For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
No person can tame the tongue by their own will and with the absence of God in their lives. James tells us that a full range of iniquities can find their way into our world, through the outlet of the tongue. Moreover, that those iniquities proceed from our heart consumed by our fallen nature. Though animals and creatures of all sorts can be tamed, even those more powerful than ourselves, we cannot tame the human tongue. James is essentially saying no one can subdue our sinful speech by our own power. Because this would require that we subdue or control the sin nature which resides in each and every one of us. And that is not possible without God. This is because God destroys our old self and makes us a new creation in Christ Jesus, through our faith alone in Him. The Bible tells us that before Jesus, we were dead in our trespasses and sins and without hope in the world. And it was the touch of God, which restored our lives, gave us a new spirit and made us alive to the Gospel of Christ.
The implication is a dead person cannot control their tongue. We cannot know God without the power of the Holy Spirit to change our hearts thereby making us alive to God. Because without the Holy Spirit, we are unable to stop our sin nature from taking control and displaying its desires in our speech. However, with Jesus, we become a new creation with a new heart. Our old self has been crucified and God replaces our dead heart with a new heart of flesh sensitive to God and the things of God. This is accomplished through the Holy Spirit’s work of sanctification in the lives of all believers. A process which changes us from the inside out because of God’s indwelling presence. And it’s the Holy Spirit working in us, which provides us with the new source from which our hearts can draw from. Our hearts, which are now alive to God, no longer draw from a fallen world, but directly from God through the Holy Spirit and God’s word, the Bible. And it’s from this new source that we get the words we speak. And that is why without faith and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, our tongues are full of poisonous venom. We sit, waiting to strike at the first person who crosses our path, because without Jesus, we are controlled by our emotions and not the Spirit of God.