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James 3:13-18


“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation [conduct] his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual [margin: natural], devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 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. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”


Who Is A Wise Man? What Is Wisdom?


“James chapter 3, we have come as far as verse 13, he began the chapter by challenging them not to want to be teachers or masters, saying that there was the greater condemnation, the greater standard that a teacher was held to, because he’s teaching the Word and has to live that according to the standard that he sets. And then he talks about the difficulty of the mouth and the tongue, and the biggest troublemaker in the church, the tongue. And he says in verse 10, “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?” (verses 10-11) Now he’s going a little more to the source, “send for at the same place sweet water and bitter? Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” (verses 11b-12) And as we come to verse 13, he starts to go to now the root of the mouth, which is the heart. Jesus said it’s out of there that, out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks. He asks the question then, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation [conduct] his works with meekness and wisdom.” (verse 13) ‘Who is a wise man?’ please stand up? Now a wise-guy, sit down, wise man. Who is a wise man, or woman obviously, “and endued with knowledge among you?” Who are those that are wise among you? “let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.” Now, he says if you’re wise, you know, don’t be many teachers. So you want to prove how much you know, how much understanding you have and how wise you are? First of all, you need to prove that out of a good “conversation” he says. Now it’s interesting, because when the King James was written “conversation” meant “your walk”, of course all of these centuries have gone by, now “conversation” is something that happens in your mouth. Well he’s finished with the tongue, and it’s gone through a transition. “Conversation” back then meant your walk, now it means your talk. So he’s saying, ‘You think you’re wise, you know more than others? First of all then, that will be demonstrated in your walk, let’s see it in your life. Does it make you more like Jesus?’ Because knowledge puffs up, love edifies. It’s not just about how much we know. He says, ‘Are you really wise? Because wisdom is the application of knowledge.’ Knowledge is information. People that are very ignorant can have loads of information and knowledge. And you and I probably both know people that are brilliant that have no common sense at all. Ah, and I won’t name them. You know, but wisdom is the application of knowledge. He said ‘If you’re wise, first of all then let’s see it in your life. If you have knowledge, and you’re a wise human being, spiritually, then you know how to apply the Word of God.’ So the first thing we want to do is we want to preserve your life. That’s a good standard I think. Walk the walk, don’t just talk the talk. Secondly, he says, we should see it in the wisdom of meekness, or in “the meekness of wisdom.” The idea is, those things are attached. Jesus Christ, no doubt, Solomon the wisest human, but Christ the wisest man that ever walked the earth. And the only autobiographical attribute he ever gives to himself in all four Gospels is he says “I am meek and lowly”, the wisest one. Read about him in Proverbs chapter 8. The wisest one that ever walked the earth, the only autobiographical attribute he ever gives to himself is meekness. So he says, ‘OK, so you say that you’re wise, ok, first of all, we want to be able to watch your life, put ear plugs in, and just watch you. And that should manifest in your life if you’re wise, because you should be applying knowledge.’ And secondly, there should be a meekness about you, if you’re wise, you shouldn’t be proud, arrogant. Wisdom knows nothing of that, there should be a meekness about you. Now meekness is not weakness, ok. Meekness is having yourself in the right perspective. It’s easy to just cut the word meek in half, so you can remember “me-ek”, that’s how you can remember what Biblical meekness is, you know you’ve got yourself in the right perspective. So, there is the meekness that shows itself forth in wisdom too. In contrast,


What Is Earthly Wisdom?


“But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.” That’s the source of the tongue, “in your hearts,” no spring, no fountain can yield both sweet and bitter water. So he says inside if you’re filled with “bitter envying”, that’s the root of our word “mercenary”, someone whose out for their own gain, “and strife in your hearts, glory not and lie not against the truth” don’t be deceitful. If your heart is filled with pride and your heart is filled with strife, it’s going to come out. “This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” (verse 15) Now notice this, “this wisdom,” there is a wisdom that is not heavenly. There is a wisdom that is earthly, there’s a wisdom that’s carnal, there’s a wisdom that’s Satanic. It’s a reality, Satan is wise, Satan the anointed cherub that led worship around the throne of God, a creature infinitely wise, knowledgeable, but diabolical and dark. Wisdom from below, he says, is earthly, he said it is sensual, it is devilish, the world, the flesh, and the devil. Paul warns us of those things, Jesus points us to those things. So, there is a wisdom from below. It’s the kind of wisdom that knows how to get ahead by striving, by being mercenary, it is worldly, dog-eat-dog, get to the top of the pile, step on whoever you need to step on to get there, it is soulish, carnal, it is sensual, it’s built around the flesh, what we want, and in the final analysis he says it’s devilish. “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.” (verse 16) Just bad fruit, envy can eat you up and spit you out, if you know what it’s like to be envious. And you know, sometimes, in the Church we see great injustice, we see a Christian whose an employee who has served their employer faithfully, who has not lied, who has not taken, you know, four-hour coffee-breaks, who hasn’t ripped off their employer, and they end up getting persecuted by the other employees or they end up getting the bum end of the rap, you know, and that can leave you with envy and anger. He warns against that. Sometimes we see in a marriage, it breaks up and the innocent party gets the short end of the stick, and the guilty party in the divorce ends up with the nice house and all of the money, and we see people just get eaten up with envy. Envy’s a terrible thing, and it’s interesting, in Galatians, when we read about the acts of the flesh, adultery, murder, fornication, theft, you go through that, envy is in the same list with those things. Because it just does something rotten within us. So he warns about the kind of wisdom and the kind of conniving and the kind of planning that’s borne out of envy and strife internally. Yea, there’s a wisdom, but it’s a worldly, fleshly, spiritually dark wisdom.


