Genuine Repentance

by Mike Ratliff

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5 ESV)

I became involved in discussion today on a blog that was proclaiming that it is perfectly fine for Christians to use profanity and those who call them on it are being hypocritical and self-righteous. I have been teaching for quite a while that the genuine believer is regenerate, a new creation, whom God is the process of sanctifying. Our humility must come to predominate our pride. The prideful person is self-focused while the humble person is not.

What are the motives for using coarse or vulgar language? There are many, but not one of them will cause a believer to edify others or glorify God. In fact, in the Bible, in every mention of coarse language, it is cast as part of sin or sinful itself. What was Isaiah’s lament when he saw the Lord high and lifted up?

In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” (Isaiah 6:1-7 ESV)

Being in the presence of God and thereby being exposed to His Holiness and Glory, caused Isaiah to see his sin clearly. What was it? What comes from the mouth reflects what is in the heart. If coarse or unclean language commonly comes from our mouths then bitterness is present in our hearts. We have become defiled by our pride, which has caused us to become resentful and bitter. When we are squeezed by God then out comes what is really inside. Isaiah’s sin of having unclean lips was rooted in the fact that he was full of pride and not humble. He was a man of unclean lips, but when he became broken before God, his pride was shattered and God forgave and cleansed him.

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:7-10 ESV)

That is exactly what Isaiah did. He confessed his sins. He did not try to rationalize his sin or say that others are worse than him or that his was only a little sin or that swearing and cursing is not really sin. God’s light shining into our hearts always brings what is within us into our perception. God squeezing us reveals to us what we are really like and what is under attack from His sanctifying grace.

There is genuine repentance and false repentance. Genuine repentance brings salvation to the lost and is how genuine believers do not continue to be conformed to this world, but, instead, become transformed by the renewing of their minds.

As the passage above from Luke 13 at the top of this post says, salvation comes only to those who repent. Genuine salvation does not happen unless the believer repents. If this is true, and I contend that it is, then what does this say about professing Christians who refuse to stop being conformed to this world? Have they repented?

For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it–though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while. As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:8-10 ESV)

The Apostle Paul wrote the book of 1 Corinthians to the Corinthian church as a rebuke. They were having a great many problems due primarily to being fleshly about several things. They were not being humble nor were they worshipping or serving God, as they should. Paul’s letter hit home. In the passage above we see that Paul wrote in the power of the Holy Spirit being in the midst of God’s Word, which is sweet as honey, but he also experienced the bitterness in the heat of the Spirit by being part of God sending judgment into that church. God’s powerful word caused them to grieve and repent. Their grief was godly and genuine. On the other hand worldly grief produces death. What does that mean?

Godly grief comes from conviction of sin. Where does this conviction come from? It comes from God and it is the result of God being revealed to the conscience. The Holy Spirit, who is God, rouses the conscience and brings the one being convicted into the presence of God. It is at this point that we see our sin clearly and that we have sinned against God alone. This causes godly sorrow and genuine repentance. Conviction of sin leads to forgiveness as we repent. It is the Christians who walks in repentance whose personal holiness is growing ever deeper and wider. These believers prove that God has forgiven them by the evidence of turning from what they were before. This is repentance. It is all by God’s grace.

Genuine repentance always brings us to the point of confessing our sin. This is the evidence of God working in us when we do this. Godly sorrow leads to genuine repentance. However, there is also another form of sorrow or grief that leads to false repentance and spiritual death.

But God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night and said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.” (Genesis 31:24 ESV)

God warned Laban in his dream to be very careful how he treated Jacob. However, he continued in his pursuit the next day. Laban even threatened Jacob after he overtook him. He had been warned, but he continued. What was his problem? Laban didn’t want to be called a failure. He didn’t want people to think that his plans went wrong and that he had to return without doing what he intended to do. It was all about his image.

Laban is a Biblical example of a hypocrite pretending to repent. Unbelievers often pretend to be sorry and say they’re going to change the way they think and act, but inside they know it’s a lie. When David confessed that he had sinned in 2 Samuel 12:13, it was entirely different from when Saul admitted he had sinned in 1 Samuel 15:24. They used the same words, probably even the same tone of voice, and showed the same feeling of remorse, but their motivation was quite different.

