James 3:13-4:10 (Week 6 – Faith in Action Series)
Jason White



James teaches us that there are 2 kinds of wisdom: an unspiritual, earthly, demonic type of wisdom and the wisdom that is from above (comes from God). As we walk in the Spirit and are guided by God’s wisdom there will be certain characteristics manifested through us: peace-loving, consideration of others, mutual submission, mercy, impartiality, and sincerity.







Sermon Audio Transcript
There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. You can have knowledge but not actually have wisdom. Sometimes we get those things mixed up, or we think they're interchangeable or synonymous with one another. But you can have a lot of knowledge but still not live wisely. For example, knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. But wisdom is to not put tomatoes in a fruit salad, right? They just don't go together, they don't mix well. Wisdom is the ability to take knowledge and use it to make good decisions and judgments and the various situations and circumstances of our lives. And so wisdom is extremely important. It's been important for a long time, not just in today's day and age. And it's been the kind of thing that's been talked about, off and on, all throughout history. The Bible, of course, mentioned King Solomon and his wisdom. He's known as the wisest man who ever lived, you can even go back and read the book of Proverbs and find out a lot of the wise things that he had to say. Of course, a lot of times when we think about wisdom, aside from King Solomon, we think of the Greek philosophers and maybe you think of Aristotle or Plato or Socrates or someone like that, or, or maybe just someone out else throughout history. But what about today? What's wisdom look like today in today's culture, Roy T. Bennett, who wrote a book not too long ago, called the light in the heart says that wisdom is this, to follow your heart, to listen to your own inner voice, and to stop caring what others think. In other words, be true to yourself. Just whatever it is that you think is the right thing to do, whatever it is, that you feel, is the right thing to do, and the way to live your life, then do that be true to whatever you're thinking or whatever it is that you are feeling. Don't live up to anyone else's standards or guidelines, or that kind of thing. Just do what you think and feels right to you be true to yourself. Our culture says this is what it looks like to live wisely in today's age. But is that true? Is that what real wisdom is? Is that what it looks like to live wisely? Well, James, in this section of scripture has a lot to say about wisdom, as we're going to see in just a moment. And these are timeless truths, timeless principles that we are going to see that still apply to us today about what wisdom really is about what it looks like to live wisely. James starts off again in chapter three, verse 13. And he says this, who is wise and understanding among you, let them show it by their good life by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from heaven, but as earthly unspiritual. Demonic for where you have envy and selfish ambition. There you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all, pure, then peace, loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere peacemakers, who sow in peace, reap a harvest of righteousness. So James has a lot of things there. But overall, we see that James tells us that there are two different kinds of wisdom. There's a kind of wisdom that is earthly unspiritual and demonic on one side, and then there's a wisdom that comes from heaven that comes from God. So let's think about that. Let's, let's break that down a little bit. If there is a wisdom that is from heaven, that comes from God, then that means that God created a way for things to work in our lives, right that he, as the creator created us in a certain way for us to live and function in a way that's best for us and represents him and brings him glory and honor. It fits. It's in alignment with who he is and who He created us to be. And so we go all the way back to the garden and think about the creation account found in Genesis. He creates Adam and Eve and they're living with him in the gods. aren't in and he is their source for life. He's their guide for how he created them to live and to function here and it's good, everything is good. He leads them in ways that are pure. He leads them in ways that are peace loving ways where they're being considerate to each other, and of each other ways where they're mutually submitting to one another. He's leading them to be full of mercy and to produce good fruit and to be impartial and sincere in their speech and their actions towards one another. It's just good. This is heavenly wisdom, God, leading his creation, to live in the ways he created them to live and function and interact with each other in this world. But of course, then Satan enters the picture in the form of a serpent and basically says, Hey, guys, God is holding out on you, he may have told you that this is the right way to live that, that it's the wise way to live is to not eat from the fruit of that tree. But listen to this really not what's best for you, God's holding out on you, you're missing out on real life, the abundant life that life that you could have an experience. If you would eat this fruit. Then Now Eve becomes envious, right? She's feeling discontent, she's longing to now have what God said was not what was best for her. And so with selfish ambition, she discerned that the wisest thing for her to do in that moment is to take the fruit, and she chooses a different path than God's path. And of course, there's immediate guilt, there's immediate shame, there's immediate hiding, why? Because this is not what God had created for her, or for Adam. This is the wisdom that James mentions