The Power of the Tongue

The power of negative words

The Power of the Tongue


Negative Words

Prov 18:21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue...

Our tongues are a powerful weapon and can work for or against us or even others. We speak forth and create life and death from the words of our very own mouth.   Words create emotions, and emotions frame our lives.  If we speak words filled with fear, anger, or hate, we frame our words to live those emotions out. If we speak words of goodness, kindness, and gentleness, we transmit that kind of power to work in our life and the people around us. We live by the words that come out of our mouths, and it greatly affects us and those around us. Words have power!

Our Thought Life

Proverbs 23:7 tells us that as we think in our heart, so we are. In other words, what is in our heart circulates through our thought life and will eventually come out of our mouth to affect ourselves and others around us.  As a result, to control our tongue, we need to know how to control our thought life. (See article on "Controlling Your Thought Life")

Learning how to control our thoughts can stop depression or add a greater fullness to our life. We do that by changing our thought patterns. Listening to those voices rumbling around in our head, causing our imaginations to run wild can be stopped. We all have the capacity to bring all thoughts within us captive to the obedience of Christ.

II Cor 10:5b and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Offenses, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation

When we look at the power of the tongue, we also need to look at our response to offenses and our ability to forgive and reconcile with others. Our response to an offense is critical to our happiness and joy. An offense can harbor bitterness and hatred within ourselves, messing up our thought life, or we can choose to forgive regardless of how that person may act toward us. (Refer to the article on "Dealing with Unforgiveness.")


Let’s begin this article on the power of the tongue by looking at the extreme of the power of negative words – profanity, and even the worst of profanity – taking the name of the Lord in vain. While you, as a Christian, hopefully do not use the Lord’s name in vain, or use profanity, or other curse words, these words still surround all of us.  They are continuously in the air. For those of you who might use an occasional profane word, let's discuss the ramifications of speaking out those words.

Those who use profanity generally do it subconsciously out of habit, having no idea what they said. Most of us just try to turn a deaf ear to those words, thinking they don’t affect us; however, they most definitely do!

The English dictionary’s word for "profane"
Not holy, impure or defiled, grossly irreverent toward that which is held to be sacred, literally whatever is outside the temple
(For Christians = the temple would be God's temple).

So then, profanity is spoken words that are profane – abusive, vulgar, or irreverent. Profanity identifies people who are opposing God or the things of God - because it is an attack on Christian values.

Let’s see what God’s Word says about our tongue:

James 3:9–12 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt a water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Sadly, cursing or swearing, all catagorized as profanity can come out of the same mouth that praises the Lord. The Apostle James says: "This should not be." Believers using profane words are like mixing fresh water and salt water together, or olives growing on a fig tree, or even a grapevine bearing figs. These are so opposed to one another. One side of the mouth praises God and the other side curses people or things.  In God's eyes, profanity is anything cross-wise to His Word, His nature, His name, His power, or His love. We then are to live by the words of His Word. Profanity is an abomination to God.

Taking the Lord's name in vain

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Let’s look at the worst of the worst - taking the Lord’s name in vain.

Deuteronomy 5:11 "Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold [him] guiltless that taketh his name in vain." (3rd commandment)

Any time you use the name of the Lord out of context of reverence for Him, you are taking His name in vain. It is irreverent, and is a sin. Everytime someone takes the name of the Lord in vain, he or she is placing a curse upon themselves, because they are cursing God. They have stopped the flow of God’s goodness coming upon their life.

Example: Let's look at the phrase "God damn." When people speak forth these words from their mouth, they are damning God right out of their life. As such, they just cursed God. They then have prevented God from working in their life, meaning God’s goodness cannot come to them because they cursed Him. They have opened the door to the devil operating in their life, and then they wonder why bad things come to them.

We bless or curse the Lord with our tongue

How many times have you heard a parent say "damn you" to their own children – either to them personally or to or about someone else.  Oh those "damn" kids, they may say. Out of their own mouth, these parents actually cursed their own children, and they don’t even know it. Who in their right mind would want to curse their own children? Then, often when something happens to their children, they blame God.

People get mad and they spout out “damn" this or "damn" that. These are destructive words. I once had a relative that used to say that phrase a lot. One time I heard him say – this "damn" car. I said to him, "do you realize what you just said? Are you sure you want to "damn" your car?" He ignored what I had said, and sure enough, his car became cursed and shortly thereafter it didn’t run anymore. The damage was so bad to where he had to buy a new car. Well, he did it to himself.

Words have the power to produce – to manifest itself. It is the sowing and reaping process. You do reap what you sow. You get what you speak.

Gal 6:7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.

