7 - Faith Community Bible Church

Well we come today to the last of our shotgun blast of
topical messages surrounding this idea of how to change
according to Ephesians chapter 4. Paul compares sin and
righteousness to clothing. And he says if you want to
change, then you need to take off sin, renewing your
mind and then putting on righteousness. And so we’ve
been looking at the last part of chapter for topic by topic
and seeing how exactly to apply that principle to specific
issues like anger or theft or lying.
And today we come to a topic that of all topics we have
discussed thus far has the most application simply
because we have opportunity to obey or disobey
hundreds of times a day.
We are talking about our speech.
Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your
mouths, [there is the take off portion; get rid of that
nasty speech.]
but only such as is good for building up, as fits the
occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
[that is the renewal of the mind and the putting on]
What a verse. What a verse! Lord help us apply this
verse. So here is our outline for the day. And you can
see it comes right out of the text.
The power of words to destroy
The power of words that build up
The power of words that fit the occasion
The power of words that give grace
Now just so you know, the weighting of the outline is on
purpose. It’s would be very easy to fill up an entire
sermon on examples of words that destroy. All anyone
would have to do is just sit down and start typing and the
examples would just flow for a 13 week series. No
problem. So we need to intentionally throttle it back.
We do want to include a bit of that and remind that
indeed this is a serious problem but then we want to
move onto good examples. And these are much more
difficult to discuss since they are fewer and farther
between and we have far less experience with them.
The Power of Words to Destroy Others
If you open up the book of Proverbs you will see that far
and away the topic that comes up most is the topic of
words. I remember one time I read through the book of
Proverbs and every time a proverb had something to do
with my speech I put a little mouth by it. And it was
humorous to look back on that list and see hundreds of
little mouths smiling at me in the passage.
Now one Proverb in particular that speaks to the power
of words and particular the power of words to wound is
Proverbs 12:18, “Reckless words pierce like a sword …”
The NAS translates it “There is one who speaks rashly like
the thrusts of a sword,” (Pro 12:18 NAS)
This is talking about slashing words, reckless, rash
promises, set-up expectations and disappointments that
can never be taken away. Rash or reckless statements
destroy your credibility that wound other poeple. All of
these words are like thrusts of a sword.
And think about; certainly, reckless criticisms, cutting
remarks, can sour a relationship in a way that it can
never really be healed. If you decide to unsheathe those
words they can’t be re-sheathed.
Now we don’t live in a culture where we have swords
and spears. So I brought here a machete for you to think
about this. You’d be horrified at the thought of taking
this weapon and thrust it into the arm of another man.
And if I said to you, “Well, it’s not that bad. There are
thousands of men in history who have been stabbed in
the arm and survive. Go ahead and stab him.” You’d
 That is horrible.
 Think of the damage a sword like that could do.
 Suppose we can stop the bleeding and he does
survive, it would leave a nasty scar that would
remain for the rest of his life.
 Every time he looked at it he would remember
back to that moment when I just lashed out and
thrust this sword into his flesh.
Our words are sharp weapons and we wield them so
carelessly. You don’t practice your dance moves in a
crowded mall with a couple of swords in your hand.
That would be so careless. And yet so often with our
words, they just fly out of our mouth unchecked. What
are our words doing when they land upon their victim?
“What’s your problem?”
“Why don’t you just take a second and use your
“Are you totally inept?”
“You don’t care a single bit about our family?
“If you cared about our relationship, you would….”
“You are so incredibly pig-headed.”
“All you care about is yourself?”
“You think you are so high and mighty?”
Often times, especially with those that are closest to us,
we are most skilled at finding the soft side underbelly.
This verse is saying that the heart is like a soft piece of
flesh and even though we can’t see it happen those
words slice right into that soft core and the soul bleeds
out. There a phrases and names that we call one
another and sentences we speak that are like sword
thrusts right into the heart. And this is the perfect
picture we need to keep in our minds for the power of
our words. Words can have the power to do damage
that can’t be remedied. Listen to that. There are certain
things that once said will NEVER be forgotten. All the
apologies in the world will not undo the memory. Sure
the person might forgive you. But what does that even
mean? We talk about forgiveness as a moment in time
that only has to be done once. What a crazy
misconception. Let’s say, in the heat of the moment
someone yells in your face, “You’re a sick human being.”
