Earthly Wisdom

Unfortuneately I have not had the time to continue my posts on seekers; instead I have chosen to jump back into my study of James and pick up where we last left off.

James 3:13-18

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

old-books1.jpgUngodly wisdom, which is another way of saying fake wisdom, will eventually lead to “jealousy” and “selfish ambition.” This will in turn lead to “disorder” and “every evil thing.” What is clear from this verse is that the result of this fake wisdom is just as ungodly as it the sources were. We have already talked about the “jealousy” and “selfish ambition” of this wisdom, and so I want to look at the result of these attitudes. This is what happens we are so self-absorbed, self-centered, and self-confident. The first thing that James says is that this self-centered wisdom will result in “disorder.” This word for disorder is an interesting word, and one that we should be familiar with already. We should be familiar with it because it has already come up several times. In 1:8 this same word was translated “unstable” and used to describe the double-minded man who did not trust God. In 3:8 the word is translated as “evil,” and it is used to describe the type of evil speech that our tongues are capable of producing apart from God’s grace. From James’ use of this word (ἀκαταστασία), it is easy to see that disorder does not characterize God’s people. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 14:33 the apostle Paul writes:

“For God is not a God of confusion (ἀκαταστασία) but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”

We, as a part of the church, need to emulate our God and through his wisdom be a people of peace.

The second result of self-centered wisdom is what James terms “every evil thing.” James is being as blunt as you can possibly be. The result of ungodly wisdom is every evil thing. The word that is translated here as evil (φαῦλον) has the idea of being vile or worthless. Literally, this fake wisdom that James has been talking about is absolutely good for nothing. There are no good results of supposed wisdom that is apart from God. In fact, in John 5:29 we see this same word (φαῦλον) used. There we see that the evil deeds that result from ungodly wisdom will result in eternal judgment. If someone claims to have faith in Jesus Christ and claims to have wisdom from God, but is self-centered, earthly-minded, natural-minded, and demonic in thinking, their claim to salvation is just as fake as their wisdom. They are lying against the truth (v. 14).