People get made and spurt out angrily because something doesn’t work – then they use the power of their words to "damn" it, and then hope it will work. Instead they just cursed it. Again, they got what they spoke.

Cursings against you

What happens if someone says to you “damn” you? In reality, that person just put a curse on you. As Christians, we certainly do not want to accept any curses put upon us. Praise the Lord, we have the Word of God to come against any such cursings. The scripture below is one that Christians should be speaking out regularly in case someone behind your back damns you in any way.

Is. 54:17 “No weapon formed against me will prosper, and any tongue that rises up in judgment against me, I condemn right now….In Jesus name, I call those words down, and call them null and void in my life.” (personally paraphrased)

While Isaiah 54:27 is an Old Testament scripture verse meant for the millennial reign of Christ, it still applies to Christians today. We have an enemy out there who wants to destroy us, but we have authority over him. Satan and his demonic host would love to put on each one of us what has been spoken over and against us. We don’t dare receive those curses against us.

Earthy words

Then there are earthy words, which is not taking the name of the Lord in vain, but regardless, they surely are profanity. Sadly, these words are generally sexual or filth in nature. In fact, they are down-right crude.

Eph 4:29-30 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. NIV

1 Peter 3:10 For, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech

Col 4:6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. NIV

Earthy words are still cursing and damning words, going cross-wise to God’s Word, His nature, His name, His power, or His love – therefore they are curse words against people. These horrible words are not of God – they are curse and damming words, coming straight from the pit of hell.

Since we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are commanded by God's Word to grow in our love – for Him and for others, and that includes the words that come out of our mouth.

2 Peter 1:5-8 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. NIV

This verse gives us the progression of our faith. With our faith we are to add goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. Anything less, is not a part of the Christian's life.

Jesus tells us in: Mark 12:30-31 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' 31 The second is this: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these." NIV

Therefore, if you speak anything that goes contrary to God’s Word, His nature, His name, His power, or His love, you are essentially speaking profanities. As such, you are denying the power of God in your life – speaking from your mouth words that go contrary to God’s Word - you are speaking profanities. This is why the Apostle James tells us to be careful of every word we speak.

James 5:12 Above all, my brothers, do not swear-not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your "Yes" be yes, and your "No," no, or you will be condemned. NIV

It is Satan’s job to destroy us – even by the words we speak. We must know that he has no creative power of his own. In order for him to create his kind of power, he has to manipulate man. If we use our mouths to speak perversion, then Satan can have his way in our life. Remember, he uses people to accomplish his purpose - he cannot function on his own.

Satan's Thoughts - Our Temptations

While Satan can put his thoughts into our minds to do or say certain things, they are temptations that we choose to follow or ignore. If we choose to follow those temptations, we are simply obeying Satan's device against us. As Christians, however, we can overcome any temptation that Satan would ever try to put upon us.

1 Cor 10:12-13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. NIV

2 Cor 10:5-6 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. NKJV

Negative Words Spoken Out To Others

What about negative words you would speak out to others? The Golden Rule not only states “do as unto others as you would have them do unto you,” that would also include speaking out unto others as you would have them speak unto you.”

Matt 7:12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. NIV

Everything we say or do to others should be the same as what we would want people to do to us - to their face and behind their back. If only we could all live like that.

How we speak out to others starts with us. What we say, however, covers far more than the words that come out of our mouth. Let me expound:

  • Are you condescending toward others – your tone of voice is a language all of its own. Your tone can lift or tear down a person.
  • Are you curt or short with people?
  • Or what about the volume you use – is it loud or soft?

Did you know that when you find yourself in an argument, even if you are trying to stress a point, the moment you raise your voice, you have lost control?

Keep your voice low

Never try to talk louder to “force” the other person to hear you. That puts the other person in a defensive mode and only escalates the problem. Instead of raising your voice, this is when you quiet your voice, slow down, and talk with a calm gentle methodical voice - not condescending, but soft and gentle.

  • Do you look in the eyes of the people you are speaking to? Or does your eyes wonder?
  • Do you show an interest in the people you are talking with? Do you show that you care?

The best communicator is a good listener.

A Challenge to You

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As a teacher of the Word of God, I want to give you a challenge.  This may be a breeze, or you may find it more challenging, depending how you have controlled your tongue in the past.  Could you for one week be very conscious of the words you speak?  Anytime you find that you spoke out a curse word, could you go to the Lord and repent, asking for forgiveness?  Then ask Him to help you overcome using those words.  You keep doing this, and before long, you will find yourself no longer cursing, because you will have broken that filthy habit.  You will notice a change, and so will others.  Then give God the glory for what He has done in your life.  Amen.

Written by Pastor Joyce A. Erickson

Believers Bible School, Founder