That’s a sword thrust into the heart up to the hilt. And
when that sword is pulled out of you, the sword is out
but it didn’t pull the wound out with it. Every single time
those words are recalled you are going to have to forgive
them. Again and again for the rest of your life. That is
going to leave a nasty scar. And so none of us should
dare think that just because a word can be forgiven does
not mean that it doesn’t continue to hurt.
I know many people who envision themselves as heroes
for apologizing for some harmful word that were spoken.
And then they get all inflamed in anger when the person
who they hurt don’t jump up in warm embraces for their
brave act of confession. Now to be sure, the act of
confession was good and necessary. And that person
probably feels much better for having gone through that
process. God has forgiven them and they have certainly
received the forgiveness of God. But they aren’t looking
at it from the person who is still bleeding out on the
floor. If you say, “Okay, I’m so sorry I said that. Will you
forgive me? That’s the equivalent of pulling the sword
out. But again, when you pull the sword out, it doesn’t
take the wound out with it.”
Here’s how Proverbs 18:21 says it. So simple. So true.
Proverbs 18:21 says, “Death and life are in the power of
the tongue.”
We talk about registering hand guns. What’s the idea
behind that? A gun has so much power. A single
careless shot and we end a man’s life. So as a society
we’ve said, “Wow, that is a powerful weapon. Perhaps
we should have people register these powerful
weapons. That way there is an additional layer of
accountability. It might make someone think twice.
This is a powerful weapon. In the heat of anger and
rage, are you really sure that shooting someone is the
best course of action.
God wants you to register your words in a similar way;
he wants you to realize just what kind of power they
have to heal and give life or bring persecution and
In our text the command is to not allow corrupting talk to
come out of your mouth. The Greek word here is
saphros which means rotting. A derivate of this word is
Sarcophagis which is a box usually made out of stone
which holds the bones of a dead man. The idea of rotting
flesh is another good picture to have in your mind.
Corrupting, rotten, foul words. Have you ever gone
camping or pulled over on the side of the road next to a
dead animal that is on the high day of rot. The stench is
just unbearable. It makes a person gag.
Have you ever been around a person with really bad
breath? And they are probably unaware of it and they
are just kind of spewing it everywhere. They are talking
to you and your trying to find a pocket of fresh air but
you have day old garlic and onion just coming out in
sticky clouds.
Is that how you want to be know by others? And so we
are instructed not to speak harmful corrupting words
because it hurts other people, and usually people we
love the most.
The Power of Words to Destroy You
Now there is another category of thought that we should
include here. We almost think exclusively of our words
as damaging to others. And of course that is the primary
consideration. But we’d be very shortsighted if we did
not consider the damaging power of words over the
person who speaks the words.
If you feel hatred toward someone, that’s hard to deal
with. We talked about anger a couple weeks ago; when
you are angry at someone, this is a very strong emotion.
But that’s just a feeling inside your head. Consider the
difference between struggling with that emotion by
yourself and pulling aside a friend and saying, “I hate
him. I hate him so bad,” your words are clothing your
thoughts with new power that now has control over you.
One of the best ways for you to get yourself in the grips
of bitterness is to just express it. This is one of the most
dangerous aspects of gossip. You start to believe things
that aren’t even true simply by expressing it.
Now someone might object at this point. Well, man, I
have to talk to think. I can’t know what I’m thinking
unless I say it and start talking it through.
That just further proves the point. It shows the power of
You might just have a sense that something is bothering
you and you need to talk it and at the end of the
conversation you are surprised. You didn’t realize how
angry you were until you vocalized it. But that act of
vocalizing needs to be done so carefully. Because if you
state it too strongly, you will believe something that is
not true.
You see our heart is full of lies, too, and if you simply
express the lies uncritically, those lies have a new power
over you.
