Things like chat, sms, IM and sending an emoticon didn’t exist 30 years ago, but they are commonplace now. You and your peers access apps, watch viral videos, and read blogs. But how carefully do you consider what you are writing and speaking?
Amid the tech revolution, person-to-person communication, word structure and vocabulary have undergone an overhaul. Since the 1990s and the explosion of the Internet, the developed world has become globalized, interconnected, wireless and mobile. This process has been for both good and evil. For instance, God’s Church uses new technologies to aid in our commission to “prophesy again” to the largest audience possible (Revelation 10:11). However, organized crime, pornographers and terrorists have hijacked these technologies for spreading violence, immorality and death.
How about you? Let’s look into God’s Word and see what it reveals about the importance of our communication.
How It Begins
- Does what you say reflect what you think about? Matthew 12:34-35.
In today’s language, that could just as well read, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth e-mails, tweets, posts or IMs.” Satan is cast down to Earth (Revelation 12:9), and he targets you in an effort to pervert, twist, mar, impugn, attack and accuse. His goal is to destroy your relationship with God and your incredible human potential of being born into the God Family (Romans 8:11, 14-17).
2. Should we pray daily to be kept from the evil one—to resist him and draw near to God? Matthew 6:13; John 17:15; James 4:7-8.
3. Should we strive to get rid of corrupt communication in our lives? Ephesians 4:29.
The Apostle Paul was an exceptional communicator. He didn’t have an iPhone—he only had access to a split reed for a pen, papyrus and his vocal cords. Yet his advice is just as up-to-date as when it was written.
The Greek word for “corrupt” in this scripture is sapros, which means “rotten, putrefied, of poor quality, bad, unfit for use.” Is our verbal or written communication corrupt or clean? Does it lift others up or drag them down? Negative insinuations, curse words, immoral or violent images, euphemisms for profanity or taking God’s name in vain have no place in the minds or mouths of God’s people. This includes speaking, writing, typing or even retweeting or reposting such words.
The Greek word for good in this scripture reveals that your communication should be good, pleasant, agreeable, useful, joyful, happy, excellent, upright and honorable. Your communication should build others up, not tear them down.
4. Does sin begin in the mind? James 1:14-15.
When a broadcast from Satan seeks to break through into your mind, and it causes you to want to say or write something sinful, stop! Do not act on that evil thought. Recognize where that negative broadcast is coming from, and pray immediately that God would help you replace that negative thought with a righteous one—before you act on it. Sin begins in the mind, and conquering sin also begins in the mind.
5. Have we all sinned and communicated corruptly? Romans 3:23. With God’s help, can we repent, change direction, and start using good, edifying speech? Romans 2:4; Acts 20:21.
We are called to live according to God’s commandments, and we must strive to do so. If we’ve slipped up in the past, we must change.
A Force of Nature
1. What barely controllable force of nature does God compare to an out-of-control horse, a ship battered by wind and rain, and a raging fire? James 3:3-5.
2. Can we tame our tongues? Verses 6-8.
Not only can no man control his tongue, many barely make the attempt. To tame the tongue, we need something special. When you ride a horse, that is a powerful set of muscles underneath you, and you need the bit in its mouth to control the horse’s movements. Each of us, as God’s children, needs a spiritual bit in our mouths.
3. Otherwise, will we constantly offend people? Verse 2.
We offend others by gossiping, by corrupt language and by thoughtless comments—whether out loud or online. We need that spiritual bit in our mouths that only God can supply. We need to keep our hands firmly on the helm of the ship with His help.
4. Without God helping us to control our tongues, what sort of trouble will we get into? Verses 9-10. If we are submitted to God, will we have good conversation and speak positive, uplifting and edifying words? Verse 13.
5. If you are really asking God for His help in how you deal with your words and with other people, will you be someone who makes peace? Verses 17-18.
Hallow God’s Name
1. Is one of the 10 great points of God’s eternal, spiritual law devoted to His name? Exodus 20:7.
This commandment deals with God’s name and His office as the omnipotent Creator and sovereign Ruler of this universe, and it reveals His holy righteous character.
