Taming the Tongue

Taming the Tongue

Scripture: Matthew 12:37, James 3:1-12, Proverbs 16:27
Date: 11/15/2014  Lesson: 7
"If you recorded all your spoken words in a single day and then played them back to yourself, what would they reveal about you?"

Alone in The Crowd (PB) by Joe Crews

Alone in The Crowd (PB) by Joe Crews
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Hello friends. We'd like to welcome you back to a fresh installment of Sabbath School Study Hour. If this is the first time you're joining us, we've been studying through the book of James. Now before we get into our study for today, as usual, we would like to ask God's special blessing. We recognize that the Bible is God's book and in order for us to correctly understand it, we need the leading of the Holy Spirit so I'd like to invite you to join us as we open with a word of prayer.

Dear Father, once again we thank you for the Bible. We thank you for this book and the opportunity that we have to study together so we invite the Holy Spirit to come and guide our hearts and our minds and we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. Now we've been studying through the book of James, as mentioned, and today we find ourselves on lesson #7. If you'd like to follow along with us, you can download today's study at the Granite Bay church website, just 'granitebaysda.org' or you can also download today's lesson at the Amazing Facts website, 'amazingfacts.org'. We have a little book that goes along with today's lesson.

It's called 'tiny troublemakers.' If you would like to receive a free copy of today's free offer, go ahead and call this number: 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #196. Again, that number is -study-more - that's 788-3966 - free offer #196. Now, as mentioned, our study today, lesson #7 entitled 'taming the tongue' and our principle passage of study is James chapter 3. We'll be looking from about verse 1 through to verse 12. So with that, a little bit of an introduction as we get into our study, we have a memory text.

Our memory text is actually the words of Jesus found in Matthew chapter 12 and verse 37. Jesus said, "for by Your Words you shall be justified, and by Your Words you shall be condemned." You know, words are very powerful, both for good and for bad. You read in the Bible how that God created everything - how did God create? By His Word. Of course we also know, when it came to the creation of man, God didn't just speak man into existence but God formed man with his hands and then he breathed into man the breath of life and man became a living being. But for everything else, God said 'let there be light' and there was light and God spoke the world into being.

Now in Genesis we read how that God spoke 'let there be light' and there was light and so on, but when we get to the book of John, in the middle of the Bible, beginning of the new testament thereabout, we find in John chapter 1, 'in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. All things were made by him and without him was not anything made that was made.' So we find God speaking in Genesis and then when we get to the Gospels, we find the Word of God, again referring to Jesus. But when we get to the last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, we find Jesus being referred to as the alpha and the omega. Now that's an interesting name. By the way, in Revelation where Christ is referred to as alpha and omega, God The Father is also referred to as alpha and omega in Revelation.

Both Christ and The Father are called alpha and omega. Now that's an interesting name for Jesus. Why is he referred to as alpha and omega? What is alpha? That's the beginning or the first letter - the first letter of the Greek alphabet. What is omega? That would be the last letter of the Greek alphabet. Jesus is called the a and the z of the alphabet.

Now that's a strange name. Why is Christ called the a and the z of the alphabet? What do we do with the letters of the alphabet? We arrange those letters in different orders to make up words. What are our words? Our words are our thoughts expressed. Jesus is the thoughts of the father revealed. If you want to know what The Father is thinking, look at Jesus.

That's why Jesus said, 'he who has seen me has' - what? 'Seen The Father.' You remember that experience when the disciples said, 'father,' - speaking to Christ, said - 'show us The Father and it will suffice us.' And Jesus said, 'he who has seen me has' - what? - 'Seen The Father.' So words are very powerful. Jesus came to reveal to us what The Father is like and Jesus came to tell us - to show us, by the words that he spoke, what The Father is thinking - what The Father is like. So our lesson for this week is all about word power. It's about God's Word, but it's also about our words - how we use our words - how we can use our words for that which is good, but how we sometimes can use our words for that which is bad. Now the key passage, as mentioned earlier, is James chapter 3 from verse 1 all the way through to verse 12 and so we're going to have some folks help read these various verses and we're going to get to that in just a minute so if you want to get set up for our first verse, which is James chapter 3, verse 1, and I'll have you read it, jeremy, in just a minute.

But as we get ready for that, a couple of background themes that we see so far in our study of James - firstly, in James chapter 1, verse 19, James sets the stage for the whole book by emphasizing the importance of receiving the engrafted word - that's the phrase James uses. He recognizes the importance of the Word of God and, as Christians, we need to be feasting on the word. Just like the branch cannot bear fruit unless it abide in the vine or in the tree, so, as Christians, we can't bear the fruit that the Christian needs to bear unless we are grafted into the Word of God. We need to be receiving God's Word. When we receive the word, that leads to meekness.

That's the next theme that James emphasizes. And then there is impartiality in our relationship with others - whether somebody is rich or somebody is poor, we treat them with the same degree of kindness and respect. That leads to faith and it's the kind of faith that works by love. That results in a Christ-like character. Now, in chapter 3, James continues to describe the importance of holy living and how that holy living is demonstrated by the words we speak and the manner in which we speak those words.

