James 3:13-18   Conduct yourself in Wisdom


In Ch.2 James addresses our works – Faith w/out works is dead – In Ch.3 His focus is our words – the tongue – how we speak –

A) We saw that how we speak is directly linked to the source that is feeding our lives


Aa) Fresh water spring – produce fresh water – salt water spring salt water


B) Plant a grape vine – grapes /not bananas / Olive tree – olives / fig tree figs

1) The source is the key


C) Jesus said Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks


D) The source is feeding our hearts is going to be reflected in how and what we say


As we come to v.13 – of Ch.3 James combines the ideas of our works or actions and our words or speech in the idea of our conduct

A) He frames it in the subject of wisdom!


B) Both Greeks and Jews prized wisdom.

1) The Greek mind considered wisdom to be increased mental capacities, especially  philosophical knowledge,


C) They thought of wisdom in philosophical, and theoretical terms

1) while Jews thought of it in terms of right conduct. practical behavior based on the knowledge of God


D) James shares the latter perspective.


James 3:13  Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.


What is wisdom? Is it simply being smart? No A) Knowledge doesn’t necessarily make one wise! –


B) We all know brilliant pp – who have zero common sense!

1) Smart as all get out but they are not wise.


2) They are off the charts in intellect but their life is a mess – unorganized – lacking direction


C) True wisdom is seen in the application of Knowledge


The word Understanding James uses in v.13 is a He term  that literally means one who is a professional, a specialist or an expert!

A) James is talking about experimental knowledge – he doesn’t just know about something – but he knows how to make it work! 


B) “Knowledge takes things apart – but wisdom puts it back together.”

Well, James is going to give us a picture of what that wisdom looks like – but before he does – he shows us what it doesn’t look like

A) Often the best way to see the brilliance of an object is to contrast it w/ something much  darker.


B) Like when a jeweler wants to demonstrate the brilliance of a diamond, he puts it  on a black background.

1) So that the inward radiance of the jewel can be seen more clearly by the darkness of its surroundings.


C) Such is the intention of James, as he contrasts Godly wisdom with the wisdom of the world.


James 3:14-17

14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.


Note first what he says in v.15 This wisdom is not from above –

A) there is a wisdom that is not heavenly – Also  a wisdom that is earthly / carnal / Satanic


B) Satan is wise: Anointed Cherub- He is not a slouch 

1) No, he is cold and calculating – diabolical – Dark and evil

C)There is a wisdom that is from the pit of hell


D) It is earthly: Worldly it is part of system of thought that has chosen to ignore God or to pretend that He doesn’t exist


E)) It is sensual: we get our English word natural from this word – it is natural rather than spiritual.

1) Root word for the word soul – soulish


When a person is born they come into the world with a body that is alive and a soul that is alive – but spiritually they are  dead because of sin

A)) Separation from God – from Life – real life originates in a relationship with God


B) Person can seem to be living the good life –but they are as dead as can be – until they are born again


C) So when James says this wisdom is sensual or soulish he is describing a wisdom that comes from the old nature.


D) It is carnal or fleshly  - revolves around the fulfillment of the lust of the flesh

1) A wisdom that is Anchored in man’s fallenness – it is anchored in that part of us that is fatally flawed


E) Satan is the instigator of that – started in the garden – Adam and Eve –

1) Every person ever born infected with the disease of sin – sin nature –

Also note the descending order of these words

Earthly -- Sensual – Demonic


In Ephesians 2 we learn that the believer is in a fight – with 3 forces – 3 forces that are always at work against us  to wipe us out!

Aa) The world, our flesh and the Devil


A) We see these 3 forces here: Earthly  correlates to the world – it is worldly


B) Sensual  correlates with the flesh –


C) Demonic correlates with Satan himself.


How does that relate to our lives:

A) When we say Well everyone is doing it – that is earthly wisdom – well if it is ok for them – if everyone else is doing it/ going there / seeing it – why not me


B) When we say  this is wrong but it feels so right – that is sensual wisdom – that which is governed by the flesh –feelings and emotions

1) When we allow our  feelings and emotions to control us regardless of what the Bible, God’s word says.


C) When we say well the end Justifies the means- that type of wisdom is Demonic



One of the places where this type of wisdom is prevalent is in the subject of abortion

A) Usually it is takes place with someone who is engaging in either premarital or extramarital sexual relationship


B)Why not, everyone is doing it/ 45% of teens are sexually active. 

1) 44% of married men / 36% of married women Cheat


C) I know it is wrong – but it feels so right


D) End justifies the means – Not ready for a baby- baby will complicate my life

1) Baby will interrupt my goals dreams and plans


That type of wisdom is earthly sensual and demonic: It revolves around what is best for you – Every man did what was right in his own eyes


Notice James’ description of what that type of wisdom results in – V.14

A) Bitter envy: English – mercenary- someone who is out for his own gain.


B) The wretched twin brother of Bitter envy  is selfseeking: Looking out for #1


C) A complete disregard for others{ Your happiness and comfort is all that matters


D) It is arrogant – it boast in its opinions!

1) It is unyielding

In 1986 Two ships collided in the Black Sea sending hundreds of passengers into the icy waters and resulting in a tragic loss of life. News of the disaster was further darkened when an investigation revealed that the accident was caused by human stubbornness.

