Community Bible Chapel
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
A place to grow.... where everybody is somebody and Jesus Christ is Lord.

10/7/18  Wisdom for Relationships-The Battle Is On– James 3:13-18

Last week we began to consider wisdom that is worldly and wisdom that comes from God.

          -Godly wisdom comes to us from God’s Word and is embodied in the Gospel.

          -James 3 asks the question “Who is wise and understanding among you? 

          -That was answered in the same verse and we defined it as.

-The wise person skillfully or expertly lives out the spiritual understanding

they have learned from God’s Word.

          -That good life is evaluated not by success, popularity, or wealth, but by what

 James calls a “good life”, which is evaluated by how much we

live like Jesus. 

I invite you to join me in James 3:13-18 this morning.  (Pg. 855 – youversion/more/events)

Today, we will begin to dig into the rest of the passage and The Battle is on.

          -It’s not a battle between people, but a battle of the heart that rages between

which kind of wisdom we apply to our relationships.

READ James 3:13-17

The Heart v. 14

                                                 “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in

your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”

                                                -Anytime we talk about the heart, we are not talking

          about the blood pumping muscle in our chest.

                                                -We are speaking of the inner person – moral make up,

decision making center,  emotions, all the immaterial part of who we are.

                                                -Jesus described it in Matt. 15:19

                                                “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder,

adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

                   -Since the heart is that inner person, Solomon warned us to guard it in

 Proverbs 4:23.

                             “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

                                                -So we want to be careful what we “harbor” in our hearts.

                                                 -“Harbor” = “holding onto” or firmly anchored.

                                                -As an anchor in the open ocean is not nearly as firm as

one that is in the harbor.

                                                -The passage attaches “holding onto” something to the


                                                -That can refer to a desire that just has to be met.

 “I must have”

                   -Or it can refer to an attitude or idea that gets applied to another person. 

                             -My grandfather was firmly anchored in his attitude toward his sister

                                       and it tainted how he viewed everything she did.

                             -Even if she did something kind to him or someone, he viewed it as her

                                       manipulating the circumstance to her advantage.

-Now, there are many things that James could have included in this list of worldly

 wisdom, but he gives us two important and destructive heart issues.

          *Bitter envy

                    Envy = Zelos =zealous = passionate commitment, a jealousy.

                   Bitter = pointed, sharp, penetrating, painful, cruel =used in James 3:11

 in describing “bitter water” – poison.

                    -That kind of heart motive has no concern for the feelings or welfare of     

 the other person or people.

                   -That heart will use other people for its own best interest,

no matter the cost to them.

                   -Which is the opposite of love, which does what is best for you,

 no matter the cost to self.

                                                *Selfish ambition

                                                -This is a single word which carries the meaning of

    “strife, contentiousness, and extreme selfishness.”

                                                -This eventually became associated with those who

sought after political office for personal gain at any cost.

                                                -Much like some in our Government today.

                                                 -This is certainly much wider than government officials

and includes all who seek after power toward selfish gain.

                                                -We might call it “climbing the corporate ladder”.

                   -That self kind of ambition to get ahead that climbs up the heads of those

 on the ladder.

                   -And the church is not void of those trying to gain a higher

status or power in the church.

-Gaining the approval of the pastor, having to control all the workings

of the church, or complaining about how ministry changes.


By definition and action, that ambition brings us to the second part of the verse.

          *Boasting to deny the truth

                    -The NASB uses the term “arrogant”.

-Either way, we are talking about a desire to be independent

 from the truth of God’s Word.

                   -James 1:18 tells us that we have been re-born through the

                   -It’s an arrogance that denies the truth of God’s Word and rejects

 the Gospel of Jesus Christ as James 1:18 states.

-We are reborn through “word of truth” or the Gospel.

                   -Whether in or out of the church, earthly (false) wisdom is centered on a

defiant independence from God.

                   -We see it in a sports figure as they trash talk their opponent.

                   -It’s an arrogant boasting of “look at me!”

                   -Any arrogant boasting denies the Word of God and sets itself up against it.

                   -Which logic tells us will not succeed or as James 4:6 clearly states:

                             “God opposes the proud”

                    -When God sets himself in opposition to my defiant heart, I’m done.

The Source v. 15 “Such wisdom does not come down    

     from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.”

“Such wisdom”    

                            -The context links this wisdom to false wisdom that

seeks independence from God.

 Earthly = of the world = refers to the kind of wisdom

that comes when God is absent.

                            -By definition, earthly wisdom is restricted to the things

that humans can theorize, discover, and come up with on their own and collectively.

          -It also places our thinking in the very small box of our own minds.

          -It’s a closed system that is reduced further by leaving no place

for spiritual truth or the supernatural God of all creation.

          -Jesus spoke to the value of gaining the world and it’s wisdom.

          Mark 8:36  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world,

and forfeit his soul?”

-That is not a neutral value, it’s a negative at highest value

– losing one’s soul.

John 17:14  I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them,

          because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”

          -These all speak to followers of Jesus rejecting the false wisdom of the

 world in favor of the superior wisdom of God.


Unspiritual = of the flesh = naturalism with no room for God.

          -This speaks of a life that Jude 19 describes.

                   “ . . . who follow natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.”

          -This wisdom is devoid of the Spirit of God, and is fully

humanistic and materialistic

          -And that is on its best day!

          -If humanistic and naturalistic wisdom was somehow neutral it might be

 somewhat okay, but it’s not neutral. 

          -So it’s way less than just humanistic, it’s corrupted and deficient

 by the fall. 

-It is so much less.


          -I have a whole session on the fall’s effect on our thinking in track 3.

                    -We are distracted, forgetful, prejudice, our perspective is narrow,

                             inconsistent, and close minded.

