Resist the Devil

 

                                           Resist the Devil

                                            James 4: 7-12

          “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4: 7.

          While chapter four is divided into three different postings, it still remains that the chapter is dealing with worldly Christians, though the things contained therein explain what is wrong with the world system in general.

          The opening verse in the chapter is the key to the whole thing, “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” New King James Version. That this concerns the worldly Christian becomes clearer when read in the New American Standard Version, The Lockman Foundation; “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?” James 4: 1.

          Having laid out the problem of worldliness, James now gives the cure for such an attitude; beginning with, “Therefore submit to God.” How this is done is found in I Peter 5, where he begins by quoting a verse already found in James 4: 6, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I Peter 5: 5b. This verse, in turn is found in two locations in the Old Testament, I am going to quote them here, not to confuse you, but to give you a rounded perspective of this principle.

          “Surely He scorns the scornful, but gives grace to the humble.” Proverbs 3: 34.

          “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.’” Isaiah 57: 15.

          God has taken the main thrust of these two passages and put it into the epistles of both James and Peter. The underlying meaning of this is that God is a humble God; yes, hard as it is to believe this is true, Jesus is God incarnate, and He was humble, that means that God the Father is also humble.

          I believe that Satan made two mistakes when he rebelled against God. The first mistake was in underestimating God’s power. He did so by believing that he could be like Him. God made running creation look so easy that the devil believed that he could do just as good a job as the Lord; but the devil is not infinite in knowledge or power, so running the entire universe like clockwork, and managing nature here on earth, or anywhere, is just as much beyond his capacity as it is ours. Look around you; can you imagine running nature, setting up the weather, knowing the number of tuna off the west coast, managing the ice floes in the north Atlantic to set up the proper conditions for the breeding areas for those tuna, or just having concern for the lives of some 6.8 billion people? What was this guy thinking?

          His second mistake was in underestimating God’s personality. The devil must have thought that with a humble God on the throne, He would just move over and allow him to co-rule. You know, go up to God, slap Him on the side and say, “Hey big guy, there is plenty of room on this throne for the two of us!” and God would just meekly move over. The first rule of warfare is to know your enemy, and Satan clearly did not know God. His own arrogance doomed him, and for all his bravado and machinations, he is still slowly sinking in the raw sewage of his own self-delusion and maleficence; once he goes under, we will not hear from him again.

          So then, God is drawn to the humble and contrite because they are like Him. Can you imagine a more peaceful heaven than one where everyone accepts and cares for one another and rather than blaspheming God, are content to just let Him do His job? Is this not how you pick your companions? Do you hang out with like minded folks, or do you prefer to associate with people who criticize you, make fun of you, or just argue with you all the time? I thought not; that is just not heaven.

          “Therefore submit to God.” Now let us let Peter explain, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” I Peter 5: 6-7.

          This idea is not to humble yourselves under the crushing hand of God, rather it is to submit to whatever circumstance He puts you in. The double-minded Christian is always trying to promote his own plans without considering what God may have in store for him. The result of this is that God is unable to bless him because he has taken himself out of the place of blessing.

Granted, this humbling may take us into things which are uncomfortable even frightening; this is why God tells us to cast all our cares upon Him, “for He cares for you”; you must be continually in prayer and in faith, knowing that God will not desert you, ever. Lose sight of this, and you may lose sight of the goal of staying under the mighty hand of God. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” I Thessalonians 5: 16-18. Whatever you do, never give up; if you fall turn to your Father and He will lift you up. Again, do not give up!

And this brings us to the accuser. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” The name devil means accuser, or slanderer; he accuses us before God, as seen in Revelation 12: 10 and the thing that is not often realized is that he accuses God before us.

How often have you heard questions like, “Why does God not do something about all the misery in this world?” “Look at all the horrible torture and death done in the name of God?” “Why would God punish us for doing things that feel good like, drugs and sex?” “My God would not send someone to hell!” “Why would God create a homosexual then send him to hell?” “What about the heathen, does God send them all to hell just because they have not heard of Him?”

And he will accuse God to you personally by questioning God’s motives or His methods. Then when you fall because of his lies, he will accuse you before God and to yourself. And the accusations will seem to come from your very own heart. “Are all these awful trials coming to me because God is angry with me, or because He hates me?” “I am such a failure; God is surely finished with me, what is the use in going on if I only fail?” This evil, malicious person will even attack children with his lies. “My daddy died because I am a bad child and God is angry with me.” “I am too bad for God to save me.” “I must clean up my act before God will save me.”

