"...In Word Or Deed..."

And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God
the Father through him.

Colossians 3.17

This command covers quite thoroughly both overt and covert human behavior. Whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law (Romans 3.19). Since all are amenable to the law of Christ, people are duty-bound to hear and obey his words. “He who rejects me, and does not receive my words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day” (John 12.48). This statement answers once and for all whether sinners are amenable to the particulars of the law of Christ.

Words are the essential vehicles of thought. They are so important that Jesus said, “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12.37). It is not that words are sufficient in themselves to accomplish the will of God, for John says, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3.18). Neither was John diminishing the importance of words, for he penned the words of Jesus about speech and its importance, and he, himself, used words effectively to teach truth. Peter understood the importance of truthful words, speaking to Jesus, “Lord to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6.68). John said, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1.17). Pauls’ message to Agrippa consisted of “the words of truth and reason” (Acts 26.25).

Wrongly used, words stir up anger (Proverbs 15.1), incite riots (Acts 19.25-29), seduce immorality (Proverbs 6.23-24), and subvert the hearers by false doctrines (Acts 15.24; Titus 1.10-11). Words properly used exhort (Acts 2.40), comfort according to truth (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18), teach sound doctrine (2 Timothy 1.13; Titus 2.7-8), reprove and correct (2 Timothy 3.16-17), and make known the promises of God (2 Peter 1.2-11; Hebrews 13.5-6). Words can both praise God (Luke 2.14), and blaspheme God (Mark 3.28-29). Words express thoughts and intents of the heart (Matthew 12.34).

Deeds are the product of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Matthew 12.35). As by our words, so by our deeds we will be judged (Romans 2.5-6; Hebrews 13.4; Revelation 20.12). All of our deeds are to be done under the authority of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28.18). This includes our occupational behavior (Ephesians 4.28), our civic behavior (Romans 13; 1 Peter 2.13-17), our family behavior (Ephesians 5.22-6.4), our primary obedience to the truth for salvation from sins (Mark 16.16; Acts 2.38), and our worship and service as believers in God (John 4.24). 

We must give preeminent time and importance to our duty to God (Matthew 6.33). Therefore, we must not allow other responsibilities to preempt our worship and edification according to God’s direction. Anything that does not occur within the scope of Christ’s authority is outside the behavior given by Christ for his people’s manner of life. Our text makes this fact very clear.

It is not satisfactory to substitute one part of obedience for another (Matthew 15.3-6), or to justify one act of disobedience by pointing out that we have obeyed in another instance (James 2.11; 1 Samuel 15.10-26). We must be “doers of the word” in all the particulars that God has told us to do (James 1.22-27). We must not “become weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not” (Galatians 6.1-10). Our words and deeds are ordered of the Lord. Therefore, let us be obedient children of God (James 1.13-19).