The General Epistle of James (Part 16)

vs. 13-18.
A. James continues with his warnings against inconsistency of source and product, setting in contrast again the different sources of good and evil. c/w JAM 1:13-17.
1. Expressed wisdom and knowledge may be born of envy and strife, sourced from below.
2. Expressed wisdom and knowledge may be born of meekness and purity, sourced from
3. If a man be born from above (JAM 1:18), his expressed wisdom and knowledge should
accord with that and NOT be “...earthly, sensual, devilish” (v. 15).
4. Believers are to “...earnestly contend for the faith...” (JUDE 1:3), but pure religion (JAM
1:27) touches on HOW and WHY we use wisdom and knowledge.
a. Paul wrote of those who preached Christ out of envy, strife and contention.
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PHIL 1:15-16.
b. Is our motivation born of vainglory, self-aggrandizement? PHIL 2:3.
c. Is our motivation simply a love to brawl? TIT 3:2.
d. Is our goal to be the physicians or executioners of erring brethren, to save from
death (JAM 5:19-20) or facilitate and glory in their dying (as Diotrephes, 3JO 1:9-
10), showing no mercy where mercy could be shown? JAM 2:12-13.
5. The wisdom from above seeks and produces peace. vs. 17-18.
6. These brethren had no shortage of the wisdom from below which seeks and produces war.
JAM 4:1-2.
7. Liberty regulates itself by the royal law to prevent strife (JAM 2:8 c/w GAL 5:13-15).
What is permissible becomes sin against brethren when it is used for destructive ends.
1CO 8:9-12.
8. God's blessing is upon the meek and the peacemaker (MAT 5:5, 9), not the proud and the
B. As a true man of faith shows his faith by his works (JAM 2:18), the true man of wisdom should
“...shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom” (v. 13).
1. conversation: The action of living or having one's being in a place or among persons. Also
fig. of one's spiritual being.
2. This speaks of behavior. 1PE 3:1-2; 2PE 2:7-8.
3. The true man of wisdom will not just talk about what is right or what he ought to do, he
will show his works. 1JO 3:18; 2CO 8:24.
4. It is not the wise man but the fool who says and does not. MAT 23:3, 17.
5. A good conversation will have more credibility in a world that looks for inconsistencies in
a believer. 1PE 2:12; 3:16.
6. Paul impressed souls with his conversation as well as his knowledge. 1TH 2:3-7, 10.
7. Mind the phrase, “...with meekness of wisdom” (v. 13).
a. Jesus Christ is the great model of meekness. MAT 11:29.
b. Paul followed Christ's example. 2CO 10:1-6.
c. Paul reasoned with men from the scriptures. ACT 17:3; 24:25.
d. “In reasoning with others, we should use soft words and hard arguments.”
(Matthew Henry)
e. (1PE 3:15) But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give
an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with
meekness and fear:
f. (COL 3:12) Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of
mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;
g. (GAL 6:1) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
C. Against the meekness of wisdom is the wisdom born of envy and strife. vs. 14-16.
1. envy: (v.) To feel displeasure and ill-will at the superiority of (another person) in
happiness, success, reputation, or the possession of anything desirable; to regard with discontent another's possession of (some superior advantage which one would like
to have for oneself).
2. strife: The action of striving together or contending in opposition; a condition of antagonism, enmity, or discord; contention, dispute.
a. Strife may be physical (EXO 21:18) or verbal. PSA 31:20.
b. James refers to attitudinal strife or strife in the heart.
3. This is “...earthly, sensual, devilish” (v. 15), indeed, “...set on fire of hell” (v. 6).
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a. sensual: Of persons, their dispositions, conduct, etc. a. Absorbed in the life of the senses; indifferent to intellectual and moral interests. In religious use: Destitute of spiritual life, worldly, irreligious.
b. Jude describes the sensual in very unflattering terms. JUDE 1:18-19.
4. This fosters “...confusion and every evil work” (v. 16).
a. This confirms that such wisdom does not come from God. c/w 1CO 14:33.
b. confusion: Discomfiture, overthrow, ruin, destruction, perdition. 5. A confused or
disordered condition; disorder.
c. Mind that death is a disordered condition. JOB 10:22.
5. Mind how often envy and strife are connected in other scriptures. ROM 13:13; 1CO 3:3; 2CO 12:20; PHIL 1:15; 1TI 6:4.
6. Envying is a work of the flesh forbidden in the kingdom of God. GAL 5:21.
7. Envy is moral and spiritual osteosarcoma. PRO 14:30.
8. Envy represents a greater threat than wrath and anger. PRO 27:4.
a. Cain murdered Abel out of envy. 1JO 3:12.
b. Joseph's brethren envied him. ACT 7:9.
c. Envy of Moses fomented rebellion. PSA 106:16-17.
d. Saul envied David enough to seek his destruction. 1SAM 18:7-12.
e. Envy crucified Jesus Christ. MAT 27:18.