is earthly, unspiritual, and demonic, was influenced by Satan himself. Eve was not following the wisdom of God. And what he said, was the best for her and the best way to live her life in that moment, but rather, the wisdom from Satan, the wisdom in her own flesh, with what she was reasoning out in her own mind and feelings, and with sin entering the world, and with spiritual death now being a consequence, because of sin entering the world, then we all now enter this world, each one of us, disconnected from God, disconnected from our Creator, disconnected from our true source of life disconnected from our guide, and the one who is wisdom that shows us how to live and how He created us to live, and what is best for us in His glory. And so as we go through life, all we have is the wisdom of this world, the wisdom from Satan, who's the ruler of this world, and the wisdom that we can find in our own flesh, our soulcal wisdom. Let me see if I can help you visualize this better. I've asked a few people to come to the stage and help me out with this. And while they do, I'll just remind you, we you've I've shown you this, and your Spiritual Anatomy a number of times we were created as beings who are spiritual beings who have a soul and a body. And so I'm going to have Susan come down here, and she's going to represent our spirit, the lowercase s spirit, right? I'm going to have Garrett come over here and stand in the middle. And he's going to represent our soul. This is our our thinker, and our feeler and our chooser part of us, right, Matt of Steve come over here and represent our our body. And so this is you. This is each one of us. And scripture again tells us that we were meant to be in union with the Holy Spirit. And so Bill is going to represent the Holy Spirit.And notice that he is in union with her spirit, right, there is a union that is here. And this is the way that God designed for all of us to live with him as our life with Him as our source with him as our wisdom implanted deeply at the very core of our being so that our soul can turn around and use our mind and our feelings and look to Him as the author of our life. And the one who is wisdom and received that wisdom Steve can turn around as well. So our bodies and our souls are kind of fixated and focused and we were meant to be receivers, right. We were meant to be receivers and then expresses of what it is that we receive So this is the way it was designed to work from the very beginning. However, as we just talked about sin broke this union disconnected a spiritually from God. And as a consequence, there is spiritual death. So we're gonna have Susan, our spirit turn around and sit down here to represent that she is dead. Alright, so now there is no longer wisdom at the very core of our being, we don't have heavenly wisdom at our disposal any longer to show us and guide us how it is that God created us to live, what do we have left? Well, I got a soul and I got a body. That's the only way I'm gonna be able to figure it out. And so we'll have these guys turn back around. And we're, we're facing this way to show that this is this is the world right? So so James says that the other kind of wisdom is worldly wisdom, right? So we can't look inward, to see where the wisdom is, and we don't have it there. We've got to look out into the world, and what is the world say? I look deep within yourself, and be true to yourself. And so our bodies going okay, let me let me look inside of here. And our souls going, Oh, I can't really turned around because there's an emptiness there. There's no place for me to go. And so I guess about what what is it that I think about the best way to live my life? How do I feel like I should live my life? And this becomes what is our truth, right? This is now the way that we're going to live our life because I don't have any other resources at my disposal. So I'm just going to figure out and try to reason what's best for me. And whatever it is that I feel like doing. Of course, sometimes, we don't know what we think about things. We don't know what we feel about things. And so then we turn around and we have to look out into the world say, What should I think about this issue? Or what should I feel about these particular things, and then we see from the world, oh, this is the best way to live your life, this is what you should be feeling or thinking about those kinds of things. And then we're carrying out that earthly unspiritual, right, because it's we don't have a spirit that's alive, or we're spiritually dead. And we're living our lives through this earthly unspiritual. And James says demonic wisdom is all that we have. Now the good news is that Jesus left the glory and the riches of heaven to come to this earth to take on all of our sins to the cross, He died for every single one of them and was raised from the bit the dead is a bill alluded to earlier. And now that he's overcome the power of sin and death, he gifts us he Grace's us salvation. And when we put our faith and trust in Him, we are completely forgiven, the Holy Spirit comes back to dwell in our lives again. And now we're reunited with the Holy Spirit, the way we were meant to be all the way back in the garden. And now we're spiritually alive. So now we can actually turn all the way back around the way it was meant to be to be receivers from heavenly wisdom, to show us how it is to live our lives. But James says the problem is he's writing to the church that even though this is true of them, even though they've said yes to Jesus, and they're now spiritually alive, and they have heavenly wisdom at their disposal, that they're not choosing to walk by the Spirit, but they're choosing to walk by the flesh. And so they've turned, and instead of fixing their eyes on Jesus, and and focusing on heavenly things, they're now focused on earthly