 Have you ever told a lie and after articulating it
enough times you start to believe it. Clothing
thoughts with words creates a reality. The liar
eventually begins to believe the lies.
 Someone who is constantly complaining about the
weather, the job, their impossible kids simply by
the act of putting those feelings into words, are
now caught deeper in the grip of the complaint.
What was previously only a seed of discontent and
had a small hold on him now is a powerful storm
in their mind. And the only thing that happened
was that they put the thought into words. If you
just complain and complain about how everything
is wrong, everything will be wrong. Words take on
a power of their own.
Do you really want to let that monster out of pandora’s
box? Do you really want to take the tent out of the sack?
You will never get it back quite the way it was. Think
about it.
Put off, Great! But Keep Going. Put On.
So the put off section basically can be summarized,
“Don’t do all that stuff we just talked about.” But what
do we put on?
A very important point here. Notice we are supposed to
go beyond saying nothing at all. Now saying nothing at
all is sometimes a good option, especially in the moment.
The Proverbs also speak to this.
Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, transgression is
not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
Proverbs 17:27-28, “Whoever restrains his words has
knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of
understanding. Even a fool who keeps silent is
considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed
Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep
watch over the door of my lips!”
And so sometimes it is good not to speak anything. But,
this is not the command in our text today. Don’t pat
yourself on the back for keeping silent when stabbing,
hurtful harmful words are swarming around like wasps in
your mind. The heart has not been renewed. A sinful
mind can speak harmful words; a sinful mind can keep
silent. You are not acting on your thoughts, that is better
than acting on them. But it’s still poisoning you. It’s still
toxic waste floating around in the mind and will leech out
one way or another.
Only a renewed mind can speak words that build up, fit
the occasion and give grace. So let’s look at these
categories of words that Paul says is the result of a
renewed mind.
Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your
mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits
the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Now that is the filter. Picture your words like a pile of
gravel in your mind. And you have this screen that only
allows through the little particles of sand. This verse
gives us a filter. Only let the words come out of your
mouth that are good for building up, fit the occasion and
give grace to those who hear. So this passage is really
kind of like a three stage filter for our words.
The Power of Words to Build Up
So let’s take a look at this first filter?
What are words that build up? Well, for starters they are
the exact opposite of words that tear down. Think about
the imagery of those words. Build up. What that
indicates is that we are currently not built all the way.
That the structure would benefit from being built higher.
To help illuminate the point, it would be awkward and
strange to say that the reason we sing praises to God is
to build him up. God is already built up to the max. We
sing praises to worship him and declare who he is, but he
is complete.
We on the other hand need building up. We are insecure
about ten thousand things. Am I beautiful? Am I
competent? Am I a good father? A good mother? A
good son or daughter? Am I good lover? Am I good
employee? We are so insecure? Am I loved by God?
Who would really go to bat for me? Do I have any real
friends in the world?
We need words of encouragement. We need to be
reminded of truth. We need words that soothe in
moments of pain and tribulation. We need words that
build up our shaky souls.
Words like, “I just want you to know that I love you”
“Hey, even though things have been rough lately, I just
want to say that what originally attracted me to you still
is there.”
“You know what; I’m just encouraged that we love the
same things and have the same goals. What a blessing
that is. I love you.”
“You are such a good friend.”
Do you hear the power of those words to build up?
Another way of thinking about this concept of building
up vs tearing down is to think in terms of trust. Words
that build up are words that build trust in the
relationship. Words that tear down are words that
destroy trust in the relationship.
There is no such thing as a neutral word. Either our
words are building trust or tearing it down. We don’t
enter relationships trusting one another. We have
enough experience with people to realize that you can
get hurt if you open up about your weaknesses. So we
always asking the question?
 Can I really trust this person to open up with them
about the things that are troubling me
 If I share a weakness will they use it against me?
 What will this person do with this piece of
information that I give them?
Words that build up are words that affirm that my love
for you extends even to your sin and imperfection.
