We are in progress in this book on Sunday mornings in our house church, circa October 1997...


James 3:1 ¶ My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

13 ¶ Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.




A. Masters- Vs. 1-2

B. The Tongue's Movement Vs. 2-12

C. Who is a Wise man? Vs. 13-18


A. Masters- Vs. 1-2

1. The common title given to Christ- Mt. 8:19

The Scribe wanted to be taught.

Master means "teacher." Other Greek words for slave master and commander

Christ called Himself Master- John 13:13-15

Note: His position- Servant

Note: His method- Example

2. Mt. 4:19-20 Someone has to follow!

Not many masters are needed.

ILL. First Baptist Church of Ratliffe, Kentucky

Every member a Sunday School teacher.

Sunday to vote for deacons. All chiefs, no Indians

Jesus: One teacher, 12 followers

Ezra: Neh. 8:1-8- 26 men helped Ezra for all Israel.

Compare the New Testament with Promise Keepers.

3. How many teachers and Apostles in the New Testament? 15 to 20?

How many in modern movements? Thousands.

Who was top man in the New Testament? No one!!

PK- Very clearly McCartney and Philips

4. So, how should we live today?

Not much organizing needed as we know it.

Serve, teach, follow, have one mind.

With a Head like Jesus, how much organizing do we really need?

Hazard of too many Masters-- vs. 2-- All men offend.

So, how much offense can one or two Masters cause?

Compare with PK and Campus Crusade.

Josh McDowell- Famous for his big mouth in early days.

vs. 8- No man has tamed his own tongue.

Solution- Masters must be under complete authority of Christ.

CF- Prov. 10:31-32; Luke 1:64;

I Peter 3:10-11-- A master will have a tongue under the control of Christ.

Discussion: Early missionaries-- Started out as servants and teachers.

What happens? Movement, then management by large mouthed.

B. The Tongue's Movement Vs. 2-12

1.  Verse 2 with 2:26--  The tongue is a spiritually driven member

Vs. 2:26-  The body cannot exist without a spirit.

Vs. 2:26-  Faith cannot exist without works.

Vs. 3:2-  The tongue is spiritually driven and rules the whole body.

2.  Verse 3-8--  Examples of the tongue's force in our lives

Vs. 3-  Horses-  Big dumb animals.  Brain the size of a walnut.

Have to be broken.  Story of Cindy Overton and rearing horse.  Pulled him over on his back.  How?  With bit!!

Cf-  Psalm 39:1-  Interesting how david saw the bridle concept.

Vs. 4-  Helm or rudder-  Amazing influence of the rudder.  

Also implied-  Without a rudder, ship is out of control.  Cf-  Acts 27:37-40- Control was abandoned to the wind.

Wind is not a picture of control.  Cf-  James 1:6-  Not a picture of control.

Apply to tongue.  Whole person out of control if tongue flapping out of control.

Vs. 5- 6- Tongue is like fire.  Source of the tongues fire is hell.

This does not say much for us, right?

"how great a matter" means matter as heaps of wood or any material.  Not word for a forest in James' day.

There are two sources in this context:

Hell fire tongue-  

Cf-  Prov. 16:27-   This is the ungodly- all of them.  

Cf-  Prov. 6:16-19-  Tongue only in second place after pride.  Pride drives the tongue!!

Cf-  Rom. 3:10-18-  Those who reject Christ are like this.    Note vs. 13-14. 

Who do we trust?  What tongue charms us.

Discuss soaps, NBC CBS news, people we work with and for.  Easy to be charmed and believe them.

We must assume they are slandering and lying all the time if we are to preserve our souls.

ILL-  Lady from Fremont called to slander a woman in our church.  Not saved.  I hung up on her.

This is why some unsaved men are the "silent type."  They stay out of trouble that way.  Terror of their own tongue.

Cf-  Prov. 17:28--  Story of Ibm Battuta and the Emperor of China

Godly spiritual works tongue-  

Cf-  Psalm 35:28-  It is possible to have victory.

Cf-  Prov. 10:20-  Here are only two tongues.

This is why saints can talk freely in Christ.  They can have victory in the tongue, so they are not in terror of it.

ILL-  Daniel 1:4 and verses 18-20  

Verse 6 shows that every sin of the body is tied to the tongue.  Cf-  Prov. 18:7-8 and 21;  James 3:6

The future of the tongue under Messiah-  Zeph. 3:13 

3.  Verse 9-12--  Two products from the same source-- This is irrational.

Cf-  James 1:8 and 4:8-11--  Note the evil speaking of a brother again.

