1 James 3 Yu may remember near the end f James 1, the apstle taught us an imprtant principle fr prper Christian living First in v.21 he said we shuld put aside filthiness and wickedness And receive the wrd f Gd, which is able t save ur suls...save us in the sense f sanctifying us Saving us frm the cnsequences f ur sinful chices And that sanctifying prcess is a result f receiving the wrd in humility, hearing the teaching f Gd s wrd James ges n t say that if we are merely hearers f the wrd and nt ders f the wrd, we deceive urselves int thinking we are religius And then in v.26 James ffers a gld standard f srts fr measuring wh is truly putting the wrd int practice If we cannt learn t bridle ur tngue, t cntrl it with authrity, then ur religin is wrthless Here again is this idea f wrth r value Any life f religin that desn t arrive sanctificatin - a life that is steadily becming mre Christ-like and hly - is f n value r wrth Outward religius practice that desn t lead t an inward cnfrming t Christ in ur lives wn t prfit Gd, ur neighbrs nr urself Mving t chapter 3 tday, we cme back t these theme At the end f chapter 2, James finished with a reminder that ur life gal must be t declare ur faith publicly by ding the wrks that faith requires Wrks are anything that display ur faith, whether an actin r a wrd r even a thught And fr James, the wrds we use are a particularly gd indicatr f ur maturity in the faith S he spends chapter 3 fcused n speech and its relatinship t spiritual maturity 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
2 James 3! 2 James 3:1 Let nt many f yu becme teachers, my brethren, knwing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. James 3:2 Fr we all stumble in many ways. If anyne des nt stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able t bridle the whle bdy as well. James pening verses set the tne fr the chapter James begins with a warning Let knw many f yu becme teachers, because teachers incur a stricter judgment, and we all stumble in many ways. The sense in Greek is D nt press yurself int the rle f teacher Dn t presume t speak n behalf f the Lrd cncerning His wrd Dn t seek this rle, because we are all prne t sinning and stumbling And therefre dn t place yurself in the psitin f pssibly sinning with yur speech while teaching Because teachers will incur a stricter judgment Failing t handle the wrd f Gd prperly is a particularly damaging sin fr a Christian Teachers wh sin thrugh pr teaching stand t receive an even harsher judgment when they face Christ They will be graded by tugher standards In v.2 James is ging t quickly braden the discussin beynd teachers, because he s really aiming fr a general pint n sinning with ur speech But befre we g there with him, let s give a mment s thught t hw we apply the statement in v.1 Is James trying t discurage us frm teaching Gd s wrd? In a way yes, but nt s that we wuldn t have teachers, but s that we have teachers gifting and called by Gd First, we need t remember that James is Jewish and he s writing t a Jewish audience 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
3 James 3! 3 And in Jewish culture, a teacher was an imprtant authrity figure They called teachers rabbi, and it was a term f authrity and pwer S James is speaking abut leaders in the church wh express their leadership thrugh a teaching rle f ne kind r anther And by teaching, we means establishing the nrmative interpretatin f Scripture fr a bdy f believers Tday, we might call these peple pastrs, teaching pastrs, Bible study leaders, etc. And this wuld als include wmen wh teach under the authrity f pastrs r elders and interpret Scripture These are the rles that shuld particularly heed this warning The warning says dn t press yurself int ne f these rles Dn t make hlding a leadership rle in teaching a gal even unless yu are specifically gifted and called t that rle Teaching withut the spiritual gift means yu wrking utside yur gift, and it is nt a wrk f the Spirit And we are placing urselves in jepardy cme judgment day Because when we inevitably mishandle Gd s wrd in the curse f teaching, we have deceived urselves and thers cncerning Gd s wrd Our mistake is magnified by being multiplied in the hearts and minds f ur students What abut the persn wh desn t feel they have the gift t teach, but they feel led t cnduct a Bible study grup r lead a Sunday schl class In light f James teaching, we can safely cnclude that smene absent a teaching gift culd lead a Bible study r class S lng as that leader des nt take it upn himself t interpret Scripture fr the class 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
