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It’s Hard to Lick Your Tongue, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear
The Truth Network Radio
January 26, 2024 9:00 am

It’s Hard to Lick Your Tongue, Part 2

Summit Life / J.D. Greear

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January 26, 2024 9:00 am

Taming the explosive power of our words is a difficult battle that we have to fight every day. But in today’s teaching, Pastor J.D. shares the good news that, through the transforming power of the gospel, we can become people whose words are used to encourage others and to restore life.


Today on Summit Life with J.D.

Greer. Intentionally replaced destructive words with life-giving ones. See how James says, verse 18, we are slow. We are slow to speak but we are quick to sow good words of peace. We should see our words as seeds that can create goodness in life and others. Welcome back to Summit Life with pastor, author, and apologist, J.D.

Greer. As always, I'm your host, Molly Vidovich. Today we're continuing our brand new teaching series through the book of James and we're focusing on licking or taming the explosive power of our tongues and more specifically our words.

Let's be honest, this is a difficult battle that we have to fight every day. But in today's teaching, pastor J.D. shares the good news that through the transforming power of the gospel we can become people whose words are used to encourage others and to restore life.

We'll pick up where we left off last time so if you missed anything you can catch up online at Let's rejoin pastor J.D. in James chapter three. In verse six, James says that the tongue is set on fire by the flames of hell itself. That is not just a hyperbolic metaphor. It means that the powers of sin and corruption and hell itself, our depravity, they're at work in our heart and it manifests from our tongues. Hear this, a tongue problem is ultimately a heart problem. And that's what James hints at in verse 12.

Verse 12, can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives? Neither can a salt pond, he says, yield fresh water. Your problem, your problem, James says, is that your heart is a salt water pond of undrinkable water and no amount of filtering or deodorizing is going to change that. The heart is deceitful above all things the prophet Jeremiah said and desperately wicked.

Who can know it? Like Jesus himself said in Matthew 15 19, out of the heart, out of the heart comes evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander, all kinds of depravity come out of that heart. Your heart is a mess and the worst things that slip out of your mouth are just a fraction of the actual depravity that's down there. In fact, think of it like this, your words, your words are like the tip of an iceberg. All those sinful, unkind words reveal, you only see a fraction. They say about one-fifth of the average iceberg is what you see.

The other four-fifths are under the water. You've got this massive depravity of spirit underneath. Words indicate your heart, which is why, again, listen, every idle word Jesus said, every idle word is going to be brought into judgment.

You know, isn't that terrifying? Every idle word means things you said in private, things you said to yourself, things you said to your spouse, slanderous, unkind, uncharitable, mean-spirited, gossiping, hypocritical words, even those said to your closest friend or your spouse, or even your diary. Just because you're talking to a close friend or a spouse or a relative, doesn't mean you're in some kind of safe zone.

Why? Because no matter who you say them to, words are just indicating your heart. Out of the abundance of the heart, your mouth is just out of the abundance of the heart, your mouth speaks.

Even if you keep the best air filters and you never say a wrong word, what's foul in the heart is still there. Now, I know this makes some of you ask, well, wait a minute, pastor, are you saying that at the final judgment, I'm going to be judged and held accountable for my words? I thought Jesus had paid for and removed all my sin.

Yes, that is true. What Jesus says here about every word being brought into judgment does not cancel out everything else the Bible teaches about salvation. If you really have received Christ's forgiveness, there is no condemnation remaining for you. What Jesus means when he says to you every idle word will be brought into judgment as a believer, what he means is this. First, even if your sins are ultimately forgiven, you will still have to answer for them. The apostle Paul says that at the final judgment, the works of Christians are going to be brought forward to test whether they were good or bad, whether they reap rebuke or reward for eternity. For many of us, so many of our words are going to be revealed as shameful and worthless. Second, and this is probably James and Jesus' more important point, listen to this.

