Retraining Our Tongue

James 3:8 says, “But no man can tame the tongue. It  is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.” What does a parent do with an unruly child? They discipline them. The Lord disciplines us. He is our Excellent Father.

How does He retrain our tongue to speak words that will honor Him? He allows hardships, adversities, and impossible circumstances to come into our lives. Like a Master Potter, He works the water of His word into the barren places of our heart.

Clay is barren soil. It is hard and unmanageable. A potter has to work water into the dry clay in order to soften it. I used to work with clay. I could get my clay nice and soft. It was pliable and ready to be shaped on the potter’s wheel. 

In order to form the lump into something beautiful, I had to first center it. That required consistent, unyielding, and intense pressure. At first the clay fought my hands. I could feel when it was getting centered. It smoothed out. Then I knew that I could begin to shape it.

What a picture of our flesh. When we fall into a new trial, we are taken by surprise. Any hidden flesh rises and comes out of our mouth. If we listen, we will hear what we are believing in that moment.

Our heart is our belief center. The Lord will use the pressure from the unexpected hardship to expose the hidden lies that have been buried. They are not in our conscious awareness. That is why we have to listen to what we are saying.

Isaiah 55:3 says, “Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live…” Incline means to listen favorably. I have found that my thoughts can become so noisy, that they drown out the Lord’s whispered words.

Jesus only spoke what He heard His Father speaking, and He only did what He saw His Father do. That is a remarkable example for us to follow. Authentic followers of Jesus are attentive, sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and obedient.

In order to retrain our tongue, we have to retrain our thoughts. Psalm 19:14 was another one of David’s prayers that we can adopt. It says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable  in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”

Note that the meditation of his heart was coupled with the words of his mouth. What we think about in Scripture becomes our meditation. Jeremiah 15:16 says, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart…”

In contrast, a persistent negative mental dialogue will become our meditation. It occupies our thoughts which become words. When negativity comes out of our mouth, we slime anyone who hears us, including ourselves. 

Watch Your Language!

I wrote a while back about why I got my mouth washed out with soap. I used a word that I heard at school and had no idea it was unacceptable. I learned after that to watch my language.

1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: Evil company corrupts good habits.” I have always used this verse about being around bad influences. As I type this. I realize how it can apply to what I hear coming out of my own mouth. Do you hear what you are saying? Are you nourishing or destroying your body?

1 Corinthians 6:19 is a great reminder of Whose we are. It says, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? Since we are not our own, then how shall we live? Verse 20 says, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

James 3:10 was written about our tongue. It says, “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” With our lips we praise the Lord in worship. With those same lips we speak derogatory words over our body.

I can write this because that is what I used to do. The operative word is ‘used to.’ I learned a more excellent way. In order for us to fulfill our calling, we need to watch our language.

Paul wrote something that captured my heart back in early 1977. Philippians 1:20 says, “According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”

Those words sunk into my heart like a well appointed arrow. I fell on my knees and cried out to the Lord. “Lord, I want to magnify You in my body, whether by life or by death!” Shortly after that I fell head first into a six foot ravine.

The Lord used that fall, and all its brain injury ramifications, to woo me to Himself. He took me into a depth of relationship with Him that I had never heard or read about before. 

Our trials are designed to conform our thoughts, purpose, and actions to His will and ways. We magnify Him with our body when we reflect His character. 1 Peter 2:22 says, “Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His  mouth.”

David had a great prayer that we can make our own. Psalm 141:3-4 says, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep a watch over the door of my lips. do not incline my heart to any evil thing, to practice wicked works with men who work iniquity; and do not let me eat of their delicacies.” More on this tomorrow.

Reclaiming Uncultivated Soil

We create holes in our heart that are filled with uncultivated soil. Weed seeds grow and flourish in the barren places. Our heart is designed to be a full, deep, clear, and nourishing reservoir of living water. It is there to refresh our spirit, and be a drink we can offer others who are parched.

Let me take you back to Isaac. His father, Abraham, had dug many wells. The Philistines, which speak of our flesh, had stopped up the wells and filled them with earth (Genesis 26:15). Verse 18 says, “And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father…”

That is what we do when we reclaim the ground that was given over to the enemy of our soul, either through our own sin, or sins done against us. The well of our salvation gets debris in it. The barren ground in our heart needs to be cultivated with ‘soil amendment’ through Scripture. 

We take the verses of truth that apply to our situation, bringing those truths into our heart through memorization and meditation. They will be our tool for inner transformation. Renewing our mind from old barren thought patterns, to a radically life-giving empowerment.

