Thursday, July 4, 2013

Tongues on Fire

I realize that this will be hitting Facebook and the emails of those subscribing on Independence Day and that someone might actually take the time to read this on Independence day.  So before I get started, out of respect for the holiday, and appreciation for all those who gave their lives or are currently serving to provide and protect my freedom of speech on this blog as well as all other freedoms, let me say,


Now with that said, let's get started.  :-)

Since, as referenced in the previous blog post Vertical or Horizontal Repentance, one of the primary sinful acts that gets apologized for around me is profanity and gratefully that is one that, by God's grace, I do not struggle with as a rule, I want to provide a few thoughts and scriptural evidences regarding why WE as Christians ought to be considerably more concerned than many seem to be about the state of their tongue. 

Now, many have addressed the tongue in regards to speaking positively or not criticizing in a nonconstructive manner and certainly these things are important.  We need to represent the love of Christ in all that we say and do.  Unfortunately, I sometimes hear people who do these other two pretty well while telling dirty jokes or using profanity still seems to be a relatively nonchalant practice for them.  This may seem nit picky to some but the fact is, from a scriptural perspective, there is no wiggle room for casual cursing or casual telling of dirty jokes.  It is absolutely not glorifying to God.

I will grant you that loosing your temper or a sudden significant pain may not be your best moment.  That scenario gets my goat at times as well.  Though not often because, I practice not allowing profanity to be a part of my vocabulary.  What concerns me is casual and seemingly unrepentant use of profanity or coarse joking.

I see this not only from the general public of professing Christians but sometimes even from people of influence in ministry related roles or minsters themselves.  I have heard testimony from others of actually observing pastors doing or saying things outside of church that make them virtually indistinguishable from the world.  This same kind of behavior has been recognized at church functions and in staff meetings as well.  Now mind you, I have grown up in and have been around ministry all my life so these examples are not from any one place.  Regardless, this kind of behavior is outrageous.  No one should act this way but, there is an even higher level of accountability for those in ministry.  I would strongly warn anyone in such positions to guard themselves carefully and those whom work under them.  "No body is perfect" is not an excuse for any of us.  It must be clear that we are striving for perfection and we must make apology and clear effort toward repentance when we fail. We must hold each other accountable and be willing to be held accountable ourselves.

With that said, what scriptures speak to this?  The number one verse that speaks to this sinful behavior is Ephesians 5:4.  I am going to put it into the context of Eph. 5:1-5, "be imitators of God therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, jut as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity of, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people.  Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.  For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person--such a man is an idolater--has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."
I placed this in context so that we can get the whole picture that obscenity, foolish talk, or coarse joking are ranked right in with sexual immorality, impurity, or greed.  It states that anyone who is practicing this behavior in an unrepentant (unwilling to change) manner will not go to heaven.  That's an eternally big deal.

James 1:26 says, "If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless."  In James 3:6 he says, "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell."

I could list scripture after scripture regarding this and I would encourage you to read up on this.  Instead,  I will reference briefly two other commands for holy living.  God  said, Be holy even as I am holy(Leviticus 20:26).  The Apostle Peter thought that same scripture worthy of quoting in 1 Peter 1:16.  The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, challenges the Church to "live a life worthy of the Gospel" (Philippians 1:20)

This can be done.  Let me encourage us all that 1 Corinthians 10:13 states this: "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." 

God will enable you.  The question is how.  Well, if you are a believer, Jesus said that he would send us a helper in the person of the Holy Spirit(John 14:15-17)  However, how does the Holy Spirit help us?  Certainly, he brings conviction in the way of a lack of peace.  He can be much more effective though if we give Him something to work with.  For example, Psalm 119:9-11 says this, "How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to your word.  With my whole heart I seek you, let me not wander from your commandments!  I have stored up your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."  Scripture planted into our hearts and minds through memorization is then available for the Holy Spirit to utilize as a means of teaching and correction.

As a side note, if you think you cannot memorize scripture let me posit this for you.  First,  I'll bet that if I promised you a thousand dollars for every verse you memorized you would figure out how to get it done. Psalm 19:7-11 makes it clear that the statutes, commands, law, and fear of the Lord are more precious than gold, sweeter than honey, and that in keeping them is great reward.  Second, God will not give you a command that he will not enable you to follow.  2 Peter 1:3 states, "His divine Power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness."  As believers, we can obey God.

The Apostle Paul provides another insight into success over sin.  Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally brothers, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is just, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." 
You see, if you are only allowing these types of things, all of which are glorifying to God, to be what your brain and soul feeds and meditates on, then that will impact what comes out of your heart and mouth. What comes out of our mouths is generally associated with our hearts.(Luke 6:45, Matt. 15:10-11, Matt 12:36-37)  As Christians we should want what comes out of our mouths and what is meditated on by our hearts to be pleasing to God.(Psalm 19:14)

While we are required to make much effort in living holy lives, we are not expected to do it on our own.  Philippians 2:12-13 is one of my favorite verses.  It states, "continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to work according to his good purpose."  

We must work hard to properly represent the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives.  I cannot put it any better than the Apostle Paul does in Romans 12:1-2 in which he states, "Therefore , I urge you brother in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God for this is your spiritual act of worship.  Do not conform any long to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will." 

I am striving every day to live this out.  I do not want to misrepresent the God who gave everything for me so that I could have eternal life with him.  I don't want to spit in his face by daring to think that I have the right to say or do whatever feels good.  We must strive to represent the perfection and holiness that God the Father and Jesus Christ his Son commanded us to.  We will stumble, but we MUST repent vertically for God's benefit and horizontally for the benefit of those listening.  We must never become complacent or apathetic about sin in our life.  We must tremble in reverent fear of a Holy God.

Therefore, guard your heart, your eyes and your tongue.  Never take for granted what Christ did for us on that tree.  LIVE A LIFE WORTHY OF THE GOSPEL!

In Jesus name,


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