Ungodly sorrow or grief is an expression of being sorry for one’s sins, but that sorrow is really the expression of disappointment that one will no longer be able to do what he or she wants. They don’t really want to change their behavior. A criminal who has been arrested and convicted, such as a thief, expresses sorrow, but it is only a grief that he or she can’t steal anymore. The Bible portrays Laban in this same way. Deep down, he didn’t really repent. His sorrow was only an outward show. Those who are truly repentant aren’t afraid of anything except God’s anger and displeasure. They aren’t concerned about being humiliated and disgraced in front of other people as long as they know that God is with them. Hence, they become bold in their genuine humility.

The bedrock of Christianity is repentance. The Puritans used to pray for “the gift of tears.” This is asking God to grant repentance through godly sorrow or grief. They understood that it is God who grants repentance. Those who see no value in repentance from things such as cursing or swearing or using coarse language, for example, are in darkness.

Those who cling to their favorite sin will tell us that those who call them on it are being hypocritical and self-righteous and that is worse than them practicing their sin. This is self-deception, which is rooted in pride that resides in an unrepentant heart. We must pray for God to shine His light of rebuke into their dark and self-deceived hearts, drawing them into godly sorrow and repentance, which leads to genuine salvation.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Addendum: Here is an article on CRN about the discussion below.

48 thoughts on “Genuine Repentance

  1. I don’t use profanity when I’m around other people, but when I’m alone sometimes it comes to mind and even comes out of my mouth when I don’t want it to. Like I’m beating myself up or something. Sometimes even when I’m trying to pray. How do I get rid of it?

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  2. Zoe,

    I am very hard on myself at times as well. However, I have examined what I am doing when I do that and I have discovered that my pride is actually taking the form of false humility. It is attempting to please God with how forceful it is against my sin. I still catch myself doing this from time to time and I have found that the best way to NOT do this is to focus on God instead of self. Direct your heart to Him, praise Him, thank Him, worship Him, love Him, delight in Him. Do this and I promise you that that you will simply pour your heart out to Him in godly sorrow and repentance and He will give you assurance and joy and peace. However, if you continue to beat your self up in worldly sorrow (which is what we do in false humility) then we draw no closer to God. We only feel horrible and remain self-focused.

    Does that make sense? I pray that God will draw you into His truth and give you the peace and joy you need in order walk before Him in victory.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  3. Define “course”, “vulgar”, and “profane”, and justify your definition.

    Otherwise it’s like saying “Christians should dress right” without defining correct dress, and not justifying your definition of right dress using scripture.

    Also, do the 3 descriptors above change based on the time period? There was a time where many words some consider “curse” words today, or profanity, were perfectly acceptable in everyday speech. Even today, if you listen to dog breeders, they use the “b-word” to describe a female dog. Is that acceptable.

    Just trying to clarify.

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  4. Nathan,

    Language that would be coarse, vulgar or profane is the use of words that bring to our minds concepts, images, acts, or whatever that are flesh oriented. Christians are called to crucify the flesh (Jesus commands that we take up our crosses and follow Him!) not glory in it.

    Right dress for Christians? Did I even mention that? However, that one is quite easy. We are to dress in such a way that does not cause others to “lust.” We are to dress in such a way that does not bring glory to self, but to God.

    My teaching here is not about certain words at all. I am teaching about being fleshly and that is what we are not to be. Being fleshly is a sin Nathan and we are called to repent of all of our sins without exception. Why would a Christian, supposedly regenerated by the Holy Spirit, cling to the works of the flesh and claim that that isn’t sin?

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  5. Nathan,
    How about everything you wouldn’t say if Jesus were right there listening. I consider replacement words cursing. I know a lot of people who do that, even my Grandchildren.
    If the culture uses words, as vulgar now, that were once not considered vulgar, it is. I do on occasion curse myself and I
    am not very proud of it.

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  6. The Puritans used to pray for “the gift of tears.” This is asking God to grant repentance through godly sorrow or grief.

    Here is a link to some Puritan prayers.
    http://www.oldlandmarks.com/puritan.htm#The%20Valley%20of%20Vision

    This one was written for me!
    Confession and Petition
    “Holy Lord, I have sinned times without number, and been guilty of pride and unbelief, of failure to find Thy mind in Thy Word, of neglect to seek Thee in my daily life. My transgressions and short-comings present me with a list of accusations, but I bless Thee that they will not stand against me, for all have been laid on Christ. Go on to subdue my corruptions, and grant me grace to live above them. Let not the passions of the flesh nor lustings of the mind bring my spirit into subjection, but do Thou rule over me in liberty and power.

