Introduction to My Next Dubious Behaviour Trait
Following on from my last couple of papers I have carried out a little self-assessment of my more obvious spiritual failings, particularly those following on from my crisis in faith. Now that I am coming out of that period in my life, with the Holy Spirit’s evident assistance, I feel that I am now in a position to assess one further negative behaviour that is still manifestly arising from my period in the spiritual wilderness. This failing has come from the stress that this physical world was placing upon me during this difficult time. That failing is my persistent bad language which is proving very difficult to shake off and consequently has become a focal point both for myself and my good lady wife.
Clearly I must try to do better in that department but I thought it would be helpful for me to see just what the bible has to say on the matter. I am not here talking about blaspheming against God or the holy spirit (which I sincerely hope I am not guilty of) but the use of foul language to express frustration or to emphasise a strongly held negative view of some worldly subject or other. I find these come out of my mouth far too easily either when I am alone or in company when something or someone is annoying me. I think my personal causation of this is best described in my earlier paper on Anger. So here, I think, we are not just considering the words I utter but also the heart condition that causes them to emanate from my very being in the first place. Hopefully I will learn something about myself that needs fixing and in the process help any of my readers that may also suffer from this unholy practice.
The first thing that surprised me was the sheer volume of biblical passages that seemed to have something to say on the subject of speaking and its implications. So I expect it will prove to be quite a challenging exercise to group the relevant verses together to provide a coherent analysis on the subject.
The Definition of Bad Language
Before continuing I should probably seek the meaning of bad language or ‘expletive’ so that we are clear as to what I am referring to. The following definition perfectly fits my intended meaning and is to be found at the following website: https://www.audioenglish.org/ and I quote:
‘The noun EXPLETIVE has 2 senses:
1. profane or obscene expression usually of surprise or anger
2. a word or phrase conveying no independent meaning but added to fill out a sentence or metrical line’
Having got that out of my system let us now go to the scriptures.
The Power of the Spoken Word
Firstly it will prove helpful for us to examine the enormous power of the spoken word so that we may fully understand the impact of all that we say to our fellow men. The sheer power of speech is totally demonstrated very early on in the bible in its description of the first evil act and the fall-out from it. Satan’s lie to Eve and her passing her deception on to her husband were to blame for all the ills that were to follow in the world. This power is therefore not to be underestimated and we must learn to chose all our words with great care and fore-thought:
1 And the serpent was cunning above every animal of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said to the woman, [Is it] true that God has said, You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?
2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden,
3 but of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.
4 And the serpent said to the woman, Dying you shall not die,
5 for God knows that in the day you eat of it, even your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3 GLT)
God also used words to define their punishments as a result of the lie and the response to it. His words, unlike Satan’s however, have proven true down to this day:
14 And Jehovah God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you [are] cursed above all beasts, and above every animal of the field. You shall go on your belly, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He will bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.
16 He said to the woman, I will greatly increase your sorrow and your conception; you shall bear sons in sorrow, and your desire shall be toward your husband; and he shall rule over you.
17 And He said to the man, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat [from] it, the ground [shall be] cursed because of you; you shall eat of it in sorrow all the days of your life.
18 And it shall bring forth thorns and thistles for you, and you shall eat the plant of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until your return to the ground. For you have been taken out of it; for you [are] dust, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3 GLT)
The appropriate choice of words and the meaning which we intend to put across clearly are of paramount importance as both a tool for evil or for good.
Now in James’ letter, there is a lengthy passage that is worthy of inclusion in this paper in that, although it does not specifically mention the use of bad language, he has a great deal to say about the power of speech. There are several apparently valid but different translations of this passage; this time I have plumped for that in the King James version that is most helpful to the theme of this paper:
2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same [is] a perfect man, [and] able also to bridle the whole body.
3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.
4 Behold also the ships, which though [they be] so great, and [are] driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.
5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
6 And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:
8 But the tongue can no man tame; [it is] an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.
10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet [water] and bitter?
