When I was in my teens, I took up the bad habit of swearing because I thought it made me more of a man. It was "cool" to curse. But something happened that changed my perspective on foul language. Some of the guys from our church took a girl with us to an activity at my coach's home. While there I was cussing up a storm when the visiting girl confronted me. She said, "If you're a Christian, I want nothing of it!" Although I probably laughed it off at the time, her words got my attention. Why was I speaking that way?
A few years later, God broke my heart about my rebellion against him. At the time I was 19 and had just started my first year at a Christian college in South Carolina. During the first week of activities, an old preacher spoke to the 6000+ students on a Friday night. As he spoke, it seemed that he was speaking directly to me. "Some of you are living a lie. You've attended church and a Christian school all your life. But there's no difference between you and someone who doesn't claim to be a Christian."
Those two events came to mind when a co-worker recently asked me if I ever use bad language. My response was that the bad language stopped when I became a Christian. But why is it that I don't swear anymore? I believe it's a result of God changing my heart. The Scriptures say that, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."1 That happened to me when I submitted to Jesus after hearing the old preacher's sermon. With God's Spirit convicting me of my sinfulness, I turned from my sin to Jesus, the one who died for my sins and rose again.
God made a drastic change in my life. My desire changed from trying to be "cool" like the rest of my friends to a desire to please God. It's not that I have to stop sinning to gain God's approval. I want to please him because of what he has done for me. Be that as it may, the Scriptures also point out what a new believer's life should be like. Consider what the apostle Paul wrote many years ago.
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.2
Most people in the world don't recognize that the way they live is offensive to God and that their behavior is earning them his wrath. The Bible teaches that our holy God is just and must punish sin. But because of his love for mankind, he allowed his perfect Son Jesus to take our punishment when he died on the cross. Three days later, God verified that the sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead. Now through faith in what Jesus accomplished, every one who turns from his sin to faith in Christ is forgiven and given a new heart that wants to please God.
This is the reason that my life is so different than most people. Somehow, God changed my heart so that I would desire what pleases him. Just as a child is born with a desire to please his parents, so I have been born again with a desire to please my heavenly Father. Do I ever sin? Honestly, the answer is yes. I still do sin. But the fact that I still sin bothers me because I love God and want to do things that please him.3 So, if you notice that I'm a bit different than others, I don't mind it because it's evidence that I have been changed by God. Thanks for noticing.
1 2 Corinthians 5:17
2 Colossians 3:1-8
3 Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments." John 14:15