things. And they're chasing this earthly unspiritual, demonic wisdom, and they are boasting about it. And so James is calling it out for what it is in saying, This is what's really going on in your world right now. I hope this helps you see a little bit more what we're talking about when we're talking about earthly unspiritual, demonic wisdom in the way this happens and works in our lives. And the way it works when we're focused on Jesus and our minds are fixed on him and him being our heavenly wisdom as they make their way back to their seats. Let's give them a round of applause and just thank them for helping us out. So James mentions these different kinds of wisdom and there are those that are boasting in this and he dives into this a little bit more as he goes on and continues in chapter four. Starting in verse one, he says, what causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you, your desire to not have a you desire, but you do not have excuse me, so you kill you covet, but you cannot get what you want. So you quarrel and fight? You do not have because you do not ask God, and when you ask you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James says that we can go to God sometimes, and ask him for things. But ask in ways that line up with worldly wisdom, even though we're going to God, because what we're doing is we're taking the wisdom of the world and what we feel whatever it is that we think about being true to ourselves. And we're, we're going to those things. And we're asking him, to bless us with what it is that we think we need in those moments in order to live our lives more effectively, and in a better way to bring us more contentment or happiness and please our selves, and James is saying, it doesn't really work that way. You don't get to bring your earthly unspiritual demonic wisdom and ask God to bless it. It's meant for you to come to him and say, you're the author of wisdom. You're the one that created me, you're my Lord and my life. And so let me ask you, what you want and what you desire is as far as me being your instrument and how you want to work in me and through me. So now that James kind of calls this out, he calls it out even more for what it really is. Look at what he says beginning in verse four. He says you adulterous people. You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God? Or do you think that the scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us. So James says, when when you've been saved, and God's given you new life and Christ to, to live from and to guide you in His ways, and in line with his kingdom work, but instead of keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus and him as your wisdom, you look to the world instead, then when that happens, you're moving away from what God is doing in this world. And you're lining up more with what Satan is actually up to and doing in this world. He's he's saying that you're, you're actually on his team, you're on this team, but you've lined up on the wrong side of the ball. You're playing for the other team, even though you're on this team. I mean, football seasons getting ready to start, amen. Thank goodness, right. All right. So you picture the different jerseys and teens. I mean, you got the Dallas Cowboys, America's team, right on one side of the ball, and they're in either white or blue jerseys. And on the other side, you've got the Philadelphia Eagles, the evil teams, right? The earthly unspiritual. Demonic team. And and if you're a cowboy, and you're on this team, and you're lining up on this side of the ball, it's pretty obvious you're on the wrong side, you're playing for the wrong team in that particular moment, there's no doubt you're on that team, you're wearing their jersey, right. But for some reason, you're playing with them over here against the direction that we should be moving, and we're going and the way that we were created to go. And so James, the same when you do this, it's it's you don't you know that his friendship with the world, you're choosing to become like an enemy of God.I mean, you're not, you're still in unity with him, you're on his team, you're his child, and he loves you, but you're acting as if you're his enemy, you're moving against him in his ways in those moments, and and so James even points out that God's jealous for you don't you know that he's jealous for the Spirit that He calls to dwell on you. He longs to live in relationship with you. Why? Because he's put you in an eternal, inseparable union and relationship with Him. And so he wants you to actually experience the relationship that he's put you in with him and experience the abundant life that He has given you. He wants you to be a part of what it is that He created you to be a part of in this world. And that lines up with his kingdom work and the great plan that He has for your life that goes in alignment with the way that he created you. And so he just calls it out for what it is that their actions or sometimes our actions in the church or in our homes or in our businesses or in our own lives can actually be aligned with Satan and what he's up to in this world, which of course he uses for destruction in our own lives and the lives of others that were around But as James calls us out and says some really hard things to them about being adulterous people when these kinds of things are happening, and look what he says next and verse six, but he gives us more grace. Amen. But he gives us you adulterous people, but he gives us more grace. 