So let's take a look then, James chapter 3, beginning in verse 1 - and, jeremy, I think you've got this for us. "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment." Thank you. So James begins here by saying, 'let not many of you become teachers.' In the church, it is Christ who calls a person to be a teacher. He's also the one who qualifies an individual to be a teacher. In other words, to be a teacher in the church is not a position that an individual lobbies for or campaigns for, it is a position that Jesus calls somebody to and Jesus qualifies that person to be a teacher.

We read in Ephesians chapter 4, verses 11 and 12, speaking of Christ, "and he himself, through the Spirit, gave some to be apostles and some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors and teachers." For what reason? Then it goes on, "for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." So the purpose of teachers in the church, it is to build up the church. It is not to make the teacher look good or to show how much the teacher might know, it's really to build up the body of Christ. And James warns the members of the church and he says, 'be careful. Don't strive, out of selfish ambition, to be a teacher. You see, teachers are in constant danger of losing that spirit of genuine humility.

Whenever people start looking to an individual to provide them guidance and expertise in a particular area, it's quite easy for that person to start looking to themselves as having the answers - trusting in their own wisdom. Now, if you look back in the old testament, who do you think was one of the greatest teachers - human teachers - during the old testament era? Well, if you look at the old testament time period or the old testament Scriptures, the Scriptures are divided into two parts - the old testament - you have what's referred to as 'the law' and then the rest of the old testament is referred to as 'the prophets' - the law and the prophets. The first five books of the Bible, written by Moses, are referred to as the law and then the rest, symbolized by Elijah, is referred to as the prophets. Now, probably one of the greatest teachers of the old testament period was Moses. I mean, he brought the teachings that God had given him to the children of Israel.

And how easy it would have been for Moses to become self-centered or puffed up with all of this great truth that God had revealed to him - yet the Bible tells us that of all of the people in Scripture, Moses is said to have been one of the most humble - spoken as being a meek individual. That's an important characteristic for a teacher, especially a Godly teacher, to have a spirit of humility - to be a humble teacher. So somebody might be very talented, they might be knowledgeable, but it doesn't necessarily mean they have the right spirit to be a teacher in the church. An important characteristic of a teacher in the church is a spirit of humility. They need to follow the example of Moses - they need to have meekness.

Now, of course, in the church, there are degrees of responsibility. The more we have leadership responsibilities in the church, the more we are held accountable before God. Those who teach the truth are held accountable, not only for the things that they teach and their own example, but they're also held accountable for the influence that they might have on others. During the time of Jesus, Jesus spoke to the Jewish leaders of his time and he said to them, 'woe to you scribes and pharisees, you hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses and for a pretense you make long prayers' - so they claim to be very religious - 'therefore you will receive greater condemnation.' It's a sobering fact, but leaders in the church do bear an influence on others and we're held accountable for the influence that we bear. A friend was telling me about an experience that she had.

She was attending a church and - fairly new to the church - and on one occasion she arrived early at the church and she was helping out in the Sabbath school department and she went to church early Sabbath morning to set up the Sabbath school classroom. She thought she was the first one there and she opened up the side door and she went into the church and she was walking down the hallway and she heard just this terrible yelling. Somebody was just screaming and shouting and - somebody else at the church and she was amazed at this - this couldn't be - and as she turned the corner, walking into the lobby area of the church, what do you know? It was the pastor's wife just screaming at her husband, just telling her husband off and it was - suddenly the pastor's wife turned and saw this new church member standing there and - a terrible moment of embarrassment - didn't quite know what to say and quickly the pastor's wife changed her attitude and smiled, 'Happy Sabbath! Welcome to church.' Well, needless to say, the influence of that pastor's wife was suddenly diminished in the mind of that new church member. So the influence we have on others, especially as leaders, we need to be very careful in the things that we say. It makes a difference.

And that's what James is reminding us of. Don't strive to be a teacher because you need to be careful. Recognize that you are going to be held accountable by the influence that you have. Be careful with the things that you say. That's the important point that James is emphasizing here.

Alright, let's take a look at our next verse. This is James chapter 2 so I think we have our next reader who is ready to read for us now. "For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body." Thank you. So in verse 2, James begins by reminding us that we all stumble at things.

In one sense, he's bringing us to a reality that all of us have weaknesses in our characters and we all make mistakes. On the other hand he's not making an excuse for sin, but he's helping us realize that when working with individuals, especially in the church, let's have patience with one another, recognizing that we all make mistakes. We all stumble at things but then he encourages us saying that we ought to strive to control our words. He goes on to say if anyone is able to control their tongue, he is able to control the whole body, meaning that his life - his character - is able to be under control if he can control His Words. This warning, of course, is against boastfulness or self-confidence if we can control our words.

