The following is an adaptation of the sermon ‘Cursing and Blessing’ preached by Pastor Mike White on Sunday, 1/18/2015, at CityLight Church. To listen to the full podcast please click here: http://bit.ly/1yJdkeR
Week In Review
Last week, we talked about the power of our words. God’s words have incredible power. When He spoke to an empty universe, creation came to life. We are made in His image. When we speak over people and situations in need of supernatural life, creation listens. Life and death is in the power of the tongue (Prov 18:21).
When we speak curses over ourselves instead of blessings, we give room for Satan to operate in our lives. We can actually prevent God’s blessings from taking root in our lives with our negative speech. So the obvious question arises: do we have to be afraid of other people cursing us?
Balak and Balaam
The response in an emphatic no. We see this principle illustrated in the story of Balak and Balaam. Balak, the king of Moab, was afraid of the Isralites. He had seen the victory they had just won over the people of Ammon, and he wanted to do everything in his power to make sure his kingdom did not meet the same fate. So he hired Balaam, a prophet, to curse the Israelites.
First, Balak brought Balaam up to the high places of Baal (Num 22:41). Balaam set up seven altars, and sacrificed one bull and one ram on each altar. But he could not curse Israel!
“How shall I curse whom God has not cursed? And how shall I denounce whom the Lord has not denounced?” – Num 23:8
Balak was obviously upset, so he opted for a change of scenery. Maybe, he thought Balaam would be able to curse the people of Israel if he were in another location?! So Balak brought Balaam up to the mountain of Pisgah in the field of Zophim (Num 23:14). Balaam went about the same routine: he set up seven altars, and sacrificed one bull and one ram on each. But he still couldn’t curse God’s people!
“Behold, I have received a command to bless; He has blessed, and I cannot reverse it.” – Num 23:20
Balak, even more frustrated, decided to give this cursing business one last attempt. He brought Balaam to another location, on the top of Mount Peor (Num 23:28). Balaam got the party started the same way: he set up seven altars, and sacrificed one bull and one ram on each. But guess what? He still couldn’t curse the people of Israel!
“God brings [Jacob] out of Egypt; He has strength like a wild ox; He shall consume the nations, his enemies; He shall break their bones and pierce them with his arrows.” – Num 24:8
Try as he might, Balaam could not curse the people of Israel. Why? Because what God has blessed, no man can curse!
You are blessed through Jesus Christ. Because of the finished work of the Cross, God has promised you the same inheritance as Abraham and Jacob. YOU ARE BLESSED! No enemy of yours can have any say in that blessing.
Eventually, and unfortunately, Balaam got the best of Israel. After our story in Numbers 22-24, he returned to Balak and shared a secret with the King of Moab: the Israelites could only be cursed if they brought it on themselves. They could only be cursed if they allowed Satan an entry point into their lives:
Balaam…taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality… – Rev 2:14
He whom God blesses can certainly curse himself. However, when we understand the power of our words, we can make sure to speaking blessings over ourselves. We should never – ever – be afraid of someone else trying to curse us. Their efforts will always fall flat.
Whom Are You Really Cursing?
When we curse other people, we think we’re really sticking it to them. We think we’re really making them feel bad. We rationalize that, for some reason, if our day is ruined, then someone else’s should be ruined in retaliation.
Just last week, someone called the church office pretending to be a billing associate from Con Edison, our electricity provider. They told me that if we didn’t pay our bill within 45 minutes, our power would go off! What’s more, if the power went off, they wouldn’t be able to turn it back on for 3-5 business days. That meant that Sunday service would have been in the dark!
This ‘Con Edison employee’ gave me the following payment instructions to remedy our situation: I should proceed to the nearest money transfer store and wire cash to an account number he would give me.
Obviously the guy on the other end of the line wasn’t Christian. This was the biggest sham I had ever heard of! What’s more, he was trying to rob a church!!! I wanted to say some very nasty things to this gentleman. But I talked to my wife, and wisdom prevailed. She told me not to say anything mean, and to simply pray for him. So I listened.