What Is Godly Wisdom?


Contrasting now, this is the kind of wisdom that does come from above, verse 17, “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.” So if you’re in a situation, you’re wondering what to do, you’re praying, you’re saying ‘Lord, how do I know?’ And look, people do this all the time, you do it and I do it, sometimes we’re in a circumstance, we know we need to make a decision, and then we sit there and think ‘Lord, is this you, or is this my flesh, or is this the enemy? How do I know, Lord. I need to make a decision, now there’s this option in front of me, now I want to pull out my hair, is it just me that wants to do this, or is it the enemy putting this in front of me, is it my flesh?’ those are important questions to ask. Before you were saved you never thought about those things. You were just, you know what you were. [he laughs] You were earthly, sensual, and devilish before you were saved, and you just made the decision the best way it would feel good and satisfy you. Now you actually stand back and say ‘ok, Lord, I want to shoot this person, but I know I can’t, so help me make the right decision here, I want to know, is this me, is it my flesh, or Lord is it your leading?’ Well we have a grid to put some of those decisions through here, it’s very important. “But wisdom that is from above” James says, “is first pure,” great when making a decision, is this pure? And it has the idea of something that retracts from uncleanness, something that’s repelled by that which is filthy or dirty. The idea is holiness, but it’s more than that, it’s active. So first of all, ‘wisdom from above is pure, it’s never going to lead you into something unclean, ever, ever.’ ‘Wisdom from above first of all is pure, then it’s peaceable,’ To me this is a huge question, do you have a peace about it? You’re praying about making a decision, and your heart is genuine. And let me tell you this, if your heart is genuine, then the ball is in the Lord’s court, and I believe he’ll lead you. If you are really genuinely willing to follow, you’re in a great position, because the Shepherd is never dependent on the IQ of the sheep. You can just go “Baaa, baaa, Lord, lead me.’ And you know, his problem is a willing heart, more than anything else. So if you’re willing to be led, and you’re praying, he says here one of the things to take note of, ‘is it peaceable? Because wisdom from above, if God is prodding you and leading you, it’s peaceable.’ You know, you end up saying, ‘You know, I don’t know why, but I really have a peace about this.’ That’s a good barometer, that’s a good barometer. Wisdom from above, it’s pure, it’s peaceable, gentle is the idea, it’s gentle in the sense of being reasonable. It’s not contentious in a sense, there’s a reasonableness about it. Now somebody else may not understand, but to you there’s a reasonableness about, you can reason it out. and easy to be intreated,” is the idea of content or satisfied, but it’s content and satisfied in the sense of yieldedness, of yielding. Easily intreated, you know, it’s ‘OK, I can yield to this, Lord, it’s peaceable, it’s pure, I can yield to this, it’s easily intreated,’ “full of mercy and good fruits,” wisdom from above is not harsh, wisdom from above is not hurtful, it’s full of mercy, “and good fruits, without partiality,” I like that, without wrangling, without, you know, ‘I want to make a decision, but you know, if I make this decision here, then the boss or this person is going think this, so I need to kind of play a little politics, and I need to do…’ we need to play a little politics with heaven, there’s only one King, there’s only one Lord of lords and King of kings, so it’s without partiality. ‘Lord, if I make this decision, you’re leading, impartially,’ and certainly “and without hypocrisy.” Just a good grid, if you’re making decisions this week you might sit around with this list and just go through it and say ‘Lord are you leading me? Are the characteristics listed here involved?’ “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (verse 18)


James 4:1-17


“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts [margin: pleasures] that war in your members? 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. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”