This is why you must have even a basic knowledge of the Bible and read it every day, knowing the Scriptures will help you to recognize the lies. Another advantage to knowing the Scriptures is they help you to resist the devil. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, as seen in Matthew 4: 1-11, Mark 1: 12-13, and Luke 4: 1-13, you will notice that the Lord only answered him with Scripture, this is all the argument you will need. You will also notice that the answers refuted the lies that Satan was telling Him. In the same manner you can recognize lies of the devil by comparing them to the truth of the Bible.

For instance in answer to the statement, “I am too bad for God to save me.” “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6: 37. “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6: 40.

Or, “I must clean up my act for God to save me.” “Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, ‘If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’” Luke 23: 39-43. He had time only to confess that he was a sinner and was receiving his due reward and to accept Christ as his savior; no time to clean up his act.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5-6.

Before leaving this, it should be noted that while we are told to resist the devil, we are to flee youthful lusts, “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” II Timothy 2: 22. While the devil seems like the more powerful of the two, he is at a disadvantage because we have the authority to tell him to leave, but youthful lusts work from within and are hard for the flesh to resist. Just as the alcoholic is to stay out of bars, so we should stay away from compromising situations.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.” James 4: 8-9.

In drawing near to God it is necessary to, “cleanse your hands, you sinners”, just as the thief on the cross confessed his sinfulness, so the Christian needs to confess and forsake their own sinfulness. Worldly Christians today do not realize that even though Christ’s sacrifice on the cross cleansed them from all sin, they still sin, and this needs to be confessed.

“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” I John 1: 8-10.

The reason this needs to be confessed is that it is to keep short accounts with God and not allow sin to come between ourselves and our Father. Here is the problem, if we allow unconfessed sin into our lives it then becomes necessary for God to correct us to bring us back into line with what a Christian is supposed to be before God and men, holy. You can save yourself a lot of grief by confessing known sin and forsaking it. In this manner we cleanse our hands; the hands being symbolic of what we do.

“…purify your hearts, you double-minded.” This is the act of repenting of our worldly viewpoint and seeking God’s will for our lives. But you must admit, the thrust of this phrase is very strong, “purify your hearts”, indicates a complete change of heart, not, “Don’t do that again”; you see that here and in the following verses.

“Lament and mourn and weep!” Do you see the power in these statements? This is true repentance. “Why rattle on about weeping, wailing and gnashing our teeth; it is my life, let me live it the way I want and I will accept the consequences later on?” That makes sense, does it not? Here is where the phrase, no man is an island, comes in.

Everything you do affects another; this is true of the loner, the doper, class clown, concerned father, drunk, or genius, they all affect someone, whether their parents, children, business associates, or friends. And know this too, you are being watched, particularly if you make some claim to being a Christian. People watch you to see if you are true to your own statements as to who you are; they notice your language, and your gestures.

If a person lives for himself it is possible for those he loves to die unsaved; the wife who never saw a Christian example or heard the gospel from her husband, the children who grew up in such a home, learning only materialism and seeing the world’s way of dealing with things through drugs and alcohol which foments rebellion and causes estrangement from their family, distancing them even farther from the hope of hearing God’s word, until even their father could not speak to them of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Many a Christian will stand next to Christ on Judgment Day and watch as friends, neighbors, and loved ones are cast into the lake of fire, in part because they were too busy living for themselves to tell others of the love of God.

“For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Romans 14: 7-8.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4: 10.

Only this true and heartfelt repentance, cleansing your hands, which are your deeds, and purifying your heart, turning it back and centering it on Christ the true lover of your soul, will bring you to this place of humility in the sight of the Lord.

“Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” James 4: 11-12.

This passage is quite confusing and apart from the obvious fact that we are not to judge our brethren it becomes a bit obscure, hopefully it will not be after this.

The Lord Jesus has already spoken to us about judging in Matthew 7: 1-5. “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck out of your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

What does it mean, with what judgment you judge with, you will be judged by? Let us suppose you become fed up with the speeders on the road and say to yourself, “I will never drive over 65 miles per hour on the freeway”; you then grumble to yourself “There goes another one” each time you are passed on the road, judging them, hoping they will get a ticket. Then one day you are late for a dentist’s appointment, and you say to yourself, “It is only this once, this is important!” you see, you have broken your own law. Will you grumble if you get a ticket?