When a weakness is shared, building words are words
that say, “I struggle with that same thing, how can we
help each other.” Those are building words. Those are
words that increase trust.
Often times what happens in very bad marriages is that
the spouses have become accustomed to jousting back
and forth in such a way that they take whatever trust is
left in the relationship, and get them to reveal some
possible weakness and then once the person takes a
chance and disclosed an apology or a confession or
turns over a leaf of softness they will grab it and grind it
into their face.
The hardest things to undo in a failed marriage is
damaged trust. How did it get there? Words. Words
destroyed the trust. Words shattered faith.
Use your words to build one another up. Use your words
to establish trustworthiness with those around you. If
someone has developed a reputation as a trustworthy
counselor, I guarantee you without a shadow of a doubt
that they are also someone who builds others up with
their words. They speak words of encouragement nonstop. I have even know people who are very poor
counselors but get asked to counsel all the time because
they are such encouragers.
The Power of Words that Fit the Occasion
Here’s another screen to apply. Do your words fit the
Wow, I love this category of words. Words that fit the
occasion. These are words that take into consideration
the context of the moment. This is definitely a learned
skill. It takes lost of wisdom to say considerate, helpful
words at the right time in the right way.
There are certain moments in life when a single sentence
of encouragement, a single word of admonishment, a
certain sentence of insight, a certain pearl of speech
placed just right will never be forgotten. These are life
giving, healing words.
Proverbs 25:11, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold
in a setting of silver.”
Proverbs 15:23, “To make an apt answer is a joy to a
man, and a word in season, how good it is!”
I remember when I was in seminary and I was up to my
eyeballs in work and family responsibilities and church
and as a seminary student I was sitting in on the elder
meetings. And I remember leaving Lisa and the kids and
going to the meeting. And Lisa was having a hard day
and she cried as I left because she wanted to hang out
and I wasn’t able to and it just ripped my heart out.
And I remember just getting sick to my stomach on the
way to the meeting thinking to myself, “Lord I can’t win.
If I don’t go to the meeting I will not be responsible to my
commitment there but if I go to the meeting, I am not
meeting the needs of my family. What am I supposed to
And I remember midway through that meeting, the
children’s ministry pastor whose name was Brock Bolde
asked me how I was doing? And I could tell he really
cared. And so I told him, “Not very good.” And I
explained the situation. And he looked me right in the
eye and said, “Get out of here. Seriously, leave. This
stuff is meaningless compared to what is waiting for you
at home.” And I can’t tell you how that made my heart
soar. So powerful. Even in ministry it’s possible to want
to be a man pleaser at the cost of your own family. He
had no idea the kind of impact that word had on me.
Two sentences he spoke at the right moment, laced with
wisdom and sympathy and they stuck with me for life. I
hardly even knew the guy and yet I named my son after
him; it’s hard to believe but it’s true. What’s that say
about the power of a word spoken at the right moment
to bring healing?
I remember in high school a teacher of mine that I really
respected put a note in my locker thanking for something
I had done. What an encouragement that was to me.
How many things do I have in my head from 20 years
ago. Hardly anything. But here a word spoken at the
right moment just stuck with me and will never leave.
Sometimes at night my boys will say to me, “Dad you are
the best dad ever.” Or Lisa will say, “I am the luckiest girl
in the world to be married to you.” Now I know that is
not true. I can review my failures in the day and think to
myself, that is crazy talk. I have been inconsiderate,
selfish, mean spirited. I have been defensive about
things that I should have fallen to the ground in
repentance. These words are so undeserved and in that
moment of feeling just bitter and guilty and worthless
come those words. Talk about gracious fitting words. I
won’t forget those words. I know they are accepting me
in the midst of my failure.
What can you say to encourage a man or woman in a
place of discouragement? How long would it take you
to just say something encouraging? I think about the
teacher that wrote me the note in college. It probably
took him 3 minutes. Those are three minutes well spent.
We spend hours and hours and hours of our lives doing
things that absolutely will be forgotten. But a word
spoken wisely in the moment. It is a jewel.
