3:8. – But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. –
Even though man had been able to tame and ‘reclaim from wildness’ the beasts, he has been unable to tame the tongue. Man’s tongue does not rest long enough for him to tame it. Only God is able to tame this unruly member of the body.
God has given a way for the tongue to be tamed through the power of the Holy Spirit. In Acts we read that the Apostles and those who had been faithful to Christ’s command to wait, received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on them as evidenced by ‘speaking in tongues’.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”(Acts 2:4)
The Word of God continually mentioned that those who followed Christ spoke in tongues. It wasn’t an occurrence for ‘those times’ but a gift given to those who love Christ. Hebrews 6:2 speaks of baptisms – two baptisms; a baptism of water and a baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus (Acts 1:6), John the Baptist (Matt 3:11, John 1:30 – 33), and the apostle Peter (Acts 11:16) all used this term.
Not only did Jesus, John and Peter mention it but the New Testament is full of people who showed evidence of this baptism by speaking in tongues; that is, having their tongue under the control of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself promised that those who believed would ‘speak in new tongues’ (Mark 16:17).
- In Jerusalem – They spoke with tongues (Acts 2:1-4)
- In Samaria – They received the Holy Spirit (What did Simon see and hear that would be evidence of the gift?) (Acts 8:5 – 24)
- In Damascus – Saul/Paul received the baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17 – 19 with 1 Corinthians 14:18)
- In Caesarea – They spoke with tongues (Acts 10:44 – 48; 11:15 – 17)
- In Corinth – Acts 18:1 – 11 with 1 Corinthians 12:13,14
- In Ephesus – They spoke with tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:1 – 7 with Ephesians 1:13)
God takes the one member of the body that we cannot tame and places it under His control through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. Thus it causes us to praise Him and pray in the Spirit.
When we yield our tongue to Him and experience the infilling of the Holy Spirit, there comes upon us a power that enables us to fulfil the commands of Jesus. We are able to reach out and bless others through our tongue.
James’ teaching has been to warn of careless words and false teachings. When we give ourselves, and this ‘unruly member’ of our body, to the One who made it we then manifest a self-control that is part of the fruit of the Spirit.
Instead of having ‘deadly poison’ spewing from our mouths, we start to edify, build one another up and bless others with our tongues.
A tongue that is dedicated to God and yielded to His Holy Spirit has the following five characteristics;
- It is under the control and Lordship of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:4, 32 – 39)
- It edifies the Body of Christ (1 Thess 5:11)
- It testifies of the things of God (Matt 10:20; Acts 4:20)
- It builds up the church (1 Cor 14:12)
- It prays at all times (1 Thess 5:17; Eph 6:18)