Getting back to our passage, the J. B. Phillips Version of the New Testament may help a little in its interpretation.

“Never pull each other to pieces, my brothers. If you do you are judging your brother and setting yourself up in the place of God’s Law; you have become in fact a critic of the Law. Yet if you start to criticize the Law instead of obeying it you are setting yourself up as judge, and there is only one judge, the one who gave the Law, to whom belongs absolute power of life and death. How can you then be so silly as to imagine that you are your neighbor’s judge?” James 4: 11-12.

F. W. Grant’s take on this passage though really seems to nail it down. He says if you speak evil of your brother and judge him, you judge the Law and take away from God, to whom it is given to judge, and put yourself in His place as judge. God is the only one who qualifies as a just and righteous judge, since He knows the thoughts and intents of the hearts of those who come before Him. The judgment that is given into our hands, is to judge our own motivations, not another’s. While it is true that we are to judge blatant evil among our brethren and turn away from it, judgment still belongs to God. When the full impact of the picture being described here hits you, you will see just how sinful judging another can be for it robs God of His rightful place.

“But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’ So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14: 10-12.

 

Resist the Devil taken from blog.godisrevealed.com

 

Scripture taken from the New King James version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

  

     

 

            

         

 

Whence Wars?

 

                                           Whence Wars?

                                             James 4: 1-6

          “Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” James 4: 1.

          As one commentator wrote, “James is speaking to a mixed synagogue.” What is meant by this is that James is speaking in church to a roomful of both Jews and Gentiles, saved and unsaved. The more important part being that they are both saved and unsaved. As a result the question, “Where do wars and fights come from…” and its answer concern both groups.

          The second question, “Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?” will need a little elaboration.

          “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God –through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7: 18-25.

          We find then that those who have not accepted Christ as their savior have the desires of the flesh which the apostle Paul is speaking of above; but not having been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, there is no war, except perhaps with their own conscience, which may keep them from plunging headlong into certain sins. Nevertheless men still rush into the vilest of sins, which often costs them their lives.

          “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.” Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), quoted from, “Picture of Dorian Gray”.

          Now let us consider the Christian. The desire for pleasures that war in our members are the sin nature, and while it says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” II Corinthians 5: 17. It still remains that as long as we are alive the sin nature which is in the flesh is also alive, and as Paul emphasizes in Romans 7: 18 above, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.”

          Paul answers this conundrum in Galatians 2: 20, though the solution is a difficult one to grasp, and more importantly, difficult to put into use. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Here he says that he is dead in Christ, and as such he expects Christ to live through him, and the life he now lives, he lives in faith that Christ will care for him. As a result of this the various temptations which he feels are reckoned as dead and are no longer pertinent to his life in this world.

          The Lord gave us a short verse to illustrate how Christ can live through an individual, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” Luke 9: 23.   

To deny oneself is to say, “Okay Lord your will not my own; I do not need to spend my life to make a billion dollars; nor to become a great movie star, model, businessman, or artist. If you open those doors, well and good, otherwise I will be content to sit here at your feet and do whatever you choose.”

To take up the cross daily is to take up something that the world despises and mocks. To be a Christian is to become an object of derision, just as Jesus was mocked as He dragged His own cross to Calvary’s hill, so the Christian will have both friend and bitter foe.

To follow Christ is to have an ear attuned to His direction; whether this takes the form of giving to the poor, teaching Sunday school, visiting the sick, or just reading and praying. Some things He may have you do will be inconvenient, unpleasant, or just plain hard work, and often as training for the thing He will want you to do; but He will never stick you with a permanent ministry which you will hate. “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37: 4.

Notice that the Lord tells us to take up our cross, “…take up his cross daily…” , this is important because we have to remind ourselves daily of the cross, if we do not, we soon forget and fall back into our old ways, and the flesh takes command again. This is a never ending battle, but do not despair, Jesus will come alongside and fight for you if you ask.

For those who do not heed this advice, the following.

“You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” James 4: 2-3.   

The first three sentences of this verse are a good description of why the world is in such chaos today. At the same time they speak directly to the worldly Christian which is the concern of this study. A worldly Christian is “…a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:8.

