Keeping Yourself Pure (Part 2. Making A Covenant With Your Mouth)
(2 of 4 in series)
* all [bracketed] words in Scripture verses are mine *
This is a series about purity before a holy God. The concept of purity is thought of as a concern of bygone unenlightened eras and not of relevance today. Indeed, we in America think of ourselves as really not fitting in, most having arrived from other countries to find their own way within only a relatively few generations. Some use the metaphor of a giant ceramic picture of all types of colors and textures making a great mosaic of our culture here in America.Take me as I am with all my flaws (no purity here) and I will show you what I can do, is the attitude that's praised. This "great melting pot" philosophy has filtered down into all manner of life here. Give me what there is and I will make it work. I am smart, I can do anything I put in my mind to do. The purity of their inner-selves and purity in the things they do is not considered in the least.
Indeed, most believe purity is an illusion, that there is nothing absolute, no absolute right or wrong, no purity at all. They believe that all things are tainted in some way; even faith in God, after all, who can be sure of Godly things, they say? We all come from different backgrounds and we each have his own faith. All faiths have some valid points in them, don't they? But God says:
"To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure, but even their mind and conscience are defiled." (Titus 1:15)
"The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD, but the words of the pure are pleasant." (Proverbs 15:26)
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good, and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45)
In part one of this series, the early patriarch Job had been very careful in his integrity to God and to his marriage. We learned that marriage is a covenant between two people before a holy God and we gave a description and definition of a covenant. We learned of its importance and permanence. Also covered was how the marriage covenant included the eyes and how someone could break the marriage covenant by noticing a woman, then letting the look turn to lust. An important part of this whole study was the fact that breaking this covenant is sin against a God of purity.
This is part two of a series based on verses from the Book of Job that deal with making a covenant in order to preserve purity before a Holy God. We will consider the same concept as we did in part one, but this time instead of speaking about making a covenant with the eye-gate for control of stimuli coming into our minds, we will speak of making a covenant our mouths. We will see how the mouth creates an environment to sin if we're not careful and we will see how the mouth gives out evidence of what is in our mind and heart.
[We will consider the mind/heart in the fourth and final part of this series].
"I have made a covenant with my eyes; why then should I look upon a young woman?" (Job 31:1) (see also Job 31:2-10)
To begin our discussion, I would like you to turn your attention to the challenge that was issued to God by Satan:
"Does Job fear God for nothing? Have you not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands and his possessions have increased in the land. But now stretch out your hand and touch all that he has and he will surely curse You to Your face!" (Job 1:9-11)
What brought about this challenge and set of circumstances, anyway? Well, it is apparent that Satan had been trying (without success) to tempt and destroy the man Job. It is plain that the attacks were on Job's tendencies to lust. He mentions the involvement of young women of the area in which he lived. The man Job was a justified man, looking forward to the coming Messiah. The man was introspective and realized that he had a sin nature against which he needed to guard, so, not taking any chances Job made a second covenant to go along with the covenant of marriage that he made with Mrs. Job on their wedding day. He made a covenant with his eyes. Now he didn't actually need to do that because the marriage covenant also included the eyes, but Job felt he had to maintain his integrity to God so felt it necessary (for him) to maintain his own purity before God. He realized that even though Mrs. Job wouldn't know of a simple lustful stare at a young maiden, God would know, for God is omniscient. "Does He not see my ways and count all my steps?" I agree with Job, that one can not be too careful. I could be wrong, but I suspect Job had a propensity to look, especially at the young ones. I think he realized early on that thoughts spring up fast and can turn on a dime. If we can draw boundaries for ourselves that are easy to see and hard to forget, it is for our own safety. That is what Job's second covenant did. It drew boundaries in his mind so that when his flesh tried to control the moment, he may have an easier path of escape. Fundamentally, it was "fleeing from the very appearance of evil."
What Job did with his eyes to strengthen himself against his own weaknesses before God, we can do with our mouths. If your mouth is your weakness, the same principle works.
Words we speak matter. They reflect our thoughts and what is in our hearts. Our mouths in effect betray us as to the good or evil present within us.