This has been a common theme for James. For some of us, our words on judgment day are going to reveal that we were not actually Christians. Oh, we learned to act like Christians on the outside. We learned to do all the Christian things. We got super involved in church. We read our Bibles, acted morally, maybe even served on the praise team. We memorized verses.

But what we said with our mouths in private indicated that our hearts had never really changed and were filled with all that old poison. So ask yourself, the way you speak about others, does it exude grace and mercy and love? Do your words sound like somebody whose heart has been sweetened by the gospel? If not, if not, James says, maybe your religion is a sham and you should at least consider that. You say, well, pastor, I'm in trouble. My words indicate my heart is a mess. How can I heal my heart?

How can I change the saltwater pond to a fresh mountain spring? Great question. In fact, that might be the most important question in the New Testament, the Bible.

How do we change the depravity of our hearts? I'm going to answer that with two biblical pictures. The metaphors that James uses for the tongue point back, I believe, to these two stories in the Old Testament. Let me give them to you.

I'm going to share with you a cliff notes version of them, and then I'm going to close our time together with what I hope are some really, really practical applications of this. Okay? Here we go. Picture number one, Exodus 15. Moses and the children of Israel are wandering through the desert. They've just left Egypt. They're on their way to the promised land, but they're thirsty. Their water supply has all but dried up.

And so they come upon an oasis in the desert. At last, at last, there is water. So they plunge into the water and they splash around and they begin to fill up their canteens and begin to drink. But immediately, Exodus 15 says, they begin to spit it out and vomit because the water was bitter. And so in despair, they cry out, God, all this water, we can't drink it.

What are we going to do? So God tells Moses to have them cut down a tree and take that tree and throw it in. And when they do that, it says, and the bitter waters became sweet. This was right after the deliverance to the Red Sea, and it is a picture of the cross. The whole Exodus story, as you may know, is like a physical demonstration of the Christian life. It is showing that God puts the cross into the bitter waters of our heart and the bitter waters of our heart becomes sweet.

Why? Because at the cross, we hear words of forgiveness when what we deserve to hear were words of condemnation. The cross is about a God who speaks with love, unconditional love that we did not deserve, unconditional love that never changes and never fades away. And that love, that love when you really embrace it, it changes you. God's words of acceptance transform you from an insecure, suspicious, bitter person to a secure, happy, satisfied, compassionate one.

And when your heart changes, your words change. When the fountain of our souls is made sweet, the water coming up from the tap starts to be sweet also. That's picture number one. Picture number two, Isaiah 6. Here you got God calling Isaiah to ministry. And so he reveals, if you've been in church, you know this scene. He reveals himself to Isaiah in the splendor of holiness. And I saw the Lord high and lifted up and the angels around him were saying what? Holy, holy, holy. And what was Isaiah's reaction?

Do you remember? Woe is me, for I am lost and I'm a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips. Isn't it amazing that when Isaiah stands in the presence of God, the first thing he realizes is dirty, the first thing he is really self-conscious about, the first thing is his lips. Think of God's holiness like one of those black lights that exposes all the germs with filth on something.

You ever seen one of those? When we stand in God's holiness, the first and dirtiest places we see our sin is going to be around our mouths. Every idle word is going to be brought into judgment because that was the fountain of our depravity. So how was Isaiah healed? This is an angel, takes a burning coal from the altar, so hot the angel himself can't even touch it.