Wars, Conflict Come From Your Internal Lusts, Desires---It’s A Heart Condition


Now there was no chapter break as James wrote this, as we go here to chapter 4, so “the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (verse 18 and verse 1) Now, then if there is fighting and arguing and tension, where does that come from? If wisdom from above is pure, it’s peaceable, and righteousness is sown in peace of those who make peace, then where does fighting come? Now look, what James says here, “From whence come wars and fightings among you?” talking to the church, we get a little war going on in here once in awhile. It’s not with guns and Apache helicopters, it’s usually two or three people that are at war against two or three other people. But we get a little skirmish going on once in awhile, and hopefully everybody comes out surviving. “and fightings among you?” imagine, in the church. Aren’t you glad things have changed and we don’t need this instruction anymore? No, just kidding. You know, we’re the best dysfunctional family going. You have kids at home that fight, you raise kids, they fight, they argue, they’re still brothers and sisters, the church is no different. You see people sitting here on Sunday morning looking at somebody who sat too close to them or sat in their spot. When your kids are younger, you’re driving around and they’re just fighting back there in their seat, you know, you can’t even put them next to each other, “he touched me! he looked at me, don’t have to look at me!’ When we get big now we’re a little more, you know, sophisticated, but I see sometimes when you come in and your normal seat is taken, and you’re kind of [laughter] ‘You’ll get away with it this week, you’re not going to next week.’ ‘Where do the wars come from among you, corporately?’ is the first question, ‘how does that get among you as a group, as a church?’ And then the second question is ‘Come they not hence even of your, singular, of your lusts that war in your members, within your own heart again?’ aren’t they from within? So, ‘where do they come from, corporately, when there’s wrangling and fighting going on among you? don’t they come hence, even of your own lusts,’ now that’s an interesting word, ‘even of your own pleasures,’ it could be translated. We get the word “hedonism” from it. The idea is, “seeking what you want.” Luke chapter 8, when he tells the parable of the sower, the third seed is, it says the cares and riches of this world, “and pleasures” of this life, that’s our word here for “lusts”, “and pleasures of this life choke out the Word of God.” It’s the kind of thing that can choke out the Word of God in your own life, just you want your own pleasure, you want your own way, you want your own lusts, and those things are at war in your members, in your own body. Very important, as he goes into this passage. Because we live in a world where it’s everybody else’s fault. We live in a world where it is everybody else’s fault. The Democrats blame the…now let me, I’ll tell you where it started, ok, because it’s not your fault. You know that already. Adam and Eve, if they hadn’t messed up, everything would be fine. When God said, ‘you know, Adam, what did you do?’ He said, ‘What do you mean me? It’s that WOMAN, you know, your problem God, I mean, you and I were in paradise, you made her, before you made her everything was fine. You knocked me out, I was unconscious when you did this, I woke up, a rib was gone and she was standing there, and I’ve been in trouble ever since.’ [laughter] He said to Eve, ‘What did you do?’ She said, ‘Me? It was the serpent. What do you mean me?’ And it’s been passing the buck ever since. Democrats blame the Republicans, Republicans blame the Democrats, the students blame the faculty, the faculty blames the students, the Army blames the Navy, the Navy blames the Army [and the Marine Corps has to clean up the mess they make of things J]. The coaches blame the players, the players blame the coach, the Blacks blame the Whites, the Whites blame the Blacks, the Arabs blame the Jews, the Jews blame the Arabs. You know, it is every body else’s fault. Isn’t it? The wife blames the husband, the husband blames the wife [that goes back to Adam and Eve again]. ‘Well if he would love me the way Christ loved the Church,’ I wouldn’t hold your breath, honey [laughter]. That’s the standard. No one’s ever attained to it, but that never lowers it, men. That’s what we’re to shoot for, for the rest of our lives, but nobody’s done that perfectly. But that does not lower the standard. ‘Well if she would respect me, and submit to me as the Church does to Jesus,’ hey buddy, you’d better get over it. You ain’t Jesus, that’s the problem she’s supposed to be working on, you don’t need to work on that for her. Everybody blames everybody else. James says, ‘no, the truth is, it’s your fault.’ It’s not your environment, fascism, you know, communism, it’s not your environment, it’s not this, it’s not that, it’s you. There’s arguing even in the Church, and that comes because every individual has this struggle that goes on within, because they want their own pleasure, there’s that selfishness. ‘Oh, I don’t have any self-esteem,’ well your problem is you have so much self-esteem all you want is to make yourself happy. We have all these ridiculous arguments today that come into the Church. Now, granted, there are circumstances that give your carnal nature a better opportunity and platform to prove what they really are worth, you know, environment can produce the stress that can really prove what you are inside, there’s no doubt. But James says the problem is internal, that’s where fighting and wrangling and wars and those things come from, from within, he says. He says ‘These things are at war,’ it’s a military word, ‘there’s a campaign going on in your members, the members of your own body, your own flesh.’ “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.” (verse 2) You know, no doubt this is in the same spiritual sense when Jesus said ‘If you lust after someone you’ve already committed adultery. If you’re angry with your brother, you’ve already committed murder in your heart.’ And he’s talking about the condition of the heart, the struggle that goes on within. ‘Within you lust, but you don’t have, within you get so angry you could just kill somebody, and desire to have, and you cannot obtain, you’re never satisfied. You fight and you war, and you have not,’ and then he finally says, ‘and that, because you ask not.’ Now he’s making a diagnosis here. You know, if a doctor said to you, ‘Hey, you have this infection, you have an abscess, and if you don’t get it taken care of, you will either be unhealthy, be chronically ill for the rest of your life, or you’ll die. If you come in and let us cut that out, you can come back to normal health again.’ You would say ‘Thank you,’ to that person. But we don’t like it when the Bible messes around with who we really are. And James is making a diagnosis here. The world hates that, they don’t want to hear nothing about morality, all of Europe doesn’t want to hear what James has to say (I was just over there). He says all of this goes on, and no one’s ever satisfied. He says that, you can’t obtain, no matter how much you get, you’re never satisfied, there’s something inside you that you can’t negotiate with. Right? You all know that. You stuff yourself at dinner, and you’re still looking at somebody else’s plate. You can’t breathe because your diaphragm has pushed your lungs, they’re so compressed you can’t take a deep breath, and you’re uncomfortable, you know you’ve sinned, you’re afraid you’re going to throw-up, and they bring the desert-tray with the cake on it, so you see it, and then you’re like, and there’s no room inside.


