Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Use and Misuse of the Tongue


James 3: 1-12.

Laying the Foundations

I would like to begin by taking a look at the wider setting of the use of the tongue by looking at it in the context of the history of redemption. In the story of the creation, fall and redemption of man, we have the creation, fall and redemption of his tongue.

Turn to Genesis 3.

In the Beginning…

In the beginning God created the universe and all that He created was good. The climax of this work was the creation of the being called man. Man was the most special of all his creatures because man, unlike the plants and animals, was created in the image of God. All of those attributes of God that could be communicated to another being were found in man. One of these attributes was love.

God in His three persons was able to love Himself from all eternity. God is infinite, eternal and unchangeable in all His and this includes love. For God is love (1 John 4:8), that is love is intrinsic to God and God is the source and standard of all love. Man created in the image of God was also blessed with this attribute of God and so in the beginning man was created to love even as a God loved. Man was created perfect or good, even as God is good – but there was something missing…

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper corresponding to him.” (Genesis 2:18) Man needed to relate to one of his own kind. This is the will of God. Man loved his wife and she in turn loved him – and it was good.

Thus man was created to relate to others of his own kind, but more than that. Man was created as an intelligent, relational being (again in the image of God) to relate intelligently with three entities:

1. the living and true God

2. the rest of mankind, and

3. the rest of creation.

There are four ways in which man relates:

1. by his feelings

2. by his thoughts

3. by his words, and

4. by his actions.

In all of these areas and with God, mankind and creation, he related in love. Tonight we will be looking at the third area – his words, or the use of his tongue. In the beginning, man was created to worship God with his tongue, to love his wife (and the rest of mankind) with his tongue and to relate to creation with his tongue in a loving manner (e.g. he didn’t say, “Burn that forest down!”). So in the beginning, the tongue was to be a tool of love – in the beginning…

Note: do we speak with a motive of love? Read 1 Corinthians 13, especially vv. 4-8a.

The Fall of the Tongue

The serpent came along and spoilt things. He had wee word in the woman’s ear: “Indeed, has God said…?” “…any tree…?” “You surely shall not die.” “…you will be like God…” God and man communicated love, purity and truth. The devil communicated doubt, deceit, suggestion, innuendo, pride, rebellion and downright lies. However, the woman listened despite the filth. She should have shunned him immediately, but she listened.

Note: it matters what we listen to as well as what we say. Let us shun the communications of the world, the flesh and the Devil.

She not only listened to the Devil, she believed what he said. She believed his slander and judged God. She treated God as unfaithful and the Devil as her friend. She had no reason not to believe the word of God. He was faithful and He would continue to be faithful.

Note: do we listen to slander, rumour, gossip and suspicion? Do we believe such things without good reason? “[Love] believes all things, hopes all things…” (1 Corinthians 13: 7) Worse than that, do we communicate such things to others?

Note: those who slander others and abuse others using their tongue with the excuse of looking after our interest, actually act in our worst interest.

Believing the devil, instead of the Faithful One, she ate the forbidden fruit and fell from the state of purity and perfection, into a state of sin and misery. The first effect of this fall in her nature was to cause her to use her tongue to rebel against God, and deceive the man and thus kill him. Adam was swayed by his wife’s words.

Note: those dear to us can cause us to disobey God by seducing us with their tongues.

The man and his wife were now rebels against God. They tried to hide their sin, but God uncovered their nakedness in His sight. What did the man do? Did he confess his sin and repent? No, he blamed his wife with his tongue. Instead of using his tongue to protect his wife in love, he condemned her to die.

Note: are we unfaithful to our friends in the use of our tongue? Our do we use our tongue to protect and love them? Are we prepared to say we’re wrong, or do we try to deny the truth?

Man had fallen, he now use his tongue with hatred. He, and his wife, tempted, lied, slandered and assaulted one another with their tongues. Instead of worshipping God by confessing the truth, they made God a liar.

The tongue was originally an instrument of righteousness, but they had made it an instrument of unrighteousness.

The Redemption of the Tongue

God in his love and mercy did not leave “mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery.” In his abundant grace, He sent His only begotten Son to deliver His people from their sins. He came to buy us back, not just our souls, but our bodies as well. He came to restore the image of God in us. To restore us to love and to heal the broken relationships of man with God, with his neighbour and with creation. God created man in His own image, He now re-created the man so that he may bare His image in all its perfection again and, indeed with a greater glory (1 Corinthians 13: 35-49; 2 Corinthians 5: 17).

