So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking…Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.—Ephesians 4:17, 29

You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.  But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.—Colossians 3:7-10

A few Sundays ago in our study of John at Community Church, we came across a passage where people were confused about what to expect from the Messiah because they didn’t know their Bibles.  Many of them had believed something that wasn’t true, just because they had heard others repeat it.  Believing this bad information made it harder for them to trust in Christ.  The situation was partly the fault of those who had repeated the error, and partly the fault of those who didn’t bother to find out the truth for themselves.

This happens all the time.  If we’re honest, most of us have assumed that something was true just because we heard someone else say it.  We don’t have time to do our own research about every little thing we hear, so if it comes from a trustworthy source, we assume it’s true and we repeat it.

Lately I’ve heard believers repeating something that isn’t true.  They aren’t doing this maliciously; they genuinely don’t know better.  It has to do with honoring Christ with our speech.

Many people seem to think that the question of whether or not it’s okay for a Christian to use profanity is an open question, one where there is room for a difference of opinion.  There are certainly issues like this in our faith.  If you want to debate whether or not a Christian should consume alcohol, or whether Christ will return before or after the Tribulation, you will find believers on both sides of the debate, and all of them will have Scripture they can point to in making their case.  In these situations, there is room for disagreement, because there are valid biblical arguments to be made on both sides.

But the profanity question isn’t like that.  If that’s what you were told, I’m sorry you were misinformed.  In this case, there are several places in Scripture that very clearly state that believers should strive for purity in their speech, and nothing on the other side.  It’s not a case where there is room for disagreement.  It’s not a debate.  One side of the argument has the Bible on their side, and the other side is wrong.

Paul told the Ephesians not to let any unwholesome talk come out of their mouths, but only things that built others up.  He said this in the context of a passage where he was telling them not to live like they had before, and not to live like the pagans around them.  In other words, pure speech is one of the things that shows the transforming power of Christ.  It’s an area where believers should look differently from the world around them.

In the same way, he told the Colossians to rid themselves of filthy language from their lips, along with all sorts of other things that were part of the life they once lived.  He reminded them that they had taken off their old self, had put on the new self, and were being renewed in the image of the One who made them.  The message is the same: getting rid of profane speech is part of what it means to be a new creation in Christ.

It isn’t a question of whether or not there is a “rule” against swearing.  Jesus fulfilled the Law in its entirety, and hopefully we all know we’re not saved by keeping the rules.  Yes, God really does love us unconditionally. Jesus paid it all, and nothing will ever change that.

But now that we’re saved, there are other questions worth asking.  Asking how much sin we can get away with is the kind of question we used to pester our youth pastor with when I was 15.  Mature believers aren’t looking for the bare minimum.  We’re not looking for loopholes.  We’re looking for how we can bring glory to God in our everyday lives, so people can see how wonderful Jesus is and come running to Him.  When Christians swear, we are telling the world that we are exactly like the world.  When our speech is profane, we are advertising that Jesus hasn’t really changed us very much.  This undermines our attempts to share the Gospel, and it reinforces the world’s belief that we’re a bunch of hypocrites.

Our speech, like everything else in our lives, should show the world that Jesus makes people new.  If you’ve been told differently, ask yourself whether or not that person quoted the Bible when they told you, and how they would interpret Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3.  Ask yourself which side of the argument sounds like people trying to glorify God with everything they have, and which side sounds like people making excuses.  I know profanity is a hard habit to break, and God knows we’ll slip up at times.  I also know the Holy Spirit is always available to help us when we’re seeking to bring every area of our lives under God’s authority, for His glory.  Starting now, let’s make it our goal to honor Christ with every word that comes out of our mouths.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be pleasing in your sight,
    Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.—Psalm 19:14

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

WP2Social Auto Publish Powered By :