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September 20, 2022 4:00 am
When we call someone wise. That's really considered a compliment sign of respect.
So why did the apostle James teach that earthly wisdom is evil and results in confusion today on Truth for Life. Alister Megan examines the radical difference between heavenly wisdom and earthly wisdom were in the third chapter of the book of James. Verses 14 through 16. James is concerned that people will not jump up too quickly and announce themselves as fixing the cats a great on the wise and the understanding and it is of imperative importance that the individual that thinks they may qualify for the task of wearing the baseball hat with wisdom on the front should check to make sure that they are not falling foul of things in the area of bitter envy. Verse 14 and selfish ambition very straightforward statement. If you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, then do not.
Whatever you do, go around boasting that you are wise it's very straightforward.
Now it is important to recognize that what James is describing here is something that is radically different from the wisdom that comes down from heaven. In chapter 1. Remember, he said that if anyone lacks wisdom, he should ask God, and God would give it to him is a faithful God and he doesn't change like shifting shadows, and the wisdom that comes from heaven is directly in opposition to that which comes from the air.
Note it is with this wisdom and if you have the NIV you will notice that the translators have put the word wisdom. The second word in the sentence that in verse 15. They put it in." Such wisdom does not come down from heaven.
This is wisdom that refers to itself as wisdom by which an actual fight is no wisdom and tall what we know of. First of all, concerning its source.
He tells us three things. Number one, it is earthly, number two, it is unspiritual and number three.
It is of the devil will consider each intern and briefly in other words, this wisdom is in direct opposition to the wisdom that comes from heaven, there is a clarity about this that comes out where you find earthly and heavenly used elsewhere in the New Testament. Perhaps nowhere clearer than in two Corinthians 5 where Paul, in addressing the question of the death of believers says if the earthly tent we live in, be destroyed. We have a building from God, not made with hands, we have a heavenly dwelling, so our earthly dwelling on our body are framed shell of our existence is from the Dustin will return to dust. It is earthly, that which God has prepared for us is heavenly and will not be affected by all the detrimental impact of time and space, and gravity and so on. In other words, they are radically different from each other is important that you recognize that it is that same radical difference which is been pointed out here by genes is used of these adjectives. This kind of wisdom he says finds its origins on the air rather than in heaven. It is error found it is time bound. And all of the aspirations of earthly wisdom are measured by achievement in the here and now and even our consideration of spiritual and eternal things from an era of violent perspective skews our understanding of truth as it is revealed to us. In other words, if you use earthly wisdom to think about heavenly wisdom, one's view of heavenly wisdom will be skewed because of the absence of the wisdom necessary to understand the things of God. We are entirely dependent upon God to come on and pull back the curtain and reveal himself to us. Secondly, it is unspiritual the great what is psyche costs for which we get psychology as it turns out, although we don't read too much into that. It just so happens that that is the word.
In other words, this is the kind of thinking that is devoid of the work of God's spirit, devoid of the work of God spirit. You don't need to think in terms of God or divinity to give expression to these ideas in his wisdom which exists on a purely material plane instead of addressing the issues of the soul is of primary importance.
It encourages a preoccupation with the body and its pleasures is concerned about spiritual things and even its expression of spirituality is clearly air bound when it is not finance origin in heaven.
In an article in the New York Times about a lady a self-styled prophetess on the first page which goes on the page, a 20 in describing many things in this.
It describes this lady is a powerful trailblazer and a sociologist at Tulane University who closely follows is become known as the neo-Pentecostal movement says the key to this is that it emphasizes self improvement and prosperity, self-improvement and perspective is completely earthbound. You don't need spiritual things because the wisdom of the will of God is what to those who are perishing, foolishness. First Corinthians 2 God's wisdom, the natural man says his Tommy arrived and the natural man. First Corinthians 214 does not receive the things of the spirit because they are foolishness to so when you have 35,000 people listening to self-help stories with self-improvement notions with a sprinkling of Bible verses you have to be discerning enough to say either. This is a magnificent movement of revival by the spirit of God, or else it is what I may suspect, simply that men and women whose hearts failed them because of fear, like to be encouraged like to be told they're doing okay and definitely want to improve themselves, and so on, and are prepared to go to just about any length at all. In order to be so improved that is not heavenly wisdom. What kind of self-improvement story with the thief on the cross have benefited from well I think I can improve your circumstances for you. I don't need my circumstances improve. I'm about to die and need a savior for my sin. Earthly, unspiritual, devilish gets worse.
James doesn't pull any punches. This worldly wisdom he says is ultimately rooted in the spiritual forces of evil. He said in verse six. Back in an area up in chapter 3 that the tongue is set on fire by hell.
