One of the most amazing sections of Scripture is one that illustrates the enormous power in the spoken word of God. It’s found in Ezekiel 37. The Spirit of God sent the prophet Ezekiel to a great valley that was full of dry bones scattered over the ground. What a picture of death, destruction, and hopelessness! But God Almighty, through His prophet, spoke to these worthless bones, and the Voice of the Lord changed everything:
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”
So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to live and stood up on their feet—a vast army. (Ezekiel 37:4–10, NIV)
The words of the Lord are so powerful and life-changing that these dry bones were made alive. The scattered bones came together, and muscle, tissue, tendons, and flesh molded around them in the beautiful tapestry of a human body. God breathed out His words, and these dead bones thundered to life. Before they heard the word of the Lord, the bones were forgotten, useless, returning to dust. But once they heard the words of the living God, they were transformed into a mighty army.
The voice of the Lord brings life to all the dead parts within, reviving any part of the heart that has been burdened down and forgotten. The words of the Lord will mend and restore, bringing us out of the most desolate circumstances of life and helping us to stand strong on the battlefield of life, ready to take on foe. Never underestimate the effect that words can have on the body, soul, and spirit. The power of words on the heart is absolutely profound and life-changing.
About sixty percent of the adult human body is made up of water. The human brain is about seventy-three percent water. Studies have shown that vibrations caused by the spoken word can change the molecular structure of water. Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese scientist, has conducted years of research and photographed thousands of water crystals and the effects of both positive and negative words on their molecular structure. His findings: Beautiful crystal patterns were formed with words of love and gratitude, while chaotic patterns were formed by words of hate and anger. In his book The Miracle of Water, Emoto writes:
Words are vibrations, and when our bodies, with all the water coursing through them, are exposed to good words, we cannot help but experience health and well-being. And in the same way, bad words and their bad vibrations will predictably have a negative effect on our bodies, so we should not be surprised when destructive words destroy. So much can ride on a single word….More so than in the past, we are surrounded by negative words…much of the language we use, and even many of the new words and expressions that enter our language through modern culture, are negative in their vibration.[i]
Sound crazy? What’s certain is that all words have an effect on the heart. Words can lead the heart to intimate fellowship with God, or they can cause bitterness, anger, envy, and resentment to take root in the heart and lead to heartsickness, physical disease, and even death.
Proverbs 18:21 (ESV) states plainly that “life and death are in the power of the tongue.” The spoken word has the power to bring life or death to our hearts. Can you see why both God and the Devil are concerned with the words that are aimed at our hearts? The devil doesn’t want the human heart to hear any words inspired by the Spirit of God, and he speaks loudly to try to drown out God’s voice from reaching the heart. The devil wants his words to enter the heart like poison so he can control, dominate, and ultimately crush it.
The Voice of the Deceiver
In the book of Genesis, we see the opening act of this epic drama. The scene in the garden establishes a pattern in this war of words to turn the heart toward either light or darkness, good or evil:
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1, NIV)
The first words the devil ever uttered to the human heart were “Did God really say?” He whispered to Eve with sly words implying, Does God speak the truth? Can you really trust Him? Does He have your best interests in mind? A good and just God who really cared for you would allow you to eat from every tree. Perhaps He is trying to withhold something good from you. If so, how can He be trusted? What is He hiding? Eve faced the same decision all of us are confronted with daily: whose words are we going to believe and allow entrance into our hearts?
The essence of every attack of the enemy is rooted in the phrase “Did God really say?” This is the devil’s master battle plan and war strategy. He must prevent or destroy any remnant of the Word of God in the human heart for it is a threat to his kingdom. The devil always challenges the integrity, reliability, and value of every word uttered from the mouth of God, and he will say and do anything to discredit and distort God’s words so that people reject them. Satan is at war with the Word of God, for when the Word is allowed to live in the human heart, then the devil is utterly powerless to exercise control and dominion there. Do you now understand why in the parable of the sower and seed that the devil moves immediately to snatch away the Word that was sown in the heart?
