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Message Text

James 3:13 - 4:10 ESV

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

4 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Message Notes

1. The Source

Earthly wisdom vs. Godly wisdom

James is making the argument that what you do is evidence of where you are getting your ideas. Good conduct proves where your wisdom came from. Bad conduct reveals where your wisdom originated. Wisdom from God and wisdom from the world’s viewpoint are two very different things.

14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.

The same circumstance can have two very different responses, depending on where your wisdom comes from.

Someone needs help, but you have issues as well.

Wisdom of the world = selfish ambition = I can’t help you. I need the money myself for what I want to do.

Godly wisdom = full of mercy and good fruits = I understand your situation and I will sacrifice to help you.

If we consistently think like people who do not know God, we might be getting our wisdom from the wrong place.

Isaiah 55:6-9

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

You can’t think like the world and get Godly results. Isaiah tells us we have to quit thinking the way everyone around us thinks.

2. Bad source = Bad results

What does worldly wisdom produce in the church? Worldly wisdom in the world would not seem strange, but in the church it has no place.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? 2 You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

James uses very strong language to let the reader know that this type of thinking cannot permeate the church. He acknowledges that there are fights and quarrels among them, then he shows how that is evidence of their ungodly way of thinking. He even uses hyperbole to demonstrate that they were guilty of murder.

Matthew 5:21-22

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother[a] will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

He acknowledges that they are asking God for things but not getting an answer, and the reason is earthly wisdom has polluted their motivations. James indicates his readers were asking only to spend on their passions.

James 5:14-15

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

3. The fix

God is jealous for you.

5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? 6 But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

God will not share you: “no other gods.”

Resist, draw

7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Resist one, draw near to the other - you cannot move closer to both.

Repent - change what you are doing, change what you are thinking. Does our attitude toward our sin cause us to mourn and be humble?

9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

Connect Group Discussion Questions

1. What stood out to you most from this week’s message?

2. How do we try to get wisdom if we don’t get it from scripture?

3. How do we prevent the world’s wisdom from influencing our thoughts?

4. What are some times when we try to combine God’s wisdom with the world’s? What is the consequence when we try to do that?

5. How can we prevent worldly wisdom from polluting our motivation when we pray?

6. How is God’s jealousy different from ours?

7. What makes it difficult to resist what the world offers so we can draw near to God? What needs to change so we can do that?

8. How can we get to the point of truly repenting - of hating sin and turning fully to God?

9. What would you like to do differently because of this week’s message?