And he goes over and he touches Isaiah's mouth with the coal. You'd think that a burning coal that not even an angel could touch would have severely injured his mouth, but instead it heals him. The altar, the coal from the altar, of course, represents the salvation that comes from Jesus' sacrifice for our sin. We kill Jesus and that should have destroyed us, but instead when it touches us, it heals us. When we hear the declaration from the cross, behold, your kingdom is yours, and you will be saved, and you will be saved from the cross. Behold, your guilt is taken away and your sin is atoned for. We are healed, not just forgiven, we're changed. Putting the cross into the bitter waters of our hearts, placing it on our lips, heals us, which is why, Paul says, when we come together, we should speak to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual gospel songs, because in doing so, we are reminding each other every week of the good news of the gospel, which heals our hearts and cleanses our hearts. Friend, if you've got a history, like most of us do, of hurting others with your words, ponder anew what the Almighty can do, who with his love doth befriend thee, until that makes you a better friend to others. Renew your heart and mind in the gospel until it transforms your heart and your words become, like Jesus' words, healing and life-giving, not because you choose to make them that way, but because that's just what flows out of you. And if you've been hurt by words, which I know a number of you have, if you've got these deep, painful wounds that go back to what somebody said about you or about you, I want you to dwell on the louder word of the gospel spoken to you by Jesus in the gospel. Well, may the accuser roar of sins that I have done.

I know them all and thousands more. Jehovah, Jesus, knoweth none. Jesus has said to you, you are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased. Though your sins were a scarlet, I've made them whitest now. Others have told you that you're not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough. But he has said, before you were knit together in your mother's womb, I knew you, I loved you, and I laid out the plan that I had for you.

Others have told you that you've messed it all up. He says to you, if any man is in Christ, he's a new creation, and I delight to deliver those who trust in me. Others say, you say, others have loved you, others have left me.

He says, I will never leave you or forsake you. You've heard acceptance and healing and love from the most significant lips in the universe that can heal your soul. This is Summit Life with Pastor JD Greer. We'll get right back to today's teaching in just a moment.

But first, let me remind you about our latest featured resource for our Summit Life listeners. You might be wondering why we chose scripture memory cards this month as our gift to you. Well, there's many reasons why we chose this spiritual discipline. But first of all, memorizing scripture allows us to share with unbelievers better. We are urged in 1 Peter 3.15 to always be ready to give a defense for our hope in Christ. We should memorize scripture so that we can walk unbelievers through the salvation message and help them understand their sin and need for a savior. Speaking God's words instead of our own will give us confidence in sharing. So we've created a pack of 52 memory verse cards to help on this assignment. Make 2024 the year that you truly hide God's word in your heart and support Summit Life today by giving us a call at 866-335-5220.

Or you can give online at Now let's get back to the final few minutes of this week's teaching on Summit Life. Once again, here's Pastor JD. Let me apply all this with a few really what I hope are practical bits of counsel.

A. Be slow to speak. Right? This should be self-obvious. This is counsel straight from James himself. James 1 19. Be slow to speak.

Think about it. Knowing the power of the tongue and how closely connected our tongues are with the depravity of our hearts, we should be slow to speak. And we should be very careful when we do the book of Proverbs says it like this.

In many words, sin is not lacking. Which means if you have a disposition to talk a lot, you sin a lot. David Jeremiah says, people with a propensity to talk a lot, I mean, they can't go on forever talking about nothing.

They inevitably go on to scandal and gossip rather than just be silent. You've got to learn when to be silent. I love how Martin Luther said it.

I have learned this art. When I have nothing more to say, I stop speaking. Y'all, that would be great counsel for some of you.

Some of you, when you have nothing more to say, you head to Twitter. Bad idea. Okay? In fact, I wish Luther himself had heeded that counsel toward the end of his own life. But it's great counsel. Ask yourself before saying something about somebody, do I really need to share this about that person? Is there anything profitable that will come from me repeating this tale or am I simply delighting in sharing the faults or the misfortunes of others? Think about it. Because Jesus said you're going to be brought into judgment for that idle gossip spoken to your friend or your spouse or your daughter.

I said this a couple weeks ago and I'll say it again. You can gossip with your spouse or with your children. Don't think that's some kind of neutral zone where the laws of sin don't apply. I'm glad you and your child are communicating, but don't cultivate the sin of speaking harmful, unnecessary words of criticism about others. Don't cultivate that into them. And be careful before you speak a word of criticism to your spouse or your child or your friend. Because after the frustration and your anger subsides, the wound of your words will remain. Be slow to speak. Your child will likely remember for decades that harsh word that you spoke to them in a moment of frustration and anger. Before you vent your anger, just be slow. Before you vent your anger at somebody in an email, ask, wouldn't it be better to let myself cool down before sending this email? Y'all, my favorite feature of Google Mail is that little unsend button.

