Treasures New and Old
Elkmont Baptist Church
Beloved: Grace and Peace
Christian Convictions: Words - Power of the Tongue
"As a disciple, I want to master the Bible so that the Master of the Bible can become my Master"
May God bless you all!
Kress, J. (2021).
On Being a Disciple - Seven Principles.
- Author unknown
As we start this series of study, I thought it prudent in this first article to remind you to be a disciple in all our studies. At the end of this article, I restate the disciple questions and answers I presented roughly a year ago.
Today, however, I want us to look at the importance of the tongue and the importance of controlling the tongue.
The Tongue Needs to Be Controlled
We start in James and his discussion of the tongue. In chapter one, we are reminded that we as believers must control (bridle) our tongue. Verse 22 is buried in the middle of a discussion that seeks to encourage us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. He who does the Word of God is blessed in what he does (vs. 19-27). As he starts this conversation, he also admonishes us to be swift to hear and slow to speak. Why? Because he knows the danger of the tongue. In verse 26 he uses the word "bridelth" which is a term used with horses. The bridle and bit are in a sensitive place in the horse's mouth, and when pulled even very slightly, the horse learns quickly to turn in the direction of the pressure to relieve the discomfort in his mouth. In other words, the bridle is the means the rider uses to control the direction of the horse. The bridle represents control. Without it, the horse may go any way he desires, for no control is exercised within his mouth via the bit.
"If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his
tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain."
The Tongue Turns the Ship
James in chapter three gives an opposite effect if the tongue is not controlled. Let's look:
Behold also the ships, which though
so great, and
driven of fierce
winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue
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. 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: But the tongue can no man tame;
and unruly evil, full
of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.
A ship can be in the midst of a terrible storm, but the tiny rudder at the back of the ship can still control the direction of the ship. Ignoring for the moment that the rudder is under the control of the ship's wheel and the mate turning it, the point is that the rudder, as small as it is, can move an entire ship. Now imagine that the rudder is not under control of the ship's mate, and instead, turns any which way it wants. Ultimately disaster. The rudder controls the ship's direction and must be under control for the voyage to be successful.
Bottom line: if the tongue is not controlled, then the tongue has the power to control us, our behavior, what we do, how we interact with others.
James implies that we can't control our tongue (v. 8). However, with God's help, we can. There are 129 references to the tongue in the Bible (Wordsearch), and many of them are either warnings regarding the evil speakers of lies, or they are requests from man asking God to help us control our tongues. Here are a few of those requests:
2 Samuel 23:2:
"The Spriit of the LORD spoke by me, and his word
"Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand
wherein I have erred."
"My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit."
"Deliver my soul, O LORD from lying lips,
from a deceitful
When we walk with God in the Spirit, He will manage our tongues for us. Remember the promise that says: "But when they shall lead
and deliver you up, take no
thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost" (Mark 13:11). Here are some other verses that say essentially the same thing:
"The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I
should know how to speak a word in season to
him that is
weary: he wakeneth
morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned."
"The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies;
neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make
1 Peter 3:10:
"For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his
tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:"
So What of Our Behavior?
We strive to control our tongue which, frankly, can only be done as we walk in the Spirit. The tongue is powerful. When we speak, we often stick with what we say even if we realize we have spoken incorrectly because of pride and are embarrassed to admit we were wrong. Or we say things in anger that upon reflection should not have been said. Or we pass on "information" (gossip) that hasn't been verified and that can be harmful to others, and the list goes on and on. The tongue can be used to bless or curse and, as James says, it ought not to be so.
Remember the old kid's saying: "Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." It is a lie. Words do hurt. Words spoken aloud cannot be erased. The damage or good of the spoken word is nearly impossible to undo.
There is also the fact that the spoken word has judicial spiritual authority in the spiritual realm. Jesus cast demons out of people with a spoken word. Jesus spoke Scripture to Satan in his desert temptation. Words are confessed for salvation (Romans 10:9-10). Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). Knowing all this and the importance of the tongue (or if you please, the words that we speak), how should we behave ourselves? Here are a few verses that lay out standards for us:
"The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue
talketh of judgement."
"The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth
of fools poureth out foolishness."
"Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul
"For it is written,
I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow
to me, and every tongue shall confess to God."
every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ
Lord, to the glory of the God the Father."
"Death and life
in the power of the tongue: and they that
love it shall eat the fruit thereof."
(Both death - evil tongue, and life - godly
tongue, depending on what the speaker loves).
The Tongue of the Lost:
"And they will deceive every one his neighbor, and will not
speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies,
themselves to commit iniquity."
"Then said they, Come, and let us devise devices against
Jeremiah; for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, and let us smite him with tongue, and let us not give heed to any of his words."
But Be Doers and Not Hearers (or Speakers) Only:
1 John 3:18:
"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue, but in
deed and in truth."
Some Disciple Q&A:
You are a disciple of Christ. Control your tongue and let blessing and not cursing come forth out of it. More on this and a "word of faith" (Romans 10:8) in future articles. Meanwhile, as a disciple, some Q&A review:
ANS: Anyone can be a disciple of some master or
discipline (like karate).
ANS: Sadly, yes, if they never trust
Him as their Lord and Savior. Even Jesus taught that there will be those who say "Did we not . . ." and Jesus said to them, "depart from me, I never knew you," (Luke 13:27).
Yes! Consider the number of denominations that teach many of the words and principles of Christ but trust in something other than Christ Himself. Those would only become "saved" if they belong to "the church", or "work out their own salvation" (good versus evil balance), or rely on someone other than Jesus (pope, priests, etc.). Those who pray to another than Jesus or the Father (i.e. Mary). Those who have rejected Jesus and follow Jehovah only, etc.
ANS: Yes. A disciple is
seriously studying and following Jesus. Even to the point of viewing Him as Master and Lord and has made Him a priority in his/her life. A believer believes in Christ, may be saved, attends church regularly, has some service they do in the church, even prays but doesn't go any farther. He/she has decided that their lives are already full and follow after other pursuits as higher priorities: a hobby, sports, career, friends, money, political power, etc. Saved, but not as committed as they could or should be. God calls them "double-minded" (Matthew 6:19-24 and James 1:8).
ANS: Now! Even if you have friends
that are not saved but interested enough to study the Bible with you - they can be discipled by you and eventually (hopefully) be led to the Lord. If you are a believer and want to go into a deeper relationship with Christ - the time is Now!
Who can be a disciple?
Can a lost person be a disciple of Christ?
Follow up: A person can study the Master and still not be/get saved?
Is there a difference between disciples and believers?
When should one start being a disciple?
How can I get started being a disciple?
ANS: Seek out someone in your church
or circles influence who clearly exdhibits a Christ-like attitude and behavior. Be warned - some are false and you will need to check out all that they say and do against God's Word. Then get into a Bible study with them if they can be your "spiritual father/mother."
What shall I study?
ANS: The Epistles are great for learning doctrine. The Old
Testament is great for getting background and understanding God's heart. But the Four Gosples are the teachings of Christ to His twelve apostles/disciples, and so I recommend that you also study carefully His words, commands, insights, and behaviors. The whole Bible is God's Word, but the Four Gospels are the focused teachings by the Master Himself.
a fire, a world
Wordsearch. (2020). Wordsearch Bible. [computer software] . Nashville, TN: LifeWay Christian Resources. (Original work published 1890)