12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so [can] no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
13 Who [is] a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. (James 3 KJV)
There is little doubt that man’s greatest ability over the rest of creation is that of speech. It appears to be such a physically small thing in being controlled by little more than the tongue. However its power is immense in terms of its ability to bring about good or harmful effects. Clearly bad language is one such harmful element that we need to purge from our speech.
James describes the tongue as one of our members providing the greatest of difficulty to control. This provides all the more reason to remain as tight-lipped as possible both when we have something to say as well as when we do not. I can certainly recall occasions when I have unnecessarily upset folk without any malice intended through the use of a few carelessly chosen words. Careless talk can certainly have unintended consequences.
Now just in case we were in any doubt, King David’s description of the wicked ones includes a verse on these ones’ words. Again whilst not specifically related to plain bad language it lays claim to the destructive power of wicked men’s words:
7 His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and injury; under his tongue [are] mischief and vanity. (Psalms 10 GLT)
Does this not sound like the nonsense and evil that is spouted regularly on today’s media by politicians, business leaders, so-called celebrities and the like? I wonder what King David would make of them?
Paul also makes a short but highly vitriolic attack on the ungodly ones abuse of their speech ability in his letter to the Roman congregation:
13 "Their throat [is] a tomb being opened;" "they used deceit with their tongues; [the] poison of asps [is] under their lips;
14 whose mouth [is] full of cursing and bitterness. (Romans 3 GLT)
And one final verse from David to end this section on the evil that can come from the tongue:
12 [For] the sin of their mouth [is] the word of their lips, even let them be captured in their pride, and for cursing and the lying [which] they utter. (Psalms 59 GLT)
Blasphemy Compared to the Use of Expletives
Looking at bad language as opposed to blasphemy, Paul identifies these as separate sinful acts in his letter to the congregation at Colossus although, interestingly, there appears to be no attempt to rank them in order of severity. I suppose this should really be the province of the Law and the punishments due under the Law. In the spirit of the New Covenant we must all learn to do better against this whole list of spiritual ills:
8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. (Colossians 3 KJV)
νυνὶ δὲ ἀπόθεσθε καὶ ὑμεῖς τὰ πάντα, ὀργήν, θυμόν, κακίαν, βλασφημίαν, αἰσχρολογίαν ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν: (Colossians 3:8 OGB)
In the above passage the Greek word for ‘blasphemy’ is βλασφημίαν, whereas that for ‘filthy communication’ is αἰσχρολογίαν which is a totally separate word and therefore a separate sin. So it is entirely appropriate that I can address the issue of bad language as an entirely different category of verbal abuse from that of blasphemy. Once again I have decided not to use the Green’s Literal Translation, this time in favour of the King James’ version. It would seem that Jay Green appears to have an issue translating this area of God’s Word in a way that I feel properly conveys both the original meaning and in a way that is best understood in today’s parlance.
James’ letter roundly condemns blasphemous oaths but also ‘any other oath’ so is presumably also including the use of more general bad language in this verse:
12 But before all things, my brothers, do not swear, neither by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor any other oath. But let [your] yes be yes, and the no, no, that you may not fall under judgment. (James 5 GLT)
I suspect that the meaning of the second half of this verse is intended to ensure its readers stick to the basic statements they wish to make without the addition of any unnecessary expletives or other verrbiage. This verse from James’ letter is suitably amplified in Matthew’s gospel:
33 Again, you have heard that it was said to the ancients: "You shall not swear falsely, but shall give your oaths to the Lord." [Lev. 19:12; Num. 30:2]
34 But I say to you, Do not swear at all, neither by Heaven, because it is God's throne; [Isa. 66:1]
35 nor by the earth, because it is the footstool of His feet; nor by Jerusalem, because it is [the] city of the great King. [Isa. 66:1; Psa. 48:2]
36 Nor shall you swear by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black.
37 But let your word be Yes, yes; No, no. For the excess of these is from evil. (Matthew 5 GLT)
However, earlier on in Matthew’s gospel I think bad language is plainly nailed in its own right quite separately from the issue of oath-making. This presents a worrying profile for many of us I expect:
36 But I say to you, that every idle word, whatever men may speak, they shall give an account of it in Judgment Day.
37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Matthew 12 GLT)
I, for one, plainly need to do better in this department. I pray the Holy Spirit helps protect me against myself; it is starting to feel like an unnecessary form of spiritual self-harm! I’ve not seen it in that light before so I clearly need to think a little more before opening my mouth.