I got seven seconds to press it. Y'all, that has saved me so many relationships. Abraham Lincoln famously had a drawer full of letters that he regarded as the greatest letters he had ever written, but never sent. When somebody would make him mad, he would promptly sit down and write a letter giving them what for. But then he said, I put it in a drawer and I'd wait until my anger cooled, usually between one and three days, and then I'd reread it, and inevitably I'd change it or just not send it at all.

He said, thank God I never sent most of those letters because my presidency would have been so much different if I had. Be slow to speak because once you say a word of anger or criticism, you cannot get it back. The story is told of a guy who lived in a village who had a proclivity to gossip and soon nobody wanted to be friends with him. He sensed how he had lost favor with all the other villagers, and so he went to the village elder, learned how he could make restitution and start over. And he says, what do I need to do? And the village elder said, he said, well, easy, I want you to take a bag full of chicken feathers and I want you to put one chicken feather in the yard of every person that you've spoken unkindly about, and that'll represent your regret for those careless words.

Then I want you to come back tomorrow and I'll tell you what to do next. So the man thought, no, this is super easy. So he did it, came back the next day to the elder saying, I've done my penance. And then the elder said, not quite, not quite. Now I need you to go back to all those yards and collect all those feathers and then your reputation will be restored. And the man, of course, said, well, that's impossible.

The wind has blown all those feathers away now. And the elder said, that's the dilemma with your words. Once they leave your mouth, you cannot ever get them back. So be slow to speak. Now, having said that, I want to give you the second piece of counsel. Be slow to speak, but be quick to say, I'm sorry. Y'all don't underestimate the power of those two words, to heal. You said something to a spouse, a friend, a child, maybe a parent, maybe it was years ago. Just saying, I regret that. I'm sorry.

We'll do more than you can possibly realize. I remember hearing the story through our men's ministry of a guy named Ken, who when he was a teenager was discussing his future life plans with his dad. And there was some conflict, you know, sometimes between a teen and a dad, there was conflict. His dad wanted him to take some academic course and Ken didn't want to do it. And so in a moment of anger, Ken said, what do you know, dad?

You're just a dumb factory worker. His dad never been to college. He'd always been a great dad, always provided for his family, but he was blue collar. Those words just crushed his dad's spirit. Well, Ken went off to college and they never talked about it. You know, they say time heals all wounds, which is not really true, but usually papers over the wounds.

20 years later, the relationship is okay. They talk, but after hearing a message, Ken remembered this whole incident. So he called his dad up and he said, dad, dad, you remember 20 years ago when I said you were just a dumb factory worker? Ken said to my shock, my dad immediately began to cry. Ken said to my shock, my dad immediately began to cry. And Ken said, I'm so sorry, dad. I'm so grateful for you and I'm so proud of you.

All the things that really matter in life, you excelled at all of them. Some of you just need to apologize to someone, even if it's been 20 years, 10 years, five years, wives. Do you ever apologize to your husbands?

Question, fair question. Given how much James says we sin with our lips, shouldn't apologies in a marriage be frequent? I mean, if you cannot remember the last time you apologized to your spouse, and I'll go ahead and call a spade a spade right now, a lot of you can't, then I'm going to say that you're just not in touch with the sin that's actually in your heart.

If what James is saying is true, that our tongues are untamable and are connected to our depravity, wouldn't you expect a person who grasped that, wouldn't you expect them to find themselves apologizing a lot? Husbands, do you apologize to your wives? Parents, do you apologize to your kids? Bosses, to your employees?

