5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. 7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: 8 but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison – James 3:5-8
The word iniquity is the greek 93 adikia, which is defined
- injustice, of a judge
- unrighteous of heart and life
- a deed violating law and justice, act of unrighteousness
The word evil is the greek 2556 kakos, which is defined
- of a bad nature
- not such as it ought to be
- of a mode of thinking, feeling, acting
- base, wrong, wicked
- troublesome, injurious, pernicious, destructive, baneful
The word poison is the greek 2447 ios, which is defined
- poison (of animals)
- poison of asps is under their lips
- spoken of men given to reviling and calumniating and thereby injuring others
James 3:5-8 is frank that the tongue is a little member containing a world of iniquity, which defileth the whole body. Even the beasts, birds, serpents, sea creatures are tamed, yet the tongue can no man tame because it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Almighty God is frank with words of truth to speak against the human condition. We all stand guilty. To say that the tongue is an unruly evil and full of poison is an offensive message to an ungodly world that believes in its own goodness.
We have all either thought or spoken evil against others.
To atheists who hate God and Jesus, to think or speak evil against the Almighty Creator is a sin and grieves God, who has made the plan of salvation simple and gives it freely as a gift, which we receive by faith in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world.
What about the media and politics? Ever judged what is going on in the news? Ever gossiped about a celebrity, or friend or family member? Ever had a hateful thought about someone? According to Jesus, a hateful thought equates to murder, just as a lustful thought toward someone who is not our spouse is committing adultery in the heart. We cannot separate from our sin nature, because we are born sinners, the curse from Adam. We all stand guilty before a Holy righteous God, and no amount of good works can make us right with God, because they are as filthy rags in his sight.
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away – Isaiah 64:6
Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah – Psalm 39:5
The world loves its own. This is why there are awards, merits, certificates, and prizes for humanitarian efforts. This is why celebrities are held to such a high standard. They have so much influence, but it is often movements toward immorality, vengeance, rebellion, etc. Celebrities are worshipped as gods. Look at the ungodly TV and movies that grace our screens. They are working the agenda of the devil.
The Biblical God is hated. Instead, these prosperity preachers present Jesus as God who loves all and accepts everybody in their own beliefs – the word sin is omitted. The ecumenical movement is rampant in the Church of England and Roman Catholicism, and whosoever does not stand for Jesus is opposed to Christ.
Billionaires like Oprah Winfrey say it is politically incorrect to state that only Jesus can save a soul, because there are numerous religions available for people to choose from today, but Jesus says no. He is the exclusive narrow way. We have a sinful nature that cannot enter God’s perfect Heaven as it is. It needs a new nature, and that new nature can only come by the righteousness of Christ who died for sinners, for which we all stand guilty. Jesus gives the truth in John 14:6. It is narrow indeed, because salvation is only through Christ.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me – John 14:6
Many Catholics would say that the Pope is a man of God, but he is not without sin in the eyes of God. Roman Catholicism teaches that it is the true church, but it adds works like transubstantiation, confessing to a priest for forgiveness of sins, praying and worshipping the Virgin Mary, as well as saying there is a place called purgatory where a less than good person would go, working off sins before they enter a Holy Heaven. Catholicism teaches works for salvation. It does not trust in the satisfactory payment of Christ on the cross, who died and rose again the third day. Without the resurrection, no one could have salvation today. Catholicism teach the traditions of man, which are not found in the Holy Bible. It is a cult that has over a billion members.
The Bible is clear in telling us to test the spirits, whether they be of God. What do they speak of salvation? Is it by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, or is it by grace and works?
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2 Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3 and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5 They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error – 1 John 4:1-6
The bible is clear that only Jesus saves sinners, and our works play absolutely no part before or after salvation. God seals us with the Holy Spirit because we trusted the way of salvation by Christ alone. This is why God came in the flesh as Jesus Christ to save that which is lost, and we are all lost.
For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost – Luke 19:10
Yes, the world puts these celebrities and politicians as righteous and worthy, but without Christ and His righteousness, these works of man can never please God.
