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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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Friday, November 23, 2012
Is Coarse Language Sinful?
Let's begin our answer to this question by answering a similarly styled question, "Is it sinful to kill another human being?"

The answer to this latter question actually depends on the circumstances of the killing. Was the killing an act of rebellion against God's command not to willfully (as opposed to accidently) kill an innocent person? Recall that God gave a commandment under the old covenant not to murder anyone. This alone sufficiently reveals the will of God on this account, but let us recall again how, under the new covenant, the greater meaning of the commandment was reinforced and reiterated. Christ expounded the thought (in Matthew 5) concerning murder by showing that murder is motivated by the same sinful, selfish anger that is expressed in hurtfully insulting someone else. Which entirely with what James said, "...when sin is accomplished it brings forth death."

To be succinct, James wasn't writing about the sin of murder, but the sin of lust (desiring something), but lust, like every other sin, when distilled, flows from the self serving, "I am all that matters" place. This self serving attitude is fully expressed when one becomes content with a life that is different than what God intends. Said another way, to desire your own way above and against God's way, is to set aside what God desires of us, and pursue what we desire for ourselves. As God is the source of our life, and as we usurp this life to pursue a "Godless" end, it is right and proper to describe that final end - the accomplishment of our sin (i.e. rebellion) as "death" - since pursuing a separation from God is necessarily pursuing a separation from the life He sustains in us.

The irrationality of sin (i.e. our rebellion against God's rule) is that even as we pursue our own agenda - an agenda that denies the God who gives us our life, yet we desire the life that He sustains in us. We worship the creature (ourselves) rather than the Creator. We want a life that is self sustaining and not sustained by God - and yet no such life can ever exist. To pursue our own agenda in the face of such knowledge is madness - and yet every person on earth does just that. We are like sheep bound for the slaughter-house, but more interested in the tasty grass along the way than the fact that the path leads to our own demise.

If God has made it plain to us that it is an act of rebellion against His will to take an innocent life, He has also made it clear that it is entirely in accord with His will to take the life of those who reject the authority He Himself has placed over them, and again that it was entirely good and proper for Israel to bring the judgment of God (the death sentence) to entire nations.

Some are galled by the notion that God pronounced a death sentence against whole nations because it is impossible (for these) to imagine that every man, woman, child, and animal in those nations had personally done something worthy of a death sentence. I can understand their shock, because I know where it comes from - it comes from a humanistic world view. They believe that God owes us the life that we enjoy, and that it belongs to us, and not to God. Thus it strikes them as "unfair" for God to take the life of a child who doesn't yet know right from wrong. But such a notion betrays a spiritual blindness in the one who holds it.

God does not owe life to anyone, whether they be the worst of sinners, or the most innocent of babes. If God takes the life of an innocent babe, that life is not destroyed, it is completed. God lent that life to the babe to be lived for a finite time upon the earth, according to His own measure. Before the life was supplied to the babe, God measured its days upon the earth - determining how long the babes life would persist upon the earth before God called it back to Himself.

To be sure, I am convinced by the scriptures that children are not culpable for the sins of their parents, and that when Christ said, "let the children come to Me for such in the kingdom of God", he was informing us that until such a time a person knows what it means to willfully set God's rule aside and pursue his own agenda, that person is not culpable for his or her rebellion. If God takes the life of a child, He is taking them to save them, and not to destroy them.

In other words, I understand the judgment against these nations as a two fold judgment - that the sinful license of those culpable for sin was arrested, and that the non-culpable (children) should avoid the condemnation earned by their parents by being called to the Lord before the sins of the parents were (inevitably) pursued by the children.

So when God takes a life - even an innocent life - it is not murder, and it may not even be judgment - it is His right to take away what belongs to Him, and the only one who rails against such a thing is the one who mistakenly imagines that God doesn't have this right.

So is it sinful to kill another human being? Yes, if the killing is murder (the taking of a life you have no God ordained right to take), but no if the one taking the life of another is doing so in accord with God's judgment. In Romans 13 we read that God puts men under the authority of rulers whom He supplies with "the sword" (a metaphor for the authority to administer the death penalty). The man who performs a legal execution is not committing murder he is administering, by God's authority, justice.

The point is, that even with something as (seemingly) cut and dry as the question of whether or not it is sinful to take the life of another person, the answer is hardly cut and dry. We can summarize the whole thing by identifying what makes the taking of a life sinful: doing so according to your own desires and apart from the desires of God.

What is true in this case is true in general. What makes something sinful is not the act itself, it is whether or not the act will transgress the will of God.

That point should be self-evident, and for those who are well grounded in the scriptures it probably is, but for many believers it isn't. So I drew it out so that when we ask whether or not coarse language is a sin, we have a bit of a foundation before we bludgeon the question with the text of Ephesians 5:4 ("...and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting...").

