S104 - Fail to keep our word(s) (Not keeping our promises)
Christians are expected to keep our vows. Jesus interpreted the Old Testament verses and concluded as follows:
‘Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’’ (Matt 5:33).
In other words, you shall perform what you have sworn.
But Jesus’ words are more demanding when he said,
‘Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil’ (Matt 5:37).
His standards are higher than that recorded in the Old Testament. Jesus is saying – If you make a promise (even verbal ones), you keep a promise. Believers are to keep our words and it does not matter whether it was made under a vow or not.
Christians who make and break promises have committed a sin, the obvious one being lying.
See also B262 – Make a promise, keep a promise (Let your yes be yes), as well as S10 – Practice deceitfulness. It is an oxymoron to be considered a dishonest Christian. Christians are not promise-breakers.
S105 - Engage in factious, antagonistic, and quarrelsome behavior
Gal 5:20; Rom 13:13; 2 Cor 12:20; 2 Tim 2:23
The word ‘strife’ in Greek found in Rom 13:13 is eris or contention, quarrelsome, or a readiness to quarrel.
Galatians uses the Greek word, hairesis or discord and contention to describe ‘faction’ and eritheia for the word ‘contention’ to describe rivalry, feud and faction.
Obviously, a person who is perpetually quarrelsome, and factious reflects an attitude of envy and divisiveness.
Being consistently factious, antagonistic, and quarrelsome is a sin.
S106 - Incline to outbursts of anger and rage
Gal 5:20; 2 Cor 12:20; Eph 4:31, Col 3:8
While there is a righteous anger described in Eph 4:26, exhibition of anger, in general, is a sin.
Some cultures tend to be louder than others. Hence, when talking about rage and anger, we may also have to take into consideration differences in cultures.
Gal 5:20 calls it ‘outbursts of anger’. Eph 4:31 and Col 3:8 use the combination of ‘wrath and anger’; I guess it means super anger.
These ‘outbursts of anger’ can often lead to other more aggressive behaviors like fights and even murders. The person who commits this sin of anger often regrets after ‘coming right’ but for that moment, the person loses it.
At a corporate level, riots and civil unrest represent ‘outbursts of anger’ which can often lead to property damages, clashes with authority, and even loss of life.
It is not becoming of a Christian to engage in such activities. Read also B112 – Do not be involved in civil unrest.
Rage or ‘outbursts of anger’ is a sin. If we have weaknesses in this area, then we will need to work on strategies to overcome it. Getting assistance from other people might also be useful.
S107 - Gossip
The word, ‘gossips’ is the Greek word psithurismos or ‘whispering’ or secret slandering.
Gossiping causes divisions and is a symptom of discontentment. The Bible has devised methods to arrest gossiping and it requires an offended person to speak directly to the person who is responsible for that discontentment. The process can be found under the ‘Christian Behavior’ segment, B375-B385 (Handling Offences) [NB: The ‘Christian Behavior’ segment will be launched in the next Phase].
Having said that, gossiping or secret slandering is a sin and possibly a major one too.
Division is something that the Lord abhorred.
S108 - Slander
Slander is found in 2 Tim 3:2 and Rom 1:30. The Greek word is katalalos and it means a back-biter or a defamer. The dictionary defines a ‘slanderer’ as someone who makes a malicious, false, and defamatory statement, including verbally, by writing, and via pictures.
To say something which is untrue with the intent to harm is slandering and that is a sin.
S109 - Utter profanities (crude jokes)
What does the Bible say about crude jokes?
1 Tim 1:9 uses the word ‘profane’. The wider context is ‘unholy behavior’ and speech is one of that. Eph 5:4 is more plain talking and covers off both ‘foolish talking’ and ‘crude joking’ as sins. The Greek word in Eph for ‘foolish talking’ is morologia.
The NLT describes Eph 5:4 as follows: ‘obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes’. It suggested replacing these conversations with that of ‘thankfulness to God’.
Believers are instructed not to engage in ‘obscene stories, foolish talk (valueless conversations) and coarse jokes.’
S110 - Lie and deceive
1 Tim 1:10; Romans 1:29; Rom 3:13; Eph 4:25; Col 3:9; Rev 21:8
You don’t need to tell a kid to lie. It comes naturally. In fact, you have to teach a kid not to lie. The problem with a lie is that you will always need to create another lie in order to cover up the first lie. And more lies perpetual.
The devil is called the Father of lies in John 8:44 for a reason. The first lie was a half-truth spoken of by the serpent when it tempted Eve to eat of the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent deceived Eve when it questioned,
“Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?'” Gen 3:1.
