Galatians 5:7-12 “Christian Cursing” April 30, 2006
SI: We are back to Galatians this Sunday.
focus on Paul’s parting shot at the legalists in Galatian churches.
Use that as a springboard to look at something in the Bible
that sometimes troubles and confuses people.
But something we need to understand as mature believers.
INTRO: Should Christians ever curse?
I’m not asking if Christians should ever cuss.
Southerners make a distinction between cursing and cussing.
Cussing is just having a dirty mouth.
If we wanted to be very precise: Cussing is using profanity, obscenity, or vulgarity.
Bible is clear—Christians shouldn’t ever cuss.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth,
only what is useful for building others up that it may benefit those who listen.”
“Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking,
which are out of place but rather thanksgiving.”
Cussing is a sinful misuse of the gift of speech that God has given you.
But what about cursing?
Cursing is different from cussing.
Cussing is usually off the cuff when mad or surprised.
Bad habit and lack of self-control.
Cursing is deliberate. It’s pre-meditated.
Cursing is calling down bad things upon a person.
To curse someone is to speak aloud a wish for his ruin and harm.
Cursing is much more serious than cussing because it is essentially a prayer
that God Himself would bring a person down.
Should Christians ever curse? Immediate answer that comes to mind is no.
Jesus tells us to love our enemies. Jesus said, Father forgive them.
Seems to be no way that Jesus’ command and example would permit cursing.
But as you read the whole of Scripture—passages like this one—
start to realize that the answer is more complicated.
Here we have the Apostle Paul.
There were people in the Galatian churches who were teaching that
the way you are right with God is through religious rituals—
in particular through circumcision.
Paul takes several chapters to argue against this theologically and biblically.
No. Saved by faith in Jesus Christ alone.
Not by religious rituals, not by moral behavior.
Finally, after all these arguments Paul says:
These people make such a big deal out of circumcision—
I wish they would (going to be graphic) wish would cut the whole thing off.
I wish they would emasculate themselves. I wish they would castrate themselves.
That is not a nice thing to say.
But if you think about it, this is the mildest thing Paul says about these people.
Remember earlier in letter he said: Let them be Anathema.
“May God damn them to hell.” Let them be eternally condemned.
And it doesn’t stop with Paul. Most vivid curses spoken by believers in Psalms.
We read one a few minutes ago—Psalm 3.
“Strike all my enemies on the jaw, Break the teeth of the wicked.”
That is mild compared to some of the Psalms: 58, 69, 109, 137—
Bible scholars call them the Imprecatory Psalms—means cursing Psalms.
Of course poetry—David doesn’t imagine God literally knocking teeth out—
But what is David praying? God, ruin them, bring them down, destroy them.
So have Paul, David and other Psalm writers—top of all this, in Revelation
have a glimpse of heaven as it is now. John sees souls of martyrs.
Christians through the years who have been killed for faith in Christ.
What are the doing? Playing harps and singing Kum Ba Ya?
“How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true,
until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”
So here are believers perfect in heaven—they are cursing enemies of church—
calling for God to bring them down for blood of Christians they have shed.
These passages are troubling because they seem to contradict the spirit of Christ.
How can you love enemy, pray Father forgive them—
at the same time pray with deep feeling for God to bring certain people down?
Let me put it this way: How can Paul write in one letter
“Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.”
“If anyone does not love the Lord—a curse be on him. Come, O Lord.”
Is Paul contradicting himself?
Look at Galatians 5 again—right after he wishes harm on these false teachers—
look what he way in verse 14: “Love your neighbor as your self.”
Is it loving to say that you wish someone would castrate himself?
That harm would come to him for what he is teaching.
There is no contradiction in these statements.
As a Christian you are commanded to bless and love enemies—
and there are also times when a Christian must curse the enemies of God—
as Paul did, and David, and saints in heaven do.
The true answer to the question: Should Christians ever curse? is
Sometimes Christians must curse.
If you are going to be a biblical, mature Christian,
then you need to understand this—
not write it off as some part of the Bible you don’t like.
This is not an easy teaching of Scripture to grasp—
What I want to do—for you note-takers—take you through three points.
Want to show you logically how loving your enemies
and cursing the enemies of God are not contradictory—
in fact it is the only right thing to do.
Then, I want to give you three specific examples of Christians
who did this. I’ll conclude with a challenge to you.
MP#1 As a Christian, your first prayer request should always be for the victory of the Kingdom of God.
The key passage of Scripture for understanding Christian cursing is Lord’s Prayer.
As I said a moment ago.
The reason cursing is so much more serious than cussing—cursing is a prayer.
You are asking God to bring a person down.
So the place to start is Jesus’ teaching on prayer.
Remember disciples came to Jesus and asked: Teach us to pray.
Jesus gave them what we call the Lord’s prayer.
