By David P. Sanzo
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The Body Ministers Life
There was once an unwritten rule, or “eleventh Commandment,” that was initially heeded by members of the Republican Party in the United States. It stated, “Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican.” I have heard it said that the “commandment” for a sports figure during a successful radio or a television talk show is, “Thou shalt not speak ill of thy teammates or coaches.”
If Republicans could adhere to a principle of solidarity as a political party, how much more so should we, as the children of God, love our neighbor. If athletes can obey this principle for a sports show, how much more should the Church of Jesus Christ do the same. James 4:11 says, “Speak not evil one of another, brethren.”
This does not mean that we should never speak a word of criticism. Criticism can be constructive, if offered in the right spirit, for necessary correction. But do we need to be consumed with words of evil? Must we be dominated with words meant for someone’s destruction? These are not words of life. May I remind you that this tells us of what spirit you are. It is not the Spirit of God that brings death to the Body of Christ. Colossians 3:89 tells us,
But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth, Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds.
Paul exhorts us to clean up our words. Get rid of that filthy communication coming out of your mouth. This is not only refraining from cursing, cussing, swearing, and using “gutter language,” but also includes any communication that is not edifying.
While we are at it, Paul said we ought to be truthful in our communications. We ought not to lie to each other. In Ephesians 4:25, he wrote, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another.”
Imagine if parts of our bodies began to send wrong signals to the rest of the body. What would happen if the nerves in the hand lied to the brain about the stove being hot? What if the hand told the brain that the stove is actually pleasantly warm? What would be the result?
What if your eyes began to lie to the body about what it saw while you were driving your vehicle? Talk about a brain that would soon go haywire! Of course, the body would soon also be destroyed.
If one member of the body lied to the other members, how would we know if a part of the body was truly hurt or in danger? There would be no way that the body could help that member of the body which needed help or nourishment. There would be no way of ministering to that part of the body. Not only that, but it would cripple the body as a whole.
The Body of Christ, or the people of God, is similarly connected, so that what affects one part, affects the whole. Our sins affect the whole body. We are not “only hurting ourselves.” Every time there is a divorce, and especially when children are involved, we see that “we also hurt the ones we love.”
If one part of your body is injured physically, you will not be as able to exercise the rest of the body until the wounded part recovers or is healed. You cannot run as fast or effortless with an infected toe. You cannot lift weights when you have a shoulder injury. If you try to do so, ignoring the pain, you will only delay the healing process. You may have the temporary satisfaction of getting in your workout, but you may have to wait even longer to fully recover.
It is difficult to wait to recover sufficiently first, before resuming the set of activities to which we have grown accustomed. We do not often like staying on “the sidelines”; we want to “get into the game.”
But there are some things that must be attended to, when the `coach” calls for a “time-out,” or sends in a “substitution” for you. Our wounds, physical, emotional, and spiritual, need time to heal. We nay need refreshment, like a piece of watermelon on a hot afternoon, or a long drink of Gatorade. Or we may need to confess our sins, learn. ‘rom our mistakes, and act more efficiently, giving less “fouls” or taking less “penalties.”
The divine “Coach” cares for us far more than any earthly one, and He cares for our spirits with a lasting concern. Not only does He care for us individually, He loves us as His corporate body; He is concerned not only with our well-being, but also for that of our neighbor. As we are all His children, He wants us to be our brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9), to love one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).
How are we to treat one another in a way pleasing to Christ? We do so implicitly by our own example, but also explicitly, with our words. We cannot ignore the fact that, as human beings, one of our primary means of communication is through our words. We have a much more complicated life than do horses, for example, who cannot lie to each other.
We should be in the habit of speaking the truth to each other, as Paul wrote:
Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25; Zechariah 8:16; emphasis added).
In addition, Proverbs 4:24 says, “Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” Paul summed up how we ought to speak, with words that unite us in love, bringing life to the whole body:
We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love (Ephesians 4:14-16, NKJV).
We ought to speak words that produce life, with Jesus as our example. He said, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63c). The words that He spoke produced life. In fact, all the words of God produce life for He is the Spirit of Life (Romans 8:2). “The Spirit is life” (Romans 8:10). “The Spirit giveth life” (II Corinthians 3:6, emphasis added).
Led by, and filled with the Spirit, our words ought to animate (give spirit and support) and encourage. We ought to edify, invigorate, and enliven those who hear us:
My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh (Proverbs 4:20-22, emphasis added).
