Words Matter – Psalm 119:89

I hope you are all aware of the praise, and importance, which the Holy Spirit places upon His word. “For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in Heaven.” “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable…” “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby.” “Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee.” “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

These, and dozens of other scriptures, praise and promote God’s word as a UNIT – as a “book” if you like. The people in Berea “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received THE WORD with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The Scriptures – are referred to in these scriptures as “THE Word of God” – singular. But tonight, I’d like to remind you that “the Word of God” is made up of the “words of God.” Just as often as it does of the “the WORD of God,” the Bible speaks of “the WORDS of God” in their variety and multitudes. And as stupid as my statement sounds – they are as equally inspired and important as the entire Bible.

For example, elsewhere here in Psalm 119 David says, “Thou art my portion, O LORD: I have said that I would keep thy WORDS. “How sweet are thy WORDS unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” “The entrance of thy WORDS giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” Amos prophesied in 8:11 – “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the WORDS of the LORD.” Doesn’t this take the Bible, splitting into its component parts – its words – making the prophecy more specific and practical? We need to be listening to the words of God. The Lord says of wicked King Zedekiah, “but neither he, nor his servants, nor the people of the land, did hearken unto the WORDS of the LORD, which he spake by the prophet Jeremiah.” It is one thing to honor the Bible as the book of God, but it is something else to listen to its words and honor the specifics of God’s revelation. Jeremiah instructed Baruch, “Go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the WORDS of the LORD in the ears of the people in the LORD’S house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities.” David said, “The WORDS of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” – Psalm 12:6. We are commanded by the Spirit to “lay up these my WORDS in your heart and in your soul…”

I believe in the plenary inspiration of the Word of God – that every word is the breath of the Spirit. God’s men weren’t inspired by some literary or religious muse to write what they thought God wanted. No, their very words came from the Lord. “For the prophecy came not by the will of man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” – II Peter 1:21. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” – “theopneustos” – the breath of God.

I could go on in this, but I hope you are sufficiently familiar with your Bibles to know what I am saying. And my application of this is in the importance of words – God’s words and our words about God’s words. I’d like to take Bro. Austin’s thoughts from last Friday and amplify one aspect. Part of his theme was the need to call sin “sin.” I’d like to point out that we live in a day of euphemisms – “verbal downsizing” – to coin a euphemism.

Consider the power of the euphemism.

To use a euphemism is to sugar-coat an idea – to soften it so that it become less painful or less obvious. One of the most painful things in life is death, so over the years people have come up with lots of euphemisms to use in place of that nasty word. We say that the deceased has “passed away,” “passed on,” or just “passed.” He has “departed,” “gone,” “slipped away.” She has “lost her last battle” or she “succumbed.” He “kicked the bucket.” I can’t condemn these euphemisms, because even the Bible seems to use them from time to time. When the Lord was transfigured and visited by Moses and Elijah, they “spake of (Jesus’) DECEASE which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.” If it wasn’t in the Bible we might say that “decease” is a euphemism; but in reality it is a translation of the Greek word for “exodus.”

When our pets get sick, we don’t KILL them, we “put them down” or “put them to sleep.” Do you know what a “porcelain throne” is? The preacher might use those words that during a message, when he’s too embarrassed to say “toilet.” Now that we have a liberal government our economy appears to be going into “a period of negative growth,” but when if the conservatives were in power it was a “recession.” And during those past recessions companies sometimes had to fire hundreds of employees, but now they only “down size.” Criminals and ex-cons who are on parole are “people under supervision.” Young criminals are sometimes called “justice-involved youth.” Didn’t Austin tell us that sin should be called sin – shouldn’t criminals be called “criminals?”

But beyond the obvious and sometimes helpful, the fact is euphemisms are used to manipulate and to deceive. Words should reflect facts – truths; they should discriminate one thing from another. But so many modern words are used to blur the lines; to cover realities; to confuse the naive. For centuries, parents have vied for their baby’s first word – will it be “mama” or “dada?” When that baby eventually learns both those words, she show the ability to differentiate between parents. And when she says one of those words to a third party, the parents are often hurt – “No, no, that is your uncle, not your daddy.” Words, even baby words, should be specific, identifying what is true.

I heard a man recently point out that our leaders are sugar-coating words to manipulate the way we think. Politicians, news media, and people with social agenda are using euphemisms to change society. They know that words matter, even if the rest of us sheep aren’t really aware. Isn’t “torture” an evil or negative word? Well, we don’t have to hear that any more because we now have “enhanced interrogation techniques” unless of course you are talking about the bad guys. During World War One and Two, there was the practice of “genocide” in Europe, in Turkey, in Far East, but more recently, in Bosnia, there was the same thing, but it was called “ethnic cleansing.”

When honest scientists started attacking the foolishness of “global warming,” the liberals felt forced to talk about “climate change” – which means absolutely nothing because the climate is always changing. The same sort of thing happened to race discrimination. So it is now “affirmative action.” Taxes are sometimes called “individual shared responsibilities.” Welfare is now the positive term “entitlement.” The slaughter of defenseless babies is “women’s choice.” And despite the rhetoric, the deliberate murder of the sick and elderly is not “mercy killing” – it is murder.

