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The Tongue, Tomorrow and Today (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston
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May 20, 2024 6:00 am

The Tongue, Tomorrow and Today (Part A)

Cross Reference Radio / Pastor Rick Gaston

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May 20, 2024 6:00 am

Pastor Rick teaches from the letter of James 1:2-5

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You've struggled with sin so often. You've been defeated so often. You've lost your edge. You now begin to make excuses for your sin before God. Don't do that.

That's a trap. Accept His grace and His mercy and forgiveness and get stronger off of that rather than excusing the sin because you cannot defeat it. God understands that.

But what He does not understand is when we look to reduce the size of sin, any sin. This is Cross-Reference Radio with our pastor and teacher Rick Gaston. Rick is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville. Rick is currently teaching through the book of James.

Please stay with us after today's message to hear more information about Cross-Reference Radio, specifically how you can get a free copy of this teaching. But for now, let's join Pastor Rick in the book of James chapter 4 as he begins his message, The Tongue Tomorrow and Today. If you have your Bibles, let's open to James chapter 4. We will take verses 11 through 17.

James chapter 4 beginning in verse 11. Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy who are you to judge another? Come now, you who say today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit, whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. But what is your life?

It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, if the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that. But now you boast in your arrogance.

All such boasting is evil. Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin. Well, because James is strict, I mean he's serious, he's not playing around, does not mean that God is not gracious and patient and kind.

This morning we are going to consider the tongue tomorrow and today as found in this portion of scripture that we have before us. One reason why James is being so strict is because some in the church were behaving no differently than those outside the church who really want nothing to do with Christ. So James calls the believers out on this.

He's been doing this with various subjects throughout his letter. You have to ask yourself at some point, do such people in the church, in Christianity, do they know they're guilty of worldliness of the things that he was saying, the slander that they were guilty of and living their life without seeking the Lord, which is worldliness, do such people know that they are guilty? Or do they think that the pastors are mean for pointing it out from the scripture or anyone else who may point out aberrant behavior amongst Christians? Paul, when writing to the Galatians says, have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?

Well, if you're going to tell the truth, you're going to make some enemies. Well, that's some of the background or what goes into these rebukes and corrections that James is now giving to us. It is not good that we say, I want to skip the letter of James because I really don't want to hear these things. We have to hear them.

We must hear them. Maybe you're not guilty of so many of the charges that James has filed against Christians in this letter, but you might be one day, or you may be tempted, or maybe you are, and also maybe there are those in your life who will benefit from you being aware of God's perspective on such behavior. And so now we look at verse 11 where he says, do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law.

But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge. Well, again, the man of God confronts the tongue. He had done it in earlier chapters, and now he is doing it again because the tongue is a killer. What we say, what comes out of our mouth is what is coming out of our hearts. And as we all know, the tongue is able to inflict deep and destructive wounds.

Some of them never heal with some people. Proverbs 18, 21, death and life are in the power of the tongue, is very true. Now this is slander he's talking about. The Greek word that he uses for speak, speak evil here in verse 11, means to slander, to attack others. It feels so good to some people to attack others.

Gives them a sense of power, self-made justice. We read this 11th verse and cannot pass by the fact that he keeps repeating the word law. Well, he's writing to Jewish Christians. They had no New Testament at this time.

James is probably the earliest of all the writers in the New Testament. The Old Testament was their Bible, and they knew that to be the law of God, and so do we. Now the ceremonial laws, of course, we do not recognize as Christians or we do not follow them. We understand their significance and we learn from them, but we are not under them. And James is using the word law in the sense of the commandments of God.

They're not suggestions. God is not suggesting that we stop backbiting each other, attacking each other with our tongue. He is commanding it. And that's what James is holding up before his audience. One of the easiest sins in the world, it's to slander somebody.

You don't even have to move except your lips, your mouth. Another one, and we'll be coming to that also, is presumption. To just go forward without God, even at times when God is forbidden for us to go forward. Another word from the Old Testament, which again was their Bible, that James used in just this one little section, these two paragraphs we have, there's so much scripture backing up everything James is telling us because, or rather than because, I should say it this way, since he is a man of God's word, he's very familiar with his scripture.

And so he's using it as he should. The alternative is to bury it, to not correct those who are behaving like worldlings, to not correct those who claim Christ as their Lord and Savior but still act as though he is not, as though he does not take that approach. Psalm 15, the Psalmist writes, Yahweh, who may abide in your house, in your tabernacle? Who may dwell in your holy hill?

He who walks uprightly, then he goes on to say, he who does not back bite with his tongue. And so here is James, according to the flesh, the brother of the Lord, all those years he spent with Jesus Christ. He certainly has a voice in the early church, no question about that, a powerful voice at that. We mentioned in earlier chapters in our consideration that when James spoke, people listened, could not just block him out. To this very day, you read the letter of James one time, and you get it, you understand he holds the flesh, the feet of the flesh to the fire.