I'm reminded of Peter there in the upper room with the disciples and Jesus just as - this is just before Christ's betrayal and crucifixion - Jesus said, 'some of you standing here' - speaking to the disciples - matter of fact he said 'all of you here are going to be offended because of me tonight and you're all going to leave me.' And Peter said, you know, in front of the other disciples, 'Lord, if everyone shall leave you I will not leave you. Matter of fact, Peter said, 'I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.' And then that same evening - that same night - Peter denies knowing Christ, while keeping warm at the enemy's fire. It's easy for us, when our friends are around us, to be Christians and to say the right things. But when we're all alone, when our friends aren't around us, when we're not at church, are we still standing up for what we know to be right? You've probably heard the saying, 'you need to practice what you preach.' How true that is. I remember as a child, my parents would often say, 'you have to practice what you preach.

' Really it's not so much what you say, it's how you live your life that gives the greatest testimony to others. So as Christians, we want to show that what we believe is true in the way that we live our lives. How many people have been turned away from Christianity by the hypocritical behavior of Christians? People look at what Christians do and they say, 'well, if that's what it means to be a Christian, I don't want anything to do with Christianity. We don't want to be those kind of Christians. The last part of the verse says, 'if anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body.

Now, controlling our words, especially under difficult circumstances, is evidence of the sanctifying work of the holy spirit upon the heart and the mind of the individual. In Matthew chapter 12, verse 35, Jesus said, "a good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things." Our words reveal our thoughts. If our words appear kind and good, that is evidence that our thoughts are under the control of the Spirit of Christ. In Matthew chapter 12, verse 34, "for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." We talk about things that are closest to our hearts. So if our hearts are filled with the love of Jesus, we will demonstrate that love in the way that we interact with others.

We talk about the love of Jesus. We will treat others with that same love - with that kindness - with that respect. If our hearts are not filled with the love of Jesus, we will treat people with harshness - with a critical attitude. What our hearts are filled with will come through in the way that we speak. You know, recently, our youth pastor at the Granite Bay church got married.

Now, I remember before he got married, when he got engaged. He was in love. I mean, he couldn't hold it back. Every vespers, somehow he'd have to talk about his fiance and, you know, every prayer meeting he'd have to bring in an illustration about how wonderful his fiance is and, finally, when he got married we thought, 'okay, you know, that's going to come to an end.' It didn't! It only increased. Every sermon there'd have to be an illustration about his wonderful wife.

Why? Because his heart was filled with love. I mean, it just shone through in everything he said and it's just a gleam in his eye. You know, when we love Jesus it's going to shine through in everything that we're going to do. It's going to affect our speech. Not only do we talk about Jesus, but the way we talk about other people will be seasoned with the love that we have for Jesus.

We will treat people differently because they are the children of Jesus, right? They're the children of God. So the love - the love that we have for Christ should affect the way we talk about others - the way we interact with others. That's a demonstration that Christ is living within our hearts. I think we're getting ready for our next verse. James chapter 3, verse 3.

Now James is going to give us some illustrations with reference to the power of our words and how we ought to control our words and then he's going to tell us how we can control our words which, of course, is the important part. We need the Holy Spirit's help for that. So let's take a look at James chapter 3, verse 3. "Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body." Thank you. Notice he uses the illustration here about a horse and putting a bit in the horse's mouth.

As an unruly horse endangers its rider, so the unruly tongue endangers the Christian's witness. How many times have you said something only to think, 'oh, I wish I didn't say that?' I saw a banner that somebody had - it went something like, 'I wish my mouth had a backspace key.' Have you ever thought that? I wish I could just erase that but it's already been said. How do you get that - you know, how do you remove that - but it's been said? You know, I wish we could do that, but we can't. Once it's said, it's said. It's not always easy to control our words, especially - you know, when somebody irritates us or they say something that we might know is not true.

It's so easy for that selfish nature to just, sort of, spring into action and say something only to regret it later on. You can control the horse, but can we control our tongue? You know, our words can bring encouragement, they can bring joy, but they can also bring pain, they can also bring sorrow. Well let's, for just a moment, before we talk about the danger of saying the wrong thing, let's talk about the positive side first - about the power of saying the right thing at the right time - how words can bring encouragement and how they can bring joy. The Bible has a lot of things to say about the power of the word. For example, in Jeremiah chapter , verse 16 we read, "thy words were found," - this is speaking about the Word of God - "thy words were found and I did eat them;" - that means to receive them - "and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart.

" So the word - the Word of God - can bring joy and rejoicing and we can bring joy and rejoicing to another. We can speak a word of encouragement. You've probably had that experience where you might be burdened down - you might be troubled with something - and you meet a friend and they smile and they speak a word of encouragement and they help lift that burden, they give you the encouragement to keep pressing on. And maybe you're discouraged and you go to church and a friendly church member shakes your hand and they encourage you or they have a word of prayer with you and they encourage you to keep pressing on. We need to do that, especially as we near the end of time.