Here is what the ground of your heart will look like. I love the picture Psalm 65:9-11 gives. I see it through the eyes of abundance. Picture verse 10 as your newly cultivated heart. It says, “You water its ridges abundantly, You settle its furrows; You make it soft with showers, You  bless its growth.”

Here is a verse that I encourage you to make into a personal declaration with awe. Verse 11 says, “You crown the year with Your goodness, and Your paths drip with abundance.”

Remembering John 10:10 in the reflection of the above two verses. It says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they have it more abundantly.”

Strong’s definition for abundantly is: superabundance, excessive, overflowing, surplus, over and above, more than enough, profuse, extraordinary, above the ordinary, more than sufficient.

We always have a choice of how we think. An authentic follower of Christ lives in experiential truth. Their heart’s soil is fertile because it is constantly being amended and watered by God’s word. Let us reflect His character through our actions.

Regaining Ground

Ephesians 4:27 says about letting the sun go down on our anger, “Nor give place to the devil.” ‘Place’ means an opportunity. It is not only the matter of anger, but it pertains to any unresolved issue that we buried.

It leaves the devil an opportunity to occupy real estate in our heart. It affects thoughts, actions, attitudes, and habitual behavioral patterns. Graph out your heart on a piece of paper by drawing squares.

The object is to take each square before the Lord. Ask Him to show you any unresolved issue in your life. Then ask Him to show you ways that have allowed the enemy to occupy that ground in your heart.

In each square you can write areas where ground has been given through various means. Here are a few: abusive home life, angry, divorced, or adulterous parents, rejection, angry siblings, friends, spouse, drug use, self-hatred, abortion, and the list can go on.

Many years ago I had a 65 year old woman come up to me after I had spoken. She wanted me to help her with an unresolved issue. She and her fiancee, whom she loved very much, were walking in a park together. She was gang raped in front of him. All those years it had festered.

What ground had been given over was reclaimed and she was set free. It took forgiveness at many levels. She was so mortified that she refused to marry the man she truly loved. She married someone else. She had lived with regret.

Once you identify the unresolved areas in your own life, it is essential to first confess it as sin. We have a great High Priest. He already knows what we buried. He desires for us to acknowledge and confess it so it can be released. We will continue this tomorrow.

Destroying Inner Strongholds

The devil is cagy. He is wily. He always uses something that is hidden in us, that he hid through a fiery dart lie. He abides his time. In Luke 4 Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the devil. Verse 13 says, “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.”

I never connected this before until I was typing it. Here was the opportune time recorded. Watch the fiery dart in action. John 13:2 says, “And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot… to betray Him.”

Verse 27 says, “Now after the piece of bread, satan entered him…” We betray Jesus when we take satan’s bait, by yielding to his temptations. If we don’t flee them, we will be ensnared. There are never signs that say, “Beware, Temptation Ahead.”

Here is an essential truth in our progressive sanctification journey. Accountability. When a person is deceived, they do not know that they are walking in deception. The lies they have believed seem to be the truth, and the truth seems to be a lie.

Anytime we add anything that is not Bible based, we have walked into satan’s trap of deception. We blissfully go on with our walk with the Lord. Proverbs has many verses about being trapped because of lack of understanding.

Hosea 10:13 is very clear. It says, “You have plowed wickedness; you have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way…” If you do not have spiritual accountability partners—get them! Mine have been in place since 1983.

Strongholds, or mindsets create fallow ground in our heart. They will only bear weed seeds, and choke out any fruit that will glorify the Lord. Glorifying fruit is the evidence of one who abides in Him. John 15:1-8 is so clear.

Hosea 10:12 is our mandate. It says, “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up the fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.” Oh, let us step under His waterfall of righteousness!

We do that by implanting His word into our hearts. James 1:21 says, “…which is able to save your souls.” Verse 25 says that we must be an attentive hearer and a dedicated doer of His word.

Are you feeling a weight? Are you carrying a burden that you have no control over? Are you impeded in your race? Inner strongholds dog our steps. Hebrews 12:1 says, “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us…”

Inner strongholds fall when they are underplanted with truth. It’s not a fight when His word is implanted which means naturally rooted. Truth topples lies. A lie is weak and helpless unless it is believed. Truth is eternal. It cannot be changed or altered in any way.

When we seed truth into our heart’s soil, it will take out the weeds. It is experiential truth that undergirds our thought processes. It not only sets us free but keeps us free. John 8:32 says it is the truth we know by experience, or it has living proof through our actions which come from our thoughts.