          -Wisdom that is devoid of the Spirit, will be of the flesh and will

always be deficient.  (hope that doesn’t offend anyone) 

          -That’s why Romans 12:2 admonishes us

 “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

          -It’s a constant work to put off unspiritual thinking and renew our mind

 around the Word of God, and put on the wisdom of God.

                   -It’s a constant work because we are prone to unspiritual thinking.


Demonic = of the Devil.

       -Satan is the root source of this world’s wisdom.

                   -By default makes it a lie and false.

          -Satan uses demons and has developed a world to follow his Godless ways.

          -Eph 6:12 speaks of the spiritual warfare we engage in.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

          -One of the ways that Satan works is to manipulate us toward a “natural”

 (according to the flesh) wisdom that is a lie.

-It promises to deliver, but doesn’t.

          -We might wonder how that happens and what it looks like.

          -I counsel people all the time who have fallen to his ploy.

          -And it’s the same ploy he has used since Genesis 3 – “has God really said”

                   -I see it in marriages when they say to me

“God wants me to be happy – He can’t want me to stay

in this misery of a marriage.”

                   -I see it with folks who struggle with depression, where the events of

 their lives have become larger than God himself.

                             -I see it in myself, when I get frustrated over something that doesn’t

 go my way.

                                      -Where I’m not seeing God’s working through that circumstance

 to grow me – I’m just not getting what I want.

                   -So, don’t think that Satan’s attack is some huge battle, it comes to us

                             in the most mundane and normal ways of everyday life.

                   -It’s those everyday things that Satan uses to cause us to forget about God

or to doubt God’s Word.

                   -That is false wisdom that is set up against God and takes us off guard.

The world, the flesh, and the devil are three enemies of every believer

 in Christ.

The Fruit v. 16  For where you have envy and selfish

ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.”

                                                Now, James arrives at the fruit of worldly wisdom.

                                                -He lists two broad terms, of many he could list for us.

                                                Disorder = disorder, turmoil, unrest, unstable, confusion.

                                                -James 1:8, mentions the “double minded” person who is

“unstable” (same word used here for disorder.)

                                                -We know that disorder is not from God because I Cor.

14:33 tells us “God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.”

                   -So, disorder is from the other guy – Satan.

                   -James goes on in chapter 4 to explain the cause of disorder further.

                             “What causes fights and quarrels between us?  Don’t they come from

 your desires that battle within you?”

                   -Disorder is the natural consequence from that “zealous” wanting

what we want.

                   -It’s willing to cause disorder and unrest in order to get it.


          Evil practice = best case – worthless.  Worst case – vile or evil.

                   -We couple that with the word “every” and we gain the meaning that the

 works of worldly wisdom will bring absolutely nothing of any good

at best and total disaster at worst.

                   -If a person claims to be a believer, but carries a proud heart that lives

                             a worldly, sensual, and self-serving life, their claims of salvation are

                                      false and their life denies the truth as v. 14 says.

                   -Not that we are to judge the salvation of others, but we better be looking

 in the mirror or our own soul.

          -It’s basic sowing and reaping principles.

                   -Plant corn – harvest corn.

          -So, when you plant bitter envy and selfish ambition, you will harvest disorder

and evil practice.

          -We could add to James’ catalog today.

-Anger, bitterness, resentment, lawsuits, divorce, racial, ethnic,

economic, and political division.                    

          -That goes for the culture, the church, and the family.


I will end today with two sad stories that will help us nail down this worldly (false) wisdom

so we can begin to work on it in our own lives.

A friend of mine started a church some 40 years ago.

                    -They started in his living room and he raised his family and the church.

                    -Over the years the church grew and they built a building and the church

grew to around 400 people.

                    -As he got older, he retired to part time, his son-in-law became the

lead pastor.

          -That all was working great and to the Lord’s glory until the son-in-law was found

in some sexual sin.

          -My friend stepped back into the lead role for a time while they worked to

reconcile the son-in-law and his wife.  

          -Over time that was going well, but it was determined that the son-in-law would not

be able to return to pastoral ministry.

-So, the Elders decided that it was time to bring in an interim pastor who could

help them through the transition of finding a new pastor.

          -After 2 months, the interim pastor decided that any new pastor would

want to build his own team, and he fired my friend

(the one who started the church) and the rest of the staff.

          -Low and behold, the church went from 400 to 30 people. 

          -Now, year later - they are not financially able to call a pastor.

          -All believers, and I will leave it to you to decide what kind of wisdom was applied?

Jack and Sue had a great marriage and were involved in their church.

                    -They raised their kids in the church – there every week.

                    -The kids were homeschooled and they were model followers of Christ.

                    -But over time, cracks began to appear and widen.

          -One daughter was dating a young man – solid believer, but mom and dad didn’t like

     him because he didn’t go to college and worked as a laborer in a local business.

          -They got the Pastor involved, but they didn’t like his counsel to them

or to their daughter.

          -He eventually ended the counseling and the divide between parents and

 daughter grew as both sides dug in.

          -Not only that, but the church seemed to take sides and all of them felt under

the microscope and eventually left that church.

          -Feelings of loss of community and support overwhelmed them all.

          -The daughter was adopted into the church of her fiancé, but the parents

were struggling and further dividing the relationship by demanding the

 daughter go to church with them.


          -With an great division and hardship, the daughter married her fiancé without

the blessing of her parents, nor their presence at the wedding.

          -What happened to this family of believers?

                   -As they applied worldly wisdom in their family, they began to harvest

the fruit of the seed planted.


          Now, I didn’t use these stories to dim our hope, but to give us new hope.

                   -Not in redoubling our efforts to get what we want,

but to apply Godly wisdom and leave the results up to Him.

          -Next week we will look at the freedom and peace that comes from Godly wisdom.



















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