We need fellow brothers and sisters to be encouraging us - to be lifting one another up - to be pressing together. So words help to bring joy, to bring encouragement and we need that. Words, of course, also bring spiritual life. On one occasion, Jesus was surrounded by a large crowd of people and he said, 'except you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you.' And the people looked at one another and they said, 'oh, what does he mean? Eat my flesh?' And many were offended by this and they turned and they left. The disciples, they looked at one another and said, 'we don't understand what he's saying.

' Jesus said to the disciples, 'are you also going to leave?' They said, 'Lord, we have nowhere to go but this is a hard saying. What do you mean eat your flesh and drink your blood?' Jesus finally explained to them, he said, 'the flesh profits nothing but the words that I speak unto you they are spirit and they are life.' To eat the flesh of Christ is to receive His Word - to make it your own. There is life-giving power in receiving the Word of God. So every day, as we spend time in the Word of God - as we feast upon His Word - as we read the Bible, we are receiving that life-giving power that brings spiritual strength and nourishment to our life. Jesus illustrated this with a story.

He said, 'one day there were two men building houses.' - You're familiar with this? - 'The one man,' - Jesus said - 'built his house upon a rock and when the winds came and the rain and the floods, the house stood firm because it was founded upon a rock. The foolish man,' - Jesus said - 'built his house upon the sand and when the winds came and the floods and the storms, the house fell and great was its fall.' Now, all of us, whether we recognize it or not, we're all busy building something. What do you suppose we're all building? We're all building character and one day our characters are going to be tested. They're going to be tested with trials and difficulties. Our faith will be tried.

If we're building our faith - if we're building our characters upon the rock Jesus Christ - upon His Word - if we're feasting upon the living word, when those trials come our way, when our faith is tested, it will endure if we're feasting on the Word of God. If we're building our characters simply upon the shifting sands of our feelings - of course our feelings go up and down - if we're simply building our characters upon our feelings, when those trials and those difficulties come our way, when our faith is tested, our characters will collapse - our faith will fail. But if we're feasting upon the Word of God, we will endure. So we need to be feasting upon the living word - that'll give us spiritual strength and nourishment - that'll enable us to endure when these trials come our way. Now, of course, James is going to go on.

He's spoken about how that you can control the tongue of a horse - or that you can control a horse by putting a bit in its mouth but you can't control the human tongue. Now he's going to go on and give us some further illustrations. So the next one here is verse 4, so let's get ready to read verse and he's going to use another object that was fairly familiar to the jews. Let's take a look at verse 4. "Look also at ships, although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.

" Thank you. Now, of course, to the jews - to those to whom James was originally writing, people were very familiar with the ships during new testament times. The roman empire was bordered by the mediterranean and roman shipping was a very important part of the roman economy. The roman ships were big for their time, the ships used by the roman empire for trade were very large in comparison to the smaller fishing vessels, which you read about during the time of the disciples in the sea of Galilee. Some of these big roman ships could carry as much as 270 or 300 people.

The ship that Paul was on, on his way to malta, carried 276 people plus gear and water and food. So it was a fairly big ship, of course, all made out of wood. That would be small in comparison to the ships that we have today, but it was still big for that time period. And so now he's using an object that people were fairly familiar with and he's illustrating how that this big ship could be controlled by a small rudder, just like a big horse could be controlled by a small bit so now this big ship could be controlled by a small rudder. The last part it talks about how the rudder controls the ship.

It's interesting to note that even though the rudder guides the ship, it is the captain, or the pilot, that controls the rudder. So although the tongue, in a sense, guides the character, it is the will or the mind that has to control the tongue. Does that make sense? So what we say is a Revelation of our heart, but it's still the mind that controls what we say. We want to make sure that the will or the mind of the Christian is under the control of the Holy Spirit. And that's why we need to be surrendering our hearts and our minds continually to the working of the Holy Spirit - surrendering ourselves to Christ.

We need to be able to have the right answer - the answer that God would have us give under different circumstances. In Proverbs chapter 15, verse 1 it says, "a soft answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger." It's always better to give a soft answer. It turns away wrath. I remember an experience where this verse really came home to me. I spent a year as a student missionary in taiwan and, while there, we had a group of student missionaries and we were traveling from one city to another.

It was late at night and we had a local person who was driving the car, I was sitting in the front seat, and we stopped at a light and there weren't very many cars on the road and the light turned green and he was busy fiddling with something - I think it was the cd player or the radio - whatever it was, but there was a car behind us and when the light turned green he didn't pull away right away. I'm not sure what the situation was with the driver at the back, but he got very angry that we didn't pull away fast enough and finally, when he did pull away, the car behind us drove up next to us and pushed us over into the center divide until we came to a standstill and the man jumped out of the car and I looked over and when he climbed out of the car I noticed that he had something in his hand. And I thought to myself, 'I can't believe it.' And I looked over and he had a gun in his hand. I thought, 'what?' Well, fortunately, I had the presence of mind to lock my door and I did lock my door. And the windows - it was dark, it was at night and so he couldn't see through the side window because it was tinted - and so he tried to open the door.

