Welcome to our bi-weekly post Bible Question, Answer and Discussion where we provide Bible verses, answers and advice to the questions and concerns you have. During the course of the last two weeks readers have submitted their questions and today we are going to answer one of them. So please join us and feel free to chime in on the discussion in the comments section below this post.
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Question: Is saying a cuss word (such as a four-letter-word or dammit or words like that) without harmful intent a sin? I have read Ephesians 4:29 and it sounds like it is, but is it if it does not come from the heart to harm, but is said without malice, or mistakenly, or a slip of the tongue? Also, is saying a “substitute” for a cuss word, such as “dang it” instead of “dammit” or “crap” instead of “s***” a sin?
Name: WEB Staff
Answer: Thank you for the question Deb.
We believe a yes and no answer is going to be appropriate for this one. When we really look at God’s Word I think most of it is just plain common sense. I am going to guess that is why you have come to the conclusions you have.
Let us ask our self, what is sin? “Sin is the transgression of the law,” and “the wages of sin is death” (1 John 3:4, Romans 6:23). I do not believe there is a law that says it is a sin to say a cuss word and I do not believe God would send someone to their eternal grave just because they said s***. That certainly does not mean we should run around all day and say s***. Keep in mind, if our words of any kind or our actions cause a brother to stumble away from Christ that is a sin on our part (1 Corinthians 8:6-13).
When it all comes down to it a cuss word is a word of expression. If I smashed my finger while working in the shop and said f***, it certainly would be a slip of the tongue and also how I ended up expressing myself. A better word could definitely be used, but I certainly do not think that would qualify as a sin.
Something else to consider. What we call a cuss word means nothing in other languages. It just depends on the culture and language. For example in the Asian culture it is extremely offensive to touch the head of someone. In our culture we really do not think of it that way so much as being an offensive act. Again, the sin comes in when we offend a brother and cause him to stumble due to our actions. It all comes down to how our actions are perceived and we are certainly supposed to “abstain from all appearance of evil,” (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
Please turn your Bible with me to,
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.”
Corrupt communication does not have to be a cuss word. It is any communication from your mouth that causes harm to someone else. Some individuals use vile and hateful words though those words are not foul language and in the next breath they use sweet words of joy. You certainly want to keep an eye on individuals like that and mark them.
We should only speak using fruitful communication that will come out positive for the hearers and the young in Christ.
Now turn to,
9 “Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.”
For the record the word “curse” is not talking about words like f***. “Curse” is Strong’s word 2672 and it means “execrate” which is to, “imprecate evil upon” someone. This verse is saying in one breath we praise God and in the next we speak evil (a curse) against our brother who is made in the image of God.
10 “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.”
11 “Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?”
Sweet and bitter water certainly do not come from the same place. Just as we cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). If there is wickedness in someone’s heart that is where the offense and sin lies and it becomes evident when it makes its presence known through the mouth.
12 “Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.”
Turn your Bible with me and listen to the Words of Christ.
17 “Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught?”
The Pharisees were debating with Christ about the washing of hands which they turn into a religious ritual.
18 “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.”
Not washing the hands in a ritualistic manner does not defile the man nor what comes out of him, except for his mouth. Listen to Christ Words.
19 “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:”
20 “These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.”
The words that come out of our mouth are what causes the offense and sin. They could be good or bad words. If I called someone a “worthless weasel” I never said one cuss word, but the intent of my words were mean spirited and the intent was to cause harm to someone or… maybe they were just one of Satan’s kids.
We will turn to 1 Corinthians 8 where Paul is going to explain there is only one God in this world and that is our Father Jehovah. If animals are offered up as a sacrifice to an idol we can certainly eat that meat as their idol meanings nothing to us. However, there is a big “if” coming.
1 Corinthians 8:7
7 “Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.”
Some people, the young in Christ especially may not understand or comprehend this and if you slap that piece of meat on your plate and start chowing down they are going to be seriously offended.
1 Corinthians 8:8
8 “But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.”
Paul explains, in actuality eating the meat offered to an idol does not make one bit of difference to us in the know. We can either take it or leave it and God is alright with that.
1 Corinthians 8:9
9 “But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.”
This is our liberty, this is our freedom. However, it can certainly become a stumblingblock to those who are weak in Christ.
1 Corinthians 8:10-12
10 “For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;”
11 “And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?”
12 “But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.”
