The reduction of the third commandment to an instruction about using coarse language is one of the telltale signs of legalism throughout the history of the Christian church and beyond. Ever since Cain, mankind has sought to maintain a superficial righteousness when faith and love were not present.
The Jews, whom the Old Testament describes as having hearts that were far from God throughout most of their history, went to great lengths not to utter or write the Tetragrammaton (YHWH). But after He announces His "name" to Moses (and the world), in Exodus 3:14, He goes on to say in verse 15:
God, furthermore, said to Moses,
“Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel,
‘The Lord, the God of your fathers,
the God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac, and
the God of Jacob,
has sent me to you.’
This is My name forever, and
this is My memorial-name to all generations."
We were hiking up a hillside in Tijuana. The rest of the group had gone ahead, but the two of us, I, and another man, arrived a few minutes after. He was a little older than me, middle-aged, with a beard, dignified-looking. He looked like that guy in the Dos Equis TV commercials or like Saddam Hussein when he had a beard.
We were about to see the whole operation. A little fear came over me as we arrived and I finally realized what I had gotten myself into. These people were ruthless killers! And I was about to see their whole money-making apparatus. This place was famous. It belonged to the biggest drug cartel in Mexico. I thought, “What if they think I have a hidden camera somewhere?” They couldn’t be sure about me. They can’t trust anyone. And besides, they shouldn’t trust me. I don’t like what drugs do to people and I wish I had a camera and I could help shut these guys down.
One day I heard somebody talking and it occurred to me: They could be saying anything. It didn't matter. The words would not be remembered tomorrow. In fact they didn't even matter now. The words could be replaced by meaningless sounds. If it were a song, it would be just as good hummed.
And so, I thought, "If people can babble on without meaning, any real meaning, saying nothing of significance, nothing of consequence when considered over the course of time, then could I, through deliberate contemplation, design my words to approach the other end of the spectrum? Could I build meaningful arguments that would have an impact and last over time? Could I make statements that build toward something, so that tomorrow I can make a greater statement—one that built on today's?"
Do human beings have "sinful natures?" Do our natures change when we are born again as Christians? Will we have sinful natures until we get imperishable bodies in the resurrection? Perhaps, as some say, we Christians have two natures that war against each other. I say we never had sinful natures, properly speaking.
To solve this issue, we need to be clear at the outset about what we mean by the word “nature.” If we are confused or vague about the definition of a word, we will be confused or vague about doctrines it is used to describe.
The predominant view in the institutional church of the nature of man can be traced back to John Calvin, Augustine of Hippo, and ultimately to Plato, the Greek philosopher. This is the view that man's nature is metaphysically evil; that we must sin because "sinful" is something we are, and that our sinful actions flow of necessity out of our natures.
It's an interesting thing, this question of "what are the conditions of salvation?" Is there just one—faith? Or perhaps two—repentance and faith? Scripture often mentions them together. But they are also stated singly as the requirement. This is confusing and seems misleading. Are they somehow integrated so they resolve into a single complex act? And what about the many other conditions of salvation—be born again, become as a little child, hate your mother and father, forgive your brother from the heart, love your enemies, get baptized, don't look back, take up your cross, follow Him, endure till the end? Can these all resolve into the two, or one?