As discussed in “That You May Be Perfect”, published 8/10/11, the double-minded man is someone who has one foot in the world and one foot in Christianity. And as stated there, this type of person does not become a better Christian rather they become a worldlier person.

Jesus warned us about this, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Matthew 6: 24. Mammon is Aramaic for riches, yet it can be more than riches, there are so many other things that we love so much that they crowd out thoughts of God, until we begin to resent His demands on our time which could be used in pursuit of our real love. We may also become bitter at God because the thing we love is forbidden by Him; mammon is not the only villain here. Beware the tendrils of the lusts for things forbidden that we desire.

“You lust and do not have.” The desire for something can be like finding a mirage in the desert; the vision of a thing that is desperately needed only increases the thirst. Desperation begets murder and covetousness. While murder and covetousness often go hand in hand with lust among the ungodly, it is possible for the Christian to murder in their passion without breaking man’s law.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,’ and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment. But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” Matthew 5: 21-22.

Words and thoughts are the same as actions before God, “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5: 28. Such a stickler for words, but there is a reason, often if we think about something enough, we will do it. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” James 1: 14-15. God wants our thoughts to be pure because it can save you much misery and perhaps even your life. God also wants our thoughts to be pure because He is pure and holy; He wants us to be like Christ in our actions and attitudes. These are difficult words but we are not alone.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the  throne of God.” Hebrews 12: 1-2.

“Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” Beginning with lusts which are not fitting for Christians how can one know what to ask for and indeed if one were to ask would it be for something of real need, or just frivolous things that the worldly Christian wants, perhaps with the justification that it would be used to help others. “Lord if you help me become top salesman, I would be able to help the church with its building fund.” What is more important here, the building fund, or the huge sum of money that the salesman will rake in? All of us have started in a place like this, but the more dedicated we become to Christ the more we can see the rationalizations used to manipulate God; which cannot be done. Hence, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”

“Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” James 4: 4.

The word adultery was commonly used in the Old Testament to signify apostasy or idolatry. The word was easily understood because it is such a humiliating act for a spouse to do, breaching all trust. Because God called Israel His wife it illustrated the betrayal God felt when they left Him for other gods, which were demons in reality. Jesus used the same term when He called the Jews an adulterous generation. The term as used in the passage under consideration calls worldly Christians adulterers because of their lack of fidelity to Christ.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” I John 1: 15-16.

“Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, ‘The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously’?” James 4: 5.

This is an extremely difficult verse to interpret because different Bible versions have different renderings. The question is the word spirit, is the Holy Spirit or man’s spirit being referred to? The above quotation is from the New King James Version; the J. N. Darby Version reads like this, “Think ye that the Scripture speaks in vain? Does the Spirit which has taken His abode in us desire enviously?” If the Spirit has taken His abode in us is correct, then it would be the Holy Spirit which comes into the believer upon salvation referred to. This is also suggested in the NKJV quoted at the beginning above, “The Spirit who dwells in us…” indicating someone other than the individual’s spirit.

However, look at The Complete Jewish Bible, “Or do you suppose the Scripture speaks in vain when it says that there is a spirit in us which longs to envy?” This speaks of a spirit, not the Spirit and would give the verse an entirely different slant.

The problem seems to grow more when it is seen that the verse quoted within this verse does not seem to exist in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit did not dwell in men until Pentecost nearly two thousand years ago; if this is quoted from the Old Testament, then it is not likely that it would be referring to the Holy Spirit, but rather to man’s spirit within him.

Now the only verse that is shown as a possibility is Genesis 6: 5, “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” While this may seem far fetched, it is notable that one of the meanings of the word translated heart is soul, a reference to man’s spirit. Couple this with the intent of the verse which clearly shows that man’s spirit is given over to evil continually. Taken this way it is possible that the Spirit moved James to loosely translate this as, “The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy”. In other words, it is the same spirit that is spoken of in verse 2, “You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” If this is correct, then we see God’s goodness in the midst of our own sinfulness in the next verse.

“But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” James 4: 6.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” I Peter 5: 6-7.

 These words are for all of us who find ourselves stumbling along in a dark place after pursuing our own lusts and forgetting our Father in heaven. His hand is always extended to us if we will only forget our pride and reach out to Him.