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  7. Dale,

    Thanks for the link and the prayer. I read a prayer from The Valley of Vision each morning to get my mind directed away from self and onto God before I pray and read my devotionals. The one you shared was written for me as well. 🙂

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  8. Mike,
    Thank you for the humbling article. I received the gift of tears this morning and again while reading it. Your such a blessing! I do thank God for my precious brothers and sisters in Christ.

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  9. A needful post for my edification again. Thanks, dec, for the link. Thanks, Mike, for your counsel to Zoe. I need every word of your reply myself. As far as using foul language, why does a Spirit- filled believer ever have to ask what words constitute being foul? Would we not know? Must be the messages of soft-soaping sin that would make one ask. Sorry, just found the question a bit odd coming from a christian.

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  10. Nathan,
    The beauty of walking with the Lord indwelling us is that we need not fret about defining what is and isn’t sin (that isn’t outlined definitively in the Word). When I was first a Christian I worried about things that weren’t specifically addressed in the Bible. Over time I realized He lets me know when I step out of line. But you have to be listening for it and you have to really want to know. It is a walk, and it is a gradual process of realizing what does and does not please Him in these gray areas as we grow in Him. But you must have a genuine desire to know and obey the truth. The way you posed your question it seems (forgive me if I’m jumping to a wrong conclusion) as if you are looking for loopholes or a defense. My rule of thumb – if your language offends someone else, don’t use it. I used to use “gosh” until I was informed by a Christian man much my elder that it is an expletive and euphemism for God – a way to curse without using His name outright. It seemed silly to me, but nonetheless I looked it up in the dictionary and that is what it said. I don’t (for the most part!) use it anymore. I don’t want to offend anyone, least of all my Lord. Societal use of words does change, but that doesn’t mean we should go with the flow. There was a lot more respect for God the further you go back generations. I hope this helps. 🙂

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  11. Sorry guys, wasn’t trying to change the subject. The dress thing was just an illustration.

    I still think it’s unclear what words you’re talking about. OK, so fleshly words are wrong, but what words are fleshly? Another person said “replacement words” are wrong too. Which ones? If someone says, “Oh man, that hurt!” is “man” a replacement word?

    Another suggested to only say what we’d be comfortable with Jesus hearing. Problem is, that’s subjective. We should have an objective way to determine what is and is not a sin, right? Fact is, Jesus never told us what he does and does not want to hear.

    Finally, at what point did the Bible ever say that the culture gets to decide for Christians what is and is not acceptable speech? Isn’t that the epitome of non-absolute morality?

    Thanks!

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  12. Amen Sharon!

    Nathan,

    Please read Sharon’s (Once Confused) comment.

    Christians must not be looking for ways to justify anything they do in the flesh. That is what you seem to be doing. We must become Spirit-filled which means that we confess our sins, deny self, and submit to each other. We permeate ourselves with the Word of God and we seek His direction in everything. This humbles us. When we are humble we are moved by the Holy Spirit controlling us because we have the Mind of Christ when we are humble and full of His Word. I promise you that your flesh is crucified when you are Sprit-filled and becoming nit-picky about what is sin and what isn’t will not be an issue because YOU WILL KNOW what is sin and you will be far from it.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  13. Nathan,
    Philip 4:8
    8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

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  14. I’m a little concerned when I see people wanting to know what the exact line of sin is.
    The New Testament Christians didn’t have every letter to the “Church” in their possession. Paul nor the rest of the writers weren’t super Christians, above in Spirit indwelling than any of the rest of “New Creatures”. What was different about those then who “walked in the Spirit” is just that. When we are walking in the flesh and according to the natural man…we will ‘just’ want to walk on the edge of the ‘legal line’ of sin. Like, ‘Which words can I say and which are you telling me I can’t’. Those are the questions of the Spiritual child, walking on the edge of the estate of the Lord of all creation and fondly looking over the wall to the world and desiring to act, look, talk like it. Remember, if you must go and find ‘it’ named or not in scripture just to see if it is there or not, you are walking already according to your lust.
    Ephesians 5:3-5
    (KJV)

    3But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;

    4Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

    5For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

    When I was walking according to the spirit of this world, the spirit of disobedience, filthy and foolish talking poured out of my disobedient mouth.