In verse seven of chapter 4 he's going to come to the whole issue of the devil and resisting the devil, the god of this age, says Paul, is the God who blinds the minds of men and women and the only safeguard against the blinding of our minds by the evil one who blinds us and says you know you should succumb to temptation. It will be so enjoyable and nothing will happen to you tall. How are we going to respond to that. You should engage in. This is really not a problem. You should enjoy this. It won't offend you or do anything bad to how do we respond to that. The only way we can respond is the way that Jesus responded to the same kind of insinuations and that is by taking the sword of the spirit which is the word of God, which is a clarifying uncompromised truth of Scripture. Well, that's the source let's go to the characteristics as described in verse 16 a. Where you have what number one envy, where you have envy is the same word that is translated elsewhere in the New Testament as jealousy is often difficult to distinguish between envy and jealousy is already mentioned this to me at an adjective peak Ron bitter verse 14.
Now he says if you find that this earthly unspiritual devilish perspective on things is to the four then you will bump into envy, envy is essentially to be resentful of the advantages that are enjoyed by other people to envy is to resent the advantages enjoyed by others. We may simply resent them because they have them.
Even though we don't want them or we may resent the because we they have them and we actually do want which is of course to fall foul of covetousness as well.
Jealousy if you like the close cousin of envy is usually defined as intolerance of rivalry so there is a godly jealousy that God is jealous for his children and wants to protect them and preserve them from every evil influence same that a parent would have for their own children and the spouse for their spouse, but in its sinful expressions, jealousy is afraid of someone becoming equal to us, or worse still superior to us and to engage in envy is to run counter to heavenly wisdom. Why, because it means that we are looking at things from down here we're looking at things from an earthly perspective, not from a heavenly perspective. When we look at things from a heavenly perspective we go to the Bible when were tempted to envy and jealousy, and we go. For example Depaul in the context of first Corinthians, where he is addressing some of the chaos there is a result of people making little lines behind various of their favorite preachers has a novel idea is not, and and in the course of that.
He says to them. Verse seven of chapter 4 of first Corinthians who makes you different from anyone else was the answer to that question. We see from an active perspective you you can answer God came because you you don't know if there is a God, and if there is a God you don't know who he is and they don't have a mage and you don't how you got your DNA, you're just a collection of molecules held in suspension. You really are no lines of unpleasant except I suppose I make myself different from someone else wrong. Who makes you different from someone else. What do you have that you did not receive. I'm a self-made man.
I did it all last earthly know everything you have, including your mental capacities. God gave you there's nothing you have he didn't receive. If you have an ability to make money he gave you the ability to make money.
If you have a peculiar gift he gave you the peculiar gift and if you give someone else a similar gift and made them more proficient in the use of that gift. That is because of who he is, not because of who they are when they do different from anybody else got what you have been received nothing. Then here's the question why then do you boast as though this is in the case, do not boast and deny the truth.
We tend to envy those with whom we most closely identify and we tend to envy them in the areas we regard as most significant thing about that for just a moment as it is important we tend to envy those with whom he most closely identify and we tend to envy them in the areas we value most. For example, if you don't give a rep for gardening you're not gonna hit him and envy, somebody was a most beautiful garden because you don't want one. But if you do want one and you've got to let a holy sticking up out of a bunch of dandelions then you might have great difficulty driving out of your drive.
Now I just envy people that are like me and do the same things as me and might be doing better than me and that really can take meal for your car salesman probably not going to envy somebody who has 17 dealerships, but you may envy the person in the next cubicle to you, who seems somehow or another always to finish with the figures ahead of you, everyone you identify with them you care about the same things as a result, envy can begin to rob you of relationships and enjoyment.
The accompaniment to that says James is selfish ambition. When is selfish ambition, selfish ambition, we might describe in terms of the inclination to use divisive means unworthy means for promoting myself selfish ambition is the inclination to use unworthy and divisive means to exalt myself and James says this kind of waste earthly unspiritual devilish wisdom is the precursor to both of these characteristics you will find these things present. Indeed, if you work back away when you find envy and selfish ambition. If you work your way through the underbrush, you will eventually come to that which this is is is there in glowing technicolor that says this wisdom is earthly, unspiritual and devilish Aristotle in an earlier era describe this is the narrow partisan zeal factional greedy politicians so you can go back a long way and find that politicians were held in such high regard and as they are now the sneaking suspicion that perhaps this individual has got a huge ego and sees this for themselves despite always say about the desire to be a public servant is not ours to judge the patient or heart.
