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Lesson 06

James 3:1-18
Lesson #06

  • Memory verse: Jam 3:10
    • We already knew that James was going to talk in detail about the use of the tongue because he introduced the topic in chapter 1.
      • Jam 1:19 says, “…let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”
      • Jam 1:26 says, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.”
      • Read Jam 3:1-4
        • The teacher’s and preacher’s warning. (1-2)
          • The teacher and the preacher have a greater responsibility to be careful what they teach.
            • The more opportunity you have to speak the Word of God, the more responsible you are to God for how you speak it. Why?
              • Preachers and teachers affect the lives of many people.
              • Preachers and teachers are expected to live what they preach and teach.
              • Preachers and teachers are responsible to God for using the Word of God correctly:
                • For not twisting it to one’s own purposes and doctrines.
                • For not hiding it under fancy words and rhetoric to impress others.
                • For not using it to profit unduly by false motives.
        • All offend God and man in some way or another except for the perfect man. (2)
          • We are all human and make mistakes. We all have limited knowledge. Because we all have a sin nature, we cannot help but offend.
          • The “perfect man” does not offend others in speech. (2)
            • The word “perfect” refers to the mature Christian.
              • In other words, the more mature the Christian becomes, the less often he will offend others with his tongue.
              • Also, if he can control his tongue, the mature Christian is in control of his whole body and, as a result, his whole life.
                • Therefore, the tongue reveals who you are, your standards, your philosophy of life, your attitudes, etc.
                  • Your speech betrays where you were born, whether you are educated or not, whether you are cultured or crude, often whether you are a believer or not, whether you value people or harbor hatred and bitterness toward others, etc.
        • The Means of Control Over your Life.

          • Thorn #6 the bridled tongue and the unbridled tongue
          • (3)

            • The tongue is a thorn because it is so hard to control and often we trip over our own tongues.
            • Read Psa 39:1 David knew the importance of the tongue. He uses the same symbolism as James.
              • There are several types of bridles used on horses to guide and control them.
                • One type of bridle is the Snaffle bridle. This is a jointed mouthpiece that is gentle on the horse. It pulls on the corners of the lips of the horse.
                • The Pelham bridle fits on the sensitive spaces between the teeth of the horse and is used by advanced horsemen who know how much pressure to use without hurting the horse.
                • The Curb bit puts pressure on the lower jaw of the horse and is used to stop the horse quickly.
              • David wanted to be a good witness to non-believers. To do that he would control his words.
                • Sometimes it hurts to control what you say, just as a bit in the mouth of the horse may hurt if too much pressure is applied.
                  • It may mean you do not justify yourself in the eyes of others.
                  • It may mean you do not get the last word.
                  • It may mean you do not take the opportunity to get revenge.
            • The rudder of the ship (4)
              • The small rudder controls the large ocean liner and guides it even in a storm.
        • The importance of control:
          • Direction and control are obtained by both a bridle and a rudder. The runaway horse and the ship without a rudder are very dangerous.
            • The unbridled tongue is also very dangerous as well as an uncontrolled life.
              • Remember that James made a parallel between control of the tongue and control of the body in verse 2 which results in control of the whole life.
          • The Christian’s life should be under the control of the Holy Spirit. He is the bridle and the rudder to the Christian life. He applies pressure to move us in the direction we should go. When we are especially rebellious, He applies more pressure sometimes even to the point of personal pain. (Heb 12:11)
          • In the same way, we should let the Holy Spirit control our tongues.
            • Remember that the the tongue under the control of the Holy Spirit set the church on fire on the day of Pentecost when the disciples spoke in other tongues preaching the gospel in every known language.

        • The Test of Faith #14 is this:
          • What does your level of control over your own tongue reveal to you about your Christian life? The evidence of a Christian life controlled by the Holy Spirit is a controlled tongue.
            • Why is that? Of what relationship does the tongue have to faith?
              • The tongue is the last element in life that we give over to the Lord to control.
              • Often it is the last part of life that the Christian considers as important to our faith. On the contrary, James tells us that the tongue is the barometer to the Christian life.
              • Because God wants to control everything in our life, the tongue should not escape our notice.
            • Why is this an important aspect of faith?
              • When we let the Holy Spirit control our tongues, it means we use our faith to speak what God wants us to say.

        • Read James 3:5-12 The Power and Potential of the Tongue
          • Like Fire: (5-6)
            • “a world of iniquity” (6)
              • The word, “iniquity” is = lawlessness.
                • Discussion
                • : What are some of the dangers of an unbridled tongue that James says it “defileth the whole body” and “it is set on fire of hell”? (6)

                    • When the tongue is not controlled it becomes the means of a large variety of sins. (gossip, slander, lies, back-biting, profanity, false witness, complaining, criticism, curses, deceptions, etc.)
                    • The word, “hell” in verse 6 is the word, gahenna, which was the name of the garbage dump for the city of Jerusalem in New Testament times. It was located outside the city walls in the valley of Hinnon to the south of Jerusalem. It was a place where the fires never went out and where all kinds of vermin lived.
                      • In other words, the tongue can spread all kinds of foul-smelling garbage.
                    • A person who has the habit of speaking only negative things about himself, about his family, or about his spouse, destroys self esteem in all those around him, including his own self esteem. James refers to the whole body. We can extend that to the whole body of Christ, the church.
                    • Satan uses the tongue to communicate his evil thoughts.
                      • Read Pro 12:18 Pro 15:4 Pro 18:21 Pro 21:23
                      • There is a poem that expresses well the topic of the tongue:

          A careless word may kindle strife;

          A cruel word may wreck a life.

