The Book of James, The Two Wisdoms, James 3:9-18 - Lesson 16
In our last lesson we left verse 8 where James told us that the tongue can no man tame, it being an unruly evil, it being full of deadly poison.
The Bible is abundant, especially in the book of Proverbs, with admonitions that warn us of the power of the tongue.
It speaks little of manís weapons of war that kill and maim but it speaks volumes of the greatest weapon.
It is the weapon that has been used by mankind down though the centuries to kill and maim more than any other weapon of man, and that weapon is the tongue.
It, through the power of the flesh, cannot be tamed, James tells us.
It is unrestrainable, and it produces death as we are told in:
Proverbs 18:21, Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.
There are moves afoot in the world to restrain the proliferation of nuclear weapons but there is no move in the world to restrain the proliferation of the tongue.
For on the contrary, the tongue is being loosed today far more than in any other period of history.
Satan is in charge of this world and wishes to proliferate the use of the tongue in order for his program to be advanced.
Modern technology is extraordinary in promoting the proliferation of the tongue and it will bring about the climax of this age called the Great Tribulation.
The tongue of man is fully unrestrained and now able to be projected worldwide in any instant and this lack of restraint will assist in bringing about this climatic event foretold in the Bible.
Our constitution guarantees us the freedom of speech but in that freedom lies a responsibility for Godís people to use that speech in ways that bring blessing instead of cursing.
For the cursing of the tongue is the weapon that brings the greatest of woes to our neighborhoods, our cities, our nation and to the world.
We have today what Proverbs 12:18 tells us, There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.
God made the tongue, but God made the tongue for one purpose.
God is like that in His creation.
James told us in verse 1:8 about the double minded man.
God does not make double minded men nor does he make men to be double tongued or forked tongued.
He makes men to be of one mind and one mouth.
A man or woman who is created in Christ Jesus, a man or woman who has had the second birth is told in Romans 15:6, That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God creates to fulfill a particular purpose but the tongue of man refuses to do that for which God has created it.
For James tells us in verses 3:9-12, Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. 10Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. 11Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? 12Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.
The inference here is that the tongue has been given to man for the purpose of blessing.
The fountain sends forth sweet water, or bitter water, or fresh water, or salt water.
But the same fountain cannot send forth sweet, bitter, fresh and salt water.
The fig tree bears figs, the olive tree bears olives, the vine bears grapes.
God creates everything to do his will.
He is single minded about that.
In nature you can depend upon the apple tree only growing apples.
It is single minded about apples.
You can be assured that a bee will sting you if you get in its way.
It pretends to be none other than a stinging bee.
You can depend upon a lion stalking its prey all the time.
It will growl like a lion and always honors what it is.
It is never a hypocrite. In nature what you see is what you get.
What something is by nature determines what it produces Ė and what it produces doesnít change.
But the tongue is not only destructive and unrestrained it is also deceptive.
In Matthew 23 our Lord Jesus Christ tied the word hypocrite to the words "Pharisees and scribes" seven times.
Jesus despises anything that tries to hide what it really is.
In Matthew 21:19 Jesus even spoke to a fig tree which advertised itself as a tree which bore figs.
But it had no figs.
It was supposed to bear figs, but it bore leaves only.
Jesus said, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever.
And presently the fig tree withered away.
In the book of the Apostle Johnís Revelation we are told that Jesus could not abide the church of the Laodiceans for they thought of themselves as rich and increased with goods, in need of nothing.
But in reality they should have seen themselves as wretched, and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
Sinners see themselves as rich but they too are hypocrites for in reality they are wretched, miserable and poor and blind and naked.
Sinners who do not come to Christ pretend to be something other than they really are for all what they think of as righteousness is as filthy rags.
One of the purposes of Godís word is to show you and me what we truly are.
Its purpose is to take off your robes of righteousness and leave you naked and exposed as the sinner you are.
God is pure and desires his creation to be pure.
Not double minded nor double tongued.
To be what He has created them to be is what God desires.
But in the garden, manís tongue became different for manís tongue is capable of producing both blessing and cursing.
