Confession

April 25, 2008 at 10:54 am (God thoughts)

This post is going to seem quite out of the ordinary for my blog. I’m going to be more personal than I think I’ve ever been before. Generally I use my blog as an outlet for my opinions more than anything else. I do this so that I don’t let out my opinions when I’m preaching or teaching the Word of God (a place where opinion just doesn’t belong). So those things that I think, feel, and am annoyed by, I say here instead of saying them in a place of authority (from the pulpit).

I hope that distinction is well understood by my readers. I hope they don’t get the impression that I think my blog words are authoritative. But I digress.

The reason for this post is about words. Words that have plagued my mind, my heart and my tongue of late. Words that I ought not to think about let alone utter. And yet constantly they climb up from my intestines (where I’m certain they reside with the other filth in my body); they climb up into my lungs and escape from my lips at far too frequent a pace. Yet even if by sheer strength of the will I was able to keep them from escaping my lips I certainly wouldn’t be able to keep them from afflicting my brain.

What am I to do?

I’m disgusted by the degeneration of my vocabulary. It’s not simply that they arise with each wrong committed against me, but they arise at even the slightest of inconvenience. A jammed printer, apen that’s run out of ink, a ringing phone.

Words.

Evil words.

Dark words.

Hurtful words.

Sinful words.

I read of Mayor Sanders exchanging words with mayoral candidate Steve Francis. I laughed at his words, but they aren’t funny, they’re vile.

I hear lyrics in songs permitted by the FCC on the radio and I sing along with these words. But they aren’t inspirational, they’re cancerous.

They are death-words that only exist by consuming life-words. They eat away at my soul leaving me empty, frustrated and powerless to prevent them from escaping my mouth.

I hate these words. I was trained to hate them. My Father hates them, and would punish me even today if he ever heard me say them.

But he doesn’t hear me say them, in fact no one hears me say them. Thus far, I am conscientiousness enough to only give them breath when no one else is in ear shot.

But I think them often.

I think them, it seems like, unendingly.

I can’t escape them.

They are always there.

They are like the blood on the hands of Lady Macbeth.

No matter how often I wash my hands they are there.

Over a year ago I wrote this as I read through Frederick Douglass autobiography…

OK I promised updates on the life of Frederick Douglass as i read through the book. the first big thing that has jumped out at me so far…

His description of Mr. Severe (an overseer of the slaves) went like this…

“Mr. Severe was rightly named: he was a cruel man… He seemed to take pleasure in manifesting his fiendish barbarity. Added to his cruelty, he was a profane swearer. it was enough to chill the blood and stiffen the hair of an ordinary man to hear him talk. Scarce a sentence escaped him but that was commenced or concluded by some horrid oath… From the rising till the going down of the sun he was cursing, raving, cutting, and slashing among the field, in the most frightful manner.”

Thus far every villainous slaver owner or task master has been characterized by their vulgar and profane language. Why is this so significant to me? 2 reasons, first of all I hate cussing. I admit to letting words slip in my anger that are neither wholesome nor tolerable, but I strive to make certain that they do not become commonplace in my vocabulary. I am afraid that this desire is losing it’s priority in even the Christian community sighting “liberty” as the cause. Secondly when i look to find the most heinous and profane lyrics in todays music and films I will always find it in the hip-hop music genre. This is a sad testimony to the ignorance of those “entertainers”. even sadder still is their predominate skin color happens to be black. If Mr. Douglass were alive today to hear the lyrics of the hip hop community he would certainly be repulsed by their vulgarities as well as violent content and see that the slaves have now taken the tendencies of the slave owners.

I am the pot regardless of who the kettle is.

Theses words have become commonplace in my mind. I have not “striven” to keep them out. Or have I? I don’t know. But I know they are there and I want them out.

I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.

I feel mastered. I feel worn down by these words. But not worn down from fighting them, rather worn down from tolerating them. Worn down by accepting them.