“The word of God is quick [alive and life-giving]” (Hebrews 4:12). “Thy word hath quickened me [given me life]” (Psalm 119:50). We are called to be like Him: our words should also produce life. Peter said,
Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby (I Peter 2:1-2, emphasis added).
We are to cease speaking the wrong words, such as words spoken out of insensitivity or with deliberate intent to mock or injure (“killer talk”). Even if they are offered as humor, and are quickly apologized for, these poisonous darts, certainly have the ability to “find their mark” on our hearers, burdening them with weights that they are not meant, and should not have, to carry.
Instead of speaking out of ignorance—which is not “bliss” to our hearers—we are to pursue instead the “sincere milk (pure and genuine nutrition) of the word.”
The term, “word,” in I Peter 2:2 does not refer exclusively to the written word of God, although that Word is definitely included. The concept behind “word” (the underlying Greek is logicon) refers to the words we speak, as well as the thoughts or reasoning behind them.
Our words should not reflect a malicious spirit, or envying thoughts. Instead, our words should reflect thoughts that are nutritious to the spirit-man. They ought to produce health.
Words of Grace
Our words should be powerful words. They should have an upbuilding spiritual effect. They should not be as idle or vain words, which are useless, serving only to tear down. If we do not gather with Him, we scatter (Matthew 12:30). The apostle Paul wrote,
Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man (Colossians 4:6).
Our speech is to be seasoned with salt. Salt will always have an effect. You do not put salt on meat, or any other dish, without it having some type of effect. So also, our words ought to be carefully considered, so as to have the proper effect on all those with whom we speak. Our words should not be so weak or vain that they simply “fall to the ground.”
It also says that our speech ought to be always with grace. Grace is the power of God working in us, both to will and to do, of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Our speech ought always to be laced with that type of power, seasoned with wisdom and temperance. It ought always to have a ministering effect on the hearer. Paul said as much to the Ephesian church:
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers (Ephesians 4:29).
Our speech ought to be such that it ministers grace to hearers. It is to minister that strength—that power to live the changed life—to the hearer.
Our words are to be useful for the edifying, or building up, of the Body of Christ. We ought to be wise, governing our speech to the building up of individuals in the Body of Christ. And you cannot edify the Body of Christ, without edifying individuals in the body, for His Body is made up of individual members.
Man, or the individual, is what makes up the Church: we must reach, or go through, him; we cannot affect the Church otherwise. And the perfect man, Christ, is our model and means to minister to all mankind:
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13, NKJV).
In addition, Paul told us to behave and speak in such a way, so as not to:
…grieve the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:30-32).
Our words must not be motivated by a bitter spirit. Instead, we must follow the example of love and mercy shown to us by God our Father. Because of Jesus’ precious offering of His whole life in loving obedience (“giving until it hurts” or helps), the Father forgave us. We are to do no less: we are to forgive those who may have wronged or persecuted us, and offer nothing but love in return. Words spoken in this spirit cause our Father to rejoice, and open up the floodgates of His grace to all who will receive it.
Grace Is Power
Grace is not simply unmerited favor; it is power. The unmerited favor of God can be described as His mercy, which is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 103:17). The grace of God bestows unmerited favor to the point of providing power to help us. The writer of Hebrews said,
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, [why? for two reasons] that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16, emphasis added).
Words that minister grace to the hearer provide an avenue for the power of God to help the individual. The author went on to state how grace assists us:
Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28).
Grace causes our words to accomplish something divine in our hearers: to serve God in a way that is acceptable to Him. Grace transforms us by infusing us with the reverential fear of the Lord, which is indispensable in serving Him.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7).
The more wisdom we gain in the fear of the Lord, the more power He can give us. This transition indicates the beginning of our form, godliness or reverence, being filled with dynamic power. With grace working this change in us, all the more should our words inspire others to live by the same grace, in reverence and godly fear. In this way, we help the hearer to live in a manner that is conducive to the fruit of the Spirit, instead of the works of the flesh.
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [what does it do for us?] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world (Titus 2:11-12).
Poor Stewards of Grace
We do not want to “waste,” frustrate, or deny grace, the power of God working in us and through us. Therefore, we should be conscious about being good stewards, or good managers, of the grace of God. Peter exhorts us:
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God (I Peter 4:10).
