Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 15, 1960
NUMBER 19, PAGE 2,13b-14a

Sinning With The Tongue - (II.)

Tommy McClure

In the first article, we saw that: (1) sinning with the tongue is a very serious matter; (2) the tongue is a heart indicator; (3) lying and gossip are two of the most common sins committed with the tongue. The purpose of this article is to call attention to other sins which are committed with this unruly little member. Taking the name of God in vain. This is another sin which countless millions, including some so-called Christians, commit daily.

All sins are inexcusable and foolish, but, to me, the sin of taking God's name in vain is the most inexcusable and foolish one of all. The thief may receive some physical benefit from the things which he steals. The bank robber may be able to use the money which he takes. The liar may be able to benefit himself financially by the lies which he tells. The fornicator receives fleshly satisfaction in the sin of fornication. The drunkard gets some enjoyment from the taste (and sometimes from the effects) of alcoholic beverages. The murderer may enjoy great wealth or save himself from prison or the electric chair by getting some person out of the way. The hypocrite may enjoy popularity and social prestige, while engaging in shameful conduct, by a life of hypocrisy. Those who advocate false religions may (and many times do) gain advantages of an earthly nature. There is some return, though earthly and evil in nature, for almost every sin a man might commit. But what return, earthly and evil or otherwise, is there for the sin of taking God's name in vain? What possible benefit of any nature is to be derived therefrom? The answer is none at all!!! How foolish it is, then, to do it I The third command of the Decalogue was: "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord wilt not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." (Ex. 20:7) That simply meant that God's name was not to be used in any disrespectful, irreverent manner. Though the law of Moses is not binding today, the principle contained in that command is certainly enjoined in the New Testament. James said, "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, be nay; lest ye fall into condemnation." (Jas. 5:12) This is what the Lord had said in the sermon on the mount. In Matt. 5:33-37 he declared: "Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 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: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." Many commentators doubt that what we call judicial oaths are here forbidden and, for reasons which I will not take time to discuss here, I am inclined to agree. But there can be no doubt that idle oaths and profanity are forbidden, and that all who engage in such are under the condemnation of God. Again, the Lord said, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give an account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words shalt thou be condemned." (Matt. 12:36, 37) If profanity is not (not to mention evil) words, there are no such words! Let it be remembered that these passages which forbid profanity are just as inspired and they are just as important as Mk. 16:16, Acts 2:38, or any other passage.

Seemingly, some people use profane language thinking they can impress others with their "smartness" and "importance." Only fools are so impressed by such conduct. Wise, honorable, decent people see nothing "smart" nor "important" in an irreverent use of the name of God. In fact, as there are several hundred thousand decent and honorable words in the English language, there must be something wrong with the intelligence of the person who has to depend on "cuss words" in order to express himself.

Some people have committed this sin so often and for so many years that it has become second nature with them; they are not aware of much of the profanity which flows, in mountain stream fashion, from their mouths. However, God is aware of it, and "the Lord will not hold him guiltless.

Constant complaining. This is another very prevalent sin of the tongue to which serious attention should be given.

Everywhere, somebody (if not everybody) is complaining about something (if not everything)! For example, the weather always takes quite a beating, complaint-wise, as well as giving conversational fodder in the way of drought, rain, snow, and low or high thermometer readings. "We have had enough snow for ten years:" "I wish I would never see any more snow as long as I live;" and "I will be glad when warm weather comes, if it ever does," are statements which are heard on every hand in the winter time. However, before the snow began to fall, the tune of complaints went something like this: "Looks like we just can't get any snow or rain any more; looks like a white Christmas is a thing of the past; we used to have big snows every winter but don't have enough to make snow cream anymore." Snow or no snow, hot or cold, wet or dry — some are going to complain! And, what good does all the complaining do? NONE AT ALL! If there is a ten inch snow on the ground next Fourth of July, complaining will not help! We had just as well make up our minds to take the weather as it comes (at least, until somebody figures out some other way to take it) and say nothing about it! If some members of the Lord's church would spend as much time studying God's word as they do complaining about God's weather, they could pass almost any Bible quiz with flying colors.

