Defining Wisdom: (Part 1) False Wisdom

DewI recently had the privilege, as a part of a Bible class that I am involved in, to present a devotional to my fellow classmates and sisters in Christ. I can’t even begin to describe the joy that I found while studying God’s Word for this particular devotional. The passage that I chose was one that the Lord had brought to my attention several times previously, and I was intrigued, desiring to further understand the specific meaning of the passage and how it applied to my life. Now, I had the incredible opportunity to study that passage. This post, and the one following, represents the results of that study.

James 3:13-18, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if there is bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit if righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

So, since we are talking in-depth here, what is the context of this passage? James, the half-brother of Jesus and the author of this passage, is actually presenting a test of faith to his readers. The unbeliever will exhibit false wisdom, or that which does not come down from above, while the true believer in Christ will demonstrate wisdom that is heavenly, coming down from the Father. An unbeliever can only act out of a temporal, sinful, fleshly, and worldly perspective because he is yet in bondage to sin, death, and Satan. This is the first part of my study: what wisdom is NOT, or the definition of false wisdom, that which is characteristic of unbelievers.

What are the three main characteristics of false wisdom? The first is earthly. And that’s exactly what it means: anything that pertains to earth, that is, the opposite of heaven. Thus, (since to be heavenly is to be infinite, indestructible, and perfect) to be earthly is to be finite, temporal, perishable, imperfect, marred by the curse of sin. This false wisdom is limited in its view of life, having no eternal perspective whatsoever (John 3:11-12). The unbeliever, in this case,  is concerned only with this temporal life that is fading away; he gives no thought to the things of the next immortal life, but rather pursues the things that are fading away for the sake of the pleasure of the moment.

Second, false wisdom is natural. This has nothing to do with the “natural” or physical world around us, but rather the “natural” inclination toward sin and wickedness that resides in us, namely, the flesh. Every unbeliever is enslaved to his/her lustful flesh; they can do nothing apart from fulfill their lustful desires and passions. To put it in another light, that which is natural and fleshly is the absolute enemy of all things spiritual and holy. False wisdom thrives on the war against the Spirit; it will savagely fight to fulfill the desires of the flesh. Galatians 5:16,-17, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh, for these are in opposition to one another…”

Finally, false wisdom is demonic or devilish. This is characteristic of anything “proceeding from, or resembling, a demon.” Essentially, this is anything related to Satan and his fallen minions. Now, this does NOT mean that all unbelievers are demon-possessed! But doesn’t “demonic” seem a little bit extreme? Remember, Jesus referred to the Pharisees as sons of the devil (John 8:44), and Paul referred to unbelievers as walking according to “the prince of the power of the air”, that is, Satan, the ruler of this world (Ephesians 2:2). Thus, we know that unbelievers are not only in bondage to their flesh, but they also live under the rule of Satan, unless they are freed through the power of Jesus’ redeeming sacrifice.

So, I found that false wisdom, the wisdom that does NOT come down from above, is earthly (temporal, perishable, non-heavenly), it is natural (enslaved by the flesh), and demonic (under the controlling power of Satan). But this is speaking of unbelievers, and therefore is not applicable to true followers of Christ, right? Wrong. Remember that in 2 Corinthians 13:5, believers are commanded to examine themselves! So what questions do we ask ourselves? Here is what the Lord laid on my heart:

– Are there areas in my life where I am not maintaining a heavenly perspective, but rather a finite and perishable one? Perhaps I am not trusting the Lord with every detail of my life, or maybe I am consumed with building up earthly possessions rather than storing up treasures in heaven, or perhaps I am excusing my “respectable sins” and refusing to take into account their eternal implications… ?

– Are there areas in my life where I am allowing my fleshly desires to rule my thoughts, words, and actions? Perhaps it is anger, bitterness, lust, pride, or jealousy… ?

– Are there areas in my life where I am not obeying God but rather acting as if I am against under the reign of Satan? Disobedience to God’s commands as seen in His Word is automatic service to Satan.

As believers, we have been freed from these things! Why would be return to them?! We must examine ourselves against Scripture passages such as these!  I realize that this is somewhat deep material, but I hope that each of my readers will realize the importance of every passage of Scripture. And this is not the end. The definition of true, godly, holy, and righteous wisdom is coming next. But in the mean time, let us seek to throw off any inkling of false wisdom so that we will be prepared to put on that which is true and perfect, that which comes down from above.

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Comments
One Response to “Defining Wisdom: (Part 1) False Wisdom”
  1. Wow! That’s the only word I can think of to summarize everything. Thank you Sierra, my dearest friend, for that incredible message!! :-*

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