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04-22-07 - False Wisdom - James 3.14-16 - NSB

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 NSB – 4.22.07 - PM

Haley Burchard and Christina Landreth

            Please read 13-17

NTSK (Verse 14 only) – TBKC – Believer’s Bible Commentary – JFB – Ironside Commentary on James 3:14-18 – Plain Talk on James by Gutzke – The Deeper Life Pulpit Commentary on James – The NIV Application Commentary on James by Nystrom – Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible commentary – KJV Bible Commentary – Black’s NT Commentary on the Epistle of James – The BE Commentary by Wiersbe – The Bible reader’s Companion – KJV Bible Commentary – John MacArhtur Study Bible – Nelson Study Bible NKJV – Wordsearch – NAC on James -

Verse 14 begins with, “but.”  Introducing a contrast between what was just said in verse 13 and what is being introduced in verse 14.


Wednesday we talked about a faith that does not save because it is not of God and tonight we want to talk about a wisdom that does not come from God as James talks to us about…



There is a false wisdom in the world just like there is a false faith in the world.

James 3:15 tells us that there is a wisdom that does not come from heaven, but comes from three other origins

earthly, natural, and demonic.

And we might expect this wisdom to be in the world but remember who James is writing to – Christians

And so he it warning us against allowing this sort of wisdom to manifest itself inside the church.

The world seems genuinely hungry for wisdom and the seem to be willing to look everywhere for it except where ti comes from

            In the 1960’s people began to seek out Eastern mystics and Gurus and maharashis

Later on they began to seek out men of higher learning who had lots of degrees on their walls.

Now we have movie stars who have followed science fiction writers – and they are wanting to be your guide into eternal things.

And between here and Hixson there is a Palm reader who will tell you everything she knows about you and eve stuff that she does not know about you.

And then of course, if you are too busy to leave the house then you can call the Psychic Hotline.

Fortunately for us, James has already reminded us that true wisdom comes from God.

James 1:5 (KJV) 5If 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. 

So – False Wisdom – James begins with…


           Look at verse 14 where he gives us some of the things that false wisdom produces.

            Envy and strife –

Two things that are indicators of troubled communities, whether they be churches or otherwise.

And not just envy, but…

           A.  BITTER ENVY

That is, “a harsh, resentful attitude toward others…”

           It can be a burr under the saddle of any church.

               It only takes a couple of envious people to keep the entire body upset.

           And the thing about envy is that the person that we have to watch out for is our own self.

Envy here is misdirected zeal – so strong that it overrides good judgment at times.


DETROIT, Jan. 6, 1996 — U.S. national champion figure skater Nancy Kerrigan, a 1992 Olympic bronze medalist and one of the favorites to win the gold medal at next month's Winter Olympics, was attacked by a man wielding a blunt object after a practice this afternoon at the U.S. Olympic trials.

That was envy -

There was envy in the Garden that was in Eden.

           The serpent told Eve that the reason that God did not want her to eat from the tree of knowledge was that when she did, she would become as a god herself.

Elsewhere in the OT, Rachel envied her sister.

            Joseph was envied by his brothers

            Jesus was delivered to Pilate because of envy.

The Apostles were put into prison because of envy


            The first evidence of false wisdom – envy

           Now what is there in the church for people to be envious of?

           You would be amazed –

           · position in the church

           ·preaching and teaching ability  - Corinth

           · recognition of any kind

           ·some other sort of attention

The point is that….

           This envy that results from false wisdom leads to division.

So, regarding envy, here is what we want to ask ourselves…

Do we rejoice when others succeed?

Do we feel burdened when others fail?

Our family here must be on guard against envy –

And then…    

           B.  STRIFE

Paul told the Corinthians that their jealousy was an indicator that they were of the flesh – that they were carnal.

           This Gk. Word was used to describe anyone who entered politics for selfish reasons and sought to achieve his agenda at any cost (i.e., even if that meant trampling on others).[1] 

word “strife” (erithian) means selfish ambition.

           It is not so much me wanting what you have as me being willing to use you to get what I want.

It comes out of a proud heart.

           And that comes from the world’s wisdom focusing on self.

               Even in God’s house there are those who are ambitious for selfish reasons.

Even in the OT there were those who wanted to be elevated for selfish reasons.

Let’s look at -

                        Aaron and Miriam. – Numbers 12

If there are going to be disturbances in the church, let us be disturbed over the cause of Christ or the people of Christ but not because of selfish ambition.

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness
of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every
man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others”
(Phil. 2:3-4).

Paul told Timothy to remind the leaders in his church not to strive about words – there is no profit in it.

