“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth” (Col. 3:8)
“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” (Eph. 4:29)
“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks” (Eph. 5:4)
Difference Between a Fall and a Walk
These scriptural texts are very plain. The believer in Christ, in his speech no less than in his actions or in his very thoughts, should always seek to glorify his Lord. And this means that he should not make use of vulgar words, swear words, or obscene language, in his speech. Anyone who regularly and without remorse uses such language, reveals that he is not as yet a regenerate person, regardless of any claims he may make.
Let me be correctly understood at this point: even true Christians fall into sins of all kinds. Just as Peter, when he was afraid, “began to curse and to swear” (Matt. 26:74), many Christians, in moments of weakness and temptation, may utter words which are sinful to speak, just as they may commit other sins. “For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body” (Jas. 3:2). A fall into sin does not mean that a person is unregenerate! Sinless perfection does not exist in any believer this side of heaven. Knowing all too well that “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity… an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (Jas. 3:5-8), the true child of God prays, as David did, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Psa. 141:3). He knows how easily he may sin with his tongue, and he prays for the Lord’s grace to preserve him from it.
But when a professing Christian readily uses filthy language, not in a moment of temptation but as a way of speaking, and then proceeds to justify and defend it, this is a walk in sin, which is a very different thing from a fall into sin! This kind of behaviour reveals a heart still in love with the world, showing no remorse and quite at peace with using the language of the world. Such a person is not to be received as a brother or sister in Christ, regardless of the profession of faith they may make.
Yes, Words Differ in Meaning from Place to Place, But…
It is true that what is considered an obscene word in one place or culture may not be considered obscene in another. Words develop different meanings in different places. In the United Kingdom, for instance, a word or a phrase which has an obscene meaning may have no such meaning whatsoever in the United States; and vice versa. The same may be true of what is considered a filthy word in South Africa, which when spoken in another English-speaking country may have no such connotations. Allowances must be made for “region-specific” word-meanings, and a Christian visitor from another country must be mature about this, and not take offence when a word is used which clearly does not have the meaning he would attach to it “back home”.
But when a word or phrase is viewed as obscene in a particular country or culture, it should never be used by believers from that country or culture; and when it is universally viewed as obscene, it should never be used by believers anywhere.