Lord’s prayer is a pattern for prayer.
Centuries church has prayed it in unison as we did this morning—
but it’s real purpose is for Christians to take, use as pattern for own prayers.
Look at Lord’s Prayer in bulletin.
Our Father in heaven—address as Father, close to us, in heaven, sovereign.
Hallowed be your name. Start your prayer praising God. Faithfulness, goodness.
What is the first petition? First thing Jesus tells us we are always to pray for?
“Thy kingdom come.” Pray for the victory and glory of God’s kingdom.
Pray that the rule of Jesus Christ will spread through world.
Pray that people will bow to Christ, give lives to Him and be blessed.
Pray that people will turn from idols to the living God.
Pray that kingdom will come in my family—children submit to Jesus as King.
Pray that kingdom will come in my town—Cullman, people follow Christ.
In my workplace, in my school, in my country, in the nations.
With that prayer specific people, churches, missionaries, ministries.
Ultimately this is a prayer for Christ’s return.
Your first prayer request should always be for the victory of Christ’s kingdom.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
After that, you pray for your daily needs—give us this day our daily bread.
Just stop to consider that for a moment. Is that how you pray?
Not how I pray 90% of the time.
Most of the time my prayers is—O God, I’ve got a problem help me.
Jesus said, No—first petition always should be for the victory of kingdom of God.
Brings us to the second point.
MP#2 If you pray for the victory of the Kingdom of God, then you will by necessity pray for the destruction of all rival kingdoms.
If your first and greatest prayer is
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Then you will also hope and pray that anything that stands against
the Kingdom of God will be brought down.
It’s the day of the Alabama Auburn game—
and you are a dyed in the wool Crimson Tide fan.
What is your deepest, most heart-felt prayer at opening kick-off?
O great Spirit of Bear Bryant: May Alabama be victorious on gridiron this day.
And what is, by necessity, your next great prayer?
And may Auburn go down in humiliating defeat.
Your desire for victory for one team
means a corresponding desire for defeat of the other team.
Would a true Alabama fan ever say:
I want Alabama to win, don’t want Auburn to lose? Of course not.
If you make the victory of Christ’s kingdom your first prayer—
you will by necessity pray for the defeat of all rival kingdoms.
This is absolutely crucial to grasp or you will never understand
cursing passages in the Bible—just be embarrassing to you—skip them.
Christian cursing is always about the kingdom of God—
never your personal vindictiveness.
If you are angry at someone for hurting you, or hurting someone you love
and in your anger you curse the person—wish for harm to come to him—
because of what he’s done to you, that’s sinful cursing. It’s wrong for a Christian.
You have to love and forgive your enemies as Christ commanded.
Loving enemies means simply that you wish them well.
Pray that God would save them. That’s part of living for Christ’s kingdom.
So true Christian cursing is never your personal hurts—it’s about the team.
It is directed at everything that sets itself against the Kingdom of God.
Ultimately, all attacks against God’s Kingdom, come from Kingdom of Darkness.
This brings us to the third point and the one that is most difficult.
MP#3 Your prayers for the destruction of rival kingdoms means that there will be times you curse particular people.
This is where it gets difficult—you can’t see the devil, kingdom of darkness.
You can’t see the real spiritual battle going on against the Kingdom of God.
The only thing you can see are people and institutions
who do evil things against God’s people, resist spread of Gospel.
Behind all opposition to Christ is the Devil. The kingdom of darkness.
He uses people to do his work.
He used the false teachers in Galatian churches to do his work.
Used them to spread false teaching that distorted the Gospel,
and would send people to hell if they believed it.
Reason Paul spoke so strongly.
Couldn’t be genteel in debate that had eternal life or eternal doom as the outcome.
Saw that what advocating, however sincerely, was evil.
As a Christian, on the one hand you pity people who are slaves of evil,
working against Christ, because you know they are tools of the devil.
But you can’t be shy about the fact that your prayers for the destruction of
the kingdom of darkness will mean asking God to curse them as well.
Let’s go back to the Alabama Auburn game. You are the Bama fan.
When the Auburn quarterback gets the ball—what do you hope happens to him?
What do you shout and cheer for? You want all his plans to be frustrated.
You want him pressured and confused and sacked.
Do you have personal animosity and vindictive hatred for him?
Of course not. He’s just a college football player doing best he can.
But he is a crucial player on the other team. Without him, things fall apart.
So you cheer for bad things to happen to him.
Illustrates Christian cursing. If you truly love kingdom of God.
Want people to know Jesus Christ and his forgiveness and love. Bow knee to him. Then as you pray for advance of his kingdom—
will pray for humiliation and defeat of everyone who stands against him.
That means that there will be times when particular people—
who you bear no ill will toward personally—fall under your curse.