    James 3:9-11
    (KJV)

    9Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

    10Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

    11Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

    Let us pray God send us ‘sweet water’ from His well, I know if one only has a ‘broken cistern’, then no ‘sweet water’ can come from that, because there is no ‘fountain of life’ filling it, just mere dirty, runoff water from the spirit of this world.

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  15. I have a funny (embarrassing!) story. When I was a baby Christian my boyfriend claimed that “fooling around” was okay since it wasn’t named in the Bible as sin. (Technically, it isn’t…if you’re looking for a loophole.)I knew in my Spirit it was wrong, but I couldn’t prove it. I became frustrated one time trying to convince him and I threw my Bible open and – no kidding – landed here: “Now concerning the things of which you wrote to me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, LET EACH MAN HAVE HIS OWN WIFE, AND LET EACH WOMAN HAVE HER OWN HUSBAND” – 1 Corinthians 7:1-2. In other words, if you want to touch a woman, get married!!! My boyfriend had to agree, though he fought it for a long time before that incident. (We’re married now! 🙂 )

    Don’t look for loopholes. Listen to the Spirit.

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  16. Sorry guys … I wasn’t trying to justify anything … I just got the impression from the post that people who use foul language are not genuine believers, because genuine believers are regenerate, a new creation, etc.

    I thought that was quite a hefty accusation, without defining what is and is not foul!

    And I actually think it’s a good thing to want to know what is and is not permissible for a Christian.

    I’ve seen way too many extreme legalists get angry when a person tries to ask them for a justification for their stance against (insert action here). They also tend to use the “we ought to stay as far away from sin as possible, not try to get as close as possible” argument as well. When that happens, the line ends up moving further and further away from sin, so much so that we end up redefining sin. Or worse, we end up looking down our noses at people who aren’t actually sinning, but they don’t stay as far away from the line as you do. That, by definition, is legalism.

    I actually appreciate your wanting to stay away from asserting that something is sin if the Bible doesn’t say so. I also appreciate you’re saying that the Holy Spirit will tell us what is and isn’t wrong.

    However, I think that it should be stressed that calling into question someone’s salvation for doing something that isn’t clearly defined in Scripture … that’s just a risk I wouldn’t be willing to take personally.

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  17. I know this is still on the topic of dress, which is somewhat off topic, but I wanted to mention it in light of what Nathan talks about. He’s right about the “dress” aspect, in terms of the culture.

    Back before the turn of the century, women wore dresses that went down over their ankles. It would have been considered risque. But, as we all know, it did happen. Then, they went above the ankles, then to the calves, then to the knees.

    Then, the invention of the bra, which was seemingly designed to enhance the appearance of the bosom.

    I recall my wife telling me that she was not allowed to wear pants to high school. Even in the coldest, most bitter winters, she had to wear a dress. It was immodest to not wear one. This, mind you, in a public school.

    Now, we rarely see women in dresses. Except for “special” occasions.

    I’m not picking on the women. Men have changed their clothing habits, too.

    I use these as examples of what we’ve all come to accept as “proper dress” for Christians. But, a century ago, it would have been scandalous.

    Put a modern day, modestly dressed woman back into the first century and she would have been considered a harlot.

    So, in a way, Nathan has pointed out the truth. Some definition is in order.

    Al

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  18. “Genuine Believers” shouldn’t use ‘foul’ language. Period. You know what is foul, and when and if others hear you they know what is foul..if ever there is a disagreement on it, err to the side of not causing offense with your language.
    Philippians 4:8 KJV
    “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

    That passage read, heard and buried in our heart alone, carried out in Spirit will keep us from walking in the foul natural man.
    Whenever you disagree with another Brother or you open yourself up to answers to your questions, do you always jump to using terms like “legalist”, “questioning salvation”? Be encourage in strong meat, don’t look to the giver as an enemy to be slandered with the latest buzz words that all who walk after their own natural man throw out every time they get more than a dose of sugar with their milk. I was drawing a line of clarity in a smoke filled “church”. Enjoy the view! 🙂
    Love

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  19. Thanks themayflower!

