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The Venom Within Us All

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
January 5, 2021 12:00 am

The Venom Within Us All

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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January 5, 2021 12:00 am

As a child, did your parents ever wash your mouth out with soap when you talked back to an adult or said a bad word? I’m sure we all got that at least once or twice! Well in today’s study of Romans chapter 3, the Apostle Paul will reveal to us that our mouths are dirty and in need of a good washing. Soap, however, won’t do the trick. So grab your Bible and join Stephen in this sermon as he gives us the only thing that will: Scripture.


Inside each one of us is the capacity to deceive others. We can deceive with malice, we can deceive out of fear, we can deceive for financial gain, we can deceive by virtue of silence, we can deceive by boasting, we can deceive by exaggeration, we can deceive through insincere promises, we can deceive with pious language, we can deceive by withholding the full truth, we can deceive for personal advancement, we can deceive through innuendo, and we can deceive by means of flattery.

These are only a few that I thought of this week. When you were a child, did you ever get punished for telling a lie? Did your parents ever wash your mouth out with soap when you talked back to an adult or said a bad word? I'm sure we all have stories to tell of how our mouths got us into trouble. Well, in today's message from Romans chapter 3, Stephen Davey will remind us that our mouths are dirty and in need of a good washing.

Soap, however, won't do the trick. So grab your Bible and join Stephen in this sermon as he gives us the only thing that will, scripture. This message is entitled The Venom Within Us All.

Here's Stephen. I find it personally no surprise, and for the Bible student it won't be, to find in the middle of the Apostle Paul's description of human depravity a description of the human tongue, the destructive power of words. Paul writes, and we'll pick up our study where we left off, Romans chapter 3 verse 13. Their throat, that is the throat of depraved man, is an open grave. With their tongues they keep deceiving.

The poison of asps or vipers is under their lips, whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Now thus far in this inspired sketch of human sinfulness, the Holy Spirit has revealed through Paul in verses 10 through 12 that we have looked at who we are, who we are. He says in that text, there's none righteous, not even one. There's none who understands.

There's none who seeks for God. All have turned aside. Together they have become like spoiled milk. You remember in our study. That's a revelation of who we are apart from God's redemptive work through the Savior. Now here in the second section for our study today, we are shown what we say. So in verses 10 to 12, we have the revelation of mankind's evil condition. In verses 13 to 14, we have the revelation of mankind's evil communication. And Paul will here now deliver four more indictments on the human heart. He will provide, as it were, the diagnosis of depravity.

And it is not a very pretty sight. If you have been with us over these weeks, you have discovered who we are in the sight of a holy God and have, I'm sure, reveled in the redemption that washed you and made you clean. I have never gone to see a doctor for a checkup in all my life without having them do the same thing. I guess in medical school they learn that they begin the examination by reaching into that cabinet or into that drawer and pulling out one of those wooden popsicle sticks and putting it in your mouth until you gag and then say, ah, which makes you gag even more, right? The truth is a good physician knows that the mouth is a key window into the physical condition of the body.

Well, the divine physician is no less thorough. He will now begin a closer inspection into the depravity of the human condition. And he does it by, first of all, opening the mouth, as it were, of mankind. And he will reveal by virtue of this inspection of the mouth in the text. You'll notice the throat, the lips, the tongue. He will continue in the latter part of this by looking at the feet and the eyes. But here he opens, as it were, the mouth. He looks into the throat and at the tongue of mankind. And he says several things that we'll just say are diagnostic observations.

The first is this. The throat exposes hidden depravity. Look again at Paul's statement. Their throat is an open grave. What does he mean, their throat is an open grave?

Well, A.T. Robertson, a Greek scholar of a few generations ago, translated the tense of this more literally, which helps to clarify what Paul meant as he translated it this way. Their throat is an opened grave. An opened grave, a grave that has just been opened. In other words, it's not referring to someone who's been buried in an open tomb or someone who's been put into a coffin without a lid. No, Paul is referring to a grave that has just been opened. And the smell of death and the horror of the sight of decaying flesh is exposed to all.

