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The Power and Danger of the Tongue

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
September 13, 2022 4:00 am

The Power and Danger of the Tongue

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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September 13, 2022 4:00 am

It has the power to build someone up or tear someone down. The tongue can either be a weapon or good medicine. On Truth For Life, Alistair Begg looks to the book of James for instruction on how to choose our words wisely.



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There is a small muscle your body the fine featured in most fitness magazines are included in a workout routine but don't let the size fool you. Today on Truth for Life Alastair big shows us just how powerful and untamable. The tongue can be were in the third chapter of James.

Looking at verses three through 12. James chapter 3 and verse three when we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go.

Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.

It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue is a restless evil, full of deadly poison with the tongue we praise our Lord and father and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be in both freshwater and saltwater flow from the same spring I brothers can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs. Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. Amen. I can think of only one occasion when staking out one's tongue and another person is regarded as legitimate and I'm sure that you already recognize that this is only supposed to take place within the confines of a doctor's surgery to marvel at the ability of the physician to be able to detect evidence on the tongue of a problem that is elsewhere in the body to be able to detect from what is seen a problem that hereto for his unseen and to the extent of that is true in physical terms, the passage of Scripture to which we now turn confront size unmistakably with a five that it is also true in spiritual terms are tons say something about our spiritual condition it is in the first 12 verses of chapter 3 that he gives his most attention to it and we noted last time his warning to would be teachers there is a great danger. He says that attaches to engaging in a teaching ministry in the local church and the danger is directly tied to the instrument of use, namely the tongue because he says in verse two. It is in this area of our lives that all of us, and most readily note verse three to verse 12 is rich in illustrative material.

James is a very good illustrator. He uses material from the natural sciences and from around him and we each of us do well to remind ourselves that the use of illustration is an oral route to set forward. The purpose of instruction and every teacher of the Bible needs to remember that so that we do not seek to hang the instruction simply on illustrations that will be recalled long after the instruction is forgotten. There is no risk of James doing that he weaves exposition.

If you like, or explanation an illustration and application. In his letter here in a way that is masterful and a lesson to all who teach, but I found myself during the week constantly having to say, I must be careful that I don't take my eye off the ball and I took a very very long time before I could gather my thinking around these three thoughts which will be on the observations for this morning so we begin with the first.

The tongue is small but powerful. That's what he says in verse five, but he reaches his application only after he has used these two vast illustrations considered. He says the way that the individual puts a bit into the mouth of a horse and as a result, a large creature, sometimes carrying another relatively large creature is able to be steered and move with relative ease. Anybody who is observed, horses et al. I will be able to say what I get that. And then he says take a ship.

The tiny writer. At least it is disproportionate to the size of the vastness of a ship is still the mechanism that is used by the pilot or by the captain irrespective of the nature of the winds that are blowing in order to direct the course of the vessel and to bring it to its destination. So we have this little bit and this comparatively tiny rudder and we notice that they receive big results as appointed make and then having done that, he says I want you to understand verse five likewise are in the same way, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.

No history records that indeed there is a sense in which the boasting of the tongue. In verse five a. The tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.

There is a sense in which the tongue can make legitimate boasts because the history of humanity is the history of the use of the tongue and availability of men and women to use their tongues in order to change the direction of history in order to influence life's in order to stir passion and soul. It's all the power of language in the poet in the playwright and in the politician, but it seems more than likely, in light of what follows five, a that James is not focusing here on language used in a positive and helpful way, but rather the use of the tongue in a way that is negative and that is harmful because while it is the capacity to do good to speak peace, encouragement, and so on. It also has the capacity to turn harmony into chaos to spoil the reputation of others by slander to introduce difficulty in disappointment with bitter thoughts and words in a family to ruin relationships to damage the testimony of those who proclaim to be the followers of the Lord Jesus. And when you read from verse 5B on you to recognize that this tongue for all of its potential is a real problem that brings us to our second heading the time is not only small but powerful with the tongue is humanly unattainable. We get that because that's exactly what it says in verse eight, no men, contain a ton. He says that after he is given to is a description of the tongue is described in verse six is a fire is a world of evil. He then is untamable and still in verse eight is a restless evil, and that which is full of deadly poison, not a particularly nice list by any standards or tall this tongue. He says, is a fire and is a world of evil among the parts of your body. I spent a long time wondering what is it mean that the tongue is a world of evil, and I was making very good progress until I turned to my old boss in Edinburgh and I discovered that he observed that James seems to mean by this that every sort of evil found in the world finds an ally in an uncontrolled tongue think of any kind of evil disposition and think about how the tongue is able to set forward that evil either by reporting it, reinforcing it, you know, spreading it far and why it is a world within the body. Note thing with me along this line for just a moment that if there is one thing that should mark the Christian in a world of deception and deceit is their truthfulness in the belt of truth, which is given to us in the armor of warfare in Ephesians chapter 6 is that to which all of the other aspects of the war of the armor. Attached is first and foremost, the question what is true.

