Wisdom From Heaven How It Works – In this passage, James contrasts the wisdom from heaven and the wisdom from hell. There is no other. The wisdom I use in my life or with people is either from heaven or from hell. The wisdom I receive for my life is wisdom from heaven or from hell. We have all witnessed both.

The Book of James – How Life Works
By Pastor Delbert Young

Wisdom From Heaven How It Works

James

Wisdom From Heaven How It Works

Scriptures: James 3:13,James 3:14, James 3:15, James 3:16, James 3:15, James 3:16, Matthew 7:16, Matthew 7:17, Matthew 7:18, Matthew 7:19, Matthew 7:20, James 3:17, John 3:3, John 3:7, James 3:17, Matthew 5:9

In this passage, James contrasts the wisdom from heaven and the wisdom from hell. There is no other. The wisdom I use in my life or with people is either from heaven or from hell. The wisdom I receive for my life is wisdom from heaven or from hell. We have all witnessed both. So, how can we recognize the difference? Let’s take a look at “How Wisdom Works.”

James 3:13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

Who is wise and understanding among you?

James invited people who consider themselves wise to step forward. Often a person is not wise, but desires to be thought wise. Many people never do what is necessary to become wise. They want others to think them wise, but go through their entire lives unwise making horrible decision after horrible decision. Some acts as if they have life’s answers, but upon investigation, it is found they are actually foolish. It is to this the address of James is directed. So, let’s take the mirror of God’s word and look into and see how we look. How does our wisdom look?

Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.

Wisdom is not something we hear or say. Wisdom is something we actually see. James said we can look at our lives and the lives of others and determine if there is wisdom. “Let him show it . . .”

James said a good life is seen “by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” A truly wise person has deeds showing his or her wisdom. Wisdom isn’t simply being mind smart. Wisdom is being life smart and is shown by what we have done with our lives. James was saying to look at your life. What have you done? How do you look in the mirror of life?

If you want to know if I am a wise person, don’t only listen to what I say. Look at my life and what I have done with my life. How have the decisions I made during my life worked out? How is my family? How did my children turn out? How have I handled my finances? How have I handled relationships? What do my friends say about me? That’s what James was saying. “Let him show it by his good life, by deed done.”

. . . done in humility that comes from wisdom

Have you ever seen people who did things for others, but with ulterior motives? As a pastor, I have seen it many times. The good “deed” seems outwardly nice enough. However, concealed in the heart of the person was some manipulative reason for doing the good deed. The deed was not done in humility coming from wisdom. The deed was not motivated by God. Look at what James said.

James 3:14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.

James 3:15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.

James 3:16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

If the deed was done with selfish ambition, it was unspiritual and motivated by the devil. A person who does things for people for selfish reasons is a person whose wisdom is not from God..

But if you harbor . . . in your hearts . . .

James mentions two issues harbored in the heart of a person who does not have heavenly wisdom. These two are bitter envy and selfish ambition. Before we look at them, let’s think about the thought of “harbor” for a moment. A harbor is docking port for ships to load and unload cargo. A ship can dock and be protected in a harbor. This is the picture James gave. We all have things harbored in our hearts. Some are good and some are not good. We protect them. We dock them in our hearts. We will eventually unload them. A person who harbors bitter envy and selfish ambition does not have wisdom from God.

  1. bitter envy

James said demonic wisdom is seen by bitter envy. This is when a person is jealous of another. It could be jealousy of a person’s position or jealousy of the way others live their lives. This envy is magnified by bitterness. Not only is there jealousy. There is bitterness also. It would never be admitted there was envy. Instead, some issue is used for a point of bitterness. Bitter envy is then harbored in the heart.

As you and I look into the mirror of God’s word concerning this, what do we see in our hearts? What is harbored there? Is there anyone we could have bitter envy toward? If so, we are not wise people. This wisdom is not from God.

  1. selfish ambition

We mentioned earlier about a person who does good deeds, but always has an ulterior concealed motive behind the deed. With the person motivated by the devil, there seems to be some selfish ambition behind every relationship, every dealing with people, every gift, every conversation, etc. It’s because there is selfish ambition harbored.

As we look into the mirror of God’s word, how do we do when it comes to selfish ambition? When we do things for others, is there an ulterior concealed motive? Do we figure the deed will get us something we want down the road? If so, we are not wise. It is not wisdom from God.

James 3:15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.

James 3:16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

. . . disorder and every evil practice

Because this wisdom is earthly, unspiritual (KJV says, “sensual”), and of the devil, it brings “every evil practice.” James said when a person harbors “envy” and “selfish ambition” in their heart, we will always “find disorder and every evil practice.” No good things happen with this wisdom. It seems every bad thing that can happen does happen. Let’s look at the verse again.

James 3:16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

James told us how wisdom works. He has said there are two types of wisdom. There is wisdom from heaven and wisdom from hell. How do we know to which we are listening? Look at the life. What good deeds have this life accomplished? Or, has it produced “disorder and every evil practice?” Does it harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition? It really should not be difficult to know if we are listening to wisdom from heaven or wisdom from hell.

Jesus said it this way.

Matthew 7:16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

Matthew 7:17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

Matthew 7:18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.

