Timeless truths about “ought not.” James clearly says that “these things ought not be this way.” What things? When brothers and sisters bless God and with the same tongue curse another person. Then he draws a startling conclusion: “Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?” That is a rhetorical question. It is impossible. So, what does he mean?
Those who use their tongue to bless God and destroy others are like a stream that produces fresh and bitter water. But it is contradictory. Someone has poisoned the stream! The same is true with our hearts. The first truth here is that it is impossible for both fresh and bitter water to come out of the same opening. It is impossible for a heart transformed by God to produce blessings and hatred
The next truth we learn is that it is impossible for man to tame his tongue. You cannot do it. The only way the tongue can be tamed is for the heart to be transformed.
Finally, this illustration is a continuation of James’ discussion on living and dead faith. The evidence is clear.
“For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.” James 3:7-12 NASB