Well, when he couldn't open the door I think that made him even more angry so he flew around to the front of the car and he pointed the gun through the front window - windshield of the car, and he pointed right at me. So there I was, staring up the barrel of this gun and the man was shaking terribly and just in a terrible rage, and it was one of those moments where you - all you can do is pray and think, 'what's going to happen next?' Well, when he saw that it was a foreigner sitting in the car, I think that threw him for a little bit of a loop, but the driver, who was chinese, rolled down his window a little bit and started speaking in very soft, gentle tones. I couldn't understand what he was saying but he started speaking in a very soft, gentle tone to this man who was just beside himself with rage and I witnessed how that this verse literally calmed the man down. I don't know what he said but he spoke very calmly, very gently, and finally he convinced the man to come over to where he was on his side of the car and he kept talking and talking just in gentle tones, calmly - and the man was all angry and angry - he just kept talking calmly, gently, calmly - and finally the man calmed down to the point where he put down the gun and he walked over and he got into his car and he drove away. And, of course, there were some other student missionaries that were with us in the back of the car and as we drove away there was this quietness in the car and everyone was really sober and guess what verse popped into my mind? 'A soft answer turns away wrath.

' I thought, 'well thank you, Lord.' I'm sure glad that this man had the presence of mind not to respond in a hasty fashion - not to try and do something silly, but to respond in a soft, gentle manner. And I think it saved people's lives. It's true, a soft answer turns away wrath. You know, Bible counsel works and it's true. As Christians it's always better to seek peace, right? Don't allow that selfish nature to rise up when someone offends us, rather respond in a soft, gentle manner.

Follow the example of Christ. Jesus, even when he was being arrested and being accused, he didn't retaliate with anger. He didn't get mad. He responded in a soft, gentle manner. That's his example that he gives us.

Are we ready to read verse 5? Who's got verse 5 for us? Thank you. "Even so, the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!" Thank you. A great forest can be brought to ashes by just a tiny little flame. Now, living here in northern California we've actually witnessed here, of late, just some tremendous forest fires.

Just yesterday we got a call here at work that a fire had broken out in the foothills in northern California. I got a message from my family that there was an evacuation notice posted for our area and that we had to go home and pack our belongings and get ready to evacuate. The fire was moving in our direction. We did - lost power - and we waited for the sheriff to come and tell us to leave. But the wind changed direction, we didn't have to leave.

Unfortunately, some homes were burnt in our neighborhood just down the street from where we were. But it's amazing how just a little flame - and I guess this fire started with an individual just throwing out some papers that were on fire and it turned into this raging forest fire. And how strange it is that just one or two careless words spoken in the church can bring about so much - just pain and sorrow and can tear apart the harmony of the church - just careless gossip can bring about so much pain. You remember as children we used to play the game 'broken telephone' - you all remember that? Where - even if I did it here - if I went over to jeremy and I whispered something in his ear and then he went down and we just made our way all the way down to the very end, can you imagine if I gave you a line here - told you something here - by the time it reached all the way down there to allen, do you think what I've told jeremy would reach allen in perfect order and completion? Probably not, right? It will probably be completely different. I tell jeremy one line over here, it'll probably be completely different by the time it reaches allen.

Isn't that exactly the way it works if gossip starts in the church? I've heard it, you know, many times, where something will be said in the church and finally it makes its way back to the pastor and I know the facts and I'm thinking to myself, 'this is so far from the facts.' It doesn't even have a resemblance of truth because it goes from one person to another person to another person and by the time it works its way around the church, it is so far away from what it actually began with - and that's why, when we face gossip, what is the best thing to say? 'You know what, I'm not even going to go there. You know, why don't you talk to the person involved?' Go directly to the person. That's following the biblical counsel. If somebody raises a concern, go talk to the person directly. That's following the example that Jesus has given us.

If you have a concern, talk to the person directly. Alright, we're ready for verse #6? Who's got verse #6? Right up here in the front? We'll just wait for the camera to get to you. Alright, let's take a look at verse 6. "The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil: among the parts of the body it corrupts the whole person, and sets the whole course of his life on fire and it is itself set on fire by hell." Thank you. Again, James is talking about the tongue and it's connected with fire.

I don't know if there's a more destructive force in nature than that of fire. And so, James is emphasizing how that words spoken without thought or care can be very destructive, especially in the church. Now he refers to the word there 'iniquity.' He talks about the tongue and he describes it as fire, but then he also says, 'it is a world of iniquity.' Now in the Bible there are three words often used associated with sin. You have the word 'sin' which literally means 'to miss the Mark.' God has set a standard for Christians. When we fall short of that standard we are guilty of sin, that is, to miss the Mark.

Another word that we find in the Bible with reference to sin is 'transgression.' The word 'transgression' means 'to break God's law.' The third word, 'iniquity,' means 'a bent towards self' or 'selfishness.' Now it says here, speaking of the tongue, 'it is a world of iniquity.' Meaning, often, gossip is motivated by selfishness. We'll often say something bad about somebody else because, ultimately, we're trying to make ourselves look good. It's motivated by selfishness. Ninety percent of gossip in the church is motivated by selfishness - wanting to make ourselves look good. Now this shouldn't surprise us because The Father of lies is who? Satan, the devil, and he started all of this rebellion in heaven because of selfishness.

