This message was part of the ‘How to Pray’ series, preached at Christ Church Manchester’s church in Fallowfield in early 2018. The full series included the following sermons:
This sermon was based on James 3:1-12.
Taming the Tongue
1Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. 2For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. 3If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. 4Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. 5So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. 7For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, 8but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. 10From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.
There Is a Faith Once For All Delivered
- Christianity does not change from one generation to the next.
- The canon of Scripture is closed.
- Historically, the church has summarised this faith once for all delivered in the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments.
- In the reformation, the fives ‘solas’ were also emphasised as central to the faith.
The Faith Needs Contending For
- Jude is writing into a context of false teaching where people are trying to pervert God’s grace for sensuality. This is just as much of a challenge in our day as it was in Jude’s.
- The false teachers were within the church.
- Verses 5-16 are quite complex, but they elaborate this point. They contain:
- Three corporate rebellions
- Three individual rebellions
- Four specific charges
- Two strange quotations
- Six graphic metaphors
- ONE big idea – Judgment on these false teachers.
- In light of this, we must contend for the faith.
- This isn’t about picking arguments – and the way in which we contend will vary depending on how central the issue is (it has been said that some issues we write in ‘pencil’, some we write in ‘pen’ and some we write in ‘blood’).
We Should All Be Ready to Contend
- It starts in you own life. Keep yourself in the love of God by:
- Building yourself up in the most holy faith.
- Praying in the Holy Spirit
- Waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ the leads to eternal life
- Then we contend outwardly by:
- Having mercy on those who doubt.
- Saving others by snatching them out of the fire.
- Showing mercy with fear.