Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Out Away the Old Man, Even His Tongue

We spend so much of our lives talking to one another.  Just think of how many conversations you have on any given day, then think of how many of them are about Jesus.  I think this is an area we all have issues in.  I am sure if we take an inventory, Jesus would not be the top of the list.  For many I am sure the top of that list would be things like news, politics, sports, or gossip.  I think we also need to take inventory of how many of our conversations are just not appropriate.  Do you use foul language, tell coarse jokes, or tear others down with insults?  If so, understand that those forms of conversation are unacceptable in the life of a Christian.  Today I want to talk about taming the tongue. 
If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion [is] useless. James 1:26 NKJV
God calls those who do not tame their tongues useless.  If you are a gossip, if you use foul language, if you tell coarse jokes, or if you spew forth anger and hatred, you are utterly useless to God.  You are salt that lost its saltiness.  This is not me saying it, this is the Word of God.  You have no worthwhile testimony if you do not tame your tongue.  This is for very good reason as we will see as we look through some Scriptures involving our conversations. 
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children.And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.  Ephesians 5:1-5 NKJV
First of all, we are to be imitators of Christ even in our conversations.  We see from this passage that we are not even to let filthiness, foolish talking, or coarse jesting to be named among us.  They are unfitting.  They have no place in a life that is imitating Christ.  What Paul is talking about here are things like profanity, speaking lustful ideas, or telling dirty jokes.  How can these ever be a part of the life of a Christian?  How can profanity ever be acceptable from a child of God?  What kind of example is that to unsaved and especially to children?  Should a Christian adult teach a child profane words?  The same can be said for dirty jokes or speaking lustful thoughts.  You are planting the seeds of sin in the minds of another and being a cause for temptation.  Furthermore, should we find something that is an abomination to God to be humorous? Do we laugh at the stripes borne by our Lord for the sin we treat as comedy to be laughed at and taken lightly?  God forbid!  What kind of witness can we have for the righteousness of Christ working in us if we spew forth sinful things for entertainment? What place can profanity ever have on the lips that are called to preach the love and grace of Jesus Christ? 
But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new [man] who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,  Colossians 3:8-10 NKJV
Here we have same idea as in the previous passage.  Those things like anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy language are all part of your identity before Christ.  That is part of the old man we put away when we come to Jesus.  We are not old to put off some of the old man or to progressively put off each part as God "deals" with us, but to just put it away.  Waiting for God to deal with something you know you should stop doing is like a poorly behaved disobedient child who will attempt to get away with whatever he can for as long as he can until he gets caught.  In this case, we are to put away those things from our conversation that show our anger or hatred to others.  We should not speak out angrily to others who wrong us.  We should not share words of wrath or malice (in other words threatening or wishing harm or violence) towards others.  We should not blaspheme God as an angry response to another.  I have seen Christians angrily deny the Word of God when someone points out part of it that hits on their struggles.  And while we are never to speak profanity, we are especially not to do so in anger.  That is the world that uses foul language to express displeasure. That is the old man. That is never appropriate for a child of God.  That should never be a characteristic of the new man in Jesus. 
But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, putting away lying, "[Let] each one [of you] speak truth with his neighbor," for we are members of one another. Ephesians 4:20-25 NKJV
We are again learning about the new man we are in Christ, and, again, we are seeing how that applies to our conversation. In this case we are told not to lie.  Dishonesty is a characteristic of the old man before Christ.  The new creation speaks the truth.  The new creation lets his "yes" be "yes" and his "no" be "no."  This is of the utmost importance when it comes to our testimony.  No one will believe our words about Jesus if our words about everything else can be called into question. 
But refuse [the] younger widows; for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they desire to marry, having condemnation because they have cast off their first faith. And besides they learn [to be] idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not.  1 Timothy 5:11-13 NKJV
Here we see that gossiping and being a busybody are things we ought not to be doing.  We also see they are characteristic of someone who is in rebellion against God.  Sadly, churches are one of the most fertile grounds for gossip.  That should never be!  We are not to go spreading around the personal business of another, even if it is to "pray" for them.  It is never your business to spread the personal business of someone else. That is a betrayal and has been the cause of many who have walked away from church. 

We have seen much contrast in the passages I shared today.  If we do not bridle our tongues, our witness is a failure.  We will be useless to God. Can you preach the righteousness of Christ after telling a dirty profanity-laced joke?  Can you share the love and grace of Jesus Christ after proclaiming hatred and anger towards others?  Can you proclaim the truth of the gospel if everything else you say is a lie?  Can you tell someone you love them when you you make their most personal secrets entertainment for your partners in gossip?  Can you say you are a new creation in Christ when you act just like the old man without Christ? Of course not and that is why God tells us that even with our tongues we are to do all in the name of the Lord.
And whatever you do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.  Colossians 3:17 NKJV
Even our conversation must be in the nature and character of Jesus.  That is what it means to be imitators of God.  That is what it means to put on the new man.  That is what it means to be a new creation in Christ.  That is what it means to be the salt of the earth. 
[Let] your speech always [be] with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one. Colossians 4:6 NKJV

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