Ungodly speech can lead to terrible things, including murder and physical attacks. It more commonly leads to strife within the church. One form of ungodly speech that is common in the church is the tendency to misrepresent the beliefs of others. Paul was slanderously reported as saying things that he had not said (Romans 3:8). We need to be careful of being like Paul’s attackers. I am commonly guilty of this sin. I am trying to summarise the beliefs of another group of Christians, and instead I distort them. I oppose a particular viewpoint without even understanding what it is. I often hear others committing this sin as well. We need to stop. Lets ask each other “Are you sure that is what person x believes?”
Another way we can slander other Christians is to stick the unclear label “legalist” on anyone who disapproves of something that we think is fine. I think it is fine to wear trousers. This does not give me the right to call those who wear skirts all the time “legalistic”. You may believe it is consistent with biblical thinking to use birth control for reasons of preference. I don’t. That does not give you the right to call me a legalist. To be legalistic is to claim a better standing before God due to personal actions or positions. As C.J. Mahaney wrote in Living the Cross Centered Life, “Legalism is seeking to achieve forgiveness from God and justification from God through obedience to God”. If the label “legalistic” drops easily from your tongue, you may be slandering those who are trying to live a biblically consistent and gospel centred life. Please stop.