Therefore, when there is an absence of truth is indicative of all claims of other evil now I won't turn here but I'll cross-reference it for you in case you want to go back to when you read in Romans chapter 1 concerning idolatry and immorality and greed and envy and murder and deceit and strife and all kinds of mall you will discover that all of that ugly list is a product of lies. You will notice that what James is saying in respect to this is that this is not some isolated concern, but this world of evil which emerges from our wrong thinking from our unwillingness to tell the truth to ourselves is a corrupting influence. It corrupts the whole person or it pollutes the whole person, you may have in your translation.

That's the force of it. It has the force to work its way through your entire system. The course of it is, it runs the through the whole course of a life and the source of it is that it is set on fire by hell is very straightforward. Isn't before too long. He says having toyed with our thoughts and played with our words.

We will follow with our deeds and our whole life will be on fire and the source of the fire. The igniting influence is nothing other than hell itself. Hell, the destiny of Satan and all of his hosts. The time he says is like an unguarded campfire one small spark in the hillside is ablaze and then in verse seven he takes us to the zoo and the circus in order to make his point. He doesn't do literally. I understand. But you know what I mean all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed.

We have a dominion over the creatures of the earth as a result of creation in James and in Genesis chapter 1. A lingering dominion that is still there. We are distinct from the rest of the created order in this and while we are able to influence them in various ways. We have dominion over them, but we don't have dominion over our own homes. We don't have dominion over our own hearts is fascinating is the very means that God is provided whereby we can communicate with each other and enjoy fellowship with one another.

The very means that he is provided, allowing us to articulate our our praise and honor of God becomes the means of despising and deceiving others and dishonoring God is as if you get if we were just honest enough to stick out our time than before the mirror of God's word. We realize how each of us needs a savior. The tongue is small but powerful. The tongue is humanly unattainable, untamable. Thirdly, the tongue reveals more about us than we care to admit.

Look at verse nine with the tongue we praise our Lord and father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. In other words, he says there is a glaring inconsistency that I'm forced to point out now we will go immediately wrong.

If we think of cursing in terms of the casting of spells or even the use of expletives. Certainly all wrong, frivolous, immoral, filthy speech is clearly condemned in the Scriptures, but that is not exactly what James is referencing here and we can understand that by looking carefully at what he say with the tongue we praise our Lord and father the creator and with it we curse men have been made in his likeness, the creation, the glaring inconsistency lies in the fact that when we insult, and when we denigrate someone else. In one sense we are praising and denigrating the same object we praise God and then we run down what God has made. Certainly the image of God is spoiled. As a result of sin. But you will notice that James is reminding us here that all of his creation is been made in God's likeness and as a result of being made in God's likeness.

Although they are undeserving of approbation and accolades and so on. Just as undeserving as each of us never know this because each is made in the likeness of God. It is absolutely wrong for us to think that we count on the one hand, praise God our great Creator and then walk out into the community and denigrating those who have been made in his likeness because you see in one setting where adoring God and in the other.

We are reviling him as he seen in the likeness of our fellow men.

This makes it quite powerful and is invite doesn't because it takes is beyond the boundaries of Parkside church. Again, just I with the realm of liver sitting around is in the pew whether we like them or we don't like them or whatever it might mean that's enough of a challenge to face. James takes it way beyond. Think of all the people in community to because of our Christian values. We just actually despise. We despise their lifestyles that we feel that we have a legitimate reaction to things that are wrong, and so on. James is you better be very very careful that you don't show up on Sundays to praise God and walk out on Mondays to curse those made in the likeness of God. As a reminder, isn't that if it is the love and grace of God our father that woos us to himself but to be something of the same characteristics in our lives that would see others come to consider the claims of Jesus. What a tragedy to be like talkative and Pilgrim's progress who is described as a saint abroad, and the devil at home to be regarded as a St. on Sunday the devil on Tuesdays. That's the glaring inconsistency and what is he saying classically well. This is what he says at the end of verse 10.

