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Two Types Of Wisdom (James[3]13-18)

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THE BOOK OF JAMES

A Series of Messages preached at Bethel Baptist Church

Simcoe, ON (Mid-week services) Fall of 1996

Also Preached at MIBC  on April 5/98

First Ever Evening Service

Two Types of Wisdom

Text: James 3:13-18

Introduction: 

No one can live without wisdom.  (At home/work/school/ministry /business/family/walk with God).  No one wants to be called stupid or be known as a fool.  In the first part of James we are told how to obtain wisdom.

James 1:5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

Notice how James puts “wisdom and understanding” together in vs. 13.

Wisdom is moral insight and skill in the practical issues of life.

Understanding refers to intellectual perception and scientific acumen.

Now wisdom and knowledge are not the same thing. 

A wise person will be knowledgeable, but a knowledgeable person is not necessarily wise.

Knowledge passes the seminary course, but wisdom walks with God.  You can build a house with knowledge, but it takes wisdom to build a home.  Knowledge can construct a Titanic, but wisdom will avoid the ice bergs.

Vs. 13 -

We re being asked to examine ourselves.  Wisdom is not something we should just assume that we have.  Even among Christians, not all are wise.  James says let the wise man show it, or prove it or demonstrate it.  Wisdom can be demonstrated in two ways.

By what we say.

Out of a good conversation

Carefully chosen, well though out, “pro-active” speech.

We just finished two weeks on “The Taming of the Tongue”.  A key to right talk is right thought.  The tongue is contained in a cage of teeth and lips and yet it escapes.  Intelligence cannot keep a lock on that cage, but true wisdom can.  A controlled tongue is possible only with cultured thought.  A mouth full of praise results from a mind filled with purity.

By what we do.

Wisdom is not measured by degrees but by deeds.  Not a matter of acquiring truth in lectures, but of applying truth in life.

Actions speak louder than words.

Oh your walk talks and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.

Are you faithful, dedicated, diligent, considerate, humble?

His works with meekness of wisdom.”  There is humility in the deeds of the one who is controlled by true wisdom.

“Knowledge is proud that she has learned so much; Wisdom is humble that she knows no more.”

ILLUS: Jack Baskin - “Every man is my teacher”.

So there are two types of wisdom.  One earthly, the other heavenly.  Only one can be described as true wisdom.

James first deals with earthly wisdom, and then goes on to present the true or heavenly wisdom.

I. EARTHLY WISDOM Vs. 14 - 16

The world is full of it.  Politics/Business/Entertainment/Economics /Environmentalism etc.  It even creeps into the church.

Rom 1:22  Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

More than “in the world” this wisdom can creep into the church.

If we are going to avoid it, then we must know how to identify it.

A. The Evidence of Earthly Wisdom vs. 14

1. Bitter envying

This is the sin of covetousness.  Envy is the resentful and even hateful dislike of the good fortune or blessing of another.  It breaks the tenth commandment and goes contrary to James 2:8  If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:

2. Strife

Selfish ambition.  Comes from a Greek word meaning “to spin wool”, indicating the seeking of professional gain.

Ambition is good only when it promotes the well-being of others rather than self.

3. Self-deception

To boast about such attitudes and carryings on is to deny the truth.  Every time these people open their mouths to give vent to their feelings they deceive themselves.

Self-deception is the worst kind of deception.

B. The Progression of Earthly Wisdom vs. 15

In this verse James lists a series of three adjectives that have a descending order.  Each one in order makes the underworld nature of this wisdom more clear.

1. Earthly

This wisdom is bound to this earth.  It stands in contrast to that which God originates in heaven.  There is nothing transcending, or of any lasting value in earthly wisdom.  Just like everything else material it is subject to corruption and decay.

Jesus said in Matt. 24:35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

2 Pet 3:10-11  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.

11  Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

Libraries, Universities, Governments, every fountain of this world’s wisdom will be destroyed.  It will not last.

Rev. 18 describes the utter destruction of this world’s (Religious/Political/Economic) system in a day.

2. Sensual

It is fleshly and unspiritual.  Earthly wisdom has no understanding of spiritual concepts.

1 Cor 2:14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

3. Devilish

You cannot explain the wisdom of the world as merely human.  It is human plus something, and that is why non-Christian religions are successful.  They are supernatural, but from beneath.