Why do I tolerate that which I hate?

Why do I accept that which is evil?

Why?

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Oh, Rescue!

I know that I can’t wash my hands clean of this, but oh the rescue of Jesus Christ my Savior!

This is the liberty I have in Christ. This is what I’m free to be…

So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

This is the life I want, the freedom I crave.

Embrace the rescue.

I don’t know why i would publish this post. In fact I’m quite hesitant. But nevertheless I will publish it. I will pray that it’s not simply a benefit to me personally, but that it benefits you who read it as well.

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5 Comments

  1. Echo_ohcE said,

    Daniel,

    This is a post worth reading.

    I have a couple of things to respond to.

    First, and most importantly, is that there is no such thing as a word that is inherently evil. Inherently is an important word. A very important word. Every swear word that we have in English can be appropriate in some very limited circumstances.

    For example, let’s take the mother of all swear words, the F-word. What word is more appropriate to describe what a man sees when he comes home from work to find his wife in bed with another man? What were they doing in that bed? In that case, the only word profane ENOUGH to describe the heinous nature of what they were doing, is in fact the F-word. That’s what profane words are for, to describe profane things.

    Or take the old sh-word. Some things in life are horrible, and “crap” just doesn’t seem to adequately describe them.

    But what IS wrong is when our printer jams, and out pops the sh-word. What are we really saying when we do that? We are saying that our circumstances are a vulgar and repulsive thing. How DARE that printer jam up on me? There is something profoundly arrogant expressed in such instances. We are saying that I am so lofty that the printer’s refusal to cooperate is akin to blasphemy. And in reality, the printer is inanimate, so who is it that we are really accusing of wronging us? Isn’t it the God who is in control of all things? Aren’t we cursing him for making a situation difficult for us?

    We need to understand then that there is no word that it is inherently sinful to utter. It’s all in what we mean by it. It is not sinful to utter the F-word. It is sinful to use that word to curse others, especially to curse God. But the word does have an appropriate meaning, and when the circumstances are right, then the use of the word is fine. It is a profane word for a profane act.

    There are words used in the Bible that if properly translated, would be translated as swear words. For example, in Phil 3:8, Paul uses the word “skubala”, usually translated as rubbish in most English translations. But actually, the best modern translation would be the sh-word. True story. Why? Because he’s deliberately using shocking, profane language, because to him, that’s the only language appropriate to describe the utter worthlessness of our own works, of our own righteousness. In that passage, he had just gone on and on about what a great Jew he was, and why he had all these reasons to boast, etc, and then BAM! he strikes us with this word. His original audience was undoubtedly shocked, but nonetheless, they were also undoubtedly impressed with how worthless Paul thought his own piety was, no matter how great that piety looks.

    And let this be a lesson to us who despair in the face of our sin. Let us not despair in the face of our sin, because our works are worthless, our piety is meaningless. That’s not to say that we should go around swearing all the time, visiting prostitutes, etc, etc, etc. No – we should strive for piety. But we must not think that our piety will save us. No, the only thing that saves us is the righteousness of Christ alone.

    Our works cannot save us. Heaven is populated with people that have been to strip clubs, visited prostitutes, gambled, murdered, lied, cheated, stolen, swore, and countless other things. In fact, there is only one type of person not present in heaven. There are no people in heaven who think that they were good enough to get there. Everyone there is resting in the righteousness of Christ, given to us by faith alone. Everyone there now understands that in all clarity.

    But we lowly, here on earth have a hard time with that. It’s SO easy to rely on our own piety, and thus, when we sin, it’s so easy to feel sorry for ourselves and wallow in self pity, as if this too is pious.

    But it’s not pious. It’s not pious to beat ourselves with whips like an ancient monk in a monastery. That’s not piety. It’s not pious to wallow in self pity. Where does the Bible commend such a thing? Nowhere.

