The Power of Words

Bible Book: Matthew  12 : 22-37
Subject: Words; The Power of

The Power of Words

Matthew 12:22-37



The power of words is undeniable! Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) explains, “Words, so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”

An unknown poet shares the following thought provoking verse on the power of words:

A careless word may kindle strife;

A cruel word may wreck a life.

A bitter word may hate instill;

A brutal word may smite and kill.

A gracious word may smooth the way;

A joyous word may light the day.

A timely word may lessen stress;

A loving word may heal and bless.

Proverbs 18:21 reads, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.” Proverbs 10:19 reads, “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.”

Edward Rowland Sill (1841-1887) shares the following lines:

The ill-timed truth we might have kept—

Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?

The word we had not sense to say—

Who knows how grandly it had rung?

Notice three truths about words from our text found in Matthew 12:22-37.   

I. Note the sinful words about Jesus and His explanation about forgiveness.

Matthew 12:22-32 reads, “Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw.  And all the multitudes were amazed and said, ‘Could this be the Son of David?’ Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.’ But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.  If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand?  And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you. Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house. He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. ‘Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.  Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”  In this passage, we find what is referred to as “the unpardonable sin.”  Here, I recall a message by Dr. J. Harold Smith (1910-2001) titled, “God’s Three Deadlines.”  Many people are worried that they have committed “the unpardonable sin.”  If you are concerned about it, you have not committed it, but beware of presumption in a state of unbelief.  Only the Holy Spirit can bring conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment.  Rejecting the conviction of the Holy Spirit puts you in jeopardy of going to hell.  Who knows how soon it will be too late to repent and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ?  There is no opportunity to repent and believe after death.

Dr. David Jeremiah shares, “One man found a way to combat this problem [fault-finding and gossip] in his church.  It was a formula he came up with that the members of the church had to apply before speaking to anyone.  THINK: is it True?  is it Helpful? is it Inspiring? is it Necessary? is it Kind? If what they were about to say did not pass that above test, they were to keep their mouths shut.  It worked!”

The Church Covenant reminds us among other things “. . . to avoid all tattling, backbiting, and excessive anger. . .”  Proverbs 11:13 reads, “A talebearer reveals secrets, But he who is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter.”  Talebearing is tattling!

Someone said, “A backbiter is someone who uses their tongue against you when you aren’t present, yet they will not face you with their charges when you are present.”  Proverbs 25:23 reads, “The north wind brings forth rain, And a backbiting tongue an angry countenance.” Romans 1:28-32 reads, “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”  Did you notice backbiters in this list?

James 1:26 reads, “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.” James 3:2 reads, “For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.”

David’s resolve is recorded in Psalm 39:1, “I said, ‘I will guard my ways, Lest I sin with my tongue; I will restrain my mouth with a muzzle, While the wicked are before me.’”

David’s request is recorded in Psalm 141:3, “Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

II. Note the severe words of Jesus and His exhortation to faith.

In Matthew 12:34a Jesus said to those who should know better, “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things?”  The designation “brood of vipers” was used by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:7 and again by Jesus in Matthew 23:33. The words of Jesus are the words of God, therefore, they provide an opportunity for trust and or obedience.  Romans 10:17 reads, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Dr. Adrian Rogers (1931-2005) comments, “Now, what is faith? Faith is not working yourself up into a frenzy, faith is not positive thinking, faith is not saying, I'll name it and claim it, faith is not wishing to make it so, faith is hearing from God, believing in God and acting on what you hear and believe and laying hold of that.”  Mark 11:24 reads, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Dr. Henry T. Blackaby and Claude V. King comment, “This verse is sometimes used to teach a ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ theology. You decide what you want. You name that in your request, claim it, and it’s yours. That is a self-centered theology.” Dr. Stephen F. Olford (1918-2004) shares the following in The Sword of Suffering: “This ‘prosperity gospel’ is a cruel message. We should not refer to this teaching as ‘gospel,’ for it is not ‘good news’ at all. It wrongly informs people that they are suffering the loss of personal health and wealth because of their lack of faith. Tell that to Job, who lost everything and yet could affirm, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him’ (Job 13:15). Tell that to Moses, who chose to ‘suffer affliction with the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt’ (Heb. 11:25,26). Tell to the host of martyrs who ‘were stoned,... sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword.’ (Heb. 11:37,38). Tell that to Paul, who gloried in the ‘loss of all things’ that he might ‘gain Christ’ (Phil. 3:8).”  

Matthew 15:1-20 reads, “Then the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem came to Jesus, saying, ‘Why do Your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.’  He answered and said to them, ‘Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?  For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”—  then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And] honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’’  When He had called the multitude to Himself, He said to them, ‘Hear and understand: Not what goes into the mouth defiles a man; but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man.’ Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?’ But He answered and said, ‘Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.’ Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘Explain this parable to us.’ So Jesus said, ‘Are you also still without understanding? Do you not yet understand that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and is eliminated? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.’”

III. Note the spoken words before Jesus and His examination of fruit.

Matthew 12:33, 34b-37 reads, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. . . . For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Matthew 7:15-20 reads, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” Note the phrase “the fruit of our lips” in Hebrews 13:15, where we read, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”

John 1:1-3 reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”  Jesus Christ, the Word, is the creator of all!  Proverbs 20:12 reads, “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, The Lord has made them both.” The One who made the seeing eye and the hearing ear sees and hears all! John 5:22 reads, “For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son.”  Jesus Christ, the Word, is the judge of all! Just think of it, every word revealed and every word reviewed by Jesus!

Jesus warns in Matthew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

In 1 John 1:5-10 note the words “if we say”: “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (Emphasis mine) Beware, just because we say it does not make it so!  Jesus will judge our words.  He knows what we mean when we say something.  John Bunyan (1628-1688), author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, writes, “When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than your words without heart.” Psalm 19:14 reads, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”


Proverbs 10:20 reads, “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver; The heart of the wicked is worth little.” Romans 10:6-13 reads, “But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, ‘Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’’ (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, ‘‘Who will descend into the abyss?’’(that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”

Never underestimate the power of words!