“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” Romans 14: 4.

This goes for you too, do not judge yourself as being out of the race, “for God is able”.

 

Whence Wars? Taken from blog.godisrevealed.com

 

Scripture taken from the New King James version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

  

 

Who is Wise and Understanding?

 

                             Who is Wise and Understanding?

                                           James 3: 13-18

          “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” James 3: 13.

          This segment begins with a question, “Who is wise and understanding among you?” we began with the things that come out of the mouth, we continue now with things that come out of the heart.

          “Let him show by good conduct”, as we have seen, our works show our faith, now our conduct shows who we are. It may interest you to know that the J. N. Darby translation of the Bible renders this phrase, “Let him shew out of a good conversation…”, so the word conversation brings us back to the tongue, as discussed earlier. Regardless of how you read it, conversation is what you say and conduct is what you do, which would include conversation. Still, it shows the importance of your words in your conduct, something which ought not to be forgotten.

          Your good conduct shows that your works are done in meekness of wisdom. The Amplified New Testament expands the word meekness to mean unobtrusive humility, and goes on to say that this is the proper attribute of true wisdom. Why does it say good conduct shows that our works are done in humble wisdom? I believe the answer to the question is that people may be suspicious of your motives, thinking that you are a goody two shoes. However, if a person is known to be a kind, unobtrusive sort, then their reputation will show that their works are done out of a genuine heart. The account of Dorcas may fit here.

          “At Joppa there was a certain disciple named Tabitha, which is translated Dorcas. This woman was full of good works and charitable deeds which she did.” Dorcas became ill and died and Peter was sent for. “Then Peter arose and went with them. When he had come, they brought him to the upper room. And all the widows stood by him weeping, showing the tunics and garments which Dorcas had made while she was with them. But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, arise.’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. Then he gave her his hand and lifted her up; and when he had called the saints and widows, he presented her alive.” See Acts 9: 36-42. That was a woman whose motivations were never questioned.

          “But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.” James 3: 14-15.

          We all have a tendency to envy at times, but the word bitter adds a whole new dimension to envy; in this case bitter means, harsh, virulent; which makes envy a dangerous thing. Envy can also be defined as jealousy. The marginal note in my Bible gives an alternate for self-seeking as, selfish ambition. Even more interestingly, the King James Version, substitutes the word strife for self-seeking. And Thayer’s Lexicon defines strife as, “a courting of distinction, a desire to put one’s self forward, a partisan and factious spirit, which does not disdain low arts. Partisanship, factiousness.”

          Perhaps the verse could be stated in this manner; if you have in your heart a harsh, virulent, bitter and selfish ambition which would stoop to any low to put yourself forward, do not proudly boast saying this is of God when it is not. Now that is harsh. Still, you see this every day in the workplace, in politics, and in church. These machinations are of the world and there is nothing that can be done about it outside of Christ; but this does not belong in the church body, nor are Christians to use these methods anywhere, anytime, at all.

          Unfortunately, it is methods like this used within the church that have destroyed its witness, and while atheists like to mock Christians for this pitiful state, it is other ungodly men who have wormed their way into the church hierarchy and all but destroyed it from within. While self-seeking Christians have also helped in wrecking the church, it is the apathetic Christian in the pew who is most to blame for allowing these things to go unchallenged.

          This “wisdom does not descend from above”. It is, earthly, pertains to the wisdom of man, filled with error and misleading; wisdom gained through observations made of the world around us and twisted by our own personal prejudices, Scripture is often butchered to fit this world view. This is evident when someone says, “Your God is vindictive and spiteful, my God is loving and kind and would never condemn someone for living life the way they feel is right.” This Santa God is not the one in the Bible but rather a made up one taken from scraps of Bible verses and worldly observations.  

          Sensual, a nature subject to appetites and passions, living for today like the animals; sensual pertains to the gratification of the senses, appetites, carnal, voluptuous; materialistic, worldly, irreligious. The philosophy of hedonism fits this mold; the gratification of the senses is the highest goal; the best sound equipment, the best clothes, food, wine, sex, and cars. Obviously most of these things are necessities; you need the proper clothes to go to work in, if you can get an occasional steak, nice, wine if you believe in it and if you are not going to get blotto, an eight dollar bottle will do as well as a fifty dollar one, sex with your spouse, a new car, if you need it; these things are here for us to use, not worship.