's even says that is why scripture says God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble even when we haven't trusted God in the life that we have in Him, following his wisdom and alignment with the way that He created us to be and to do that, because of his love. Because of his jealousy for us. He gives us more grace, He doesn't kick us off the team. He gives us instead what we need, He gives us His grace, he uses those situations, to begin to woo us back to his love to the life that we have in Him for the ways that he created us to live in union with Him and have his life expressed through us. Now if we continue to walk in our pride, and in our own wisdom, then we will not experience that grace, we will not experience the life that we have in him. He says God opposes the proud he can't work with pride. Pride is the flesh is our soulcal realm of trying to do things independently from God. It's humility, that you remember the picture up here, picture pride, and these two on the end facing out this way, but it's humility that spins them around and says, Oh, you're the Lord of my life. You are my life. I'm not the Lord of my life. I'm not the one responsible for bringing myself abundant life. And when we come back to Him in humility, he says favor to the humble will be able to experience His grace experience that life flows through us. So finally, as he finishes up his thoughts around these things, and the last few verses, he paints a little bit more detailed picture of what this looks like. He says, Submit yourselves then to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you wash your hands you sinners and purify your hearts, you double minded grieve, mourn and wail change your laughter to morning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up, not lift you up to give you what you want. How many times have you heard that particular verse just stripped out of context and quoted isolated from all the other things here, humble yourselves before the Lord and he's gonna lift you up from that situation or circumstance that you're in, you're gonna have a better job, you're gonna have more money, you're gonna have health and prosperity and all the above, if you'll just humble yourself, and then He'll lift you up. And you'll have everything that you ever really want to James already covered that that's not really the way things work. You don't get to ask God to bless your wisdom, right? We go to him and see what he thinks about this. But date James does say to get there to get to that place, there needs to be a recognition of the sin in your life, a recognition of the earthly wisdom that you've been following, and using to guide what you thought was best for your life and following that wisdom. Instead, remember, James is writing to people who were were boasting about this kind of wisdom. So he's calling them back from that and saying, this is sin, you're double minded, you're going back and forth. And you need to instead of being prideful and boastful about it, grieve, mourn and wail. Because you're a belong to this team, but you've been lining up and playing on the other team. While this has been happening. As this happens, you're humbling yourself before Him again, recognizing Him as Lord, you're making yourself available to him turning from your flesh, making yourself available for Jesus to be your guide for him to give you wisdom to the good works that he created for you to walk in, as he says, Paul says in Ephesians 210. And at that point, James says that's when God will lift you up. He'll lift you up from the world The path of wisdom in put you on the heavenly path of wisdom, one that is from above, and will lead to peace loving and lead to consider it actions, one that produces good fruit in Unity. I guess the question then is as you look at your life and where you're at today, where you've been recently, are you walking by worldly wisdom in your life? Are you walking by heavenly wisdom? How do I know? How do I know if I'm walking by heavenly wisdom or worldly wisdom? Well, do you see your life being characterized by peace, loving, or enmity? To see your life being characterized by consideration of others in their needs are being selfish. They see your life being characterized as being submissive, submitting to others, are you demanding? They see your life being characterized as full of mercy or one where you're out to punish and get revenge on others? Do you see your life being characterized by impartiality or judgment? Are you being judgmental towards others? Do you see your life being characterized by sincerity? Or are you being fake? These are all the things that James says, characterizes heavenly wisdom you'll know when your soul and your body are turning around and receiving the wisdom from the Lord, because it will be manifest through you into the world will be peace, loving consideration, submissiveness, being full of mercy, being impartial and being sincere. So if you find today that maybe you have been walking by worldly wisdom, you've you've trusted Jesus as your savior, you have new life in him, you have wisdom at your disposal, but you've been walking in your flesh and what you think is the best way to live or listening to the world and what the world says is the best way to live, then maybe during our response time, and just a moment, it would be wise for you to spend some time humbling yourself before the Lord, turning your gaze and your focus back on him. Maybe if you're here, you're watching online and you'd say yeah, I've been following the ways of this world and the worldly wisdom. Well, because Jesus doesn't live in me. He's not a part of my life. I've never said yes to him. I don't have access to heavenly wisdom, the way that you showed it in the illustration up here. And so I need to say yes to Jesus today. That's the way that he's leading me to respond so that now I can see how he created me to live and what he created for me to do. Maybe that's what he wants to do in your life today and how he wants to lead you to respond. Whatever it is that he's doing, I'm gonna pray and ask that you be open to following through with how Jesus is leading you to respond in this moment.