37 Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, when the Lord has not commanded it? 38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that woe and well-being proceed? 39 Why should a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?” (Lamentations 3:37–39, NKJV)
Jeremiah’s Lamentations may seem an unlikely place to teach respect for God’s silence, but this passage powerfully describes the futility and falsity of speaking when the Lord has not spoken. God had brought His righteous wrath upon Jerusalem to punish her sins (Lam. 1:3-5, 8-11; 2:1-8). He announced judgment against Zion and brought it to pass at the hands of the Babylonian army. Many false prophets said Jerusalem would not fall, but its fall showed they spoke when the Lord had not commanded it (cf. Jer. 28; 2 Chron. 36:15-21). They preached a message of “peace, peace” when there was no peace, only impending doom (Jer. 6:13-15). We have no right to complain against God when He punishes our sins according to His word (v. 39). Both “woe and well-being proceed” from Him, not us. We must submit to His word humbly and faithfully. Jerusalem and Judah refused to do that, and the Lord punished them. In the New Testament, honoring the silence of the Scriptures (of God) is not going beyond what is written but instead, abiding in Christ’s doctrine (1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Jno. 9). We must follow what the Scriptures say, not speak where God has not spoken. To teach and practice things God’s word does not speak of will not have God’s approval, but is a transgression of the doctrine of Christ. Let us speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where it is silent.
42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (John 12:42–43, NKJV)
It is apparent from this text that mere belief in Christ is not sufficient to be saved in Christ. Different types of personal faith are observed in the Scriptures, some of which must definitely be avoided. For instance, we must not have the faith of demons (James 2:19). They believe – even tremble – but their faith lacks doing the will of God. They are lost. Therefore, James wrote, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17, 20). If that is the kind of faith you have – believing but not obeying God – then your faith is dead, and we urge you to repent and obey the Father. The Jewish rulers in today’s text had a silent faith. They believed in Jesus, but they feared men more than God. They remained silent because they desired the praise and recognition of men more than God’s approval. Faith that pleases God does not shrink from open confession of one’s allegiance to Christ. Fidelity to Christ is observable through a life that obeys God’s will and refuses to yield to the silencing tactics of the world. Instead of fearing men, saving faith fears God and does not shrink back (Matthew 10:28; Hebrews 10:39).
27 Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. 28 Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. (Proverbs 17:27–28, ESV)
Possessing the ability and the discernment to control one’s words is a mark of wisdom. This is verified in James 1:19, “let every man be slow to speak…” Keeping one’s cool instead of spouting off when agitated reveals a prudent soul. You do not have to always say something in order to prove you are knowledgeable on a matter. Often it is when we open our mouths that we remove all doubt of whether we are foolish. Choose your words carefully. See the value of saying nothing if, by speaking, you merely reveal your lack of understanding.