James 3:1-18 Deadly Tongues & Demonic Wisdom

by | Aug 24, 2023 | James, New Testament

I. Unbridled Speech-The Power To Direct

A. Don’t Be Eager To Be Someone’s Teacher V. 1

1. A teacher instructs, warns, exhorts, and comforts others, and enforces a godly standard
2. Since they speak as an authority, they are held to a higher standard.

B. The Reason For This Caution V. 2

1. Teachers teach, and they use words. It’s easy to sin or offend people with our words.
2. The thing used to teach (the tongue) is also the thing which can easily sin
3. If a person can control their speech (or written words), they are a perfect (mature) person.

C. Two Examples Vs. 3, 4

1. Huge horses are controlled with a bit, and large ships are controlled with a small rudder.
2. NOTE- Bits & rudders only function correctly through someone’s deliberate effort

a. That they may obey us…wherever the pilot desires. (Intentional, deliberate action)
b. Bits and rudders are not self-governing…neither are our tongues.
c. Bits, rudders, and the human tongues all need someone deliberately controlling them.

3. Wherever the pilot desires- The tongue simply expresses the heart of a person.

a. We sometimes excuse our language as if our words existed apart from us.
b. Matt. 12:33, 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 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. (Proverbs 10:19; 12:22; 15:1)

D. The Tongue Is Like Fire Vs. 5, 6

1. V. 5-The human tongue is physically small, but it can do great damage if unrestrained.
2. V. 6-The tongue can damage a person, their life trajectory, and has hellish inspiration
3. James uses fire as an illustration. Consider the Valley Fire in Lake and Napa Counties.

a. The fire started at 1 pm on Saturday, Sept 12, 2015.
b. By 6:30 pm, it had burned 10,000 acres. By Sunday it had burned 50,000 acres.
c. Eventually, it burned 76,067 acres, destroyed 1,955 buildings, and killed four people.
d. At the time, it was the third worst fire in California history.
e. Dry conditions, dead trees & high winds created a perfect environment for the fire.
f. Our words can be like a careless spark tossed into a perfect storm waiting to happen

4. There is a great degree of self-gratification for those who do not control their language.

a. We may have strong feelings about something or someone. They are like fierce winds
b. Sometimes those feelings are based upon speculation and bias, and we say things that have no basis in reality. (We can confess that we started the fire, but we can’t stop it).
c. We taint people’s reputation and cast a dark sinful shadow upon them.
d. We cause others to be suspicious without cause, simply because we might not like someone, or have chosen to believe gossip or innuendo. (See Proverbs 26:20, 21; 17:27)
e. Other times, we may have an abundance of facts, and know the terrible truth.
f. Because we know the truth, and because we have strong emotions, we feel we have the right to say whatever we want, regardless of the damage it will bring. Sinful.
g. In both of those instances, we forget that we ourselves were the enemies of God, but He had mercy upon us, and in grace offered us forgiveness for our own damning sins.

E. The Untamable Tongue Vs. 7, 8

1. Animals can be tamed by a dominant master.
2. Man is unable to tame his tongue by his own power. That requires a greater master.

F. The Dual Nature Of The Tongue Vs. 9-12

1. We show our double mindedness through the words we speak. Inconsistent behavior.
2. KJV Bible Commentary- A distinction may be seen in Scripture between carnal judging and spiritual discernment. Care must be practiced to aim denunciations against sin and not the sinner. The Lord can forgive the worst offender; thus Christians should hope for God’s regenerating power even in unlikely persons.
3. Vs. 11, 12- KJV Bible Commentary-a mouth which condemns men while praising God lacks credibility. That sort of person would have a shallow Christian experience, if one at all.

II. Two Kinds Of Wisdom Vs. 13-18

A. Ungodly Wisdom

1. V. 14- Ungodly wisdom is accompanied by bitter envy and self-seeking

a. This points back to the sinful practice of unbridled words.
b. Envy: a jealousy over what another person has, resulting in a bitter heart.
c. Self-seeking: When you try to put yourself forward as being better or right.

2. V. 15-False wisdom is actually inspired by man or inspired by Satan. (Eph. 2:1-3)

a. Not from heaven. There is no pure love, no mercy, no grace, no eternal values.
b. Earthly. The origin of this so-called wisdom is from man, and not from God.
c. Sensual. Animalistic. Based upon selfish needs without consideration for others.
d. Demonic. Satan is called The Liar, and The Accuser of The Brethren. Sins of speech.
e. Remember- There are self-proclaimed teachers & masters, claiming to be speaking for God as they condemn others because of their selfishness. Their thinking is hellish.
f. Wiersbe- Man’s wisdom comes from reason; God’s wisdom comes from revelation.

3. V. 16-Reverse the order of verse 16

a. When you enter a situation where there is confusion & evil things, it’s because of the
existence of envy and self-seeking.
b. If you try to determine the causes of the problems, the response is often…
c. Earthly, sensual, demonic suggestions that are masquerading as wisdom from God.

B. Godly Wisdom

1. V. 13- Wisdom from God is accompanied by godly works.

a. If someone is truly wise, that wisdom will be seen through his works.
b. Works of good conduct, done in meekness. Not self-promoting or condemning.
c. In chapter 2, some claimed faith (and wisdom) without having good works. Wrong

2. V. 17-Here we have a working definition of what wisdom from God looks like.

a. Pure-chaste, sanctified. Purity is the first thing. Not half pure/half impure.
b. Peaceable- that which loves peace and brings peace. Tranquility, harmony
c. Gentle- moderation, patience, gentleness, suitable to a situation.
d. Willing to yield- willing to be submissive, not insisting on having one’s own way.
e. Full of mercy- kindness, good will. Readiness to help those in need.

3. V. 18- James has taught us the difference between godly and ungodly wisdom

a. If we desire righteousness among God’s people, it’s accomplished peacefully with peace as the goal.
b. NIV- Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
c. We cannot claim to have God’s wisdom and be seeking to teach people how to live if we are bitter, self-seeking, sensual in our thinking, etc.
d. We will not peacefully sow peace if we have toxic and damaging speech.
e. Our toxic language reveals our toxic hearts. God holds teachers to a higher standard.

4. The remedy is the positive application of verse 18.
5. Repent of your own sins, and then be used of God as you trust Him with the results.