Just for clarity the sin of blasphemy is clearly stated in the Law but no such dictat is included for the misdemeanour of the use of bad language as far as I can discover:
11 You shall not take the name of Jehovah your God in vain; for Jehovah will not hold [him] guiltless who takes His name in vain. (Deuteronomy 5 GLT)
12 And you shall not swear by My name to a falsehood; nor shall you pollute the name of your God; I [am] Jehovah. (Leviticus 19 GLT)
Bad Language is Not Good But Wise Words Are
Paul’s letter to the Ephesian congregation provides a good start to this section:
29 Let no corrupt word out of your mouth go forth, but what is good unto the needful building up, that it may give grace to the hearers;
30 and make not sorrowful the Holy Spirit of God, in which ye were sealed to a day of redemption.
31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil-speaking, be put away from you, with all malice, (Ephesians 4 YLT)
πᾶς λόγος σαπρὸς ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν μὴ ἐκπορευέσθω, ἀλλὰ εἴ τις ἀγαθὸς πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν τῆς χρείας, ἵνα δῷ χάριν τοῖς ἀκούουσιν. (Ephesians 4:29 OGB)
For once I have used Young’s rather than Green’s Literal Translation. For some reason Green has used a less precise and convoluted translation that I think overall confuses the full meaning of this passage.
So what were the messages that Paul gave to his followers in Ephesus? Well firstly he was making it very clear that bad language should be avoided and that only words that aided the strengthening of the congregation should be used. The use of the Greek word σαπρὸς, translated here as ‘corrupt’ would seem to have the general meaning of rotten or bad so I think that all bad speaking is intended here. This would therefore include the use of bad language in the sense that I am meaning for this paper; that is the use of superfluous expletives.
Paul then goes on to link the use of bad language by the sealed Christian congregation members with the prospective upsetting of the Holy Spirit. So whether or not the use of bad language in a non-blasphemous sense is a sin or not, it clearly is not something that the Holy Spirit condones. So this clearly would not be considered as seemly behaviour in the ranks of the First New Covenant Saints and therefore, one must assume, also those of the Second New Covenant Kings.
Verse 31 then goes on to condemn the root causes of bad language as those emotions and tendencies that we would all be best to keep under control. We are all emotional creatures as indeed is our creator. There is a time and a place for some of them, anger being a good example, but we nonetheless need to control how we respond to those emotions in terms of our speaking to or in the hearing of others.
Interestingly I do not think Paul has here expressed any concerns about the use of bad language when we are not in the hearing of other humans. So I am not too sure where my swearing at my computer, when I press the wrong button, actually stands in this respect; I should probably err on the side of caution unless scripture suggests otherwise I think!
The following chapter in Paul’s same letter (this time turning back to the use of Green’s Literal Translation) further substantiates these thoughts as aimed at the saints:
3 But let not fornication, and all uncleanness, or greediness, be named among you, as is fitting for saints;
4 also baseness, and foolish talking, or joking (the things not becoming), but rather thanksgiving.
5 For be knowing this, that every fornicator, or unclean one, or covetous [one], who is an idolater, has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. (Ephesians 5 GLT)
Paul’s letter to the congregation at Colossus, while not directly condemning bad language, demonstrates how the Christian should speak to his fellow men:
6 Let your word [be] always with grace, having been seasoned with salt, to know how you ought to answer each one. (Colossians 4 GLT)
Firstly, Paul is saying that one’s words should be spoken with grace. To me this means to pay due deference to the listener’s perception of what is being said; bad language should have no place in this respect. The ‘seasoning with salt’ is an interesting turn of phrase which I take to mean that one’s words should be flavoured according to the tastes of the listener. Blind speech is for the speaker who is listening to his own words. True speech is intended to convey meaning to the listener and therefore needs to be tailored towards the listener’s predilections. This requires no idle talk and again there is no place in proper speech to fall back on any bad language. The latter can provide no value to a worthwhile message and, indeed, can dilute and devalue what is truly meant.