My brothers, this should not be masterful understatement is not this this in the King James. I think this ought not to be in the words he applies the law of alertness even actually appeal to the revealed will of God. He simply says even according to the laws of nature. This are not.

Every time a culture begins to putrefy. It has to enact laws. That's why certain laws are enacted so that fathers are not allowed to shout dreadful things at the at the baseball diamonds in the local bar. They have been smart enough as men to know that's not the thing you want to do.

But since they couldn't apply the law of alertness, the government had to come in and apply for them were not there yet. In James he says this ought not to be this are not to be in it ought not to be, and he wraps it up full-circle takes us back to his illustrations. Once again back to the fig trees. The grapevines, the olive groves the springs that are bubbling and what is he saying simply what his brother Jesus said on a number of occasions like produces like like produces like an James is confronting each of his readers on the fact that what our tongues say is more than matched by what our heart thinks in the tongues relationship to the heart is clear is undeniable, and it is uncomfortable it is.

As Jesus said that out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.

Start time is gone.

What are we to do what are we to do.

Charlie then pull up our socks and say to ourselves, let's go about the business of seeing if we can tame our tongues as an active act of futility is that we just noted that no man or woman for that matter contain the tongue. There is no hardware product that we can get that will deal with this. We need a complete new software package.

We need to go back to Psalm 51 and see create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me change my heart, Lord, and then my tongue will follow. Change me from the inside because it is only as my heart is cleansed and put right with God, which is what God offers to do for us in Jesus and what he reveals. We need done when we stick out of our tongues.

It is only when our hearts are cleansed and put right.

And Jesus dwells in us in our hearts by faith and comes and lives in is in reins and inspired by his Holy Spirit that our words may be brought under his control, leaving three horses and you can read them at all and I'll tell you what they are Romans chapter 8 verse 29 tells us that the eternal purpose of God is to make us like Jesus.

He describes those who have been called to our predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his son from all the eternity.

If you are a Christian. The purpose of God has been to make you like Jesus. That's what he's doing. That's his eternal plan.

Two Corinthians 3. In verse 18 Paul says we are being transformed into his likeness. That is if you like the contemporary historical manifestation of God's eternal purpose and one John 33. We know that when we see. We shall be like and what of Jesus, they marveled at the gracious words that came from his mouth. No one taught ever as he talked. He didn't cry or shout out in the street. We sang our prayer didn't really part of our prayer was take your truth planted deep in our lives.

Mold and fashion's in your likeness, the only hole we have is the only hole that is offered which is being born Agnew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the day and although we are not all that we need to be in Jesus we are some distance for what we one swear and it is to Christ. We in order to achieve his purposes in our lives. The only way we can tame our times is to let Jesus cleanse and control our hearts were listening to Alistair Begg Truth for Life with a message titled the power and danger of the tongue. If you're enjoying these practical sermons from the book of James.

You might want to listen to Alister's teaching all the way through all five chapters of the book of James.

You can listen for free on the app or online the Truth for Life.org you can also purchase the entire series on a convenient USB for just five dollars@truthforlife.org/store look for a study in James thousands of balusters sermons can be listened to or downloaded were shared for free on the creeper, like mobile app as well as on the website. The teaching library is free because truthful I was fully funded by generous and faithful supporters we call truth partners. These are listeners who give monthly to help cover the cost associated with distributing Alister's teaching.

So if you listen regularly or you benefit from the free downloads we think about joining this essential pain today. It's easy to sign up, simply visit Truth for Life.org/truth partner or call us at 888-588-7884 and to say thank you. We want to invite you as a new truth partner to request the monthly books we offer today were recommending a book titled little pilgrims big journey part two this is a captivating allegory that teaches young children the importance of trusting God through the ups and downs of the Christian life. Be sure to request your copy of the book little pilgrims big journey part two when you sign up to become a true partner or you can request the book with a one time donation@truthforlife.org/donate about Lapine's knowledge different from wisdom or are they the same and does wisdom always come with age.

Tomorrow Alistair Begg answers those questions as we explore the source and proof of true wisdom.

The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by truth for where the Learning is for Living


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