Brian Kinsey has stated, “We are the receptacle that holds the grace of God, and it is our responsibility to deposit this grace into the lives of every person we meet.”” And one of the easiest ways that grace or power is ministered to people is through a spoken word.
You have heard that what we take into our spirit—what we read, listen to, or watch—can “fuel” a person’s lifestyle. Such influence can move us in the spirit, or in the flesh, or both (distortion). Our words must not be used for corruption, or confusion, but must be used for encouragement, to build up the spirit in grace. We do not want to lose anything, or anyone, God has entrusted to us.
However, Jude prophesied that there would be those who would be poor stewards of the grace of God, who would turn the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude 4). And there are people like this today, using a misconception of the grace of God to justify their actions, promoting the desires of the flesh.
Some people think arrogantly—that they can do anything they want to do without any repercussions. They use their liberty for licentiousness, permissiveness—as an occasion to have their lusts fulfilled. They believe that because they are “living in grace,” they can live in lasciviousness. They fail to understand that lasciviousness is a work of the flesh, and that those that do the works of the flesh, “shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).
Some people would also use the truth for hurtful means. What they say may be true, but it is designed to cripple rather than to produce life, health, and growth. These individuals need to be reminded of Ephesians 4:15, where it is written, But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.
The truth spoken in love causes growth to take place. Our words should cause growth in the Body of Christ. Some speak the truth, but do it in a way that drives people away from the truth. We must speak with a right spirit, firmly but gently:
With all lowliness and gentleness [meekness], with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:2-3, NKJV).
If we will not keep up the spirit of unity, bludgeoning others with the truth, we will be poor stewards of the grace of God, never releasing the power of the grace of God. In this case, we need to be hit with the truth ourselves. Being a poor steward of the grace of God would also include those who do not release the power of the grace of God through their lives. Being guilty in this manner would cause us to fulfill the parables that Jesus spoke of the servant who went and hid his talent in the earth (Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:11-27).
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called (Ephesians 4:1, NKJV).
Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity (I Timothy 4:12, NKJV).
Words Used in Prayer
When we pray, we use words. Many have stated that “prayer changes things.” Others have said that “often what ends up being changed is the one doing the praying.”
The one, besides God, who hears everything we say in prayer, is our own self. So the words we speak in prayer are working to change us as we pray them, both because we say them, and because we hear them. Consider also that the words we use while praying also have an effect on the type of spirit we are developing in our inner man.
Also, praying the Scripture is one of the most effective ways to pray. Why? Because you are speaking what is the will of God. When you pray the Word of God, you are praying in the will of God.
When you pray in the will of God, you can rest assured that God will hear you and answer your prayer. You are speaking words that produce life, health, salvation, and answers to prayers. The apostle John told us of the confidence we can have when we pray according to God’s will:
This is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him (I John 5:14-15).
Jude admonished us, saying, “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost” (v. 20). We are to build ourselves up in our most holy faith. What can be a more holy faith than the faith of God working in us?
Jude outlined the way in which we could build ourselves up on our most holy faith: by praying in the Holy Ghost. When we are praying in the Holy Ghost, we are speaking the words of the Spirit of God. Thus, we grow stronger, being built up on our most holy faith.
When you are praying “in tongues,” you are speaking words of God that will not return void, but will have their desired effect. You are speaking the words of God, which work wonders. It is important to allow the Holy Ghost to have His way in our prayer lives.
“Let Every Chain Be Broken!”
I was preaching in Corvallis, Oregon, in April of 1996, when I made an altar call at the conclusion of the sermon. It was a Sunday morning service, and there were a few visitors present. Some of them came to the front, and we moved right in to our altar service.
As I moved in among the people, praying for them, I came to this one man who was kneeling and praying. He appeared to be of a mixed Hispanic descent.
While I was praying for him, I did not seem able to get a breakthrough. So I asked God for direction on how to pray for this man. I was looking for a word of knowledge or a word of wisdom. Although I asked, I did not immediately receive any answer from God concerning a word to give him, or a direction to follow in prayer.
Observing him kneeling, I knew that he needed repentance, so I began to pray in that direction. As I prayed, I continued to seek God for a word. All that I received as a response was to speak in tongues. I was already doing that, as any Spirit-filled person would do, so I continued to pray a while longer.