It not only is a sin against your brother to cause them to stumble, but it is a sin against Christ. This goes for all things and meats offered to idols are simply an example for us.
1 Corinthians 8:13
13 “Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”
If meat makes your brother offend, then do not do it. If saying cuss words causes your brother to offend do not say them or any language that may be perceived as offensive to them.
“Any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak” is a sin (Romans 14:21, 1 Corinthians 8:12). So what should we do? “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another, ” (Romans 14:19).
To sum it up using expression is not a sin, but if our words and actions cause our brother to stumble that is when the sin comes into play. For the record I am certainly not condoning cussing nor encouraging anyone to use that type of language, other words should be used instead. I am simply pointing out it is not a sin to death. We are to be Christ like and Christ certainly did not sit around the fire using foul language to talk to the disciples.
Question: Hello Brandon, As a long time follower of this site and Shepherds Chapel, I am somewhat embarrassed to ask this question but it has been on my heart for some time now. My question is simply what is the best way to study the Bible? I feel that I am very inconsistent and I never really gain any traction on my own. I seem to flip through and read hi-lighted sections or a chapter while watching Shepherds Chapel. I need to and want to dig deep on my own like so many of you do so I am hoping to get some direction. I have both the Companion Bible and Strong’s Concordance. I truly value your thought process, Brandon, and thank you for even taking the time to address this.
Name: Brandon T. Ward
Answer: Thank you for the question and kind sentiments Ken.
There is nothing to be embarrassed about, we are all learning and I believe there are a lot of ways to do just that. A very long time ago I thought the only way the Bible should be studied and taught was in a verse by verse fashion. I certainly no longer believe that and I think this site is a good example of that. If we only learned and taught one way we would have never been able to put all of the topical studies together that we have. I think there are many ways to learn and teach and we all have different levels and abilities that we learn and teach on. There is no one size fits all approach, though I will say a verse by verse study is the best way to learn about the Bible and in the shortest amount of time.
If you are going to tune into a Bible study program, then focus on what is being taught, take notes if needed, but do not side track yourself with other things. Stay focused so you can absorb what is being taught.
There are different methods of study for different types of people and I have heard a lot of different ways. While some methods may sound better than others, they may not work for you and I as an example.
For me, I have taken notes over the years when I write studies on various subjects and write commonalities down if that is what I am trying to put together. I may never come back to the note again and the whole point of writing it down was to help me remember. While other times I do reference and add to those notes. For the study we are working on right now I had a completely different approach to putting it together which will not be helpful for most people. When it comes down to it for me, I have several different methods and it just depends on what I am doing. The most important study method I have is our Father. I always go seek Him and ask Him to help me understand and help me write. I knock on His door and then I earnestly start putting in the work.
Considering purchasing a binder or decent spiral notepad and try cataloging your notes in it, that always helps us to remember just by writing it all down. At the top of the page you could write whatever the subject happens to be and then all of your notes on that subject beneath. It does not need to be pretty. You can brain storm your thoughts and clean it up another time if needed. Years ago I remember having an Excel document with each tab being a subject and then verses on that specific tab about the subject. That always helped me remember and then I was able to share it with others as well.
I certainly want to caution you about “digging deep”. I have seen a lot of people over the years “dig deep” with their untold number of years studying the Bible. They ended up digging a hole alright, one that collapsed right on top of them with all of the confusion they created. It is not about how many years of study you have, it is about how much earnest time, love and effort you put into it. It is about how much time you have spent asking God to intercede and help you understand and it is about how much work you are actually doing to help move that forward on your own. Remember what was said in Q1 about what is in your heart.
Tell our Father you want to understand whatever it is you are seeking and then you go put in the work and let Him know you want this understanding not only for yourself, but to share as well. Ask Him to help you become more consistent. Just be open and honest with Him. At one point in my life I knew I should have been studying more, but I just could not pull myself to it. I wanted to, but the drive just was not there. I then knocked on our Father’s Door and then put in the work and I know He has answered my prayer more than I could have ever imagined.
Ken if you honestly and diligently ask Him and then you earnestly put in the hard work, I guarantee He will open the door for you.
We would like to thank our Father for giving us this platform in order to spread His most precious Word. We would also like to thank our readers for submitting their questions and giving us the opportunity to share them with the audience. If you would like to ask a question submit it for the next edition of this post and continue the discussion by leaving a comment below. Previous editions of Bible Q&A can be found in our archive.