Am I sinning if I’m cursing in my thoughts?


My boyfriend was just baptized and he's been struggling. He has a little bit of anxiety. He's been trying to work on his cursing. he's doing great. But he asked me a difficult question. He asked, "Am I still sinning if I keep the cuss words in my brain?" I said that I wasn't sure and told him about your site, but he's been so anxious. I asked him if he wanted me to send you an email.

So here I am. I'm sorry for bothering you. I hope I can get a reply back!


Before I get into answering your question, I want to make sure we are both using the same terminology, so see What is the difference between temptation and lust?

A person cannot prevent himself from being tempted and the nature of any temptation requires that thoughts go through your head that you could do something sinful. The thoughts become lust when you accept the temptation and are attempting to justify it. Trying to justify sin is itself sinful.

Jesus gave this example, "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). The Jews had the idea that sin only happened when you committed a sinful act. Thus, adultery only occurred when intercourse took place with someone who was not your wife. But Jesus said that sin occurred long before the act. When a man looks at a woman with lust; that is, when he is looking at a woman, imagining having sex with her, and trying to figure out how he could get away with it, then he has already committed adultery in his heart. He might not have done the act, but his intentions are to commit it if he thought he could get away with it. That lust is just as sinful as the actual sin.

If a guy allows himself to get angry and he is cursing another person in his mind, then even though he hasn't said anything, he has still accepted profanity, he is only restraining himself because of who may hear what he says. But if he gets mad and some curse words pop up in his mind, but he tells himself that it is wrong to say such things, then he is rejecting the temptation, which is what he is supposed to be doing. The division is close, but the difference is the attitude toward sins.

When you first become a Christian, sinful habits are hard to break. You are likely to slip up for a while, but hopefully, it becomes less frequent. To change the habitual use of profanity, you start with keeping yourself from saying the words, but that, by itself, will not be enough. "Now when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came'; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also be with this evil generation" (Matthew 12:43-45). The point is that you have to fill your life with righteousness so that there is no room for wickedness to return.

Thus, there is a two-prong attack to the problem: Learning to control your anger so that you are less likely to lose control over yourself and forcing yourself to reword sentences in your head that don't include profanity and then saying those things. Then the next step is when you have the impulse to say something bad, consider the situation and say something beneficial and encouraging instead. These things take time. You can't become instantly righteous, but you can reach a goal when you work on it a step at a time.

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