Question:

Hello,

I want to say that I really do like your website.

I have a question about my thoughts. I am a Christian. I obeyed the gospel last year. I previously cussed like a sailor, but I’ve gotten really good at watching my language. I constantly worry that I’ll mess up and say a foul word that is always on my mind. I don’t ever say them, but I hear them in my head. Any suggestions on how to overcome this trial?

Answer:

Congratulations on making Jesus Christ your Lord!

There are two halves to changing. We often forget this because we are focused on removing sin from our lives. "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts" (Romans 13:14). Removing sin is only half the problem. We must also replace sinful behaviors with righteous ones.

"Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29).

When you catch yourself swearing in your head, stop a moment and consider what you can say that would actually benefit the people around you and then say it. It won't be easy at first, especially in the heat of passion, but repeatedly exercising in this way will help you train yourself to think about situations in a different light.

"But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him -- a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.  So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you" (Colossians 3:8-13).

Paul gives us a roadmap to how to change. You put aside abusive speech and then focus on learning what God wants you to become. The more you learn from your Bible, the more your thought patterns will change -- not overnight but over time. The goal is to become more like Christ. One of the big problems with profanity is that people lose control when they get angry. Thus, we learn to be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Instead of holding grudges, we learn to forgive. These things are easier to obtain when we spend time actually listening to other people and trying to see things from their perspective. "This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls" (James 1:19-21).

Finally, learn to put up a fight with your thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking of profanity, force yourself to stop and reword the thought in terms that don't contain foul words. "Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).

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