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Playing with Matches

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In the book of James. Overwhelmingly, so far, we’ve seen this book to be a call to visibly manifest our faith in Christ:
1st in how we respond to trials of life, and also temptation.
James 1:12 ESV
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
Jas 1
2nd in how we receive and respond to the Word implanted within us.
James 1:25 ESV
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Jas 1
3rd in how we view others.
James 2:1 ESV
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
4th in what we do for others.
James 2:26 ESV
For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
faith apart from works is dead.
Now a 5th manifestation of our faith in Christ the promises of which were sealed by the indwelling of God’s essence within us:
And I say that very purposefully. We brothers and sisters, who are in Christ have the Spirit of God within us. [establish that because I want to introduce this 5th manifestation of faith by starting with Jesus’ words to a group of people who did not have what we have.]
Begin with the words of Jesus, talking to Pharisees.
Matthew 12:34 ESV
You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
Now, what was the problem of the Pharisees? Seeking a self-righteousness based on law-keeping. When I say self-righteousness, I mean they were looking to themselves as the standard bearers of good religion… That’s how they were evil. The flesh is evil.. opposed to God.
( mind set on the flesh is hostile to God.)
And so what is the abundance of their hearts? Actually we don’t have to come up with a list.
Galatians 5:13
Galatians 5:19–21 ESV
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:13 ESV
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:19-2
This is an example list, written to Gentile-believers, and so there are things here that would apply… some that would not. In any case Jesus saw fit to call these Pharisees a brood of Vipers.
Why? Their mouths betrayed the desire of their hearts. And their desire was not the righteousness of God, else the would not have missed that very person standing right there before them.
And that’s what James spends several precious words in his letter to the dispersed Jewish Christians re-addressing.
key verse / idea / theme (8a)
James 3:8 ESV
but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
“No human being can tame the tongue”
It betrays the CONDITION OF our HEARTs. A heart on “human being” power or “flesh power” cannot be controlled. James essentially makes the point that we cannot control our tongue. Why? Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. We’re going to read about speech, about the tongue, about what we say… but you must not forget that the change and control that James calls us to cannot be accomplished except by a heart given in submission to God, and under the commanding influence of His spirit within.
[Mercy, Grace, Faith , and Forgiveness.]
judging and showing favor according to standards of the world:
James 3:1–2 ESV
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.
ex: money, clothing “partiality” (what impresses you?) God: heart
ex: “Love thy Neighbor” according to law vs liberty. (what justifies you?) God: Christ/Mercy/Liberty in Christ
ex: deeds the proceed from “law/works” mentality vs a “grace/faith” mentality. (what motivates you?)
God: grace/faith
Now - in that context (What does a Christian look like in practice?? What do we do?) unstained!
James speaks of our speech / particularly calling out teachers. Why?
A) All about words!
B) in a larger sense, others learn about God/Christ through what we show; what we say; the words we use.
Tongue guides your whole body.
James 3:1 ESV
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
James speaks of our speech / particularly calling out teachers. Why?
A) teaching is all about influence thru the use of words!
B) And so this “hook” James uses to get our attention, reminds that speech is important by laying out the truth about those who seek to make use of words to influence the hearts and minds of others. Others learn about God/Christ through what we show; they listen to what we say; they pay attention to the words we use.
Tongue guides your whole body.
Reminds that speech is important by laying out the truth about those who seek to make use of words to influence the hearts and minds of others.
We all “fall short” in (various / or many / or both) ways.
The “complete” or “mature” man (>> back to purpose of trials) is one who is able to bridle his whole body… “bring it into submission (to what? to God… to be useful to God. Useful works / Good works predetermined by God for us to do. ()”
James 3:3 ESV
If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.
James 3:5b ESV
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
v 5ab So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. (Great power)
James 3:5b
set up James’ discussion of the tongue:
v 5ab So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. (Great power)
Proverbs 18:21 ESV
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Proverbs 15:4 ESV
A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.
Proverbs 12:18–19 ESV
There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue is but for a moment.
So James says: Look what it can accomplish! [boasts of many things.] Respect it. Learn to master it (by humbly submitting heart to God).
1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
1 Corinthians 6:19 ESV
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
same idea: James “blessed is the man who remains steadfast.”
examples (power / influence):
James 3:3 ESV
If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well.
(bit=tongue) Say something that changes the direction of your entire life; that sets your whole life on a path. Or little by little… slowly but surely.
James 3:4 ESV
Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.
Who is the pilot and where does he will the ship to go? Ever drive with a pinky finger?
James 3:5 ESV
So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
(destructive potential) Playing with matches in the Bighorns.
James 3:6 ESV
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
James 3:6
Sets up a contrast between what man has ability to subdue/bring under control and what he does not:
James 3:7 NIV
All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind,
James 3:8 NIV
but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
Whoa.
James 3:9–12 ESV
With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
What ought be so?
Reflect the Spirit of the one who lives in us. The influence and power of God’s spirit in us vs the world and our own desires of the world. (like giving someone what they deserve… a good tongue-lashing, for example.) Getting in the “Last word.” Snide comments, etc.
If my tongue is telling on me and revealing the condition of my heart, Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb provides a much-needed cure for the heart of my problem, which is the problem of my heart.
Jesus Christ is your cure. God promises to soften, resuscitate, and revive a broken or cold or hard heart. Ezekiel pictures it like this:
Talking about the Church:
Ezekiel 11:19 ESV
And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
Ezekiel 11:20 ESV
that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:
Ephesians 2:8–10 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
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