Ephesians 5:4 is pretty clear about what kind of language is not permissible for the believer, so it would otherwise be a "no-brainer" if the relativism of post-modern thinking wasn't being pabulum-fed to this generation from every corner.

Who am I seeking to please when I speak like that: myself? others? or Christ?A great many "thinkers" nowadays are being told that nothing is absolute, and (peer) pressured into towing the line that only the intellectually inept would ever stoop to reason from an absolute position. Poisoned Crippled Hindered Influenced by this mentality, these same people interpret the text of Ephesians 5 in a relative sense: it is only sinful to be more coarse than everyone else, only sinful to be more filthy in your speech than those around you, or more coarse in your jesting. If the culture around (is so corrupt that it) uses the F-bomb, then it is okay for the believer to do so, since he or she is not saying anything that these sin-dead ears haven't heard already. What God wants is to make sure we don't say anything over the top.

But that kind of thinking is flawed in that it thinks of sin in terms of doing something "bad" and then defines bad as doing something "worse" than others.

The question for the believer is: Who am I seeking to please when I speak like that: myself? others? or Christ? Sin, if you will recall, is anything that is done as an act of rebellion against God's rule. That means that whenever I do anything, it is either being done according to the will of God, or contrary to the will of God. Does God will that I open my mouth in a profane way? Certainly not. The question then, to the post-modern thinker is, "what constitutes profanity?".

Post-modern thinking always brings one to wishy-washy, do-whatever-feels-right-in-your-own-opinion sort of place. If what offend in one context/culture is not offensive in another, the post modern answer is to let the context/culture determine what is profane. But Christianity is much easier than that. Everything that comes out of the mouth of a Christian is spoken before God and His angels. Unless Christ Himself would feel perfectly at ease speaking in the manner we choose to speak, we ourselves should not speak in that way.

Here again the post-modernists may well rally by saying that perhaps Jesus did use profanity, or would use profanity if it was fitting to do so in the context or culture in which He was speaking. But this opinion betrays a grand conceit. We are not at liberty to imagine whether or not Jesus would speak in a profane way. He would not. Had Jesus ever said anything that even hinted at profanity, His enemies would have seized upon it like they seized upon the fact that he ate and drank with sinners. The fact that they tried to twist such things to fit into an accusation tells us that they had nothing on Him - no one could convince Him of rebelling against God's rule (sin).

So the answer to the question is that it is indeed sinful for a Christian to use vulgar or profane language.

The follow up question then, is why do some Christians think profanity is harmless or okay?

The answer to this follow up question has more or less been answered already, but I will make it explicit: Such a nominal form of Christian does not concern itself with surrendering daily to the Christ of scripture, but instead concerns itself with pressing itself into a self-made mold that is labeled "Christianity" but fails to resemble that which is modeled in the scriptures.

The Pharisees were experts at this sort of vacant, "in name only" religion - and their spiritual children can be found wearing the label "Christian" today.

Of course I am painting here with a broad brush. I do not mean to say that every misled believer is an apostate. In a world where post modern thinking saturates everything we say, think, and do, the immature believer can hardly be expected to grasp the depths of his own depravity. If the unquenched Spirit of Christ is at work in the believer, that believer will come under conviction about profane speech, and will (because it is pretty easy to do for most of us) immediately being to avoid profane speech.

My concern is for the person who professes to be a believer, but for whom there is no conviction whatsoever about profane speech. A person who claims to be a believer, but who believes that God isn't really concerned about how we express ourselves or present Him to the world, so long as what we say is fine with those whom we are speaking to. Such a person does not see profane speech as evil unless the one speaking it imbues it with evil by purposely intending it to be so. Of course that argument works equally well with every other sin - such things as rape and murder are only evil if there is a purposeful evil intention. It isn't sinful to steal, unless you intend evil in doing so. etc. To generalize, people are justified in doing whatever they want as long as they are able to convince themselves there is nothing wrong in what they do.

That is where post modern thinking takes you. Right back to the book of Judges where "...every man did what seemed right in his own eyes". Remember that this was something that was said about a people only a generation or two removed from Moses. They had something clear and concise (the law), but ignored it in order to pursue whatever seemed right to them. This is the very substance of what it means to be a sinner. The Israelites went down this road before us, so that we don't have to guess at where "following what seems good to us" leads (apostasy).

As a believer will you build your house upon a solid foundation, using Christ Himself as your plumb line, or will you slap together a house that looks like, and leans against all the other houses slanting out there on the sand? It comes down to this: when you open your mouth, let it be to build up, and not to tear down. Let it be the breathing of the life of Christ in you, and not the venting of your own spleen.
posted by Daniel @ 11:37 AM  
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