Thirty Sins of the Tongue to Avoid
As a conclusion to this part about the little fox of sinful speech, I discovered the old Puritan Richard Baxter wrote a book that was primarily intended for the people in the church he pastored in Kidderminster in the 1600’s. He called it A Christian Directory and he noted that there were thirty sins of the tongue to avoid.
1. to speak contemptuously of God, or to vilify him, or dishonor him, by the denying of his perfections, and to debase him, by false titles, doctrines, images, resemblances, as likening him to man in any of our imperfections; anything that is a reproaching of God is blasphemy.
If any falsely say, he had such or such a point by divine inspiration, vision, or revelation, that makes him a false prophet. But if he only says falsely, that this or that doctrine is contained in the Scripture, or delivered by tradition to the church, this is but to be a false teacher.
or defending those points and practices which would subvert or undermine religion: a secret endeavor to make all serious godliness seem a needless thing.
or scorning at some of their real or supposed imperfections, for their piety sake, to make them odious, that piety through them might be made odious. When men so speak, that the drift and tendency of their speech is to draw men to a dislike of truth or holiness.
and also all light and irreverent use of the name and attributes of God.
and so a craving of vengeance from God.
when men’s tongues agree not with their hearts, but speak good words in prayer to God, or conference with men, to cover evil intentions or affections, and to represent themselves to the hearers as better than they are.
either of men’s wit and learning, or greatness, or riches, or honor, or strength, or beauty, or parts, or piety, or anything that men are proud of.’ As the faithful “do make their boast in God,” ; so the “workers of iniquity boast themselves against the righteous, and the proud do triumph and speak hard things,” . “Even against the Lord,” do they boast, in their boasting against his people, .
as on the Lord’s day, or at the time of public worship, or when the company, occasion, or opportunity call for holy speeches: worldlings are talking, as Saul, of their asses, when they should talk of a kingdom, .
as when it is done with lightness, or with unsuitable curiosity of words, or in a ludicrous, playful manner, especially by the preachers of the gospel themselves; and not with a style that is grave and serious, agreeable to the weight and majesty of the truth.
when they are spoken of so ignorantly, unskillfully, disorderly, or passionately, tending to dishonor them, and frustrate the desired good success.
when children speak irreverently and dishonorably to or of their parents; or subjects of their governors; or servants of their masters, either to their faces, or behind their backs. “They are not afraid to speak evil of dignities”’ ; .
insulting over them, provoking and discouraging them. Eph. vi. 4, “Fathers, provoke not your children to wrath.”
a babbling loquacity, or unprofitableness of speech; which is speech that does not edify.
which tends to possess the minds of the hearers “with a disposition of levity and folly like the speakers. , “Foolish talking and jesting are things not convenient.” Honest mirth is lawful; and that is the best which is most sanctified, as being from a holy principle, and about a holy matter, or to a holy end: as “rejoicing in the Lord always,” Phil. iv. 4. ” If any be merry let him sing psalms,” James v. 13.
“; obscene and ribald talk; which the apostle calls “corrupt or rotten communication,” ; when wanton, filthy minds do make themselves merry with wanton, filthy speeches. This is the devil’s preparative to whoredom and all abominable uncleanness; for when the tongue is first taught to make a sport of such filthy sins, and the ear to be delighted in it, or be indifferent to it, there remains but a small step to actual filthiness.
when men wish some mischief causelessly or unwarrantably to others. If you speak but in passion or jest, and desire not to them in your hearts the hurt which you name, it is nevertheless a sin of the tongue, as it is to speak blasphemy or treason in a passion or in jest; the tongue must be ruled as well as the heart. But if really you desire the hurt which you wish them, it is so much the worse. But it is worst of all, when passionate, factious men will turn their very prayers into cursings, calling for fire from heaven, and praying for other men’s destruction or hurt; and pretending Scripture examples for it; as if they might do it unwarrantably, which others have done in other cases in a warrantable manner.
when out of malice and ill will, men speak evil falsely of others to make them odious or do them hurt: or else through uncharitable credulity, do easily believe a false report, and so report it again to others; or through rashness and unruliness of tongue, divulge it, before they try it, or receive either just proof, or any warrantable call to mention it.
Be the matter true or false, as long as you either know it not to be true, or if you do, yet vent it to make the person less respected, or at least without a sufficient cause, it is a sin against God, and a wrong to men.
and take that to be probable which is but possible, or that to be certain which is but probable against another.
when men use their tongues to defraud their neighbors, in bargaining for their own gain.
a sin which cries to God for vengeance, who is the justifier of the innocent.
when rulers absolve the guilty or condemn the just, and call evil good and good evil, and say to the righteous, “Thou art wicked,” Prov. xxiv. 24.
which is the more heinous by how much more hurtful. And it is most hurtful, When it tendeth to delude men in the greatest things, even the state of their souls. Flattering is pernicious when it tendeth to the hurt of many; as when rulers are deceived and perverted by it to the destruction of the people and themselves.’ , “A lying tongue hateth those that are afflicted by it, and a flattering mouth worketh ruin.” See ; ; .
either for their infirmities of body or mind, or for their virtues, or through envy and malice, or pride, or a custom of deriding, scornful speech. Especially when sinners scorn at the reproofs and counsels of the godly, and cast them all back into their faces with contempt; for he that “reproveth a scorner getteth himself a blot,” - “A scorner loveth not one that reproveth,” .