James: Encountering the Torah of Freedom – Chapter 3 Part 1

Welcome to The midway point of James! My Big idea for today is that together, we would be encouraged to bridle our tongues with purity that comes from our heavenly Father. My prayer for us today is that by hearing this message, we would be moved that much closer to producing the evidence/fruit of our faith in Jesus Christ. If you have your Bibles today you can join me in James, chapter 3, verse 1.

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.
3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 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. 5 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.
6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

James 3:1-12

In order to help me share with you today, I have separated my thoughts into 3 sections or points.

We Must Seek Purity In Our Speech

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

James 3:1-2

In the first century, the idea of a rabbi/religious teacher was well established. It was a place of honor and elevated status. In most cases it was a livelihood with a salary attached, as well. Along with Christianity came a vacuum of sorts and some were tempted to present themselves as teachers/church leaders. James has been dealing with improper teachings and much needed corrections that were a direct result of unqualified/ill meaning teachers. There was not system in place to qualify/ordain ministers, so there was ample opportunity for these teachers to slip through the cracks. James begins chapter 3 by warning these people of the extra judgement that will be doled out for teachers that are leading the people astray.

Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.

Hebrews 13:17

So often it seems like James is speaking right out of his personal and intimate knowledge and time spent with his brother Jesus.

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Matthew 18:6

Because there was a dire need for teachers at this time and the teacher has incredible influence of the body of Christ the judgement James had in mind here may reference both a present-day judgement and also an end times judgement.

Even if someone has years of Bible school, teaching and preaching is a calling and should not be entered into lightly. James is really saying here is that we are not totally qualified as teachers and we are prone to making mistakes whenever we speak. If anyone was perfectly true, they would certainly be a perfect person, perfectly in control of life. We must seek purity in our speech and in our motives as we teach/lead. We use the biblical standards when we look to those who teach/lead, Its very important. Trustworthy and above reproach. (1 Tim 3)

We Must Not Underestimate The Tongue’s Ability To Control Us

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 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. 5 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.

James 3:3-5

These examples a fairly self-explanatory. Generally speaking, it is usually a very small things that lead us and usually we are unaware of its ability to control us. Here its not just that our tongue can control you or me as individuals, rather one teacher can influence large portions of the body of Christ. This influence can impact the Chruch and lead many astray.

In 1978 A San Francisco based cult leader Jim Jones lead some 918 of his followers to their death by mass suicide. God has entrusted you and me to bring His Gospel message to the world. That we would communicate this message primarily through the purity and love reflected in our own lives. We must not allow the small unruly things of our flesh control our divine destinies. But be led by the spirit of the living God.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

Galatians 5:16

We Must Not Be Ignorant To The Power Of The Tongue

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. 7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

James 3:6-12

This evil tongue/fire set by hell that corrupts the entire body is referenced in 2 ideas.

  1. Lashon hara = literally, “tongue of the evil” In Judaism, it refers to Gossip, slander, backbiting, rumor mongering, and any other misuse of speech. The sin of Lashon hara is equated to idolatry, sexual immorality, murder, and carries the inference of one who denies God.
  2. This evil fire Set by hell originates from a place referred to Gehenna= A valley just south of Jerusalem called the Valley of Hinnom. Which according to 2 Kings 23:10 is the place where the Israelites sacrificed their children in the fires of Molek.

but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness.

James 3:8-9

Taming our tongues is accomplished in the partnership we share with God. His Holy Sprit Goes to work in us and we allow Him access and cooperation. Here’s the question, are we cooperating with the Holy Spirit in this area? Are we giving God Free and open access to our hearts that we can be formed to be like Christ?

Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and saltwater flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

James 3:10-12

We must not be ignorant to this evil. We must recognize that we cannot serve 2 masters. We cannot be ruled by 2 lords. This is the definition of the doublemindedness that James has been talking about. This double-mindedness makes unstable in all we do. We must seek purity in all of these ways. Yes, we can speak truthful things (its not my fault if they can’t handle the truth) Are we tempered in the love of Jesus do we let Him do the talking? Is what we say true, is it helpful, does it inspire, is it necessary, is it kind? Are the words and tones we use representative of who we know Christ to be?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

Will you join me as we seek an authentic relationship united in Christ and each other? Rejecting division, embracing God’s reality in Jesus, and encouraging one another. It’s just between you and God. Here’s the thing, If we love God and abide in Christ we will find ourselves more and more loving each other. You will we more and you will love better. We will experience God in spirit and in truth and we will share that amongst each other. Share all the ways God has shown you mercy and grace.

Will you allow the Holy Spirit to stir faith in someone through your testimony? Would you join me as the Holy Spirit moves on us to be unified in the spirit of Christ? These are the kingdom values. This is truly the work of God. The intentional actions of the body of Christ. Remember the devil seeks only to kill steal and destroy. Steal your freedom, kill your joy, and destroy your destiny for hope and love. But God has a plan! He’s stealing from your neighbor, your family, and your loved ones today.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

Jesus, He’s the Son of the living God, and we can receive from Him today His Righteousness, His purpose and His calling. Will you call on him today? Your salvation/forgiveness is just one prayer away. Will you trust in his ability to do what He said He would do? Will you believe today?

Many of you need a fresh touch from God today. Is there some form of unbelief or a fracture of trust as it relates to God in your life today? God wants to redeem and restore those areas of your life? He wants to restore Joy and hope for you today.

You’re hearing this now and the Holy Spirit has brought someone or something to mind. He wants to speak life into this today. He wants to bring healing in this area today. There are areas of deep regret when it comes to your relationship with God and you have rejected Christ as your savior …It’s not too late.

It’s not too late to humble yourself before him today, hold out your arms and open your hands to receive from him today. Will you say yes to Jesus, today? Will you bow your heads with me? Some of you already know the Lord, but maybe he’s put something on your heart that you need to deal with, you need to ask his forgiveness today. If that’s you will you just acknowledge that to him today. This is just you and God here.

Now someone here may not have that relationship with Jesus and today you’ve felt him tugging at your heart, you’ve been hurt, and you’re guarded, I know. Jesus is here and wants set things right in your life. If you’ll say Pastor, I want Jesus to be my Lord and savior. Remember, it’s just you and God here. Will you pray with me today, We’ll pray here as a family and you can repeat after me?

Jesus, I know that I’m a sinner. I ask you today for your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins and on that 3rd day, you rose from the dead. I ask you to come into my heart today. I trust and follow you as my Lord and savior. Guide me and help me to do your will. In Jesus’ name Amen.

“‘“The Lord bless you
and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.”’

Numbers 6:24-26