The Devil had worked to destroy man, but Christ came to destroy the works of the Devil. How does he accomplish this with regard to our tongue? He has sent His Spirit to sanctify us and set us aside as holy. His Spirit is at work in us now, purifying our hearts and thus purifying our tongues. He uses His word to sanctify also. When we die our souls shall be freed from sin and on the last day he shall raise up our bodies, including our tongues, and so the whole man, body and spirit, shall be redeemed.

But what has he redeemed our tongues for? He has redeemed our tongues that we may love our God and our neighbour. He came to remove the abuses of our tongue and to give it back its proper use. No longer should we use our tongues to communicate the wickedness of our hearts to God and to man. Now it should be used to worship God and glorify him in the sight of men, and it should be used for the physical, emotional and spiritual good of our neighbour.

Some Warnings

The Tongue is an Indicator

The tongue indicates the state of our religion.

‘If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.’ (James 1: 26)

If we are living a godly life, we will increasingly use our tongue for good and cease to use it for evil. Are we bridling our tongue?

The tongue indicates the state of our heart.

‘“Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. “The good man out of his good treasure brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of his evil treasure brings forth what is evil. “And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgement. “For by your words you shall be justified, and by your words you shall be condemned.”’ (Matthew 12:33-37)

E.g., if our hearts are full of love we will not rejoice in unrighteousness, but will rejoice in the truth. (1 Corinthians 13: 6) If we would have a change of tongue, we must have a change of heart. The tongue mere reflects the affections of the heart.

The Tongue is Powerful

Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they may obey us, we direct their entire body as well. Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a small rudder, wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things. Behold, how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. (James 3: 3-8)

Let us be watchful of our tongues and seek to bridle it for, if let loose, it will surely seek to overthrow us. It can set our life on fire and damn us to hell.

Questions for Discussion

These questions are for all of us to discuss. They are not there for me to give you all the answers – I don’t have them all!

1. In what ways can we use our tongues in love?

2. In what ways can we abuse our tongues?

3. Is joking wrong?

4. What is gossip (as opposed to good news)?

5. What should we say about others?

6. What rules should we apply to the use of our tongue?

7. In what manner should we use our tongue?

8. How may we bridle our tongue?

Some Notes

· It is important what we listen to, as well as what we say.

· It important how we respond to what others say.

· What can be said about the tongue can equally be applied to our use of the pen.

· For a change in our speech we need a change in our heart.


1. Thomas Watson, The Tongue, a World of Iniquity, in A Plea for the Godly and Other Sermons by Thomas Watson, Soli Deo Gloria.

2. Simo Ralevic, The Tongue – Our Measure, Banner of Truth.

3. Ralph Venning, The Sinfulness of Sin, Section Four: 4. (4) 2, Banner of Truth.

4. I. D. E. Thomas, A Puritan Golden Treasury, Article: “Tongue”, Banner of Truth.

5. Matthew Henry, A Topical Index of Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Article: “Tongue”, Evangelical Press.

6. Gordon J. Keddie, The Practical Christian (James), Welwyn Commentary Series, Evangelical Press.

7. Stephen Voorwinde, Wisdom for Today’s Issues: A Topical Arrangement of The Proverbs, Presbyterian and Reformed.

8. D. B. Knox, Not By Bread Alone, Banner of Truth.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I posted a comment yesterday, and it was deleted. Censorship by those who disagree?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 8:44:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Dear anonymous,

This blog is written to the glory of God, therefore your comment was deleted. I would ask you to respect this.

Please consider your state before God who has made you and will judge you. Turn from your God-rejecting life and cast yourself upon Christ as the only one who can save you from your sin. I say this in love.

"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." (James 3:6) - the same goes for our fingers!

