“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” (Ephesians 4:29)
“Corrupt communication...” What comes to mind when we hear this statement? Most of us conjure up a variety of “four letter words…” A barrage of profanity that only an “unregenerate heathen” would “dare utter.” While it is true that such language can be considered corrupt, is it possible that God has a slightly different perspective on the meaning of “corrupt” and “profane?”
“Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barne-a to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. Nevertheless, my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people to melt; but I wholly followed the Lord my God.” (Joshua 14:7-8)
Caleb spoke these words as the children of Israel were taking possession of what God had given them. The original story begins in Numbers chapter 13, where Moses had sent the children of Israel to spy out the land that God had given them to inherit. However, instead of returning full of excitement, eager to lay hold upon what God had promised them, they brought back an evil report (Numbers 13:32).
Their unbelieving hearts and corrupt speech destroyed the courage of the nation, and brought the wrath of God upon them. In fact, God was so infuriated with this that none of them entered into the promised land except for Joshua and Caleb, and all of the hardhearted, stubborn, rebellious and unbelieving complainers died in the wilderness (Numbers 14:26-38, Hebrews 3:17). Even after all of this, God still wasn’t finished with them, for He put them in the New Testament as examples to us, admonishing us, “Don’t be like this, or you’ll get what they got!” (I Corinthians 10:1-11)
No man or woman of faith wants to be around a person of corrupt thinking or speech. There have been times in my life that I would rather be around the unbelievers at work than around some of God’s people. Several years ago, I worked a construction job in Florida. My job consisted of delivering cement mix to our crew as they built swimming pools throughout the Central Florida region. The guys that I worked with were of mixed ethnic backgrounds, but most of them were Mexican immigrants. They were a “rough” bunch to say the least, and they would drink, smoke marijuana, use profanity, and do just about everything else on the job that an accomplished, seasoned heathen could do. But I enjoyed being around them, and they enjoyed being around me, and they listened to the things that I had to say about the Lord. There were salvations, and a Ku Klux Klan associate was healed of terminal cancer while he grabbed a hold of the Word of God.
But what was it that I enjoyed most about being around them? One of the main things was their uncanny ability to find a solution to any problem. If something broke down, they would fix it with piano wire (which they used in the process of building pools) (I found out that anything could be fixed with piano wire). They could do just about anything with very little, and were quite resourceful with whatever it was that they had in their hand at the moment. One day, one of the trucks got stuck in mud, and it looked as if a tow truck would be the only solution; I told the crew chief who was working on digging it out, “Don’t even bother, we’ll call a tow truck…” He looked at me and said, “Don’t tell me it can’t be done!” He spent the next hour working on it, but he got it out!” It’s little wonder that we’re having a difficult time winning the war on drugs at the border.
If any of these guys ever become preachers, they’ll really give the devil a hard time. If they don’t have a computer to write and spread the gospel, they’ll find a stick and write the message in the sand! This was the heart of Joshua and Caleb… “Let us go up at once, for we are well able…” (Numbers 13:30)
Like the children of Israel, men and women of corrupt speech will always find someone else to blame but themselves. Most of them blame God by misinterpreting certain scriptures to support their cause (II Peter 3:16). One example is the book of Job; these believers are more like Job then they think, but not in the way that they think. Job was a worrier; he walked around wringing his hands, anxious about what his sons and daughters might have done; his speech was corrupt… “It may be that my sons and have sinned…” (Job 1:5) He offered corrupt sacrifices that were filled with fear and unbelief, and it attracted the devil like blood attracts sharks (Job 3:25).
The children of Israel never entered into their promise because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:19). They found every excuse as to why the job couldn’t be done, and they blamed their leaders. In fact, they were ready to stone Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:10). Why? Because Joshua and Caleb were of a different spirit; they believed the Word of God, and they believed that God would act on their behalf.