    Nathan and Al,

    I find it ludicrous for a genuine believer even being concerned about this. I don’t care one lick what “culture” says. We are to become Spirit-filled. Anything else is sin because it is of the flesh. If we are driven by the flesh then we are concerned about these things, but if we are Spirit-filled that means that this will not even be an issue because we know what is right and we do it and we know what is wrong and we don’t.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  20. However, I think that it should be stressed that calling into question someone’s salvation for doing something that isn’t clearly defined in Scripture …that’s just a risk I wouldn’t be willing to take personally.

    Nathan,

    Nobody called anyone’s salvation into question. We wouldn’t even call someone’s salvation into question if they did something that is clearly defined as wrong in Scripture. If we did, we would have to call our own salvation into question every day, for we sin against clear commands of Christ many times a day.

    “And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

    “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

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  21. I find it ludicrous for a genuine believer even being concerned about this. I don’t care one lick what “culture” says.

    Really? Then why are you so concerned about Christians saying words the culture has decided is offensive?

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  22. I’ve seen way too many extreme legalists…

    Nathan,
    I used to be all about fighting legalism. My focus was on the legalists and their law-making. But I just ended up searching the Scriptures for legalities. I was fighting their Pharisetic focus on law by focusing on law!

    What a waste of time!

    You want to fight legalism? Be filled with the Holy Spirit. Focus on the glory and holiness of God. Focus on Jesus Christ and His work of salvation.

    And re-read Mike’s post and the comments. Study them. Pray about them. There is a lot of edifying counsel for all of us on this page.

    For example, Sharon said,
    “The beauty of walking with the Lord indwelling us is that we need not fret about defining what is and isn’t sin (that isn’t outlined definitively in the Word)”.

    But now we have been released from the law, since we have died to what held us, so that we may serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old letter of the law. (Romans 7:6)

    But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. (Galatians 5:18)

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  23. “I find it ludicrous for a genuine believer even being concerned about this.”

    Pardon??? You mean to tell me that a genuine believer SHOULD NOT try to earnestly decipher what God is and is not happy with by discussing it with other discerning believers? With all due respect, I strongly disagree with that.

    “I don’t care one lick what “culture” says”

    Does that mean Deborah was wrong when she said:

    “If the culture uses words, as vulgar now, that were once not considered vulgar, it is.”

    Mike said…
    “but if we are Spirit-filled that means that this will not even be an issue because we know what is right and we do it and we know what is wrong and we don’t.”

    I’m confused … Could this same logic be used to condemn just about everything? And if someone questions you about it, just say that if they were spirit filled, they’d think it was wrong too. Isn’t that what you’ve done here concerning the issue of profanity?

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  24. Nathan, I agree that a person’s salvation shouldn’t be called into question based on these things. A person once said to me, “I think God is so gentle with us. It’s like we’re in a dark room and He shines a flashlight on one corner that’s filthy. Then, after some time and after that’s dealt with, another part of the room is lit and we see more. Where as if He just threw on the lights all at once we’d be overcome with grief at just how foul we actually are.” It has been my experience that we grow to learn where the lines are by the Holy Spirit’s guidance very gradually from the day we are born again. To give you the benefit of the doubt, it sounds like you met up with some Christians who expected too much of you too soon. HE changes us. One can’t put that responsibility entirely upon the new believer all at once. On the other hand, if you’ve been saved for ten years and you’re only now asking these questions, you may have ignored the flashlight. Ask HIM to show you the answers to these things and He truly will. And overlook the people you’ve come in contact with who may have come across “legalistic.” Most often they truly mean well, but forget where they began. Other times it is the sinful nature in us that takes as negative what is honest help from our brothers and sisters. I don’t know you’re story.

    I do know this article should not have touched a nerve in anyone, as it was straight and truthful and necessary instruction. (Thanks Mike!)

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  25. Tim,

    I’m not the one making lists of words that are okay to say those that aren’t. That is what you and Nathan are doing. I am saying that what comes out of the mouth is what defiles a person as our Lord said. I am correct in assuming you are aware of Jesus teaching on this aren’t I? In any case, my teaching on this is not about being legalistic about your use of profanity but on your heart condition that causes you to use it. I pray that you can see the difference.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  26. Nathan,

    You said: ““I find it ludicrous for a genuine believer even being concerned about this.”