"[P]ut off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth." (Colossians 3:8)

"But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you... neither filthiness... nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person... has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience." (Ephesians 5:3-6)

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 1:56:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

P.S. You may want to look here and here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006 3:09:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey - you deleted my comment again! I'm trying to learn from your blog and open up a discourse about the Glory of God, and you keep censoring me. You especially censored all the bits that allowed me to rebut some of the more contentious things you said (like I'm God-rejecting, and that I don't respect your blog - both of which aren't true). Why do you keep censoring honest discourse?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 11:27:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Dear anonymous,

It is clear that this article is about our speech, not about sex. Therefore to make explicit and, I believe, perverse comments, and to continue to do so, is disrespectful. It is also clear from the Scripture that I quoted that such speech in written form is offensive to the one, living and true God, to whom you are accountable.

Comments regarding God's will for our speech, and regarding your spiritual state before God are fine.

Is such behaviour evidence of a heart in obedience to God, or one in rebellion against Him? Do you think God is pleased with your remarks?

If you believe that you are not God-rejecting, then have you trusted in Christ alone for your complete salvation: in His suffering and death on the Cross as your substitute for the punishment of your sin, not looking to your good works as anything that can merit salvation; in His Holy Spirit to change your heart and make you a new person, and to make you more holy day-by-day; and are you asking forgiveness each day for the cleansing of your sin in His name? If not, then you are still in rebellion against God.

Have you repented of living for yourself according to your own rules and now seek to live according to God's will in the Bible? If not, then you are still in rebellion against God.

Are you reading the Bible daily to determine how God wants you to live? Are you praying regularly to Him for grace to live in obedience to his will? If not, then you are still in rebellion against God.

Please consider these questions very carefully, as they are the most important questions we have to answer. I say this out of love for your never-dying soul, however imperfectly it may be stated.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 8:05:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

*sigh* Ok, I won't say anything about using your tongue for sex. But I'm not so sure your comments are right.

Why should one have to read the bible every day? Why should one have to repent every day? Jesus said that if we are sorry, our sins will be forgiven, and we will be given the Key to the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus didn't say you have to read the bible every day (much of which is inaccurate, you surely must agree), nor did Jesus say you have to repent every day.

The Bible tells us that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Have you given up all your worldly possessions, in preparation for entering Heaven?

With love,

Thursday, May 18, 2006 9:20:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

Let's deal with each point in turn.

What inaccuracies are there in the Bible? I often hear this, but usually people respond with, "Oh, er... Don't know."

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." (Isa. 40:8)

"[T]he Holy Scriptures... are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work."
(2 Tim. 3;16)

Thursday, May 18, 2006 12:39:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okeydokey. I guess the best place to start is in the Beginning: Genesis. The Book of Genesis tells us that God made the world (Earth) as the centre of all things, and everything else revolved around it. In actuality, our star, the Sun, stays still, and Earth revolves around it. (When Gallileo pointed this out, he was imprisoned by the Church for being sacreligious).

The Bible tells us that on the fourth day, God made the Sun (Genesis 1:14-19). But He made the plants and trees on the third day (Genesis 1:11). Without sunlight, how come the trees and plants didn't die? We know that "a day" wasn't actually 24 hours, but several millienia (the animals were made "a day" before humans were, but we know that humans didn't arrive on earth until 24 millions years after the first dinosaurs). How did plants and trees survive around 24 millions years without being able to photosynthesise?

And I'm jumping ahead a little, but God made a promise to Noah, after successfully saving the animals on the Ark, that he would produce something called a "rainbow" every time it rained, as recollection of His promise to save Mankind. But we know that rainbows are nothing more than a refraction of light through water. Believing in God is one thing; believing that the properties of light refraction didn't exist before the Great Flood is quite another.

We know that the Lord God created Jesus Christ, our saviour, as His one true Son, a reflection of God Himself. But we don't know what happened to the other Son of God, when the Lord came to Sarah and impregnated her (Genesis 21:1-2). What happened to that Son of God? And I guess, also Rachel 30:22.

I say this to you in Love.


Thursday, May 18, 2006 2:08:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Timothy

As a follow-on from my previous comment (concerning the Bible being largely inaccurate), who do you say are the 12 disciples?

In love, always,

Thursday, May 18, 2006 3:05:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

1. Earth as Centre of Universe
No where does Scripture say that the Earth is the centre of the universe. It may be the centre of the universe. We do not know; although we do know that the Earth orbits the Sun.

The Roman Catholic Church of Galileo's day were interpreting the Scriptures in the light of the orthodox, Aristotelian science of the day. There's nothing new today as mainstream unbelieving clerics continue to mould their interpretation of Scripture in the light of the current fallible scientific fashion.

