Wednesday, September 16, 2015

James 3:13 — 4:3, 7-8a Spiritual vs. Carnal Wisdom

KEY TEXT: James 3:15-18 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

KEY THOT: James tells us that there are two kinds of wisdom: one earthly and one heavenly. Earthly “wisdom” produces the fruit of jealousy and selfish ambition, viz., "disorder and every vile practice", including fight, quarrel and even murder (4:2). In contrast, heavenly wisdom is pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, merciful, fruitful, impartial and sincere. It reaps a harvest of righteousness and peace. The earthly wisdom is “unspiritual” (carnal, of the flesh) while the second kind of wisdom is spiritual (from above, of the Spirit). Carnal wisdom can even be demon-inspired and therefore divisive. However, Spirit-inspired wisdom is always peaceable, open to reasoning, non-judgmental and without bias against people. 

God wants me to exercise heavenly wisdom that is from His Spirit. I will know if I’m exercising this wisdom by the result it produces—if it produces division and conflict, it is from my flesh, no matter how "biblical" or “theological” I may sound. If the exercise of the wisdom produces peace and righteousness, then it is from “above” (of the Spirit). Paul prays for the Ephesians that "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better" (Eph. 1:17, NIV). So when I walk by the Spirit, I will produce the “good fruits” of the Spirit of love, joy and peace among God’s community. 

I have to constantly evaluate my speech, teaching and preaching to ensure that it is Spirit-inspired, not carnally inspired. I can know if my words are Spirit-inspired by the effect it has on the people. Anytime I create conflict, I know I’m earthly, unspiritual and demonic. But if my ministry produces the fruits of righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit, then I know I’m on the right track. 

Father, what a privilege to exercise wisdom that is from above by Your Holy Spirit. For Your wisdom always produces the good fruits of righteousness, peace and joy. Deliver me from carnal wisdom that is earthly, unspiritual and demonic. Amen

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