"Behold, I am vile; What shall I answer You? I lay a hand over my mouth." (Job 40:4)
Now, notice this Scripture:
"Now all these things happened to them, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as common to man; but God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry ." (1 Corinthians 10:11-14)
In my youth, a professor and mentor in Bible college said to me that when considering Scripture, "If the Bible ever says "therefore", find out what it's there for." In this passage, God tells us that the things such as the account of Job's trial were written for our admonition... therefore... take heed lest we fall. He says that He will provide an escape for temptation... therefore... flee idolatry. Contextually, the account in Job gives admonition that we will find ourselves in like situations so, therefore pay attention and benefit from the things that Job went through for part of the reason he went through it is for you. Also, the second time the word "therefore" is used is referring to the temptation itself. He (God) will provide the way of escape, therefore flee idolatry. Actually, anything that comes before God is, in effect, being declared more important than God. It is a form of idolatry. Lustful stares and mouths put in gear without control can be linked to a person not being led of God but doing service to own flesh. Yielding your body and your mind to your own will instead of God's will is sin. You become the god, therefore, it is a self-idolatry.
God is faithful to gauge our temptations that He allows Satan to hurl. He says that 1. they will be common to man, and 2. He will make a way of escape. Now notice the other part of this Scripture. Our part is, 1. to take heed lest we fall, and 2. flee from idolatry, that is, anything that we would put ahead of God in any way.
Our Mouths - A Tool of Satan?
The mouth is a device of communication. Just like a telephone, or any communication device, the mouth must be given information to send through it. Now you may think, "It is my mouth and my words from my mind. How could my mouth be used of Satan?" Mouths move with the thoughts of the brain. Brains issue thoughts and reasonings out of the seat of motivation or the heart. We will speak more of the heart in part 4 of this series but here we can mention a little of the origin of the word heart in Luke 6 above. In the days of Jesus, people thought of emotions as emanating from below the center of the person. When a person was in love it was the "bowels" that were involved. This made sense to them because when a person was in love they would get unsettled bowels, "butterflies" in their stomachs, so in the literal mind at the time the bowels were the seat of the emotions. Note Paul's "bowels of Jesus" statement in Philippians 1:8 that speaks of his longing after the Christians in Philippi "in the bowels of Christ." Paul was saying that the deep emotional love he had for them was given by Jesus. The emotional seat of thought came from the bowels. The place of rational thinking that motivates decisions is the heart. This is the word and the thought of Luke 6. The original word in Greek is kardia which literally means thoughts out of the center of a man, the deepest reasoning, the reasoning that causes motivation.
So Jesus in Luke 6 said that out of the good treasure of the heart (kardia) a good man brings forth good words. But what does it take to be a good man? Why only one thing makes sinners like us good, that is the influence of the Holy Spirit of God. So the Spirit can motivate good things that come out of a man's mouth if the man has a relationship with the Spirit and allows the Spirit to speak through him. Apart from God motivating good things a man can say, words come from only two types of motivation in one's heart (kardia). One type apart from God is the flesh motivating for its own desires and the love of self, and the second type of motivation is Satan literally putting words in someone's mouth. Both things are apart from God's doing, so are therefore evil.
Thus we have a truth about the mouth: We are able to "lend" our mouth and speaking of God for good or of Satan for evil. We can serve our flesh and our lusts or build treasure for God's glory with our mouths. We can cry out to the God of the universe to save our souls and then serve Him or we can remain in our sins and let our unruly tongue serve another master.
Now it seems we have choices to make. First, will we receive the Holy Spirit through salvation so that we may be able to become a "good" person, or will we continue to live without Christ and any of the Spirit's motivation? And second, once we receive our pardon for sin will we continue to choose to listen or not to listen to the small still voice of God that would guide our tongue?
"Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not swear [vow] falsely, but shall perform your oaths to the Lord." But I say to you, do not swear [vow] at all: neither by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is His footstool; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you swear [vow] by your head, because you can not make one hair white or black. But let your 'Yes' be 'yes', and your 'No', 'no.' For whatever is more than these is from the evil one." (Matthew 5:33-37)
We may as well talk of swearing here. Jesus, of course, did not mean what we mean when we say swear. He was speaking of vowing before others and also adding to the vow the authority of something. Vowing or swearing was thought to add weight to the promise of action. This was usually done on the things that were mentioned above; to swear by heaven, to swear by the earth, or even on my their own head. Today we may say something like: "I swear on my mother's grave!" Jesus said that such things were unnecessary because we have the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within us. There is no higher authority. Simply let your "yes" be yes and "no," no.
Thus we have a truth about words that proceed out of our mouths. It is a simplicity: speak the truth. Don't say something lightly for you are speaking with the authority of the Holy God of the universe. If you promise to do something, do it. Ponder and consider each promise you make, and your word coming from your heart will suffice because God indwells your heart.
