Paul is explaining to the Jews present that they were never justified by the works they did under the law. They had spent their lives seeking to be justified but had come up short because the law cannot justify anyone. So, if the law was unable to justify anyone, was God actually causing everyone to sin when they were under the law? Paul says that would never happen. The law was not given to make men fail, but to teach them that they could not justify themselves by works.
19 Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; 20 because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. —Romans 3:19-20 (NASB)
So, the law was given that all men might know that they needed a redeemer. That is why Jesus Christ died on the cross and was resurrected. Because of that act of love by God the Father and Jesus the Son, we are all now under grace, not the law. Now, we are all saved by grace through faith. There is a time, place and need for works, but they are not a part of salvation. We are justified by the blood of Jesus, we are in the process of being sanctified, and one day, we will be glorified. Not because we earned it, but, because Jesus, with His blood, has paid the full price for all of us!
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
We, who have been chosen by God and saved by His gift of Jesus dying on the cross, have a great responsibility to carry the message forward. We have received the commission and we must go forth. Not everyone will be glad to hear the Good News and not everyone will accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But that does not relieve us of our responsibility to tell it everywhere we go. We are told that the angels in heaven rejoice greatly when a lost soul comes home. So, let’s make it our goal to keep the angels rejoicing continuously by leading people to Jesus Christ. Then when Jesus welcomes us home, we can just join in the festivities.
These verses come at the end of a passage that speaks of the tongue and how our inability to control it causes us some many problems. No human can tame his or her tongue. We can pray about it and we can strive to do it, but it is an impossible task for a human. Only one man was able to do so and that was Jesus, the God-Man. Nevertheless, that does not relieve us of the responsibility of asking the Holy Spirit to help us do better every day. Our goal is to be that person who would never say or do anything to hurt someone else and that is the mark at which we should be aiming. Words that we speak without any intention of hurting anyone are often taken in the wrong way and cause pain to others. Our prejudices, and we all have them, sometimes lead to a “slip of the tongue”. Our thoughts lead to words and actions that show our true feelings and attitudes about others. We need to always pray this prayer
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.— Psalm 19:14
The things that we talk about most are the things that are truly important to us. The words and actions that we say and do are the fruits of our mindset and our hearts’ desires. Just as a tree produces fruit after its kind, we will produce like fruit, be it good or evil. Our tongues were made to give praise, glory and honor to our Father in heaven. Just as He spoke creation into existence, we have the power to speak words of life or death. Let us always speak the words of life.
68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”— John 6:68, 69
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
3 During the forty days after he suffered and died, he appeared to the apostles from time to time, and he proved to them in many ways that he was actually alive. And he talked to them about the Kingdom of God. 4 Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before.5 John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” — Acts 1:3-5 NLT
Jesus spent forty days on earth after His resurrection. He would often appear to the apostles and talk with them, giving them further instructions about what they should do and how they should do it. The most important instruction was not to leave Jerusalem until they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. That instruction is still just as important to God’s children today. When God calls us to do something specific for the Kingdom, we should immerse ourselves in prayer and wait for the moving of the Holy Spirit before we attempt anything. The reason for this is that we are merely mouths, hands and feet for God, He will accomplish the work to be done. What God speaks to us, we speak to others. We take the message wherever He instructs us to take it and we minister to those who He puts in our path. That is how the message gets to the ends of the world. We are carriers, He is the activator. The reuslts are not in our hands, they are in His hands. We are to be concerned about being obedient and God will take care of the results.
18 “When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. — Deut. 17:18 NLT
God knew that once the Israelis had settled in the land and become comfortable, that they would look around and desire what the other nations had. They would grow tired of the judges and desire a king so they could be like the nations around them. God had given Moses several guidelines for the king once he had been anointed. Most of those were what not to do and had to do with position and possessions. But the positive thing he was required to do was to copy the whole body of the instructions on a scroll. To be sure, he did this himself, he had to do it in the presence of the priests. Then he must keep it with him and read it every day. One would think that this would have been sufficient to keep the kings in line with what God expected. But that was not the case. The majority of the kings were not godly and worshipped other gods. The lesson that we can learn from this is that head knowledge is useless unless it affects the heart. The devil knows the Bible but it doesn’t keep him from being the devil. Just reading the Bible on a daily basis will not change us. A heart change only takes place when we fully believe that Jesus, the Son of God, died for our sins. Just saying the words does not make it happen. We need confession and we need believing.
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and if you believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. 10 We believe with our hearts, and so we are made right with God. And we declare with our mouths that we believe, and so we are saved — Romans 9, 10 NCV
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. — James 1:26, 27 NIV
In the days that James lived and penned this book through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, people were weighed down with ritualistic religions. They were bound by rules that said “you must do this”and “you must not do that”, particularly, in the areas of eating and drinking. Those that did a decent job of following the rules considered themselves to be “religious”. They attended the services at the temples or synagouges and prayed at the right times, etc. Much like today, when we go to church on Sunday morning for a couple of hours and mumble a few (if any) prayers or spend anytime reading the Holy Scriptures during the week. We seem to feel that if we do those things, we are fulfilling our duties as Christians. We can spend the other 166 hours of the week doing whatever we please. We can gossip, criticize and say and do all kinds of things. We Christians would never steal, kill or destroy, we don’t commit the “big” sins. But the two areas in which we do fall short are in our speech and in our “not doing”. Jesus gave us a solemn warning about the things we say:
10 Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen and understand. 11 What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” — Matt. 15:10
We must take this warning seriously and be very careful of what we say.
There are also many verses about how we should treat others. Jesus says that if we see a brother or sister in need and take care of that need for them, it is the same as doing it for Him. If we don’t take care of that need, it is the same as refusing to do it for Him. Helping others is how we show them the love of Jesus Christ. It is these actions that will draw others to Jesus.
16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. — 1 John 3:16, 17
29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. 30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.–Eph. 4:29-32 (NLT)
God created the world with the spoken Word. It is held in place by the Power of His Word. Our words have power, they can be words of life or words of death. When we speak words of death and live disobedient lives, we grieve God’s Holy Spirit. It pleases God for us to walk right and talk right. If we hold resentment and anger in our hearts, it becomes a root of bitterness. That root grows because the flesh feeds it and soon it pushes out all forgiveness and love. Being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving kills the root and we follow after the example of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. You can’t please God and the flesh, you must choose which it will be. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! 11 Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water?–James 3:10, 11 (NLT)