Taming The Tongue

ESV James 3:6-11 “And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of every reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth comes blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.”

You know that old saying, “See no evil, do no evil. Hear no evil, speak no evil.” It really rings true in today’s society I think more than ever before. And whether you admit it to yourself or not, cursing is evil- it is of the world and not of Christ. I know, I know, the topic of cussing can be a difficult pill for a lot of teenagers and adults to swallow, especially if you have created a life or brand around that habit- I know I (temporarily) had done that. Keep in mind that how you talk, think and act is not only a reflection of your heart’s state, but also the state of your relationship with God…

Sometime last year I had started watching tv shows and movies, reading books and listening to music with foul language. Not necessarily on purpose- It is everywhere especially on social media- and I very easily became desensitized. In that sense, the world won in successfully desensitizing me to the sweet nothings the world had to offer as portrayed on tv and in fictional books. So much so that in my mind I thought it was ok and ‘the norm’. Little did I know how untrue that was, how far I had fallen away from Christ to even so much as think that, let alone let it play into effect.

In other words, I let my tongue run wild. If there was an opportunity to make a crude joke, I’d make it! If I stepped on a Lego, I’d cuss. Because everyone on social media, in movies and tv shows, artists singing in songs and characters talking in books cussed, I saw no problem with it. So I joined in on ‘the fun’. Only… after a while I felt just miserable. I felt different, I felt distanced from God, I felt lacking in something.

With God’s timing being as impeccable as it is, it was that very week of my realization that I felt ‘off’, that our new youth group was going over impurity of all kinds- attitude, speech and immorality, but with the main focus being on impure speech. That message really spoke to me, pulled my heart strings and applied a layer of conviction I didn’t recognize before. Why? Because we opened up God’s word and read exactly what there is to be said about this very topic and I will be sharing the same passage, along with a few of my other favorites, with you today! (if you have your Bible with you, I encourage you to open it up and read the passages I list and highlight them, take notes if that helps you remember.)

After that night at youth group, I repented and asked God for forgiveness of my falling away from him… but I also expressed my gratitude that he pulled me back in and on the right path when he did! Since that night, I have actively been putting in the effort to tame my tongue. Is it easy? No, definitely not. Do I slip up sometimes? Yes, I am not perfect but nonetheless I persist and keep trying, keep working towards ending that habit. Will it be worth it in the long run? Yes.

ESV Ephesians 5:1-6 “1Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 3But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper saints. 4Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 5For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of God. 6Let no one deceive you with empty words,”

And pause right there! Friends, let me tell you right now that there are no ‘little’ and ‘big’ sins. In God’s eyes it is all the same and hurts him just as much. A lie is the same as stealing. Murder is the same as cheating on your spouse. Sin is sin, and it is all of the world- all of the devil. Same goes for impure speech, crude joking, foolishness, as it says in Ephesians 5:4.

And for those of you maybe freaking out about verse 5, allow me to explain it a bit more for you. (It was definitely confusing and concerning when i first read over it!) Those who actively continue to be sexually immoral, those who continue in the ways of lawlessness, those who continue to let their minds and mouths run wild, knowing the scriptures, will not inherit the kingdom of God. Why? Because when we are saved, we are expected to give up our old selves and put on the new. We are supposed to give up the worldly acts we practice and turn to Christ as he so calls us. Knowing God’s law and after, still choosing to do something of the world (sex before marriage, cussing, adultery, stealing, lying, etc.) without repentance and actions to stop the pattern but thinking “oh it’s okay because God will forgive me” is the equivalent of spitting in God’s face. Because while yes, God does love you and forgives you of your sins, that by no means gives you the authority to keep sinning on purpose because you have a “safety net”. In fact, it is quite the opposite. God’s Grace isn’t an excuse to sin but rather a reason to love and serve him more fully!

Now think of it this way, does saying f**k or s**t, making a dirty or mean joke demonstrate godliness? WWJD? is a real thought, y’all! We are to be beacons of light to those living in their darkness, to set the example, to be living reenactments of Jesus’s sacrificial love, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control or does Galatians 5:22-23 mean nothing to you?