Why?  Answer:  This is a plague in many churches.

Cf-  Matt. 7:16-17-- The works of the tongue tell who the man is spiritually.  

Cf-  I Tim. 5:13--  Tattling still hated today.  It causes envy and bitterness.  Also revenge.

Cf-  Prov. 25:23-  Here is the cure.  Glare at them.  Hang up the phone on them.  Rebuke them.  (Titus 2:15)  There is a time to intimidate loud mouths if they affend the saints or the innocent.

ILL-  Disneyland hired men over 6 ft tall to intimidate trouble makers.

What is our zeal in this?

1.  Pray for victory-  Psalm 19:14

2.  I have to take charge in Christ-  Psalm 34:13-14--  This is NOT a passive thing.

ILL-  Our visits to Addis Ababa.  Gripers and tattlers rebelling against authority.  Had to act on purpose.  Abandon old friends, make new ones. 

3.  If I could keep quiet when my heart is not right--  Psalm 39:3

4.  Get the heart full of the Lord--  Proverbs 16:1-  How?  Get into the Word of God.

Conclusion One:  Here is how the tongue gets out of control and back under control--  Acts 15:1-13-  Happy ending-  vs. 22.

ILL-  Trouble at Eldoret when we got there between the church leaders and the missionaries.

Gave them 45 minutes to get it all out.  They did.

Asked all to get right and stop taking about it-- Get back to work.

All were relieved and "held their peace."  I had to also or destroy the results of this victory.

C.  Strife Versus Good Conversation  Vs. 13-end--  Two kinds of wisdom

1.  Wisdom of the flesh

Verse 14 and 16--  Note the symptoms:

Bitter envying--14--


Vain Glory--14--



Every evil work--16--

Verse 15--  Origin of this wisdom?  Earth, and man, not heaven.--  Cf-  Jer. 17:9-  Man excells Satan as         a source deceit and lies

What is the nature of fleshly wisdom?  Vs. 15

a.  Earthly--  Cf-   1 Cor. 15:47-  Two men here.  Rom. 6:6-7- Old man is SUPPOSED to be dead.  But James had reason to believe he could come back.  So much for sinless perfection :-)

ILL-  Soap operas.  Wroldly stories and plots in videos.  EArth prevails.  Their good at its pinnacle is in the garbage dump.  

b.  Sensual--  Cf-   Jude 1:19-  Very clear definition!!   What should we do with our senses?  Answer:   Heb 5:14-  Discern strong meat of the Word.  The best think tank of the world is a garbage dump if the Bible is not used for wisdom.  Do we believe that?

Sensuality-- Want the feeling.  Sexual is only one.  Also, power, taste, touch, emotional thrills.  CCM is loaded with sense loaded lyrics.

c.  Devilish--  What is the MO of the devil in this context?  Answer:   Matt 13:19- Snatch away the good wisdom;   1 John 2:14-  Devilish wisdom perverts the Word;   1 John 3:12-  Murder in thought or literally.  No surprize Kim Clement and Rick Joyner talk of killing us.  This is wisdom of Satan.

Example:  Perhaps one of the most demonically-deceptive lies I have heard in recent years, is one which is currently circulating within New Age circles. It involves a personage by the name of Apollonius of Alexandria. I really don't know whether or  not such a man ever really existed, but it is what is being said about him which should alarm every Christian. Without going into great detail, suffice it to say that, according to those who swallow this lie, Jesus Christ was only a mythological figure who was styled after the 'true christ', whom they claim to be Apollonius of Alexandria. This man is said to have performed great miracles, possessed great strength, and is purported to have travelled all over the known world conversing with, and learning from, the greatest philosophers and sages of his time. In fact, within the material I read, an attempt is made to either equate him with the Apostle Paul, or else to say that he is the 'Apollo' mentioned in some of Paul's epistles. This is the furthest thing from The Truth and a damnable lie of Satan!  This man's fame became so widespread that some eventually equated him with Hercules of Roman and Greek mythology. In short, he was given the status of a god. If you ever come across this material, I strongly urge you to not even read it as it will definitely test your faith in the One True God and His Son Jesus Christ. It is full of extremely strong delusion.