Here are Solomon’s words to his son. Proverbs 4:5 says, “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.” Verse 7 says, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.”

Treasures In Darkness

In Isaiah 45:1-3 we read the way the Lord used a pagan king to do His work. He called him His anointed. He held his right hand. Verse 2 says, “I will go before you and make the crooked places straight; I will break in pieces the gates of bronze  and cut the bars of iron.”

Verse 3 gave the reason. It says, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places that you may know that I, the Lord, who call you by name, am the God of Israel.”

We have the same anointing. Jesus came to set the captives free. Authentic followers of Jesus do what He did. John 14:12 says, “…he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”

We, the church, are His mobilized army. Isaiah 14:2 is a great definition for deliverance. It says, “…they will take them captive whose captives they were, and rule over their oppressors.” How do we do that? First we have to understand the main reason people become captives.

Hosea 4:6 says, “My  people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” Isaiah 15:3 says, “Therefore my people have gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge…” Proverbs 9:10 says, “…the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

Paul’s prayer for the Colossians was very specific. Colossians 1:10 says that they would increase in the knowledge of God. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.”

We cannot walk in all that He has given unless it is gained through our knowledge of the Lord. Verse 5 says that we are to add knowledge to our faith. Verse 8 says that when we do, “…you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Knowledge is essential.

2 Timothy 2:25  says, “In humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.” This is our mission. We are to be truth bearers. Verse 26 says, “And that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” Some are entrapped without any realization that they have been snared.

Truth Crowds Out Lies

Truth crowds out the lies. The truths I implanted applied the pressure needed to push the controlling lies to the surface. Years ago I met the mother of a friend who had just come through a flood in her town. I’ll never forget her words. “Marilyn, you should have seen it. 100 year old trees just uprooted and began to float in the flood waters.”

God’s words of truth will ferret out hidden lies. When we flood our heart with His word, the rooted lies will break loose and come to the surface without a fight. They lose their controlling power when they are exposed to the light.

Hidden lies are buried only until His truth in us becomes the tool to dig them out. Mark 4:22 bears this out. It says, “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to the light.”

Truth is the Light that draws our heart out of darkness. Truth is Jesus, and He is the Light that dispels all darkness. All of satan’s lies came from darkness and hide in darkness. In John 8:44 Jesus told the folks that the devil was the father of lies.

There is a booklet called, “My Heart Christ’s Home” by Robert Boyd Munger. I read it years ago, but have not forgotten the impact it had on me. There is one part where Jesus wants to look into a closet. The heart is reluctant. Why? There are hidden things that it doesn’t want to deal with. Are there subjects you skirt? Are there dark places in your heart that cause you to deflect, dismiss, or ignore?

Do you feel like you are screaming in your heart but no noise comes out of your mouth? I have a chapter in my first book, “Freedom! From Past Hurts” that addresses the silent scream. I wrote about that from my personal experiences. It’s in the chapter called, “Concealed Rage.”

The buried emotional pain clammers to be heard. I picture it as locked in a dark dungeon in a heart. The book is copyrighted (2000), but since I wrote it I want to give you a paragraph.

Buried hurts are harbored and trapped in our hearts like prisoners in a dungeon. When hurts are hidden, the light is blocked from bringing freedom. Jesus wants to heal. Isaiah 42:7 says that He comes, “…to bring out prisoners from the prison, those who sit in darkness from the prison house.”

Buried emotional pain is a lie. It isn’t buried. It continually seeps into our thought processes. It needs to be accepted as real. It did happen. Then confessed as sin because we have concealed it. Then renounced so the truth can fill its place as the sentinel over your heart. Experiential truth sets us free!

They All Came Tumbling Down

When I was a child we had a song that ended with, “And they all came tumbling down.” Then we would all fall to the ground. Jeremiah 1:10 is a great verse to apply to strongholds. It gives us a visual. It says,  “See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.” This is repeated in several places in Jeremiah.

Spiritual strongholds are deeply rooted lies. They were first seeded into our heart when we entertained the fiery dart thought. Like all invasive weeds, they sowed weed seeds which were also rooted.

It is essential to understand that not all thoughts are of our origin. I learned this in 1993. Prior to that a lot of weed seeds had permeated my heart. I asked the Holy Spirit to reveal the lies that I had believed.

As He brought each one to the surface, I would apply 2 Corinthians 4:2 and renounce them. They were not mine originally, but I had accepted the fiery dart lies as truth. They each gained control over my life.

