“Wisdom, Who is right?”
Introduction: In the recent past we could not help but see in the news over and over again the tragic massacre of thirty-two lives on the campus of Virginia Tech.
On the one hand, our hearts went out to the grieving parents and those who lost loved ones in this senseless killing.
On the other hand, we were appalled by the actions of a sinful, depraved, and degenerate mind and soul twisted by our evil society.
Now in the aftermath, panels of news commentators are still trying to analyze the WHY, the WHAT and now, the WHERE we go from here. It’s easy to see the great divide between man’s wisdom and the wisdom from God. Man’s wisdom uses human philosophy, education, legislation, or psychoanalysis of how to control the wicked human heart, God’s wisdom is a heavenly wisdom that through Christ is the answer to a desperately wicked heart, wherein man alone will find the peace that passeth all understanding.
Even though we are witnessing a knowledge explosion in our nations' history, it is revealing to notice education in itself has not proved to be the answer to our basic problems, or basic human needs. Unfortunately, with all our knowledge, we have accumulated very little WISDOM. And yet the Bible tells us wisdom is the key to success and happiness.
Proverbs 3:13 "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom."
Proverbs 4:7 "Wisdom is the principle thing, therefore get wisdom."
Proverbs 8:11 "Wisdom is better than rubies…"
Psalm 111:10 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom…"
We must understand that the two philosophies are at war with one another.
There is the earthly, humanistic, man-centered philosophy taught in public education.
On the other hand, there is a Godly philosophy found in the WISDOM of Christ, with the Word of God as its foundation.
Having brought this to our attention, we come to the last part of James 3:13-18 where James presents a dramatic contrast between earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom. Follow me as I read these verses, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. (14) But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. (15) This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. (16) For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. (17) But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (18) And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
Noticing again verse 13 we ask, "What is Wisdom?" Please listen:
Wisdom is not determined by how much knowledge we possess, but by how we act upon that knowledge.
Wisdom is not so much determined by how much we SAY, as by what we ARE and what we DO.
James is saying "If you profess to be wise, then make sure your WALK demonstrates your TALK."
To James, religion was more than just beautiful words. In many respects he is describing our present religious climate where "theological creeds are a dime a dozen." We have Christians who know the RIGHT WORDS, but their faith is worthless because they don't live what they say they believe.
Someone said, "Whenever the church can confront this world with people whose lives are consistent with what they say, REVIVAL will be on its way." It has been rightfully said, "Many people never read the gospel in a fine leather Bible or even from an inexpensive Bible. But no one can escape from the gospel in shoe leather. "
The wise man who takes his directions from the Word of God, is an open book testifying to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
The wise man runs from the evil paths as Job 28:28 states, "Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom and to depart from evil is understanding."
The wise man in verse 13 has "meekness of wisdom." MEEKNESS, which is the right use of power and WISDOM, which is the right use of knowledge, go together.
A wise man is a humble man.
A wise man recognizes his relationship to God.
A wise man acknowledges God's greatness and holiness.
A wise man humbly takes God's wisdom and makes it his own to show forth the Glory and greatness of our God.
Now, let’s take a more thorough look at the differences between earthly wisdom and Godly wisdom.
FIRST: The CHARACTER of Earthly Wisdom, found in James 3, verses 14-16. “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. (15) This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. (16) For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” Here James describes the Origin, the Operation, and the Outcome of earthly wisdom, the wisdom of this world!
Number 1: The ORIGIN of Earthly Wisdom, verse 15. Three words are used by James to describe earthly wisdom.
It is earthly. This is the character of the "Me Generation." It is the wisdom based on earthly standards, earthly sources and earthly aims measured by earthly success. It is man-centered instead of God- centered. This is the philosophy of HUMANISM.
These same words of James are also echoed by Paul in I Corinthians 1:20-21 where we read, “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
Man from the beginning, has been tying to reach God by his own wisdom but, as Paul explains in Romans 1:21-22, it has always backfired, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darken. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.”
Paul warned believers to fight the temptation to build their lives on the foundation of the world's wisdom. In Colossians 2:8 we read, "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
Whenever Man has tried to construct his life on a foundation of the world’s wisdom, he has ended up with the big three: DEFEAT, DISCOURAGEMENT and DISAPPOINTMENT.
