The Review and Herald


January 18, 1898

Our Words—No. 1


“A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” RH January 18, 1898, par. 1

The Jewish priests and rulers, to whom these words were addressed, held positions of great responsibility. They were not ignorant men; they were looked upon by the people as wise teachers, whom they must obey. But they were unworthy of their holy office. Christ said of them: “Whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, and saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.” RH January 18, 1898, par. 2

Here is shown the improper use made of the gift of speech. John was the greatest prophet born of women. “Verily I say unto you,” Christ declared, “among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist.” “This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.” He was sent by God to prepare the way for his only begotten Son; but bitter, unkind words were spoken of him, and those who spoke these words pronounced judgment on themselves in so doing. “They say, He hath a devil,” Christ said. Did that make it so?—No; these words were spoken because he rebuked sin, and called men to repentance. RH January 18, 1898, par. 3

Many today feel at liberty to use the talent of speech recklessly, without thinking of the influence their words will have upon others. The Lord sends his messages by whom he will, and those who make disparaging remarks of the messengers and the message need to remember that they would speak in the same way of Christ if he should come to them as he came to the Jews, with a message that did not suit their unrenewed hearts. Those who use their speech to mimic the one who is speaking the words of God are charged with having done this to Christ; for it is done to him in the person of his saints. RH January 18, 1898, par. 4

The pious rulers would not receive John, and neither would they receive Christ who declared to them, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Christ clothed his divinity with humanity, to meet humanity where it was, but not to speak the words of humanity. He sat at the table with publicans and sinners, he went among the most needy to speak words of life, and to sow the seeds of truth; for there he found more hopeful subjects than among the jealous, prejudiced scribes and Pharisees, who thought themselves exalted to heaven by their position. RH January 18, 1898, par. 5

Christ carried on his work among the needy and suffering. These judged him by his works. “Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.” When this man was healed, the people were amazed, and they expressed their conviction when they said, “Is not this the Son of David?” meaning, Is not this the Messiah? The gracious works they had witnessed were to them a convincing evidence that he who performed them had the power of God, and they had no thought of attributing them to any other agency. Hence the inquiry, “Is not this the Son of David?” RH January 18, 1898, par. 6

But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, contemptuously, “This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.” These words were inspired by Satan. The enmity and prejudice of the rulers were stirred into a fury of madness; and priests and rulers, Pharisees and Sadducees, united in pouring forth their hatred. From the treasure-house of their hard, stubborn hearts came the words, “This fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub, the prince of the devils.” They could not ignore Christ's wonderful works, or attribute them to natural causes, so they said, They are the works of the devil. In unbelief they spoke of the Son of God as a human being. The works of healing done before them, works which no man had ever done or could do, were a manifestation of the power of God. But they charged Christ with being in league with hell. Their talent of speech was used to abuse the world's Redeemer, and the recording angel wrote their words in the books of heaven. They attributed to satanic agencies the holy power of God, manifested in the works of Christ. Thus the Pharisees sinned against the Holy Ghost. Stubborn, sullen, iron-hearted, they determined to close their eyes to all evidence, and thus they committed the unpardonable sin. RH January 18, 1898, par. 7

“If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin,” Christ said, “but now they have no cloak for their sin.... But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” Christ's works of mercy contrasted too sharply with their pride, selfishness, and evil actions. They could not bear to have his goodness and tender sympathy acted out, even to those whom they despised. RH January 18, 1898, par. 8

“Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: and if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.” In Christ's works the Pharisees were given sufficient evidence of his mission, but they rejected this evidence. RH January 18, 1898, par. 9

“O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” By their words the Pharisees and Sadducees were exerting a deadly influence upon the people, who looked upon them as wise and good men. They were false teachers, poisoning the religious principles of the people by their deception, and teaching for doctrine the commandments of men. The Pharisees especially were stirred by a power from beneath, and they strove earnestly to exalt their manufactured precepts, their traditions and man-made commandments, above the law of God. RH January 18, 1898, par. 10

As for you, Christ said, your words reveal the malignity of your hearts. “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” Your words are an index of your character, and they will testify against you. RH January 18, 1898, par. 11

Here we see the importance of carefulness in the employment of speech. This talent is a great power for good when it is used aright, but it is just as great a power for evil when the words spoken are poisonous. If this talent is abused, out of the heart proceed evil things. The words are either a savor of life unto life or of death unto death. RH January 18, 1898, par. 12

It is the privilege of all to fill the chambers of the soul with pure and holy treasures by making themselves thoroughly familiar with the precious words of Christ, spoken for our instruction. “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” The word “simple” does not here mean those who lack reason and intellect. It means that class specified in Isaiah 57:15: “Thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” By heeding the reproof and encouragement given in God's word, we may “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness.” Those who are thus strengthened will not walk with head bowed down like a bulrush. Cheap, nonsensical remarks, spoken to create levity, will not fall from their lips. RH January 18, 1898, par. 13

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” Then shall we not all, old and young, learn to converse in the language that is spoken by those who are translated into God's kingdom? Shall not our words be such as will be heard with pleasure by our Heavenly Father? RH January 18, 1898, par. 14

As those who claim to be Christians, we are under solemn obligations to reveal the truth of our profession by our words. The tongue is a little member; but what an amount of good it can do if the heart is pure! If the heart is stored with good things, if it is stored with Christlike tenderness, sympathy, and politeness, this will be shown by the words spoken and the actions performed. The light shining from the word of God is our guide. Nothing so weakens a church as a wrong use of the talent of speech. We dishonor our Leader when our words are not such as should come from the lips of a Christian. RH January 18, 1898, par. 15

“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” The quality of our works is shown by our words. When our words and works harmonize in Christ, we show that we are consecrated to God, perfecting holiness in his fear. As we give ourselves, soul, body, and spirit, to him, he works in us, both to will and to do of his good pleasure. RH January 18, 1898, par. 16

The love of Christ in the heart is revealed by the expression of praise. Those who are consecrated to God will show this by their sanctified conversation. If their hearts are pure, their words will be pure, showing an elevated principle working in a sanctified direction. The mind will be absorbed in holy contemplation, and there will be a sense of the presence of God. RH January 18, 1898, par. 17