Employees, to your bosses? Some of you college students who just arrived at college, maybe the last conversation you had before coming back to college was one of anger. Don't underestimate the healing power of simply saying, I'm sorry. Here's your third piece of counsel that I want to give you. So life-giving words.

So life-giving words. Let me read the last few verses of this chapter really quick. Who is wise and understanding among you?

By his good conduct, let him show his works and the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above.

It is earthly, unspiritual, even demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder in every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. He is telling us to intentionally replace destructive words with life-giving ones. See how James says, verse 18, we are slow. We are slow to speak, but we are quick to sow good words of peace.

We should see our words as seeds that can create goodness and life in others. Let me make this real quick. Let me make this real practical. I got a challenge for you this week. One challenge.

I want you to choose one person in your life, just one. And every day this week, until we meet again next week, I want you to speak intentional blessing and encouragement and love into their lives. Call out a strength. Parents, bless your children every day.

Let that fountain be life-giving. That's my challenge. One person, same person, every day this week, every day. A text, a phone call, a quick convo, an email, a handwritten note, whatever it takes.

Watch the difference that it's going to make in their lives. Then maybe you'll find yourself doing this with others. Lastly, lastly, here's the last piece of counsel, receive peace. You see, in order to be able to speak peace, you got to be at peace. The reason some of you sin with your lips is because your hearts are at war.

What's in your hearts is not peace, but turmoil, insecurity and fear and anxiety. And maybe that's because of unkind words that you've heard throughout your life. Other people have damaged you with their words. And that's why you now damage others with your words.

I mean, sadly, hurt people hurt people. The way to fix that is to replace the hurtful words you've heard from others with the healing words of Jesus. You got to replace the words of criticism and comparison and judgment and condemnation and abuse and fear and anxiety with his assurance of unconditional love and empowerment.

Jesus says, right now, right now you're safe with me. I've never stopped loving you. When you were at your worst, I loved you. Before you were even born, I had a plan for you. You are special. And I've always been there every second by your side, weaving all of it together. Even when you couldn't see it, I was weaving it for good for you. I got you.

I got you. If you're a believer, that's what he says to you in Psalm 139 and Romans eight and a bunch of other places. Embrace those words. Dwell on them.

Take them into your heart and your heart will be at peace. And then your words will become a harvest of righteousness. You'll begin to see righteousness springing up everywhere around you. What a refreshing reminder from Pastor JD to sow the life-giving, refreshing words of Jesus in our hearts and minds.

That's the antidote to the dangerous power of the tongue. If you missed the first part of this teaching or would like to catch up on any other Summit Life broadcast, you can access our entire teaching library free of charge at Pastor JD talked about the importance of sowing God's word in our hearts, and we're offering the perfect resource to help you do that right now. It's a handy set of 52 scripture memory cards. And you might remember we offered something similar this time last year, and it was so popular that we decided to bring it back. If you want to carry God's promises in your heart, these new Summit Life memory verse cards make it easy and convenient to memorize scripture. The cards are a small two and a half by three and a half inch size for quick reference, putting on the fridge, or even sticking in your wallet.

Pin them to a bulletin board or a mirror for extra encouragement to help you memorize them. It's a whole new set of verses for 2024 that we are committing to our hearts and our minds. It takes friends like you partnering with us to make Summit Life possible, helping more people hear gospel-centered Bible teaching on the radio, TV, and web. Will you join that mission today either with a one-time gift or as a committed monthly gospel partner?

The suggested donation is $35 or more. And when you get in touch, remember to ask for your set of the 2024 scripture memory cards. Call 866-335-5220.

That's 866-335-5220 or you can give online at And if you aren't signed up for our weekly email list, be sure to do that today. It's the best way to stay up to date with Pastor J.D. 's latest blog posts and to make sure you never miss a new resource or series.

It's quick and easy to sign up at I'm Molly Vidovitch. I hope you have a wonderful weekend of worship, and we'll see you again next time right here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by J.D. Greer Ministries.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-21 00:10:56 / 2024-02-21 00:21:29 / 11

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