It is sensual. The word "sensual" means"soulish or natural." This is the natural as opposed to the spiritual. It is the natural man as opposed to the supernatural God.
It is devilish. The wisdom of the world has a subtle source, Satan himself. I don't know about you but that frightens me. Humanistic philosophy comes from Satan himself. Make no mistake about it, Satan's wisdom is alive and well, and you and I are more affected by it than we know.
It is dominating our music world, including our "Christian music."
It is dominating our church ministries by the proliferation of the entertaining style of worship.
It is dominating our literature, our dress, our standard of living, and our education.
It is piped into our lives 24/7 and without constant vigil; we become intimidated by its principles.
The wisdom of the world operates in I John 2:15-17, through "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." I believe we can say nothing good grows out of earthly wisdom.
Number 2: The OPERATION of Earthly Wisdom, verses 14-16. James gives us four characteristics of worldly wisdom.
Worldly wisdom creates bitter envying. Another way of saying this would be "jealous anger." The wisdom of the world exalts man and tries to glorify him.
It is the number one ploy in the age old game of pushing oneself up by pushing someone else down.
It is resentment over someone else's success.
You will notice it is not just envy, as bad as that is, but it is bitter envy. Looking at someone else you might say, “They don't deserve what they have, so I hate their guts and wish I had it.” That's worldly wisdom. Proverbs 14:30 tells us, "A sound heart is the life of the flesh, but envy the rottenness of the bones."
Worldly wisdom creates strife in the heart. The word “strife” means "party spirit" It is the spirit of discord that creates division in the church. Please listen carefully, "I am not in competition with you or you with me. I am here to benefit you and you are here to be a benefit and blessing to me". Therefore, it is our responsibility to be the person God would have us to be so that we can minister to each other. Remember what Paul said in Philippians 2:3, "let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves."
Worldly wisdom will glory not. The phrase “glory not” is a warning against proud arrogance.
Worldly wisdom is prideful arrogance that loves to compare ourselves with others, creating the atmosphere that what we are or what we have is better than who you are or what you have.
In contract God's wisdom exhibits a sense of humility and submission, and you want God to get all the glory. You don't compare yourself with other Christians you compare yourself only with Christ. Compared to Christ all of us have a long, long way to go.
How do we justify prideful arrogance by lying against the truth? Remember, a man's life is not read in his press releases; it is read by the Lord in his heart. All this brings me to
Number 3: The OUTCOME of Earthly Wisdom, verse 16. “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” Two consequences of the world's wisdom are clearly marked out for us. They are "confusion and every evil work."
Whenever there is confusion, Satan is the source of it, not God. Nothing can grow in that kind of atmosphere.
Whenever there is evil, Satan is the source of it. The word “evil” literally means "worthless or good for nothing."
Is this the kind of wisdom you and I want to have as our motive for living? What a relief to know that James goes on to describe heavenly wisdom.
SECOND: The Character of Heavenly Wisdom, verses 17-18. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. (18) And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” Here James describes the Origin, the Operation, and the Outcome of Heavenly wisdom. Returning to verse 13, James asks, "Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you?" He answers his own question by saying the wise man has a right relationship with God whose life reflects a HEAVENLY WISDOM.
Number 1: The ORIGIN of Heavenly Wisdom In contrast to the wisdom that is "earthly, sensual and devilish." James describes in verse 17 a "wisdom that is from above." In this phase James uses a present tense which says "Wisdom is coming and coming and coming from above." Wisdom from above is not only available one-time, or on the installment plan. James pictures a steady supply of God's wisdom that never runs dry. It comes to us continually from above to meet the demands of each hour.
Divine wisdom begins by KNOWING and EXPERIENCING by faith the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour.
Heavenly wisdom comes from Jesus Christ as I Corinthians 1:12 reads, "Christ the power of God, and the WISDOM of God…"
Heavenly wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit who according to Ephesians 1:7 is "the spirit of wisdom and revelation."
Heavenly wisdom comes from the Word of God, for in II Timothy 3:15 we read, the scriptures are able to make us "wise unto Salvation."
Heavenly wisdom comes from God. In James 1:17 we are reminded, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes from the Father…"
True spiritual wisdom is from GOD. There is no need to use the counterfeit wisdom from the world that caters to the flesh and accomplishes the work of the devil.
Number 2: The OPERATION of Heavenly Wisdom found in verse 17 give us an inventory of the SEVEN characteristics of Heavenly Wisdom. “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.”