          Demonic, one translation renders it demon-like; this word really encompasses both earthly and sensual because it explains why, “This wisdom does not descend from above”, it is all straight from the pit of hell. Satan, working through his demons, has over the millennia blinded men, twisted and formed all worldly wisdom to accomplish his own destructive designs.

While it is true that some of the virtues, such as, temperance, prudence, courage, and justice, put forth by the Greek philosophers have merit, they are subjective and at least proof that God has placed in us all a conscience.

“…(for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things contained in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them)…” Romans 2: 13-15.

“For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there.” James 3: 16.

In an envying and self-seeking environment, every man is for himself, literally, each has a plan for his own agenda, each is willing to stoop to any low to accomplish his goals; he may love his followers, or they may just be his tools, it changes nothing, he is for himself. Here you can see that with different ideologies, or different goals in the same room chaos will reign.

Have you ever asked yourself, why, since everyone cries out “Peace, peace!” we have no peace? If this is mankind’s almost unanimous goal, why can we not reach it? Should be a piece of cake, right? When we return to the envying and self-seeking environment, the truth becomes self-evident.

The communists promise a utopian existence once the world becomes completely communist. Problem is, folks look at the death and the rubble that they call a country after they take over and see that the land is actually governed by thugs, who are not about to give up their power, and they say to themselves, “I prefer freedom.”

Islam wants to bring peace to the world, however that peace will not come until every infidel is either converted or killed, and every Jew has been annihilated. Contrary to popular belief, Islam and communism are not that far apart in their thinking.

“After seizing control of Russia in the 1917 revolution, Lenin wrote a ‘Call to Muslims.’ He declared, ‘Muslim people of Russia …all of your mosques and religious places were being destroyed during the reign of the Czar. …From today your beliefs and ideals will prevail and should remain free forever.’” The Voice of the Martyrs magazine, October 2010, page six. Website: www.persecution.com, if you are interested. Still, if the world were divided in half, one half communist and one half Muslim, it would not be long at all before they would destroy each other in a holocaust.

Liberal/socialists, wish to create a nanny state with the elite controlling every aspect of the common man, to do this onerous taxes must be levied which would take much of the joy and incentive out of private enterprise. Beside all that, who decides who the elite are? The answer is simple, the rich who are at the top of the heap, little difference from the thugs of communism. If you look carefully at the two systems, communism and socialism, you will see that evolution is the basis of their philosophy. Flawed systems built upon a flawed theory.

And American democracy which was created in a Christian framework; however it is a high maintenance system as seen in the Gettysburg address, “… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” “…of the people, by the people, for the people”, it is the responsibility of every citizen to know who they are voting for and then vote, once they become lazy, and they will, those with their own agenda will take that freedom away. Sometimes with the promise of security as the liberals do; Benjamin Franklin was supposed to have said, “Those who trade liberty for security, deserve neither.” The watchword is, “All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke.

So everyone wants peace, but they want it on their own terms, even if they have to kill and destroy to gain it.

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.” James 3: 17.

Depending on its usage the word translated wisdom can be interpreted in different ways; for instance, the word wisdom used here is in contrast to the worldly wisdom in verse 15 with its earthly, sensual, and demonic aspects. According to Thayer’s Lexicon the word wisdom here is “the knowledge and practice of the requisites for godly and upright living”; said knowledge being gained through study of Scripture and as Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” John 15: 5.

You can spend 1% of your time, 10% of your time, 60% of your time, 90% of your time, or 100% of your time abiding in Christ by studying your Bible, praying, and meditating on Christ, it is up to you, but like any endeavor, you will get out of it what you put into it. Do you really want to know God; do you covet His wisdom?

This wisdom is first pure, without fault, spotless, perfect, as you might expect heavenly wisdom to be. Heavenly wisdom is peaceable, characterized by a love of peace. It is gentle, one with a reasonable, fair demeanor. “Willing to yield” New King James, “easy to be intreated”, King James Version, one who is willing to concede to reason, is easily obedient, submissive, dutiful. “…full of mercy”, a mind filled with thoughts of kindness toward those who are in misery or affliction coupled with a desire to help them. “…good fruits”, to better define good fruits it would be useful to read what some of them are, as seen in Galatians 5: 22-23.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”

“Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3: 18.

