The mouth is the overflow valve of the heart. Words reveal what’s in the heart. When we discipline ourselves, we discipline our mouths; we make our mouths say what God’s Word says about that specific need or that specific situation.
It’s good to be with you again today. Our theme throughout this week is faith. Yesterday I shared with you on the vitally important issue, “How Faith Comes.” I explained that the key word is hearing. Faith comes as we hear God speaking to us by His Holy Spirit through His Word.
In my talk today and for the next two days, I’m going to deal with what I call the three great musts of faith, three things that must go together with faith. I sum up these three musts as follows: first, faith must be confessed; second, faith must act; and third, faith must be tested. Today I’m going to focus on the first of these three musts, faith must be confessed.
First of all, we need to understand the way the word “to confess” is used in the Bible. The word “to confess” has two main significances. First of all, it means “to say something out boldly and in public”; but secondly, it means “to say the same as,” and in this connection the thing that confession is related to is the Scripture, the Word of God. So it means that we say the same with our mouth as God has said in His Word. Or you can put it this way: We make the words of our mouth agree with the Word of God. The Word of God is already established. It’s permanent. It doesn’t change. Confession is bringing the words of our mouth into line with the Word of God. So confession has those two meanings, each of which is relevant. First of all, it means to say something out boldly and publicly; secondly, it means to make the words of our mouth agree with the written Word of God, the Scripture.
Now we’ll look at a passage in 2 Corinthians 4:13, where Paul speaks about the relationship between believing (that is, having faith) and speaking (saying something with our mouth). He says this:
“But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, ‘I believed, therefore I spoke,’ we also believe, therefore also we speak...” (NAS)
Paul is quoting one of the psalms from the Old Testament, we don’t need to look back at that, but the center of what he’s saying is, “I believed, therefore I spoke.” “We also believe, therefore we also speak.” Believing must lead to speaking. There’s a connection. What you believe in your heart must be expressed through your mouth. In Matthew 12:34, Jesus makes a general connection between the mouth and the heart. He established a general principle. He says:
“...for the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” (NAS)
I express it this way: when the heart is full, it overflows through the mouth in speech. The mouth is the overflow valve of the heart. And what flows out of the mouth tells us what is in the heart. Really, you cannot have one thing in your heart and something else flowing out of your mouth. See, in order to have the right thing in our heart, we have to say the right thing with our mouth; and conversely, when we say the right thing with our mouth we are filling our heart with that thing. It works both ways. From the mouth to the heart, from the heart to the mouth. This principle is stated three times over by Paul, where he is speaking about the basic requirement for salvation. In Romans 10:8–10, he says:
“...the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [or Jesus as Lord], and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. [That’s the great basic requirement for being saved.] For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (KJV)
Three times Paul joins together the mouth and the heart. He says, in verse 8, “the word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart,” and he puts “mouth” before “heart.” In verse 9, he says that “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord and shall believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” And again, “mouth” comes before “heart.” But the third time he reverses the order, in verse 10: “for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” So we see there is a linking up there by Scripture between the mouth and the heart. The heart is expressed through the mouth, but what we say with the mouth affects what is in our heart.
This was brought home to me vividly a good many years ago when I was studying the Hebrew language and I discovered that the phrase in English “to learn by heart” is rendered in Hebrew “to learn by mouth.” And I thought that over and I saw how true it is. Each states one aspect of the total process. How do you learn something by heart? I think in many schools today there is very little learning by heart that is done. I think that’s unfortunate because we miss out on something. But the way you learn something by heart is you keep repeating it with your mouth. For instance, in the old-fashioned days when I was at school, we had to learn our multiplication tables. And I remember saying, “seven eights are fifty-six, seven nines are sixty-three, seven tens are seventy,” and going back over it again and again. “Seven eights are fifty-six, seven nines are sixty-three, seven tens are seventy” — over and over again until it was impressed upon my heart. And it has been there ever since. It doesn’t matter what kind of a crisis I’m in, you might wake me up in a thunderstorm in the middle of the night, but if you’d say to me, “What are seven eights?” I’d say, “Fifty-six.” I don’t have to stop and think, it’s in my heart. I got it there by saying it with my mouth.
Unfortunately, and this is just a comment by the way, people today rely on calculators and computers and they don’t know their multiplication tables, which is really a misfortune.
Anyhow, the principle is that if you want to get something into your heart, you repeat it with your mouth. And vice versa. What’s in your heart will naturally come out from your mouth. We’ve established the connection between the mouth and the heart. Now we need to look at Paul’s statement, “With the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Notice, entering into salvation is a process indicated there by the word “unto.” Salvation is the all-inclusive word in Scripture for all that has been obtained for us by the death of Jesus on the cross. It’s the one all-inclusive word for all the benefits: spiritual, material, temporal, eternal; they’re all included in that one word “salvation.” In other words, whatever area of salvation we need, whether it’s the forgiveness of sins or the healing of our bodies or financial provision, we confess what the Word of God says about it. We confess it, not so much because we feel it or because our circumstances make it look as if it’s true, but because we believe the Bible is the Word of God and it’s true anyhow. So we discipline ourselves, we discipline our mouths, we make our mouths say what God’s Word says about that specific need or that specific situation. And I want to tell you right away that if you think this is easy, just try it and you’ll find that bringing the word of your mouth into line with the Word of God is a process of self-discipline and it builds character as almost nothing else will do.
I’ll give you just two examples of situations, how to meet them by confessing the Word of God and thus confessing ourselves into the benefits that God has prepared for us. Let’s suppose that we are attacked by guilt, and many Christians are. From time to time they feel a sense of guilt, unworthiness. They wonder whether God really could have forgiven all the sins they have committed and, of course, the devil is the accuser of the brethren, so he’s right there on the job, piling guilt on them by one accusation after another. How do we confess “unto salvation”? Well, here’s one simple example out of many. Romans 9:1 says:
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
Now, that’s a general statement but we have to make it particular. So I make it particular this way. I say, “I’m in Christ Jesus. I am a believer in Jesus Christ, therefore there is no condemnation for me. I’m not under condemnation and I won’t accept the condemnation that the devil is trying to put upon me.” So I confess into that area of salvation. Or suppose I’m attacked by sickness. I’m getting pains and all the symptoms and everybody around me is coming down with something and everybody’s waiting to see if I’m going to catch it next. What’s my response? How can I “confess unto salvation” in the area of physical healing? Well, in Matthew 8:17, Matthew quotes Isaiah and he says about Jesus:
“He [Jesus] Himself took our infirmities, and carried away our diseases.”
That’s a general statement. How do I make it particular? I say, “Jesus Himself took my infirmities and carried away my diseases.” Again, in 1 Peter 2:24, Peter says about Jesus:
“...He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.” (NAS)
How do I make that particular and personal? I say, “Jesus Himself bore my sins in His body on the cross that I might die to sin and live to righteousness for by His wounds I was healed.” You see, confession makes it specific and personal. You confess yourself into the benefits that God has provided for you. It is not “mind over matter.” Let me emphasize that and I’ll give you two simple, brief reasons. First of all, the limits to what we are confessing are set by God’s Word. Secondly, we depend for the fulfillment of what we say not upon our own ability or even our own faith but upon God’s faithfulness. So that, in two ways, distinguishes it from anything that could be called “mind over matter.”
Well, our time is up for today but I’ll be back with you again tomorrow at this time. Tomorrow I’ll be dealing with the second great must of faith, “Faith Must Act.”