    No, the Bible commends to us that we cast all our cares on him, rest in him, in his finished work, trusting in the promises of Scripture alone, fleeing to and clinging to the cross of Christ, who is our only hope for peace with God despite our sin.

    Why doesn’t God save us and then make us perfectly holy so that we never sin again? The same reason why he wouldn’t take away the thorn in Paul’s flesh. It is so that we learn to depend on him alone and NOT ourselves.

    You can’t stop cursing and swearing, you can’t control your tongue. What more proof do you need that you can’t save yourself by works, but must look to Christ in faith?

    When the Bible says that sin is no longer our master, what does it mean, that we won’t sin anymore? Obviously not, since we all still sin. No, it means that our sin can no longer condemn us.

    Ponder that always. Our sin no longer condemns us. As John says, “whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart”.

    We trust in a God who can justify us despite our inability to control our mouth, despite our inability to master our wicked hearts.

    There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

    No one, including you, has any right to condemn you, whom God has justified. There is only One Judge. You aren’t him, and I’m not either. Only God is Judge. And he has appointed Jesus Christ, the very one who laid down his life for us, to preside over his court, and he has proved it by raising him from the dead (Acts 17:31).

    If Christ has been raised, you who were buried with him in baptism will also be raised. If he was vindicated and will be glorified before the world at his coming, you will be vindicated, glorified before the world at his coming. If you are in Christ, then Christ’s life is your life. If he has died, you have died, if he has been raised, you will be raised.

    Your personal piety is not a factor in this. Should you strive for piety? Of course. If Christ lives in you, and Christ is righteous, then it only makes sense that you would be righteous too. But Christ isn’t all that lives in you. There is still the indwelling dragon, the indwelling Cain, the indwelling sinful man, who raises his ugly head every chance he can get. But there is Christ, greater than our heart, conquering the dragon, our knight in shining armor.

    The victory over your sin is his, not yours. So don’t despair at your sin. Confess it, trust in his promises, and move on. Your sins are forgiven in Christ. That’s just what he died for. His death pays for that sin. So confess it and move on, because the problem has been solved already.

  2. Albino Hayford said,

    Interesting, difficult topic. I love words. All kinds of words. My mind is always searching for that more correct and colorful word that will describe a situation.

    When it comes to vulgar words, I am really torn. My dad always encouraged us to “take words from the top shelf, not the bottom shelf”. In my dad’s case, I never heard him utter a curse word, not even one time. I don’t know if he thought them, like you are saying here; I just know he held great control over his tongue, and it was a powerful testimony to his children.

    In my view, it is always wrong to “cuss”, and especially to take the Lord’s Name in vain. But there are those moments in life, when only a delightfully vulgar word fits the bill; a word that is both sufficiently colorful and satisfyingly onomotopeatic as it bursts out of the mouth like a spray of bullets. I hesitate to give any examples of this, not because I am ashamed of using these words, but because I don’t want to cause the readers to stumble, because some are weaker than others. Most of the time, these moments lead to gales of laughter, because the word uttered is shocking and funny at the same time. Is there an exception clause for motive or humor license here?

    One other observation: Some words change over time and mean different things to different generations. I give but one example: the word “sucks”. I used to call this an “over 30, under 30” word, but now it’s probably an “over 50, under 50” word. Today, to everyone who is not a baby boomer, it just means “stinks”, but to most baby boomers, it can be viewed as extremely vulgar. The lesson? Know your audience, and don’t purposely offend.

    My brother got around the “what do I scream when I hit my finger with a hammer?” dilemma by inventing words. He would shout, “shike”, “fradget”, “hentezau”, and other Dr. Seuss sounding words that meant nothing.

    The most amusing case of borderline language comes from the guides at Hoover Dam. Throughout the tour, they delight in saying things like, “Take all the dam pictures you want, folks,” and “Watch your step as you enter the dam elevator,” and “We hope you enjoyed the dam tour”. Now that’s funny…and clever.

