The “Power” Series #1



TEXT:         James 3:1-12; 5:16;   Prov. 15:4; 18:21


INTRO:       Imagine a weapon so powerful that it makes the atom bomb look like a toy!  This weapon has the potential to literally bring anguish into the life of every human being on the planet ... but without necessarily destroying them physically.  This weapon could however, produce scars that last a lifetime ... scars that may never heal properly.  This weapon is available to the poorest as well as the richest of nations ... in fact, even individuals have access to this weapon ... there are few laws against the possession or use of this weapon.  No weapon that now exists, or will exist, will have the deadly potential of this ancient weapon ... it is as old as man himself ... the weapon is THE TONGUE!


PROP SENT:    The Bible teaches us that our tongue has great power ... to heal or to destroy, to bless or to curse ... we are to be wise in the use of this member of our body ... it can bring pain or pleasure ... it's all in how it is used!


I.   TONGUE'S POWER    James 3:1-5a; 5:16


A.   Historical    James 3:1

1.   Speech is an awesome and powerful ability ... it is in this sense that James cautions those who would desire to be a speaker ... or a teacher.

a.   Words can have such great power, for this reason there comes with speech great responsibilities!

b.   Those who speak to others will be held to a higher accountability by God!

2.   Why such a warning ... how can language be so powerful as to warrant this warning?

a.   Think about history and some of the great movements of this planet:

(1.   Nebuchadnezzar boasted with words on how wonderful and strong he was ... he became like an animal for 7 years from such boastful words!

(2.   Alexander the Great spoke such bold words also ... and almost conquered the world ... yet he died a young man.

(3.   Napoleon Bonaparte motivated great armies ... but lost in the end.

(4.   Hitler mesmerized an entire people by his speeches ... and convinced huge crowds to commit horrible crimes against humanity!

(5.   Winston Churchill inspired a ravaged Britton to keep fighting ... until victory!

(6.   John F. Kennedy moved the USA by his speeches and vision!

(7.   No words have moved this planet however like the LIVING WORD ... "THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH" ... this truly speaks of the power of the tongue!  JESUS CHRIST revolutionized the human race with the power of His tongue, His very existence was the Word of God made flesh!

b.   Most of the great events of history are connected to the speech of small and great men and women!

3.   History is full of the realities of the power of tongue!


B.   Humanity     James 3:2; 5:16

1.   We are introduced here to the reality of the human tongue ... it isn't always a pretty picture!


ILLUS:       Like the monk who was allowed to speak only 2 words every 10 years.  First ten years went by ... his 2 words, "HARD BED;" next 10 years his 2 words were “BAD FOOD;” the next 10 years he was asked for his 2 words and he responded, "I QUIT!"  His supervisor looked at him and said, "I'm not surprised, all you've done since you got here is complain!"  -- Source Unknown


2.   This verse states a powerful truth ... if the tongue could be completely controlled so would many things in our life!

a.   The point is this: our speech affects every part of our being!

b.   Control what we say and how we say it ... and it controls the rest of us!

c.   It is important to understand that this verse states, "IF A MAN COULD..." obviously the verse implies that this will be no easy task, and will require outside help!

3.   The power of the tongue can be found in another verse in James: 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."

a.   The sense of this verse is simple: confessing our human weakness helps destroy the power of that weakness ... now someone else knows and we become accountable.

b.   This is the founding principle in AA and other organizations for helping people ... unspoken can be a type of denial ... once confessed you cannot continue to deny your weakness, thus you are forced to deal with it!

c.   Healing for sin comes from confessing it ... not hiding it!

d.   We are prone to weakness ... but healing is possible if we are honest of heart ... and open to share!

(1.   This verse does not teach us to share with just ANYBODY however!

(2.   Nor is it saying to share with EVERYBODY!

(3.   The point is to find someone you can trust and be a friend to open up to!

4.   Our humanity needs this type of ministry since we are not perfect!


C.   Hardy!     James 3:3-5a

1.   How hardy is the tongue? ... It is strong enough to literally control our life!

a.   Several illustrations are given to us on how powerful the tongue is in our life in this text:

b.   Like the bit put into the mouth of a horse ... the entire beast can be steered by such a small bit in the mouth!

c.   Like a great ship ... a small rudder is what causes it to move through the sea like it does ... even great storms can't force it out of the way as long as the rudder is controlled properly!

d.   Likewise ... the tongue is small, but it has great power over the direction our lives take!

2.   Even a single word can have a devastating effect on our lives:


ILLUS:      When Teddy Roosevelt was a young boy he was terrified to go to his mother's home church, the Madison Square Church ... he was so terrified that she couldn't get him to even step foot into the church.  She probed him with questions trying to find out why he was so frightened, finally she got this response: "I am scared mom of that animal in the corner of the church at the back" ... his mother wanted to know what kind of animal.  "That 'Zeal' animal," he said.  Mom was baffled, finally she found out it was something from the Bible young Teddy was talking about ... she got a concordance and began reading every verse to him with "ZEAL" in it ... and finally she hit it!  The pastor one Sunday had read this verse JOHN 2:17 "THE ZEAL OF THINE HOUSE HATH EATEN ME UP!" ... and young Teddy Roosevelt had been listening that one Sunday to the Pastor's sermon!  These few words had scared the tar out of him! – Source Unknown


II.  TONGUE'S PROBLEM    James 3:5b-8;  Prov. 15:4; 18:21


A.   Hostile!    James 3: 5b-6

1.   Like a small spark that can wipe out huge forests the tongue can be quite destructive!

2.   The author paints the uglier side of the use of the tongue ... our fallen nature makes it easier for us to use it for evil than for good!

a.   It is much easier to rip someone up verbally than to speak well of them!

b.   It is our nature to use the tongue to hurt ... we need to realize this ... it needs discipline and help beyond ourselves!