The first of Peter’s letters goes so far as to suggest that those seeking the Kingdom of God need to maintain control over their words:
10 "For the [one] desiring to love life, and to see good days, let him restrain his tongue from evil, even his lips not to speak guile. (1 Peter 3 GLT)
Paul’s second letter to Timothy also has much to say about the use of speech particularly in the presentation of God’s Word. The warning, in verse 16 below, for the use of bad language is that it is probably not that serious offense in itself but may easily lead into rather more serious offenses if it should remain unfettered. In this respect it sounds like it may have a similar status to Fleshly Desire as covered in my previous paper:
14 Remind [them of] these things, solemnly testifying before the Lord not to dispute about words for nothing useful, to [the] subversion [of] those hearing.
15 Earnestly [study] to present yourself approved to God, a workman unashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.
16 But shun profane, empty babblings, for they will go on to more ungodliness, (2 Timothy 2 GLT)
The following verse from Paul’s first letter to the congregation at Corinth should be of particular reassurance to the committed Christian who has a propensity for bad language:
3 Because of this I make known to you that no one speaking by [the] Spirit of God says, Jesus [is] a curse. And no one is able to say Jesus [is] Lord, except by [the] Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12 GLT)
This is confirming to me that plain bad language coming out of the mouths of such ones is probably considered as no more than a minor misdemeanour so long as it is not accompanied by blasphemy but by declarations of the saving grace of Christ. Hopefully the sin of bad language will be overlooked with just a stern (and well chosen) word from the Holy Spirit in the overall context of our faithful hearts.
The improprieties that we can commit with our tongues seem to be growing the longer I look at this subject. Insulting our fellow man could also be construed as a form of bad language. According to Matthew’s gospel even the severity of the words we choose to use can have an impact on the severity of the judgement:
22 But I say to you, Everyone who is angry with his brother without cause shall be liable to the Judgment. And whoever says to his brother, Raca, shall be liable to the sanhedrin; but whoever says, Fool! shall be liable [to be thrown] into the fire of Hell. (Matthew 5 GLT)
ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι πᾶς ὁ ὀργιζόμενος τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ ἔνοχος ἔσται τῇ κρίσει: ὃς δ' ἂν εἴπῃ τῷ ἀδελφῷ αὐτοῦ, Ῥακά, ἔνοχος ἔσται τῷ συνεδρίῳ: ὃς δ' ἂν εἴπῃ, Μωρέ, ἔνοχος ἔσται εἰς τὴν γέενναν τοῦ πυρός. (Matthew 5:22 OGB)
The Greek word Ῥακά (Raca) means ‘empty-headed’. While this seems like a subtle distinction when compared to the word for fool to me, there would clearly seem to be a significant differentiation in the first century Greek of the time. The former would seem to be under the judgement of the church whereas the latter under the judgement of the Holy Spirit, a far more onerous case.
More wisdom comes from King Solomon to keep a tight rein on one’s tongue to help protect one’s very soul:
23 Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from distresses. (Proverbs 21 GLT)
24 Turn away from you the crooked mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. (Proverbs 4 GLT)
These following few verses from Solomon are, once again, about the benefits of choosing wise words. Interestingly it would seem that God is watching and not listening as one might suppose. Is this because God is not just interested in the words that we utter but more, perhaps, in the response to our choice of words and to how we deliver them as the best gauge to their wisdom:
1 A soft answer turns back wrath, but a hurtful word stirs up anger.
2 The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness.
3 The eyes of Jehovah [are] in every place watching the evil and the good.
4 A wholesome tongue [is] a tree of life, but perverseness in it [is] a break of the spirit. (Proverbs 15 GLT)
I have to say that I often practice, myself, watching a conversation and making a point of not listening to it except, perhaps, to the pitch and volume of the voices. As a result of that I have learnt that body language carries a massive amount of information between the parties involved in the conversation almost to the extent that the words are almost a sideshow. The difference between the two is that words are not always to be trusted but it is very difficult to fake one’s body language. The latter is a much better representation as to what the parties are really thinking.
