For those who would trust God to guide them into a life of dynamic mortification, the first area to begin with is the tongue. Tongue-mortification is an area that shows amazing results in a very short period of time. You will grow in astounding grace and wisdom almost overnight if you will but allow the Holy Spirit to lead you into the mortification of this little member. The Word of God teaches us that an unmortified tongue can destroy a person’s entire walk (James 1:26). Because the tongue has the power to defile the whole body (James 3:6), the man who is able to bridle it is called “perfect” by God’s standard (James 3:2). These are tremendous allegations!
The good news is that the tongue is easier to mortify than you think. Tongue-mortification was the first area the Lord led me into after He filled me with the Holy Spirit, and this is the area which has yielded the greatest dividends in terms of peace and joy for my life. Every follower of Christ must be able to restrain his or her tongue if they mean to experience God’s best and be lifted to a new level of authority in their ministry. Tongue-mortification is able to safeguard your soul from depression. The proverb “Whosoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles” (Proverbs 21:23) conveys this truth in a most straightforward way. I cannot count the number of times I have been led by the Spirit of God to remain silent on a “hot issue”, only to be blessed by some amazing revelation on a scripture a few days later. Dear saint, if you would enter into this divine realm of soul-protection and wisdom, determine at once to restrain your tongue with the help of God.
For starters, by the grace of God, resolve to speak no more criticisms of anyone, including ministers and other people with whom you do not agree. Offer nothing but blessing and edification to their account, and if there is no blessing or edification to be merited, remain silent. Take your example from Jesus Christ, who withheld speaking publically even the man’s name who would betray Him. You may warn others to not follow certain examples, but leave all character judgment to God alone. By keeping silent and allowing God His sovereign right to judge and punish, you absolve yourself from any reciprocal judgment and protect yourself from the harassments of the enemy.
It is crucial to mortify all slander and evil communication from your speech at the entry-level. The tongue can only speak of and fingers can only type that which has gone unmortified in the mind and has entered the heart. Be therefore sober and keep a constant watch over your mind and the thoughts that enter it. Watch out for any penetrating impulses of bitterness; all bitter thoughts should be immediately rejected and mortified before they can manifest audibly or in print. God has given us the responsibility to mortify bitterness at ground zero. By doing so, we keep the poison from infiltrating our system and spreading to the tongue for release.
Determine also that you will no longer debate. Cease from defending your theology or seeking to assert your convictions upon others. Stabilize yourself in the holy vacuum of God’s peace. Learn to partake of the quiet confidence and security that comes from knowing who you are in Him. Study to be silent and to mind your own affairs (I Thessalonians 2:11). Others may seek to draw you out in rebuke and challenge, but you must resist the temptations of self-defense. As you surrender your right for autonomous action, God will manifest on your behalf to guard your mind and soul with great wisdom and power. A hedge of protection will suddenly go up, and allow you, like Christ, to “walk through the crowd” and escape the ruckus.
Many believers engage in character assassination. Their tongues are used as spears in the hands of Satan. They create blogs and preach entire sermons dedicated wholly to tearing-down flesh and blood, when instead they should be focusing on the spirit that drives the flesh and blood they attack. When a believer directs his or her tongue to destroy another person – regardless of where they may stand in spiritual matters – they paradoxically allow Satan to gain a foothold in their own lives. A clever tactic of the enemy is to flaunt a controversial object or person before the evangelical masses like a decoy and then wait to draw out the victims by their tongues. When you see someone engaging in fault-finding, criticising, back-biting and character assassination, you know that they have no understanding of this tactic, and are laboring under a Satanic smokescreen.
If the object or person in question is something sanctioned by God, no amount of criticism or slander will hurt it. It will prosper regardless. God, however, will allow Satan to hurt those who assail it. Dear saint, do not allow yourself to be taken captive by the fowler, by the hurter of souls, because of your tongue. Those who have already been taken captive are still active in their ministries: they write intelligent and scripturally-astute articles against their opponents and are quick to defend themselves with cloaked acerbity and wit. They may be correct doctrinally, but their ministries are fruitless and void of God’s Spiritual anointing on account of their unmortified tongues. Do not be deceived, do not follow their example.
If you would prolong the joy of the Lord in your soul, put an end to all snide remarks and having the last word. Speak peaceably, humbly, meekly to your spouse and children, to your co-workers, to strangers. If a word or comment escapes mortification and regrettably leaves your tongue, be sure to quickly apologize and ask for forgiveness. We must always humble ourselves in the sight of God and take the blame for our unmortified Adamic misgivings. Over time, this will become a divine habit as we gain more and more control over the tongue’s fire.
You can begin this very rewarding exercise in mortification right away. Think of how many times during the day you are provoked to speak. Begin to see each opportunity as a lesson afforded in tongue-mortification, and then observe the Holy Spirit’s swift reaction to your obedience. Dear saint, if you’ve ever had doubt as to how God honors those who honor Him, try this today: From this point on, do not defend yourself anymore; cease from all debate and contention; stop criticizing other people; speak only of that which is good and virtuous; remain silent if there is nothing commendable to mention in a person, and apologize immediately for any failure in tongue-mortification. In all this, the Holy Spirit will guide you if you but lower your defenses and ask God for the equipping grace.
Always remember that criticism and ill-speaking are not divine attributes; they are Adamic to the core. Even after our spiritual conversions in Christ, the wicked inclination to unleash the tongue resides in the flesh. Until the impulses are overcome by us collaborating with the grace of the Spirit, unedified communication will be the norm in our walks instead of the exception. It will take spirit-infused grace to overcome the Adamic habit of unedified speech, but once we resign ourselves to God’s influence, the norm will be for us to use our tongues to bless and enrich rather than fault-find and smear.
Dear saint, pure speech that edifies the spirit and soul is God’s will for your life. The mortified tongue is a rare jewel to be coveted. Very few men and women have discovered the secret of its power and the pleasure it gives to our Loving Father. It is precious because it comes with a great price. Won’t you pay this price through daily mortification? I can tell you without any doubt – and from much personal experience – that the dividends paid out by God for this investment are nothing short of miraculous.