I remember in school a pastor said to me, “You know
Jason, you have this big name preachers out there. But
they will never be able to love a person through
suffering. They will never be there for the person in your
church who just lost a father or a mother or is struggling
with a son or daughter who is not walking with the Lord.
You have the opportunity to be a power in the life of that
person like nobody else.
A person in a moment of crisis is thirsty for your fitting
words. The human spirit is so frail and fragile. A tender
word in a moment of pain is so powerful.
The Power of Words to Give Grace
Here’s another filter to apply! Will your words give
GRACE to those who hear? If not don’t say it.
Now this is such an important category of words… such
an important category. Why is it so hard to say nice
things to people? Why is it so hard to actually open your
mouth and let words of encouragement out and
appreciation and edification? If it really only takes three
minutes and a person will remember it for life, I mean
why not? Why is the world not filled with Hallmark
cards? Why is it so hard to just be constantly, nonstop
kind with your words?
Well the reason is because generally speaking people are
legitimately undeserving of it. If you say to someone,
 “I really appreciate how considerate you are to
 “Honey, I appreciate your loving spirit.”
 “You are such a kind person.”
Well, if you want to just boil it down to a factual analysis
of life, that’s pretty overstated. Generally speaking we
are inconsiderate, unloving, self-absorbed and unkind.
I’d hate to see the chart that comes out of my average
day. When we are yielded to the Spirit we exhibit his
fruits, and we should absolutely praise and encourage
when we see these things, but truth be told, there are a
lot of things we have to overlook between spurts of Holy
Spirit activity.
Nobody deserves it. If you are going to wait till someone
is deserving of your kind words, you will die with nothing
but bitterness on your lips. Nobody deserves an ounce of
it. But don’t let that stop you. Who ever said someone
needed to earn your kind words.
Is that way you want to be treated? Were you not swept
off your feet by the kindness of Jesus? As Romans 2
says, “it was the kindness of God that led us to
repentance.” Well, then sweep others of their feet!
Extend graciousness. What a blessing!
This is the main idea and the entire point of grace. Grace
is undeserved blessing. Some people like to make the
distinction between Grace and Mercy and I think it’s
helpful for the sake of our conversation.
 Mercy would be withholding punishment you
deserve. So if you are slapped with a $5000 fine
and the judge drops the charge, that is Mercy.
You didn’t have to pay what you owed. That is
awesome. If we translate this concept to our
speech, it would be merciful to just be silent. To
not retaliate with sharp words. To not point out
the failure. That’s mercy.
 Grace goes beyond that. Imagine if the judge
reached into his wallet and pulled out a thousand
in cash and say, “Oh, by the way, here’s a little
spending cash in celebration of your dropped
charge.” That would be Grace. Receiving what
you do not deserve.
And God is wanting us to speak words of Grace. Words
that are undeserved but are still true.
Maybe all week long there is fighting and arguing, but
then you see a slight break in the clouds and a tiny ray of
sunshine slips through. And you jump on it, “I see God
working in your life and I just want you to know that
encourages me.” Generally speaking, those words might
not be deserved; perhaps there are many words that
were said that was damaging, much faithless activity,
much unloving speech, but grace overrides it. Grace
slathers on words of love and grace and edification that
are completely undeserved. They are not untrue, they
are simply graciously overlooking faults and being
graciously selective in choosing which actions to
If you want to see examples of gracious words in actions,
just look at what God says to you. How much of what
God says to you is deserved?
A little word of warning. Be careful that in your
graciousness you do not slip into patronizing. One of the
sharpest daggers we can use are words of patronizing.
This is the use of words whose grammatical construction
appears to be kind but there in reality they are said from
a perch of high superiority.
“Hey your doing a really good job cleaning the house this
week.” But those words condescend from your superior
position. Implied, were I given the task of keeping the
house clean it would be spotless. Congratulations, you
have just achieved 1/10 of my excellence. A good goal in
the next 10 years is for you to reach half of who I am.
No credit for gracious words here. That’s a dagger up to
the hilt.
