Recently in a support group I lead (going on 20+ years now), we had a great discussion about the power of words, especially the power of spoken words. The main point I was pressing was that the fullness of a word's power is only realized when it is spoken, not merely thought, because you and I were made for relationship. A "thought" word never connects with another person.
For example, if I think the words "I love you" about my wife but never say them, how great is their impact? Certainly thinking such words is good. Those thoughts can have an impact on my behaviors and attitude toward my wife. But until I speak them, the fullness of their power is not realized.
Words Come from God
What if God merely thought about all that currently exists? Galaxies, stars, mountains, oceans, trees, animals, and human beings. If all such ideas merely existed in the mind of God, none would exist. For God himself showed us that the power of the Word is when it is spoken.
"And God said, 'Let there be light,' and there was light." -Gen. 1:3 (emphasis added)
Words originated with God. He is the Creator of all things, including language. He spoke and everything that exists, all matter, came into being. He also made human beings in His image with the capacity to speak and interact with Him and one another through words.
God spoke to Adam about where the boundary lines were drawn regarding sin. (Gen. 2:16)
God said that it wasn't good for man to be alone. (Gen. 2:17)
Adam named the animals; "And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name." (Gen. 2:19)
Adam burst into a poem when he first saw Eve! (Gen. 2:23)
God called out to Adam after they sinned. (Gen. 3:9)
Adam and Eve responded to God's inquiries about their sin. (Gen. 3:10-13)
From the very beginning, words have been part of God's creation. They were intended to be used for good and the flourishing of life. But sin didn't only distort man's desires, it also distorted the good and holy use of words.
Sin's Negative Impact on Words
Think of the negative power that words have as a result of sin. What happens to a person when they hear statements like:
"You're stupid and ugly."
"I hate you."
"You will never amount to anything."
"You don't belong here."
"What is wrong with you?"
"God can't love someone like you."
It stings to even write those words. But many of us have felt more than just the sting of writing them; we have felt their soul-crushing weight when someone said them to us. Words have power, for good and for evil.
Redeeming Words for Good
The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that through faith in Him we can be forgiven and restored to a right relationship with our heavenly Father, God. This restoration is not only spiritual; it is a restoration of our whole lives, words included.
Before I began my road to recovery from sexual addiction back in 1999, I had a severe anger problem (addictions often cause problems in multiple areas of life). You might even say I was a 'rageaholic.' My temper could be triggered in the blink of an eye. And oftentimes many foul words accompanied such anger.
When I started my recovery, God did amazing healing work on my anger, which resulted in a merciful transformation of my language. Rather than using my words to fuel my fury, I began to learn to use my words to bless and heal. God was redeeming not just my sexual brokenness, but also my sinful use of words.
4 Keys Areas to Speak Out Words of Truth
Spoken words have power -- even when spoken over yourself. (Yes, self-talk is a healthy Christian practice; read Psalm 42, 43:5, 62:5, and 103.)
You may be wondering what practical steps you can take to engage your use of words in a more Christ-like way. Here are four key areas to speak out words of truth over your own soul as you pursue a life of faithfulness to God.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
2 Cor. 7:10
You and I have sinned against God (probably several times just today!). We need to properly admit (confess) these sins and seek the correction of God's Word and His Spirit. This is called repentance.
Here are some words you can speak (out loud) over your soul as you repent:
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight... (Psalm 51:3-4)
I did __________. I know it was wrong and I repent now, trusting not in my strength or ability, but in Yours, O Lord my Savior.
Lord, I was wrong. I'm sorry for relying on myself more than relying on You.
Jesus, your Word says that "apart from you I can do nothing." (Jn. 15:5) I confess my need for you to restore me from my empty ways.
Speak out words of repentance when you sin. Then listen for God's response. Have your Bible handy since He likely will want to point you to a particular verse or passage of Scripture to remind you that "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise." (Ps. 51:17; emphasis added)
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
It is vital to remember that when we confess our sins God is faithful to forgive. O, how we need this reminder! And how I have learned over the years that it is often not enough (for me, anyway) to merely think this truth but to speak it out LOUD!
Here are some words you can speak (out loud) to remind your soul of God's rich and abundant forgiveness:
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. (Ps. 103:12)
Thank you, God, for your full forgiveness through the finished work of Jesus Christ. I receive your forgiveness right now because of the cross.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8:1-2)
Because of Christ, God will not hold my sin against me for judgment. Lord, help to live in the gracious freedom you purchased for me.
Speak out words of God's forgiveness when you have strayed. Marinate in the love that God has for you. There is nothing you can do to cause God to love you less or abandon you or shame you. You are His beloved child, securely adopted into His eternal family. No one can snatch you out of His hand! (Jn. 10:28-30)
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love, he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
What good news it is that we are called children of God! You have an identity in Christ that is precious and permanent. And it doesn't start after you die -- it is true right now.
With all the other voices that are trying to tell you who you are (TV, movies, social media, news outlets, etc.) you must train your ear to listen to words that speak the truth about your identity. And only God knows who you really are.
Here are some words you can speak (out loud) to remind your soul of who you are and to Whom you belong:
I am a child of God. (Jn. 1:12)
I am a friend of Jesus. (Jn 15:14-15)
I am a joint heir with Christ, sharing in His inheritance. (Rom. 8:17)
I am a saint in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 1:1)
I am God's workmanship (or artwork), created in Christ Jesus to do good works. (Eph. 2:10)
I am a new creation. (2 Cor. 5:17)
Speak out words of your true identity, especially when lies of shame are seeking to attack you and tempt you to believe what is not true about who you are in Christ. You are secure in God's family through faith in Christ. Rest in His love, and use the power of God's Word to strengthen your security in Him.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Your life is not a mistake. You were made by God with a purpose -- to glorify Him by bearing His image in the world. Because it is so easy to get swept away by the meaninglessness of the world's fruitless ways it is essential that you be reminded regularly that your life matters to God and His redemptive plan.
Here are some words you can speak (out loud) to remind your soul of God's good purpose for your life:
I am made in the image of God to be a reflection of His love and character to everyone I meet.
By God's grace, I have been given His Spirit to accomplish all that He desires for me; "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." (Phil. 4:13)
I have been ordained by God to be alive at this specific time in history and this specific place to do good works that honor God and bless others.
I reject the lies of the world that tempt me toward vain pursuits rooted in pride and selfishness; I instead choose to surrender my life completely to the control of my Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave His life so that I might truly live. To Him I give my total allegiance.
Speak out words of your God-given purpose for living. There is joy and peace in fervently pursuing all that God has called you to do in this life. Don't be distracted or dismayed by the clashing voices of a godless culture. Stay attuned to the clear, steady voice of the One who calls you His beloved and has entrusted you with "the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Cor. 5:18)
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.
One final thought to share on this topic of the power of spoken words. Sometimes it is just as powerful to remain silent as it is to speak, especially when it comes to words that promote sin and evil.
God has called His people to "walk in the light" and not partner with the darkness of evil and wickedness. This means we must grow in wisdom to know when to speak out against such evil and when to hold our tongues when tempted to say things that partner with evil.
Words have power. Use them wisely to promote what is good and true and lovely. To God be the glory.