BIBLE CLINIC (42) Dr Hennie Boshoff REASONS FOR CONTROLLING THE TONGUE : ITS DANGEROUS TENDENCY TO CORRUPT AND DESTROY. “See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the TONGUE is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and is set on fire by hell. (James 3:5-6) We have already discussed two important reasons to keep our tongues under control in utter caution, watchfulness and total dependence upon God. James gives five clear and compelling reasons for controlling the tongue: 1. Its potential to confuse, mislead and condemn. 2. Its extraordinary power to control. 3. Its dangerous tendency to corrupt and destroy. 4. Its intrinsic wildness and savageness. 5. Its subtle deceit and hypocrisy. This week we are discussing the third reason stressed by James in James 3: 5&6. WE MUST PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION: John MacArthur wrote that James here starts off with “See how great…” He is using the imperative mood and middle voice (“idou”) of the verb “eidon” which literally means simply to see. This form is often rendered “behold” which almost makes it a strong command in order to call special attention to what is about to be said or about to happen! Other examples is for instance Matthew 1:20 &23, John 4:35 and Revelation 1:7&18. The idea and command is clearly: “PAY CLOSE ATTENTION”, obviously because of the great importance and seriousness of the matter! Although no specific problem areas are mentioned here, the fact is that the tongue is able to talk about any conceivable issue and has the power to corrupt every conceivable issue! Whatever subject the tongue speaks of it surely can seriously damage and pervert. James is here calling attention to the enormous destructive power of hateful, false, heretical and simply careless words! The smallest “innocent” match or spark can grow exponentially into the most devastating fire that destroys thousands of hectares of forest, killing countless animals and often destroying innocent human life and property. Do I realize what a terribly dangerous member my TONGUE can be? A RAVAGING FIRE: What an unique, appropriate and relevant example this is! FIRE has the amazing and virtually unique capacity to reproduce itself in an almost unlimited way as long as it has fuel to burn. Like the vast majority of things, water for instance cannot multiply. When it is poured out, no matter where or on what, it never expands into a flood. But FIRE feeds on itself. If there is sufficient flammable material and enough oxygen it will burn on indefinitely. “ An ungodly man digs up evil, and it is on his lips like a burning fire.” (Proverbs 16:27) “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer (whisperer, gossiper or slanderer), strife ceases. As charcoal is to burning coals, and wood to fire, so is a contentious man to kindle strife.” (Proverbs 26:20&21) David also lamented: “My soul is among lions; I lie among the sons of men who are set on fire. Whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.” (Psalm 57:4) How many people have I already destroyed and “killed” with my tongue? MY NAME IS GOSSIP: Morgan Blake, a sportswriter for the Atlanta Journal in the United States once wrote the following satire: “ I am more deadly than the screaming shell from the howitzer. I win without killing! I tear down homes, break hearts and wreck lives! I travel on the wings of the wind. No innocence is strong enough to intimidate me, no purity pure enough to daunt me. I have no regard for truth, no respect for justice, no mercy for the defenseless! My victims are as numerous as the sand of the sea, and often as innocent. I never forget and very seldom forgive! MY NAME IS GOSSIP !!” ELEMENTS OF THE TONGUE’S DANGER: (James 3:6) 1. The tongue is the very world of iniquity: The term “kosmos” used here refers to system. Scheme or arrangement of iniquity, evil, rebellion, lawlessness and every other form of sin. It is the source of unrighteous and ungodly behavior within sinful man. It breeds and gives vent to every sort of sinful passion and desire. No other bodily part has such far-reaching potential for disaster and destruction as the tongue! 2. The tongue defiles the whole body: The system of evil mentioned above, undeniably spreads out and contaminates the rest of my body! The destructiveness of my tongue is like smoke that penetrates and permanently contaminates everything that is exposed to it. Whatever the fire itself cannot destroy, its smoke will permeate and ruin. 3. The tongue sets on fire the course of nature: Like a physical fire, the destructive effects of evil speech expand, not only contaminating ourselves but also everything we influence throughout the course of our life. What I SAY gives others a very good idea of who and what I really am! This principle applies to good things as well as sinful, but James’s emphasis here is entirely on the negative aspects of my speaking, such as gossip, slander, false accusations, lying, filthy language and jokes, exaggerated stories and other sins of the tongue, that can destroy individual lives, families, schools, businesses, churches and communities. 4. The sinful tongue is set on fire by hell: The Lord Jesus also uses this term “gehenna” to represent the eternal never-ending torment of hell. (Matthew 5:2; Mark 9:43&44; Isaiah 66:24) Hell is Satan’s place! It is prepared for him, his demons and his followers. “Set on fire by hell” indicates that the tongue can be Satan’s tool, fulfilling hell’s purposes to pollute, corrupt and destroy! My tongue can be unbelievably dangerous and destructive! It needs constant guarding and control! This is only possible through the power of the Blood of Christ applied by the Holy Spirit in my life! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!