Each captain was aware of the other ship's presence and both could have taken evasive action to avert the collision. But neither wanted to yield to the other. By the time they saw the error of their ways, it was too late.


V.16 lays out the end result: 16 For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.

A) Confusion = Disorder" was a term often used with political associations to describe "anarchy."


B) Acronym at the pentagon when things are not going right -

1)They  coined the term  fubb: "fouled up beyond belief"


So when worldly wisdom dominates a life, a church, a home, a marriage, a friendship, the result is Anarchy strife – things being fouled up beyond belief!


So that is the wisdom that is prevalent on earth – that caters to the flesh and originated with Satan


There is the Black Back ground

Contrast that with – The wisdom which is from above!   James 3:17-18

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy


It is Pure: it is clean.

A) It is never going to lead you into something that is immoral / compromise / never


B) Never lead you to do something that is contrary to God’s word


Peaceable: Do you have a peace about it – When a decision needs to be made we have a grid to filter it thru


Wisdom from above is first Pure – It is that which retracts from uncleanness repels from that which is immoral – that which is self seeking


2nd it is peaceable: Huge question: do you have a peace about it

A)You are praying your heart is genuine – you really want to do God’s will – you lay it before the Lord – it is in His court now


B) I believe that He will lead you – if you are really genuinely willing to follow – you are in a great position because the Shepherd is never dependent upon the IQ of the Sheep

C) If you are willing to be led willing to submit– the wisdom from above is peaceable –


NOTE: God will never give you a peace about something that is contrary to His word – never –


D) Meet pp all the time who make a decision: completely goes against Scripture – they say well I prayed and God gave me a peace about it

1)I’ll say but that contradicts God’s word and He can’t be a Holy God and give you the OK to do something that contradicts His Holiness


Listen when we come to God and ask Him permission to do things that go against what He already laid out in His word,  doesn’t even respond

A) Like with Your kids – You can’t do this – why bother to ask –


B) Go to a police officer – can I have your permission to commit murder – no


C) Are you crazy – Extreme example because – I wanted to Highlight the stupidity of such a thought  = I have a peace – false peace somewhere else


D) But when we are submitted to His word and are seeking direction – God will lead

1) Sometimes it might not even make sense to you – but you have a peace


Peace that surpassing understanding – Guard your hearts and minds


Gentle: It is reasonable in the sense that it is willing to submit and listen to reason. – not hard fast

Abigal with David


Abigal was a beautiful and wise woman married to a complete idiot named Nabal – 1 Sam 25:23-34

A) David and his men spent a season protecting Nabal’s farm –


B) Custom when an army protected your farm – reward them with a payment of supplies


C) David before moving on sent his men to inquire about the reward

1) Nabal insulted them – insulted David refused to pay


D) David’s pride was wounded – Angry – Ordered his men to rise up – headed toward Nabal’s house – mission to annihilate everyone


Abigal got wind of what happened – mounted a horse and made haste to meet David – came out

A) She begged David not to do this – by reminding David of the calling on his life by God


B) Why allow that calling to be wasted by murdering such a foolish man as her husband

C) To engage in such a careless act would only tarnish David’s reputation and standing before the Lord.


D)Her words – calmed David – caused him to see the bigger picture –

1) He refrained from Killing Nabal and his servants


E)We could say that it is the trait of being teachable – and willing to admit that I was wrong.


On one occasion President Lincoln trying to please a certain politician issued a command to transfer certain regiments. When Secretary of War Edwin Stanton received the order, he refused to carry it out, saying the President was a fool.

When Lincoln was told this he replied, “If Stanton said I am a fool, then I must be, for he is nearly always right. I’ll see for myself.


Lincoln met with Stanton and realized his decision was a serious mistake and reversed the order.


Takes a humble heart – willing to listen to reason! – Humility is a part of Godly wisdom


Full of mercy and good fruits, full of Compassion plus action


Without Partiality – doesn’t pick sides

Without Hypocrisy – not pretending

What is the function of this wisdom from above?

 18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

 Phillips may capture it best: "And the wise are peacemakers who go on quietly sowing for a harvest of righteousness-in other people and in themselves."

Motyer writes, "Peace is the soil and those who make peace are the green-fingered gardeners"


Jesus said “Blessed are the peace makers for they shall be called sons of God – There is a Godlike quality in those who pursue peace


So the result is opposite of Anarchy disorder strife and confusion

A)Peace in the Church / peace in the home / peace in the marriage


Proverbs 16:7

“When a man's ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.”


B) Godly wisdom results in peace –


So how does a person grow in this godly wisdom ?

A) First, wisdom comes by developing a reverence for the Lord.


Proverbs 9:10 "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."


B) Fear speaks of a reverence, a respect – not taking for granted

1) Results in a desire to know God’s heart and follow His leading. Desire to want to please Him.


C) Having A right view of God, according to the revelation of Scripture.


 D) Colossians  2:3 “In Jesus are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”


E) Having a Heart that is ready to draw near to Christ and willing to submit to His leading.


Second, Realizing that wisdom Comes through His word. That is how He speaks to us.

Paul exhorts believers to "let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another" (Colossians . 3:16).


Wisdom is not found in reading the wise men of this world, but in saturating our minds in the Word of God.


There is no substitute for regular Bible reading, study, and meditation.


Finally, we receive wisdom as a gift of God through prayer.  James 1:5

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”