Matthew 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 7:20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

We are cautioned by the scriptures concerning to whom we listen and obtain wisdom. It is a serious matter. The people to whom we listen will impact our lives for the purposes of heaven or the purposes of the devil. It will be wisdom from heaven. Or, it will be wisdom from hell.

James 3:17 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.

It was very interesting to me as I studied this verse the same Greek word translated “heaven” in 3:17 (KJV “above”) is the same Greek word translated as the word “again” in John 3:3, 7. This was where Jesus told Nicodemus he must be “born again.”

John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again {an’-o-then}, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again {an’-o-then}.

It is the Greek word anothen (Strong’s #0509) and it means: (1) from above, from a higher place; (1.a) of things which come from heaven or God. We must be born of heaven to have wisdom from heaven. Being born again is far more than going to heaven when I die. It is access to heavenly wisdom as I live in this present world. If I am born again, I should be wise. I have access to superior wisdom.

James gives us a lists of seven fruits to look for concerning a person who is born of heaven and has accessed heaven’s wisdom. Let’s look at each of these fruits quickly. Let’s look at the verse once again.

James 3:17 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.

first of all pure

Wisdom from heaven is “first of all” pure. The “first of all” is important. The first thing we look for is purity. This means it was not motivated with selfish ambition. It does not contain bitter envy.

As we look into the mirror, I ask, “Why am I doing this? Why am I saying this?” If it is for pure reasons then it is wisdom from heaven. If not, it is wisdom from hell.

then peace-loving

After we see purity, we look for peace. Does this wisdom bring me peace? The kingdom is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Is this wisdom peace-loving? Or, does it accuse and bring disorder and every evil work? If it has bitter envy and selfish ambition, it’s not from heaven. It’s from hell. If it is a wisdom loving peace, then it is from heaven.

As I look into the mirror, do I see I bring peace to situations? Or, does my wisdom bring destruction and disorder and strife?

considerate

James said the wisdom from heaven is considerate. It is not motivated by selfish ambition. There are no ulterior motives. It truly considers what is best for others.

submissive

The word submissiveness has been misused. We have attempted to make people submissive when it is not at all how it works.

George M. Stulac writes, “‘Submissive’ can mean ‘trusting’ and ‘easily persuaded.’ It does not indicate a person without convictions, or one easily swayed. Rather, it conjures the image of a sober, thinking, and intuitive person who recognizes the truth when heard and willingly receives such instruction. Together the pair (considerate and submissive) denote someone who is both gentle and reasonable, whether in a position of authority or of subservience.”

Being submissive is not rolling over and playing dead. My wife is very submissive, but she has never rolled over and played dead because I spoke. She is a sober thinker and a very intuitive person who can recognize truth. She has never failed to voice her opinions and her thoughts.

How are we as we look into the mirror? Are we domineering and defiant? If so, it is wisdom from hell. Or can we submit when we recognize truth? This is wisdom from heaven.

full of mercy and good fruit

How merciful are we? Do we judge quickly? Do we keep a personal list of people of whom we will one day get vengeance? If so, I am a person with wisdom from hell. Or, am I quick to extend mercy and forgiveness? This is wisdom from above.

impartial

Do we treat everyone the same? How do we do with different races? How do we do with different ethnic groups? Do I treat a poor person the same as a wealthy person? Do I treat an uneducated person the same as an educated? I cannot be prejudice and have wisdom from God.

sincere

The Greek word translated sincere is anupokritos {an-oo-pok’-ree-tos} (Strong’s #505) and means to be unfeigned, undisguised, sincere. The King James’ version translates the word “without hypocrisy” which is a very good translation. How real are we? How much of my heart do I expose? Am I what I say I am and what I appear to be? Or, am I a hypocrite? If so, I have wisdom from hell. If I am sincere, I have wisdom from heaven.

How do we look in the mirror?

James 3:18 Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

James brings his discussion about how wisdom works to a conclusion with a line of demarcation. He draws the line in the sand and says, “Here is how to tell if it is wisdom from hell or wisdom from heaven.” Is the wisdom sowing peace in the church and in life? What is it planting in me and in others? If I am either giving or listening to wisdom from heaven, righteousness is being sown into my life and the lives of others. I am being instructed on how to do things right. I am giving instructions about how to do things right. If I am giving or listening to wisdom from hell, there is no peace and I am being instructed or instructing unrighteousness.

It is impossible to read what James said about peacemakers and not be reminded of what Jesus said about peacemakers.

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

If we are truly born from heaven and children of God, we are peacemakers. If we are chauvinistic, warmongers, and peace-breakers causing envy, jealousy, strife, and every evil work, we have a problem. Our wisdom is from hell. Peacemakers sow peace and raise a harvest of right things. Peacemakers are children of God.

Wisdom is serious. James asked, “Who among you has wisdom?” It’s more than being head smart. It is all about being life smart. That’s how wisdom works. That’s how life works.

Other Related Sermons:

Revelation Chapter 19, Marriage Supper of the Lamb, White Horse, King of kings, and Lord of lords, sermon video

Revelation Chapter 20, Thousand Years, Bottomless Pit, First Resurrection, Great White Throne, Lake of Fire – sermon video audio notes

Pride and the Secret of Humility – sermon video audio notes