    Pardon??? You mean to tell me that a genuine believer SHOULD NOT try to earnestly decipher what God is and is not happy with by discussing it with other discerning believers? With all due respect, I strongly disagree with that.

    “I don’t care one lick what “culture” says”

    Does that mean Deborah was wrong when she said:

    “If the culture uses words, as vulgar now, that were once not considered vulgar, it is.”

    Mike said…
    “but if we are Spirit-filled that means that this will not even be an issue because we know what is right and we do it and we know what is wrong and we don’t.”

    I’m confused … Could this same logic be used to condemn just about everything? And if someone questions you about it, just say that if they were spirit filled, they’d think it was wrong too. Isn’t that what you’ve done here concerning the issue of profanity?”

    My point in this is that you and those that agree with you are the ones being legalistic. You are the ones making lists. My whole teaching on this is that it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles a person. That is our Lord’s own words Nathan. I pray you look it up and study it and take it to heart. His teaching was that it isn’t by breaking rules that we are defiled, but by what we say and think. All that we do is born from our motives. It is our motives that are are the root of our obedience or sin. Therefore, why are you so concerned about trying to justifying using certain words instead of seeking to be Holy and Pure before God? Isn’t that the real issue?

    So you don’t understand what it means to be Spirit-filled then Nathan? I suggest that you spend time with the book of Ephesians. The Spirit-led person may indeed rebuke people, but not with the attitude that you attribute to them. I find it very interesting that you are making such a fuss over an article on Repentance. I suppose then that you don’t think that Repentance is part of our salvation and our walk before God either?

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  27. Personally, I will judge a person’s salvation whose mouth is vulgar and it is the person’s practice. If they are not being convicted, then something is very wrong! I know two people who swear they are christians, yet they use our Most Holy God’s name blasphemously. They are not saved because they constantly do it without a thought. However, this article isn’t about judging others, but about our personal repentance. I, and others I have known that are christians, have let bad language slip through. But we are convicted by it and make every effort to walk in repentance of it.To question what is vulgar speech is to set yourself up to questioning any conviction you receive from the Holy Spirit. Then your heart gets hardened until you have a seared conscious in this matter. Then along comes another matter into question and the ball keeps on rolling until a person’s walk with the Lord isn’t recognizable. We need to be careful or we will become double-minded through doubt. And even if a person thinks certain words are O.K. to say as a christian, if it offends a brother, then we must not offend him by saying it. Our walk needs to be circumspect before the less mature christians because we do have an influence on them.

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  28. Nathan! Snap out of it! 🙂 You said: “Could this same logic be used to condemn just about everything? And if someone questions you about it, just say that if they were spirit filled, they’d think it was wrong too.”

    1) Mike condemned profane language. Period. (What’s your beef?!)
    2) Many people pointed out it is up to you and your relationship with the Holy Spirit to discern what is and is not profane. (You and you alone will have to answer for every word that comes out of your mouth, so it is worth looking into…it’s just that no one can tell you but God.)
    3) So why are you acting as if Mike or anyone else here is legalistic???? YOU are the only one getting your back up as if someone has condemned your behavior, and no one has! *Are you guilty of something?*
    4) You must get in the habit of saying to yourself, “I care what God thinks, not what others think.” This way if someone condemns your behavior incorrectly you can let it roll by and not become so(ooooooooo) upset. And if someone condemns your behavior correctly, give it some prayer. Whatever. But life is not about what other people think of you. It’s about Jesus.

    Important: Alan, women would suffer needlessly without the support of a bra. I hurt just thinking about it. Everything is not evil, and frankly it adds a needed layer to hide what we have.

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  29. I like this little personal testing when there “seems” to be confusion. The Spirit indwelling will guide any believer’s heart if you can really thank Him alone for the things we from our hearts do and say. Like this:

    Dear Lord Jesus, you died for me and all of my sins…you shed your precious blood over me…I just wanted to say thank you for letting me say (*$#*”!).

    Now you “plug in” your heart’s thoughts and actions into that space…if you can do that while my Lord heaves and chokes on His own shed blood while hanging by nails on a tree as a spectacle for “wicked men” to hurl insults and laughter while He alone takes on my sins go ahead, because He paid for that liberty alone and it was more costly than I could ever put into words. But one word of caution…don’t ever trample His blood or claim you stand under it while making light of any known sin while claiming ‘liberty’ like a child.