In this we have a sort of farming cycle, the peaceful sower sows the seed of righteousness and as it is with all plants, the sower reaps righteousness. What a pleasant thought, we can sow righteousness and receive an abundant crop of the same.

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14: 27.

 

Who is Wise and Understanding? blog.godisrevealed.com

 

Scripture taken from the New King James version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

      

 

           

         

 

The Tongue is a Fire

 

The Tongue is a Fire

James 3: 1-12

          “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body.” James 3: 1-2.

          While this segment begins by telling the teacher that they will be judged more severely for their words; all Christians are included when it is said, “For we all stumble in many things.” So it is important that we do not shut down, thinking this is for teachers only.

          It is a good thing that teachers will be under stricter judgment because they can, and have caused a lot of damage in Christ’s church; not that they were all Christians. One of the first things that might come to mind is the sick twisted thinking of the leadership of the church that has been demonstrating at military funerals.

          While it is true that God hates sins such as homosexuality; He also hates the sin of pedophilia, adultery, fornication, murder, abortion, theft, lying, and twisting His word to conform to our own doctrine. God does not hate fags; He hates the sin, not the sinner. Did Christ die only for the non-homosexual? Are there some sins that are acceptable to God, and therefore those who only sin the acceptable sins get a free pass?

Let these words go deep into your heart, let them be branded onto your soul; our father and mother, Adam and Eve were ejected from the Garden of Eden and the world plunged into chaos because they ate a piece of fruit! Sins are not graded from 1 through 10; the little white lie will land you in hell as quickly as murder.

God will not have sin in His presence; and therein lay the problem, homosexuality is addictive, and the lifestyle extremely dangerous, both from diseases and sexual liaisons with complete strangers. This excitement and promiscuity keeps many from coming to Christ. Most of us may be able to understand the reluctance to leave a seemingly exciting life like that, since many heterosexuals desire the same free-sex idea; yet I have met homosexuals who became Christians because of the emptiness of it all. Once ensnared in this lifestyle it is very difficult to get free, this is why God speaks out against it so vehemently. But He does not “Hate fags”.

This church is correct when they say that our country is being judged. But it is for more than just overlooking evil, it is being judged for embracing evil as good. However, the message is lost in the noxious bile that they spew and the vicious method used in getting that message out. Search the Scriptures; nowhere do they tell Christians to disrupt the grieving of persons who have lost a loved one in the service of their country.

Nowhere does Christ teach a doctrine of violence or disruptive behavior. In fact a certain village would not receive Him, “And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’ But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’ And they went to another village.” Luke 9: 54-56.

These fear and intimidation tactics are no different than the ones used by Islam, and they are drawn from the same source. “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…” I Timothy 4: 1-2.

Continuing to speak of false teachers God tells us this: “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.” II Peter 2: 1-3.

Many liberal seminaries teach that Jesus was not virgin born, nor was He God; in fact God is a god principle not a real person, miracles do not exist, and the life of Christ was nothing more than an example of how we should live.

Notice, these false teachers will bring in “destructive heresies”; this is what they did to the Medieval Church and all but destroyed the gospel of Christ. These ungodly teachers also created the Inquisition, killing millions in the most horrific ways sadistic men with demonic inspiration could think of, all in the name of Christ. Because of these destructive heresies, “the way of truth will be blasphemed”, as it is today when ungodly men point to the Inquisition as an example of Christianity. Yet they do not point out that the vast majority of victims who died during this period were Christians and Jews, and the policies were instituted by godless men like themselves.

“For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires.” James 3: 2-4.

It is comforting to see that we all stumble, and I think James is including himself in this, so we can know that we are not alone when we goof up. Too often Satan can make us feel like we are the only imperfect persons walking around by pointing to something we have done, but you are not alone by any means.

If you do not stumble in word, you are a perfect man; the word perfect here means the same as it does in chapter 1 verse 4, “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” Again, perfect means mature, a mature Christian. Someone who can control his words is a person who can control himself in all points, much as putting a bit in a horses’ mouth to control him to do what is necessary.

Such a small member as the tongue is like the rudder of a ship, small yet capable of directing its course, still, if the rudder breaks such an appalling disaster.

“In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” Proverbs 10: 19.

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.” Proverbs 15: 1-2.

“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15: 4.

“Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.” Proverbs 29: 20.

Hasty words will often embarrass you, if not get you into trouble. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…” James 1: 19.

“Peter said to Him, ‘Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ and so said all the disciples.” Matthew 26: 35.

“He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive.” Proverbs 17: 27-28.

We cannot move on without this famous quote: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.” Abraham Lincoln, 16th president (1809-1865).

“Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell.” James 3: 5-6.

What a vivid word picture, “…how great a forest a little fire kindles”, thousands and thousands of acres of forest have been destroyed by children playing with matches, cigarettes carelessly thrown away, or smoldering campfires; such huge ecological and monetary loss caused by just a few pennies worth of flammable material!

Think of the consequences of the words of Muhammad, Jean Rousseau, Voltaire, Charles Darwin, Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Adolph Hitler, and Mao Tse-tung; the words of these men, “…sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell”. The marginal for the word nature here is existence; so the words of men like these have set on fire the course of existence and have come straight out of the pit of hell, and men call them intellectuals.

“A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.” Proverbs 18: 2.

“A fool’s lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows. A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.” Proverbs 18: 6-7.

“The wicked is ensnared by the transgression of his lips, but the righteous will come through trouble.” Proverbs 12: 13.

“He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.” Proverbs 13: 3.

“Put away from you a deceitful mouth, and put perverse lips far from you.” Proverbs 4: 24.

“For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Thus no spring can yield both salt water and fresh.” James 3: 7-12.

This, my friends is something that continually sneaks under our radar; we decide that we are not going to lie, use profanity, tell coarse stories, attempt to listen instead of talk, use kind words, and avoid provoking anyone to anger; well and good we are on our way.

We bless God in church, teach Sunday school and fellowship with friends; but on the freeway on the way home, some dipstick, clam-hanging, boneheaded, Neanderthal, jerk purposely cuts you off. Hello, we are back to square one. This is the anomaly, how can we produce both bitter water and fresh from the same fountain? Is it possible that the things we meditate on are the things that we are responding to when we go from blessing to cursing?

“But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. These are the things which defile a man…” Matthew 15: 18-20a.

I find that for myself, I sometimes start to dwell on some angry thought from my childhood, or a recent offense, and that thought creates a loop in my mind. The next thing that happens is that I will get angry at the slightest provocation, or drive aggressively. As the Lord says above, “things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart”, and these things often do not just come from one’s mouth, they become actions. As for me, I have found that if I break that loop as soon as I recognize it, by thinking on more pleasant things, I begin to respond in a right manner.

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” Philippians 4: 8.

Very often though, things are not just knee-jerk reactions, they come from dislike or from a deep seated hatred of a person. Nobody needs to point out that this is wrong to you; it goes without saying; but what to do? The answer to this question and to the problem of the loop discussed above is simple, but very hard to do; forgive.

When the Lord gave out the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6: 9-15, He only elaborated on one point, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matthew 6: 14-15. He drives this point home more forcefully in the illustration on forgiveness in Matthew 18: 21-35, when He says, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” Matthew 18: 35. It is hard to curse men if they have been forgiven by you, from the heart. You can only do this if you are willing to let the Holy Spirit love them through you. If you blame God for the circumstances that caused your hatred to begin with, you would do well to forgive Him too.

The tongue is an unruly evil filled with deadly poison:

“There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all gone out of the way; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3: 10-18.

We need to realize for a moment that God is speaking to us, about us, and we must let these words “there is none who seeks after God” in Romans 3 just sink in, and know that this is what we are being rescued from.

“An ungodly man digs up evil, and it is on his lips like a burning fire. A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends. A violent man entices his neighbor, and leads him in a way that is not good. He winks his eye to devise perverse things; he purses his lips and brings about evil.” Proverbs 16: 27-30.

“Do not be envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them; for their heart devises violence, and their lips talk of troublemaking.” Proverbs 24: 1-2.

“He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.” Proverbs 20: 19.

“The words of a talebearer are as wounds, and they go down into the innermost parts of the belly.” Proverbs 18: 8. KJV.

“Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; and where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.” Proverbs 26: 20. The meaning of talebearer is gossip, or slanderer, literally, a whisperer.

“Set a guard O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141: 3.

 

The Tongue is a Fire, taken from blog.godisrevealed.com

 

Scripture taken from the New King James version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.