Speaking Hellfire

Share this!


The tongue is a fire…. and is set on fire by hell” (James 3:6)



The imagery here is amazingly scary. Look at some of these words in James 3:6:


Fire” – Greek noun “pyr” – every heard of a pyromaniac or a pyroclastic flow?…Yeah, this fire not only burns of itself, but has the ability to burn what’s next to it


Set on fire” – Greek verb “phlogizo” – to ignite, set on fire, to burn up; figuratively used as operating destructively, especially with gradual or subtle power


Hell” – Greek noun “Geenna” or “Gehenna”  – This was originally the valley of Hinnon (Hebrew), south of Jerusalem, where the filth, dead animals and executed criminals of the city were cast out and burned.


So what is this place “Gehenna”? 


In this valley of Hinnon, the people of Judah worshipped an bull-looking idol named Moloch. Between the outstretched hooves of this enormous statue, they built a fire.  In order to keep Moloch appeased, families regularly placed their children on that fire by way of human sacrifice


Can you imagine the fear and horror of this? And what fear of calamity would drive a parent to throw their children into such a place? Think of the piercing screams that came from that canyon. And the stench of the smoke smoldering from human hair and flesh…


Thankfully, King Josiah stopped these sacrifices and the valley became a place of loathing to all. Even the memories brought up such despicable shame that the very site became hated. As years passed, it became a place fit only to burn their refuse, trash and dead animals. It burned 24/7 as the rubbish heap for the city.  


What a vivid picture. 


James says that our tongues are prone to being lit with the flame of Gehenna itself. 


Pretty sickening, huh?


We think pretty thoughts about having the angel of the Lord touch our tongues with the coal from His altar. Yet I wonder how often we are ignited instead out of idolatry, human sacrifice and refuse. This is the warning of the unsurrendered tongue. 


It (the tongue) sets on fire the course of our life” (James 3:6). 


Literally, the term “course of life” depicts a Greek “wheel of life”. Kinda like your circle of influence. Our tongue not only can burn us and our family members, but it also ignites those in our sphere. In social networking terms – those “friends of friends”. 


How many times have we “shared” a little morsel for “someone’s good”, when all along it was like throwing them into the arms of Moloch?


The Message says it this way:


It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire, A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the word, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell.” 


I think I’ll be quiet for a while…..


What about you?