Zacharias and Elizabeth had prayed for a child many years before, but as the years progressed, they forgot about their prayers, and their faith. When the angel Gabriel came to them with the good news that God had heard their prayers and that they would have a son, the speech of Zacharias turned corrupt (Luke 1:18). God had to silence him until John was born in order to keep the devil from using his words to abort the plan (Luke 1:20).
Moses provoked the Lord to anger when He told Him that he couldn’t do what God had just told him to do. Instead of being full of faith, he told God to send Aaron (Exodus 4:13-14). Our words are powerful, and they determine our future. What we believe, we will speak; if you want to know what you truly believe, and not what you think you believe, listen to yourself speak; listen to the words that come out of your mouth.
Over a year ago, the Lord blessed our family with a dog, Riley, a Daschund, and I was very “concerned” (worried) that the dog would poop all over the house. I made my “concern” known to my wife and children, and so do you know what happened? He did exactly what I said! And he did it profusely, day after day; no matter what we did in order to train him it simply got worse. I knew that God had brought the dog into our lives, and so I was really disturbed about it. In fact, it was becoming evident that we would have no other choice but to get rid of Riley if things didn’t change, and so I sought the wisdom of God.
The Holy Spirit used my wife and daughter to tell me, “You keep declaring that he’s going to poop and he keeps doing it!” “You need to stop doing this and come into agreement with us!” I realized what I had been doing. I had gotten into fear and my words had become corrupt; I was releasing a curse into the situation that was creating the problem. I quickly repented and took authority over the words that I had been speaking, and within twenty-four hours the whole situation reversed itself. The dog suddenly quit using the house as a bathroom and began going outside, and we have had no problems since. This is kind of a humorous scenario, but many times the results of corrupt communication are not so humorous, for death and life are in the power of the tongue. It’s no wonder that every idle word that we speak will be brought into account in the Day of Judgment (Matthew 12:36).
The Word was first in God’s process of creation (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:16-17). The earth was “without form and void” (the original language renders this akin to “a chaotic mess”), and the Holy Spirit hovered over the chaos (Genesis 1:2-3), but He did absolutely nothing unto God said, “Let there be light…” (Genesis 1:2-3) Today, the Holy Spirit hovers over the messes and mountains of our lives, but will do nothing until we say (Mark 11:22-24). The angels of God hearken unto the voice of the Word of God uttered out of our mouths (Psalms 103:20), and they go to work on our behalf when we speak and declare the promises of God with authority, faith and confidence. We can choose to speak God’s words, or we can speak the devil’s words. When the evil report comes, what are you going to say about it? Which camp are you going to give license to act on your behalf? All of heaven and hell is waiting for what we are going to say. “Well, you’re just trying to push God around!” No, we’re simply agreeing with Him, and God likes it when we agree with Him; He likes it a whole lot, and He calls it faith, and without it it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6).
“Well, when God says something, it happens right away!” Not always. In the days of Noah, men lived to be over nine-hundred years old. But before Noah built the ark, God told him that this would no longer be the case, as man had too much time to multiply and cause trouble. God decreed, “Man’s days shall be an hundred and twenty years” (Genesis 6:3). But Noah still lived to be over nine hundred years old, and it wasn’t until the time of Moses that the fulfillment of God’s decree was realized (Deuteronomy 34:7). The lifespan began a gradual and consistent decline after God spoke, but took many years to reach the boundary that He had declared.
Jesus told Peter the great things that he would have to suffer for His name, and when Peter saw John, he asked, “What’s this guy going to have to do?” Peter no doubt wanted to make sure that Jesus was going to be “fair, all the way across the board!” Jesus told Peter to mind his own business, but Peter, being Peter, jumped to a conclusion, and told all of the other disciples that John was not going to have to die a martyr’s death, though that’s not what Jesus had said (John 21:18-23). The disciples went out and spread the rumor abroad, declaring it with adamant conviction, and amazingly, John ended up being the only disciple to die a natural death.
The power of life and death reside in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21), and we can either use it to release faith and bring hope and edification to those around us, or we can use it to tear down and destroy. Words are the revealers of the heart, and by them we will be justified or condemned (Mathew 12:37).