Summary: Words are powerful, for good or for evil. (#3 in The Christian Victor series)
“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore, do not be partakers with them;”
“It’s only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away” - The Bee Gees
When the Gibb brothers put their heads together in 1968 to write their song, “Words”, they said a lot more than what comes off the surface. In the main line of the song they manage to convey the message that words can be insignificant, or they can change the course of a person’s life.
It’s only words. Insignificant by themselves. But if you’ll believe that they are from my heart, I mean for them to seal your heart to mine.
There’s no doubt about it, and it’s hardly a position that needs defending; that words are powerful. Both for good and for bad.
I checked my Strong’s concordance for the word, ‘word’, and ‘words’, and just at a glance, there were hundreds of instances of the use of those two words in the scriptures. The Bible has a lot to say about our words, and God’s Word.
All I want to do today though, is impress upon you the power of the spoken word, and the great importance the Bible places on our words, and then go on to study our text passage in light of that.
Jesus Himself gave this warning to His hearers:
“And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.” Matthew 12:36,37
And you may remember some strong statements from James about the tongue:
“Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they may obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder, wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!
And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.” James 3:3-6
And he’s not done! He goes on from there to exhort his reader further concerning the use of the tongue in our communications.
By the spoken word, wars have been started and peace treaties have been made. Vows have been taken, and by words, broken. Words are responsible for the saving of lives, and the taking of lives. They are tools; and in the mouth of a master of words, they can make us laugh, weep, inspire to courage and nobility, tear us down, destroy our self-esteem, insult us, make us afraid, exhort us to good or tempt us to evil.
And this is where we come to our text.
What does Paul mean by the term, ‘empty words’? This is one case where I like the Amplified translation. In it, verse 6 says, “Let no one delude and deceive you with empty excuses and groundless arguments” and then in parenthesis it adds “(for these sins)”, because Paul is still talking about the evils he had listed in previous verses that are contrary to Christian character.
Empty excuses and groundless arguments.
That’s really what it has come down to in our day and age, hasn’t it? Not that it hasn’t always been around; after all, that’s why Paul wrote these words two thousand years ago.
But all the modern means of communication, and the recent technologies that have allowed us to see and hear news around the world in an instant have just made the Devil’s job easier.
Empty words fly at lightening speed from person to person, town to town, nation to nation, excusing the basest of sins, the vilest of behaviors; de-emphasizing all that is good and emphasizing as good, all that is bad.
A federal judge uses empty, vain words to justify jettisoning the Ten Commandments from public view, while a liberal news media subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) ridicules our President for taking a stand against same-sex marriages.
What are some of the empty words we’ve heard over the past 30 years?
“If it feels good, do it”
“If it hurts no one else there’s nothing wrong with it”
“It’s just an alternate lifestyle, and just as valid as your traditional lifestyle”
“It’s not a person until it takes its first breath”