Now, what about the other swearing? After Peter said he would never leave Jesus, he then denied he knew Him three times and then swore. Every culture back through time has had things to say that were designed to grab the attention of others, to shock them, to say that the speaker does not care who would be offended and that they will abide no bridles on their speech. In our culture, it is common to insert words between statements or if someone really wants to show rebellion to decorum, between individual words. These words do not communicate anything but to show that very same rebellion and their own perceived independence of acceptable behavior. Indeed, someone wanting to show they are tough and hip will let out a string of words with "F" or "S" hooked to every other word. Some seem to be frustrated with the fact that there is no other way to underline the direness of the statement. The listener is supposed to understand that with each "F" there is a punctuation asking, "are you listening?" Personally, it is to me like a megaphone up to my ear asking me if I am paying attention. I listen until the punctuation itself occurs. The swearing detracts from any honest communication going on.
When a person prays to God, it is communication to the Creator. Can you imagine the communication going like this? Dear "F"-ing God, I just wanted to "F-ing" tell you that I "F"-ing appreciate what you "F"-ing did when You Healed my "F"-ing mother, like I "F"-ing asked you to." Really does all the "F"-ing add anything at all to the communication? Answer no. Then why use it? If it was there to communicate, it didn't. If it was there to say "pay attention," it's distracting, rude and corrupt.
Consider this as a rule of thumb:
"Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger. clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." (Ephesians 4:29-32)
We have considered one function of the mouth and that is the words that come forth that are used for good or for evil. Now we also must realize that we are more than the words we speak. Our mouths are also gateways to our bodies. We can put things into our bodies through our mouths. We can dishonor and grieve the Holy Spirit of God with more than just words.
We can't really talk about the mouth as an entryway for the body, though, without first mentioning that as a Christian we are to be in constant communication with our God through prayer. We are to "pray without ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Is that not true? What are we talking with Him about when we pray without ceasing? just those things we think are "big" stuff? Well, those of us who do this, know we are to speak to Him about everything. Nothing is too insignificant to talk over with our Father. We ask what we should do about trivial matters, mundane matters, important matters, everything. We know Jesus said, "without Me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5)
I have gone to a Christian church since the age of 23. I have had much rich fellowship with friends and family within the walls of the local assembly. But I also have sinned greatly within those walls. I have gone to picnics and to feasts of one occasion or another and I have stuffed myself with all manner of eatables without any consideration of what God would have me do. I didn't pray about what I should eat. Oh, I prayed over the food every time, but I didn't ask His thoughts about what I should eat. Indeed, I have ignored the small still voice that was saying, "Bob, you don't need that." "Bob this is too fatty, too rich, pay attention to what you are putting into the body I made you." "Bob, stop it. That's enough!" Did I stop? No. I ignored it and went with the spirit of lustful greed. I heard the preacher invite me to eat. I heard him say there was all manner of food that he was planning on getting fat with, to be had. I heard him and the whole congregation laugh at the words, some a little nervously. I noted the nervous ones and put that fact in the back of my brain. Why were some unsettled at the comments of fatness and gluttony that were spoken lightly as in jest? Because it was not funny. It was sin. The ones that laughed nervously knew they shouldn't go because it was putting themselves in the path of sin not "fleeing from the very appearance" of it. They were hearing the small still voice of God telling them that they would not be able to restrain themselves. He was reminding them of the diet they had promised to do yesterday and the broken promise that was to their account already today.
Simply put, eating is necessary for survival but eating out of lust of the flesh with no accounting for it, is sin. I believe eating anything without God's permission is sin. I know that sounds over the top but realistically if someone is praying without ceasing and stuffing themselves to the point of a sick stomach, God has told them to stop but they didn't want to listen.
Now, a series of questions for you to ponder: Do you ever think about what you put in your mouth as a potential danger to your spiritual welfare? Do you ever think about the sins of gluttony, laziness, and fleshly disregard of God's will in your life as you sit down to a grand meal? Does the word "discipline" come into your mind as you sit down to eat?
Probably not. But why don't we think in terms of glorifying God with every aspect of our lives? Because it is my mouth, my choice, my food, my body, my relaxation, my comfort, my family, my, my, my...
You know very well that is no excuse. Your mouth along with the rest of your body was "bought with a price." (1 Corinthians 6:20) It doesn't belong to you. Your choice should be glorifying God (which your family needs to see you do). Your food should be what the body that you inhabit needs and not just fulfilling the cravings of fleshly lust. You might be saying, "Hey, hold on a minute...Aren't you making too much of this?" Well, let me ask you, how many TV commercials use phrases like: "sinfully delicious" "indulge yourself" "pamper yourself" "give in"? How many commercials are done as if you are getting away with doing something wrong when they say for you to eat it? Why do you suppose that is? Because even the world knows that doing things just because they feel good at the moment may not be good for you. I mean, should it tweak your Christian conscience if some food item is "sinfully delicious" or "lustfully indulgent?" Those same words would raise red flags if they were spoken in other areas of your life.