Why Our Desires, Lusts God Unsatisfied


Well you do the same with money, you do the same thing with sex, you know there is something inside whose desire itself is never satisfied, can’t be negotiated with. No matter what you give it, it will never be happy. It’s a God-shaped void, but he says you go through all these things, ‘and you can’t obtain, you fight and you war, and you don’t have,’ and he says I’ll tell you why, ‘because you ask not.’ In chapter 1 he encourages them to ask if they lack wisdom. Now he’s saying ‘You know what? Instead of fighting with everybody whose around you, and trying to satisfy, why don’t you get on your knees and wrestle with God instead of wrangling with Christians?’ [then I’m in trouble, I always hated, despised wrestling. I was a cross-country runner, and a swimmer, not a wrestler. Guess I’m sunk.] Wrestle with God over some things, ‘Lord I really feel like I need this, do I need this?’ ‘Lord, no matter what I do I’m not happy, I’m not satisfied, Lord would you speak to me about this.’ ‘Lord, I really want this job, I really want this car, I really want this boy-friend, I really want this girl-friend. Lord, if you love me, you’ll give me this man to be my husband,’ then it’s two years later, ‘Lord, you loved me and you gave me this man to be my husband?’ I mean, wrestle with God is what it says. “Ye have not, because ye ask not.” Then he says this, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (verses 2c-3) He says, ‘and let’s be clear, you ask, and you receive not, because you ask amiss, that you might consume it upon your own lusts.’ There are times when you ask and nothing comes because you’re asking completely wrong, ‘Our Santa who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.’ You know, prayer is not to get our will done, it’s to get his will done. And the wonderful thing is, as we spend time before the Lord, he can change our hearts in regards to ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ ‘You have not because you ask not.’ You know there’s things that God, he gives graciously to us, if we would seek him in his time and in the right way, when our attitude is right. He daily, it says, loadeth us with benefits, he blesses us. If you got up every day of your life, and I’m preaching to myself too, if I got up every day of my life, and spent a half hour with a paper and a pencil, and said ‘Lord, I thank you today, that this old bag of bones could get up out of bed one more day. I thank you Lord that I could look in the mirror and see my face all pushed out of position, and throw water on it and try to pull it back where it belongs. I thank you Lord that I can breathe, Lord, I thank you there’s coffee, and that I can make a cup of coffee, Lord I thank you that I can hear the birds singing, thank you that my children are up and I can look in their faces Lord. I thank you that I have clothes to put on, I thank you that I have a warm home Lord. I thank you that I have a car to come to work in, Lord I thank you that I have a couple bucks in my pocket to buy a sandwich today. Lord I thank you that I’m not in the circumstance that so many 19, 20 and 21-year-old Americans are in, in the city of Fallujah, laying down their lives, young, vibrant lives. I pray for them, Lord. Thank you Lord that I’m not out of my mind, thank you that I haven’t lost my sight or my hearing, thank you Lord.’ If we would do that every day, it would bring things into perspective, instead of ‘Lord, I need that yacht, if you give me that yacht, I’ll take the pastor out deep-sea fishing, I promise, I’ll use it for ministry.’ You ain’t taking me, I ain’t going out there. ‘You ask and receive not, because you ask amiss,’ now “amiss” is interesting, it’s kakos, it’s the word for “evil,” ‘there’s something intrinsically wrong with what you’re asking for, you ask and you don’t receive because you’re asking for some evil, wrong thing so that you may consume it on your own,’ here’s our word, ‘hedonism’ again, ‘your own pleasures.’ That’s not what God’s got up there to keep you supplied so you can be content until he Raptures you out of here. There’s more to life than that.