  3. Aunt Beth said,

    Daniel,

    I was thinking along a similar line this week while completing my Bible study. I struggle with anxiety. My experience is that salvation is a process. I was saved, I am saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved. God reveals my shortcomings to me and makes sin become “sinful.” Sometimes He causes me to focus on an area that I didn’t really notice before and sometimes it seems that focusing on it is making it worse. Thankfully, I’ve found that Jesus is into giving me victory over the stuff that weighs me down and makes me weary. He’s pleased as I confess my inabilities and come to Him over and over again.

  4. danielbalc said,

    Oh the irony.

    Friday night, approximately 8 hours after I published this post I found myself confronted with this very subject in dramatic fashion.

    My sister, her husband and my Nana and I were at the Padres game sitting in just about the cheapest seats you can get.

    Very early in the game the “gentleman” seated directly behind me, grew frustrated with something that happened on the field and voiced his frustration with a chorus of expletives. Obviously not a fan of his choice of words my Nana said, “watch your language.” and was answered immediately with a, how-dare-you, “what did you say???”

    Recognizing the required duties of a grandson in this situation I calmly stood up, turned around and asked the offending party if he would be more particular in the type of adjectives he used in describing what he was seeing on the field.

    I said something like, “Hey, could you please not swear in front of my grandmother and my sister.”

    He replied (with no real understanding of the fact that we were seated in pretty much the least expensive portion of the ballpark),
    “I paid good money for these seats and I’m going to say whatever I want to say.”

    My shock at his refusal to comply to a simple request must have been clearly evident by my facial expression because he continued…

    “It’s a free country, I’ve got freedom of speech. I’m saying whatever I want.”

    At this point I advised him of the fact that he forfeited his right to use profane language when he purchased the ticket suggesting he read the fine print on the back of that ticket.

    He said, “where does it say that? show me where it says that.”

    I said, “How about I go get an usher and ask him to show you instead?”

    At this point he calmed down and said, “Okay, I’ll try”.

    He didn’t try very hard but he did tone it down a little bit.

    Of course as the game progressed and the Padres continued with their woeful ways I heard the very same words he was speaking earlier ringing in my head. How could I ask him to not say the exact same words I was saying in my mind?

    Does that make me a hypocrite, a liar or both?

    Or am I neither? Am I better off than he because I was able to control my tongue, even though I couldn’t control my thoughts?

    The battle continues…

  5. Echo_ohcE said,

    You are a hypocrite if you condemned him and did not condemn yourself.

    If you condemned him, and then did condemn yourself, I hope you fled to Christ and pleaded his blood for the forgiveness of sins.

    If you did not condemn him, but only said that his words should not be uttered, then you have only said that his words are wrong. That’s a true and undeniable fact.

    Clearly, you recognize the same sinfulness in yourself. You don’t deny that it’s sinful. Therefore, so long as you didn’t condemn him, then you are not a hypocrite.

    And you should not have condemned him, because you have no authority to do so. You are not his judge. Sure, you can say this is right or that is wrong, but you cannot condemn him. Only God can condemn him.

    This is the problem with curses. Curses are condemnatory. That’s what makes them evil. When they are used apart from proclaiming curses on someone or something that you have no authority to condemn, then they aren’t evil anymore, but appropriate, vulgar words for vulgar things, as I mentioned above.

    Usually, we use swear words to curse the events or people or things around us because they aren’t going OUR way. Our will has been violated. “How dare he strike out! I want the Padres to win! I curse you for violating my will.” We don’t think that’s what we mean, but I bet that if you think about it for a while, you’ll realize that that is exactly what we mean.

    By the way, you would do well to advise your “Nana” that she has no authority over the man behind her at the baseball game either. I’m glad it turned out relatively peacefully, but surely you can see how the end of such conversations can often be violence. Would you really want to get into a fight to defend your “Nana’s” right to tell someone she doesn’t know to watch his language?

    There are a lot of authority issues to ponder here. Authority is a very helpful category.

    E

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