We read in Revelation chapter , verse 4, talking about this war in heaven, satan, the dragon - it says, "his tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth." So here we have this description of this war in heaven - satan and his angels fought against Michael. Michael is the symbolic name or the prophetic name of Christ and the angel - there's this war in heaven - it says the dragon was able to deceive a third of the angels. Now it says he used his tail and he drew a third of the angels to join his rebellion. He didn't use his claw. He didn't use his teeth, but he used his tail.

Any significance to the dragon using his tail? Yes, Revelation is a symbolic book, it's significant that the dragon used his tail. In the old testament, the tail is used to describe false prophets who speak lies - who speak deceit. They're referred to as the tail. So here you find lucifer in heaven speaking lies - using deceit to deceive a third of the angels to join his rebellion against God. He's still using the same tactic today in the church to bring disunion to try and disrupt the harmony of the church.

People speaking lies. And, again, the motivation behind that is selfishness or iniquity. In the book 'patriarchs and prophets,' speaking about this war in heaven, we have this statement - it says, "lucifer began to insinuate doubts concerning the laws that govern the heavenly beings." And so he began to spread rumors in heaven. Psalm 34:13 says, "keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit." The last part of verse says, "and it sets on fire by hell," speaking about the tongue and deceit and lies and iniquity. The words we receive always produce a harvest in our hearts or in our lives.

So if we listen to gossip, and we feed on gossip, it's going to produce some kind of a harvest within us - it's just a law of nature. We become what we behold. So if we're constantly feeding upon these things, it's going to change us - it's going to have an effect upon us. Jesus told a parable, and you find it in Matthew chapter 13, about a certain farmer who planted seed in his field. But at night, while he slept, an enemy came and planted tares amongst the wheat.

Are you familiar with that parable? And then when the wheat began to grow, the tares appeared with the wheat and then the servants came and said, 'well, do you want us to go up and pull out the tares?' And the landowner said, 'no, let the tares grow together with the wheat and then at the time of the harvest we'll send out the reapers and they'll gather all the tares, bind them in bundles to burn them, and we'll gather the wheat into the barn.' Well, after a while, the disciples came to Jesus and they said, 'Lord, explain to us the parable of the wheat and the tares.' Then Jesus explained to them that the farmer was The Son of man and the field was the world and he who sowed the good seed was The Son of man and the good seed would be the word - the Scriptures - but he who sows the tares would be the wicked one. And the tares would be the children of the world or those who receive the lies of satan. And the description given here of Christ is that, in the world, or even in the church, there would be both the weeds and the wheat growing together. The harvest is the end of the age. What we receive, if we receive the Word of God, it is ripening us for the harvest for heaven.

If we are feasting upon the lies of satan, if we are feasting upon the gossips, even in the church, it is having an impact upon us. It is harvesting - it is ripening us for the wrong harvest. What we feed upon is having an impact upon our characters. So it's important upon - it's important for us to think about what we are feeding our minds on - what we are feeding our hearts on. Does that make sense? It is a serious matter, what we think about - what we receive - what we talk about.

It has an impact upon our characters - upon our hearts. Alright, let's take a look at verse 7. "For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind." Alright, so now James is using another illustration, talking about how that a ship is controlled by a little rudder, horses are controlled by a bit, and now he's using animals in general and he says, 'you know, mankind has been able to tame all of these different animals and yet man cannot control his words.' That's the point that he's getting to here in just a few moments. So the animal creation has been subdued by mankind and God ordained it that way right from the very beginning. God ordained that mankind had pre-eminence over all creation.

Genesis chapter 1, verse 28, it says "God blessed them," - speaking of adam and eve - "and God said, 'be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves on the earth." So the wild beasts have been tamed, but the tongue has not been tamed. So that selfish, stubborn, rebellious nature is a constant struggle, even for the Christian. When you give yourself to God it doesn't mean that suddenly that selfish inclination - that bent towards self - is immediately removed. You know, often we set ourselves up for failure when we think that the moment we give our lives to Jesus that suddenly all of our battles are over, especially when it comes to evangelism, we think that somehow the baptistery is the finish line, when in reality the baptistery is actually the start line.

That's when the battle really begins. And, by the way, how do we win the battle with self? It's on our knees every day, right? It is the surrender of self - every day humbly giving ourselves to Jesus, asking for the Spirit of God to work within us, that's where the battle takes place - surrendering ourselves to Jesus over and over again. It's a day-by-day experience. It's through repentance and through confession and through surrendering ourselves to Jesus that we gain the victory. But the idea that suddenly we give our lives to Jesus and then we never have to worry about self, you know, that's not true.

That's not the Christian life. Paul speaks about enduring to the end and pressing on in faith and trusting in God. Now the promise is, as we do that, we're assured victory. As we trust in God we gain the victory for 'greater is he that is in us than he that is in the world,' but we have to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus. As we keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, he gives us the victory.