When I had nothing else to say, and did not know what else to do, I went on to pray for someone else. We had a very fruitful altar service. In fact, it was just about 3:00 in the afternoon when we left the church. Considering that the altar call was given at about 11:20 AM, it lasted quite a while.
After the man had finished praying, and while the rest of the altar service was still in progress, I went to speak with him. I knew he had not received the gift of the Holy Ghost as of yet, and I wanted to encourage him to continue seeking God until he was endued with power from on high.
While talking with him, I asked him a couple of questions. He let me know, speaking in very broken English, that he could not speak the language very well. I figured that meant that he did not understand what I was trying to say. I politely began to pull away when he stopped me, and said, “I—understand—aah—you—language.
I then thought that perhaps what I was saying to him, held meaning for him. So I continued to speak about the Holy Ghost. Again he stopped me, asking, “You—aah—speak—`nother—language?” I immediately thought that he was seeking a familiar language in which we could communicate.
He knew that I “look a little different” from the typical Anglo-Saxon appearance, something I had realized by often-asked questions concerning where I come from, or what my nationality is.
I replied that I could speak some Italian because of my parents. Other than that, I understood some Greek because of my studies in Bible college, but I could not converse in it, though I was willing to try.
I had also managed to pick up a handful of words in a couple of other languages, as most people do, but none that I could use in conversation. He shook his head, saying, “No, no. You—speak—aah—‘nother—language. ”
Again I replied that I did not know another language. I was sorry, I apologized. I wanted to reach him somehow. At a time like this, I wish I had ordered one of those courses where you can learn to communicate in a language within sixty days by listening to cassette tapes.
He shook his head more emphatically. “No, no. You—speak—`nother—language. I understand—aah—you language.” I looked at him quizzically. Very animated now, he spoke again: “When—aah—you pray—yes? Aah—I understand—aah—you—language.”
At this point a little light went on in my head. Perhaps he understood what I was saying while I was speaking in tongues. As I talked further with him, I found this to be true.
This was later confirmed by his American wife and step-children. While I was praying for him in the altar service, I began to speak in tongues as most “prayed up” Pentecostals do. I did not know what I was saying, or in which language I was speaking. I was just trying to follow the Spirit of God.
He was from El Salvador, where the predominant language is Spanish. However, his family was from Brazil, where the predominant language is Portuguese. He spoke both languages well. But Portuguese was his familial language, the language used in the home for all private and intimate conversations.
While I was speaking in tongues, I began to speak in perfect Portuguese, without the slightest accent. He understood it and was amazed, especially when he knew that I had no knowledge of the Portuguese language. He even told me some of what I said.
Among other things, I had said, “I pray in the name of Jesus that every chain on this man be broken.” Then I said it again even more powerfully than before, “I pray in the name of Jesus that every chain on this man be broken!” This was all later confirmed by his American wife and step-children.
I thought it wonderful, not only that God would do such a thing for this man, but that He would even choose the language most personal to the man. Only God is so thoughtful, so awesome. God knows how to speak to us most privately and intimately, so that we will listen to Him and want to do His will.
The next week the man came to the service where I was. Afterwards, he took the pastor, the pastor’s family, and me out to eat. Actually, he paid the bill for the whole table of 13 people.
He told me that, for the rest of that day in which I had spoken in Portuguese to him, he could not eat a single bite—this coming from a man who had no problem with appetite. He also told me that, because of that experience with God, his whole body shook and trembled for the remainder of that day. God certainly grabbed a hold of his attention.
I have no doubt that every chain on that man has been, or soon will be, broken, because it was not I, but the Spirit of God, who spoke those words. Truly, I spoke in other tongues as the Spirit gave me utterance.
This was not the intellect of man at work, but the Spirit of God accomplishing His desire. And God’s words work wonders; they will have results. They are not idle, vain, or empty words: they are words of life, grace, and power.
They will not fall to the ground: they will accomplish what they have been sent out to do. Therefore, when we pray “in the spirit,” speaking in tongues, God will do great things. He will even reach people in the depths of their hearts, by speaking in a way, and a language, that is most familiar to them. May His kingdom come, and His will be done in power, through the words of grace heard from God, and spoken by His obedient vessels.
The above article, “Words of Life” was written by David P. Sanzo. The article was excerpted from Sanzo’s Book The Key to the Kingdom: Beginning Your Reign in the Spirit.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
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