And we all instinctively would turn away. We know from biblical illustrations as well as Roman history that during these days coffins were not even used. In fact, the ordinary grave of a common person would be alongside a roadway marked perhaps by a tree. In fact, the majority of people couldn't even afford the simplest of grave markers. So burial involved simply placing the corpse in a shallow hole covering over the body with earth followed by a pile of stones to keep the animals from getting to the body. For those who were wealthy, they could purchase land where a chamber tomb could be built or maybe even carved out of a rocky hillside with shelves or benches placed in and around inside or maybe even carved out of the sides of the tomb where deceased family members would be placed. It was in this kind of family tomb where Jesus Christ was temporarily placed. But the majority of people were buried in shallow holes and flooding or a sudden rainstorm or the uprooting of a nearby tree or any other number of things could open a grave and reveal the decaying body.

The grave has just been opened, whether in a cave or alongside a road, and it would cause people to suck in their breath and turn away. Well, here's Paul's point. He's saying just as the opening of a grave reveals the death that is within it and all of its decay, so the opening of the human throat reveals the hidden death and corruption and decay of the human heart. It's interesting that the word Paul uses for throat, it's the Greek word, larynx, which gives us our English word larynx. The larynx or the throat is simply the doorway in his analogy to the corruption within and the words that come out of that doorway, the smell of death that is revealed that points to the fact that inside is decay and wickedness and corruption.

It resides within the human heart. Jesus Christ said it this way, for the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. Matthew 12 34. Solomon wrote, the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. Proverbs 15 28. In other words, we could say it this way, the mouth inevitably spills out the secrets of the sinful heart. Give a person enough time, loosen them up enough and you'll see revealed the interior corruption and decay of the human condition.

Gary Graff is a pastor in Lancaster, Minnesota. He wrote about a man he knew that went shopping one day at the local mall. When he finished shopping and returned to his car, he couldn't help but notice a foul odor and he identified it eventually as coming from his car and he looked inside and around it and couldn't discover anything until finally he raised the hood of his car and discovered a rather mutilated cat that had been caught in the fan belt. For those of you who love cats, this is going to be a disturbing story. For the rest of us, it's just one less cat in the world, but hang with me. That wasn't a nice thing to say. Here I am preaching on the tongue. Well, anyway, this unfortunate catted. I'll confess it at the end, like you, okay?

All right. This cat had found shelter from the cold by getting up into the engine block. And when the man got in and started his car, of course, you know, you kind of get the idea. So there he stood in front of his car that afternoon in the mall parking lot looking at this mangled cat. He decided to empty the contents of one of his shopping bags into another bag and then proceeded to scrape and pull and to push the remains of that cat into his empty bag. Finally, he got all of the grizzly remains inside the bag and he slammed the hood down and he walked back toward the mall to wash his hands. Just as he reached the entrance, he happened to turn backward and he saw something unusual. He had tied a knot in the top of that department store bag and he had left it on top of the hood of his car. And he saw a middle-aged woman standing next to his car looking suspiciously back and forth. And then she grabbed the bag and walked quickly towards the mall, past him and through the door. And he thought, this is too good. He decided to follow her and see what would happen.

Pastor Graff wrote these words. She went into a restaurant in the mall and was seated in a private booth. Once seated, she proceeded to untie the knot and survey her stolen prize. As soon as she opened the bag and saw the dead cat inside, she screamed and then fainted dead away. Of course, the management was alarmed that a customer had fainted in their restaurant, so they had called the paramedics.

In no time, the woman was strapped to a cart and taken off to the ambulance. The man just couldn't resist. He had taken the bag from the booth and just as they were putting her inside, he ran over and said, hey lady, don't forget your bag. And he laid the bag on top of her.

You probably won't remember a thing I've said today, but you'll remember that cat story won't you? This woman had thought she'd gotten away with the prize, didn't she? But instead she got a bag of bones.

You take the nicest looking person wearing the nicest outfit with a nice smile, nice connections, nice background. The man or the woman, that if anybody has it together, they have it together, just open their mouth, lift the hood as it were, open the bag and you will discover what God has told us he has discovered and that is corruption and decay and sin and death carefully hidden away. One writer put it this way, a spiritually dead heart can generate only spiritually dead words. The natural or unbelieving man, however, keeps his throat open and in so doing continually testifies to his death by the foulness and the self-centeredness and the pride of his words. The throat reveals hidden depravity.

Paul goes on to give us the second diagnostic observation. He writes in the middle part of verse 13, with their tongues they keep deceiving. So the throat not only exposes hidden depravity but secondly the tongue produces great deception. The word to deceive here is a word that refers to luring into a trap.