4 James 3! 4 Rather, the leader wuld present teaching frm an apprved curriculum r teacher wh is clearly gifted t interpret Gd s wrd That leader will still be accuntable fr what he says and des, as are all Christians But the stricter judgment James mentins cmes wuldn t be a cncern, since the persn isn t endeavring t interpret Scripture Finally, all Christians are giving the ability by the Spirit t read and understand Scripture t certain extent I am nt prpsing that nly certain peple can read and interpret Scripture fr us This was the heresy perpetuated by Rme prir t the Refrmatin We are a kingdm f priests, and all believers have equal access t the Spirit and t the pprtunity t knw and understand Gd s wrd But there is a difference in Gd s ecnmy between knwing smething fr urself and endeavring t teach Scripture t thers The Spirit may reveal sme aspect f Scripture t us - just what He feels we need - while nt giving us a cmplete enugh picture t carry t message t thers As I mentined already, James quickly bradens his pint beynd teachers James is really talking abut self-cntrl Because the mst imprtant wrk we can d in faith is the wrk f cnfrming ur behavir t the cmmandments f Scripture And James returns t his Chap 1 theme telling us that the best test f ur spiritual maturity is fund in hw well we cntrl urselves, particularly ur tngue If we can reach a pint in ur Christian walk where we are selfcntrlled in ur speech, we will have becme spiritually mature That s what James means by perfect - the wrd is teleis which literally means having reached an end, r being cmplete 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
5 James 3! 5 This is a Biblical principle Our degree f spiritual maturity shws itself mst readily in ur speech patterns If ur speech is gdly and pleasing t the Lrd in all respects, we may fairly judge urselves t be maturing in ur walk f faith But this is a tugh standard It addresses lying, gssiping, basting, slandering, cursing, and a whle hst f ther tendencies And until we ve put all thse aside entirely, we still have wrk t d That s why James gives a warning t thse wh might wish t teach Because if we re nt a mature believer with a Spiritual gift t teach, we re likely t see ur teaching becme laced with ne r anther f these sins And then cmes a stricter judgment because ur sin is infecting ur students Nw t the ne wh may dubt the relatinship between the tngue and the rest f ur spiritual maturity, James gives several analgies r examples t supprt his thesis First, James establishes that a small thing can have great pwer James 3:3 Nw if we put the bits int the hrses muths s that they will bey us, we direct their entire bdy as well. James 3:4 Lk at the ships als, thugh they are s great and are driven by strng winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclinatin f the pilt desires. James 3:5 S als the tngue is a small part f the bdy, and yet it basts f great things. See hw great a frest is set aflame by such a small fire! Bth examples are simple and illustrate James pint beautifully First, a hrse is a large animal but a trained rider can make it d anything merely by cntrlling the bit in his muth When yu think abut it, that s really quiet remarkable 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
6 James 3! 6 And the principle here is equally amazing When we finally learn t yield t the Spirit s cntrlling influence in ur speech, then we will have als yielded in ther areas f ur life and actins It s as if James is saying that the last thing we tend t give ver t the Spirit is ur speech Perhaps because it s s clsely cnnected t ur thinking and mtivatins As Jesus bserved: Matt. 15:18 But the things that prceed ut f the muth cme frm the heart, and thse defile the man. Matt. 15:19 Fr ut f the heart cme evil thughts, murders, adulteries, frnicatins, thefts, false witness, slanders. S if we are the hrse, then the Hly Spirit is the rider And nce we give Him cntrl ver ur tngue, He will be free t direct ur whle bdy int a Christ-like life And then the secnd example extends frm the first A ship faces many challenges and trials n the pen water But as lng as the captain has cntrl f the rudder - a very small part f that vessel - he can guide the ship safely thrugh the strng winds But there is an bvius crllary t this rule If the captain desn t cntrl the rudder, thse strng winds will eventually result in shipwreck Obviusly, we are the ship and the rudder is ur tngue again If ur captain gains cntrl f ur tngue, he has the pprtunity t guide us safely thrugh difficult times But if ur rudder remains utside the Spirit s cntrl, we face spiritual shipwreck Paul alludes t an example f just such a situatin in his first letter t Timthy 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
7 James 3! 7 1Tim. 1:18 This cmmand I entrust t yu, Timthy, my sn, in accrdance with the prphecies previusly made cncerning yu, that by them yu fight the gd fight, 1Tim. 1:19 keeping faith and a gd cnscience, which sme have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard t their faith. 1Tim. 1:20 Amng these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whm I have handed ver t Satan, s that they will be taught nt t blaspheme. Hymenaeus and Alexander culdn t discipline their tngues and maintain a gd cnscience (meaning a gd testimny) S the Lrd brught discipline thrugh Paul, and their faith was shipwrecked, meaning their faith didn t prfit them S in v.5 James summarizes The tngues is a small part f the bdy, but it can bast r lay claim t great pwer in ur lives But unfrtunately, nt nly des it have great saving pwer in ur walk with Christ But James turns t the negative and reminds us that it als has the pwer t cndemn He uses a third analgy t emphasize the negative side A small flame can burn dwn a frest And that leads James t his secnd pint: as small as the tngue is, man is nt capable f cntrlling it by himself James 3:6 And the tngue is a fire, the very wrld f iniquity; the tngue is set amng ur members as that which defiles the entire bdy, and sets n fire the curse f ur life, and is set n fire by hell. James 3:7 Fr every species f beasts and birds, f reptiles and creatures f the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. James 3:8 But n ne can tame the tngue; it is a restless evil and full f deadly pisn. Our tngues represent the very wrld f sin, f hell itself In the sense f the sin and evil that a tngue can ignite in urselves and in thers And in v.6 James says that ur sinful speech defiles the entire bdy 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