In Paul’s letter to Titus further confirmation is provided of the importance attached to our behaviour particularly in respect of our words and the effect they have on others:
6 the younger men in the same way exhort to be discreet;
7 holding forth yourself [as] a pattern of good works about all things in doctrine, in purity, sensibleness, incorruption,
8 [in] sound speech, without condemnation, that the [one] hostile may he shamed, having nothing bad to say about you. (Titus 2 GLT)
The prophet Hosea reports on God’s view of the native inhabitants of the land in which the Israelites were living at that time. Clearly they were godless people. The sinful use of words in cursing and lying are both high on the list of their crimes even coming before murder, theft and adultery once again strongly demonstrating Jehovah’s view of an evil tongue:
1 Sons of Israel, hear the Word of Jehovah, for Jehovah [has] a quarrel with those living in the land; for there is no truth, and no mercy, and no knowledge of God in the land.
2 Swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and the committing of adultery increase. And blood touches against blood. (Hosea 4 GLT)
Solomon has an interesting thought on the use of words, this time from the point of view of the recipient. Good advice on how not to take others’ words to heart:
21 Also, do not give your heart to all the words they speak, that you not hear your servant cursing you.
22 For also your own heart knows that you yourself have also cursed others many times. (Ecclesiastes 7 GLT)
19 A revealer of secrets walks about as a gossip, so do not meddle with him who opens his lips wide. (Proverbs 20 GLT)
Certainly my own experience of gossips is that they can spread a lot of ill feeling around them much like a cancer spreading.
In writing of a virtuous woman, Solomon mentions her value and the good things one expects to come from her mouth. However I do not believe these attributes to be the sole province of the gentler sex. Again no specific mention here of bad language but the expectation of the positive power of speech:
10 Who can find a woman of virtue? For her value [is] far above jewels. (Proverbs 31 GLT)
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the law of kindness [is] on her tongue. (Proverbs 31 GLT)
Solomon compares the words of the righteous with those of the wicked. Us faithful ones that have recourse to coarse words need to pay heed should our words be interpreted as those from a wicked soul, God forbid:
31 The mouth of the just flourishes [with] wisdom, but the perverse tongue shall be cut off.
32 The lips of the righteous know what is pleasing, but the mouth of the wicked knows only perversities. (Proverbs 10 GLT)
13 The fear of Jehovah [is] to hate evil; I hate pride and loftiness, and the evil way, and the perverse mouth. (Proverbs 8 GLT)
26 The thoughts of the wicked [are] very hateful to Jehovah, but the words of pleasantness [are] pure.
27 He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes shall live.
28 The heart of the righteous muses [how] to answer, but the mouth of the wicked pours out evil things.
29 Jehovah [is] far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15 GLT)
Again the importance of righteous speech comes from the pen of David to finish off this section:
13 Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking guile; (Psalms 34 GLT)
Words are from the Heart
Luke symbolises the matter by comparing a tree with its fruit to the linkage between a man’s heart condition and the words that emanate from that soul’s tongue :
43 For there is not a good tree that produces bad fruit, nor a bad tree that produces good fruit.
44 For each tree is known from [its] own fruit. For they do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.
45 The good man brings forth good out of the good treasure of his heart. And the evil man brings forth evil out of the evil treasure of his heart, for his mouth speaks out of the abundance of his heart. (Luke 6 GLT)
So we must learn to control our verbal outbursts by controlling the thoughts and emotional responses to their trigger points as they impact upon us on a daily basis. It is only by striving to gain back that innermost control that we can have the ability to prevent our words from conveying the negative connotations associated with bad language.
The power of our words to do evil was made in strong terms by Christ’s own words in Matthew’s gospel:
11 [It is] not the [thing] entering into the mouth that defiles the man, but the [thing] coming forth out of the mouth, this defiles the man.
12 Then coming, the disciples said to Him, You know that hearing the Word, the Pharisees were offended?
13 But answering, He said, Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up.
14 Leave them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind; and if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.