Don’t Commit Spiritual Adultery, Find The Right Master


“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (verse 4) Now he’s talking about spiritual adultery, he’s writing to the Jews, James a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ to the twelve tribes that are scattered abroad, they would understand from Hosea and many Old Testament books that those who had stepped away from God and turned to other things were committing spiritual adultery. And it’s in that sense he’s saying here, ‘You adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship with the world is enmity with God.’ He’s talking about this world, whose wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, it’s sensual, it’s devilish, it’s selfish, and because it’s selfish it produces fighting and envy and greed, and trying to satisfy yourself, and God did not design us to satisfy ourselves. We were not made, our schematic is not made to satisfy self. You can spend your whole life doing that, and you will never be satisfied. It’s to be other-centered, to give ourselves away, to do something and see someone else blessed, and lay your head down on your pillow at night and say ‘Man, Lord, we did good today, didn’t we.’ And he graciously let’s you be part of that, and says ‘Yeah son, we did, me and you.’ You’re like the little kid with the fake paintbrush and he’s painting [this masterpiece], and he says ‘Yeah, we did good today.’ We’re made for that, we’re made to find the right Master, that’s the pursuit of life. Because you’re going to be mastered by money, by drugs, alcohol, pleasure, something, they’re all cruel masters. But to find the Master that hung on the cross for you, that bled his life into the ground, the Master that loves you so much that he died so you never have to go to hell, so that you can be washed and cleaned, and be called sons and daughters of the Most High God, to serve that Master, it is to find fulfillment, the pursuit of life. Turning away from that, aligning yourself with the world, he says, is to be at enmity with God. “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (verse 4b) you’re seeking, seeking to be worldly wise and to get along in this world and spiritually, to turn to the other side, as it were. “Do you think that the scripture sayeth in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” (verse 5) That’s a remarkable verse. It says ‘Do you think that the Scripture says in vain that the Holy Spirit that dwells within us so desires to rule over our lives that he actually gets provoked to jealousy when we turn to other things.’ You know we’re told not to quench the Spirit. That we should allow the Spirit to move in our lives, not to quench the Holy Spirit. We’re told not to resist the Spirit. Life becomes an adventure when the Holy Spirit says to you ‘Go on over there to that person and say something.’ Or the Holy Spirit says ‘I want you to call this person or write this person a letter and tell them you love them.’ ‘I want you to go to this Aunt, or your Uncle, whose just the meanest, thorniest human being in the whole State, and go tell them about the love of Jesus,’ and something happens, and then you go ‘Wow, Lord! You were talking to me.’ Don’t resist the Holy Spirit. And it’s interesting, it tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God. Paul when he writes to the Thessalonians in 1st Thessalonians chapter 4, verse 13, says “I would not have you be ignorant brethren concerning those who sleep, that you sorrow not as others who have no hope,” and he’s talking to the Thessalonians who had lost loved ones, their parents had died, their children had died, and the Church was brand new and they were concerned, ‘What?’ because they were expecting the Lord to come and they were thinking, ‘What happened to our relatives who have died? Are they lost, gone?’ and Paul says ‘I don’t want you to sorrow,’ that’s our word “grieve” ‘even as others who have no hope,’ and it tells you and I not to “grieve the Holy Spirit,” not to cause sorrow in the heart of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has brought the living Christ to dwell in us [cf. John 14&16]. And he’s saying then for us to be worldly and seeking worldly things is to be an enemy of God. And he says ‘You think it says in vain that the Holy Spirit actually desires to rule over you to the point of jealously, he lusteth to envy, he’s envious over you.’ Just imagine that. You know, sometimes I think the Holy Spirit would look at me and say ‘I need a day off!’ and it doesn’t say that at all. He lusteth to envy, he’s desirous over my life to the point of jealously when I go in the wrong direction, God working within my heart. And it says “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (verse 6) ‘Now Pastor Joe, I’ve really been messing up this week, you know I know that, on top of that I’ve bummed out my wife, bummed out my kids, I’ve bummed out my boss, and now you’re telling me I’ve bummed out the Holy Ghost too, I’m not having a good week.’ No, no, it says “But he giveth more grace”, the Holy Spirit, “he giveth more grace.” Paul says where sin doth abound, grace doth much more abound. [not that we’re told we can go sin, that’s not saying that at all.] ‘I’ve been blowing it, I realize that now,’ well you couldn’t realize that without the Holy Spirit. [That’s so true.] It says “anything that doth make manifest is light.” You couldn’t even realize you were messing up unless the Holy Spirit was speaking to you. And again, conviction of the Holy Spirit and condemnation both feel bad, but condemnation is from the devil, that drives you away from Christ, that’s how you tell where the origin of it is coming from, and conviction is from the Holy Spirit, that drives you to Christ. ‘Oh man, I’ve been grieving the Holy Spirit, yes, ‘but he giveth more grace.’ You can get your heart right with him, and he lavishes grace upon us. “he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (verse 6) ‘Because of that, he sayeth, God resisteth the proud, it’s a military word, ‘God puts up embattlements against the proud,’ don’t even try to win that war, ok. If he was just putting on 8 oz. gloves you’d never win, if he puts up embattlements you ain’t going anywhere. ‘God resists the proud, it says continually resists the proud, but giveth, continually gives grace unto the humble.’ He gives grace to the humble. Whose the humble? Maybe the person whose saying ‘Lord, I’ve been grieving your Spirit, forgive me. Lord I’ve been carnal, I’ve been selfish, I’m praying in a different way, Lord, rather than consuming it on my lusts Lord, have my life, let it be Lord, like all the words in that song, Lord, I offer it to you.’ He giveth more grace, he resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.