In 2 Corinthians, Paul explains that we are to be in the world but not of the world. That yes, we should go out into the world and share the gospel with others and demonstrate God’s love… but we should not become of the world. For what acts does righteousness have with lawlessness? Of course, I cannot avoid interacting with unbelievers and those living in sin, I cannot avoid hearing the things I hear at my public work place or from those in school or out in public… so I choose to not emotionally entangle myself. (get involved, laugh along with their jokes, etc.) I click off a video with cussing, I switch the channel if there is a movie or tv show with foul language because what good does it do for my mind and spirit to be listening to that? Monkey see, monkey do.

Saying that I can listen or put up with it as long as I don’t speak it myself, is like an alcoholic saying that they can smell the alcohol they just won’t taste it. That mental battle of “is it okay for just one drink, just one cuss word?” can lead to many more, and if you aren’t strong in your walk with Jesus then you are more prone to fall ill of the world’s whispers.

ESV Ephesians 5:7-147Therefore do not become partners with them; 8for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9(for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. 11Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14for anything that becomes visible is light.”

There simply cannot be harmony with children of light and children of darkness.

Wrong entanglement with unbelievers is known as disobedience of The Word of God. We are to cleanse ourselves of any and all defilement which is anyone preaching false doctrine, practicing idolatry, sexual immorality, impure speech, adultery, witchcraft , etc. For whether they know it or not, they praise the demons of the world through such acts.

We must have discernment! We should not be entangling ourselves with those who rely on, study, teach, and praise demonic doctrine! Or are we not children of the living God? Keep thyself- mind/body/spirit holy. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are of God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wages war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” ESV 1 Peter 2:9-17

So now for the still posing question- how does one stop this habit of impure speech? Let’s open our bibles and turn to:

ESV James 1:26 “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

There is your answer! You must bridle your tongue like a horse… ‘think before you speak’ as my mom always told me when I was little. Bite your tongue, “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it at all”, hold it back, ask the Lord to cleanse you of the thoughts in your mind… for if you do not do this, then the songs you sing in worship, the notes you take during a sermon… are “worthless” as says at the end of verse 26. No matter how religious you think you are, the true test proving your spirituality is whether you bridle your tongue or not. (Bridle meaning to “restrain and control”.) If we are not controlling our tongues, we are not operating in the level of maturity God wants us to have.

And friends let me tell you, when I heard this at youth group that one night… whoosh that hit me hard. For I was practicing lawlessness with my mouth and using that same mouth to sing praise to God! How could I? In my heart it felt like defilement to The Word of God, and after reading in James, I knew it was.

So I urge you to pray on this, I urge you to continue your own personal study on this topic through the scriptures, I urge you to talk with your pastor and ask the questions you cannot find the answers to, and I urge you to be open to change. While yes it will be hard- especially if you are the one in the friend group who makes all the dirty jokes and brings the foul language to the group chat- to make that transition… but it is necessary if you are a true child of light. (Again, James 1:26)

God loves us SO much and his grace, mercy and restoration is a vast sea for all. You guys, we serve an amazing heavenly Father who asks of us simple things compared to what his one and only son went through… he asks that we be living representations of Jesus and his sacrificial love and humility! Walking in love, in wisdom and in newness of life!

We should be grateful that we don’t have to bear the weight of our own cross because of his fragrant offering and sacrifice to God, taking on the weight of the world’s sin until he comes again! We should rejoice in thanksgiving everyday for that alone, on top of everything he does for us day in and day out. Following God’s rules as a Christian is a privilege, an act of praise and thanksgiving! I pray we all start actively trying harder for all the overlooked daily sins like impure speech and thought, pride, selfishness, vanity, etc.

We don’t get to pick and choose the sins that apply to our lifestyles and which commandments we follow… that’s not how Christianity works. (i.e “I don’t see that as a sin” even if the Bible says it is.) We love the Lord our God, so we serve him and do as he so tells us like a father with his child. With love comes respect… but also discipline for when we act out of line.

So like I said in the beginning, your thoughts and speech are not only a reflection of the state of your heart, but also of the state of your relationship with God… so let me ask you this now: does it need work?

James 4:1-8 “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you don’t ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity to God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend with the world makes himself an enemy to God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble”. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.”

Practical things to help start weening off cussing:

1: Find the source of why you like using these words, why you use them and why you don’t want to stop. And then,

2: Pray. Study God’s Word. Pray.

3: Find some fun words to use in place of “official cuss words” Here are my favorites 😉 https://youtu.be/aHGbKuZzq3E

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