Some Sins of the Tongue

Edwin Broadus
Duluth, Minn.

"For every kind of beasts and birds, of creeping things and things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed by mankind: but the tongue can no man tame; it is a restless evil, it is full of deadly poison" (James 3:7, 8). How well we all know the truth of this statement by the inspired writer! The sins committed with the tongue are many, and the condemnation of these sins in God's word is emphatic. The purpose of this article is to note some of these sins and to note also what the Bible says about them.

1. Lying. Lying is telling anything that is not true. Contrary to what some men believe, lying is never right. The Bible teaches us that it is impossible for God to lie (Titus 1 :2). The reason is that all sin is impossible with God, and lying is always sinful. If lying were not always sinful, then it would be possible for God to sometimes lie.

Because lying is sinful, the Bible teaches us to put away falsehood, and "speak ye truth each one with his neighbor" (Ephesians 4:25). It also tells us what will happen to all liars "their part shall be in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone" (Revelation 21:8).

2. Cursing. Cursing is an invocation for harm to fall on someone else. A man, for example, becomes angry with some fellow man, and calls upon God to, damn that person, or asks that some other evil thing happen to him. Concerning the tongue, James said, "Therewith bless we the Lord and Father; and therewith curse we men, who, are made after the likeness of God: out of the same mouth cometh forth blessing and cursing." And then he said, -My brethren, these things ought not so to be" (James 3:9, 10).

3. Swearing. Swearing is taking an oath to attest to the truth of some statement that a person makes. Jesus said, "Swear not at all; neither by the heaven, for it is the throne of God; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black" (Matthew 5:33-36). Jesus not only forbade oaths involving the name of God, but also all other oaths as well. One reason for this is that when a man says a thing, he should mean it, and he should not have to swear on a stack of Bible,, to get men to believe him. Jesus said, "But let your speech be, Yea, vea; Nay, nay; and whatsoever is more than these is of the evil one" (v. 37).

4. Filthiness. This includes any kind of "dirty" speech, such as filthy jokes, suggestive language, etc. Paul said that we are to put shameful speaking out of our mouths (Colossians 3:8), and that filthiness and foolish talking are not even to, be named among us (Ephesians 5:4). Filthy speech is evidence of filthy thoughts, which are of course wrong in the eyes of God.

5. Gossip. Gossip is any idle talk about others. It may be true; it may not be. It may be malicious; it may not be. It serves no worthwhile purpose, and tends to hurt others. Solomon said, "A whisperer separateth chief friends" (Proverbs 16:28). Christians are to have a higher standard for their speech - it is to be "such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear" (Ephesians 4:29). All that we say Should first be put to, this test, and if saying it does not serve some worthwhile purpose, it is better left unsaid.

It is important that Christians overcome sins committed with the tongue. Jesus said, "And I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Matthew 12:36, 37). .

Truth Magazine II:5, p. 6
February 1958