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Gain victory over hurtful words with God’s Word, Elliff counsels

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Christians crippled by the damaging effects of hurtful words can overcome their psychological and emotional insecurities by finding strength in the character of Jesus Christ, SBC President Tom Elliff said March 26 during at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Elliff, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church, Del City, Okla., said Christians can be empowered to break “the curse of words” on their lives by studying the Word of God, proclaiming the name of Jesus and believing in the cleansing power of the blood of Jesus.
“If you don’t spend time in the Word of God, pretty soon you begin to be more impressed with what others say than what God says,” Elliff told a near-capacity Binkley Chapel audience on the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.
Elliff cited James 3:4-5 to illustrate the impact words have on people’s lives. Like the rudder compared to its ship, the tongue is small in comparison to the body, but both instruments wield great influence, Elliff said. “Words have the power to establish the course of your life,” he said.
Describing the tongue as insubordinate and untamable according to James 3:8, Elliff said, “We often have poison injected into our system through the words of others.”
But the antidote for the tongue’s venom, Elliff said, is the blood of Christ.
“The devil would like to make (you) think that there are some things that are not covered by his blood,” Elliff said.
Another major problem with the tongue, Elliff said, is its inconsistency. Referring to James 3:11, Elliff said the tongue can be both bitter and sweet. But as a fountain does not run with both bitter and sweet water, so should one’s words not be bitter as well as sweet.
Elliff said after studying the Book of James several years ago, he discussed with his family how hurtful words had affected their lives. One of his three adult daughters admitted that since being called clumsy once as a child she had remained overly cautious and fearful of damaging things. He said each family member shared experiences of how negative statements had impacted their lives.
“We joined hands around that table and I shared with them what God shared with me while, one at a time, we broke the curse of those words,” Elliff said. “My children will tell you today that was one of the most significant moments in our family life.”
Responding to an invitation by Elliff at the end of his message, more than 100 people filled the altar, overflowing into the center aisle, to pray for God to wipe away the curse of hurtful words in their lives.
“Father, we want to bring to that statement in our lives which is doing so much damage — that poisonous curse — the light, first of all, of your Word,” Elliff prayed. “Applying your Word to it, we find that your Word does not say that we have to be this way, and your Word is truth. And Lord, when we bring your name against it, we see that we are being conformed to your image, and this (curse) is not consistent with your character. So, you are already at work to get this out of our life, to deal with this in our hearts and lives. … This is covered by your blood. Therefore we are set free. It’s been paid for. We don’t have to live it out (or) be bound by it.”

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  • Greg Carpenter