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  30. We can also judge our speech (and actions) by the effect that they have on others. We are not to cause our brothers and sisters grief and offense by our language or dress, as Mike mentioned. If someone, especially a fellow Christian, is hurt or offended by your speech, then it is a sin to continue in it. To turn around and say to them something like ‘o.k. then give me a list of all the offensive words’, is not a godly response. In fact it is quite the opposite of what the Bible calls us to.

    If you often judge others, calling them “legalists”, would you consider spending some time reading over the one another passages of scripture? Here are a few to get you started:

    “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. ” (1Co 13:4-6)

    I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
    with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Eph 4:1-3)

    Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. (Rom 14:13-16)

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  31. I can tell you all this. One time a few years after the Lord had come and got me (regenerated) I got very mad at someone on the way to work. I ‘use’ to cuss all the time. It was like saying if, and, or but, and I thought nothing of it. Anyway, years after I was saved I figured I would never say the G.D. word again. HA! Before I even knew what came flying out of my mouth I had used it in a very angry sentence. I could not believe I said it!!!!! I felt so bad all day and all I could do that day at work and at home was feel like I just stabbed my Lord in the heart. All I could say to Him was ‘I am so sorry, please please forgive me……I can’t believe I said that’. I felt awful. My heart was very heavy. I knew that hurt Him and it bothered me more than I can say. Never say never. In the 12 years I have been saved, I have said that twice. It use to be an automatic reflex when I wasn’t saved. I felt like the devil was laughing……which REALLY mad me mad. Needless to say, that was about 8 years ago that the potty mouth blurted. Any cussing, dirty jokes, foul mouth or thoughts are to dissapear one way or another. Anger is a bad thing when its not under control and you sin. Good article Mike.

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  32. Are there any godly reasons for using swear words? Any godly motives for it at all? Tim and Nathan need only reply. I am being fescetious to make one think about it.

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  33. Whenever I’ve used the word “legalism” in my own life it’s always been to try to justify something that I knew was wrong.
    If I had been able to continue without a second thought I’d have a very good reason to doubt my own salvation.Thankfully that’s not the case!

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  34. 1) If there is any confusion, I am not calling Mike a legalist or pharisee. He is, at least evidenced from his writings, anything but. He is a very gracious person from what I know of him.

    2) I have nothing to feel guilty over or be defensive over. The article wasn’t about me 🙂

    3) However, I do believe that others are being called out for doing something that I don’t personally believe is wrong … at least not in the umbrella, broad brush action that has happened here.

    4) I’m not making lists. I just remember being a teenager and being told just about everything under the sun was a sin. Then just when I thought I had “the list” figured out, someone else would come along and give me a new rule. That’s frustrating. That’s when I started basing every personal standard on Biblical principles and not relying on man. So when someone calls into question someone’s regeneration because they use a word that is not on an apparently invisible “no-no list”, it upsets me and reminds me of the days of the moral police.

    Sherry,
    Sure there are. Strong language is used to make a strong point. (Gal. 5:12)

    Again, I don’t want to come across as attacking Mike. He is NOT a legalist by any stretch! However, many of the things said in the article and comments are many times employed by legalists to justify their legalism. I’m sorry if I didn’t make the difference clear enough.

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  35. Nathan, strong language is waaay different than crude and perverse language. Even words that are O.K. like being damned to hell if you are an unrepentant sinner is good. But use that word to curse, it is not. I read the article at CRN.Info on this and it was a weak one. The examples used in the article were of strong language in Jesus’ and Paul’s day and truthful in Isaiah’s day. Come to think of it, are you better than Isaiah when he cried out, “Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips!”? Then there is a link that “shows” how crude language in a song can glorify God. It didn’t. It glorified the writer and his cutsey opnion. All of you need to listen to what Rick said in his comments over there. And the moral police are always going to be around. Get used to it. Your guide is the Holy Spirit and you need to be sensitive to His convictions. The way to know what is true conviction and what is from the enemies’ guilt trip is to know the Word and obey it. Study the Word and be more concerned with pleasing God in what He says. Watch who it is you are listening to. There are wolves that want to bring you down to their level. They may claim to be realistic and relevent, but what does God say? Jesus hung around with sinners but He never sunk to their level in order to get them on God’s side. In truth, He offended many, not just the Pharisees. And be careful that you are not bringing a charge against one of God’s servents. Make sure that it is for Christ’s name sake that you get offended, not some pet sin or activity with which you cry “legalism”. That is so common at CRN.Info. They only think they do God a service…

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  36. Sherry,
    If your first sentence is true, then all the more reason for you to make the difference clear! In your statement, you say that using the word “damn” as a “curse” would be wrong … but before, it was said that putting words on a list was wrong?

