Opening Video: The Church Matters!
Series: James – Let’s do it!
Thesis of Book: The message of the book is “Let’s do it – live the faith – put it into action! The half-brother of Jesus is speaking to the scattered Jewish Christians across the nations – they were scattered right after Stephen was killed. James tells these Christians and us today “You have to do more than just talk about your faith - you have to put your faith to work for the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven.” In other words, what you do with your faith matters in the here and now and in eternity so put it into action! Faith with no deeds is dead!
Key verse of book: James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
Summary of lessons from Chapter 1- We put faith into action when:
…We persevere through the trials and grief of life and in the midst of it get His inner joy and peace.
…We control the pressure moments of life with faith and not anger and in the process find freedom in the Spirit.
…We listen and do to be what God has called us to be and do.
Summary of lessons from Chapter 2 – We put faith into action when:
…We put our faith into motion when we choose to fight against favoritism, prejudice mindsets and discrimination.
…We put faith into action when we love, accept and forgive others. Cook states, “When love, acceptance and forgiveness prevail, the church of Jesus Christ becomes what Jesus was in the world: a center of love designed for the healing of broken people and a force for God” When faith is released to action it impacts people’s lives, transformation happen’s and people are set free! It releases revival!
Sermon 3: Wild Thing – James 3:1-12
Thesis: James tells us that if we want to pursue perfection in Jesus then we need to control our tongues and make sure the words that come off it are fruitful Godly words. The warning he throws at us is the uncontrolled tongue leads to the whole body being set on fire by hell’s flames.
Opening Illustration: Have the tongue in the box covered. Ask people to guess what powerful force is in the box?
Tell them this has been one of the most powerful forces in this world in which we live it can either bring life or death into relationships. It can either bring harmony or chaos into relationships. It can either bring peace or war. It is one of the most feared and praised forces in the world and each one of you possess one of these little atomic tools. This week in James 3 we are going to discover just how dangerous this weapon can be if it is not kept in check. Let us read James 3:1-12.
Texts: James 3:1-12
1Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4Or 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. 5Likewise 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. 6The 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.7All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, 8but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.9With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. 11Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.
Proverbs 12:18: 18Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 18:21: The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
James 1:26: 26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
Introduction: Words have been responsible for starting wars and also ending wars. Words either unite people or divide people in this world. Words of individuals will determine that persons future and life. Words of individuals will affect other people’s attitudes and emotions. Words the little sounds that spill out of our mouths everyday impacting the world around us. These sounds which flow out of the heart and into the mouth and out into the air carry an amazing amount of power. I believe that words are the most powerful force in the universe. Mike Murdoch has this to say about the power of words:
Words created the world Genesis 1:1-31; Words create your world Proverbs 18:21.
Jesus said that your words reveal what kind of heart you possess “…for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” Luke 6:45. Jesus said words can move mountains Mark 11:23 (Pages 121,122).
The truth is every one of your words matter, they influence someone either negatively or positively. How many times have you heard someone say, “I wish I would never have said that!” Our text in James today addresses the issue of the uncontrolled words of the tongue. We see this dilemma of words everyday in our lives. We hear people say things throughout our day. We then respond to them and create perceptions about the person speaking. We listen to the radio and the power of words influence us, we listen to CD’s or tapes and the power of words are at work, we watch TV and the power of words are trying to influence us.
Just think of all the political adds we have had to endure over the last few months because of the election. We know that words influence other’s or the political campaigns would not spend millions of dollars to put them on the air. We had to endure candidates ripping on the others “why?” so they could influence you to vote for them. I watched the news one night and the news decided to take a few campaign adds to find out how accurate they were in their comments. It was interesting to note that some campaigns distorted the truth about the candidate. The power of words either creates a positive picture or a negative picture. I honestly do not think that words are neutral – they always leave an impression on the person hearing the phrases.
T.S. - Today I want to focus on the power of words and learn a lesson from James on the importance of making sure our words are always bridled – always kept in check.
I. Putting faith into action means we control our words – our tongue.
a. James opens up our thought process on the tongue by telling us that teachers – those who teach life principles to others will be held accountable for what they say.
i. God has a continual tape recorder going in heaven and those who teach and give out false information will be dealt with. Every word I say as a teacher that is uncontrolled I will be answerable to God for.
ii. Warning to teachers: So, you want to become a teacher – warning- you will be judged more strictly than those who are not teachers (James 3:1-5)
iii. Why, would James start out talking about the role of a teacher?