Alright, let's take a look at verse 8. "But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison." So without the influence of the Holy Spirit, the tongue, by nature - or our words, by nature - is an instrument of evil. Why? Because it is motivated by self. You see, only Jesus can change the heart.

It's only under the influence of the Holy Spirit that we can speak words of kindness and encouragement versus speaking words of selfishness. Psalms 140, verse 3, speaking of the wicked it says, "they sharpen their tongues like a serpent." Romans chapter 3, verse 13 - it says, "with their tongues they practice deceit." Again, speaking of the wicked. Jesus, speaking of the devil says, "he is a liar and The Father of lies" in John chapter , verse 44. Telling a lie sometimes is considered a little thing. You've probably heard about a white lie.

'It's not a big deal, you know, telling an untruth,' but we have to be careful of little things. Little things added up turn into big things. And these little things really shape our destiny - they affect our characters. They make us into the kind of people that we, ultimately, become. I heard an interesting story about margaret of austria - it's one of these Amazing Facts.

In the 16th century, holland was ruled by margaret of austria, the clever daughter of the german emperor, maximilian, who was the most powerful ruler in europe. In those uneasy days of intrigue and murder, the rulers took every precaution against sudden death and margaret was no exception. She feared death by poisoning and because it was believed that pure rock crystal would disclose the presence of poison, she drank from nothing but a goblet made of this rare mineral. One day a servant, handing margaret a drink, dropped the goblet to a stone floor, shattering the crystal. Carefully it was swept up but a tiny fragment flew unnoticed into margaret's slipper.

A splinter of glass - just a tiny splinter, worked its way into her foot, which soon became painful and grew red and swollen with infection. By the time the doctors were called, gangrene was far advanced. Immediate amputation was necessary, but the great margaret of austria did not survive the terrible ordeal. Ironically she died from poisoning caused by the very crystal she believed would protect her from such a death. It was a small thing, but it ended up costing her her life.

And so, it's the little things in life that we need to be careful of - those little white lies. We might not think that it's that important, but it's the little things we say that have an impact upon our characters and upon the direction of our lives, our attitude, and these things all added up together influence our witness and, really, our destiny. Alright, well, I think we're getting ready for our next verse, verse 9, so we'll set up to read verse 9 where James, now, is going to continue to talk about our words and our tongue, how that we don't only bless God, but we turn around and curse those made in God's image. Let's take a look at verse 9. "With it we bless our God and father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.

" So the evidence of genuine Christianity is not only blessing God but also blessing our enemies. It's one thing to bless our friends, but Jesus says if you want to be sons of your father in heaven you want to bless your enemies. Matthew chapter 5, verse 44 - Jesus said, "but I say unto you, love your enemies." - This is true Christianity right here - "bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you. Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" - and then verse 45 - "that you might be sons of your Father in Heaven for he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and the unjust.

" So it's one thing for us to bless God because of his goodness to us, but what about blessing your enemies? What about praying for them? That's a true Revelation that the Spirit of God is working within our hearts and our lives. That's not natural. You see a Christian is, of course, a follower of Jesus. We want to treat people the way Jesus treated people. How did Jesus treat his enemies? He loved his enemies.

We have an example of how Christ treats even his arch enemy - even the devil. In Jude chapter 9 - well, there's only one chapter - it's actually Jude, verse 9 - we have Michael the archangel - the prophetic name of Christ - who is talking with the devil and it says "he does not even bring a railing accusation against the devil but says, 'the Lord rebuke thee.'" Now if there's anyone - if there's anyone deserving a railing accusation, it would be the devil. But God doesn't even bring a railing accusation against the devil, he just simply says, 'the Lord rebuke thee.' Now satan is the one that brings railing accusations against the brethren because the devil is referred to as the accuser of the brethren in Revelation chapter 12, verse 10. Isn't that interesting? God doesn't even bring railing accusations against the devil. God simply says, 'the devil - the Lord rebukes you.

' And that's the example that we want to follow - even our enemies - it's not worth trying to bring railing accusations against our enemies, rather follow the example of Jesus, pray for them, right? Be kind to them. You probably heard the illustration before, when we point fingers at others - you point one finger at somebody else, you're pointing three fingers back at yourself - probably we're three times just as guilty as they are. But you're also pointing one finger back to God, right? Because we are doing something that God is telling us not to do, rather, he's telling us to pray for our enemies. Remember the story where they brought this woman to Jesus and they were accusing her there in the temple? And what did Jesus say? He said, 'those who are without sin' - what are they to do? - 'Cast the first stone.' So it's a very sobering thing for us as humans to think that we know the hearts of people - that we're able to pick up stones and cast stones at others. So let's be very careful when it comes to spreading gossip or spreading stories.