2. Did Christ instruct us to hallow God’s name? Matthew 6:9; Luke 11:2.
The Third Commandment deals with showing proper respect for the name of God. Obeying this commandment keeps you “guiltless,” or clean. The test of spiritual cleanliness lies in keeping this commandment. A man is clean or unclean according to how he uses God’s name—whether for vanity or in truth.
Vain means having no value or without effect. Some assume this to mean that it is only talking about swearing and cursing. It’s true that cursing and using profanity definitely breaks this commandment. But it goes beyond that.
It is possible to use God’s name in vain and not realize it? Let’s expose this subtle sin so we can learn to root it out and become guiltless and clean.
3. Will God judge every idle word we’ve spoken? Matthew 12:36.
If every idle word must be given account of, one who takes God’s name in vain will not be held guiltless.
We, as Christians, want to use the name of God properly. It is not wrong to use God’s name when we pray. It certainly isn’t wrong when we discuss God’s Kingdom or plan. We use it when we sing, and we use it in articles like this. So how can we know if we ever use God’s name in vain?
The most widely used method of taking God’s name in vain is through the use of euphemisms.
The definition of a euphemism is “a mild or vague expression used in place of a blunt one.” In other words, it is a substitute term that is being used in place of a more accurate term. Some in God’s Church take His name in vain—usually unknowingly—by using a euphemism for God’s name.
4. Is there anyone who is good except for God? Luke 18:19.
A commonly used euphemism is the expression “for goodness’ sake.” Good is God’s character, His name. So when a person uses the expression “for goodness’ sake,” this, in reality, is saying, “for God’s sake.” That is using God’s name in vain if it isn’t spoken in a manner of reverence toward God.
Other euphemistic statements are: “Oh my gosh,” “Golly,” “Gee whiz” and “Jeepers.” A few other euphemistic statements probably come to mind too. These statements are bad enough, but there have been some who have actually used the terms, “Oh my God,” “For God’s sake” and “For Lord’s sake.” If these statements aren’t made in reverence toward God, or if they are used as mild oaths, then those who utter these statements are taking God’s name in vain and disobeying the Third Commandment.
Most actors and actresses use God’s name in vain when they perform on tv or in the movies. In fact, it appears to be cute to use God’s name this way on television or in public. It is often the punchline of jokes: a crazy situation occurs, and the character takes God’s name in vain, and the studio audience breaks out in uproarious laughter. This problem can very easily spread into the Church because we see and hear it so often that we grow accustomed to it, and after a while, it doesn’t seem as offensive to us as it once did. We have to be on guard against it.
5. Does Christ tell us to not swear by heaven or Earth? Matthew 5:34-35.
Today, we often hear such expressions as “for heaven’s sake” or “for land’s sake.” Those go against Christ’s command in Matthew 5. Another expression we might inadvertently use in an irreverent way is “Hallelujah.” The word “hallelujah” means “praise the Lord.” How many of us have used that expression from time to time?
Modern technology has us abbreviating so much, including expressions that profane God’s name. Remember, saying “Oh my God,” or “Oh my gosh,” or abbreviating it (omg), are all violations of the Third Commandment. You should not say, type or post abbreviations or acronyms that are short for actual curse words.
6. Is it also possible to use God’s name in vain when we pray? Luke 6:46.
If we pray and know we are not going to obey God, we are using God’s name in vain. Prayer without obedience in hypocrisy.
7. Is God’s name holy and reverend? Psalm 111:9.
Many who have used these euphemistic statements have used them in ignorance. Those reading this article can no longer claim ignorance.
Keep in mind how holy God is, how great God is, and how holy His name is. Keeping this in mind will help you always use God’s name properly.
A Millennial Mindset
1. In the soon-coming World Tomorrow, will you teach godly communication skills? Isaiah 30:21.
The people you teach will repent of their sinful ways and learn how to think, speak and write the way God does.
To prepare for that future job, remember your Creator today (Ecclesiastes 12:1). Remember, even when no one is around to look over your shoulder, that Almighty God sees what you type and hears what you say—and He even knows the thoughts that are forming in your mind. Remember, and desire, to flee corrupt communication—and keep yours clean.