1. Simple - he knew that the power of the tongue of the teacher would influence other people. It would direct decisions that they would make, it would affect their belief systems. It would affect how they lived their lives. It would either lead them closer to God or further away and it would all be done by the words of that teacher.
2. The professors at the University I attended knew the power of words. They intentionally tried to lead students away from Biblical values
a. They will be held accountable by the Lord. All teachers will be held accountable for their words of life or death.
b. James goes on to tell us that teachers are not perfect they all will make mistakes. But if they learn the discipline of controlling the wild thing in their mouth then they are on the way to perfection in the sight of God.
i. The mouth is filled with words and they become the rudder for the life of everyone of us.
ii. That mouth will direct the path that we take in our lives. What comes out of that mouth comes from the heart and it determines were we are going.
T.S. – The tongue has the power to bring life or death into relationships, organizations and even countries.
II. The blessings of the tamed tongue bring’s eternal benefits and life not death.
a. James 1:26: 26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
i. James reminds us that the best benefit is a religion that is worth something! The tongue has a lot of control over how you live your faith.
b. James letter at time alludes to the fact that with our mouth and actions we accept Jesus Christ or reject Jesus Christ.
i. This spoken word is an act of our will – it will determine whether we receive life or death as a result of what we say.
ii. Peter in the New Testament was the first to recognize the power of the tongue when he stated, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
1. Lets look at this passage in Matthew 16:13-20:
13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ,? the Son of the living God.” 17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter,?and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades?will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
i. This whole scenario is addressing the subject of the power of the tongue. Jesus asked what are others saying about me? The power of Words! He then asked the disciples and what do you say? The power of the tongue. Then Peter makes a statement with his words and Jesus honors him but also reminds him that the Father revealed it to him. But Jesus tells us and Peter that upon the confession of the faith statement made by Peter Jesus will build his church.
b. Get this-the power of the tongue to confess Jesus and commit ones life to him is what will be used to build the church.
i. This media of the spoken word is what will bring eternal blessings into your lives.
c. Jump back to James 3:1 and apply what he said there to our subject -teachers – teachers of the word will be responsible to tell others the truth of the Bible and the relevancy of Jesus. The teachers which are called by God possess great power to influence and change lives with their words.
i. God has used the media of teaching with anointed words to change and influence lives for eternity since creation.
ii. The Devil has also used this same media to try to deceive people and get them cursed.
1. In other words! He wants to use the uncontrolled tongue to set their path on the road to Hell.
2. He wants them to burn not turn.
T.S. – The importance of the tongue is being revealed to us and it’s also critical to remember that James tells us the tongue controlled is good but it is a force that if left unchecked is full of evil.
III. The curse of death of the uncontrolled “wild tongue” (James 3:6-10)
a. The uncontrolled words of the tongue which we called “The Wild Thing” has the ability to destroy with lethal force a church, a country, a relationship, a family, a marriage and yes even a life.
i. Words that flow from your tongue cut deeper than a knife into other’s hearts and minds.
ii. I have counseled more people who have been devastated by the words of another person. It has affected them emotionally, spiritually, physically, and relationally. I have seen people give up because of people’s harsh words.
1. Proverbs 18:21 states, “death and life are in the power of the tongue.”
2. Some of you do not believe that you can speak life or death to others.
a. But you can and some of you have. Some people allow the wild thing to lash out at others and it explodes in peoples lives like grenades.
b. I pray right now that God would bring back to your memory the times when you have done this so you can understand the devastation this causes in others lives.
iii. I have watched and observed the tongue literally destroy people’s lives. I have spent hours working with people who have been decimated by the explosion of untamed tongues.
1. It’s statements like these that cut to the heart of life:
a. “You are worthless!’
b. “You are stupid!”
c. “Your lack of faith has made you sick!”
d. “Your lack of faith has made you poor!”
e. “You must be perfect or God does not love you!’
f. “You are a loser!”
g. “You cannot do anything right!”
h. “It’s all your fault!”
i. “I wish you were never born!”
j. “I hate you!”
k. “It’s their fault that I am angry!”
l. “Our marriage takes so much work. We must not be right for each other.”
m. “You are the one responsible for all our problems!’
n. “You will never change!”
o. “You should never have been born!”
p. “You don’t need to go to church!’
q. “You don’t have to tithe!”
r. “You don’t have to obey the Ten Commandments!”
s. “You committed the unpardonable sin!”
t. “You can’t do anything right!”
i. Proverbs 12:18 “…reckless words pierce like a sword.”
iv. I have heard and read stories of people committing suicide because of the tongues of others.