9. Envy is linked with hatred. GEN 37:4; EZE 35:11.
a. It is well known that in order to break down the innate inhibition against killing
someone, man usually needs to dehumanize his victim with hatred.
b. It is with good reason that scripture links hatred and murder. 1JO 3:15.
c. Envy was a motivator in the killing of the brethren. JAM 4:1-5; 5:6.
d. (PRO 29:27) An unjust man is an abomination to the just: and he that is upright in
the way is abomination to the wicked.
e. “The moment I start hating a man, I become his slave. I cannot enjoy my work
anymore because he even controls my thoughts. My resentments produce too many stress hormones in my body and I become fatigued only after a few hours of work. The work I formerly enjoyed is now drudgery. Even vacations cease to give me pleasure. It may be a luxurious car that I drive along a lake fringed with the autumnal beauty of maple, oak and birch. As far as my experience of pleasure is concerned, I might as well be driving a wagon in mud and rain. The man I hate hounds me wherever I go. I can't escape his tyrannical grasp on my mind. When the waiter serves me porterhouse steak with french fries, asparagus, crisp salad and strawberry shortcake smothered with ice cream, it might as well be stale bread and water. My teeth chew the food and I swallow it, but the man I hate will not permit me to enjoy it. The man I hate may be many miles from my bedroom, but more cruel than any slave-driver. He whips my thoughts into such a frenzy that my inner spring mattress becomes a rack of torture. The lowliest of serfs can sleep, but not I. I really must acknowledge the fact that I am a slave to every man upon whom I pour out the vials of my wrath.” (unknown)
10. Paul connects vainglory with envy and strife. GAL 5:26; PHIL 2:3.
a. vainglory: Glory that is vain, empty, or worthless; inordinate or unwarranted pride
in one's accomplishments or qualities; disposition or tendency to exalt oneself
unduly; idle boasting or vaunting.
b. Those who seek vainglory will envy those whom they perceive as being superior to
them and strive against them. c/w PRO 28:25.
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c. Those with bitter envying and strife in their hearts are told, “...glory not...” (v. 14).
(1) glory: To exult with triumph, rejoice proudly; to boast.
(2) The word translated glory is rendered as “boast” in ROM 11:18 and
“rejoiceth against” in JAM 2:13.
11. Those who court envy and strife may call themselves Christians but their attitude
contradicts Christianity.
a. Thus they are commanded to “...lie not against the truth” (v. 14). b. Strife does not become brethren. GEN 13:7-8; ACT 7:26.
12. Where there is envy and strife, expect confusion and every evil work. v. 16.
a. (2CO 12:20) For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and
that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings,
wraths, strifes, backbitings, whisperings, swellings, tumults:
b. Strife prevails where there is a love of transgression. PRO 17:19.
D. In
1. First, it is pure.
contrast to devilish wisdom, the wisdom from above has seven noble qualities. v. 17.
b. c.
2. It a.
3. It a.
4. It a.
5. It a. b.
6. It
7. It a.
pure: Free from corruption or defilement. Free from admixture of anything debasing or deteriorating; unadulterated, uncorrupted, uncontaminated; conforming accurately to a standard of quality or style; faultless, correct. 5. Free from moral defilement or corruption; of unblemished character or nature; unstained or untainted with evil; guiltless, innocent; guileless, sincere. [1526 TINDALE Matt. v. 8 Blessed are the pure in herte. Ibid., Acts xx. 26 I am pure from the blood of all men. Ibid., Titus i. 15 Unto the pure are all thynges pure.]
Pure religion is undefiled. JAM 1:27.
Heavenly wisdom says, “All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them” (PRO 8:8).
Purity must be in place for the other qualities to be good.
Against bitter envying and strife in the heart, consider MAT 5:8.
is then peaceable.
peaceable: Disposed to, or making for, peace; avoiding, or inclined to avoid, strife; of a peaceful character, disposition, or tendency; not quarrelsome or pugnacious. Purity comes before this. No true peace is made in impurity. ISA 32:17.
is gentle.
gentle: Of persons: Well-born, belonging to a family of position; having the character appropriate to one of good birth; noble, generous, courteous.
A gentle person renders blessing for evil or railing. 1PE 3:8-9.
Gentleness opposes brawling. TIT 3:2.
is easy to be intreated.
entreat: To ask of somebody or for something.
One whose spirit is governed by heavenly wisdom is approachable; he does not harden himself against appeals for mercy, favor or correction.
is full of mercy and good fruits.
It is not stingy in mercy but like God Who is “...plenteous in mercy” (PSA 103:8). It is full of good fruits rather than evil fruits springing from the root of bitterness. HEB 12:15.
Remember, good and evil are not from the same source!
is without partiality. This was covered in JAM 2:1-4. is without hypocrisy.
hypocrisy: The assuming of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, with James 8-24-14
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dissimulation (concealment) of real character or inclinations, esp. in respect of
religious life or beliefs.
b. (MAT 23:28) Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye
are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
c. It is pure and sincere. 2CO 1:12.
d. It does NOT lie against the truth.
E. Those who make peace sow the fruit of righteousness. v. 18.
1. The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace, not wrath. JAM 1:20; PRO 15:18.
2. True peace is the work of righteousness. ISA 32:17.
3. There is no peace to the wicked. ISA 57:20-21; JER 23:17.
4. The way of heavenly wisdom is peace. PRO 3:17.

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