This is the meaning of the parable: the seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so they may not believe and be saved. (Luke 8:11–12, NIV)
The devil wastes no time in stalking the Word of God when it is sown in the heart, for everlasting freedom and complete deliverance from his power are at stake. Will the heart of the hearer be awakened to spiritual life and emblazoned with the glory of God? Or will it remain dead to God, too hardened and indifferent to recognize the light and power of His Word? If the condition of the heart allows him to do so, the devil plucks the seed of the Word of God from the heart before it can begin to change the heart into the glorious image of God’s Son. The devil snatches away the precious seed of the Word of God so that it is not believed and cannot lead to salvation.
The Greek word for “believe” in Luke 8 means “to trust, to be persuaded, and to have an unwavering confidence in.” When the Word of God is believed, the heart begins to have an unwavering confidence that God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. The heart becomes persuaded that God is worthy of trust above all else and begins to trust and lean on God. The Word of God not only illuminates the true character of God, but it also exposes the true character of the devil as a liar, a cheat, and a fraud who cannot be trusted or believed.
The Greek word rendered “saved” in Luke 8 means “to be made whole, to rescue from danger, destruction, or great peril, and to restore to health.” The words of God make the heart whole and healthy. They rescue the heart from the great perils and destruction of the devil’s work, restoring the heart and infusing it with strength, power, and love. The words of God break the bondage and chains of sin and synchronize our heartbeat to the heartbeat of God. They draw us into our Creator, unfolding and revealing the awesome nature and characteristics of God and His amazing heart of love. The words of God melt away all fear, anxiety and worry. They mend what is broken, heal what is sick, free what is burdened, and make alive what is dead. The words of God bring the unlimited power of God into our hearts, establish a fortress around the heart to protect it against the subtle and relentless attacks of the roaring lion.
When God breathes His words into your heart, amazing things happen. A word whispered in intimacy from the Father can change your destiny. Your heart was created to be a fireplace for God, and His words are the fuel that keeps this fire going, that enables the heart to continue burn passionately for our Lord. Yet the flame of God will be extinguished in our hearts if the words of God are not heard and believed.
Satan has set out to orchestrate the times and culture to confuse, distort, and numb hearts so that the life-changing words of God will bounce off unreceptive hearers made hard by the relentless dust storms of the world. This master thief knows he cannot steal and destroy the human heart unless he controls what is allowed to grow and take root there.
The devil understands that the heart is fed and greatly influenced by words. Words are critical to the formation, development, and character of the heart. Either the words of God or the words of Satan will make their home in our hearts. So the devil snatches the seed of the Word sown in a hardened heart and then replaces it with his masterful substitution. His words for God’s words, his thoughts for God’s thoughts, his ways for God’s ways, his lies for God’s truth. This is a subtle, crafty, and shrewd substitution from the ultimate con artist and master counterfeiter. This strategy has been so effective that the Bible calls Satan the one “who leads the whole world astray” (Revelation 12:9). He is “the deceiver of the whole world” (ESV). The Greek word for “deceive” means “to cause to wander, to lead astray, to lead into error, and to seduce from the truth,” and the tense used here indicates that it is a continual action that does not stop, that it is the devil’s habitual character.
He has led millions and millions of hearts astray, seducing them into error and causing them to wander aimlessly through life, bouncing from idol to idol in a never-ending search for meaning and fulfillment. The devil’s ability to deceive is illustrated by the root of the Hebrew word translated “serpent” in Genesis 3:1. This word means “to hiss, to mutter, to whisper, to enchant, to fascinate.” Throughout the ages, the Devil is a master of fascination as he exercises a powerful and irresistible influence over the passions and affections of the heart.
Fascination is a powerful and persuasive form of communication. In the book Fascinate: Your Seven Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation, Sally Hogshead writes:
We all have certain behaviors that don’t exactly make sense, even to ourselves. We make certain choices, and take certain actions, without exactly understanding exactly why. Here’s why: In a state of fascination, we don’t think and act quite logically. We do things we don’t understand, we believe messages we don’t agree with, and we buy things we don’t even want….Herein lies the power of fascination: It strips away our usual rational barriers, exposing our minds, leaving us vulnerable to influence, naked to persuasion.[ii]
Is it logical for a person to turn away from an awesome, loving, merciful, faithful, and compassionate God for the alluring promise of someone or something that in reality is an empty shell of expectation? Absolutely not!