He does not give it a pass. And so those who attack others, they do not use their tongue to bless, they use their tongue to un-bless. Husbands and wives, be careful that you do not use your tongue to un-bless your own family, your loved ones. He who speaks, he says here in verse 11, he who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. Well that first part, the first part where he says he who speaks evil of a brother and judges a brother, there's a three-fold use of the word brother in this one verse that's not to be overlooked.

It is significant. Cain, he was the brother of Abel. By birth only though, we read in Genesis chapter 4, and Cain talked with his brother and it came to pass when they were in the field that Cain rose up against Abel's brother and slew him.

He killed him. How many people in churches slay other people with their mouth? Well, we're all guilty to at some point of criticizing others unfairly, of going beyond the boundaries set before us, but some make habit of it. They were in this day, and James just again was not going to stand for it. Now where he says judges his brother, he does not mean that we are supposed to ignore flagrant sin. The Bible never means that. The Bible does not ignore flagrant sin. It doesn't ignore sin at all. I have to say that because there have been those in Jesus' name that will say, don't judge me. When they're committing some blatant and flagrant sin, some immoral act, maybe a spouse cheating on a spouse for example, someone caught stealing or caught lying, and you say, what is going on with this? Don't judge me.

Oh yeah, I will. We most certainly will hold the behavior and the tongue accountable to the scripture. God brings these things out. James is addressing those who are appointing themselves masters of others over scripture. They have gone, again, past the boundaries set by God. But to have someone say, don't judge me, brother, when they are attacking you is to have the attacker blame the victim of their attacks.

And people do do this. Most of us have seen it, have experienced it. We're usually shocked when someone is trying to make the innocent one the villain when all the evidence is against them. And so it means that we are not to speak ill of people through our opinions in violation of God's law or over it. We are to be inspired to be upright by what God's word says. But none of us are beyond accountability. Anyone who thinks they cannot be corrected is trouble. Anyone who names Christ as Lord and says I can't be corrected is going to be a problem for everyone else. When we see it in children, it is quite clear and it is not very nice. We look at it and we say, boy, I hope to get a handle on that.

When we see it in adults, we should be equally concerned if not more. He says, speak evil of the law and judges the law. Well, who needs scripture if I can have my sanctimonious criticisms hurled at whoever I'd like to have them hurled at? And so by refusing to submit to scripture, which speaks of not backbiting, which speaks of loving your neighbor, the Old Testament I'm talking about, becoming slanderers above what God says they make themselves judges. Now slander, going by Webster's 1828 definition, I think it's a richer definition. I looked up the definition in modern Webster's editions and it didn't come close to this one. A false tale to slander, a false tale or report maliciously uttered and tending to injure the reputation of another by lessening him in the esteem of his fellow citizens, by exposing him to impeachment and punishment or by impairing his means of living, defamation. You probably get about eight words in modern translation, but that's what the slanderer does. And of course the word devil means slanderer.

Though it's a different Greek word used here, still same meaning. So we're not supposed to behave this way and who can say, we should applaud James, thank you brother for dealing with this. I'm sure there were those Christians that when this letter was read in the congregations they said, thank you Lord that somebody has the metal to stand up in front of Christians and tell it like it is. And so he says, but if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law, but a judge doing God's will.

It is always our goal. It is supposed to be paramount. It is what's supposed to lead us in our lives.

The law says love, but they subjected scripture to their opinions. Leviticus 19 verse 16, you shall not go about as a tale bearer among your people, gossiping, backbiting, chopping down, slandering. It really, it really is not that hard to keep your mouth shut when you think about it. I've been working on not complaining, simply not complaining. I haven't been at it long enough to report to you any more than to say so far it's smooth sailing, but a lot of shipwrecks started out that way too.

So I'll keep you posted if things go well. If not, we'll just act like it never was said. Romans 10, they being ignorant of God's righteousness and seeking to establish a righteousness of their own, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. There are people that do these things and Jesus said, you'll know them by their fruits. You just look at them and see stuff hanging off of them that is either attractive and appealing or revolting, and Jesus made us witnesses, not judges. And if we can remember that, it helps us in so many areas, not only in our interactions just with other people and in people in the church, but also as witnesses of Christ. I no longer feel like I have to win every argument for Christ when I'm sharing the faith. I'm just a witness.

I tell what I saw and they take it or leave it. Acts chapter 1 verse 8, Jesus speaking to his disciples, but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to me in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria to the end of the earth. That's the kind of power. See, a lot of Christians think that Christ, well, he's going to give us power to speak in tongues and to run around crazy and, well, he does give power to speak in tongues, but not to run around crazy.

He gives power primarily to understand who he is and be able to communicate it. That's what that means, to witness Christ, not impress people with, look how spiritual I am. I've got the spirit.

Brother, you don't. You shall be witnesses. You shall receive dynamite when the Holy Spirit, the Greek word for power there in that verse is dunamis from which we get our English word dynamite and it is an appropriate application of the word. I want to have dynamite for Christ.