We hear a lot about “social justice” these days. What is that? “Justice” is the business of dispensing what is deserved – without favor or discrimination. “SOCIAL justice” is just the opposite – it is receiving of what someone doesn’t deserve because that person is currently on the favored list. I don’t need to go on with these; if you stop and think you can come up with others.

But let’s return to our Bibles – the words of our Bibles and the doctrines of our Bibles.

It’s sad to say, but our Bibles have a few terrible euphemism-like words. I hope no one will think I’m attacking our King James Bibles, encouraging you to use a different version. But the fact of the matter is – we have euphemistic problems even in our KJV scriptures. What is the proper translation of the word “baptizo?” It is “dip,” “plunge” or “immerse.” So why does our Bible say “baptize” instead of “immerse?” It was to sugar coat or blur the meaning of the word to suit King James and the translators’ theology. And by the way, the ESV, NSV, RSV, New KJV and all the rest still read “baptize.” They aren’t as interested in the truth as they claim. But think of all the problems which might have been avoided if the correct word had been used. Yes, we can make that correction, and yes, will continue to make that correction, but it would have been easier if the proper word had been used from the beginning.

And what is the correct rendition of “ecclesia?” Literally it should be “a called out assembly,” which is a lot more specific than “church.” “Church” is a sort of euphemism. And if that was not found throughout the New Testament, there would be less talk of a “universal church.” A universal “assembly” is not logical. Yesterday, a man told us he was “born again,” but that his “church” was somewhere inside his chest. If he knew the word which the Lord originally gave by inspiration would he say such a thing? Sometimes small and inoffensive adjectives greatly change and sometimes destroy the words they highlight. For example, to speak of a “local church” attacks the definition of “church,” because it implies there is another kind, when there is no other kind.

The people who live in Washington State are “Washingtonians,” and I am an “Idahoan.” The people who lived in Sodom were “Sodomites,” because that was their city – their home – and even their children were people of Sodom. But the Biblical term “Sodomite” became identified with the primary sin of that city – gross immorality coupled to violence, as we were taught the other day. Later, another more practical and descriptive term came into use to describe those people – “homosexual.” But as you know, society wants to hide the sin of that city and its people by covering it with terms like “gay.” That word is less than 50 years old, becoming common in an effort to soften the stigmatism of homosexuality. I refuse to use the word “gay” in that emphemistic way. Let the chips fall where they may.

What is the definition of “marriage?” Webster, in his 1828 dictionary, says – “Marriage is the union of a man and woman.” He says that the word originated in the Latin word for “husband.” It originated as a gender-specific word. No one, two hundred years ago, knew anything about homosexual marriages. Sure there were Sodomites, but not homosexual marriages. The idea was absurd. Adding the prefix “same sex” to “marriage” destroys the meaning of the root word. And in our current society to insist upon the original definition – the Biblical definition – is considered to be bigotry. The truth is – it is bigotry – to accuse us of bigotry.

The point is – words are extremely important. It’s not good enough to uphold the Bible and say “this is God’s Word.” It is essential to accept, believe, and implement the specific words of God. And the man who controls the words of any society, to a great degree controls that society. When “same sex marriage” becomes more common than simple “marriage” then boundaries fall – morals crumble.

David said in Psalm 119 – God, “Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever” – verse 160. In the Bible we have facts – and a single divine standard for truth. For example, Genesis and other scriptures tell us that “God created the Heaven and the earth” in six literal days. Then along came Darwin and a horde of evolutionists, captivating scriptureless minds and destroying a great many professing Christians. Among the remaining Christians, there grew a distaste and hatred for the word “evolution.” So some of the modernist mugwumps within Christendom came up with the prefix “theistic.” “Theistic evolution” is nothing but a euphemism for a slight twist of plain-old Darwinism.

“Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.” God’s word is true – it is truth. And essentially – truth is reality. But modern society is adding prefixes to truth now. For example, there is “MY truth” and “YOUR truth.” Some people are saying that what is true for you, may not be true for someone else. I’m sorry, but truth is truth, and while I may be mistaken about what is true, God’s truth is still true. Islam doesn’t have a different truth from Biblical truth. Mormonism, Catholicism and Hinduism are not different truths – they are corruptions of the truth. There is no such thing as “my truth” and “your truth.” That is a blatant and unashamed attempt to do away with God’s truth – the Bible.

In the Sermon on the Mount, when the Lord Jesus said, “let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay,” the context was the misuse of oaths. Christ was telling us to be honest at all times, making the swearing of oaths unnecessary. I think we can make a cautious application of that when it comes to other kinds of speech. There is nothing wrong in euphemistically saying that some “Christian has passed into the presence of his Saviour.” But most of the time we need to use specific words to describe specific ideas. The man died. When it comes to sin, let’s call it “sin.” And the sinner needs to repent before God, submitting himself to the Lord Jesus Christ.