It is ours to use discrimination and discernment to see with her lip and life meet one another in a way that is compatible with godly wisdom know it's just as true of pastors as it is of politicians and it is just as true of people in the pews because each one of us may be constantly seeking to promote our own opinion to establish our own position and that at the exclusion of others. It is the very antithesis of the servant hood of Jesus. Source earthly, unspiritual, devilish characteristics, envy and selfish ambition. Results to number one disorder, disorder or confusion. If you have a King James version confusion what James is describing here is a form of anarchy, confused, thinking, disruptive decision-making, disharmony, restlessness, unsettled nests. If you come in on this in a family in a business in a church, then you will be able to trace it back to its source completely counter to the nature of God. Remember, Paul writes to the Corinthians. After all of the stuff on spiritual gifts and he says to them first remains 14 God is not a part of this order, but a God of peace, but a God of peace. So when you find disorder that you not dealing in the realm of heavenly wisdom and this disorder just leads on all kinds of dreadful stuff you find disorder, he says, and eventually if it is unchecked to find every every evil practice. What because the umbilical cord has been cut between God and his revelation and God and his people. The people have now begun to think earthly, unspiritual, devilishly tolerated and baptized into orthodoxy. The existence of envy and selfish ambition to given other names and tolerated as a result of that disorder ensues. And before you know where your all of the beautiful garden is completely overgrown with weeds that when they were first identified might've been dealt with. But now it's virtually impossible or to make the magic for more graphic the cancer was not dealt with immediately. Swiftly, ruthlessly, but instead it was tolerated began to spread the whole body was invaded and disruption and decay.
Sedin see how wonderful it is that we have a Bible that were able to turn to the Bible and the Bible speaks with such clarity into things that are of such pressing importance to all of us in relationship to these things. Let me finish. In this way, let's suppose that we were able to zip back in time and sneak up on the disciple band. I just as they were coming out of Jerusalem on their way to Jericho and unbeknownst to them they were about to bump into Blaine bar Timaeus and as the I were sitting having a cup of water. The well we we we went up and set the well as well and and we listen to them talking as we listen to them talk. We said excuse me are you don't happen to be the disciples of Jesus of Nazareth. Oh yes they said it is we are at all often wondered what you were like, and then we just sat in silence and they talked a little more and the tone was not what you would call encouraging. It didn't even sound as though they were all having a really nice time. Indeed, there were little snippets of conversation that sounded like jealousy or a rivalry or the potential for an betterment so because of the way we are interrupted again and we said you know, excuse me, but I'm forced to say that. From what I've heard about Jesus of Nazareth.
You you folks really don't sound like you are his disciples, you don't sound like a united band of followers or what is happened to. And then 10 heads all turn in the loop at two heads and the two heads have faces that are beginning to light up like a like a traffic light and stop to read faces so we stayed in the two red faces. Who are you. They say it once as I'm James the other says I'm John said are you responsible for this disruption here and that all is envy and the thing that started you. What did you do well.
We asked Jesus if we could sit next to him when he comes into his kingdom. We thought for all kinds of reasons that I mean he's going to have to have somebody sit next to them. So James and NRA says John we thought we nice one could go on the right and the other to go on the life and when the 10 found out that we'd asked to swing it when wild from there. What did Jesus say to you, while actually Mark wrote it down in his gospel. You can read this is what he said Jesus called them together and said you know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. Source earthly, unspiritual of the devil characteristics envy selfish ambition. Results disorder and eventually every evil practice. The Bible comes both to warn and to encourage always to Turner's again to the Lord Jesus Christ, in whom is our only and all of our whole nation believe wisdom isn't merely inferior to heavenly. It is anchored evil were listing to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life today is the last day of our study of the book of James.
If you have enjoyed these practical sermons. You can listen again to Alister's teaching that you can hear his teaching through the entire book of James. That's 40 sermons. You'll find them available for free on our mobile app or online the Truth for Life.org or you can purchase the entire four volume series on a USB for just five dollars go to Truth for Life.org/store and look for a study in James there's a common misconception that Christian views conflict with science that you can either believe science or you can believe the Bible book 7 reasons to reconsider. Christianity refutes the claim that the author explains plainly that the Bible is intellectually and scientifically credible.
Even points out that historical documents are for many of the Bible's accounts. This is a great book to help you or someone you know use any doubts you may have about the truth of the Bible, you can request your copy of the book 7 reasons to reconsider Christianity. When you donate to support Truth for Life today to give simply tap the book imager see in the mobile app or visit us online at truthforlife.org/donate about Lapine.
It's always uncomfortable to be confronted by the gravity of our sin. Tomorrow will find out why that's absolutely necessary Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the learning is prolific