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12. The Misuse of the Tongue

Purpose: The purpose of this session is to magnify the importance of the use and misuse of the tongue.


1. The disciple will know that control of the tongue is the greatest mark of spiritual maturity.

2. The disciple will understand the destructive aspects of the misuse of the tongue.

3. The disciple will know ways the tongue can be misused.

4. The disciple will learn what things that can be done to control the tongue.

5. The disciple will learn what to do if he has misused his tongue.

Scripture Memory

You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:29-30


1. Mutual sharing and prayer.

2. Discuss the worksheet.

3. Discuss the questions.

4. Discuss any new terms.

5. Share memory verses.

One of the characteristics of sin is that it is subtle. One of the reasons we often have much difficulty with particular sins is that they are directly connected to our emotions. The emotion, though legitimate and really not bad, is powerful enough to control us, and we find ourselves doing things that we otherwise would not do.

This is true in the case of anxiety. When this emotion controls us, we often become faithless and end up not trusting God in difficult situations. The same is true of desires that overwhelm us.. Covetousness can lead to stealing. The desire becomes more than we wish to deal with and we simply surrender to that desire. Lust for anything can cause a person to rationalize his behavior and do things he would not otherwise do. Of course, anger is one of the most difficult emotions of all. Anger is not sin. But anger can certainly lead to sin, and one of the chief ways we sin when we become angry is through the misuse of the tongue. With this member of our body we can tear people to pieces and ruin them for a lifetime.

The study concerns the uses and abuses of the tongue. It concerns living as a Christian and has to do with the behavior that most clearly reveals our inner life and its true condition.


Read carefully James 3:1-12. What are the chief propositions of this passage?




What is the mark of a perfect (mature) man? verse 2

What apparent dangers are true of the tongue? verse 6




What obvious reality is true of the person who both praises God and curses men? Vs. 9-12

How is the tongue like a fire? Vs. 5,6

What enables a person to control his tongue? James 3:2, Galatians 5:22,23

List some of the positive uses of the tongue.

a. James 3:9

b. Philippians 4:6

c. Romans 10:10; 14:11; Philippians 2:11

d. Acts 1:8

e. Colossians 3:16

It is apparent that we all have within our power many uses of the tongue that are good and acceptable with God. But there are specific references to types of misuse of the tongue as well. We want to see how specifically the Scriptures speak out against sins of the tongue.

Two sins of the tongue are found in Matthew 15:19. What are they?



The first sin involves speaking inaccurately. Someone has given three rules for determining if we should tell something about another person. They are as follows:

1. Is it true?

2. Is it kind?

3. Is it necessary? (Is there some real reason to tell?)

The first measure is basic. Is what I’m saying or telling really true, or is it something I’ve heard someone say and don’t know if its true or not? The second measure covers broad issues. If it isn’t kind, I would do well not to say it, because the misuse of the tongue is again an issue. If it isn‘t kind, it isn’t edifying; I should drop it. The third measure just about rules out every other reason. If it isn’t necessary, and usually it isn’t, I should by all means simply say nothing.

The second sin mentioned in this text is?

How is slander defined in the dictionary?

There are many other sins of the tongue dealt with by the Scriptures. Read the following verses carefully and write what they say about sin.

Matthew 15:11

Ephesians 4:31

Titus 3:2

James 4:11

What does this verse say we do when we slander another person?

1 Peter 2:1

Proverbs 11:13

Proverbs 17:9

Proverbs 18:8

What do these verses tell us concerning the use of the tongue?

Proverbs 13:3

Psalm 101:5

Ephesians 4:29

We do well to note that vs. 30 follows this verse. Might it be that we grieve the Spirit most readily when we misuse our tongues?

1. In what ways have you misused your tongue today?

2. What are the greatest problems you have with your tongue?

3. What else might be considered the misuse of the tongue?

Someone has said, “a tale has no legs upon which to stand, but it has wings and will fly far and wide.” Never have part in such a sin!

Questions for Review and Discussion

1. What are some of the common ways we misuse our tongues?

2. You know something about another person that could be difficult for them if it were disclosed. What are some positive alternatives you could choose instead of telling another person?





3. You have sinned by telling something about another person. What you have said is true, but you really needn’t have said it. What should you do?

4. What is so powerful about gossip?

5. What is the very best way to keep something confidential?

Key Concepts

Central in the understandings we wish to convey in this lesson is the reality that the tongue is the most abused member of our beings and personalities. Be sure that you recognize the central nature of sinning with the tongue, and all the ways we sin with our tongues. Also be sure that there is understanding concerning the dynamics involved in the tongue’s misuse. What is involved in gossiping that makes the tongue so prone to speak when it should best be kept in reign? (Knowing something to tell gives one power over another).

There are gross inconsistencies in the life of a person who claims to know God and yet slanders and gossips. On the other hand, walking in the Spirit becomes the best way to control or bridle the tongue. A look back at the session on spirituality once again might be in order as a means of emphasizing how the tongue is best controlled.

We should also understand the place of control of the tongue in the matter of maturity. If one is able to control his tongue, he is a mature person able to control his whole body. Lack of control means just the opposite of control and is an indication of gross immaturity.

In the session you have just finished, we have emphasized alternative things one can do when we learn of something another has done. There are also some criteria suggested concerning the necessity of telling at all.

Life Application

Obviously we have all misused our tongues. Think of a situation you remember where you sinned in this way. If possible, make restitution for this situation and write up an account in 100 words of less.

Related Topics: Discipleship

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