          A bitter word may hate instill,

          A brutal word may smite and kill.

          A gracious word may smooth the way;

          A joyous word may light the day.

          A timely word may lessen stress;

          A loving word may heal and bless.
          Author unknown.

            • Like an Untamed Beast: (7-8)
              • The tongue is full of “deadly poison”. (8)
                • Poison kills and so does the tongue. It kills a person’s reputation and character.
                  • In the Bible, a person’s character, his name and the meaning of it, and his reputation were considered a precious, inseparable expression of the whole person.
                  • To speak evil of another is killing that person’s character, the very essence of his being.
                  • To speak hate is to curse someone because words have life.
                    • Remember that God spoke creation into being and created life with words.
                    • Remember that Jesus Christ’s eternal name is “The Word” because He is life.
                    • Remember that Jesus Christ raised Lazarus from the dead to life by the spoken word.
                      • That is why Pro 18:21 says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
            • Blessing and Cursing come from the the same tongue: (9)
              • How can it be that in one breath we praise God and in the next breath curse man? That is James’ puzzlement.

            • The Test of Faith #15 is this:
              • Do your words speak “life” to people and situations, or do they speak “death”?
            • The Source of the Tongue (11-12)
              • Read Mat 12:34-37
                • Jesus makes two very clear points:
                  • #1 The source of the tongue is the heart.
                    • What is in your heart, worldly wisdom or Godly wisdom? Whichever it is, your tongue will eventually reveal it to everyone around you.
                  • #2 Man will be judged by his own words.
                    • In Mat 25:24-26 Jesus in a parable demonstrates how a lazy servant is condemned by the words of his own mouth.
                      • It is from this parable that we arrive at the title for this lesson: God wiretaps what you say!
                        • If we really fully understood that God keeps all of our words, we would be more careful in what we say. Either you control your tongue, or words once spoken may end up controlling you!
              • You can tell the source by the fruit. (12)
                • The evidence of fruit will tell you from which kind of tree that fruit came.
                • The evidence of your speech will tell you the nature of your heart.

            • The Test of Faith #16 is this:
              • What kind of fruit do your words produce that tell you what is in your heart?
                • Do your words produce envy, strife, and confusion which is evil? (16)
                • Or do your words produce the fruit of righteousness that is peaceful, pure, gentle, merciful, and easily understood? (17)
                  • There must be righteousness before there can be peace. The believer must first put on the righteousness of Christ and have his sins forgiven before peace will be the result in his life. (Psa 85:10)
            • Wisdom: (13-18)
              • James was addressing teachers and pastors at the beginning of this chapter and then began discussing the tongue which is the means by which pastors and teachers practice their craft. At the end of this chapter he discusses wisdom which is the essence of what pastors and teachers pass along to others.
              • There are two kinds of wisdom:
                • =1= Wisdom that comes from the world and Satan.
                  • This wisdom produces envy, strife, and confusion.
                • =2= Wisdom that comes from God.
                  • This wisdom produces peace and gentleness without hypocrisy.








            ENVY   PURE
            STRIFE   PEACEABLE
            EARTHLY   GENTLE
            DEVILISH   MERCY
                WITHOUT HYPOCRISY
                    • Mature wisdom from God is acted out in your character and actions.
            • Conclusion:
              • If false wisdom comes from the world, and true wisdom comes from God, then Christian maturity can only be achieved through the true wisdom that comes from God.

                • The Test of Faith #17 is this:
                  • Does your life exhibit order or disorder? Does your life exhibit good fruit or evil practices?
                  • This is how you can tell your level of maturity. The mature Christian’s life is orderly and producing good fruit. The immature Christian’s life is disorderly and filled with evil practices. (13-18)
            • Application:
              • If it is true that the average person speaks about 30,000 words every day, then we can understand why James was so concerned about the Christian’s speech.
                • You may not be a gossip or a tale bearer. You may not be a liar or a deceiver. But do your words speak your faith?
                  • For example, when you are going through the kinds of trials James discussed in Chapter 1, do you find yourself saying, “God isn’t going to help me.” “I’m never going to be free of this!”
                    • Negative speech defeats faith. Try listening to your speech especially when you are going through a trial.
              • If the source of the tongue is the heart, then we need to pay attention to what is in the heart.
                • Read Pro 4:23 Psa 19:14 and Psa 141:3.
            • HOMEWORK
              James 4:1-17
              This is a self-study. Please do not send homework answers to the teacher forcorrection.

              • Application of Jam 3:1-18
                • How well are you doing on the final exam in James? Which questions of the test of faith in this lesson did you fail?


                • Take these questions where you failed and determine what areas in your speech need God’s help and control by the Holy Spirit.

                    • Now pray and ask God to help you with your speech. By faith believe that He is answering your prayer.

                      • Preparation for Jam 4:1-17
                        • Read Jam 4:1-10
                          • What is your definition of “worldliness”?

                          • Why do believers sometimes not receive an answer to their prayers?

                              • Read Jam 4:11-17
                                • What is the key thought in this passage?

                                • Memory verse: Jam 4:8
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          About Joyce

          I came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in 1963 giving my heart to Jesus in a Billy Graham crusade in Los Angeles, CA. I have been teaching the Word of God since 1964, Usually two to three adult classes a week.

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