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Summary: James describes how to identify counterfeit earthly wisdom and enjoy the inner peace that comes from heavenly wisdom.

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There is a familiar picture of a man at the base of a lighthouse, standing in an open door. A giant wave smashing against the lighthouse, but the man seems oblivious to the danger around him. The picture is called“Lighthouse in the Storm” and was taken by French photographer Jean Guichard on December 20, 1989.

The picture shows a stark CONTRAST. There is a secure man in the middle of a raging sea.

Our study of James brings us to another contrast in James 3:13-18. It is the contrast of the peace that comes from following God’s wisdom, and the chaos that comes from following earthly wisdom.

James is telling us how to identify counterfeit earthly wisdom and enjoy the inner peace that comes from heavenly wisdom.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:13–18, ESV)

How to Identify Counterfeit Wisdom.

The context for James 3 is concerning teachers. James 3:1 “not many of you should become teachers....”

James has informed us that False teachers are identified in two different ways. First, by their WORDS (James 3:2-12), and second by their ATTITUDES (James 3:13-18).

We need to know how to identify false teachers because they are trying to influence us!

Trying to get us to approve of their ideas

Trying to get us to change our behavior

Trying to get us to compromise our convictions

In the comparison that James gives on earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom, he will show us three things about each type of wisdom.

1 - there is a description of earthly wisdom and heavenly wisdom

2- James tells us the origin of each.

3- James tells us the results in our lives when we pursue earthly wisdom and when we pursue heavenly wisdom.

First, James will inform us about earthly wisdom,

The Description of Earthly Wisdom (James 3:14)

Earthly wisdom is described as Bitter Jealousy. This term consists of two adjectives in the original text. The first (bitter) means “great hostility or animosity.” The word jealousy comes from a Greek word meaning “a greedy of prideful longing for something that belongs to another; even something intangible, such as a skill” (Bible Sense Lexicon).

Those who promote earthly wisdom can be identified because their motives are for their own gain and not others.

The second part of the description of earthly wisdom is Selfish Ambition. “A strong drive for personal success without moral inhibitions” (Bible Sense Lexicon).


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