How To Conquer Sin & The Devil


“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (verse 7) Submit yourselves to God therefore, because he gives grace, resist the devil, he will flee from you. Notice the order there. It isn’t resist the devil, then submit yourself to God. Because you just don’t stand a chance of resisting the devil if you haven’t submitted yourself to God. There’s an awful lot in the Church of ‘I bind you Satan! I do this to you Satan! I put chains on you, I do this, I do that, I rebuke you,’ and it says Michael the archangel didn’t bring an accusation, he just said “the Lord rebuke thee.” If you’re going to go to war with the devil, do me a favour, go over there. I don’t want to get caught in the line of fire. I’m over here, submit yourself to God, when I’m close to my Dad, I don’t have worry about the bad guys, my Dad can beat their dad any day. Submit yourself to God, that’s when you stand a chance of resisting. If you don’t submit yourself to God, how are you going to resist the devil? ‘Well I’m going to go into the bar, it’s a new have one drink evangelistic program I invented myself, and I just have one drink, and if somebody needs to get to those people in there,’ no, no, no, you’re going to resist the devil? You ain’t going to do it. ‘Date an unbeliever for Christ evangelistic association,’ it never works. First step, submit yourself to God, then, because he will give grace if you’ll submit yourself to him, then you can resist the devil when he comes. And he comes, to tempt us, to put things in front of us. “and he will flee from you.” I like the way that’s written out. Because he can’t do anything with a Christian who has his uplink. If you’re connected, he can’t do anything with you. If you’re deriving your strength and your grace and your wisdom, your direction from above, he doesn’t have any place in you, like he had no place in Christ. Evil one comes, he touches us not. ‘Submit to God, then you can resist the devil. And he will flee from you.’ “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” (verse 8) I like that, draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Why does it take us our whole Christian life to figure that out? You know, if I spend time in prayer, and usually these days I’m not too long in prayer before the tears are running. Then I’m saying ‘Oh Lord, I’m so dumb, why don’t I do this all the time, this feels so good, oh Lord I love your presence, oh Lord thank you for speaking to me. Oh Lord thank you for still loving me, oh Lord thank you your Word is still alive…’ and you come away, and then you get in a jam and you think, ‘Well I’ll do this, and I’ll do this,’ and you forget all about prayer. Why does it takes us so long sometimes to remember? If you draw close to him, he will draw close to you, he’ll draw close to you. And you know, this whole passage, James is talking to us about that kind of humility. You know, people in their prayers and in their rebuking the devil, you know, I grew up on the Pentecostal side of the Church, and you have this thing sometimes like ‘You’re in charge.’ I mean, they talk about the Holy Spirit like ‘Oh, my hair was standing up, goose bumps, and the Holy Spirit was there,’ I like the goose bumps when they come, but that’s no real spiritual barometer of where you’re at in regards to the Lord. ‘And you pray, and you have to pray in the name of ‘JEEESUS!’ and you have to put the emphasis on the ‘J’ because if you do that, and there’s a little spit that comes out with it, then God will respond and he’ll really move.’ It doesn’t say that. You know, ‘He’s the magic Genie in the lamp.’ ‘Lord, I want you to give this to me, and you give it to me in the name of JEEESUS!’ and God’s going ‘Oooh, he used the magic formula, what am I going to do now, I gotta give. Somebody told him, I didn’t know he knew the magic word, but this is going to be bad for heaven, now that he knows the magic formula, because if he rubs three times, I gotta come out of the lamp and I gotta do it.’ And you know that whole kind of theology. There’s none of that here. You can’t ask God for things to consume on your own lust. You have to submit yourself to him. You have to yield. You have to humble yourself in his presence. Then you can resist the devil. If you draw near to him, with that attitude, he will draw near to you, it says. “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners,” you can’t draw close to God without doing that. “Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.” Isn’t that interesting? Troubled heart means troubled mind. A troubled heart leaves a troubled mind, schizophrenic. It means “two souls,” interesting there. ‘Cleanse your hands you sinners,’ you know, if you’re going to submit yourself to God, don’t grieve the Spirit, he’s envious over your life. Rather submit yourself to the Lord, then you can resist the devil. Draw near to him, he’ll draw near to you. And maybe there’s something going on in your life right now, and the first step for you to draw close to him is to cleanse your hands, you need to stop something you’re doing. [How do you do that without drawing close? Catch-22. I think you draw close to God first, and then you have the strength to overcome sin and the devil, whatever it is.] You’re doing something, you know it’s wrong, ‘Cleanse your hands, you sinners.’ And then ‘purify your heart you double minded,’ two-souls, we get schizophrenic from it. People can let something get in their heart to the point where it’s unclean or it’s bitter or it’s envious, to the point where it drives them nuts. ‘Cleanse your hands you sinners, purify your hearts you double minded.’ Get your heart right before the Lord. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.” (verse 9) Now he’s talking to those that are in sin, look, and to James it’s not a game, ‘be afflicted, mourn, weep, let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into heaviness.’ Get your heart right before the Lord, turn away from your sin, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (verse 10) You’ve blown it, you’ve made a mistake, you’re doing things the wrong way. God could have smoked you. If you’re here this evening [or reading this], and you’re living in sin and rebellion, if God wanted to destroy you, you would never have made it here. He could take your life like that. What he wants you to do is change your heart. Stop sinning, cleanse your hands, purify your hearts. You know, you need to mourn, and you need to weep, you need to be serious about your sin and realize the stakes are eternal. Realize the days that we live in. And if we do that, he’s more than willing. He’s making a diagnosis about a spiritual disease, and he’s saying there’s healing. There’s a way to come back to God, there’s a way to regain your spiritual health, and he’s just laying it out and saying it’s available to anyone, to those with dirty hands, to those with impure hearts, to those that are selfish, it’s there. If we’ll do those things, and we’ll draw close to him, and we’ll humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord, he’ll exalt you. He won’t just say ‘ok, you know I really wanted to squash you, but now you’ve changed your attitude, I can’t do that, would be bad for my rep.’ No, he says he’ll actually exalt you, he’ll lift you up. That’s what he wants you to be as his son or his daughter, exalted. The Lord will lift you up. [Comment: In verse 9 where is says to be “afflicted,” that is also a Bible phrase for fasting. In Leviticus 23:27 where it’s talking about the Day of Atonement, the great fast day where all the Jews fast once a year, it says “Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.” So fasting can be a crucial element in this humbling of ourselves before the Lord, so he can lift us up. Fasting can be a critical part of drawing nigh to God, so he’ll draw nigh to us. I’m surprise Pastor Joe missed this essential point, as it is Biblical.]