    This is really what I was trying to ask originally … I would imagine there is indeed a list of words that you think are unquestionably wrong … therefore, I’d like to know what they are and the justification for classifying them as sinful to say.

    “come to think of it, are you better than Isaiah when he cried out, “Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips!”?”

    Of course not! We are all men of unclean lips! In fact, even the things we say that aren’t “curse” words are no better than filthy rags, right?

    We disagree on the result of the song, for sure. I think it actually makes an important point. In all honesty, the Bible does call legalism heresy. There’s sin, then there’s heresy … and the song spoke out against both, while making a distinction between the two. Regardless … I doubt we’ll agree on that point.

    I truly appreciate your admonition to watch out for the moral police. Your words are SO TRUE! However, I would add that there are just as many people claiming to be “holy and righteous” as there are claiming to be “realistic and relevant”. And although Jesus did offend many, He made it a point to offend pious religious leaders who heaped man made laws onto those around them. He seemed to be extra hard on them.

    Again, I’m not crying legalism here. And yes, I agree that it is paramount to defend Christ, not pet sins. I assure you I am not doing the latter.

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  37. Nathan,

    Plenty of scripture posted here that backs up the claim that it’s ungodly to curse? Doesn’t look like man made laws to me. I could ask many people if they think those words in that song are Christ like and I probably wouldn’t get even one to say yes. I could even ask if they thought they were even “nice” and I would most likely get a negative response. Christians or non Christians alike. Go take a poll and find out.

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  38. Pingback: Holy, Holy , Holy « Possessing the Treasure

  39. To my amazement, the use of profanity was one of the first tthings that left my life when I became a Christian(at 18). I remember walking out of my house one day and hearing two teenagers cursing the day away. For the first time in my short life, it actually bothered me to hear curse words. I leapt for joy when I dwnwd on me that the Lord had taken that vocabulary out of my mouth! It wasn’t from a conscious efort on my part. It was the Lord that cleaned up my vocabulary! I knew a miracle had taken place in me, because every other word from my mouth used to be a curse word. It was part of my “extended” vocabulary and now it was gone! It was actually a “cool thing” to use curse words when I was growing up some 20 years ago.
    Now,if the Lord saw fit to take the use of certain words (which we all know are curse words) why would I now begin to think they are alright to use?
    Some teenagers in my Sunday School class were actually doubting whether some curse words were proper or not and who sets the standard as to what is or is not a curse word. I was stunned that this was even an issue among Christians!
    I will go a little further to say that I believe that words such as “stupid” “idiot” “heck” etc., although they might not be curse words, are harsh words, and should not (or rather-won’t) proceed from the mouth of a Spirit filled person. I cringe when I hear believers use words that are cutting with such ease.
    The Spirit of God inside us will check us when we do or say anything that is inapproriate.
    On the subject of dress the same principal applies.If you truly have the Spirit of God residing in you He will convict you as you read God’s word. Perhaps that is the problem. we are not reading God’s word.
    Sensuality has entered the church at an alarming way. Woman walk in showing everything (even “leaders”) and they think nothing of it! “I am free in Christ” is their “mantra.” Yet, nothing is said about this issue because it might offend someone. Then offend we must! The word of God tells us how we should dress! (I am battling these things in my church-to no avail).
    I think all these things are a result of the easy believism and seeker sensitive nonsense and books that tell the church “How to do church” that has come into the body of Christ. This tumor needs to be excised from the body before the tumor becomes malignant!

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  40. Mike, this is an argument that we must allow petulant Nathan to puff himself up over. In the end, Jesus will be on the other end of his arguments and he and others like him won’t find it so amusing or himself so intellectual on that day…unless the Lord opens His eyes before then, which we pray for.

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