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The Secret Sin of the Saints

Scripture Passage: 
James 3:5-10

INTRODUCTION: The untamed tongue is a special problem with the people of God. Yet, it is a sin that often goes unacknowledged. It is the saint’s dirty little secret and it is almost universal.

  • Personal Experience: 1)self; 2)the ‘godly;’ 3)the church.
  • Direct Statement of Scripture: the untamed member (James 3:8)
  • Example of the Israelites: What sin is repeatedly recorded and judged in the wilderness wanderings? Murmuring .
  • The word is used 22 times in Exodus through Deuteronomy.
  • Numbers 14:27 – “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me.”

We look today at some of the related sins of the tongue that Christians often commit:

    1. The Warning Example of the Israelites (1 Corinthians 10:10-11)
    2. A Selfish Complaining (Jude 1:16)
    3. Not to be Among Believers (Philippians 2:14)
    1. Among the Lost (Romans 1:29-30) and the Saved (2 Corinthians 12:20)
    2. Separating Chief Friends (Proverbs 16:28)
    1. To Speak Maliciously of Others; to Slander (2 Corinthians 12:20)
    2. Must be Dealt With Fiercely (Proverbs 25:23)
    1. A Form of Malice (Ephesians 4:31)
    2. Disobedience to God (James 4:11)
    1. A Consequence of Idleness (1 Timothy 5:13)
    2. A Talebearer Delivering Hurtful Wounds (Proverbs 18:8)
    3. One Who Stirs Up Much Strife (Proverbs 26:20)
    1. Speaking Things They Ought Not (1 Timothy 5:13)
    2. A Consequence of Idleness (2 Thessalonians 3:11)
    3. Dealing in Other Men’s Matters (1 Peter 4:15)
    1. Evil Communications (1 Corinthians 15:33)
    2. Corrupt Communication (Ephesians 4:29-31)
    3. Filthy Communication (Colossians 3:8)

CONCLUSION: These sins seem small compared to others. Why are they spoken against so strongly in the Bible?

  • The harm they do (Proverbs 18:8; Proverbs 16:28; Psalm 106:25-26)
  • Our denial of the problem.
  • Our hypocrisy—claiming godliness for ungodly speech
  • The coming judgment (Matthew 12:36)

Dealing with the Gossipy Tongue – Numbers 11:4 states, “And the mixt multitude that was among them fell a lusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat?” “So also when we happen to be in company with those who indulge in the wicked practice of speaking against the Lord’s people, if we cannot succeed in changing the current of the conversation, let us rise and leave the place, thus bearing testimony against that which is so hateful to Christ. Let us never sit by and listen to a backbiter. We may rest assured he is doing the work of the devil, and inflicting positive injury upon three distinct parties, namely, himself, his hearer, and the subject of his censorious remarks.” –from Notes on the Pentateuch by C. H. Mackintosh (p.502).

Entering the Presence of the King – Donald W. McCullough, in The Trivialization of God (p.112), recounts this story: “A chapel service during my year at Wheaton College had an unforgettable impact on me. The speaker was Dr. V. Raymond Edman, beloved past President of the College. His health had been precarious, and so it was a special moment when he stepped into the pulpit.

“He wanted us to learn greater reverence before God. Worship is a serious matter, he told us, and to illustrate the point he recalled visiting Haile Selassie, then Emperor of Ethiopia. He described the preliminary briefings, the protocol he had to follow, and the way he bowed with respect as he entered the presence of the king. In the same way, he said, we must prepare ourselves to meet God.

“At that moment Dr. Edman slumped onto the pulpit, fell to the floor… and entered the presence of the King of kings. He was dead, but for a few moments at least we had come to life. The dividing line between heaven and earth suddenly dissolved, and we were no longer restless college students with textbooks on our laps, worried about exams the next hour and dates the next weekend; we had joined angels and archangels around the throne.”

David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 16:9

A man's heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.