Once this gets into our family it can be hard to overcome…

In the Bible we see people who desired the best seats at church and we even see some who wanted to make sure they had the best seats reserved for where they would sit in heaven.

But, the Bible says…

      “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the
eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1
John 2:16).

And then, false wisdom, whether it is displayed as –

           Selfish ambition that leads to strife or

           Zeal that leads to envy…


Are you with me?

            You can’t boast about having wisdom if you have these traits in verse 14

Because if you have envy and strife in your hearts, those things did not come from God.

If you are just the type of person who needs to boast, boast about God.

            What a mighty God we serve…

           And if anyone is going to boast about you, let it be God

Paul told the Corinthians that it is not the one who commends himself who is approved but it is the one whom God approves

               The wisdom of this world exalts man and robs God of His glory.

                “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31).[2]

So, that is the DESCRIPTION James gives.  Now, look at…



Well, we have already seen that…

           Every good and perfect gift comes from above. 1:17

And here we see that…

           Three sources are given for this false wisdom and none of them is God.

Earthly, sensual, and devilish, answer to the three spiritual foes of man, the world, the flesh, and the devil.[3]


            First of all there is a contrast in origins –

                        Your wisdom is either from above or below

And this is where we learn that there are two wisdoms

CER Defintiely cf.1:5 vs 3:15

           A.  EARTHLY

           Earthly means that this wisdom is not from heaven, but from this earth.

                        It is of the flesh - Of the world

                        From the physical part of you - According to the sinful nature

                                    Which has been in all men since the fall

                        Does not take into account the revealed will of God.

            And guess what it does?

                                    Produces envy, strife, and other unholy products.

            Man’s wisdom will give you things like:

            The tower of Babel

            Saul’s armor on the shepherd boy, David

            Lord, there is no way we can feed 5,000 – Let’s send them all to O’Charley’s

But the Bible says that God makes foolish the wisdom of this age

           It is the way that seems right to man but in the end there is death.

And then James says that it is…

           B.  SENSUAL

Simply Meaning -

               Natural  - neglecting the spiritual part of man

               In this sort of wisdom a man trusts in himself but Proverbs says that the man who trusts in himself is a fool.

           C.  DEVILISH

           Pretty self-explanatory – If wisdom that is characterized by envy and strife did not come from heaven then it originated with Satan.

This wisdom will do stuff for you like…

He did in the Garden where he took something that was good and placed it before the woman until the desire to have it became so strong that she was willing to go against the decree of God to have it.

                                    He had a wisdom that was used to deceive Eve.

               It shows up in such things as…

pride, self-ambition, bitterness, envy, strife, creating tension, division,
and teaching false doctrine –

               All of which are not of God.

                They are of the evil one, of the devil himself.

               To be envious of others or to promote yourself at the expense of others is to act like the devil.

Can you see why we don’t want these things in our family here?

           Envy and strife are characteristic of a wisdom that serves Satan’s interest more then God’s

The origin of true spiritual wisdom is God. To get your wisdom from any other source is to ask for trouble.


In other words, there is a “heavenly wisdom” that comes from God, and there is a “wisdom” that does not come from God.[5]

Then what are…


           A.  CONFUSION

It produces confusion – Now you know confusion is not produced by God.

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

And whenever we try to please God and please the flesh.


So…just like true on Wednesday night when we saw that faith was revealed by action so is true wisdom revealed by action.

            We can observe wisdom just like we can observe faith.

            Because wisdom is knowledge applied in a spiritual way.

That is, in how people apply what they know…

            Jesus showed wisdom in the way He answered the Pharisees.

            And the way He answered Satan when He was being tempted.

            Solomon showed wisdom

            James showed wisdom along with the Jerusalem council (Acts 15).

You can show godly wisdom…Listen to verse 13 -

James 3:13 (KJV) 13Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 

Sister Suzie Q or Brother Billy Bob can’t claim the wisdom of God and be responsible for discord in our family – Those two things don’t go together

So…It’s effects are CONFUSION and then…

           B.  EVIL WORKS

That’s right -

Matthew 7:17 (KJV) 17Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 

Let’s wrap this up -

           Paul told us that one of the characteristics of love is that love envieth not.

If you are going to claim the wisdom of God then you must meet the requirements of God

Godly wisdom comes from God and he gives it to His children.

Proverbs 9:10 (KJV) 10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. 

So, as a body we must heed James warning and constantly guard against allowing worldly principles to guide us in spiritual affairs.

I don’t need to guard you and you do not need to guard me but each of us needs to guard our self.

James 3:17 (KJV) 17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 

We are to look to heaven for everything and wisdom is no exception…

            Our citizenship is in heaven

            Our Father is in heaven

            Our treasures are in heaven

            Our home is in heaven

            And our wisdom is from there.

