The Control of Conduct

I Peter 3:10-11 “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it.”

Text James 3:5-6 “Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.”

Having considered the choice of conduct in the first part of I Peter 3:10, Peter now emphasizes the control of conduct, “let him refrain his tongue, Let him eschew evil, let him seek peace.” In spite of the fact that the saint has made the proper choice concerning conduct, that is only the beginning; one must maintain control of one’s conduct! Within the text Peter draws his audience’s attention to three specific areas in which control must be maintained if one “will love life, and see good days”; one of which I will deal with. Peter attacks the most difficult stronghold first; the saint must control his words, “let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.” James was well aware of what men are up against when attempting to maintain control over the tongue; “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). In the area of controlling his words, Peter places an emphasis on two categories of speech, the first being destructive words. Here Peter uses the term “evil” which means worthless, depraved or injurious. Volumes could be written on the lives, families, communities, and even nations that have been destroyed by the destructive force of the human tongue. Like the projectile of a weapon that cannot be called back, the damage is done. A wise man wrote, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Proverbs 18:21). Possessed with this knowledge of the truth; may we be found praying as the psalmist, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3). Secondly, Peter emphasizes deceptive words with the term, “guile.” The word means a trick or to bait, craft, deceit, or subtlety. With destructive words we execute the wounding of the hearer, with deceptive words we encourage the wandering of the hearer. By the use of deceptive words we draw the hearer away from the safe harbor of the truth into the open waters of adversity. While the destructive words were used for the preservation of self, the deceptive words were for the profitability of self. Once again we are enlightened to the fact that trouble arises when there is the absence of the cross. Had there been the presence of the cross, self would have sought no revenge and no reward; for there would have been no selfish nature to do so! The words of a wise man remind us of this great truth, “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles” (Proverbs 21:23). When speaking of controlling the tongue, Peter is very clear and to the point. This is seen in the word “refrain” which means to stop, quit, come to an end, and take one’s rest, a willing cessation. You don’t gradually work into it, but by means of a willful choice you bring to a halt and stop the flow of the destructive and deceptive words of a demonic nature. It is imperative that the believer maintain control of his conduct; especially his words!

(Paragraph from my work on I Peter which I hope to complete by 2023)