Ruth: 1:20-21; The doctrine of bitterness, part 4 - words from the world.

Class Outline:

Title: Ruth: 1:20-21; The doctrine of bitterness, part 4 - words from the world.  


Bitterness is associated with the spoken words from a man whose heart is rotten.


JAM 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment.


JAM 3:2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect [mature or complete] man, able to bridle the whole body as well.


JAM 3:3 Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they may obey us, we direct their entire body as well.


JAM 3:4 Behold, the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder, wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.


JAM 3:5 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!


JAM 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.


The word "iniquity" has a definite article. It is the iniquity, which is the well known forces of evil with which the believer is in constant conflict. The tongue has the greatest range to create damage. Just think of the impact that the 24 hour news cycle, the internet, and social media has had on the mindset of the world.


“The very world of 'the' iniquity” - the world system being viewed through the words that it uses and magnifies.


James presents the tongue as an image of the world of "the" iniquity. When we think of the devil’s world, or the system of the world, his order, we can view it with the material of the words it uses. These words are in constant promotion of the iniquity that Satan loves. The world system boasts of things, describes things, defines things, praises things, etc. and these all flow from tongues that are controlled by rotten souls.


The speak of the world system is inflamed by hell, referring to Satan and the kingdom of darkness. This is the only time Gehenna, or hell, is used outside of the gospels. It refers to the Lake of Fire or the second death.


An uncontrolled tongue consistently permits itself to be used by Satan. It has a connection with the unseen world of evil.


Beware bitterness. Keep your mouth shut until it is dealt with by the power of the truth.


The phrase "course of our life" is literally in the Greek "the wheel of the nature," meaning the cycle of human life as it rolls through generation after generation. What man should value generation by generation is hidden and the course of each generation is set on fire by the tongue. It is important to note that the Holy Spirit is not referring to one individual life, but life of man in general as he tries to make his way through the devil's world.


Obvious examples of this is propaganda, as used by the Nazis. Passionate nationalistic words of hatred leads to riots, mass murder, war, and genocide. The tongue can do all of that.


One demonstrates membership in the world system by using his tongue to express evils in his heart, which in turn, defiles the whole body.


You can count yourself very blessed if you are one who has been set free from the cosmos by Christ.


GAL 5:1 It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.


GAL 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.


GAL 5:14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, " You shall love your neighbor as yourself."


GAL 5:15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care lest you be consumed by one another.


GAL 5:16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.


Through deception Satan is attempting to keep the people of the world in ignorance of God's reality and the reality of the truth of the freedom that Christ has brought into the world. Satan must concede to belief in God and in the person of Jesus in his world system due to the prolific power of the gospel, but the world uses the names God and Jesus as false caricatures of who they really are.


GAL 1:6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel;


GAL 1:7 which is really not another [there is only one "good news" so the different one is not a gospel]; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ.


In the devil's world there are many conundrums that the devil cannot reconcile. Wanting to be like the Most High, it would seem that he desires to make a perfect world or a utopia in the absence of God, but so much of mankind will not follow the drum beat of that path. Man is unpredictable, independent, chaotic, and restless. And so man, who is promised fulfillment in the world, does not find it, and he becomes bitter. I would imagine that Satan, who on the one hand wants a perfect world, likes man to be bitter, since Satan hates everyone. I would imagine that he blames God for their bitterness, while he will not admit that it is his system and their fallen natures that have made them bitter.


The world is promised that all this unhappiness and pain will eventually be fixed, but the ills of man are not fixed from outside of himself. It's not so much the game as it is the players in the game. Man must be fixed from within through regeneration, and then, and only then, can he begin to see his need for God's plan or God's system. This truth has been revealed by God since the beginning, but generation after generation of men live and walk in ignorance of it.  


JAM 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.


JAM 3:7 For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed, and has been tamed by the human race.


Tamed doesn't mean domesticated but subjugated: all that walks, flies, crawls, or swims, but the tongue is not tamed, not even close.


JAM 3:8 But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.


This incapacity in natural man is a moral inability and a weakness of the human will. But what man cannot do, God can do.


Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and is available to all men. Without the fruit of the Spirit, our tongues and our bodies will be a restless evil.


The phrase "restless evil" is also translated "unstable" in 1:8 in reference to the man who doubts God. The man not controlled by the Holy Spirit will be unstable and have deadly poisonous words at times.


JAM 3:9 With it we bless our Lord and Father; and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;


JAM 3:10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.


James points out the irony of fallen man. Due to being made in the image of God he has been able to tame every species of animal, yet taming himself is illusive.


James may be referring to the common Jewish practice of saying, "Blessed be He" after every mention of God's name.


He blesses the Lord and then curses that which the Lord has made. While it is true that the ones cursed are fallen and may seem to deserve the curse, we never possess the authority to do it, since we are also created.


We understand that though man is fallen, he still possesses God's image and so has the capacity to be conformed to God's moral and spiritual image. Therefore, when we curse men, we are cursing God, whom we bless with the same mouth.


This verse shows us that when man was created in the image of God and then fell, that image was not completely obliterated, as some teach. The verb "made" in verse 9 is in the perfect tense, which means that he continues in the image of God, though fallen. Sin marred man's image, but did not destroy it. Because the image of God in contained within man, man is a personal, rational, and moral being who possesses the attributes of reason, will, and conscience, i.e. personality. He has the capacity through faith to be conformed to God's moral and spiritual likeness. He has the capacity through faith to know and serve God. Therefore, in effect, when we curse man we are cursing God.