Don’t Speak Evil, Judgmentally, Of Another


“Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.” (verse 11) Now three times, brethren, he speaks of us being brothers here, or sisters, nineteen times in his book. This is a guy whose sensitized by having his older brother, finding out his older brother was God, was troubling, had a great impact on his life. Don’t speak evil of one another, brethren. Remember James is probably one of the ones who said of Christ in Mark 3:21, ‘He’s beside himself, he’s lost his mind.’ Then he finds out ‘Man, did I speak out of turn.’ “Speak not evil of one another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if you judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.” i.e. you’re above the law. Don’t, look, we can inspect fruit. Ok? We can be a fruit inspector. You see somebody whose living in open sin, you can see that’s bad fruit, and it says ‘with a spirit of meekness, you should seek to restore.’ It doesn’t say with a big mouth you should run around and gossip. It says with a spirit of meekness you should try to restore that one, and considering yourself, except for God’s grace there go any of us. But we have no right to judge one another, we don’t know one another’s motives. You know, sometimes we’re just awful hard on one another. Aren’t we? Right away we want to think, ‘I wonder why they said that?’ I don’t let that drive me out of my mind, some people do that [women for sure, gonna get in trouble for saying that, but seems to be true]. ‘Why do you think they said that? What do you think they were thinking when they said that? What do you think they meant when they said that?’ You know, somebody says ‘ah, want to go out to lunch this week?’what do you think they meant when they said that?’ ‘Ah, I’m not sure but I was going to go out and get some food, ah, I thought that’s what they meant.’ Man looks on the outward appearance, God looks on the heart. We have no right to judge somebody’s motives or somebody’s heart. “Speak not evil of one another, brethren, He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law…” The law doesn’t even take that place, the law judged actions. “but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.” ‘you’re no longer a doer of the law, you are a judge.’ [Comment: this one verse shows in James’ mind that the law is not done away. As James said in James 1:22-25 that law is a spiritual mirror that shows us where the spiritual dirt is in our lives. We look at the law of God to see where the dirt is, so we can repent of it, cleaning ourselves up with God’s help through his Holy Spirit.] You put yourself above the law when you judge another, your brother or sister. “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?” (verse 12) So, you know, it’s really a shame, isn’t it? God’s taken the business of judgment out of our hands, not realizing how good we are at it. [laughter] We could have straightened things out if he’d just allowed us to do this. No, he says there’s one whose a lawgiver, and there’s one that’s a judge, and he knows. It doesn’t say we’re not to be discerning. Matthew chapter 7 says there, ‘Why do you judge one another? Why do you behold the splinter that’s in your brother’s eye when you have a beam in your own eye?’ ‘Take the beam out of your eye, and then you might be able to see clearly to take the splinter out of your brother’s eye.’ Instead of ripping his head off with your beam. Now “the beam” is the judgmental attitude, obviously. If your concern is really to help, it’s much different. But of course then Jesus says, right after that, ‘Don’t cast your pearls before swine, look out for dogs.’ So he says to us, don’t be judgmental, but look out for pigs and dogs. [And the Germans combine pigs and dogs into one scary creature, called a schwienhund, or pigdog J] It seems an odd combination of ideas. What he’s saying is, we shouldn’t have a judgmental attitude, but we should be discerning. Ok? And I’ll tell you this, if you’re discerning, to me the Holy Spirit, the Lord, even when you discern someone whose struggling or in trouble, I would say the first reason that God lets you see that is so you can get on your knees and pray for that person, not so you can gossip about them, not so you slander them, not so you can condemn them, but so you can pray for them, pray for them. With the same measure you measure is going to be measured out to you again in those verses. So pray for that person.


The Right Way To Plan, Remember You’re Vapour-man


Now, verse 13, ah, a little bit of a challenge to planning, the right way to plan, even for businessmen. “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:” (verse 13) OK, this person decides where they’re going to go, what they’re going to do, and they’re going to turn a profit. [Comment: Don’t get me wrong, I love the Jews. But these four verses have an ethnic Jewish flavour to them, really proving that James was writing to the Jewish Diaspora, scattered throughout Asia Minor and the Roman Empire. Most Christians aren’t fully aware of recent discoveries, but the early Church of God was Judeo-Christian for the first 300 years of it’s existence. See, Oskar Skarsaune, Ray Pritz and Rodney Stark come up with some compelling evidence, which is included in that study.] Now, there isn’t anything wrong with that. The Bible talks to us about being industrious, it says if we won’t work we shouldn’t eat. The Bible says whatever we do we should do it with all of our might unto the Lord. There’s lots of instruction in regards to wisdom, of sowing in the season, keeping their fields and so forth. But there’s a way to plan, and there’s a way not to plan. This is, he’s saying, look, you can’t do this without the Lord, you can’t just say ‘OK, I’m going to go here, I’m going to set up a business, we’re going to buy and sell, we’re going to get great gain,’ and he says, the truth is, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (verse 14) What is your life? ‘Hey, I’m gonna go to this city, I’m going to buy some more hotels, you know, I’m Donald Trump, I’m Howard Hughes, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that,’ well, be good stewards in business, I think we should do that, I think we should apply ourselves, use the wisdom and the gifts that God’s given us, some of us have the gift of administration of great things. But he’s going to say, he says, ‘but remember this, life is a vapour,’ and he says, “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” (verse 15) ‘Hey, you know what? We’re going to move to this other city, we’ve really been praying, and I think the Lord wants me to buy five more motels.’ Now that’s the right way to say that. ‘Thank you, Lord, for these five new motels.’ ‘And if the Lord wills, you know, it’ll be prosperous, and we’ll be able to do this, and maybe we’ll be able to support missionaries,’ he says there’s a way to do it. You know, I know Christian millionaires. And the interesting thing about most of them, is they know that God has given them that gift so they can support his Work. And money’s a great tool to use against the enemy, it’s a great servant, but a terrible master. So he says, there’s a right and a wrong way to plan. Because, the truth is, you’re vapour-man. That kind of rhymes doesn’t it. You think you’re gonna accomplish all this? And you go out on the highway and you hear ‘Hoooonk!!!!’ and you’re vapour man, you’re gone, you’re in the next world. So he says life is like that, it’s a mist, it’s a vapour, it’s so temporary, we see someone gone like that. His encouragement in this is, don’t just say ‘I’m going to go here,’ don’t just say ‘I’m going to do this, I’m going to get gain, I’m going to invest,’ you don’t really know what’s coming, there’s a wrong attitude he says that we can have in all of that. “For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.” (verses 15-16) He says there can be a really wrong attitude in all of this, “all such rejoicing is evil” it’s wrong.


