As a Christian, we don’t walk out of our house in the morning looking to sin. We are aware of much of the big obvious sin and generally want to avoid it, and God gives us the help we need to avoid it.
I wonder though, if we even recognize some things as sin?
- Intentionally a Christian will go find someone to share some juicy gossip with.
- Intentionally a Christian can’t wait to say, let me tell you about so and so… Or, did you hear about…?
- Intentionally a Christian may look to find fault and criticize a brother, a sister, a leader, or a church.
- Intentionally a Christian will make a mocking joke, laughing at someone, but there is a definite disrespect in the mocking joke.
- Intentionally a Christian will ruin the reputation of another.
Are we so accustomed to these conversations in church that they don’t seem like sin? Are criticism and gossip so much apart of normal everyday conversation that we are inoculated to their deathly stench? Do we think tearing down another person is something God gives His heavenly nod of approval to?
Isaiah was a man of God. God’s servant. God’s leader. Used by God mightily. He loved God. His life of loving obedience reflected His faith in God. And yet in a vision when Isaiah came face to face with God, he suddenly become blindingly aware of his unclean lips. Isaiah wasn’t thinking about His good life of serving God. He wasn’t thinking, Yep, I’ve earned a pat on the back from God! When Isaiah came face to face with God, he was made blindingly aware of his unclean words. All of his faithful service to God didn’t matter. Isaiah’s loose words had become his undoing and he cried out…
“Woe to me!…I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Isaiah 6:5 NIV. In the Message version, it says Doom…I’m as good as dead. Every word I’ve spoken has been tainted…corrupted!
What are unclean, tainted, and corrupt words? Criticisms, judgements, gossip, backstabbing, fault-finding, cynicism, mocking. Unclean words are words spoken out of resentment, selfish ambition, vain conceit, or jealousy. They are self-righteous words, and words spoken out of pain and unforgiveness. They are words of blame.
If our words are anything but loving, encouraging and covering, they are words set on fire by hell, James 3:6. They come from a place in our heart where we have allowed negativity, resentment, bitterness, or jealousy to grow up and rule. No matter how we try and justify it, it’s a lack of love.
Our words are the overflow of our heart, Matthew 12:34. Our words always reveal what’s in our heart. Every thought, attitude, and intent will find it’s way onto our lips.
Negative words have a destructive force, words can kill, Jeremiah 9:8. Words separate close friends, ending relationships, Proverbs 16:28 &17:9. Words can divide churches, families, and peoples loyalties.
If we allow unclean, tainted, and corrupt words to come from our mouth, we set ourselves up as an adversary to people. Satan is the Adversary. If we bring accusation against people, ripping and tearing them to shreds, we literally manifest Satan and his plans to ruin the lives of God’s people. Truth!!
If we gossip, criticize, entertain negative thoughts and conversations, we are giving our mouths over to Satan to use against people, God’s people. It’s so damaging to the church. If we gossip, criticize, etc, we are responsible for damaging God’s precious people.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be, James 3:10. With our tongues we murder our brother and sister, 1John 3:15.
Perhaps that’s why Isaiah stood red-faced and guilty. Upon coming into the Presence of Almighty God, he suddenly understood that not even the slightest negative word can be spoken out in an uncaring or unloving manner. Anything that is against love is sin.
Just when Isaiah saw God and realized his sin, God forgave him fully, Isaiah 6:6-7. We too get forgiveness. Jesus has taken care of it all. If we get honest with God, confess our sin, we immediately receive his forgiveness. He is faithful and just. If we confess our sins, we can rely on Him to forgive us everything, 1John 1:9.
God hears everything we say and knows everything in our heart. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs, Luke 12:3. We can’t surprise or shock God by our confession, He knows everything. If we get honest, own up, and repent, we get His loving forgiveness.
Repentance is realizing something is sinful and having true Godly sorrow for the sin. A change in our behavior will be the result of our repentance; loving, kind, and grace-filled words will be the fruit of our repentance.
An amazing thing happens when we repent, the full weight of the guilt and any associated fears or anxieties are immediately lifted off us.
Isaiah’s example shows, the closer we draw to God, the more we become aware of the many ways we can offend Him through sin. His extreme beauty and absolute holiness draw us closer and cause us to rely on Jesus more, every day–and we realize our life-long debt is to walk in love with people.
As we become more aware of the many ways we can offend God through sin, we will have an ever DECREASING desire to find fault in other people, and we will walk in ever-increasing grace and love for them instead.
God wants nothing short of our complete dependence on the life of Jesus for forgiveness of our sins and for Jesus’ example of how to love others. Whoever says he abides in Him (Jesus) ought [as a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself, 1John 2:6.