 24:5).

The Power In One Kind Word

Close to the opposite of a reckless word is a single kind word:

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up (Prov. 12:25).

Some people don't speak kind words to another because they hate that person. This is how it was for Joseph. His jealous brothers (Gen. 37:11) also hated him:

When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him (Gen 37:4).

Also, people who hate another lie about that person:

A lying tongue hates those it hurts, and a flattering mouth works ruin (Prov. 26:28).

He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool (Prov. 10:18).

Your Tone Of Voice -
Gentle and Harsh Words

In contrast to hateful and jealous people, a man named Shechem loved Dinah. His words reflected his heart towards her. It says:

He loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her (Gen. 34:3).

Peter wrote that a wife with a gentle and quiet spirit is of great worth in God's sight (1 Pet. 3:4). Such a wife can win her unbelieving husband to the Lord without words about his need for salvation—certainly, in part, because her everyday gentle words have great influence to avoid arguments, strife and turn away wrath:

Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone (Prov. 25:15).

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Prov. 15:1).

One single harsh word has the opposite effect of a gentle answer and it is your choice to speak a certain way or remain silent. Notice that the tone of voice you speak can be the deciding factor in how the person reacts, according to Prov. 15:1. One might answer with the same exact words, but with a different tone and not reap the desired results.

Notice how words are likened to a bit in a horse's mouth, which controls its direction or like a very small rudder on a large ship, which steers it:

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or 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. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts (James 3:3-5a).

The tongue can also be compared to a fire:

Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The 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. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:5b-8).

James taught your tongue (the words you speak) can corrupt you spiritually. This is very important to remember. This was also the clear teaching of the Lord Jesus:

He went on: “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'” (Mark 7:20-23).

But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean'(Mat. 15:18-20).

This truth about the corrupting power of words is most important for all who are serious about putting forth every effort to enter through the narrow gate (Lk. 13:24). Why? Please read this carefully about who will enter New Jerusalem:

Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life (Rev. 21:27).

Religion Rendered Worthless Due To The Power of Words

Contrary to what many have been told, Christianity is a religion, according to the Bible (1 Tim. 5:4; James 1:26,27). Even though you might consider yourself a Christian, if you aren't keeping a tight reign on your tongue your Christian religion is worthless:

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless (James 1:26).

Apparently, to live holy doesn't just refer to one's non-verbal behavior! It must also include his words as well. At a different time, Jesus taught that our words directed towards another can endanger our own souls to the fire of hell:

But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, “Raca,” is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, “You fool!” will be in danger of the fire of hell (Mat. 5:22).

Jesus [the master in the following teaching] will judge some at the Judgment based on the words they spoke:

“I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.” His master replied, “I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow?” (Luke 19:21,22).

The Lord also taught his apostles that he would disown them if they disowned him:

But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven (Mat. 10:33).

Peter did that same deadly thing three times with his words:

Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said. But he denied it before them all. “I don't know what you're talking about,” he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.” He denied it again, with an oath: “I don't know the man!” After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away.” Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, “I don't know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly (Mat. 26:69-75).

It is better by far to die physically than to become a backslider. We are all going to die. We can't escape this. The real issue is to enter God's kingdom after our death, which our words can prevent!

On the other hand, our words (with the right kind of heart) will get us in the Kingdom of God:

They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death (Rev. 12:11).

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. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved (Rom 10:9,10).

We are also told:

A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor, but a man of understanding holds his tongue (Prov. 11:12).

A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue (Prov. 17:27,28).

The Power of the Tongue Contains The
Power Of Life and Death

The extreme power in our words is expressed in yet a different way in the following passage:

The tongue has the power of life and death ... (Prov.18:21).

Your words are affecting your life now and your future in eternity—either in a good or bad way. Because the power of words (the power of the tongue) is so great be very guarded in what you speak for your own sake and the sake of the people around you.


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