The Key to Self Control – James 3:2

If you haven’t noticed, I’m going through James for the next 30 days, 1 chapter per day and repeating 6 times… so I guess I’m writing a series…

James 3:2 (NLT) Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

This isn’t the first time that James has referenced “…we would be perfect…”  Look back to James 1:4 – “…when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete…”

Only Jesus is perfect and can “… control (himself) in every way (James 3:2)” and “…lacks nothing (James 1:4).”  James is clearly instructing us (the church) in how to become like Jesus.

What does it mean to “… control ourselves in every way?”  Isn’t that exactly what we all struggle with in some sort or another?  It seems to me that this is mean exactly what it says…. controlling every other aspect of our lives…

According to this passage, controlling our tongue is the key to self control.

Why?  James goes on in verses 3-7 to give examples of how something so small (a bit in a horse’s mouth, a rudder on a ship, a spark to a fire) can have such great impact.  Those examples imply that our tongue control/leads, guides and ignites our lives.

In verses 9-12 James gives examples of impossibilities in nature – a spring that gives both salty and fresh water; a tree that produces olives and figs – and how it should also be impossible for us to praise and curse.

These are certainly compelling arguments from James, but are there any other scriptures that validate or corroborate the idea of our tongue being the key to self control?

How about starting with Jesus?

Matthew 15:18-21 “18 But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. 20 These are the things which defile a man, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile a man.”

Matthew 12:33-35 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.

Proverbs 18: 20-21 (NKJV) 20 A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; From the produce of his lips he shall be filled. 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

So it starts in our heart.  What we put in, is what we get out.  It is imperative that we flood our heart with good… to abundance.  Jesus said it.  What  is in abundance in our hearts is what comes out of our mouths.  What comes out of our mouths controls, leads, guides and ignites our lives.

In a previous post I wrote extensively about why and how the heart/words connection is so important (2nd point in the post – it’s worth the read).  I’m convinced that self-control is so tied to how we spiritually feed our hearts.

Our church is starting a new series this week on exactly this.  It’s entitled “Words: Life or Death” and my pastor is one of the best teachers I’ve ever heard. If you can’t come to the service, you should watch it online next week.

Come on – leave a comment.  Let’s discuss this.

Running After Papa…

Overcoming – Updated (Rev 12:11)

How do we REALLY overcome the power of sin in our lives? UPDATED…

How do we overcome the power of sin in our lives?

I was recently listening to “Overcome” by Jon Egan and the Desperation Band on the way home from my son’s Lacrosse game, when I was captured by one of the lyrics at the end of the song.  I’ve sung this song dozens of time, so it wasn’t a new song for me, but this time something clicked.  The repeated lyric is “And we will overcome, by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony, everyone overcome.”   Revelation 12:11 is the verse that bridge it taken from.

Revelation 12:11 (NKJV) “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.”

I really began to ask the Lord about it.  So how do we overcome?  What is the significance of this verse?  How does the rubber meet the road and why?  (If you read my blogs very often, you’ll find that’s a very common question I ask…)

1. The blood of the Lamb

First things first… This is the fulfillment of God’s law.  This gives us the LEGAL RIGHT TO OVERCOME.  Hebrews 9:22 (ESV) “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” When we’ve been washed in the blood of the Lamb, we are forever the possession of God himself.  There is MUCH that could be said here, but that’s for another day…  Here’s the meat of this post…

2. The word of their [our] testimony

This is gives us the POWER TO OVERCOME.  This is where the rubber meets the road.  We’re all familiar with Proverbs 18:21 “21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.”  But for me, in getting to that verse, I’ve glossed over the prior one, verse 20.

Proverbs 18: 20-21 (NKJV) 20 A man’s stomach shall be satisfied from the fruit of his mouth; From the produce of his lips he shall be filled. 21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue, And those who love it will eat its fruit.

When those two verses are put together, we’re talking about a whole meal!  What we claim – the words that we speak – is what will fill our stomachs.  This is a very interesting picture as the stomach is essentially where digestion of our physical food begins after we eat.  “You are what you eat,”  is a saying we learned to help us make healthy choices of our meals.  How appropriate! So it is with the words we speak.  When we speak words, we listen to those words, we hear those words, we believe those words – we digest those words.  When we speak words of defeat over our lives, our character, our circumstances, our children, etc., etc., we begin digesting those words.  Those words “satisfy” our stomach and we continue to live in those things we believe.  “You are what you eat,” becomes much more like “You are what you speak.

It’s time to stop the madness! It’s time to begin confessing the words of life.  Even if it’s not evident yet, speak it.  For example,  “I was unhappy, but God has given me joy and helped me overcome. (Gal 5:22)” or “I was an angry man; but God has given me patience and helped me overcome. (I Cor 13:4)” or “I was afraid and let fear rule my circumstances, but God has given me a spirit of power, love and a sound mind and helped me overcome. (2 Tim 1:7)Speak what God has or is making you BASED on what HE says about you in his Word – the Bible.

Hear me… I am NOT advocating a “name it and claim it” theology.  God is NOT a Genie, but there is a “working out” of our salvation.  There is a process of transformation and I believe renewing our mind with the Word of God and what God says about us is part of that process.

The word of your testimony is what breaks the power of sin in your life, but only if you’ve been bought by the blood of the Lamb.

3. They died to themselves

… and they did not loves their lives to the death,” is how Rev 12:11 ends.  This is the MEASURE OF OVERCOMING!

Galatians 2:20 (NKJV) “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who lives, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

I find this to be the most difficult verse in the Bible to really live out.  My wants, my desires, my needs, my expectations, my rights… and the list goes on.  If I’m offended, my flesh is probably alive.  If I am angry, my flesh is probably alive.  If I feel slighted, cheated, short changed, cut off, hindered, delayed or detained, my flesh is probably alive.

Only when I am fully dead to me, can I be fully alive in Christ.

THIS is overcoming defined!

So here are three questions for today’s take-away:

1.  Are you legally God’s? This is critical and the first thing and most important thing.  All eternity rides on the answer to this one.  Without #1, you can’t do #2.

2. What is God helping you overcome in your life? Speak it OUT LOUD! verbalize it!  Hear yourself say it audibly!

3.  What part of you do you need to die to? This IS the victory!

If you want to discuss the answer to any of these questions, email me at

Running After Papa…