True Wisdom Brings Peace - James 3:15-4:3. Week 24

The Book of James  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  31:37
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True Wisdom Brings Peace - James 3:15-4:3. Week 24


True Wisdom Brings Peace Not Fights

James 3:15 KJV 1900
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
That is the wisdom that is filled with envy, strife, and self-ambition does not come from above (heaven), but is earthly, sensual, and devilish.
Why? Because, the heavenly wisdom, the wisdom from above is “marked” with humility.
The statement from James, that this type of wisdom is not from above indicates its “origin.” That is why he said that this type of self-centered wisdom is not coming from above, but from the world, fleshly and from the devil.
James 3:16 KJV 1900
For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.
He further elaborates on the point he made in verse 15. The characteristics of those who claim to be wise, but present earthly, sensual, and devilish attitudes are evident in the Church. And these types of people cause “confusion” and “every evil work” within the community.
A similar term for “confusion/disorder” is used in 1:8 and 3:8 that describes the “double-mindedness” and “double-speaking” tongue. So, this type of person is unstable and restless. One cannot count on them.
The point is that a wrong kind of wisdom will bring about every evil practice – and would make a way to evil practice in the community or Church.
James 3:17 KJV 1900
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
This verse contrasts what verses 15-16 say. Until now he told us that the wisdom that comes from below is bad and evil. But the wisdom that comes from above is: (1) pure, (2) gentle, (3) easy to be intreated, (4) full of mercy, (5) good fruits, (6) without partiality, and (7) without hypocrisy.
We must note how James put these things in order – seven altogether. But he indicated that the first three are peace, gentleness, and submissiveness. All these three are contrary to what one who claims to have wisdom from below produces
The one earthly wisdom is of evil practice, envy, self-ambitious, bitter, etc. But the one who has wisdom from above is very different! He is submissive, yielding to others; meek, and gentle, considerate, etc.
Wisdom from above also is full of mercy and good fruits. Mercy is one of the things James talks about in a good person (Matt. 5:7). Who is merciful according to James? The one who loves his neighbor (2:8-13). This mercy and good fruits – the acts of mercy are related to James’ thought.
The one with wisdom from above is also undivided, sincere, and without hypocrisy. He is a stable, and trustworthy person.
James 3:18 KJV 1900
And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
The content of this verse is difficult to understand. James moved from wisdom to righteousness. But does that mean he was introducing some unrelated concern or topic? No. However, this has some proverbial style in the way it is given.
Moo says, “it is also possible to take the verse as a promise about what peacemakers will receive for their efforts; see the NRSV: “And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.”[1]
“This righteousness cannot be produced in the context of human anger (1:20); but it can grow and flourish in the atmosphere of peace. Those who create such an atmosphere are assured by their Lord of their reward: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).”[2]

Chapter 4

James 4:1 KJV 1900
From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
Through verses 13-18 of Chapter 3, James is preparing a way to rebuke the contention, and quarreling among the Church. In verses 13-18, he posed a question – who among you is wise? And if there is a wise one among you, let him come and show his good conduct and behavior with meekness of wisdom.
The point is that wise people do not go after one another and fight. The issue of quarreling among the Church is not led by the wise person, or from one whose wisdom comes from above, but with the wisdom from this earth.
The fights the Church is having during this time are given as evidence that it is going the opposite way of wisdom from “above.” The wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, gentle, intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy (v. 17).
So, James asks a rhetorical question in this verse. He points out that clearly there were fights among them. And where are they coming from? Not from some other religious sects, but from their midst; from within the believers. Specifically, they are coming from their lusts that war in their members.
Even though they were saved, they still have the evil desires. Their evil desires and passions are what cause these fights among them. The phrase, war in members, could mean internal war within a person or strife or conflict between fellow members.
James 4:2 KJV 1900
Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
You lust and have not – means that one desires something, but they do not have. It is a strong unhealthy craving. In other words, you crave for something, but you have not.
The other parts of the text clearly indicate that they were having fights and wars. All because of their evil desires (3:14-16). He concludes this verse with a beautiful statement – you have not because you ask not.
Asking God for something ought to be a continuous thing. Just because we ask once doesn’t mean that God would give. The concept or the idea of asking God is in the continuous form. Therefore, the idea is we have to ask God continuously; they have to ask God continuously.
However, the problem might be, that they asked, but probably did not continue to ask. And because of the lack of response from God, they were frustrated. At the same time, the evil desire in them also leads them to do what they did. But is this really all? Let us look at the next verse.
James 4:3 KJV 1900
Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Verse 2 shows us the problem – you have not because you do not ask. But before that, we learn that they have not because they do terrible things. They were praying and seeking God, but they were also doing bad things and therefore, not receiving a favorable response from God.
In this verse, he goes a little further. You ask, yes, and receive not. The reason is you ask with the wrong motives! In other words, God would not answer self-centered prayers!
[1] Douglas J. Moo, The Letter of James, The Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI; Leicester, England: Eerdmans; Apollos, 2000), 177. [2] Ibid., 178.
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