The highest use of the tongue is praising God. The lowest use of the tongue is cursing God.


James simply states, “It ought not be this way.” This is not so much an appeal to the logic of it, but more so to the fact that such stupidity and sin should not exist in the church, where truth and light have entered through the person of Christ.


JAM 3:11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?


The Greek word reveals the fountain to be a spring that gurgles out of the earth through an opening. It is either fresh or bitter. It cannot be both.


Here we find the Greek word for “bitter.” The fountain is the mouth. What will flow from it, bitterness or blessing?


JAM 3:12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Neither can salt water produce fresh.


JAM 3:13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.


The query is issued and intended as a call for self-examination. Who is wise and understanding among you?


In other words, don’t say that you know this while you keep on cursing others, judging, maligning, and in the case of the unprepared teacher, while you keep attempting to teach God’s word in the hope of being admired.


If you know and understand a truth, you don’t have to say a thing, just live in that truth and your conduct will witness of it at the proper time.


If someone has wisdom he will have works and excellent behavior. That's not legalism. He would not perform his works to only be noticed by men if he was a wise and understanding (expert in skill) person, for that would only qualify him with those who want to teach for recognition. It is just the natural outflow of the wise as a stream of sweet water must nourish its surroundings.


1PE 1:13 Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.


1PE 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,


1PE 1:15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;


1PE 1:16 because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."


1PE 2:12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers [attacks on Christianity in general], they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.


The word "visitation" is the noun also translated overseer or pastor, and here it refers to God becoming the overseer of the unbeliever who then believes in the gospel. The point is that the excellent or beautiful behavior of the Christian reflects Christ's gospel to the lost unbeliever who then believes in the gospel and God becomes their Shepherd and they are found. They will glorify God, not the Christian, for the witness of the Christian.


1PE 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,


1PE 3:2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.


This one has a tendency to naturally be put aside by Christian wives with badly behaving husbands.


1PE 3:13 And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good?


1PE 3:14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled,


1PE 3:15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;


1PE 3:16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.


1PE 3:17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.


back to:

JAM 3:13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.


The fool, the ignorant, the novice will nourish nothing and only desire to nourish himself. He is the brackish spring. To drink of it is poison.


Action and not words are the true test of wisdom and understanding.


In the Greek culture, wisdom had to do with a high degree of abstract, philosophical knowledge, but in Jewish thinking, wisdom dealt with practical, moral insight based upon the knowledge of God and His word. James is using the word in the Jewish context.


JAM 3:14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition (faction or selfish interests) in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.


The body of Christ is a product of the truth. We are a product of the gospel of Christ. If we live contrary to the gospel, the exact opposite of bitterness, jealousy, and selfishness, then we lie against that which has made us.


Don’t lie to yourself. If bitter jealousy and selfish ambition is in your heart then acknowledge it. Acknowledge it to yourself and before God, as His son, you will be acknowledging it to Him. The point is to not be these things. The point is to be wise and understanding.


If we are not wise and understanding then we will be bitterly jealous and selfishly ambitious. This is the choice.


The command is to not do it, and if you are doing it, to stop doing it. There is no need for psychological evaluation. If you are pursuing things ambitiously and selfishly, then stop. Look at what you do in light of God's word and plan and you will be wise and then you'll be able to pursue that which God has called you to, for you will see in His way.


The command is to not be it - simple. Stop being arrogant and stop lying against the truth, to others and to yourself.


The word for jealousy, zelos, is where we get our word zeal. Like in English, the Greek word is used in both a positive and negative way in the Bible. Zeal married to bitterness is obviously zeal for the wrong thing, which thing is clearly shown to be only for personal ends, selfish ambition.


If what you want, are zealous for, makes you bitter, how big of a fool are you? Things ought not be this way. The believer has God, and available with Him, wisdom, power, and understanding.


JAM 3:15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.


This emphasizes verse 6:

JAM 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.


The words of the world are the same words that we use, but with different definitions, different combinations, and for different purposes. It is a web of lies mixed with truth only intended to deceive. It is demonic.


JAM 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.


JAM 3:17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.


JAM 3:18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.


We see so clearly in this passage what damage can be done by a bitter soul.


EPH 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear.


“unwholesome” = from the root word “to rot.” That which is rotten, bad, or corrupt.


It means poor quality or unfit for use. It is a general word in which we are to apply the truth of that which is good and of righteous life in order to define that which is bad, poor, or rotten.


EPH 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.


EPH 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.


EPH 4:32 And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.


Husbands are commanded to not be bitter against their wives.


COL 3:18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.


COL 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them.


The word "fitting" refers to an obligation. The imperfect tense of the verb shows us that it has always been an obligation of the wife "in the Lord."


"love" - agape: sacrificial love that seeks the benefit of his wife and her well being in God's plan. He will sacrifice himself and his own wishes.


The love that was shown at Calvary, the love produced in the heart of the yielded saint by the Holy Spirit, the love that will cause the husband to sacrifice himself and his own wishes in the interest of the well-being of the wife.


The implication is clear. If the husband does not have agape love in his heart towards his wife, then he will eventually become bitter against her.



Without the love of Christ, the husband will only seek for what his wife can give to him.