What Does it Mean to Bridle Your Tongue?

what does it mean to bridle your tongue

Have you read James 1:26? It says that “if anyone among you thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless”. 

This verse is saying that if you think you’ve got it all together in the spirituality department, but don’t bridle your tongue, all your religious efforts are useless. 

So, what exactly does it mean to bridle the tongue? 

To bridle your tongue means to restrain, check, or control your tongue by choosing what you will speak and what you will not speak. 

If you don’t know how to bridle your tongue,  then your religion, or the things you believe are not going to do you much good. What is planted in your heart comes out of your mouth and produces the issues of your life. 

Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

What is a Bridle? 

A bridle is defined as “the headgear used to control a horse, consisting of buckled straps to which a bit and reins are attached.” 

Merriam Webster defines a bridle as “the headgear with which a horse is governed and which carries a bit and reins. 

When you have a bridle on a horse, you can control the direction of the horse despite the enormous strength of the animal with the simple pull of the reins. A horse can only go where it’s head goes. Therefore, if you can control the direction of the head, you can control the entire animal because of the bridle. 

In the same way, when we bridle our tongue by learning to control what we speak and what we don’t speak, we can control our entire bodies. Our life will go in the direction of our tongue. If you can control the tongue, you can control the direction your life will go. 

For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. James 3:2

Why is it Important to Bridle Your Tongue? 

Are you someone who says whatever comes to mind? I’ve heard people say this about themselves like it’s a good thing! They say “I have no filter, I say whatever comes to mind”. 

The Bible says you are held in bondage and caught in a snare by the words you are speaking!

You are snared by the words of your mouth; You are taken by the words of your mouth. Proverbs 6:2

It is completely foolish to speak whatever comes to your mind. 

A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul. Proverbs 18:7

You should not be saying everything that comes to mind. Far from it. Not only should you have a filter between your mind and tongue, but you should set a guard over your mouth! 

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

The tongue is what makes humans different from all other created species. We are speaking spirits, just like God. This is one of the ways we are made in His image. We have the ability to create and change the physical world with our tongue.  

The tongue is so powerful, it can bridle your entire body and tame your human faults and weaknesses. 

For we all stumble and sin in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says [never saying the wrong thing], he is a perfect man [fully developed in character, without serious flaws], able to bridle his whole body and rein in his entire nature [taming his human faults and weaknesses]. James 3:2 AMP

For example, if you are somebody who has been known to not have patience with people, begin to use your tongue to tame this behavior. Begin to speak out loud “I am a patient person. I have the patience of God within me. I am patient with all”. 

As you stay faithful to consistently speak this, you will see your body and soul come under this authority and begin to display patience in your interactions with people.

The tongue can also create and change circumstances. This is a huge part of walking by faith

When God’s Word is planted in your heart and spoken out of your mouth, it becomes a creative force. This is the way God operates, and the way we are designed to operate. It becomes a spiritual force that is able to change the natural realm. 

Everything in the physical realm was created with words (Genesis 1) and everything in the physical realm responds to words.

Jesus modeled this for us. He spoke to diseases, spoke to trees, spoke to demons, spoke to storms, and even spoke to dead bodies. Jesus understood the power of words. 

For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Mark 11:23

How Do You Bridle Your Tongue? 

I think it is obvious that we are not instructed to put an actual horse bridle on our tongue. So how do we practically bridle our tongue in everyday life? 

First of all, the Bible says that no man can tame the tongue (James 3:8). Bridling your tongue requires the supernatural help of the Holy Spirit. 

Without this supernatural help, the tongue is an unruly evil filled with iniquity (James 3:5-6). But with the help of the Holy Spirit, our tongue can be used for good and can partner with God in bringing about His will on the earth. 

The Holy Spirit is committed to helping you bridle your tongue. In fact, it grieves Him when we speak corrupt words that do not impart grace (Ephesians 4:29-30). 

The Bible defines corrupt, evil, and perverted words as words that are in opposition to what God has said. So just “stating the obvious” of what is in the natural realm are perverted words if they are not sourced from God. We should always be speaking words of faith and grace, always in agreement with the Word of God. 

Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you. Proverbs 4:24

Take a look through the book of Proverbs at how many times the tongue or your words are mentioned. It will amaze you!

The entire Bible is full of verses about the power of the tongue. Here are just a few to help you see the power that God has invested in your tongue: 

You will also declare a thing, and it will be established for you; So light will shine on your ways. Job 22:28

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

Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles. Proverbs 21:23

…But the mouth of the upright will deliver them. Proverbs 12:6

He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction. Proverbs 13:3

This is only a tiny fraction of what the Bible has to say about our words. I encourage you to look up even more verses to deepen your understanding of the power within your words. 

Praying in tongues is a wonderful way to give the Holy Spirit leadership of your tongue. As you pray in tongues, you are putting your tongue in subjection to the Holy Spirit. This will get you in the habit of being intentional about who is leading your tongue. 

Our thoughts can come from God, from the devil, or from our own flesh. We must take every thought captive and only choose to speak what is in agreement with God. You don’t have to speak everything that comes to mind! 

In fact, when you have a thought that is contrary to truth, you should cast it down by speaking what God says about it.

For example, if you have a thought that says “this sickness is going to kill me”, you can immediately recognize that thought as a lie. It is not in agreement with what God says in His written word, and therefore does not come from God. God will never contradict His written word. Cast that thought down by saying out loud “I will live and not die and declare the works of the Lord” (Psalm 118:17) and “by His stripes I was healed” (1 Peter 2:24). 

When demonic spirits speak to us by giving us evil thoughts, we choose not to speak those things out loud. Jesus said that His sheep would flee from the voice of a stranger (John 10:5). We cast these thoughts down by rejecting them and speaking truth in their place. 

Thoughts of doubt and unbelief can come from our natural reasoning and carnal mind. The Bible says that our carnal mind is at enmity with God (Romans 8:7)! These thoughts too need to be rejected by speaking what God says. This is how you win spiritual warfare. The battle is in your mind.

What you choose to agree with and declare with your tongue is what you will see happen in your life. You have the power in your agreement and in your tongue!

More About the Power of the Tongue:

How is the Tongue Like the Rudder of a Ship? 

Free Resource: Affirmations About Your Words

How to Receive the Gift of Speaking in Tongues

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