3.   The logic is simple: since Satan created evil in the beginning ... he did so with the speech, boasting: "I WILL LIFT MYSELF ABOVE GOD" ... and so entered sin into the universe - therefore, speech can still be an avenue that can destroy us!

a.   Sin's origin started with a statement of pride!  The tongue became the symbol of speech ... and the first tool used against God!

b.   This is Satan's primary tool in the life of human beings ... the tongue is the most "unruly evil" (James 3:8 KJV) or member of the body... the most corrupt and most difficult to control!

c.   Look at the tower of Babel ... God confounded their speech lest they completely corrupt themselves too earlier in human history!


ILLUS:       When you squeeze a sponge what comes out under the pressure? ... Whatever it had soaked up previously!  So does our tongue when we are squeezed ... what comes out is what is inside us!  Our fallen nature can make that quite hostile! – Source Unknown


B.   Handling!       James 3:7-5; 1:26;   Prov. 15:4; 18:21

1.   Is it hopeless therefore?  NO!

a.   We can learn to control the tongue ... as we walk with God ... we learn to talk godly and be godly!  The Spirit becomes the outside source we don't have internally; to help transform us into the image of Christ.

b.   Note:  James 1:26 control is necessary for spiritual integrity!

c.   Prov. 15:4 & 18:21 both reveal that the positive is also possible:

(1.   We can hurt!

(2.   We can heal!

2.   If man can tame the many creatures of this planet ... as this verse implies, he can learn some measure of control over his own tongue!  James 3:7-8

a.   It may be a difficult task ... but it is not an impossible one!

b.   Like animals ... it takes repetition and effort but it will show results!

c.   It requires little effort to have a hurting tongue ... just speak whatever you feel from your old nature!

d.   We can however gain control over the tongue ... and make it an instrument of righteousness!


ILLUS:        Corrie Ten Boom struggled for some time trying to get over the hate she felt towards her enemies.  She had expressed willingness to forgive, but as she rehashed the incident over and over the hate continued ... finally the Lord spoke to her how to deal with the hate from a Lutheran Pastor.  He pointed out to her the bell in the church tower, rung by pulling on the rope below.  He went on, “When the sexton is finished pulling the rope the bell still rings several times from the momentum of the earlier pulls ... but he knows that if he stops pulling it will eventually stop ringing.”  Stop rehearsing the wrongs is like stopping from pulling the rope ... there may still be a few rings of anger here and there, but if we don't continue to pull the rope it will gradually fade and stop! – Source Unknown


3.   The image in these verses is quite simple ... it is up to us to train our tongue, just like we train animals.

a.   Be repetition in giving praise!

b.   THINK AND SPEAK about good things!

c.   Nobody can make you speak godliness ... we must cooperate in the training!

4.   Learning to handle your tongue can have some of the best effects on your life!


III.  TONGUE'S PARADOX   James 3:9-12


A.   Honor    James 3:9a, l0a

1.   The tongue can be such a blessing under discipline!

a.   We can use it to praise God and bless His name!

b.   We can build up others by the proper and good use of the tongue!

2.   It can bring great honor to those it speaks of and to the speaker!


B.   Hateful!   James 3:9b, l0b

1.   Or the tongue can bring great pain to others and self!

a.   It can curse God as well as praise God!

b.   It can curse others as well.

2.   It is ironic that both can come from this same member of the body!

3.   This is what makes the Baptism of the Holy Spirit such a wonderful gift from the Lord ... the one baptized being given a "new tongue."


ILLUS:      Since the tongue is the most ungodly member of the body ... the hardest to control and so evil ... if God would have wanted to find a way to show us evidence of being immersed in His Spirit ... what more logical choice than to have our tongue yield to the Spirit of God and speak in heavenly as well as earthly languages the praises of God through tongues!  Evidence of immersion in the Spirit by our speaking in tongues and praising God makes logical sense ... the tongue under God's control, used by the Spirit!  HOW PERFECTLY LOGICAL ... AND PRACTICAL!  Since the whole body is under control by the tongue ... this experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit has a direct influence upon the entire being of the believer ... thus a very valuable experience ... one to be sought after!


4.   How much better than the hate our tongues are capable of without God's Spirit!


ILLUS:        The 2 shop keepers across the street from each other ... they couldn't ever say anything nice to each other.  Their jealously for each another caused them to say very hateful things about one another.  One night an angel appeared to one man and promised him any wish under one condition ... whatever he wished for the other shopkeeper would get double of ... he could have anything he wanted or as much as he wanted ... but the other guy would get double his request.  Hating his competitor he thought about what to wish for ... finally filled with hate he made his choice: He wished to be made blind in one eye!  Instead of wishing for good and blessing his competition ... he chose hatefully and spoke hurt! – Source Unknown


C.   Hypocrisy     James 3:10-12

1.   If you keep evil in your hearts you can be sure it will spill out of your mouths!

2.   Only a fool believes he can be a spring of fresh water and salt water at the same time!

3.   The hypocrisy of saying you’re a Christian but not speaking like one will only make a mockery out of Christianity to those who come into contact with your life!

4.   We need to realize that we can only really allow one flow from our tongues ... that of God's Spirit or it will be that of our fallen spirit!


CONCLUSION:     The tongue can be the most destructive weapon on earth; its misuse has damaged more lives than all the weapons of war or disease on this planet!  The tongue can bring some of life's greatest joys; like someone telling you they "love you," or it can bring some of life's greatest pains; like someone telling you they "hate you!" Let your tongue be an instrument of righteousness, not a weapon of destruction!