By renouncing them I disowned them. They were no longer mine. I dispossessed them. I had a desire for truth. I latched onto Proverbs 4:23 and made it my own. It says, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

I knew that one really well. I said things that I had no intention of saying. They just came out of my mouth at the most inopportune times. There was another verse that I wove into the depths of my heart.

Psalm 15:2 says, “He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart.” There are several other character building verses that follow. The Psalm ended with, “…He who does these things shall never be moved.”

The Holy Spirit was so faithful to help me. The more truth went into my heart, the more the lies would surface. At one point I asked the Lord if there was ever anything that I believed that was not a lie. It seemed like an endless task. However, once I did get truths embedded in my heart, those truths became my sentinel. 

Truth within will guard our heart. Our part is to take God’s word and hide it through memorizing and meditating on it. It then becomes the inseparable interwoven fabric of our heart

Stuck In A Rut?

Ruts usually indicate that there is a stronghold. Hidden lies keep us bound, like a prisoner in a jail. The bars are the lies. We are only bound through our thoughts. The key to getting out is experiential truth.

1 John 1:6 says that we walk in darkness when we do not practice the truth. Lies shroud our thoughts with darkness. That is satan’s realm. We do not live there. We are children of light!

Romans 13:12 says, “…Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.” Lies are darkness, and truth is light. Therefore we cast off the lie by acknowledging it and renouncing it.

2 Corinthians 4:2 says, “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

Let’s unpack this verse. Renounce means to disown. That is what we are doing as we cast off the lie. Lies are deceit that cause us to sin against God. That is the intent of all fiery dart lies—sin against God by not believing and acting on His word.

Hebrews 3:12-13 says,  “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil  heart of unbelief in departing from the living God…lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”

We manifest God’s truth in us by speaking His truth in our heart, walking in it, and using it as the mighty weapon that it is. Our goal is to not allow any fiery dart to penetrate. That is why we must take every thought captive.

That does not mean that we examine every thought and take it apart to see if it has a lie in it. Lies are counterfeit to truth. It does mean that we hide God’s word in our heart. We fill our heart reservoir with truth that will keep us free.

We live in His truth moment by moment. When a lie comes across our radar, we don’t give it another thought. By not dialoguing with it, it has no power. The power of a lie is activated when we allow it to enter and seed into our heart.

A seeded lie permeates like yeast in bread dough. Here is what Jesus said to His disciples that we will help us. Matthew 16:11 says, “How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to  you concerning bread—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

Verse 12 says that they understood He was speaking about their doctrine. What is satan’s doctrine? Lies! John 8:44 says that he can’t speak the truth because the truth is not in him. None! 

1 Timothy 4:1-2 says, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.” We are living in this worldwide.

Lies hide, but truth is manifest or revealed. Truth is always in the open. Psalm 18:30 says, “As for God His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to  all  who trust in Him.” He is trustworthy. He cannot lie. Our Faithful God cannot deny Himself.

Tearing Down Strongholds

First we have to recognize, acknowledge, and confess the lie that we are dealing with. For every lie there is a powerful counterpart weapon in God’s word. Do you struggle with fear? 2 Timothy 1:7 says that fear is a spirit which negatively influences your thoughts. Read it for yourself. It says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”

A sound mind has disciplined thought patterns. Lies are undisciplined. They are rogue, pushy, and disruptive. They clamor for attention, and shout out distractions to pull us away from the truth. 

Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” One of our great pieces of armor is the belt of truth. 1 Peter 1:13 Amplified says, “So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert)…” 

Ephesians 5:15 Amplified says, “Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people).”

We get our wisdom from the Lord. He has stored it up for us. As we read His word, observe it, and put it into practice, He will give it to us as we need it. His wisdom is our navigational tool that will guide us through troubled waters.

Proverbs 4:5-7 says, “Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you; love her, and she will keep you. Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.”

Proverbs 7:6-27 was written about a young man devoid of understanding. Though this was written about a harlot, I like to think about it as the lying serpent. Parts of verses 21 and 23 say, “With her enticing speech she caused him to yield…he did not know it would cost his life.”

The lies of our enemy entice us to step aside from God’s proven paths of righteousness. They lure. They are wily, deceptive, pleasing, seductive, and are craftily hidden temptations.

Paul mentored his son in the faith by example. 1 Timothy 6:11-12 says, “But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith…”

We fight with truth wrapped around our thoughts. They continually emerge from our heart which is filled with truth mined from God’s word. It is a life skill. Our journey of sanctification is progressive. We go from battle to battle, remembering the victory that the Lord has won for us on the cross.