1 Tim 4:1  Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

As James said earlier the person following earthly wisdom is living a lie.  That lie finds it’s true origin with the father of the lie, Satan himself.

Verse 6 tells us that the tongue is set on fire of hell, now we read that thoughts can be influenced by demons.  An all this in the life of a Christian!

“When the devil speaks the lie it is bad.  When he uses the world to perpetrate the lie, it is worse.  But when the members of the church become his instruments to spread devilish wisdom, it is the worst of all situations.

·         Benny Hinn - Man is a god used to fly, give birth out of the side.  Nine in the trinity etc.

·         The Pope - Accept theory of Evolution (More than his appendix out)

·         Laughing Revival.

C. The Result of Earthly Wisdom vs. 16

A moment ago we discussed the evidence of earthly wisdom.  Where these things exist there will also be devastating results.  One thing leads inevitably to the next in a sequence of cause and effect.

1. Confusion

Where you have bitter envying there you will find confusion and disorder.

1 Cor 14:33  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

You can be sure it is not of God!!

Anarchy goes hand-in-hand with confusion.  Everyone doing what’s right in their own eyes.  Authority is questioned, disobeyed and disdained.  The church becomes ineffective and disorganized as a result.

2. Every evil work

Where you have strife there you will find every evil work. 

Ambition is good until it becomes self-centered, then it degenerates into a “get ahead at all costs” attitude.  Step on as many heads as possible as you climb the ladder of success.

1 Tim 6:10  For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

II. HEAVENLY WISDOM Vs. 17 - 18

True wisdom has it’s origin in Jesus Christ.  It comes down from heaven and is God’s gift to every believer who requests it.

James 1:5  If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

A. The Primary Attribute (or essence) of Heavenly Wisdom

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure,”

This is the first of seven words or phrases James uses to describe heavenly wisdom.

Pure is a synonym of holy.  Wisdom that comes from God is pure because God himself is pure or holy.  Holiness is God’s primary attribute.

1 Pet 1:16  Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

Pure indicates that which is immaculate, undefiled and without any admixture.  It’s not mingled or mixed, it is the original.

ILLUS: (Coke is “The Real Thing”)

You cannot dilute, defile, destroy or in any other way detract from God’s wisdom.

Purity is just like light.  When light enters a room it dispels the darkness, but itself cannot be influenced by the darkness.  In the same way heavenly wisdom enters this sinful world, but is not affected by it.

**Mix in the slightest bit of man’s wisdom and you have changed the formula.  It is no longer wisdom and not of God.

**Add the slightest error to truth and it is no longer truth.

The remaining six characteristics can be grouped into the following three categories.

B. The Attitude of Heavenly Wisdom

1. Peaceable

Prov 3:17  Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.

Rom 12:18  If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

2. Gentle

Characterized by consideration.  Gathers all the facts before giving his opinion.

Phil 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Phil 4:5  Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

3. Easy to be intreated

Submissiveness of character.  Always ready to listen, open to suggestions, opinions and correction of others.

Not “My way or the Highway!”

C. The Actions of Heavenly Wisdom

1. Full of mercy

Mat 5:7  Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

We show mercy to needy people who do not deserve it, otherwise it would not be mercy.

2. Full of good fruits

Gal 5:22-23  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

D. What is Absent in Heavenly Wisdom?

1. Without partiality

·         This topic discussed in detail in the first part of chapter 2.

A wise person does not take sides in a dispute when he serves as an arbitrator.  He is able to avoid becoming personally involved and showing favoritism.

2. Without hypocrisy

He is sincere.  There are no hidden agendas or motives in the judgement a wise person renders.

Romans 12:9 Let love be without dissimulation (to be an actor on a stage). Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

E. The Altitude of Heavenly Wisdom vs.18

What I mean by this last point is that which, in the final analysis, separates heavenly wisdom from its earthly counterfeit.

True wisdom soars above.  The difference is the same as the difference between a snail’s view and the view from a jet airliner.

That which is sown and reaped is righteousness.  And righteousness is both sown and reaped in peace.

The world is looking for peace without righteousness.  But true peace comes through righteousness.

Isa 32:17  And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

Heb 12:11  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

We certainly desire peace but we must not seek it any price.  We must not compromise doctrinal truth, or set aside scriptural rules of conduct in order to achieve peace.

A day will come according to Psalm 85: 10  when “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”

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