Who is the devil’s accomplice? It’s not the drug dealer, nor the murderer, nor the pornographer, nor the false prophet—it’s not even the coming Antichrist! The devil’s advocate is you—and me! Every time we destroy someone with our tongue! An “advocate” is a person associated with someone else in wrongdoing. In other words, a partner in a crime.We unwittingly partner with the enemy in criminial activity when we lash out on someone with our tongue! Proverbs 12:18 warns us, “Thoughtless words can wound as deep as a sword”. We’ve been told that “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” That’s not what the Bible says- Proverbs 18:8 tells us that “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly” English poet, Mary Howitt wrote, “There are words whose sting can remain through a whole lifetime!”That is the devil’s accomplice—our tongue that God’s word tells us no man can tame. The tongue is untamable—according to James 3:8, “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison”. You and I both know that it is a daily battle to keep our tongue under guard. It is always ready to strike its deadly poison into the weak spirit of its vulnerable victim!
How many marriages have been destroyed because of the tongue! How many dreams have been shattered…how many friendships severed…churches split…all through poisonous words of death! This is a matter that needs to be taken much more seriously in the Church and in the christian home today because Jesus warned us that in the day of His coming, there would be an epidemic of offense, causing our love for one another to grow cold, and when that happens, the devil has succeeded. Proverbs 18:21 shows us the significance of our words. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Love what? Death or life—your spoken words will come back to either harm you or heal you—break you or bless you—stunt you or strengthen you! That is the spiritual power of your tongue!
Kenneth Hagin said, “Often you create your own negative situations yourself with wrong thinking, wrong believing, and wrong speaking. So start believing according to God's Word. Then begin making positive confessions of faith and victory over your life”. Spoken words of criticism, slander, insult and verbal abuse produce death! Spoken words of encouragement, forgiveness, healing and affirmation produce life! Never forget that once the word goes out of your lips, you can never get it back! I regret many things that I have said over my life that I wish I could go back in time to reverse, but that will never happen. We need to learn from our failures and guard our tongues when in conversation with people, whether in necessary confrontation or just engaged in a light chat with a friend. Recently as I was working on my computer, a pop-up suddenly came on my screen with the message that my system was vulnerable to viruses and needed to be updated, prompting me to hit the button that would protect my laptop and programs from malfunctioning. The whole thing seemed very legitimate, even right down to the well known company logo. I hesitated for a moment, but then clicked the button which immediately opened the door for malware. As I continued to work, message after threatening message prompted me to do this and do that all in an attempt to persuade me to purchase full coverage for the problem. I was even told that I had violated certain copyright laws from programs that I recently downloaded. Wow! I remember talking to myself and saying, “Why did you hit that button? How could you be so foolish?” I couldn’t reverse what I had done. The same principle applies to our tongue. When the words have been spoken, you can never retrieve them nor reverse them.
If you want to know what’s inside of a person, just listen to what comes out of their mouth. There is a coffee shop that I enjoy going to from time to time in the early morning with my laptop. Every morning, it’s the same thing—a group of men with foul mouths, sit around cursing, swearing and using the Lord’s name in vain. This same verbal profanity years back would never be spoken in a public venue nor tolerated by the management. This group of guys may consist of good natured people, hard workers, providing for their families. They may even have moral beliefs and even go to church, but Jesus said in Luke 6:45 that “from out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”. In other words, what is unseen in our inner-man is plainly revealed by our spoken words! What you speak is who you are. Wicked words come out of a wicked heart. Righteous words come out of a righteous heart. "Defamation of character" is a legal term that implies slander against a person’s good reputation causing others to disassociate with that person, based on false accusation. This happens all the time, especially in the arena of politics between egotistical candidates vying for votes during an election. Mud-slinging, fault finding, sharp criticism, digging up the sins and failures of their opponent's past—we expect that in the world as wrong as it may be, but how sad that it happens in the Body of Christ as well. However, when serious accusations are made between Christians, we don’t just ignore them unless we know it to be an outright, obvious fabrication. Harmful words against someone’s godly character can be both convincing and damaging! How can we tell if allegations about someone are truth or a lie? Let me share with you five helpful points in determining legitimate allegations from false accusations.
1. CHARACTER- Is the character of the person presenting the allegation godly and upright? Are their motives pure and free from jealousy or vindictiveness?
2. THE WITNESS OF OTHERS- Do others say the same thing about the accused?
3. THE WITNESS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT- Does the allegation or accusation bear witness in your own heart to truth, or do you sense something wrong in the person’s claims?
4. PERSONAL TESTIMONY- Does the life and conduct of the accused give testimony of righteousness or immorality? Does their life or their ministry bear good fruit?
5. HEARING BOTH SIDES OF THE MATTER- Remember that every accusation has two sides. Don’t base your actions or judgment on the incriminating report of one person. Proverbs 29:11 says, “A fool speaks all his mind: but a wise man keeps it in till afterwards.” After what? After He hears all of the facts from both parties. You need to go and check it out with the other person for your own sake according to Proverbs 18:13 “He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.”
And above all things, do not allow the accuser to draw you into destructive and malicious dialogue regarding the accused. And believe me, you will be tempted, especially if it is directed at someone whom you may have doubts or concerns about. Hold your peace and shut your ears. Abraham Lincoln said, "It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." I remember past times being caught up in critical conversation about someone, feeling justified in doing so. It makes us feel so much better about ourselves. How I’ve felt the rebuke of the Holy Spirit the very moment the deadly words left my mouth. We need to guard our communication! Life and death are in the power of the tongue—don’t let it become the devil’s accomplice! Let your words be few, but let them be powerful and life-giving, seeking to restore, affirm, correct and heal the fallen.