1. I have watched others use their tongues to lead people away from Jesus and his word. All the time saying ‘I speak for God!”
2. I have observed people misquote Scripture and deceive people and eventually I have seen them lead others to their destruction.
a. I John 4:1: Dear friends, do not believe every spirit…”
3. I have watched and observed people misuse the name of the Lord with their evil tongue’s way to often.
a. All the time breaking one of the 10 Commandments.
b. “Thou shalt not use the name of the Lord thy God in vain!”
v. Don’t underestimate the power of your tongue. It’s usually quick to destroy and slow to build others up. The Bible states that this should not be.
1. James wants us to understand and comprehend that this little thing that controls our speech and words is a force that needs to be controlled at all times.
b. Friends we need to take a reality check and check our tongues and evaluate if they are building others up or tearing others down.
i. I believe most people would say that they want to live a blessed life.
ii. They want revival in their church and in their community.
iii. But the problem is their tongue is into sin and it destroys relationships.
iv. I have had people try to justify to me that their sinful tongue is just who they are and they cannot change the way they are.
v. Some have even said “God made me this way!”
1. Let me speak to everyone who tries to justify sin with this lie, “No he did not-He is a holy God and he does not make people sinful – people chose to be sinful.”
2. James 1:13-18 13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all he created.
3. Friends the untamed tongue is sin in action.
a. For many this sin has developed in your life because you accept the lie that says, “You cannot change because God made you this way!”
b. Let me say it again, “Go did not make you to sin you choose to sin!”
4. Backus notes, “Many people believe that we just sin and that’s all there is to it. You may shrug and say, “I’m just a sinner and I can’t help myself.” But you can help yourself. There is psychological dynamic underlying sinful behavior. By changing your thinking (an act of will), you can change your behavior. Sometimes you may want to close the door on solutions that require some hard work on your part. You may prefer to sit back and wait for God to push some miraculous “holy” button within you, then, presto, all your troubles will be over. This will never happen. Every morning when you wake up, you with the same behaviors, good or bad, that you exhibited the day before. Unless you’ve done something about them” (24).
5. So, are you sincere about dealing with you tongue of fire? Your tongue of destruction?
c. Many of us recognize that we fit the bill of having a - “A Wild Thing” in our lives, but we do not know how to deal with it. Let me assume some of you have said, “Yes I want delivered, but how do I change?”
T.S. - James tells us no one can control the tongue! Man cannot on his own ability control his wild thing he needs someone to help him tame it. This person is the Holy Spirit! We put our faith into action when we allow the Holy Spirit to control our tongue!
IV. We need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help us control our tongues.
a. How does the Holy Spirit help us to tame the tongue?
i. He does it by convicting us when we say evil - hurtful things to others.
ii. There is a good side to being convicted - it will keep us from evil and from the destruction that an evil wild tongue will bring into our lives.
1. Galatians 5:16 -18: 16So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.
2. Romans 8:26–28a: 26In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. 27And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…”
3. I Thess. 5:19-24: 19Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22Avoid every kind of evil.23May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.
iii. I want you to ask yourselves some questions?
1. Have you ever insulted someone before?
2. What happened?
3. Did it resolve the problem?
4. Have you ever been insulted?
5. How did it make you feel?
a. I Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
b. What are some practical ways you can learn restraint when you’re tempted to say rude or mean things?
6. Point is we need the Holy Spirit to help show us how to keep the tongue under control.
iv. The first step to getting the tongue in check is asking for the Holy Spirit’s help. Then he will help lead us into the following steps to do and to learn how to keep the tongue bridled the tongue.
b. There are 7 Steps the Holy Spirit will use so we can learn and be enabled to control our tongues.
i. We need to stop – walk – pray. In other word’s we need to learn the art of meditation before we respond to other people’s forked tongues. (We need to focus on the guidance of the Holy Spirit before we respond).
1. Have you ever had, “Hot headed responses of the tongue in response to another person’s tongue lashing?”
a. Emotions take over! Anger speaks through our tongues cutting, ripping, tearing, apart another person’s life or predicament.
2. Our words ignite a mouth-grenade onto another and then we are left to pick up the pieces and to put them back together.
3. Or have we found ourselves after hurling our mouth -grenade been responded to with mouth-grenades being thrown right back at us.
a. Have they ever resolved the problem? Or have they made everything worse?
b. 9 times out of 10 it’s worse.
i. Psalm 39:1-11 David talks about this dilemma of how to handle out tongues.