It's a word that the Greeks would use for fishermen who would sometimes bait a singular line and hook and hang it in the water and when the fish grabbed onto that food he thought he was going to get a meal but he instead became the meal. One of the characteristics of the human heart is the ability to deceive, to lure others in effect into believing something about you that is not true. To believe something that is not true in the world to be true. The Apostle Paul, by the way, here is quoting from Psalm chapter 5. If we had time we could expound that Psalm as David says other things about the human heart. He also says this, there is in the Psalm there is nothing reliable in what man says. Their inward part is destruction itself. The prophet Jeremiah said that man is able to quote, bend his tongue like a bow.

Interesting. Bend his tongue like a bow. Lies and not truth prevail in the land for they proceed from evil to evil and they do not know me declares the Lord. Let everyone be on guard against his neighbor and do not trust any brother because every brother deals craftily and every neighbor goes about as a slanderer and everyone deceives his neighbor and does not speak the truth.

They have taught their tongue to speak lies. Jeremiah 9 verses three to five. Has it ever occurred to you that there are literally hundreds of thousands of laws crafted to protect us from one another? There are thousands of laws that attempt to get people to simply keep 10 commandments. And because we don't keep those 10, thou shalt not lie. Thou shalt not bear false witness against another, thy neighbor.

Because we don't, we have crafted over the centuries law upon law to close the loophole because we at our hearts are dishonest and by nature deceptive. Now, by the way, that doesn't mean that a person can't tell the truth, right? It doesn't mean that an unbeliever can't be honest.

But Paul, you remember now as we study this paragraph, in fact, the early part of this chapter, Paul is not speaking so much of singular acts. He's speaking of the nature of man, the depravity of man, the wretched sinfulness of man. And he is saying then that deception is a continual habitual part of man's character and makeup. That's why, as we have said in the past, you do not have to teach a child how to lie or be dishonest or be deceptive. The sinful nature has it mastered by about the age of five. And then it parades itself across the stage of human experience and it just changes costumes and adapts to the differing scenes throughout life.

But it learns it young. We can deceive with malice. We can deceive out of fear.

We can deceive for financial gain. We can deceive by virtue of silence. We can deceive by boasting. We can deceive by exaggeration. We can deceive through insincere promises. We can deceive with pious language. We can deceive by withholding the full truth. We can deceive for personal advancement. We can deceive through innuendo. And we can deceive by means of flattery.

These are only a few that I thought of this week of how we deceive. Paul writes, God has looked inside your throat. And the divine diagnosis is in your mouth. You've got a tongue that just keeps on deceiving left alone.

The third diagnostic observation is this. The lips speak untold damage. Paul writes descriptively and probably the harshest of the things that he has said thus far in the last part of verse 13, the poison of vipers or asps, perhaps referring here to an Egyptian cobra, which would be well known in his world, is under their lips. The throat exposes hidden depravity. The tongue produces great deception.

And the lips speak untold damage. William R. Newell points out that the fangs of a deadly serpent lie ordinarily folded back in its upper jaw. But when it throws up its head to strike, those hollow fangs drop down. And when the serpent bites, the fangs press a sack of deadly poison hidden at the base of its mouth, thus injecting the venom into the womb. That wound that's now open by means of the fangs has inserted into it the venom. The Apostle Paul then is basically saying that the human mouth has within it a sack of venom. And the tongue dispenses it by means of its words, like a snake biting down with its fangs. We were born then, as it were, with moral poison sacks under the roof of our mouths. And we naturally strike, one author said, one another with venomous words. There is venom within us all. The Apostle James wrote in his epistle, for every species of beasts and birds of reptiles and creatures of the sea is tamed or tamable and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil and it is full of deadly poison, chapter 3 verses 7 to 8. Literally, it is filled with death bringing poison, death producing venom. We have that kind of power.

And the natural man destroys, deceives. A couple of years ago I was in Africa. It was Zimbabwe. We visited a reptile house. And it's their version of the zoo, only smaller. The building we went to had a courtyard in the inner circle and it was surrounded by glass cages where they kept the snakes. And in the middle of that courtyard there was about a waist high wall and a pond in there with one crocodile sunning himself. When we arrived we noticed that our tour guide was missing an arm. He explained that he had lost the other one to that very same crocodile in that pond.

And of course we kept our distance then. Whenever you visit a zoo in the States, you know you go see the snakes and you go up to the cage and you tap on it. They don't do anything so you bang on it and you look around and you make faces at it and you do all sorts of things. And what does that snake do? Absolutely nothing.