By the way, the only way to not be patronizing is to see
your own failure. The only way to not be patronizing is
to realize how much grace you have been given, to see
your accomplishments as gracious empowerments by
the Spirit of God not as the results of awesome personal
We need to give grace and give grace and give grace
knowing that we have been given grace. So often we
feel compelled to point out people’s failures. We might
say to someone, “You know you have been so selfish
That statement is rarely received at face value. Usually
there is some pushback. And usually it comes in the form
of, “Well, that’s not very nice.”
And kids and adults both respond to that by saying,
“Well, it’s true.”
In light of this passage that is one of the strangest come
backs in the world.
Why is it that we feel that we need to say everything that
is true? Would you like every true thing about you
vocalized here on Sunday morning? Why is that even a
line of reasoning? What verse of the Bible says we need
to broadcast every sin with our mouths?
Of course its true. When it happened we established
that. There are a million things that are true.
Someone who doesn’t have the Lord might feel
compelled to open their mouth and broadcast these
facts. But what does God tell us to do here? He very
specifically says we need to filter out the bad and only
talk about those things that give grace to those who
I love the NIV’s translation of our text, “Do not let any
unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only
what is helpful for building others up according to their
needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Does every true thing need to be stated. ABSOLUTLEY
What does it mean for Jesus to be full of grace and truth?
Did Jesus say every true thing? Every time the disciples
were being selfish, pigheaded jerks, did he vocalize that?
No. What happened in the upper room when they were
all arguing about who would be greatest in the
kingdom? Jesus didn’t speak truth about the foulness of
the heart although he could have? Why? Because I think
he was constrained by this principle. His language was
guarded by this filter. Will it benefit those who listen?
What benefited the disciples was for him to wash their
John 13:15, “For I have given you an example, that you
also should do just as I have done to you.”
John 13:17, “If you know these things, blessed are you if
you do them.”
Those are undeserved words of grace. What impact his
actions and words would have had. They are still
benefiting those who hear them. There are a thousand
true things Jesus could have said at that moment that
would have been like the rash thrusts of a sword. But he
instead spoke words that built up, were fitting and were
What if we applied that filter on our lips? Please Lord,
guard my speech so that the only thing that leaves my
lips are words that benefit those who listen. Wow.
What a different world we would live in if only 10
percent of people applied this.
The Source of Our Words
Now this message is the last of the practical examples of
Paul’s admonishment to take off, renew the mind and
put on. But I want to use this particular example of the
importance of that middle step. It is very easy to just flip
on the switch and “say the right thing” without changing
the heart.
Luke 6:45, “The good person out of the good treasure of
his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his
evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of
the heart his mouth speaks.”
What is this passage saying, “The tongue eventually gives
you away?” Jesus says in Matthew 12:36, “I tell you, on
the day of judgment people will give account for every
careless word they speak,”
Somebody might object to that and say, “Hey, doesn’t
the Bible teach that we’re justified by faith? Doesn’t the
Bible teach that we’re not saved on the basis of our
works or our words, but on the faith in Jesus? So what is
this talking about? What does this mean that we’ll be
justified on the basis of our words and condemned on
the basis of our words?”
The only possible interpretation is that your words reveal
whether you are justified or whether you are
condemned. It reveals what your heart really is. If you
can’t forgive with your words, you can’t forgive in your
heart, and if you can’t forgive with your heart, you don’t
have the Spirit of God in you.
The bottom line we eventually speak what is in our heart.
It might not come out in so many words, but it comes
out. Eventually your speech will slip up. That’s the thing
a lot of us are really afraid of. We have things in our
heart, and we have to be so careful not to let them slip
We can’t let this person know what we really think of
them. We can’t let this person know what kind of
thought life we really have. We can’t let this person
know that … But eventually your words do reveal
yourself. Eventually your words the corrupt and foul
things that are in there. That’s why Jesus says, “By your
words you will be justified and by your words you will be
And so in this process of renewing our speech, don’t skip
the whole renew your mind piece.
Time of confession with our mouths……