1. Heavenly wisdom is PURE: Heavenly wisdom rejects immorality, lying, and cheating. An impure person may be clever but he is not wise. Jesus said in Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."
There are no hidden motives in God's wisdom. It is transparent and clean. There is nothing under the surface, it is up front. God's wisdom leads to purity, man's wisdom leads to sin.
2. Heavenly Wisdom is PEACEABLE: True peace is always an outgrowth of purity. The absence of peace will always be accomplished by the absence of purity.
Isaiah 57:20-21 warns us, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.”
On the other hand Isaiah 26:3 says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.”
Isaiah 32:17 says, "And the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever."
Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, "Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."
Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:3 that we are to "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
Real wisdom produces right relationships, with men and with God. A wise man is a seeker of peace.
3. Heavenly Wisdom is GENTLE. The word gentle means "a sweet reasonableness." It is possible for us to win an argument but in the process to lose the person with whom we argue. A GENTLE Christian will "yield right away." He will cultivate a grudge-free spirit and one of forgiveness even when the letter of the law says to condemn. Human wisdom produces strife but God's wisdom produces gentleness.
4. Heavenly Wisdom is easy to be ENTREATED: The Greek word for "Entreated" is found one time in the New Testament. This military term means "to be willing to take orders." One who is under heavenly wisdom will be obedient to instructions. There will be compliance instead of complaining. When God's wisdom is at work, there is a willingness to listen, think, pray, and obey.
5. Heavenly Wisdom is FULL OF MERCY. God's wisdom leaves nothing behind. It gives in love and it gives more than it gets. "In His GRACE, God gives to us what we do not deserve and in His MERCY does not give us what we do deserve."
Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? For the Samaritan to care for a Jewish stranger was an act of MERCY. He would gain nothing from it, except the blessings of God. REAL WISDOM IS A COMPASSIONATE WISDOM. A wise man is a TENDER man.
6. Heavenly Wisdom is FULL OF GOOD FRUIT: A wise man is one who is full ofGOOD WORKS. Remember the consistent message of James is"Faith without works is dead." I know in our determination to keep "good works" out of the Gospel message, we have almost removed the term from our Biblical vocabularies. But "good works" is an important doctrine for us to understand and practice.
II Timothy 2:16-17 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God…that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Titus 3:8, "This is a faithful saying, …that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works."
Hebrews 10:24, "And let us consider one another in …good works."
Colossians 1:10, "That you may walk worthy of the Lord, …being fruitful in every good work…"
7. Heavenly Wisdom is WITHOUT PARTIALITY and WITHOUT HYPOCRISY: Heavenly Wisdom is without "religious politics or religious scheming." It is sincere and impartial. It reflects a consistency in our lives. With a wise man there are no first or second or third class people. There are no black or white or rich or poor. All men stand equal at the foot of the cross.
Number 3: The OUTCOME of Heavenly Wisdom, verse 18. The most important thing we can do in our lives, in our homes and in our church ministries is measure them by the Word of God not by the wisdom of men. Notice again the contrast in verse 18. “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
Earthly wisdom produces "DISORDER."
Heavenly wisdom produces "PEACE."
Earthly wisdom produces "EVIL PRACTICE."
Heavenly wisdom produces a "harvest of righteousness."
The Christian life is a life of sowing and reaping. Someone said, "What we are, is what we live, and what we live is what we sow. What we sow determines what we reap. If we live in God's wisdom, we sow righteousness and peace, and then we reap God's blessing. If we live in man's wisdom, we sow conflict and sin and we reap confusion and every evil work."
Do you find in yourself bitter envying and strife?
Do you find in yourself confusion and evil work?
If you do, then perhaps it is time to yield it all to God and ask for wisdom that is from above. When that becomes the passion of your soul, the fruit of righteousness will be sown in you and through you to those around you.
In light of all this, each of us ought to get on our knees to ask God, through His Spirit, to produce God’s Heavenly wisdom in us. Proverbs 3:13 says, "Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding."
How do we find that wisdom? It is found through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is in Christ who is the wisdom of God, that we find the power for eternal salvation and the peace of God that passeth all understanding.
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon “Wisdom – Who is Right?” then right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior let me know? Please send an e-mail to, pdmikBBM@aol.com and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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In His Amazing Grace,
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