Sins Of Omission


And then the last verse he says “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (verse 17) And there’s sins of commission, and sins of omission, here at the end. He says there’s some people that know they should do something, and they don’t do it. And that’s wrong too. There’s sins of commission, where you just go and you do something, you don’t pray, you don’t seek the Lord, you can do that wrong thing, and you’ve committed sin. And then there’s on the other side, there are things where you have omitted good. And that is also sin. The Lord tells you to give to someone, the Lord tells you to pray for someone, the Lord tells you to go the extra mile for somebody. And you know you should do that, and you don’t do it. I think of times in this church, when the Lord specifically told me to go and tell someone, it was after a service, I watched them walk out, they had lost a child not long before that, she was pregnant again. And the Lord specifically said to me “Go tell them that I love them and that everything this week is going to be OK.” And I said, ‘That ain’t you, Lord, that must be the enemy, and if I say that they’re going to think I’m nuts.’ Because you’re taking me out of my comfort-zone, I don’t normally do that. Well of course Wednesday they called the church and said “We found out, we did an ultrasound, the baby has spinabifida.” Now that baby was born normal, he goes to our school today, healthy child. But they were tormented. Think of what, and in my own stupidity and stubbornness, if I’d have gone to them before the fact, before the doctor’s report, and actually said to them, “Jesus just told me that he loves you, and everything this week you hear, is going to turn out OK. Don’t be freaked out about it.” Imagine if I’d told them beforehand, and then they got the report, what that would have meant to them. Because I had to go back afterwards and ask for forgiveness and say the Lord told me this, and then they didn’t know whether I was making it up or not. It’s easy afterwards to say the Lord told you something. So there’s sins of omission too.


In Conclusion


James, the mouth, it’s a stream, it comes from a source, from a fountain, that’s the heart. What should rule our heart? Wisdom from above. Not wisdom that’s carnal, sensual, where there’s fighting and wrangling, that’s not from the Lord. It’s not from the Spirit, it’s devilish, it’s carnal, it’s earthly. Wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, easily intreated, it’s full of mercy in good works and so forth. So, where does all this fighting come from, it comes from our own flesh, it comes from our own fallen nature [the spirit-in-man, the human spirit, is able to be directly infiltrated by Satan, who is the prince of the power of the air. Satan supercharges our spirit component with the attitudes that come directly from him through his evil broadcast into the world, which is often mistaken for human nature, it’s really Satan’s nature (cf. Galatians 5:19-21 verses God’s nature in verses 22-23 of Galatians 5).] We want our way, we do not have to work at being selfish. We have to work at being selfless. Selfishness comes quite natural. You have a little baby, one of the first things that cute, adorable, wonderful little child learns to say is ‘MINE!’, and he’s said it ever since ‘MINE!’ And to get something out of their hand you have to give them something that they think is prettier to get the thing out of their hand, if you just take it away they scream, ‘Whaaaah!’, you give them something else they go, ‘aaaah,’ and you get it out of their hand while they’re looking at the other thing. That’s the same place that adult arguments comes from, it’s internal. And God says ‘Why don’t you try praying about it? Why don’t you ask me? Instead of fighting with one another. And understand this, if you’re just asking me to consume something on your own lust, I’m not gonna give you that, that’s not what it’s about.’ It’s not to be selfish, not to be wrong. If you’ve made a mistake, you’ve grieved the Spirit in your selfishness and your carnality, he’s jealous over you, don’t turn away, come back, come back. Because the Lord loves you and his Spirit is jealous over you, he loves you. And he gives grace. And he gives grace upon grace, and grace upon grace, grace upon grace. Therefore, submit to God, resist the devil, he’ll flee, he’ll go away. Draw near to God, he’ll draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, purify your heart you double minded. If you’re in sin, take it seriously, mourn and weep, let your heart be broken over those things. And humble yourself before God, he will lift you up. Don’t judge one another, don’t bad-mouth one another, let God be the judge. He’s expert at that. And he’s filled with mercy and grace. You’re making your way in this world, that’s good. Don’t have an attitude ‘I’m going to go do this, here’s my five-year plan, here’s my ten-year plan,’ say, have an attitude that’s not filled with boasting, remain humble before the Lord. Humble yourself before the Lord, he’ll exalt you. Say, ‘If the Lord allows me to invest here, if the Lord allows me to do this, I’m going to do this. If his blessing is there, I’m going to, if I think he’s leading me, I’ve asked for wisdom, I’m praying about it, so this is the way I’m going to move forward from here.’ And know this too, that if he asks you to do something, and you don’t do it, there are sins of omission too. So, great chapter, great exhortation…[transcript of a connective expository sermon on James 3:13-18 and 4:1-17, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia PA 19116]


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What are some of the things we as believers, even as whole churches, can omit to do that we ought to do? See,


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