Today’s Reading: Romans 3
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin lectures throughout the United States on the positive and negative impacts of words. He often asks audiences if they could go twenty-four hours without saying any unkind words to, or about, another person. More often than not, only a few people raise their hands. He tells everyone else,
All of you who can’t answer “yes” . . . must recognize how serious a problem you have. Because if I asked you to go for twenty-four hours without drinking liquor, and you said, “I can’t do that,” I’d tell you, “Then you must recognize that you’re an alcoholic.” And if I asked you to go for twenty-four hours without smoking a cigarette, or drinking coffee, and you said, “That’s impossible,” that would mean that you’re addicted to nicotine or caffeine. Similarly, if you can’t go for twenty-four hours without saying unkind words about or to others, then you’ve lost control over your tongue.”
We have a tongue issue because we have a heart issue. Every person’s heart is faced with a serious issue called “sin.” It isn’t until our hearts are changed that our words change. God is the only one who can change our heart and fix the sin issue.
Romans 3 reminds us that all of humanity has a sin issue that needs to be fixed: “We have already made the charge the Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one’” (verses 9-10, NIV).
No one is righteous . . . not even one. Regarding sin in the world, Reinhold Niebuhr said something profound: “Most of the evil in this world does not come from evil people. It comes from people who consider themselves good.” We are all sinners; no one is good.
A British newspaper editor once asked G. K. Chesterton, “What’s wrong with the world?” Without missing a beat, Chesterton replied simply, “I am.” He realized that sin is devastating to the individual and humanity. How devastating?
Charles Finney was right when he said: “Sin is the most expensive thing in the universe. . . . If it is forgiven sin, it cost God His only Son. . . . If it is unforgiven sin, it costs the sinner his soul and an eternity in hell.”
Right after Paul reminds us that we are all under sin—and that no one is excluded from this pronouncement—he uncovers a huge revelation. He shows us where sin shows up consistently. You have to pay attention to see it. Remember Paul has just said in verse 10 that “there is none righteous, no not one.”
Now he says in verses 11-15:
There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood.” (NIV)
The apostle Paul lists five different parts of the body that are the most common vehicles of sin: throats, tongues, lips, mouths, and feet. Ready for this? Four of the five body parts relate to the tongue.
Wow! That small member of our body is the biggest dispenser of our sinful nature. Our mouths can destroy lives. Adolf Hitler’s manifesto was Mein Kampf. Someone once calculated that for every word in the book, Hitler killed 320 lives. They calculated that 60 million people died in World War II, and the book has 187,000 words in it. His words killed millions of people.
Whatever is in your heart will find its way to your tongue. That’s why we need God in our hearts and sin out of our heart. A. W. Tozer said it like this: “What’s closest to your heart is what you talk about and if God is close to your heart, you’ll talk about Him.”
We need God in our hearts today.