Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 29, 1960
NUMBER 21, PAGE 8-9,13b

Sinning With The Tongue

Tommy McClure, Vilonia, Arkansas

(Printer's note: We apologize. The second article of brother McClure on "Sinning With the Tongue" was inadvertently run before this one, which is Number I.)

"I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue." Those are the words of David recorded in Psalms 39:1, and they express a sentiment which should characterize every child of God. Much of the sorrow, ill-will, hatred, and division that exists among God's people, as well as in the home and society in general, is due to sinning with the tongue.

A Serious Matter

Many seem to look upon the improper use of the tongue as a matter of little importance. People who would not think of committing adultery, murdering their fellow man or stealing from their neighbor seem to think nothing of the improper use of their tongues. This failure to recognize the seriousness of sinning with the tongue does not lessen, but increases, the seriousness of the sin. That is true because when a person fully recognizes the seriousness of a certain sin, that recognition usually lessens the likelihood of his committing that sin; on the other hand, the lack of such recognition usually makes one more susceptible to it.

Numerous Bible statements plainly show that sinning with the tongue is not to be regarded lightly. The Psalmist said "The Lord shall cut off all flattering lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things." (Ps. 21:3) Solomon said, "These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren." (Prov. 6:16-19) "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles." (Prov. 21:23) In the New Testament James said, "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain." (Jas. 1:26) In 1 Yet. 3:10, Peter said, "For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile." Then, in his lengthy discussion of the tongue, James said, ....the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell." (Jas. 3:5) In verse 8 of the same chapter the writer described the tongue as "an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." Thus, children of God cannot afford to be unconcerned about this unruly little member, the tongue.

The Tongue A Heart Indicator

To the people of his day the Lord said, "0 generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." (Matt. 12:34, 35) Again, the Lord said, "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man." (Matt. 15:18) Doctors often look at the tongue to determine one's physical condition, and what the tongue says certainly discloses one's spiritual condition. Though one artfully play the role of a hypocrite, his speech will betray him as certainly as did Peter's at the trial of Christ. (Matt. 26:73) When a person always manages to get around to telling some dirty joke in his conversation, his "heart indicator" is standing on "evil!!! When a man always manages to make some "funny," yet indecent remark when an attractive woman passes by, his tongue certainly reveals the condition of his heart. (And, men are not the only ones who can tell dirty jokes and make "funny," sex-centered remarks.) As a person speaks with his tongue, so thinks he in his heart; and, "as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." (Prov. 23:7)

Sins That Are Committed With The Tongue

(I) Lying. This is one of the most common sins known among men, and even members of the church (including preachers) have been known to be guilty of it.

The word "lie" (noun) is defined by Webster's dictionary as "A false-hood uttered or acted to deceive." Thus, to lie with the tongue is to utter a false-hood for the purpose of deception.

Time after time God in his word has legislated against this sin. The ninth command of the Decalogue was: "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor." (Ex. 20:16) To the Ephesians, Paul said, "Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another." (Eph. 4:25) To the Colossians, the same apostle said, "Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds." (Col. 3:9)

In John 8:44 the Lord affirmed that the devil is the father of lies. To certain Pharisees the Lord said, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it." The devil's lie to Eve in the garden of Eden and her acceptance of it is what started the human race on the wrong course, and a great portion of that race is still on the wrong course because of lying In spite of all the clear and unmistakable Bible warnings against lying, men continue to lie about everything. Lies are being told in political circles, the business world, the court room, the home, and even in the pulpits of many churches. Many times brethren in Christ lie to and against each other. It matters not where, about what, nor by whom lies are told, all lies are of the devil and all liars are subject to the devil. No lie is of God, and no liar is subject to God in the act of lying. Num. 23:19 emphatically states: "God is not man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" Paul said that he was "In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began (Titus 1:2) According to Heb. 6:18, it is impossible for God to lie! Thus, the person who is guilty of lying, though he be a professed Christian, is working for the devil and against God!!! How such a person can think he is pleasing to God and can be saved in that condition is beyond me.

The eternal doom of liars was expressed by John in Rev. 21:8. It is too plain to be misunderstood. John said, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." Notice that the apostle puts all liars in the same class with the greatest of sinners — the abominable, murderers, whoremongers, sorcerers and idolaters — and says that ALL liars shall have their part in the lake of fire and brimstone. Let no one therefore, think that because he can get by with lying here on earth he can likewise get by with it in the judgment of the last day! Paul said, "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad." (2 Cor. 5:10) Thus, all who possess a lying tongue had better stop lying and convert that tongue into a channel of truth, and they had better do it now!

