“O Lord, set a guard at my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 114:3
Let’s be honest – we all sin (1 Jn. 1:8). As a matter of fact, without Christ, all we would do is sin (Jn. 15:5).
Sin is a natural byproduct of the “flesh” (1 Jn. 2:16, Ga. 5:19-21). Christians are to learn how to train themselves to walk in the power of the Spirit to overcome the work of the flesh (Gal. 5:16, Rom. 8:13, Rom. 6:1-14).
A simple definition of the “flesh” that has always been helpful to me is, “The flesh is that human part of us that desires to function and operate independent of God.” So, as you can imagine, that covers a lot of stuff.
Of all the sins of the flesh, the most common sins usually involve the mouth. Listen how James warns Christians about the tongue: “Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.” (James 3:5-6 - NIV)
In this article, we are discussing specifically the sin of cussing. Cussing includes: taking the Lord’s name in vain, cursing (swearing), vulgarity, foul expressions, “four-letter words”, acronyms, slang words and phrases that mean something vulgar or off-color. This includes what you say, what you write and the use of physical expressions and gestures.
As disciples of Christ, God calls us to be salt in a world that is decaying and rotting from sin (Mt. 5:13). In ancient times, salt was a foreign substance pounded into meat (and other food products). Its purpose was to influence the meat to stop the decay and preserve it. But, if the salt had become contaminated, it was of no use.
To have an influence on something, you need to be different from that thing. If something is the same as something else, it can have no influence on it.
It is the same way with Christians. We are embedded with people who are spiritually different from us and we are supposed to have a positive influence on them to receive Christ and preserve them from an eternity separated from God. They are watching and listening to us all the time. If our speech, behavior and priorities are no different than theirs, we are of no value to God to influence them for his glory.
Recently, I heard Ben Shapiro make a statement about governmental authorities and people who, to avoid political backlash, succumb to the wishes of the rioters, thieves, and those who vandalize buildings in the name of “protests”. He said these people “go along to get along”. There are a lot of Christians who fear rejection, isolation, and even persecution and therefore “go along to get along”. Don’t be one of them. Don’t let your salt become contaminated. Don’t hide your light under a bushel.
Sometimes it’s best to just let the Bible speak for itself. In this case, the Bible has much to say about this topic, so I’ve listed several verses that relate to this subject (I have underlined some things that seemed especially applicable). I hope that by reading these, God will give you clarity and understanding regarding this issue.
Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.
Exodus 20:7 “You must not misuse the name of the LORD your God. The LORD will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.
Words do matter, so be careful what you say (“evil” is another word for wicked or ungodly).
Matthew 12:34-37 You snakes! You are evil people, so how can you say anything good? The mouth speaks the things that are in the heart. Good people have good things in their hearts, and so they say good things. But evil people have evil in their hearts, so they say evil things. And I tell you that on the Judgment Day people will be responsible for every careless thing they have said. The words you have said will be used to judge you. Some of your words will prove you right, but some of your words will prove you guilty.”
Do not use obscenities or vulgar joking.
Ephesians 5:3-4 3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.
Do not go along to get along
Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.
Do not use filthy language
Ephesians 4:29 Let no filthy talk be heard from your mouths, but only what is good for building up people and meeting the need of the moment.
Paul’s description of the way many un-regenerated people talk
Romans 3:13-14 “Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave. Their tongues are filled with lies.” “Snake venom drips from their lips.” “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
Stop and think before you speak
Psalm 39:1 I said to myself, “I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say. I will hold my tongue when the ungodly are around me.”
Proverbs 21:23 Watch your tongue and keep your mouth shut, and you will stay out of trouble.
Filter your words
Proverbs 4:24 Remove perverse speech from your mouth; keep devious talk far from your lips.
Your mouth reveals the condition of your heart
Matthew 15:18-19 But whatever goes out of the mouth comes from within, and that’s what makes a person unclean. Evil thoughts, murder, adultery, [other] sexual sins, stealing, lying, and cursing come from within.
There is a heart problem with both good and bad come out of the same mouth
James 3:9-11 Sometimes it (the tongue) praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
God will help you overcome this sin if you call upon Him
Psalm 141:1-3 O Lord, I cry out to you, “Come quickly.” Open your ears to me when I cry out to you. Let my prayer be accepted as sweet-smelling incense in your presence. Let the lifting up of my hands in prayer be accepted as an evening sacrifice. O Lord, set a guard at my mouth. Keep watch over the door of my lips.
Bless those who are unkind to you, don’t swear at them
Romans 12:14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Stop doing what you used to do before you were saved
Colossians 3:8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.