For “He who would love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil, and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”1 Peter 3:10–12 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
This is a simple prescription from the Great Physician on how to live life. Peter is quoting it from Psalms 34:12-16. It could be seen as the key to a long life, but that would be reading an idea into the text that I don’t think is there. We are to love life and see good days.
But what if Peter is talking to those whose patient endurance salts the Earth?
Since the encouragement, Peter has offered centers on how to live righteously in long-suffering. That idea would carry into why he quotes this from the Psaltry. As we believers walk in Jesus, we are to consistently try to avoid evil. In so doing, we will gradually reduce the evil in the world being a good influence toward Godliness. Then to be a blessing to the world, as Jesus Himself is.
Furthermore, if God’s eyes are on the righteous, and He hears their prayers when we pray for our unsaved friends we can trust God hears. That alone is a reason to abstain from evil.
It’s the Way You Talk
I cannot help but notice the first emphasis is on the way we speak. It must be important. Fix the way we talk, seems to be the first step in turning away from evil and then doing good. I am reminded of what James is saying.
We all err in many ways. But if any man does not err in word, he is a perfect man and able also to control the whole body.James 3:2 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
I need to keep hearing those things. I know in my own self, my tongue is not as tame as I would like, but it is wholly up to me. Yet James tells us that proper speech controls our body. It’s reasonable. Changing the way we speak requires a change in the way we think.
There is another purpose. Maybe because when we speak as we ought, our conscience would have a sure-fire witness of hypocrisy when our doings don’t align with our talking.
I cannot write these words without that prick of the conscience in my own mind. I hear the tsk-tsk in knowing I must (and can) do better. It’s not shaming. Just a gentle encouragement.
Again, me bettering my behavior begins with bettering how I communicate. Bettering how I communicate necessitates a change in thinking. Though… It has a certain benefit for me, as Peter is teaching, the real benefit is for the world and those around me. After all, it is those who we all serve.
Our Speech has a Cistern from Which to Draw
Jesus taught it this way.
For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.Matthew 12:37 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
These words show how important it is to learn to control what we say. This is the summary of what Jesus said as He answered the Pharisees and those around them. They had just seen Him cast out a demon and said Jesus used the power of the ruler of the demons. Jesus explains how their words are a judgment against them.
He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. Therefore I say to you, all kinds of sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven men. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.Matthew 12:30–32 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Sometimes, this portion of Scripture may be misunderstood. It contains what is called The Unforgivable Sin. Ponder the context as we continue. This entire teaching comes from what these men said about Jesus, especially His works.
He basically tells them that they aren’t with Him! Worse is the fact that they actively work against Him.
Next, look at how Jesus points out that all sorts of behavior would be forgiven. Then we come back to this idea of speaking. Those Pharisees were seemingly speaking against Jesus. Yet He is pointing out the deeper truth, they were speaking against the Holy Spirit belting their unbelief.
Keep these ideas in mind as we continue.
It’s up to You
Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree corrupt and its fruit corrupt. For the tree is known by its fruit.Matthew 12:33 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
This statement will be elaborated upon by Jesus. Succinctly, He is telling them something profound. It is weird to expect what you are doing is pleasing when what you think and believe is not. Or, what you do is righteous when what you believe is not.
These Pharisees were the leaders. The ones who were to teach the people of God about God. Their fruit wasn’t commensurate with what they knew deep down. The facade they presented was this vibe of Holy men. The fruit (what they said) was corrupt.
Jesus is telling them to fix that! In other words to live what they believe, whether it’s truth or not.
Or… change what they believe to bring forth good fruit.
O generation of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? 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.Matthew 12:34–35 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
In this very instance, what those so-called holy men said revealed what they believed.
It’s the same for us. We can tell what we believe by the way we talk, especially if it is about Jesus. In the same fashion, we can begin to correct our behavior by changing the way we communicate. We change the way we communicate by acknowledging and believing the truth as witnessed to us by the Holy Spirit. The theological word for that is repentance.
Jesus is the foundation for everything. He is the very God these Pharisees purported to teach about. His presence in their midst and their reaction to what He did revealed the lack of treasure in their hearts.
Read the conclusion to the matter.
But I say to you that for every idle word that men speak, they will give an account on the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.Matthew 12:36–37 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
It Starts with What we Believe.
Just as Peter is saying up until this point–what we believe ought to change our entire pursuit of living. Knowing that our eternity is secure and we lose nothing there, we can choose the righteous way. All the while living in liberty. In other words, make the tree and its fruit good.
Not to do what we want, but to do what we ought until that becomes what we want.
I want to circle back around to that unforgivable sin. Many have concerns over what it is, and if they’ve done it. My hope and prayer is that the Holy Spirit would lead you to see. It is clearly tied to unbelief… The abject lack of treasure (belief in Truth) in the heart.
If one doesn’t believe the witness of the Holy Spirit, such is not forgiven in this life or the next. What is done here has eternal consequences.