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James 3:7-12 - The Truth About the Tongue

Pastor Cedar Bibiolata
Walking in Wisdom: True Faith That Works  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:52
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Context—James continues to make his argument about the tongue:

James 3:7-8– “no human being can tame the tongue,” although every kind of animal (beast and bird, creeping things, and sea creatures) “can be tamed or has been tamed by mankind.” The point is this: while man is able to restrain beasts and every kind of creature, he is powerless to keep his own tongue under control. The tongue “is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” To put simply, the sinful nature of man makes his tongue impossible to restrain. The tongue bears or brings death. It is deadly!

James 3:9-10– “From the same tongue come blessing and cursing.” Note the inconsistency and hypocrisy—with our tongue, “we bless our Lord” and with it “we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.” See Gen 1:26-27. How can we curse people when to do so would clearly be an insult to the One in whose image man has been created?

James 3:11-12– “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and saltwater? Recall Exodus 15 where we are told about the bitter water that was made sweet. It was ALL bitter when it was bitter; and, when made sweet, it was ALL sweet. There ought not to be hypocrisy in the believer. In fact, even those who hold themselves out as prophets but are only mere pretenders are ones “you will recognize… by their fruit” as “false prophets.” (See Matt.7:15-20). “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit” (See Luke 6:43-44).

On a lighter note, consider this simple story about the attempt of a monk to control his tongue: Having entered the monastery, he took a vow of silence, committing to speaking only two words each year. On the first year, he went to his supervising monk to say his two words—“bed hard.” On the second year, his two words were, “food cold.” On the third year, he said, “I quit!” To this declaration, the supervising monk replied, “You might as well. All you’ve done is complain!”

PONDER: If you are a genuine believer, James makes clear that “these things” (blessing and cursing with the same tongue) “ought NOT to be so.” His discourse on the tongue (being a restless evil, untameable, set on fire by hell) was spoken in the context of teaching that “we all stumble in many ways;” therefore, “not many should become teachers”—that is, we should not be quick to speak but be very mindful of the need to diligently study to properly handle and accurately communicate God’s Word. The point is this: apart from the Spirit of God, no human being can bridle his tongue. Out of his sinful heart, he speaks! The redeemed believer, however, has been given a new heart in which the Spirit dwells. Therefore, James calls his fellow believers to bridle their tongue, for the one who thinks himself “religious and does not bridle his tongue,” such a one “deceives his heart and his religion is worthless” (James 1:26).

NOTE ALSO: If you are a genuine believer, it does not mean that you will no longer have difficulty with your tongue. Remember the lyrics of a well-known children’s song:

“He’s still working on me

To make me what I ought to be…

How loving and patient He must be

He’s still working on me”

There’s no doubt: if you have become a genuine child of God, although you continue to stumble (since you are still in your flesh), you will necessarily, by God’s Spirit, bear good fruit. There will be evident transformation! You will put off the old self and put on the new (Eph. 4), confident of this very thing—“that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). You have His Spirit to enable you to obey and follow Christ!

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