And above all else remember this when contrasting God’s wisdom and man’s wisdom

Man’s wisdom does not lead people to God.


That is why it is not merely neutral and harmless.

As we close, hear what James is saying.

Brother and sister relationships are suffering in churches all over the place this evening

due to envy and strife.

So, as we close –

You can have envy and strife or you can have godly wisdom but you cannot have both


Chapter three begins with James exhorting teachers..

Godly wisdom is when you can take God’s Word and show people how it applies to their everyday lives.

It is not just knowledge but it is knowledge with wisdom.

In this passage he contrasts true wisdom with this, “knowledge without wisdom.”


Hunt’s outlines – Kay’s tapes – Precept Study –

The wisdom of heaven –

                        Found in all it’s fullness in Christ.

If the wisdom of God is in your heart and your mind then it is going to keep your mouth and lips from evil.

There is no uncleanness in it

                        It does not stir up unholy strife

                        It is not sarcastic

                        It is not harsh

                        It is not unruly


                        Is w/o hypocrisy

The one who has this wisdom sows good things (with his tongue, context of this chapter)

If you say you have wisdom and you have these traits then you are saying that wisdom includes these things and that kind of wisdom does not come from God.

Those who harbor such deadly attitudes have no place to boast about how wise and understanding they are.

            If they do then they are lying against the truth of verse 13?

If you harbor feelings of greed, envy, covetousness, jealousy, selfish ambition, rivalry, strife then not only are you not wise but you are unspiritual.

Because the Holy Spirit leads God’s people toward humility and unity.

True wisdom reveals itself by several markers –

            Deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom (3:13)

            The practical result of this true wisdom is peace within the community.

True wisdom is marked by humility and results in good deeds shown in a “good life.”


STOP glorying and STOP lying.

Bitter jealousy and selfish ambition –

            These two words are also found in Paul’s list of vices.

The wisdom of the world says, “Promote yourself. You’re as good as the other candidates, maybe better! The wheel that squeaks the loudest gets the grease.” Sad to say, there is a great deal of selfish, carnal promotion among God’s people. Even the Apostles argued over who was the greatest in the kingdom.[6]

Paul, writing of unrighteous men in his letter to the Romans said that they were filled with envy (among other things).

            And later on he told them that there is no place for envy in love.

He told the Philippians that there were even some who preached Christ from envy.

Galatians 5:20 (KJV) 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 


            Don’t lie to yourself –

                        As sure as you have envying and strife in your life, you are carnal.

                        These are earthly or carnal things – they do not come from God.

                                    You have a carnal element in you that needs to be denied.

There is a wisdom of the world – Paul wrote about it and said that God had made it foolishness.

If wisdom displays itself apart from good conduct and meekness, it is not from above. In fact, it is characterized as earthly, wise by the world’s standards, sensual (Gr psychikos), meaning natural as distinguished from spiritual, and devilish (Gr daimoniōdēs), of demonic influence.[7]

Maybe not demonic in origin but in similarity.  A wisdom that is like a demon’s and not demon inspired.

The author leaves no doubt about the effects of envying and strife of verse 14. Confusion (Gr akatastasis) opposes that which is established. Every evil work specifically means “every foul practice.” Strife usually begins with gossip and climaxes in direct confrontation.[8]

Teaching in the church that is from the wisdom of God should add to the church, not break it up or tear it down by causing confusion and division.

Envying and strife –

Either we do not want them to have what they have or we want to have what they have.

            Envying –

So English Version translates the Greek, which usually means “zeal”; “emulation,” in Ro 13:13. “The envious man stands in his own light. He thinks his candle cannot shine in the presence of another’s sun. He aims directly at men, obliquely at God, who makes men to differ.”[9]


[1]John Jr MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, electronic ed. (Nashville: Word Pub., 1997, c1997), Jas 3:14.

[2]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, "An Exposition of the New Testament Comprising the Entire 'BE' Series"--Jkt. (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989), Jas 3:13.

[3]Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset et al., A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, On Spine: Critical and Explanatory Commentary. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), Jas 3:15.

[4]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, "An Exposition of the New Testament Comprising the Entire 'BE' Series"--Jkt. (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989), Jas 3:15.

[5]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, "An Exposition of the New Testament Comprising the Entire 'BE' Series"--Jkt. (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989), Jas 3:15.

[6]Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, "An Exposition of the New Testament Comprising the Entire 'BE' Series"--Jkt. (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1996, c1989), Jas 3:13.

[7]KJV Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1994), 2592.

[8]KJV Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1994), 2592.

[9]Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, A. R. Fausset et al., A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, On Spine: Critical and Explanatory Commentary. (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997), Jas 3:16.

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