1. 1I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence.” 2But when I was silent and still, not even saying anything good, my anguish increased. 3My heart grew hot within me, and as I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: 4“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life. 5You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man’s life is but a breath. Selah 6Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro: He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it. 7“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.8Save me from all my transgressions; do not make me the scorn of fools.9I was silent; I would not open my mouth, for you are the one who has done this.10Remove your scourge from me; I am overcome by the blow of your hand.11You rebuke and discipline men for their sin; you consume their wealth like a moth—each man is but a breath. Selah
4. Just remember who we are answerable too. The Lord!
a. Just remember one day we will see Him face to face! Yes, God!
b. In the comparison of time it’s not worth blowing our relationship with the Lord over a fleeting second in time. Our relationship with Him is the most important relationship to maintain.
c. So -STOP- meditate, pray, think calmly and respond appropriately as the Lord directs.
5. Remember we need to manage the tongue by learning to solve the problem by Stopping, Walking, Praying and Thinking calmly through the situation.
a. It is always wise to delay “Hotheaded responses!”
b. We must learn to use “Coolheaded responses!”
i. A tongue cooled off by cool refreshing living water of Jesus!
ii. The second step in this process is to ask the question, “Why are they giving me a tongue lashing? Is it something I said or did” (Seek insight from the Holy Spirit)
1. Get the facts do the research in your mind and your heart
2. Roman 7:15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
a. Job 42:3-6: “You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know.4“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’5My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.6Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”
i. Get understanding from the Lord. Learn to walk in another’s shoes. See what they see. Let God reveal it to you!
b. Proverbs 23:23 “Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding.”
i. Ask the Lord for wisdom to understand what motivated them to say what they said.
3. Make sure it’s not a misunderstanding on your part.
4. Learn to look at the situation with empathy rather than vindication.
5. All to often people often make judgments or take actions without really knowing enough about the situation.
iii. The third step is ask yourself “What do I want to achieve when I respond with my words?” (Seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit)
1. Search your heart make sure it is tune to the Holy Spirit’s direction.
a. I Corinthian 11:28 “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”
b. II Corinthians 13:5 “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?”
2. What’s you motive- Pride-Ego-vindication-revenge-to inflict pain on another? To get even? To put someone down so you feel better?
3. Or is it to do the God appropriate thing? Respond as the Lord would have you respond.
iv. The fourth step - look at the consequences and weigh the value of the relationship in light of God’s eternal plan for people’s lives. (Seek the foresight of the Holy Spirit).
1. What could happen to this person and to your relationship?
2. Which response is worth the risk to the relationship?
3. Maybe it is just wiser to say nothing.
a. Like Jesus did in the court of Pilate!
v. The Fifth step is to let the Holy Spirit reveal to you a Godly solution to the problem or situation. (Seek and listen to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit).
1. This takes patience and spiritual discipline.
2. Bienvenn tell us, “When it comes to instruction on how we should speak to one another there is one verse in the Bible that says it all: ‘Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it give grace to those who hear’ (Eph 4:29) (47).”
3. Sometimes if we have nothing good to say then we should say nothing!
4. The idea here is not words of evil, not words of destruction, not words of torture, nothing that is birthed in hell.
a. You know 4 letter words!
b. You know name calling!
c. You know threats!
d. You know teasing!
e. You know put downs!
f. You know slander remarks!
vi. The sixth step is to choose to allow the Holy Spirit to direct you with God’s word.
1. Follow the Matthew 18 for how to handle conflict in the church. See the church handbook!
vii. The seventh step - evaluate the results. Allow the Holy Spirit to be your teacher and to reveal insights to you after it’s over. Learn from the leading of the Holy Spirit.
1. After the encounter – learn from it.
a. Learn from the mistakes you made.
b. Remember what you did right and keep doing it right.
c. If the results are bad – Bring others in to help correct and to restore the relationship.
What do we need to know?
Answer: We need to put our faith into action by taming our tongues if we don’t we will reap death and not life.
Why do they need to know this?
Answer: We need to know that there is power in our tongues either blessing or cursing.
What do we need to do?
Answer: We need to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to help us tame our tongues and be intentional about bringing it under control.
Why do we need to do this?
Answer: If we do this we grow spiritually and end be a blessing to others rather than a cursing to others, life will be filled with joy and not with strife and chaos.
? James wants us to understand that our tongues wield supernatural power and if we do not keep them tamed-bridled and under control they will lead our lives right into a firestorm.
? Therefore, we need the Holy Spirit to help lead us into the Wisdom from above that will help us bring it under control!