“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” (ESV)
Have you ever spent time walking through a cemetery? On several occasions I have gone through a cemetery, reading all of the tombstones. I found it intriguing to imagine what kind of life was lived by the person buried beneath me. While it was fun to walk on top of the tomb beneath me, it would be quite another matter to dig one up and look inside!
Graves are closed for two reasons. One reason is to give respect for the dead. The other reason is because of the stench! I am not sure if you have been around a dead body, but it is not an air freshener. The process of rot and decay in human flesh brings a stench that is just about unbearable. This is the image the Apostle Paul uses to help us understand the human condition.
Here we have described for us the sinful man who does not know Jesus Christ. What comes out of his mouth is compared to what you would get from an open grave. Vile, rotting, stench of death. Not exactly an encouraging picture. Yet, if you were to be honest, you would have to admit that without God's intervention in your life by the power of his Holy Spirit, you have produced some filth from your mouth!
Look at the second illustration in this verse. Not only do we get filth as in a rotting carcass, but we also find that the unregenerate mouth produces cunning. The asp, or snake, is used to describe the cunning that we produce. It is interesting to consider that the first example of cunning we find in Scripture is that of a serpent. Satan brought down humanity with his cunning in the Garden.
God's power brings transformation to those who were formerly bound in sin. That transformation should include bringing our tongue into submission to God's holy standard. Ask him to help you to speak words of truth; words that build up and not tear down.