If people only understood and knew God’s wonderful nature, they would come running into His warm embrace and hide themselves under the protection of His comforting presence. If people saw even a glimpse of His majesty and grandeur, their hearts would grasp hold of Him and never let go for anything or anyone. This is why the devil must deceive in order to lead the heart away from God, and a powerful tool he uses to do this is fascination.
In a state of fascination, a person believes the lie and makes the irrational and unwise choice of allowing something or someone other than God to consume their hearts. The devil has an endless string of fascination triggers at his disposal—beauty, power, fame, money, popularity, drugs, flattery, knowledge, influence, and even religion. So many follow these fascination triggers like sheep being led to the slaughter. Fascination leads us into obsession and, ultimately, idolatry, as the heart eagerly chases after the fleeting shadow of its consuming passion.
Don’t be caught off guard by thinking you’re immune to fascination or that you cannot be deceived. Remember, the devil disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). His words can seem so sincere, so enlightening, so liberating, and so stimulating that the heart absorbs them like a sponge without having any clue to the deadly venom they are taking in. Satan’s voice can sound so soothing, so wise, and so caring as he whispers his subtle lies.
We must remain constantly on guard against the devil’s schemes, as his words will quickly wither and dry up our hearts and make us cold, distant, and hardened toward our Creator.
Prevention of Deception
Deception is the kingpin of idolatry, for no heart will ever worship, serve and follow a lifeless god unless it has been deceived. The secret to resisting and overcoming every wile, every trick and every fascination of the devil is found in Deuteronomy. Here God sets forth the incredible rewards and benefits of hearing the word of the Lord and obeying it:
Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and turn aside and serve other gods and worship them. Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:16,18–21, NKJV)
Why do you suppose God exhorts us in the New Testament to not be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11) and to “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11, NKJV)? Why did Jesus Christ warn his disciples to “take heed that no one deceives you” (Matthew 24:4, nkjv)? Why did God declare in Ephesians 5:6 to “let no one deceive you with empty words”? Because deception has devastating, corrupting effects on the heart that will cause it to reject God’s love and His purposes and depart from His presence.
The only way to guard against and defeat the devil’s cunning is by hearing and clinging to the words of the Lord and engraving them on our hearts through thoughtful study, meditation, and confession. We must choose to live by His words, obey them, cherish them, honor them, and make them the standard for our lives. Nothing should thrill us, excite us, or give us more joy than the words of God. The Bible is God’s heart, God’s will, and God’s plan. How can you guard against deception if you are not reading and studying it on a daily basis? How can you guard against fascination if you spend little or no time in the Word? You are putting your heart at extreme risk of infiltration and takeover by the enemy if your Bible is accumulating dust on the shelf.
Look at the great effort God commanded the children of Israel to make to ensure the words of the Lord were freely available to flow into their hearts. They were to lay up His commandments in their hearts by always having His words in front of them, teaching them to their children, and speaking them whether they were sitting, rising, lying down, or walking about. He even instructed His people to write them on the doorposts of their homes and on their gates so that, whether they were coming or going, the words of the Lord were there to see and hear.
The words of God are to be our constant companion, ringing in our ears no matter where the journey of life takes us. So often we often flip on the television or turn on the radio or wake up the computer when we want to relax or escape, but God commands us to tune in to His Word as we awake to the gentle dawning of the morning light, as we work at our jobs or dine with our families, as we sit down in the evening, and as we lay in our beds before we drift off to sleep. We must carry the words of the Lord as our standard, our banner, in order to keep our hearts free of idolatry.
[i] Masaru Emoto, The Miracle of Water (New York: Atria Books, Beyond Words Publishing 2007), 11,12.
[ii] Sally Hogshead, Fascinate: Your Seven Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation (New York: Harper Collins, 2010), 6.