When Christ asked "Who do people say that the Son of man is", Peterís tongue, moved by the Spirit of God to bless replied, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
But in that same passage of scripture Peterís tongue was under the power of Satan for Peter began to rebuke our Lord when the subject of his death came up.
Jesus Christ, when replying, did not see Peter but saw instead that old serpent Satan, who took charge of Peterís tongue for he said,
Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Within the space of a few moments, Peter had changed from speaking for God, to speaking for Satan.
This is exactly what James is saying; the same tongue can both bless and curse.
We cannot trust the words of the tongue for they can so quickly change to something completely different.
So why is this? What brings this division about?
What is it in man that he can control every creature, but he cannot control that little member, his tongue?
Everything in Godís creation produces one kind of fruit but the fruit of the tongue is both blessing and cursing.
James does not leave us hanging here for he points us, in verses 13 thru 18, to the source of the problem and that source is two different wisdoms.
There is a wisdom that comes from above and there is a wisdom that does not, but is earthly, sensual and devilish.
James 3:13-18, Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 16For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 18And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
So what comes from the tongue has its roots in the kind of wisdom upon which it is based.
There is a worldly wisdom that thinks highly of the person, of his style, his charisma, his appearance, the originality of what he says.
Paul faced this worldly wisdom at Corinth when he confronted the personality parade for some said I am of Paul, and some were of Apollos and some of Cephas.
Paul met this problem by referring to the preaching of the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be make of none effect.
Paul was not about personality which is based upon worldly wisdom, but was about not getting in the way of the preaching of the pure gospel of Jesus Christ.
Paul determined to preach Christ and Christ crucified, even though it was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.
He never changed the message and chose never to use worldly wisdom to attract people.
For in II Cor. 4:2 he said I, ÖÖhave renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every manís conscience in the sight of God.
Worldly wisdom is from below; it is earthly, natural, demonic.
Godís wisdom is from above.
Worldly wisdom denies the truth, and in a selfish and boastful way, produces the fruit of "disorder, every evil practice, and destruction".
Worldly wisdom tends to be mere words.
The book of Proverbs warns frequently about the use of many words.
Proverbs 10:19 says, In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.
And Proverbs 12:23, A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness.
And Proverbs 17:27, He that hath knowledge spareth (keeps his words short) his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
Proverbs 18:2, A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself. His heart may discover it self means he takes pleasure in disclosing what is on his mind.
Proverbs 21:23, Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
Proverbs 29:20, Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
Heavenly wisdom certainly uses words, but it displays itself in godly works.
It is wisdom that says prove your faith by your works.
Donít just talk about your faith, do something that is of benefit to others.
Since you are part of the body of Christ do your part for you are created in Christ Jesus unto good works.
That is your purpose for being here, for talking up space, for breathing Godís good air, and eating Godís good food.
Be valuable in the cause of Christ.
Think of that which God has given you, whether it be your talents, your time or your money, as that which should be shared.
Our churches are filled with church members who come to hear the word preached week after week, month after month, year after year, and by doing so, they simply become hearers of the word, and not doers of the word.
The wisdom from above consists of God-given wisdom and understanding that produces the fruit of purity, a peaceable spirit which is gentle and slow to anger, and which is impartial and not hypocritical and results in good works.
The wisdom from above results in righteousness, peace and blessing.
But in our sinful state we are creatures from below and have forked tongues, double tongues, because we are fallen creatures.
Paul fought this battle even after finding Christ on the road to Damascus.
He found that sin dwelled in him and caused his members, directed by his tongue, to yield to the flesh.
He found that there was a war on that warred against the law of his mind and brought him into captivity to the law of sin.
But God loved Paul and drew him to himself and Paul found deliverance from that wretched condition in the person of Jesus Christ.
He learned the two wisdoms, the wisdom from above and the wisdom from the earth.
Paul chose the wisdom from above and we daily read and study the result of that choice for God gave him a tongue with wisdom from above.
What wisdom you chose to yield to will determine what words your tongue will issue out of your mouth.