September 9, 2015
James 3:5, 6
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
A couple of weeks ago, I heard a sermon by Dr. Tony Evans, a dynamic Dallas, Texas pastor. He preached from James 2 on the use of the tongue, and I was inspired by a question he asked his congregation: “How many of you got hell in your mouth?” It was based on James 3:5 and 6, and that scripture is the basis for today’s blog – A Mouthful Of Hell!
…the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a
forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity.
The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body,
and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.
My version to you of Dr. Tony’s question is this – Do you have A Mouthful Of Hell?! I have known people – and you probably have encountered such folks too – who have A Mouthful Of Hell! It seems that wherever they go, whenever they open their mouths, something inspired of the devil comes out! A fire starts! A sad fact is that some of these people identify themselves as Christians!
In Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader, 26th Edition, Perpetually Pleasing Bathroom Reader – yes, there is a new addition every year, and it is a good book for the ‘reading room’ – I read an example of a big fire starting from a small spark in a selection called “Flaming Oopses”!
On a hot summer day in 1965, country singer Johnny Cash drove his pickup
into California’s Los Padres National Forest to do some fishing and drinking.
On a bumpy road, the truck’s tailpipe dislodged from the muffler, and the
sparks started a grass fire….The fire took a week to extinguish, burning 508
acres….In court, Cash was asked if he started the fire. “No,” he replied, “my
truck did and it’s dead, so you can’t question it.” Cash (or rather, his insur-
ance company) paid $82,000 in restitution.
And even if Mouthful Of Hell comments don’t seen to start such a conflagration, they sure can sully God or man’s reputation!
I remember years ago before I started Bible college, I worked in a warehouse loading and delivering orders all around northeastern Pennsylvania. The warehouse foreman was a man named Bill – and he swore and cussed so much, the air around him turned blue! He could make a sailor blush! I was a relatively new Christian, but I surely knew that kind of junk should not come out of a person’s mouth! And I was tired of hearing my Lord’s name taken in vain (see Exodus 20:7). During one of Bill’s tirades, I angrily shouted at him, “Bill, aren’t you supposed to be a Christian?” He replied, “You’re g…..d….. right I am a Christian! It takes a g…..d….. good man to be a Christian!” I just shook my head and said to myself, “Yeah, right, Bill!”
A Mouthful Of Hell! Do you “…take the name of the LORD your God in vain…”? Exodus 20:7 goes on to say, “…for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” I sure don’t want to be held guilty before God!
What does it mean to take His name in vain? It means using the name of God in an empty way, a way that does not reflect the truth and bring glory to His person! Obviously, Bill was taking the name God in an empty and non-glorifying way. You could actually use the term he expressed if it reflected the truth. To say, “He is a God-damned sinner!” may be a true statement and technically acceptable. After all, it is written in John 3:18, “He who believes on Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” But I would hesitate to use God’s name in that sense because it sounds like I am taking it in vain. And Paul wrote in Romans 14:16, “…do not let your good be spoken evil of….” He also said in Ephesians 4:29, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.”
Another way some folks have A Mouthful Of Hell is described in James 3:8 through 10:
…no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have
been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed bless-
ing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.
How do we curse men? Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:29 (above), “Let…what is good…proceed out of your mouth…for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Edification means to build up. A broad definition of cursing, then would be tearing someone down! Since God sent His Son to bless us with His grace, cursing someone would come from the opposite of God – Satan – A Mouthful Of Hell!
A ‘third-person’ way of cursing would be cursing someone by gossip! Although the ninth of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:16 has a legal ring to it, to “…bear false witness against your neighbor,” is not confined to the courtroom! False witness against your neighbor is any gossip that is spread by you to another – or by another to you – that will tear someone down! Is it any wonder that God tells us in Leviticus 19:16, “You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people; nor shall you take a stand against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.” Further commentary is in Proverbs 18:8 (KJV – repeated in 26:22): “The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” Also in Proverbs 20:19 (Lexham English Bible): “He reveals a secret, he who walks about with gossip, and do not associate with a babbler’s lips.” I know from my own personal and pastoral experience how much damage gossip can do!
So watch what you say! And if you have A Mouthful Of Hell, ask God to replace it with a tongue speaking necessary edification and grace to the hearers! – in other words, A Mouthful Of Heaven!