15 And answering, Peter said to Him, Explain this parable to us.
16 But Jesus said, Are you also still without understanding?
17 Do you not yet perceive that everything entering into the mouth goes into the belly, and is thrown out into [the] waste bowl?
18 But the things which come out of the mouth come forth from the heart, and these defile the man.
19 For out of the heart come forth reasonings, evil [things], murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, blasphemies.
20 These things are the [things] defiling the man. But eating with unwashed hands does not defile the man. (Matthew 15 GLT)
This provides a further emphasis that one’s words spring from and are therefore a mirror on the heart condition of us all.
The following verse from the book of Psalms, often quoted in church services, is very relevant in drawing the link between what is on our tongues and what is in our hearts:
14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing before You, O Jehovah, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalms 19 GLT)
David also has much to say on the subject of keeping one’s counsel to oneself particularly in the presence of wicked ones. Again the link between mouth and heart is made; this time to demonstrate how much control is needed to not always express in words what is in one’s heart:
1 [To the chief musician, to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.] I said, I will keep my ways from sinning with my tongue; I will keep my mouth with a muzzle while the wicked [are] before me.
2 I became mute [and] still; from good I was silent, and my pain was stirred.
3 My heart was hot within me; while the fire burned I was meditating; I spoke with my tongue: (Psalms 39 GLT)
Making Our Souls Temples
The First New Covenant saints in Corinth were described as the Temple of God by Paul in his first letter to them:
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are. (1 Corinthians 3 KJV)
Could one’s words have an implication on that status as God’s Temple? Another couple of verses from Peter’s first epistle prove interesting on the subject. I have provided two different translations here:
15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; (KJV)
15 but according to the Holy One who has called you, you also become holy in all conduct; (GLT)
16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. (1 Peter 1 KJV)
16 because it has been written, "Be holy," "because I am holy." [Lev. 19:2] (1 Peter 1 GLT)
ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸν καλέσαντα ὑμᾶς ἅγιον καὶ αὐτοὶ ἅγιοι ἐν πάσῃ ἀναστροφῇ γενήθητε, (1 Peter 1:15 OGB)
Both translations here appear to be valid in that the Greek word ἀναστροφῇ can take the meaning either of conversation or conduct. This seems to add even more emphasis of how important speech is in the overall context of our behaviour towards our fellow man. This is then given to the Christian congregation as a means to achieve holiness. Clearly we cannot fully be considered holy (or making our souls a temple) if we continue to use bad language either in conversation or within our overall conduct.
Again in terms of thinking of how we make ourselves temples we must put on the new man in covenant with our God as described in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. This needs to cover all our behaviour including how we relate to our brothers in both word and deed. Bad language carries the risk of letting Satan influence our actions and those around us. There really should be no place for it. I must try harder!!
24 and to put on the new man, [which] according to God [was] created in righteousness and true holiness.
25 Therefore, putting off the false, "speak truth each with his neighbor," because we are members of one another. [Zech. 8:16]
26 "Be angry but do not sin;" do not let the sun go down on your wrath, [LXX-Psa. 4:4; MT-Psa. 4:5]
27 nor give place to the Devil. (Ephesians 4 GLT)
We clearly need to attempt to follow God’s own holy example as defined by King Solomon. Words are as important to God as they should be to us so we need to refine our speech with care taken over every word uttered:
5 Every Word of God [is] refined, He [is] a shield to those who seek refuge in Him. (Proverbs 30 GLT)
This paper started out with the express and specific intent to determine how sinful my frequent use of expletives was seen to be as far as the scriptures were concerned. Well they certainly are not worthy of one who would strive to be a Second New Covenant King so I clearly must address that. But beyond that it has become very clear to me what a massive gift and therefore weapon for good or evil the power of language actually is. This is clearly demonstrated by the recorded words of our God and His wayward son Satan.
Many commentators would tell us that the main capability that sets we humans apart from the rest of all creation is that very power of language. We must all manage how we address our fellow man in the words that we utter if we are to achieve a morally sustainable world in keeping with all the other aspects of our behaviour. Amen.
Image provided by www.BiblePictureGallery.com.
Solomon dictating his wise maxims.
Jewish Lords' Witness