2.  Wisdom of heaven

In answer to devilish wisdom (Recovery Movement), here is one man's opinion:  From my perspective, the pastor of the local church should be the primary counselor for the Christian. This is not to say that a biblically oriented recovery group is never warranted. Sometimes it may be. But why not make the pastor, who interprets life's problems through the lens of Scripture, the first step in the recovery process? Through a solid course of biblical (nonhumanistic) counseling from the pastor, the counselee [can] obtain all he or she needs to deal with his or her particular behavior problem.

Such biblical counseling should include:

An emphasis on the importance of becoming biblically literate. Biblical doctrine enables us to develop a realistic world view, without which we are doomed to ineffectual living (Matt. 22:23-33; Rom. 12:3; 2 Tim. 4:3-4). Moreover, doctrine can protect us from false beliefs that can lead to destructive behavior (1 Tim. 4:1-6; 2 Tim. 2:18; Tit. 1:11).

An emphasis on what the Bible says about the nature of man -- including his soul (1 Pet. 2:11), his spirit (Rom. 8:16), his heart (Heb. 4:12), his conscience (1 Pet. 2:19), his mind (Rom. 12:2), as well as his sin nature and its effects (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 4:18; Rom. 1:18--3:20). An accurate understanding of man's nature is a prerequisite for prescribing the correct treatment for a particular behavioralproblem.

A thorough understanding of man's sin nature is especially important. Too often, recovery experts speak of getting rid of "character defects" in the patient. However, the whole "old" self is defective or depraved (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 4:18; Rom. 1:18--3:20) and must go. As one critic put it, we do not need a tune-up in our lives. We need a brand new engine.

An emphasis on the threefold enemy of the Christian -- (1) the world (including the things of the world, which are expressions of "the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes, and the boasting of what he has and does," 1 John 2:16); (2) the flesh (the sinful nature itself, which is bent on sexual immorality, impurity, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy, and drunkenness, Gal. 5:20-21); and (3) the Devil (who seeks to tempt us [1 Cor. 7:5], deceive us [2 Cor. 11:14], afflict us [2 Cor. 12:7], and hinder us [1 Thess. 2:18]). All three of these "enemies" have some bearing on human behavior.

An emphasis on dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that self-control is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). And as we "walk" in the spirit (habitually depend upon the Spirit) (v. 25), such fruit will inevitably grow in our lives.

An emphasis on the sufficiency of God's grace in the midst of trying circumstances (2 Cor. 12:9-10). As the apostle Paul discovered, God's grace enables us to cope with difficulties that can be overwhelming when approached through human strength alone.

An emphasis on the role faith plays in the midst of trying circumstances (Heb. 11). Scripture says that without faith it is impossible to please God (v. 6). It is also true that without faith in God it is impossible to effectively deal with behavioral problems and live victorious Christian lives (cf. Acts 15:9; 1 Thess. 5:8).

by Ron Rhodes

Verse 13 and 17-18--  It is from above.  Beneath being all wisdom of earth and hell (vs. 6)

Interesting:  There are NINE here like nine fruit of the Spirit in Gal. 5:22-23

Good Conversation--13--  Here is the tongue again.  Speech is essential to a good testimony.

Meekness--13--  This is an attitude.  Self is not exalted, even in spiritual warfare.

Pure--17--  Pure saint who shows this, not legislates it for others.

Peacable--17--  This wisdom CAUSES peace around the saint.

Gentle--17--  Thought is interpreted by Jesus' life.  Gentle with children and the broken.

Easy to be entreated--17--  Easyily approached by the sincere.  Enemy not included here.

Full of Mercy and Good fruits--17--  Mercy seeks a way of escape from judging.

Without Partiality--17--  Has no favorites.  

Without Hypocrisy--17--  Has not got two answers depending on who asked.  Stands by his word.

Peace is NOT passive.  It is an act of the will and zeal--  ILL-  Anwar Sadat-  Came to Jerusalem.  Jews refuse to go to Egypt.  Sadat upstaged them because he understood the Semitic mind.  Walked into Jerusalem.  I am told some Jews wondered if he was Messiah.  Seemed to sincerely want peace.

Cf-- Matt. 5:23-  Salt permeates.  It is an agressive agent in preserving;   Same text, verse 9-  Peacemakers-  The "makers" shows this has to be done on purpose. 

Verse 18 speaks of sowing.  This is a seed and harvest process.  Peace is sown for some time before the fruit appears.  Will we be patient in this work?

This IS works again.  (Discuss this)  This is wisdom.