That's not really the things that God would want us to do. Alright, well then, our next verse that we need to look at here is verse 10, so who's going to be reading verse 10 for us? Alright, jeff if you'll be ready, verse 10. "Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so." You know, on one hand, it's encouraging for me as a pastor that even in the early Christian church - the church that was filled with the Holy Spirit and had great evangelistic advances there in the first century, even in the church of James there was still the same challenges that exist in the church today. Even in his day there were still these challenges - evil speaking existed in that church.

Of course, that exists even today and James says that ought not to be. That shouldn't be in the church. You know, before the tongue can be tamed, before our words can be brought under control, our thoughts need to be brought under the control of the Spirit of God. This is a day-by-day experience. It begins with the surrender of self.

It's an individual experience. The apostle Paul says, 'I die' - what? 'Daily.' It is that day-by-day surrender of self and I think the best explanation of how we can practically do this comes in the book 'steps to Christ' and let me share this with you, it's page 47. "You cannot change your heart. You cannot, of yourself, give God its affections but you can choose to serve him. You can give him your will.

He will then work in you to will and to do according to his good pleasure, thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ. Your affections will be centered upon him. Your thoughts will be in harmony with his thoughts." So the truth of the matter is we cannot change our hearts, but we can choose to have our hearts be changed by Jesus. We can give him our hearts. We can surrender ourselves to him.

This is a day-by-day experience. Every day we can give ourselves to Jesus and allow Jesus to work within us both to will and to do according to his good pleasure. By the way, I just want to encourage us. We can be an influence for good in the church, right? We don't have to just stand there and allow gossip to go on. I found that, in my own experience, when we're in the presence of gossip, it's quite easy to change the conversation.

You can change the direction of the speech by - if somebody is talking negative about somebody else, it's quite easy to maybe introduce a positive thing about the person. Have you ever experienced that before? They're talking negatively about the person and you say, 'yeah, but have you noticed how so and so is very good at...' - It kind of throws somebody off guard, right? And they don't quite know how to handle that and the conversation sometimes changes. We can redirect it so let's be an influence for the good as much as we can. Maybe we might want to say to the person, if somebody comes to you and says, 'did you hear what so and so did?' Or 'what so and so said?' You can respond by saying, 'well, have you had an opportunity to go talk to so and so?' Usually the response is, 'no, I haven't.' Or 'I heard from so and so' - 'well, you know what? This might be the perfect time to go talk with so and so and clear it up. Maybe find out what the real reason is.

' So we can be a force for good - to be an encouragement to people - to try and build them up and I think that's the lesson here. We want to be an influence to try and encourage people and help them in their walk. James finishes up this passage by emphasizing the importance of being a positive influence. He says, 'you don't get fresh water and bitter water coming out of the same spring.' That was familiar to the people that he was writing to. Down close to the dead sea there were these springs that produced bitter water.

People couldn't drink it. Those who did drink the water from the bitter springs would get sick, but up further north, closer to the sea of Galilee, there were these fresh water springs that produced life. We want to be life-giving springs, but in order to do that we need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings life and joy and peace. We want to be those kind of examples and encouragement to others.

That's the emphasis of the lesson. So let's allow the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts and let our thoughts be guided by the Spirit and let's be the best example we can be for others. Again, let me remind you of our free offer for today, it's entitled 'tiny troublemaker.' For those of you who are joining us, if you'd like to receive this free offer, call our resource line. It's 866-788-3966 and our free offer again is #196. Call and we'll be happy to send that to you.

Again, thank you for joining us in our study of the book of James. Until next time, may God bless. Throughout recorded history tales of ghosts and spirits could be found in folklore in nearly every country and culture. Egyptians built pyramids to help guide the Spirits of their leaders. Rome sanctioned holidays to honor and appease the Spirits of their dead.

Even the Bible tells of a king that used a witch to contact the Spirit of a deceased prophet. Today ancient folklore of spirits and apparitions have gone from mere superstitions to mainstream entertainment and reality. Scientific organizations investigate stories of hauntings and sightings, trying to prove, once and for all, the existence of ghosts. Even with all the new-found technology and centuries of stories all over the world, there is still no clear-cut answer. So how do we know what's true? Why do these stories persist? Does it even matter? We invite you to look inside and find out for yourself.

Visit 'deathtruth.com'. I was having some problems in my life I really didn't know how to deal with. I just said to myself, I said, 'God, if you're real show yourself to me.' And then, I think, one day at my mother's house they were watching the 'final events in Bible prophecy'. There was something about the way the doug preached and things that I felt that touched me. No matter how bad of a sinner you think you are, the Lord Jesus loves you no matter what you've done.

I am so thankful to God for Amazing Facts, for Doug Batchelor and especially his book 'the richest caveman'. If it wasn't for these, I would not be here today. God was able to use these tools to reach the unreachable. Did you know that Noah was present at the birth of Abraham? Okay, maybe he wasn't in the room, but he was alive and probably telling stories about his floating zoo. From the creation of the world to the last day events of Revelation, 'Biblehistory.com' is a free resource where you can explore major Bible events and characters. Enhance your knowledge of the Bible and draw closer to God's Word. Go deeper. Visit 'Biblehistory.com'.

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