Gracious words are pure - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Biblical Wisdom
June 5, 2020

Gracious words are pure

by Dr. Bill Edgar, former chair of the Geneva College Board of Trustees, former Geneva College President and longtime pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPNCA)

Proverbs 15:26 – “The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to the LORD, but gracious words are pure.”

God hears our thoughts as clearly as others hear our words. Like people who know each other well, God even knows what we are going to think before we think it.

O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
  You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
  You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
  Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether (Psalm 139:1-4).

God not only knows our thoughts, they mean something to Him.

The thoughts of the wicked are an abomination to God. The word “abomination” appears in the Book of Leviticus. It describes impure things that God abhors, such as Canaanite sexual perversions, “for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled (Leviticus 18:27,” and also Canaanite worship. “You shall not worship the Lord your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the Lord hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. (Deuteronomy 12:31).”

The word “pure” means the opposite of “abomination.” God commanded Israel to use “pure” gold in the Tent where He met with them (Exodus 25:11). The twelve loaves of showbread, one for each tribe, sat on a “pure” table (Leviticus 24:6). All animal sacrifices were to be of perfect animals, without blemish.

The terms “abomination” and “pure” applied to human thoughts and words implies that they are a sacrifice to God, one that either pleases Him or displeases Him. Paul picks up on this idea when he writes that our speech is to be seasoned with salt (Colossians 4:6). Every grain sacrifice had to include salt (Leviticus 2:13). The writer to the Hebrews instructs, “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name (Hebrews 13:15).”

Christ’s sacrifice ended the need for all animal sacrifices, Jewish Temple or pagan. And yet the New Testament teaches that sacrifice remains a part of the life of the People of God. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).” Gracious words ascend to God like a pure sacrifice. Since no one has fully mastered his thoughts or his words (James 3:1-12), this proverb means that everyone has need every day to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors (Matthew 6:12),” and also to pray, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we have forgiven those who trespass against us (Luke 11:4).”

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