“Silence is Golden.”
Someone said that, and. as far as human wisdom goes; it is a commendable statement. Silence certainly is golden when compared with the sounds that an unsanctified tongue is able to produce.
We said last time that speech was a means for fellowship. Through speech we get to know each other and to know each other better. By speech we convey to each other our thoughts, and by speech we are able to plant our inmost thoughts in the minds and hearts of others. A good orator makes contact with his audience through his words and is able to move them to laughter or to tears. Radio and television as means of communication have power to mold man’s thinking. And by our speech we may attract others to ourselves and our viewpoint and position.
However, there is another side. The tongue is also a potent weapon for causing enmity and for feeding the flame of hatred. Who was it that said, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” So very often we have by a careless word destroyed a friendship and terminated fellowship. How often have we not by a deliberate word thrown others into a rage and into a tirade against us? We do well to listen to James when he tells us that the tongue is like a little spark that is able to set the whole world on fire, that it is a world of iniquity, and that it is set on fire of hell! Very soberly we ought to consider that this is the hardest of all our members to control, so much so that James declares that the man who is able to control that tongue is a perfect man and able to bridle the whole body. That is a mighty strong statement, but every word in it is true.
Words cause trouble because words express ideas. Words reveal what is in the heart. Jesus said, “O generation of vipers, how can ye being evil speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” Matthew 12:34 There are especially two matters in this statement of Jesus to which we would direct your attention at the moment. First of all, notice that the heart determines what the mouth will speak. The tongue, so to speak, is connected directly to the heart, from a spiritual point of view. It is the sounding board of the heart. It is the faucet out of which what is in the heart issues forth. And it is for that reason that evil speaking is an act of hatred.
Speaking the lie or speaking a lie, gossip, backbiting and slander reveal what is in the heart. And they also reveal then to all who are present when such speaking begins what is in the heart of the speaker. Listening to it willfully and with joy indicates also to the gossiper what is in the heart of the listener. If we listen to instead of stop the slander and backbiting, it indicates that our heart is not right either towards the victim of such speech.
When Satan began to speak through the tongue of the serpent he revealed to Eve what was in his heart. And that which he revealed was that he had no use for God and hated Him with all his being. The words of the serpent, as sweet as they may have sounded, and pronounced with a sweet compassionate note of pretended friendship, showed the abundance of hatred against God that was in the heart of Satan. And what he spoke through the serpent condemned him as an enemy of God. Remember that Jesus also said, “Do ye not understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile a man.” Matthew 15:17, 18. They reveal what is in the heart and brand man to be an enemy of God. And we do well to be more careful of what comes out of our mouths than what we put into our mouths what comes out, is far more dangerous than what goes into the mouth.
And when she listened to these defiling words from Satan’s heart, Eve defiled and corrupted her own heart. And the longer she listened to such filth, the more her heart became filled with the abundance of hatred against God. From out of Satan’s heart through the tongue of the serpent, his hatred of God flowed into Eve’s. And that continues every day as men speak evil of God, teach their children the lie concerning Him, feed them the poison of heresy and false doctrine. In facts whenever the natural man speaks he shows that his heart is filled with hatred against God. He never confesses God hut ignores Him in all his speech. He never, praises Him and thanks Him but boasts of what he will do without God and of what he has done without Him. And one generation presents the next with words of hatred against the holy God!