See here for more info.

It is clear from Scripture that Earth is the most important part of the inanimate, material universe.

2. The Disciples' Names
I suppose you will mention the variation in the names of the Twelve Disciples recorded in the Gospels. (A guess from my dear wife.)

This is not surprising as it was common practice for people to have different names and be called differently by different people.

In the NT, Saul was called Paul, Simon was called Peter and Cephas, Thomas was called the Twin, there was a Joseph called Barsabbas and Justus, and there was a Simeon called Niger, etc.

Even my own father is called variously William, William James, James and Billy!

I hope you find this instructive and I will answer your other "inaccuracies" as time permits.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 6:23:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will await, with eagerness, your further comments, but no, I wasn't talking about a variation in the spelling or pronounciation of names. I am aware that, for example, Simon was called Cephas by some.

So the question remains, if the Bible is accurate, who were the 12 disciples?

Thursday, May 18, 2006 6:55:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

3. Order of Creation
Firstly, it must always be understood that God is infinitely powerful and nothing is impossible with him (Matt. 19:26). God created nature and is able to circumvent this order as He pleases by supernatural means.

Light was created on the first day, and indeed day and night were created, so therefore the plants did have light. What was the light source, if the Sun wasn't created? I don't know, and I don't need to as God is not dependent on nature, and He did it in some way.

4. Genesis Days were Real Days
Please see here.

5. The Age of the Earth, etc.
Please see here and here.

6. Rainbows
Please see here.

7. Sarah's Son as Son of God?
Genesis 21:1-2 does not say that Sarah was impregnated by God. Abraham, although old, must have impregnated her.

The same goes for Rachel. God only opened her womb, i.e. He enabled her to conceive through Jacob.

Jesus was the only begotten Son of God as is stated at various points in the NT (John 1:14,18; 3:16,18; Heb. 11:17; 1 John 4:9).

"He who believes in 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." (John 3:18)

Thursday, May 18, 2006 6:56:00 pm  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...

You'd better make it clear to me what you mean by "who were the Twelve Disciples?" See the various lists in the Gospels, e.g. Matt. 12:2-4.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 7:01:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure - to be clear, to the best of your knowledge, what were the names of Jesus's 12 disciples?

The website you mention as reference to your points, is only one person's point of view. Although his point of view is compelling, he is not an authoritative source. And he doesn't answer my question about rainbows at all (which, I think, are one of the most beautiful things on earth).

And to correct you again, light wasn't made on the first day - it was made on the fourth. Or was it? That is my point about the Bible being inaccurate.

Genesis 1:3-5 tells us that on the first day, God created light.

Genesis 1:14-19 tells us that on the fourth day, God created light.

And if you say that the Seven Days were in fact 24 hours long, how is it that dinosaurs died out long before Man came along - and certainly a lot longer than 24 hours?

In love, always,


Thursday, May 18, 2006 7:12:00 pm  
Blogger jmark said...


just passing by here, and saw your comments - regarding Gen 1 and Light being made on days one or four.

It doesnt say light was created on day 4 at all, only the sun, stars and moon. Thats significantly different. God is perfectly capable of creating light without the sun and moon. These we are told were given to give light to the earth.

Bye for now

Friday, May 19, 2006 10:47:00 am  
Blogger Timothy Davis said...


Firstly, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a read of Mark's mini-blog which I referenced earlier (see here).

Some responses to your comments:

3. Order of Creation (cont.)
Just to add the text to what Mark said:

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth... Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good... So the evening and the morning were the first day.

"Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also... So the evening and the morning were the fourth day."
(from Genesis 1)

4. Genesis Days were Real Days (cont.)
Please note in the above text that each day consisted of an evening and a morning, i.e. it was a day as we understand it.

5. The Age of the Earth, etc. (cont.)
I believe that dinosaurs and men lived together right from Day 6 of Creation. I believe also that some of each kind were brought on Noah's Ark and survived the Flood (presumably as babies or juveniles). See Job 39:15 - 41:34 for a description of dinosaurs in Job's day.

I would ask you to take the time to look at the information in Answers in Genesis, if you are really searching for the truth.

Friday, May 19, 2006 10:20:00 pm  

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