(2) Gossip. This is another very common practice and is very prevalent among some members of the Lord's church. Whereas the Jerusalem disciples "were scattered abroad" and "went everywhere preaching the word" (the gospel), (Acts 8:4) many modern church members scatter abroad and go everywhere preaching the gossip!

The second and third definitions of the word "gossip" given in Webster's dictionary are as follows: "2. An idle tattler; a newsmonger. 3. A gossip's tattle; groundless rumor; also, chatter."

Idle tattlers, newsmongers and chatterers are exactly what some church members are. Peddling groundless rumors is the work which they can do best. The tongue of such people operates much faster than any other part of the body, including the brain. If their eyes were as adept at looking for opportunities to do good, (Gal. 6:10) if their ears were as trained in hearkening unto the word of the Lord, (Mk. 7:14) if their minds were as set on things above, (Col. 3:2) if their hands were as artful in ministering to those in need, (Prov. 3120) and, if their feet were as swift in carrying the gospel of peace, (Rom. 10:15) as their tongues are at peddling groundless rumors, the church and the world in general would be blessed a million-fold!!!

It is a well-known fact that idleness, thoughtlessness, cowardice, backbiting, jealousy, etc., are the close kinsmen of gossip. In fact, they go to make up gossip. People who are never idle have no time for peddling groundless rumors. People who give careful thought to what they say and do seldom, if ever, engage in it. People who are not cowards will tell a person what they think of him to his face instead of talking about him to his back. And, people who are not jealous don't try to run themselves up by running others down. When idleness, thoughtlessness, cowardice, backbiting and jealousy are eliminated, gossip is pretty well eliminated. That within itself ought to convince all thinking persons of the evil of gossip. Before me lies a clipping which I took from some paper several years ago, entitled: "How To Make A First-Class Gossip-per." It so well expresses the thought I have in mind, I have decided to quote it verbatim. The unknown author said, "Take a grain of falsehood, a handful of runabout, a sprig or herb of backbite, a teaspoonful of don't you-tellit, six drams of malice, a few drops of envy. Stir well and let it simmer for an hour. Add a little discontent and jealousy and strain through a bag of misconstruction. Cork in a bottle of malevolence, and hang it on a skein of street yarns. Shake it occasionally for a few days, and it will be ready for use. Take a few drops before going out for a walk, and you will be certain to succeed." Along this same line of thought, some poet has said:

Have you ever heard of "Gossip Town,"

On the shores of "Falsehood Bay;"

Where "Old Dame Rumor" in a rustling gown, Is going the live long day?

It isn't far to "Gossip Town" For those who want to go.

And "Idleness" is the train that will take you down In just an hour or so.

The "Thoughtless Road" is the popular route, And most folk start that way.

But it is steep down grade and if you don't watch out, You will land on "Falsehood Bay."

The principle street is called "They say,"

And "I've heard" is the public well.

And the breeze that blows from "Falsehood Bay"

Is ladened with "Now don't you tell."

Just back of the park is "Slander Row." 'Twas there a good name died.

Pierced by a shaft from "Jealousy's bow," In the hand of "Envious Pride."

The people who live in "Gossip Town" All reap the seed they sow.

And you will find as they have found, If you ever chance to go.

Because of the evil work of the gossipper good reputations have been destroyed; happy homes have been broken; the closest of friends have become the bitterest of enemies; serious brawls and fights have been incited; men and women and children have been killed; and, peaceful, united, working congregations of God's people have been turned into groups of hating, divided, idle people.

Is it any wonder that this sin is so severely condemned in God's word?

To the Israelites, God said, "Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people: neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy neighbor." And, he emphasized the command by saying, "I AM THE LORD." (Lev. 19:16) In Prov. 11:13 the talebearer is represented as being a person of an unfaithful spirit. Solomon said, "A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter." (Right here, I will drop this thought in for good measure: The person who talks to you about someone else will, in all probability, talk to someone else about you! The person who reveals the secrets of others to you will reveal your secrets to others! Ever keep your eyes open for such individuals and trust them not!) In Prov. 26:20 God brands the talebearer as a producer of strife. "Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth." And, remember that one who sows discord among brethren is an abomination unto God, Prov. 6:19. In Rom. 1, Paul affirms that the whisperer is worthy of death. In his description of the heathen, beginning at verse 28, he said, "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; WHISPERERS, BACKBITERS ...." Then, verse 32, "Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are WORTHY OF DEATH, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them." That should settle the question as to what God's attitude is toward gossip or tale bearing.

An old, yet good, motto is: "Either keep silence, or speak things better than silence." For the reputation of good people, for the peace and progress of the Lord's church, and for the salvation of your own souls, let's be sure that we observe it.