by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Study # 53 September 23, 1998 Harlingen, Texas
Thesis:The domination of the tongue by man is fundamentally impossible.
Introduction:For a brief review, in our last two studies, we have attempted to establish the thesis that the tongue is the principle tool of man's attempt to achieve status apart from the status-grant to be found in the love of God. James' words are that the tongue is the kosmos of the iniquity. The references to iniquity (adikia) in the New Testament are unified in their focus upon man's attempts to exalt himself in the eyes of others. The use of kosmos is, apparently, James' way of saying that the fundamental tool of self-exaltation is man's tongue (a metaphor in itself for speech, words, and world-view messages).
But he goes on to say that the tongue is a flame that has its origins in Gehenna and has its impact in the realm of what he calls the "circle (or wheel) of the generation". This is a succinct way of saying that man's antagonism toward God as One Who is unyieldingly just and inalterably opposed to status-seeking at others' expense results in his burning opposition to God at every turn and that results in his consuming of everything and everyone he touches in his lust for position.
This evening we are going to pursue this one further step: James' declaration of the impossibility of human control over the tongue, given his condition as a status-seeker.
I. James' Obvious Belief That the Tongue Can Be Dominated by a Certain Kind of Man: James 1:26.
A. This text is a precursor of chapter 3 and establishes these facts...
1. That a PRIMARY purpose of "religion" is the bridling of the tongue.
a. He claims that if this does not occur, the appearances of religion are worthless.
b. He claims that being "unspotted" by the world is the equivalent of dominating the tongue because he uses the same terminology in 3:6 (aspiloo/spiloo).
2. Since the tongue is simply a primary instrument of the heart, James is metaphorically addressing the fundamental values of man as evidenced to be in the heart by the things that proceed from it.
a. Jesus taught the linkage between the mouth and the heart: Luke 6:45.
b. He also acknowledged the reality of hypocritical deception: Matthew 15:8.
c. The conclusion is simply that the weight of the values of the heart will finally reveal the truth by means of the tongue.
3. That the primary value of the heart is status in the eyes of others as evidenced by the level of the effort put forth to sustain the charade.
4. That, therefore, the primary function of "religion" is the alteration of the values of the heart.
B. This text cannot be taken as a fundamental contradiction to James 3.
II. James' Obvious Belief That Man on His Own Cannot Win the Battle to Dominate His Speech.
A. James claims a certain, and fairly extensive, level of power for man.
1. It is rooted in creation.
a. God made man to rule.
b. God gave man the right to name the animals He had created.
2. It was crippled by the fall, but not destroyed so that the rule is impossible.
B. James claims a greater power for the tongue.
1. Man cannot dominate his value system.
a. There is much talk, and little thought, about the "free will" of man.
b. The will is a slave to the values and the intellect (love and faith).
c. There is nothing man can do about his heart and little he can do about his mind.
2. The tongue is fundamentally uncontrollable as the expressor of the heart. It bypasses both mind and will.
3. The tongue is evil and poisonous...indicating James' perspective of the heart of man.
III. James' Obvious Belief That a Changed Heart and a Mind Submitted to Revelation CAN Dominate the Tongue.