What does this look like in practice? Three examples:
One from the Bible, on from church history, one from Cullman.
A biblical example:
Lots of examples in the Bible. Of course we have Paul in this passage.
David’s psalms. But hard to take those and apply to ourselves for several reasons.
Poetry, Hebrew poetry. Hebrews loved hyperbole to express depth of feelings.
Easier example is the prayer meeting recorded in Acts 4.
Because we’ve all been in prayer meetings.
Christians in Jerusalem were under a lot of pressure and persecution.
External forces coming against them, opposing work of church.
Prayed, in prayer named two names: Herod and Pontius Pilate.
Didn’t pray for their salvation, or that God would bless them.
Christians quoted a Psalm talks about how Lord frustrates plans of
kings and rulers who oppose Him.
“O Lord, consider their threats.” Lord, deal with these men.
Interesting to see how prayer answered.
Acts tells us later that God struck down Herod with a terrible disease and he died.
What happened to Pilate? Do you know?
Bible doesn’t tell us—Roman history does.
He made some political blunders, recalled to Rome in humiliation,
spent rest of his days in exile. There is a tradition he became a Christian.
We won’t know till we get to heaven.
Was there a personal animosity and hatred toward Herod and Pilate by early Xians?
Was their prayer that God would consider threats out of step with
Christ’s commands to love our enemies, bless those who persecute?
Their prayer that these men be brought down—a curse—simply the flip side
of their love for Christ and his kingdom. Desire for nothing to stand in way.
A historical example
This is helpful because its about an enemy who was not far away—
but someone in a Christian’s family.
There was a wealthy Roman woman named Anastasia who lived during
one of the periods when Christians were being persecuted in Rome.
She was a Christian herself but her husband was a pagan—
and he was a leader in violent persecution of church.
Hated Christianity so much, threw her in prison for execution.
While Anastasia in prison, wrote letter to church—asked to pray for husband.
This is what she asked: Pray first for his conversion—become a Christian.
But also to pray that if that does not happen—
that God would bring a swift and decisive end to his plans to harm church.
God answered prayers. Husband killed in a battle—
and so his evil plans for the church fell apart.
Was there personal animosity toward this man?
No—desired that he be saved.
Christians, wife would have welcomed with open arms.
But Christians also prayed that God would bring down.
Cursed him for his opposition to the kingdom of God.
A Cullman example:
I got a letter a few months ago—wish I had kept it.
Form letter from a man in a church somewhere in Cullman County—
sent to all the other churches in the Cullman.
Informing us that he and his church were starting a ministry to people
addicted to crystal meth.
He was asking for our prayer and support.
He basically had two prayer requests.
Pray that drug addicts that came to program would be delivered from addiction,
and saved body and soul by Jesus Christ.
Pray that the meth makers and pushers and sellers would be destroyed.
He didn’t use the word cursed, but that’s what he was asking Christians for.
To pray that God would smash the teeth of the wicked meth makers.
Man’s Christian love was evident.
Would rejoice if every meth maker was saved and shut labs.
But barring that, he wanted their destruction because they opposed
the work of the kingdom of God.
Good old Martin Luther sums it up well:
“We should pray that our enemies be converted and become our friends, and if not, that their doing and designing be bound to fail and have no success and that their persons perish rather than the gospel and the kingdom of Christ.”
When’s the last time you prayed like that?
When is the last time you prayed so passionately for success of Christ’s kingdom—
that you also prayed for all the enemies to be cursed.
I don’t know your prayer life, I can speak for myself.
I do not pray that way nearly enough.
Because most of the time my prayer requests
are about the things that concern me only.
Not the victory of Christ’s kingdom.
Not the spread of his blessing through whole earth.
Not the preaching of the Gospel in purity.
But my personal concerns. God cares about your personal concerns.
But as you pray for the kingdom first, those concerns often change.
So I want to encourage you, if weak in this area as I am—
start to pray more as Jesus taught us to pray: Thy kingdom come.
Pray for destruction of enemies so that many can be saved.
Does God need our prayers? John Calvin put it this way:
“The Lord does not need my defense of His name and truth,
but even a dog barks when his master is attacked.”
Sometimes Christians must curse. Never out of personal hatred or vindictiveness—
but always when you see the kingdom of Savior under attack.
Let me finally say that Jesus’ kingdom is coming—return to judge quick and dead.
That will be a day of everlasting joy and blessing for some—
and a day of everlasting shame and cursing for others.
Dividing line is not between the good people and the bad people.
Dividing line will be between the proud and the humble—
Bless those who despair of own self righteousness—
no confidence in religious rituals or moral behavior—but in Christ.
Bring down all who are proud in own goodness—resisted his Lordship.
If you are like the legalists in Galatian churches trusting self—resisting Christ.
Turn to him in repentance and faith, enjoy his blessings forever.