The Question of Cursing

The Question of Cursing
By Rev. David F. Gray


Maybe you can help me. I am a young Christian; about five months ago I received the Holy Ghost. I used to use awfully bad language, and once in a while a curse word slips out. I ask God to forgive me right away, but I still feel bad about it. Yet I hear older Christians sometimes say the Lord’s name when they are really not talking about Him, exclamations like, “For Christ’s sake,” or “My Lord,” or “My God.” I can’t understand why I should feel condemned for saying things like that and other Christians seem to do it without feeling condemned. Is it wrong for me and all right for them?


I am glad you have a tender conscience, and I hope you will always be sensitive to the checking of the Spirit through your conscience no matter what others may do. Just because someone else may be older in the Lord does not necessarily make them a reliable guide to follow.  God’s Word tells us what is right for us to do and what is wrong.

In the Old Testament the name of the Lord was declared to be holy, and to use it carelessly was considered a sin of great magnitude; so great in fact, that when the Lord gave Moses on Mount Sinai His basic principles of conduct for Israel to observe, commonly called “The Ten Commandments,” He included a prohibition against the unhallowed use of His name. Right amongst commandments against idolatry, murder, thievery, lying, and adultery, God included this one:

You shall not use or repeat the name of the Lord your God in vain (that is, lightly or frivolously, in false affirmations or profanely); for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.-Exodus 20:7 (Amplified)

If a Jew without the Holy Ghost dare not utter the name of the Lord in a careless or light manner, we who have the Holy Ghost certainly should likewise never stoop to such utterance. In fact, we are warned that we should “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:28), and that we are to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). I wonder, how much trembling do we do today?

Jesus taught some important things about our speech. He said:But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.  But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay (“let your Yes be simply Yes, and your No be simply No” (Amplified): for whosoever is more than these cometh of evil. -Matthew 5:34-37

You see, there is no need for you to buttress your statements with strong language of any kind to try to get people to believe what you say. If you are a Christian, a man of your word, you do not need to call on God or on heaven to support your statements. Your simple word is enough. As Christian we do not use oaths, or swear. We affirm, and our word stands because we always tell the truth. There is never any need to say, “My Lord,” or “My God,” or “For Christ’s sake,” or any other expletive. The individual who resorts to using such expressions will undoubtedly find himself condemned before God.

In fact, that is exactly what Jesus said in Matthew 12:37:

For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Then to let us know that kind of words would condemn us, Jesus said in verse 36:

But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

The word “idle” literally means “careless or useless.” Our words that we utter will actually be brought back at the judgment to justify us or condemn us.

How vital it is, then, that we guard our tongues from saying words of no value or worth. Actually, everything we say should be to the good or benefit of the hearer. The Apostle Paul reinforced this very important point when he said in Ephesians 4-29:

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

The Apostle James takes the words of Jesus and, moved by the Holy Ghost, repeats and re-emphasizes their supreme importance by saying:

. . . Above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay (“Yes be a simple Yes, and your No be a simple No” -Amplified); lest ye fall into condemnation. -James 5:12

These Scriptures should be enough to convince any honest and sincere Christian that profanity, curse words, or oaths of any kind, as well as any reference to Deity should have no place as expletives in conversation. Superfluous words which have no meaning should be weeded out.

It would be well for Christians to watch their language, and not beguilty of using “minced oaths,” words which sound similar to profanity, but are spoken instead of the real thing. “Gosh”, “golly”, “gee”, “darn”, shoot”, and similar expressions are just watered down “cuss” words. Let’s clean up our speech!

In closing, my dear young friend, may I suggest to you that there is another lesson that you need to learn. You must learn to get your eyes off of other people and on the Lord. Saints are but human no matter how old or how young they may be, and are subject to failure. But Jesus never fails.

If you look at people you will inevitably stumble and fall. Perhaps the Lord has allowed you to see the failures of others in this case so that you may learn to keep your eyes on Jesus. When Peter asked what John was going to do, Jesus replied, “What is that to thee? Follow thou me” (John 21:20-22). In other words, don’t let what others do or say shake you. Your job is to follow Jesus and His Word.

The Word of God simply turns the whole thing around and says to you, “Young man, be thou an example!” (I Timothy 4:12).

This article is from: Gospel Tidings, March, 1985.

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