A deception, a half-truth, is more dangerous than an outright lie.
The dictionary defines a lie as a false statement made with the deliberate intent to deceive or an intentional untruth (Note the word, ‘deceive’ or ‘deception’).
There is no rocket science to a lie, even if it is a white lie; a white lie is defined in the Merriam Webster dictionary as a small or unimportant matter that someone tells to avoid hurting another person.
Lying has destroyed many friendships and relationships. In Prov 19:22, it says that
‘a poor man is better than a liar.’
Lying belongs to our old nature and it is a sin. See also S10, Deceitfulness.
S111 - Bear false witness and commit perjury
Matt 15:19; Mark 14:56; Eph 4:25; 1 Tim 1:10
False witnesses was brought by Jesus’ enemies to accuse him when he was before the Council. They wanted to seek testimonies that could put him to death (Mark 14:56-59).
Even today, ‘perjury’, the offence of willfully telling an untruth under oath, is considered a major crime. ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness’ is one of the Ten Commandments. It is that serious.
S112 - Grumble , murmur and complain at God
1 Cor 10:10; James 5:9, 1 Peter 4:9; Jude 16;
God hates murmurers; the children of Israel murmured a lot as they left Egypt and moved into the Promised Land. That generation of grumblers were completely destroyed save Caleb and Joshua who chose to take courage in God. See 1 Cor 10:10.
Grumbling, complaining or murmuring is a serious sin; even grumbling at each other. It shows a lack of trust and discontentment toward God. We have to be careful of murmuring and complaining. The Bible recommends that we speak directly with the person involved – Matt 18:15. See the section under Behavior – Handling Offences, B357 to B368.
S113 - Use flattery on other people to get what they want
S114 - Boast and spew arrogance
Jude 16 again calls out the ‘loud-mouthed boasters’. These people are proud and arrogant and want everyone to know how well they are doing. They might use non-verbal cues to display their wealth. Or they might throw names around to demonstrate their importance.
The Lord detests boasters.
S115 - Speak evil with malice
Romans 1:29; Eph 4:31; Col 3:8; James 4:11
Rom 1:29 talks about ‘malice’. Malice is defined as the ‘desire to cause pain, injury or distress to another.’ Both the use of an action or a speech to cause malice is a sin.
Malicious behaviors or speeches usually stamp from underlying issues like jealousy or revenge.
S116 - Carry out empty, foolish and senseless conversations
Mark 7:22; Eph 5:4; Titus 1:10
Foolishness or foolish conversations or empty talkers. Titus 1:10, NLT just calls it ‘useless talk’ or according to NIV, ‘meaningless talk and deception’.
We could assume that those conversations are meant to mislead the other person.
S117 - Speak evil of glorious beings
S118 - Criticize other people who are good and doing good
Jesus was healing people on the Sabbath. He was going about doing good. But the Pharisees were more interested in him abiding by their version of behavior on a Sabbath. Jesus’s reply was, ‘I ask you, is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to destroy it?’
Be careful of criticizing someone who is doing good.
As believers, we must not be guided by just the letter of the law.
S119 - Seek to catch other people in their speeches so that they might be able to accuse them
The Pharisees and scribes were always ‘lying in wait for him (Jesus), to catch him in something he might say’ – Luke 11:54.
They were the religious police.
In some Islamic countries, including Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Malaysia, such practice continues to take place, whereby paid employees, called ‘Morality Police’, are tasked to enforce the Islamic Sharia laws on their fellow Muslims, especially in public places. Some of them even work undercover.
Whether it is practiced by Muslims formally or carried out by religious zealots among Christians, it is not something that Christians should participate in.
But it does not necessarily involve a formal ‘watch’ mechanism. Even as Christians, we might inadvertently practice doing religious policing.
Religious policing, voluntary or otherwise, may be a way of announcing our own self-righteousness. Jesus’s approach to a sinner has always and will always be an encouraging declaration, ‘Go, and sin no more.’
S120 - Utter curses and bitterness
In Rom 3:14, Paul described unrighteous Jews and Greeks with these words, ‘their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’ Almost every parallel translations called it out as ‘curses and bitterness.’
In Greek, the word ‘curse’ is aras or a prayer for evil, as in praying bad things to happen to someone. The word, ‘bitterness’ is pikria or ‘an embittered spirit’.
‘Curses and bitterness’ are probably a reflection of a vengeful and an unforgiving spirit. Our speeches can be powerful. Christians have to learn how to get rid of them before they overpower us.
NB: The one time Jesus did curse, he laid it on a fig tree that had lots of leaves but no figs (Mark 11). As a result, the tree withered from the roots and died.