Even believers only have good works by the grace of God. Anything good in me is only because of the grace of God. There is nothing good in my flesh.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not – Romans 7:18
Paul is speaking about trying to live the Christian live through the flesh. It is impossible. Living the Christian live is a daily act of submission to the will of God. It is a lonely path, but pleasing to God to feed the new nature.
So let us get back to the topic of the tongue, an unruly evil, full of poison. As believers, when we are under the control of the Holy Spirit, we pause before we speak. The flesh nature immediately wants to retaliate. I saw it this week in another person when I was giving a car right of way. I was in no hurry, and the car started to move out, but the driver approaching immediately honked its horn and I could see curse words coming out of her mouth. I wanted to should “just let them go,” but then another driver kindly let the car drive out. I often infuriate the impatient drivers behind me in giving way, but luckily, no one honked their horn at me. This brought me back to the realisation that I acted in exactly the same way about a month ago. A driver was letting a car across the road, while I lost my rag, swore, and just called the driver an idiot for getting in my way. I was clearly not under the control of the Holy Spirit. There was no kindness in me, and no grace toward others. I was operating under the old flesh nature.
It is so easy to judge and belittle others, whom we do not even know. We look at the outward appearance of people and either compliment or judge. I do it all the time. I am carried away with the news and find it easy to hate and blame, rather than pray for them, because they are people whom God loves, just like he loves me. He wants these people to be saved through Jesus Christ, just as Jesus loved and saved me.
Some of us think evil thoughts or others we may speak aloud. It is especially easier to get involved in a conversation of gossip when there is a group of people already rattling on. It is wiser to listen and make excuses to escape that situation, or pray for God’s mercy and forgiveness over their sins, because gossip and slander is sinful in the eyes of God. The old flesh nature wants to be in control and get the last word. Sometimes we can be living in sinful thought for hours and hours before we realise that the Holy Spirit has been grieved. The best thing is to see it as sin before God and confess it before Him to restore fellowship with God.
One sin is enough to send us to hell, because heaven is a perfect place.
And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life – Revelation 21:27
God says that all have sinned. This makes us all guilty.
for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; – Romans 3:23
We all commit evil by saying things we should not, even as believers. When we act in such a way, we are showing what little temperance we have over our tongue.
The believers who say they no longer sin are only deceiving themselves. The battle against the flesh and the Spirit will always be a waging war, until the time of our death when we are absent from the body and present with the Lord, or we are taken up by the Lord before the tribulation of God’s wrath comes upon this earth.
The trouble is that the flesh wants to be flattered with human philosophy. It does not want the bible to be true, so it deceives itself. There is another scripture for that in Jeremiah 17:9.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? – Jeremiah 17:9
The heart is so deceitful that it would even deceive itself away from salvation, in believing the common narrative that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell.
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it – John 8:44
Scripture is clear that we cannot save ourselves. Salvation is a gift that we must receive by putting our faith in Christ’s finished work. He came to save sinners, because we cannot save ourselves by our human works. None are pleasing to God, because our sin separates us from the Holiness of God.
And yet, even the finished work of Christ is attacked by many Christian denominations, who think that they are doing God a favour by adding works to the gospel of Christ, and yet they speak evil of trusting in Christ’s finished work, apart from works.
Scripture is clear. It is not by works of righteousness, which we have done.
not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; – Titus 3:5
Faith in Christ is what pleases God, so while you have time today put your trust in Christ who died for your sins and rose from the grave to prove that the sin atonement was accepted by God the Father.
but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; – Hebrews 10:12
Trust in the Comforter and Prince of Peace, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, the Captain of our Salvation – Jesus Christ.
My tongue is an unruly evil, full of poison. I can never take back the evil that I have spoken to others. I can only confess my failures to God to restore fellowship with Him, and ask forgiveness from others.
Following on from the scriptures in James 3 on the unruly evil of the tongue, its ‘wisdom’ source is earthly, sensual and devilish.
4 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work – James 3:14-16
I love the sound advice at the end of James 3.
17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace – James 3:17-18