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Preached at Straightway Bible Church on April 7th, 2013.  Below you will find the study notes I handed out. James warns us about the destructive potential of our tongue and how control of the tongue controls the whole body and life.

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Here are the study notes:

James 3 – Controlling Your Tongue, Part Two |

  • The tongue really is YOU; you can tell the person by the tongue;  out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks
  • James:  the tongue is a test of true faith… your speech reveals your faith and belief
  • Your faith and works are MOST visible in your speech… it is the most active part of our bodies, the most demonstrable and the most visible
  • Gen 3.12 – the first recorded sin after the fall of Adam was Adam blaming God with his tongue
  • When the Bible wants to expose the ugliness of man, it’s the tongue and speech that is the primary description- Ro 3:13–14; Isa 6:5
  • It’s easy to sin with your tongue… you don’t need circumstances or physical things present; just talk; your tongue is always present and ready to fire up
  • Matthew 12:34–37 (NKJV)  We will account for every idle word… justification or condemnation comes by your words
  • To the degree you teach, you open yourself to condemnation for wrong words and false teaching
  • James is reminding us of the strict accountability and judgment that will come to those who teach.
  • A teacher should never teach only what only what they FEEL LIKE, or what is popular; We should teach what God proclaims in full regardless of hearer or culture
  • Bruce Thielemann:  There is no special honor in being so gifted [to teach or preach]–there is only special pain.  The pulpit calls them to it as the sea calls its sailors, and, like the sea, it batters and bruises and does not rest… To preach, to really preach, is to die naked a little at a time, and to know each time you do it that you must do it again.
  • Count the cost, be very careful about what you teach; don’t rush into teaching God’s Word without understanding how serious
  • James is being rhetorical; no once can control their tongue; and no one is perfect except Jesus… but, you do continually increase your spiritual maturity to the degree you control your tongue
  • Interesting side note: “perfect man” can be translated either “perfect husband” or “perfect male”. So there is a thought here that the wife can evaluate the Godliness of her husband by what comes out of his mouth.
  • What do the words bit, rudder, tongue, and spark all have in common? They are all extremely small but powerful controllers, they direct and steer things much larger than themselves. The tongue has a great power over our lives and other lives
  • Horse: bits and rein; a horse cannot be controlled without it… they do whatever they want unless you rein them in with bit and bridle   (control your tongue, control your whole body, just like a horse)
  • Ship and rudder;  a HUGE massive ship is steered and controlled by a tiny rudder;  several  football fields big, a floating city, controlled by a tiny rudder
  • Power and direction controlled at the right point is sufficient to control the whole person… control the tongue, control the person
  • The tongue boasts great things: the tongue is proud of it’s power
  • The tongue tears down lives, destroy people, divide churches, start wars, and slander the innocent… OR…
  • The tongue can build up marriages, bless people, encourage others, lead nations, restore hope, communicate God’s Truth
  • See how great a forest a little fire kindles!  Translates to: “what sized fire burns what sized forest”
  • The answer: a tiny fire burns down a huge forest… the tiny tongue can be the cause of huge destruction
  • “course of nature” was a Greek philosophy term common in James day meaning “the wheel of existence”…. “ circle of life”…. Life goes ‘round and ‘round… repeating itself… the destruction of the tongue was often and repeated
  • James is saying the tongue can set on fire (destroy, burn down) your entire existence, your entire life and everything around you
  • The importance of controlling your tongue is found all through the New Testament.
  • We are to keep our speech truthful – Eph 4:25; gracious – Eph 4:29; serious – Eph 5:4; relevant – Col 4:6; courageous – 1 Pet 3:15; corrective – Titus 1:9; purposeful – Matthew 12:36
  • At Pentecost, God gave us a new tongue that is set on fire by heaven which is the answer to HOW we control our mouths.
  • No one can contain their tongue but Jesus can do it for us. Jesus goes straight for the heart. What is in the heart comes out the mouth, and changing the heart will change the mouth:
  • Mark 7:15 (NKJV)  15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man.
  • Psalm 51:10 (NKJV)  Create in me a clean heart, O God,  And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
  • Romans 12:1–2 (NKJV)  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
  • James tells us the reason we don’t curse is because we have been made in God’s likeness and cursing is not appropriate for those made in God’s image.
  • The similitude of God (being similar to God, made in the image of God) is a reference to Genesis 1:26-27.
  • The reason we don’t curse other people is not because of social pressure or cultural norms but because other people are made in God’s image;  Psalm 39:1
  • if a person can master his tongue they are capable of mastering sin in their whole body
  • If you can control the GREATER offender (the tongue) you can control the LESSER offender (the body)….
  • If you had to choose ONE THING to focus on, the tongue would be that focus; it steers your life and body
  • The tongue is the master switch, the main circuit breaker… it controls all the other switches in your body and life
  • Speak only words: kind, loving, gracious, holy, compassionate, gentle, comforting, blessing, humble, wisdom, thanks, peaceful righteous….
  • Luke 6:45 (NKJV)  45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.