A Question Of Appetite
Remember what Jesus said in regard the simplicity of our speech? He said to let our speech proceed truthfully from our spirit, motivated by God. The same is to be true of our food we take into our body. We need food to survive, but do we need to serve our flesh with it? The Romans had a god of food and so did the Greeks. We Americans make food our god along with our stomachs and our appetites. That easily is turned into idolatry.
"For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame - who set their mind on earthly things." (Philippians 3:18)
This language is very serious. Those that do not mind heavenly things but consider only earthly sensual things become the enemies of the cross of Christ. Now does that include their food? Indeed, their god is their belly and what goes in it and how to please the essence of themselves, their flesh. What is their end? destruction. Now, remember the context... destruction of what? of their bodies here and of their souls after this life should they continue like this without Christ and die in their sin.
Now look at the next verses in Philippians: "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body, that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself."
Doesn't this verse say that if we look forward and eagerly wait for Jesus, that Christ will transform our lowly body to conform to His glorious body? This is the passage of Scripture for any who have trouble denying themselves food or feed the flesh instead of using food as it was meant to be used. Christ will reward those who closely walk with Him by transforming their lowly body (their body right now) because He is able to "subdue all things to Himself," even their appetite.
Now there is a word to consider, appetite.
I would ask, What does your appetite feed? Jesus had an answer for that when asked about His appetite and about food.
"In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." Therefore, the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?" Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work." (John 4:31-34)
Now I ask you if we are to be conformed to His glorious body, what is to be our food? I would say it is "to do the will of Him who sent [Jesus] and finish His work." I would say that our attitude about what goes into our mouths has to change or the sin could destroy our bodies by obeying the flesh.
Add Your Voice
So We've Learned...
The mouth is very important because it has the ability to be used for good and bad. It has the power of life and death in it. Many people wield their mouth as a weapon. So many people destroy their own body with their own mouth by allowing harmful substances and wrong foods into their "lowly bodies." Our attitudes about this important part of our sinful human makeup must change.
Simply put, we are to let nothing proceed from the mouth that did not originate with God. And we are not to let anything into our mouths that God has not given us permission to put in there.
Now you know yourself. You know how many times you fall because of your mouth. You have been convicted because of the Scriptures above. Do you need to make a covenant with your mouth? Do you need to refocus what this part of our lowly bodies means to you? Do you need an extra boundary, easy to see and difficult to forget? Then you may want to make a covenant with your mouth.
A sample covenant prayer to consider:
Dear Jesus, I know how I have misused this mouth and I have given its use to the flesh. I have tried over and over again to gain control of it and realize I am powerless to control my tongue or my appetites. I believe Your word which says that if I walk with You and let You work with my heart and my appetite that You will transform me into a spiritually strong, and fit, and healthy person. I promise to do all I can to remember to refocus my eyes on You and to pray without ceasing. I promise to give my mouth to You and Your purposes. I promise that nothing will come out of my mouth that did not proceed from You nor anything go into my mouth that You did not give permission to put in. Thank You for Your word. I pray this in Jesus' holy name. Amen.
Dear Reader: If you have been affected by the Scriptures and information above that means God is speaking to you right now. You may want to be able to control your mouth and have realized that you have had a lifetime of failure when you've tried. You must realize something: Without Christ, you can do nothing. One must have the Spirit of Christ in him to be able to do any of these things concerning control of the mouth.
If you have never asked Jesus to come into your heart and be the Savior from your sins, it is only you and your will controlling the impulses that keep defeating you. The flesh is strong and we cannot do it on our own. Besides the fact that we are sinners, and after all of this struggle on this side of death, soon death itself comes to us all. Do you know for sure if you died today you would go to heaven? God wants you to be certain of what will happen to you after this life on earth ends. He wants to pay for your sins. That's why He came to earth and bled and died on Calvary's cross. He came to die for your sins. But He did not stay dead, He rose again the third day. All one must do is come to Jesus and admit honestly that he is a sinner that cannot save himself. Trusting Jesus to bring him to heaven, simply ask Him and be willing to follow Jesus as Master of his life. If you are this person you can pray a prayer like this:
Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I deserve to go to hell for my sin. But I believe You don't want me to go. I believe that You died for me and were buried and rose for me so I don't have to pay for my sin myself. I now ask you to save me, Jesus. Please forgive my sins and take me to heaven when I die. I will live for You and follow You where ever You go. Thank You for my salvation, for I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
Others in this series of independent articles: