The Tongue

tongue - fire

NOTE: This Audio recording about ‘The Tongue’ is poor quality due to technical issues. It was “cleaned up” from a phone recording . We apologize.

Sunday 01/29/17 

Series: Doers of the Word

Message – The Tongue


Click HERE for Video


Taming the Tongue

“The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity…and it is constantly set on fire by hell.”

We are still talking about being Doers NOT just hearers of God’s word and we are using the letter of James as our instruction guide.

So far our lessons have taught us… 

We ended last week with verses 26 & 27 in chapter 1.

BUT WE are going to read those in reverse because they are offering an outline of the next two chapters and verse 26 is addressed in chapter 3 while verse 27 is addressed in chapter 2. So we are going to read verse 26 last and then move onto chapter 3 where James expands upon his warnings about the words we speak.

James 1:26-27

“(27) Pure and unpolluted devotional obedience before God and the Father is this:

  • to visit orphans and widows in their trouble

  • to keep oneself pure from the world.”


(26) If anyone among you thinks themselves to be devoted to God but cannot control what flies out their mouth they are deceived about their level of devotion.”

Now this statement in verse 26 is interesting since James later tells us in chapter 3 verse 8 that

“No man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil filled to the brim with deadly poison.”

One of the most successful lies satan sells Christians is that what you say is not a reflection of your true heart. Our Lord and Savior assures us that this is NOT true!

“Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. ~ Mat. 12:34,

All sin is judged the same, but not all sin is equal in destructive power. The bible tells us that while sexual sin is particularly strong and is the ONLY sin which is said to be against one’s own body, sins of the tongue (or words) are the only sins which are said to destroy one’s entire life! In fact, Jesus also said…

“(36) But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. (37) For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” ~ Mat 12:36-37

Another lie modern believers are told is that those words of Jesus do not apply to the Covenant of Grace. Of course this is none sense since, Jesus was preaching the same Gospel Paul did – that of the kingdom of God! Furthermore, such a warning would have been meaningless if less than three years later it would turn out to be a false statement at the advent of the New Covenant. No…Jesus’ words are NEVER irrelevant because they spring from His nature and His nature NEVER CHANGES! In fact, among the first evidences of GENUINE grace acting upon a life, is a heart which has been liberated of cursing and destructive language!

The opposite is true as well. I cannot tell you how many times I have personally witnessed the backsliding of a Christian into some of the most base language known to man. It begins with statements like, “Let’s just be real!”…by which they mean, let’s agree with our flesh as being that which is MOST true about ourselves.

James called the tongue the rudder of the ship of our lives and so it is only natural that they devil would speak his most compelling lies to us about our tongues that he might freely control it and as a result – stop the progressive work of Christ being formed in us!

Let’s read what James says…

James 3:1-18

vs1 – In the list of requirements for elders is that they be:

  • not quick-tempered

  • self-controlled

  • not quarrelsome

  • Good testimony among the lost

  • faithful to sound doctrine
  • able to correct those in error

Titus 1:10-11, “(10) For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, (11) whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.”

Vs6 – the tongue defiles the whole body

  • I’ve told you before that not all sin is equal. Some are of graver consequence than others. One is sexual sin – NO OTHER SIN is said to be committed against one’s own body and is a precursor to God destroying the body if continued and unchecked. But what is worse than sexual sin are sins of the mouth!
  • It is able to defile (spot or stain) the whole body and coarse of one’s life!

Vs. 8-10

James 3:8-10 “(8) But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (9) With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. (10) Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.”

James tells us that the tongue is unruly – meaning it cannot be ruled by man’s ability. This does not imply that Christians (or even non-Christians) cannot exercise even a large amount of control over what they say. What it DOES mean is that what is in the heart will come out the mouth and by self effort, no man can change his own heart.

This is why in the next few verses James begins to talk about our new nature as opposed to our old soul tenancies. In verses 11 & 12, James takes us back to CHAPTER 1…


Beholding as in a mirror…

James 3:11-12

(11) Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? (12) Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.”

tongue - mirror - nature

What a heart of TRUE devotion looks like

James 3:13-18

“(13) Who is wise and understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness. (14) But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and lie in defiance of the truth. (15) Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. (16) For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is confusion and every kind of evil.”

But the wisdom from above is first

  • pure

  • peace-loving

  • gentle

  • compliant

  • full of mercy and good fruits

  • without favoritism and hypocrisy. (Chapter 2)

In other words a devoted heart is a SURRENDERED HEART

James ends this chapter indicating that part of the cure is good, solid teaching. 

“(18) And the produce of righteousness is sown (tuaght) in peace by those who make peace.”

James mentions this as a prelude the sinful appetites these Jewish Christians were letting run unchecked in their midst which he addresses in chapter 4.

But in ending today, let’s give chapter 2 a quick read-through and see how it connects with what James said in verse 27 of Chapter 1.

In this chapter, James gives examples of Christian duplicity. Claiming we trust in Christ for righteousness and yet living carnally.


We then read James 2:1-26

As you follow along with us in the recording, please REMEMBER – the following actions are connected to the tongue by the heart.


James 2:1-26

Vs. 1 – Faith in Christ is NOT compatible with seeking esteem from man!

“(44) How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?” ~ John 5:44


Vs. 2-12

James gives some examples of the duplicity in our own hearts. We judge others, show favoritism and have evil intentions in our hearts not realizing that all the while we’ve forgotten who we really are – our true identity in Christ.

James then encourages us to live as those who will be judged by their freedom from sin…

“So speak and so DO as those who will be judged by the law of LIBERTY”

Anymore, you’d think Christians in the free world believe that our freedom is ONLY from the guilt and penalty of sin – rather than from sin itself! But James tells us to not be deceived into thinking that we will not be judged – even as Christians. So his encouragement is to make sure we live like the man in the mirror who has been made free from sin and be certain that our speech and our actions agree!

Vs. 13-26

This is one of the MOST important passages in the entire New Testament and so it is NO WONDER that it is arguably the most misunderstood!

James is NOT making a case for salvation by works – FAR FROM IT! No, James is making a case for genuine faith.

According to this Apostle, who know Christ and spoke by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit He sent to us – REAL genuine trust in Christ will ALWAYS produce the fruit of godly actions in our lives – ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS and it will NEVER fail!

This agrees with John’s testimony as well…

“(4) For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (5) Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” ~ 1Jn. 5:4-5

These verses in John, like those in James, are NOT saying that casual belief in the claims of Christianity causes us to be overcomers in the END in the final judgment, but that our complete and total reliance upon the person of Christ as Lord and Savior will NEVER FAIL to produce the fruits of righteous acts in our lives. This is not a “positional” or “legal” righteousness, but one that is guaranteed to manifests in righteous behavior! That does not mean that the Christian is ever truly 100% free from individual acts of sin, but that their overarching character is one marked more by abhorrence of sin than by love of it!

What produces this “overcoming faith”? A constant communion with their Lord Who INFLUENCES them from within. That IS the Eternal Life God promised!

“(3) And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” ~ John 17:3


Next week we will discuss the heart’s role in sin and the need for Surrender!



I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

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Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" that did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keep authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provides teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!