Then, there are some who, seemingly, attend services only for the purpose of finding something to complain about. There are those who complain, murmur, and criticize if several people don't speak to them. Usually, however, they are the ones who sit on the very back row, and, the very second the "Amen" is said, they rush out of the building, get into their cars and "take off" like scalded cats. Some are sure to complain if the temperature in the building is not "just right." Of course, that which is "just right" for one is "all wrong" for several others. If the building is crowded some will complain because they are a bit cramped; if it isn't crowded they criticize the preacher for being unable to stimulate more interest. If the sermon is long, the complaint is that the preacher is "too long winded;" if the sermon is short, the preacher is criticized as being "too lazy to preach." Many will complain if others clothes don't suit them, especially the preacher's. That reminds me of something I read several years ago, entitled: "Ain't It Hot Weather, Parson?" I do not know who the author was but, evidently, he had been through the "complaint department," for he said, "If a preacher stays in one field five years, he is a 'fixture; if he stays three years, he is a 'roamer.' If he keeps a car that has a good coat of paint on it, he is 'extravagant; if he doesn't, he is 'not efficient.' If he makes too many calls, he is a 'pest;' if he doesn't make enough, 'how does he spend his time?' If he preaches a short sermon, he is 'lazy; if he preaches a long one, he is a 'big bag of wind.' If he jokes, he is 'frivolous;' if he doesn't, he has a 'poor personality.' If he asks for a raise in pay, 'it is time to get rid of him; if he doesn't, he is 'not worth what he is getting.' If he has a wife who interests herself in the church, he is 'bossed; if he has one who interests herself in him, he is 'minus a helper.' If he keeps his pants pressed, he is a 'dude; if he doesn't, he is a 'slouch.' Oh well — ain't it hot weather, Parson?"

The complaints mentioned above are very petty when compared to some others.

Believe it or not, I recently heard a man, who claims to be a member of the Lord's church, complaining because "the church of Christ has not produced a man such as Billy Graham." (Of course, I have lingering suspicions that we are much nearer that "goal" than many, including the man who was doing the complaining, realize. Just give us a little more time, please!) According to this brother, with a man of Graham's influence, we could make the world sit up and take notice; we could make converts in mass production style; and, if having a Graham-style man would necessitate a Graham-style organization, by all means we ought to have it! This brother was quite shocked when I told him that we do not need such a man as Graham, and that it would be detrimental to the cause of Christ if we had one. I further told the brother that if God had intended for the gospel to be presented to the world through organizational set-ups and campaigns characteristic of Graham and company, he would have authorized such organizations and procedures. The fact that he hasn't authorized them, means that he does not intend for it to be done that way. (At least, that is what it means to those who still believe in the all-sufficiency of the Book.) The brother was shocked even more when I told him that Billy Graham has not converted one soul to Christ in all the campaigns he has ever conducted because he has not preached the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. If Graham were to give the Bible answer to the question, "What must I do to be saved?;" if he were to preach the truth on apostasy, baptism, church membership, salvation by faith, music in worship, etc., his popularity, organizational backing and sensational campaigns would suffer a sudden death! The very idea of a member of the Lord's church complaining because "the church of Christ has not produced such a man as Billy Graham!!!" As in the case of the Israelites (Num. 11, 21; 1 Sam. 8), such complaining is a sure sign of dissatisfaction with the ways of God, contempt for his wisdom, and rejection of Him. It displeased the Lord then (Num. 11:1; Deut. 9:22), and it displeases him now. On this matter, Paul said, "Neither murmur ye, as some of them (Israelites mentioned above — T. M.) also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer." (1 Cor. 10:10)

Something is surely wrong with the heart of the person who is always grumbling and complaining about something. Especially is that true of such complaints as the one just discussed. And, in company with this one are such complaints as: "Why don't we have 'Church of Christ Hospitals' like the Methodists, Baptists and Catholics have?" and "Why don't we have a 'Church of Christ Hour' on national radio and television hook-ups like the Lutherans have?" What would be wrong with such procedures? Simply this: Such would necessitate universal church action. But before the church universal can act, there must be an organization through which it can act. But God has given no such organization, therefore, that proves (at least to those who still believe in the all-sufficiency of the Book) that God does not intend for the church in the universal sense to operate as such. Instead of complaining about God's ways, let's be satisfied with and submit to them. His ways are best, whether some believe it or not!

And, whatever our physical or financial status might be, grumbling and complaining will not better it. Instead of grumbling, we ought to thank God that things are as well with us as they are, and keep in mind the fact that many are in a much worse condition than are we. Someone has said, "I complained because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet." Read that again! Paul said ...I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." (Phil. 4:11) Surely, those who are continually grumbling about something have that lesson yet to learn.

I can think of no better conclusion for our study on this point than Paul's statement recorded in Phil. 2:14,15. "Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world."