8 James 3! 8 And like a rudder, it can set ur life n a curse f evil Ntice at the end f v.6 James says that a tngue can set ur life n a curse that is set n fire by hell James is saying essentially the same thing Peter says in: 1Pet. 5:8 Be f sber spirit, be n the alert. Yur adversary, the devil, prwls arund like a raring lin, seeking smene t devur. The devil (r hell) can set ur life n fire in the sense that can set us n a curse that brings ur live t a disastrus end James isn t suggesting a Christian wh can t tame their tngue will end up in hell N amunt f sinning can erase the grace f the New Cvenant But he is saying that we will see the Enemy taking advantage f ur weakness and driving ur Christian witness and testimny int blivin Leaving us with nthing at ur judgment The prblem f ur tngue can t be crrected by men s wn effrts The answers are fund in self-help bks They are fund in the Gd-help bk, the Bible Only Gd s wrd with the Spirit can bring abut spiritual maturity and the taming f ur flesh, including f ur tngue And James makes clear that men dn t have the pwer t handle this alne James mentins fur categries f animals that have been tamed r subdued by man These fur categries are ntewrthy because they match the fur categries in Genesis 1 Beast, birds, creeping things and sea creatures The third wrd is herpetn, frm the wrd herp in Greek which means t creep 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
9 James 3! 9 S James is intentinally referencing the fur categries f the animal kingdm Gd created and gave t man t subdue And just as Gd cmmanded Adam, man has indeed subdued these creatures We have invented many ways t bring them under ur cntrl t a certain degree There are limits f curse My family can t seem t cntrl ur pdle But the tngue is nt smething man can cntrl in that way We can t subdue it in any way cmparable t the way we cntrl animals We may wish t cntrl it, but sner r later it re-exerts itself and we see ur weakness James says the tngues is unruly evil, meaning unrestrainable evil James pint is that Gd gave us the pwer t subdue animals, but the pwer t restrain sin in ur bdies cmes nly thrugh the Spirit and Gd s wrd We must recgnize this is a prblem we dn t slve withut Him guiding us And the gd wrks f faith begin with receiving Gd s wrd in humility (i.e., James 1:21) And then being ders f the wrd by seeking t cnfrm ur lives t what we learn, yielding t the Spirit as He takes authrity ver ur lives Finally, James challenges us t nt be cntent with an untamed tngue James 3:9 With it we bless ur Lrd and Father, and with it we curse men, wh have been made in the likeness f Gd; James 3:10 frm the same muth cme bth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ught nt t be this way. James 3:11 Des a funtain send ut frm the same pening bth fresh and bitter water? James 3:12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, prduce lives, r a vine prduce figs? Nr can salt water prduce fresh Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
10 James 3! 10 As thse wh claim faith in Christ and desire t serve Him and witness abut Him t thers... At ne mment we bless His name with ur tngues, and at anther mment we curse men wh are made in His image Cursing desn t just mean curse wrds, but any expressin f hatred r cndemnatin made against smene We re talking abut all hatful r ungdly speech It s back t the principle frm James 2:10 If yu vilate ne law, yu vilate them all And thugh we bless the Lrd in ne mment, we are effectively cursing Him when we curse the men He made in His wn image Yu can t have it bth ways, and yet we d it all the time As James says in v.10, these things ught nt be this way James uses a classic cmparisn that Jesus Himself makes in the Gspels Funtain f water wuld be expected t prduce bth gd and bad water Or a plant can t prduce fruit ther than the kind intended And as new creatures in Christ, we were brn again by the Spirit s that we might bear fruit and glry t Gd And when we allw ur tngue t remain untamed, we are failing t live up t that eternal purpse Our very reasn fr being saved is unmet in Gd s view s lng as ur tngue - and the rest f ur bdy - remains utside the Spirit s cntrl We will ne day bring frth fresh water, and then the next day we bring frth salt water And in that way, we fail t bring ur Lrd glry Smetimes the ldest advice is the best, as ur mthers said: if we can t say smething nice, dn t say smething at all...like James said in 1:19: James 1:19 This yu knw, my belved brethren. But everyne must be quick t hear, slw t speak and slw t anger; 2010 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.