I recently watched a video of a sincere Christian gentleman who shared how he was asking God to reveal anything in his life of which he needed to repent. The transpiring events in our world moved him to make sure he was ready to meet his Lord. I was convicted by his testimony and felt that I also needed to do some heart searching.
During the video, he wanted to show the viewing audience something on his computer. As he proceeded, he began encountering technical difficulties and, right there on camera, he almost cussed. He did not actually say the bad word but rather went for the “vanilla version” of it—you know, like an acronym or a replacement word. I’m not sure why he didn’t edit that out of the video.
It rattles me when your everyday Joe Schmoe says these things, not the vanilla versions of course, but it disturbs me even more when professed Christians say these words—seemingly with no conviction about it at all.
I’ve heard conservative Christian broadcasters, on the air, drop some very offensive terminology and just move on with their monologue. And this may be done shortly after saying something truthful and possibly even touching about God. How can this be?
“For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so” (James 3:7–10).
Have we as Christians lost a sense of the holiness of God? Have we lost sight of our high-calling in Christ Jesus? What does it mean to be a Christian? It means that not only have we made the decision to give our hearts to our precious Lord and Savior, but that we have also covenanted to “walk as He walked.” To be a Christian is to be “like Christ” or, at the very least, to be striving toward that goal. It does not just mean that we’re forgiven; it also means that the Holy Spirit is transforming our hearts if we cooperate. Yes, God takes us as we are, but He surely doesn’t leave us that way.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh” (Ezekiel 36:26).
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
A Good Witness
Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.After high school, I joined the military. I enlisted in the U.S. Army and was shipped off to boot camp. After boot camp came our specialized training, designed to prepare us to perform whatever our military occupational specialty (MOS) was determined to be. This training was much more laid back.
Before joining the military, I was well aware of how to use unsavory language, which I learned from my classmates in school and even from some family members. But after joining the Army, I found myself beyond fluent now in two languages: English and profanity. To put it mildly, I had a foul mouth. Why?
“Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
I’m not blaming my bad language solely on my companions. It was my choice to use that terminology. But it does illustrate that the Bible is true and that we need to be wise about the company we keep and who we behold, because by beholding we become changed.
I remember that while in MOS training, I met a man who never used foul language. Can you imagine that? Though he was surrounded by all that profanity, day in and day out, he refused to participate in it. I don’t know if he was a Christian or not, but I still remember him even to this day, though I’ve forgotten many others—wouldn’t it be great to have such a positive impact on those around us?
If you look in Scripture to the portions describing the trial and subsequent crucifixion of Jesus, you’ll find the story of Peter’s denial. I think it’s interesting that when Peter wanted to disassociate himself from Jesus, the Bible tells us that he used foul language.
“Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, ‘You also were with Jesus of Galilee.’ But he denied it before them all, saying, ‘I do not know what you are saying.’ And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, ‘This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.’ But again he denied with an oath, ‘I do not know the Man!’ And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, ‘Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.’ Then he began to curse and swear, saying, ‘I do not know the Man!’ Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ So he went out and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26:69–75).
One Christian writer described the scene like this:
“Attention was called to him the second time, and he was again charged with being a follower of Jesus. He now declared with an oath, ‘I do not know the Man.’ Still another opportunity was given him. An hour had passed, when one of the servants of the high priest, being a near kinsman of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked him, ‘Did not I see thee in the garden with Him?’ ‘Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilean, and thy speech agreeth thereto.’ At this Peter flew into a rage. The disciples of Jesus were noted for the purity of their language, and in order fully to deceive his questioners, and justify his assumed character, Peter now denied his Master with cursing and swearing. Again the cock crew. Peter heard it then, and he remembered the words of Jesus, ‘Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny Me thrice’” (Mark 14:30) (The Desire of Ages, p. 712).
The disciples were known for their purity of language. Jesus surely didn’t curse and, subsequently, as His example was molding and shaping them, neither did they. So, why am talking about this issue? Is it just my personal pet peeve that I feel the need to vent over? Am I trying to convey that this sin is more egregious than others? Are there not many who have very refined language yet still engage in the darkest of sins? Or maybe I’m just being plain old judgmental to highlight this matter?
Prepare to Meet Your God
Have you noticed the events that have been transpiring around us recently? You don’t have to be a theology major to realize that Bible predictions are being fulfilled. Many are wondering if we’re nearing the end and some have begun seeking the Lord. The call of Amos seems very appropriate: “Prepare to meet your God!” (Amos 4:12).
When the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, they eventually stood on the banks of the Jordan, ready to enter the Promised Land. Today, we too are standing, as it were, on the banks of the Jordan, ready to enter the heavenly Promised Land—an eternal world, a land where there is no night.
Notice how John, the disciple of Jesus who wrote the last book of the Bible, described an aspect of that beautiful land: “There shall by no means enter it anything that defiles” (Revelation 21:27). Think about that! Can you imagine angels of light walking around heaven using foul language? Even the vanilla versions? If we are now preparing to enter that land, can we as Christians use curse words while at the same time seeking to glorify God?
The primary issue isn’t really about swearing; it’s about who truly has your heart.
Like the Christian brother I watched online in the opening story, we need to diligently search our hearts with the help of the Holy Spirit to make sure that there is nothing defiling there. Whatever is in the heart will eventually make its way out of the mouth. Jesus explained this when confronting the Pharisees. “Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).
We cannot change our hearts (or our language) in our own strength. We all need the power of Jesus to overcome any and every sin. He tells us in John 15:5 that “without Me you can do nothing.”
Let’s make every effort, through God’s help, to speak and act in ways that glorify our heavenly Father.
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).