Or, for some of you familiar with the children's programs that are out there, dynamite. Verse 12, there is one lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

It sounds so out in the street like, well, who are you? Who are you to judge anybody? Again, the guilty cannot use that. They've forfeited the right to say you cannot judge me because their actions or their words have already done it for them and we've just pointed it out. Here he is quoting Isaiah chapter 33 because again, James is a man of the scripture. He knows the Bible and he knows how to apply it and he wants these believers to be better at what they believe, or at least what they claim to believe. What is wrong with that?

Everything is right with this. Who are you to judge another? Again, we are permitted according to words and deeds, but if we were not able to, that would create chaos in the house of God, would give license to mean people to be mean and not kind. But still, of course, I've found most mean people want to be treated kindly. They are very quick to treat others the way they would never want to be treated themselves. But then there is this also, Christian, when we feel justified in executing revenge. We've tried to be nice. Now, now they're going to get the wrath that we have stored up for them.

Be careful of that. Be careful, as John Wesley used to say, of the reasonable devil. The devil that reasons it out for you, which still causes you to sin. Matthew 18, 15, moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. And if he hears you, you have gained your brother.

That's the goal, to gain, not to destroy. Samuel, he had to put Saul, King Saul in his place, but Saul wasn't going to receive it. God explicitly told Saul to go and attack the Amalekites as an instrument of his judgment and not to leave any survivors, to wipe out everything, including the animals Saul was not to take with him. But Saul did not do all that God said.

He did just what he wanted to do and no more. And Samuel called him out on it. But Samuel said, 1 Samuel chapter 15 verse 14, when Saul denied, I've done like God has said. And Samuel says, and what then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen which I hear? We might say it like this, are you crazy? I've done all that God said, are you out of your mind?

What is this? And so Samuel went on to set him straight and pronounce judgment on him. God's judgment, not Samuel's judgment. In contrast to the behavior of King Saul, we have King David who committed an egregious series of sins, lying, adultery, murder, from the sweet psalmist of Israel. Understanding that should all press us to walk more upright in Christ, not to excuse our behavior with, well, David failed.

Well, when you can start writing psalms like David, come back and use his name with me. And that does not give David a pass, God did not. Anyway, another prophet, this time Nathan said to David when David was confronted, Nathan the prophet said, you are the man.

He risked his life. As close as David and Nathan appeared to be in scripture, David was still king. And how would Nathan know how far gone in his head David was?

He'd already bumped off one man, but he knew he had to deliver the message. But here's David's response in contrast to Saul. So David said to Nathan, I have sinned against Yahweh.

Nathan said to David, Yahweh has also put away your sin, you shall not die. The mercy of God, it's right at the door knocking, always ready to show mercy as God, but also judgment to those who will not repent as King Saul did not repent. God is the lawgiver. And so when James says in verse 12, there is one lawgiver who is able to save and to destroy.

Who are you to judge another? God can save or destroy it is up to the individual. Verse 13, come now you who say today or tomorrow, we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell and make a profit. Well, before I comment, I feel pressed to make one more remark concerning verse 12. Some of you or maybe someone you know, or someone listening, you've struggled with sin so often, you've been defeated so often, you've lost your edge. You now begin to make excuses for your sin before God.

Don't do that. That's a trap. Accept his grace and his mercy and forgiveness and get stronger off of that rather than excusing the sin because you cannot defeat it. God understands that. But what he does not understand is when we look to reduce the size of sin, any sin, all sin is big.

It is big, the little, the apparently the small ones are big because of their potential to quickly grow into something unstoppable. So I am encouraging you who may struggle with the same sin over and over to be strong, depend on the mercy of God, it is there for you, but don't, don't ever allow yourself the false luxury of supposing that it really is not a big deal. Verse 13 again, I will not reread it for time's sake, I'll read some of it, come now you who say today or tomorrow.

Abruptly he changes gears, does he not? And one moment he's talking about judging people and then he said, now about you people who make all these plans. He turns to those who are presumptuous.

They come to a decision without the proper considerations. And in this case, God. And so he invites them to be honest, to honestly reason. Come now you who say, that's an invitation, let's talk about this, but no nonsense.

Don't please don't insult me by coming before me, making excuses for trash that doesn't belong. Thanks for joining us today as we took a deeper look into the book of James here on Cross Reference Radio. Cross Reference Radio is the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel Mechanicsville in Virginia. We're blessed to bring you God's word with each broadcast. If you'd like more information or want to listen to additional teachings from Pastor Rick, please visit our website, crossreferenceradio.com. If you've been blessed by this program, we'd love to hear from you. When you visit the website, simply click on the contact us link at the top of the page and leave us a message. That website again is crossreferenceradio.com. Please join us again next time as we continue our study through the book of James right here on Cross Reference Radio.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-20 08:53:40 / 2024-05-20 09:02:24 / 9

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