The point is this: I had the opportunity to curse that man. He was wicked, and he probably deserved it. So many of us are in this same exact situation almost every day! It’s so easy to curse back when someone curses us. But what if I told you that the curses you speak actually hurt you: the speaker?
Our words define whom we become. David put it this way:
As he loved cursing, so let it come to him; as he did not delight in blessing, so let it be far from him. As he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment, so let it enter his body like water, and like oil into his bones. Let it be to him like the garment which covers him, and for a belt with which he girds himself continually. – Ps 109:17-19
We reap what we sow. If we curse others, we will be cursed. If we refrain from blessing others, God will refrain from blessing us!
If we surround ourselves with cursing (and cursers!), those very words will seep into our bones. They will occupy the depths of who we are. Those curses will transform our lives from the inside out and completely cover us.
Jesus had a favorite commandment:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. – Jn 13:34-35
You are going to meet some people in your life who are downright nasty. They will be wicked, and they will be relentless. But you know what? You were once that person too.
We don’t deserve mercy. Every single one of us has disobeyed God (Rom 3:23). Every single man and woman has fallen short of the simple things God tells us to do. But His response was to love us unconditionally. He sent Jesus Christ to die for our sins, so that we would never have to pay the price we owe. And in response, God asks us to love one another as He loved us. So are you going to love cursing, or are you going to love others?
Can I Still Swear?
Profanities are harmless on the surface. I’ve known many Christians over the years who swear from time to time. I’m one of them: just ask my wife (apparently when I start doing home improvement projects, a few not-so-nice words just seem to find their way out of my lips).
I even know someone who used to say that you could swear in prayer! His argument was that God would surely understand. After all, if He sees our hearts anyway, why should we even try to pretend our mouths are clean?
I strongly disagree with that sentiment. Paul cautioned Timothy about profanity:
Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. – 2 Tim 2:14-16
What we speak determines whom we become. Our speech can set the tone for our thoughts and actions. When we curse, we sound like the rest of the world, which opens the door for Satan to convince us to act like the rest of the world. Do you want to sound like the world, or do you want to sound like Jesus?
Our Choice: Cursing and Blessing
More important is this: cursing and blessing are mutually exclusive. When we’re blessing, we cannot be cursing; and when we’re cursing, we cannot be blessing. Only one of those choices can proceed out of our moth at a time.
When I was a kid, my parents had a tried-and-true strategy for helping me to avoid swearing. If I swore, they would wash my mouth out with soap! I can still remember the taste. They were doing more than simply punishing me for my actions: they were encouraging me to make a better choice. What I am encouraging you towards today is doing exactly the same thing. Choose blessing over cursing!
James cautioned the early church to be careful with their tongues:
But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring yields both salt water and fresh. – James 3:8-12
When we accept Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives, we are made new. Why should we accept newness in every area of our lives but our speech? Why should we bring our bodies to life under the New Covenant, but neglect our tongues? Blessing and cursing should not proceed from the same mouth; and if we curse, we betray the nature of who God invites us to become in Him.
We have a choice: we can curse, or we can bless. When we curse, those same curses seep into our bones (see Ps 109, above). But when we bless, we breathe new life into the people who need it the most.
Ezekiel is famous for speaking life into dry bones:
The hand of the Lord came upon me and brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley; and it was full of bones. Then He caused me to pass by them all around, and behold, there were very many in the open valley; and indeed they were very dry. And He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” So I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “Prophesy to these bones, and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! Thus says the Lord God to these bones: “Surely I will cause breath to enter into you, and you shall live. I will put sinews on you and bring flesh upon you, cover you with skin and put breath in you; and you shall live. Then you shall know that I am the Lord.”’” So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and suddenly a rattling; and the bones came together, bone to bone. Indeed, as I looked, the sinews and the flesh came upon them, and the skin covered them over; but there was no breath in them. Also He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”’” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. – Ezek 37:1-10
God wants to raise up an army of Spirit-filled believers who are able to go out and perform His will. He needs us to speak life – not death – into His people. He needs us to bless, instead of curse! And when we do, His army will come to life.
– by Pastor Mike White
© Michael D. White, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael D. White with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.