Therefore it is that when we speak, we incite and feed hatred among ourselves. The natural heart has no love of God but only hatred of Him. It has therefore likewise no love toward man but only hatred. And out of the abundance of that hatred toward God and man the natural man speaks; and the tongue becomes a world of iniquity, a spark that sets the whole world on fire. Therefore it his that in that quotation of Jesus to the effect that this “generation of vipers” cannot speak good things, being evil in the heart, that we would note exactly that He calls the natural man offspring of the devil. “Generation of vipers” or “Viper’s brood” is the same as “Children of the devil.” And that is what we are by nature. By speech, by unsanctified speech, Satan begot us to be his spiritual children. He drove a wedge between us and God by his lie. And we as exact images of him drive wedges between each other by the things we say and write. Our hearts are like Satan’s heart because through the lie in paradise the hatred of his heart was allowed to flow into our hearts to be a well in us and a power that controls our tongues. Our first sin against the ninth commandment was listening to Satan’s slander. And let us not forget that Satan’s words were chosen and designed exactly to get Eve to listen. His first words were, therefore, a question. Thus far Eve had to listen. But she did not need to go on from there. She did not even need to answer that question. She did have to answer the serpent. But then her answer should have been that her husband was the head of the house, that God had given him the instruction and that the serpent should ask Adam, if he wanted an answer. But, be that as it may, and in this connection we might also read I Timothy 2:12-15, we are by nature a generation of vipers, offspring of Satan, and our hearts are now filled with hatred against God and the neighbor, and we only speak what is in the heart. Therefore there is so much bitterness and hatred and evil speaking among men, so much backbiting and slander, so much falsification of words and of lying, of judging unjustly and of condemning without a hearing.
Let a man like that go free, let his tongue wag with liberty, and you can understand what a world we have today. And that is not freedom of speech but captivity of tongue! What then our Country promises us; and in a sense tries even to protect for us, is not freedom of speech. It is only freedom to talk as a generation of vipers. O, yes, there are some curbs. Even the world will accept a case in court of libel, defamation of character, lying and thereby cheating, falsification of weights, shortchanging, counterfeiting of money and the like. That is, the world will to a degree punish these. But the world cannot prevent these. Man is free to speak all his evil; and then will be punished if proven guilty.
True freedom of speech is sanctified freedom of speech.
And by sanctified freedom of speech we mean that on the basis of the cross of Christ and by the power of the Spirit of Christ our hearts are cleansed. We get a new heart wherein the love of God is shed abroad. And then we speak out of the abundance of that heart!
In that sense we need a “heart transplant.” There is no other way. But then it cannot be the transplant of the heart of another one among the generations of vipers. We would simply have our old heart trouble back again. It cannot even be the heart of Adam before he fell. For as wonderful as man was in that state of righteousness, he did not have full freedom. Adam was capable of falling. He was able not to sin, but also able to sin; and in fact he did sin. The human race became “not able not to sin.” But sanctified freedom of speech means that we receive a new heart and a new life whereby we are not able to sin and are completely freed from the dominion of sin. This happens when the old heart is stopped, never to beat again with that hatred against God, and the new heart is there alone to beat with the love of God.
You have freedom of speech?
Then you have complete control of your tongue so that no evil is ever committed by it. Freedom of speech is not that men allow you to say what you want. Freedom of speech is not even that God grants you the right to speak what you want. Freedom of speech is the power to speak only what is good in God’s sight. Freedom of speech is being so set free from Satan’s heart and Satan’s lie that we are incapable of uttering it except to condemn it thoroughly. Freedom of speech is to be incapable of committing gossip, slander, backbiting, lying, falsifying another’s words. Freedom of speech is to be able to speak the truth in love. And if you can do all this, then you are a perfect man and capable of serving God with all the members and faculties of your body. For then your new heart, completely, freed from the old heart of sin, will move your other members even as it moves your tongue in His fear.
“Silence is Golden.”
No one can say that who has this true freedom of speech because of a new heart. Heaven will not be silent, although living there will be “golden”; and the street upon which we shall walk in the new Jerusalem shall be golden. But heaven will be filled with God’s praise. And true or sanctified freedom of speech is the ability to praise God from Whom all blessings flow, to thank Him for every gift and to confess His name in love. If you can do that, and when you can do that, you have freedom of speech. When you glory in nothing save the cross of Christ and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God, when you give thanks unto Him in everything, when your tongue extols Him and the theme of your song is, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory and blessing,” then you have freedom of speech.
Silence is golden?
O, no! But to be able to use the tongue freely to sing and speak God’s praises and to reveal a heart full of the love of God.