It's a waste of money. You go to find animals and everything's so natural you can't find them. They're out there enjoying life and you can't even see them. Well, this one was different. These snakes were so newly caught, so wild that they would watch us. We got close to a cage that had a glass front to it. They would just watch us with their tongues darting and if you took your hand and you went toward them they would immediately lunge and hit the glass. Their mouths opened. We could see their fangs. I remember getting at one point to one particular cage where the tour guide with great pride introduced their prize catch and it was a six foot long black mamba. One of the most poisonous snakes on planet earth. Our guide said there is no serum for this venom in Africa.

There's no need for it. If you're bitten, they said we call it seven steps. You have seven steps and you fall over dead. Of course we weren't making any faces or moving our hands at all. We kind of backed up. He asked if we wanted to watch it feeding and we said okay. He went around the back and opened a little door and threw in a large mouse. The mouse immediately could sense the danger and it sort of went over to a piece of wood that was on the floor of this large cage and the snake of course knew food was there and eventually identified its location and slithered forward watched it for a moment coiled and struck and pulled back and that mouse wobbled for one split second and fell over dead. I had seen enough and was ready to leave at that point but I thought what power in that venom. It's interesting to remember that the apostle Paul on one occasion was bitten by a viper.

Same word used here. In fact those there at that campfire on the island of Malta where he had been marooned watched him because they were expecting him to what fall over dead and God intervened and he didn't die. I think it's interesting that Paul in fact the scripture in the New Testament uses the analogy of the serpent in a number of different ways. And here guess what. It's talking about us. We like talking about that old serpent you know. But here's talking about us.

It's a description of the natural man apart from the controlling work of the spirit of God. And Paul says under the influence of the great physician there happens to be poison in our mouths. Our tongues are like fangs which dispenses the venom and it can and it will and it has destroyed just like those four reporters from Denver.

Simple words. So also everyone in this room has felt perhaps the sting of venom in their own lives and has dispensed it as well. That means that one of the most dangerous enemies in your life is nestled inside your mouth. Webster defined the tongue as that little movable muscular structure attached to the floor of the mouth.

Sounds simple doesn't it? Did you know that according to the Bible one of the greatest distinctives of the believer is how you flex that muscle. And I want to develop that in more detail in our next discussion as we sort of move into verse 14. I want us to take an honest look at what the Bible says that the tongue of the believer should look like and act like and sound like.

How it should act. But in the meantime today as we wrap things up let me give you something to put into practice immediately. A number of years I shared this with our body. It's an acrostic that Alan Redpath had come up with who once pastored Moody Church in downtown Chicago. It's interesting I had a just a few weeks ago a woman come up to me and say that she remembered this acrostic and had been using it to help her as a guideline.

It's the acrostic think t h i n k t. Is it true. H. Is it helpful. I. Is it inspirational. N. Is it necessary. K. Is it kind.

Is it true helpful inspirational necessary or kind. If what you're about to say doesn't pass the think test don't utter it. I want to take a closer look at that but I want to say this the distinctive mark of unbelief is the unbeliever's mouth. Therefore one of the distinctive marks of the believer should be the believer's mouth. That's what Paul is saying here in Romans chapter 3 verse 13. Thus the distinctive of a maturing believer is discovered in the seasoning of his words that roll off that little movable muscular structure attached to the floor of the mouth.

I hope this time in God's Word has provoked you to consider the words you say when speaking to others. This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. Stephen's entitled this lesson The Venom Within Us All and it comes from his series from Romans 3 called The Depravity of Man The Deliverance of God.

If you joined us late and missed the beginning of this message you can go back and listen online. It's posted to our website and to our app so you'll find it at or on the Wisdom International smartphone app. Last April our ministry launched a new resource called Heart to Heart magazine.

It's become a wonderful tool that God is using to help the Wisdom family grow in the faith and knowledge of God. Each month we have some articles from Stephen where he explores a topic related to the Christian life. Seth Davey writes a new devotional for each day and those are printed in Heart to Heart. This is a gift that we send to all of our Wisdom partners but if you don't receive it we'd like to send you the next three issues as our gift to you. Sign up online or call us at 866-48-Bible. That's 866-482-4253. Thanks for listening. Join us tomorrow for more wisdom for the heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-05 10:28:01 / 2023-12-05 10:37:25 / 9

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