“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”–Ephesians 4:29-30

The words that come out of our mouths everyday are very important. The words you use are expressions of what is in your heart. That’s why in the fourth chapter of his letter to the Ephesian church, while instructing about putting off the old self and putting on the new self (vv.22-24), Paul admonishes the church to speak no “corrupting” word. Other translations use “unwholesome” word. The speech of a Christian should not be corrupting, tearing down, or bring evil with it. The words of a follower of Jesus Christ should not be unwholesome, profane, and cause the Holy Spirit to grieve. Our words should not be filled with cursing, anger, profanity, and hate.

The words chosen by a Christian should set them apart from the world. Our speech should be holy. To be holy means to be set apart for a sacred purpose. Following the command of Paul in this area of speech will immediately set you apart from the world. Do you want to put off your old ways and take up the new ways of Jesus – start with how you talk. By simply choosing not to use any profanity in your speech, you will immediately stand apart from this lost world. Those of us out in the working world everyday or in the public-school setting understand what it means to be surrounded by profanity all day every day. Living in the world and speaking without profanity requires the fruit of the Holy Spirit of self-control. James 3 is very clear that taming the tongue is a work of the Lord. When a person’s speech begins to change, it signifies a greater change in the heart.

This area of speech is also a significant area of Christian public witness. Christians serve as the public conscience, helping unbelievers know right from wrong by how we live. As we associate ourselves with Jesus and speak without profanity, but instead go about telling the truth, praising good, and speaking with thankfulness – the world becomes convicted of its speech. By standing apart in the way we speak, we help awaken the conscience of others around us. A Christian that does not give into the draw of profanity and lives with the same group of people for months will see a change in the verbal environment.

Instead of cursing, we are told to speak in a way that builds people up! Instead of insulting, gossiping, cutting down in anger, and slandering others we are to speak in a way that builds them up and blesses them. We are looking for good things to say about others, words of encouragement. Our words are to fit the occasion. This has to do with timing, and timing first comes from observation. We are to be aware of the people around us and speak to them in a way appropriate for blessing them.

I hope you realize how powerful your words are. Your words to others will help them or hurt them. Your words will point them toward Jesus or away from Jesus. Your words to those close to you have the power of life and death. If you are married, you are the most important person in the life of your spouse. If you use your words to tear them down and tell them how stupid and worthless they are – they will begin to believe these lies over time. But if you, instead, speak words of love, encouragement, and blessing to your spouse – they will begin to believe they can embody all the beautiful fruits of God’s Spirit. Be careful to speak in a way that builds up your spouse!

We wield this same great power with our children. Your words to them are lifechanging and of immense importance. Do you speak words of blessing, truth, encouragement, and love over your children? Or are your words more frequently angry, condescending, proud, and belittling? Your children will believe the words you tell them. Let no corrupting word come out of your mouth. May we, as parents, not be the one’s corrupting our own children. Instead, pray for God’s help to speak timely, grace filled, truthful words that build up.

Finally, let us not grieve the Holy Spirit in how we talk. I believe the most significant way we grieve the Holy Spirit in our words is through breaking the third commandment (Exodus 20:7). When we use the blessed and sacred name of Jesus – the name given by the angel Gabriel for the Son of God come down from heaven to save us from our sins – as a common curse explicative we grieve the Holy Spirit. When you believe in Jesus as Savior and come to worship Jesus for the new life He gives, you can’t bear to take His name in vain.

It’s not a coincidence that thousands of years after the death of Jesus the unbelieving world still chooses to use the name of Jesus as a curse. They don’t do this with the name of Mohamed, Joseph Smith, or Buddha. The corrupted human heart chooses the name of Jesus because we know there is something truly terrible about misusing this sacred name. Christians must take this seriously and stop grieving the Holy Spirit through blasphemous speech.

Let your light shine before all people by the way you speak! Today use your words to bless and not curse. Build up those around you with grace and truth.

May the Lord put a guard over our mouths,
Pastor Vic

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