“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.”-{James 3;13}

To the person who professes they are “wise” the burden of proof is on them to ‘show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.’ True wisdom is not mere head knowledge but lived out in good deeds in gentleness.

Wisdom is not knowledge or information for knowledge or information sake! But the application of knowledge by Divine power in reshaping, changing a life from the inside out to conform with the life God desires and pleases Him.

Wisdom in the BIBLE equals lifestyle. Character, conduct!

True wisdom is the outworking of a life that knows God. At the moment of conversion true wisdom begins through repentance towards God and faith in the LORD Jesus. 1 Cor 1:30 says “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God,” Col 2:2-3 wisdom is found in Jesus Christ, “…Christ Himself,  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” says  and you are “complete  in Him,” lacking nothing-{Col 2:8}. You have a new standing with God and now it is working out your understanding of all you have by Him to live for Him! 2 Tim 3:15 Paul wrote that from childhood Timothy new the sacred Scriptures that are able to make a person Wise unto salvation! His provision of His Word gives a person the wisdom they need to know how to be right with God! What a  gift from God! He is giving all you need to be wise and not a fool!

True  saving faith which in the old Testament speaks of the Fear of the LORD. The Fear of the LORD was the beginning of wisdom, turning from evil love righteousness and obey God. God gifts true wisdom. And the true believer will manifest the wisdom of God. We exercise more wisdom as we grow in our faith. When you turned to the LORD you received wisdom and the fear of the LORD is you beginning to walk that path of wisdom

Matthew 7 speaks of two types of people who both hear the Word of God, but the one who Does it is considered “wise!” True wisdom is characterized by hearing and obeying the Word of God! -{Read Matt 7:24} Compare to the other person who hears but does not  do it is compared to a fool! Wisdom is not merely hearing or accumulation principles, truth, but the application of them!

Earlier he told them how they should speak now he shows how they should live.

“The word sophos (‘wise’) was the technical term among the Jews for the teacher, the scribe, the rabbi. It appears that the author is still speaking to those who would be teachers (cf. James 3:1; here it is not what they say that he is concerned with, but rather how they live.” (Burdick)

The question to ask yourself is this wisdom from above or below? Is this man’s wisdom or God’s? And how will you know the difference? By what you see, what it is showing?

The wisdom from below is characterized, identifiable, recognizable. And it is what is shown. Familiarize yourself with these traits so you can identify and be wise, not to follow such people, or learn their ways. “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wickedNor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!“-{Psalm 1:1}.

James is giving several tests of genuine, real, saving faith and one of them is how a person responds to trials, then temptations to sin.  Then how a person responds to Word of God. In chapter 2 the test and how a person responds to people in need. Then the evidence of  saving faith manifested in righteous works. The test of the tongue…and now the test of Wisdom. Wisdom contrasted…

There is a wisdom that is not From God or reflect or represent God and is easily identifiable. It is destructive. James 1:19-20 teaches that it cannot bring about the righteousness of God. It is of no eternal benefit.

So the person who thinks or says they are wise how will you know?

A Person may not say, “I am wise.” but if you listen to their opinions which is them giving forth “their wisdom,” that is them “showing” their belief system and how they believe life is to be lived.

Everyone has an opinion and an “authority,” on every subject. People are opinionated, and this is how they show forth the “wisdom” they embrace and dispense! Paul speaks in Colossians 2  of “vain philosophies,” humanism. But it is NOT THE WISDOM FROM GOD they speak. Their lives display and betray their claim. They do not possess the wisdom that comes from God

Have a look at their life and what their wisdom shows in their life style… of who really has the Wisdom of God!

The test of genuine, saving faith is revealed in the type of wisdom you “show” forth in your living!

Divine wisdom changes a person in how they view and how they live life!

James says, “Let him show by his good conduct his works.”  It’s aorist imperative. A command demonstrated. Don’t just say you’re wise; show it, demonstrate it by the way you live your life!

The test of true, saving faith is reflected in behavior, conduct! While some people want to base their eternity on a past decision, with no change of character this and other passages show it is a present reality of a life that is being changed that is the evidence of saving, real, genuine faith!

The wisdom from above is not a matter of accumulating educational knowledge or the amount of degrees accumulated, that is mere information. It is not the accumulation of Biblical knowledge, But the application of specific Scriptures to specific circumstances.  Godly wisdom is about how you live your life. It is in accordance with His Word because there is a right relationship with God through our LORD Jesus.

The wisdom of God is always related to a right relationship with God and is manifested in our behavior, conduct… “…it has to do with a selfless, humble approach to serving God. That’s the evidence of true wisdom.”-{MacArthur}.

God’s wisdom is not just information but the right application to life’s circumstances, in every situation you find yourself in. Godly wisdom is manifested in the way you and I live. Wisdom is allowing the Word of God to rule in our lives, to control, influence our thinking which in turn influences our decision making and manifested in lovingly obeying, serve, honor and live for His glory. The wisdom from below is the opposite, it is self seeking, destructive, deceptive. 

If a person genuinely possess living faith, he will genuinely manifest in his life the wisdom of God. That’s his whole point. In fact, the kind of wisdom you have will be made manifest in the way you live. One’s relationship to God is revealed by the kind of wisdom lived out. And James tells us here there is false wisdom, verses 14 to 16,and there is true wisdom, verses 17 and 18. And he makes a very clear contrast.    “-{MacArthur}


“Wise And Understanding.” -“And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.’”- {Job 28;28}. True wisdom lives in submission to God by the power of the Holy Spirit and is seen manifested shown in deeds of the gentleness, meekness which wisdom produces!

“Gentleness.” or sometimes it is translated “meekness.”

It is not speaking of a weak person who can be walked all over but The Greek word  speaks of  strength, power under control! It was used of a wild horse who was tamed and that powerful strength it possessed was in submission to it’s owner. It speaks of a person who is in submission and under the control of the Holy Spirit and they manifest the fruit of the spirit as a result of “gentleness”-{Read Gal 5:23.} It is also one of the Be Attitudes {Matt 5:5}.

Moses is described as the meekest man on the earth (Num. 12:3,}  yet he was a might leader of people.

Jesus describes Himself as meek, gentle in Matt 11:29, yet He upon the cross when being abused by passer bys who said He could save others and if God was pleased with Him let Him come down off the cross. Here He exhibits great strength under duress to of the father’s will! He also  was fearless when confronting the religious people of His day and  drove the money changers out of the Temple.  He was gentle, not weak but strength under control to  do the father’s will. Meakness is not weakness! BUT strength under control and useful to the One it is in submission to! Proverbs 2:6 says,”For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”


FALSE WISDOM – James 3:14-16

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic.For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, THERE IS disorder and every evil thing. “

1.Worldly Wisdom Is Rooted In Bitter Jealousy And Selfish Ambition.

False wisdom begins in the heart!  Note the words in v 14 ” in your heart.” This is where the motive comes from. This is as it were the factory that produces the product. So the outworking is a manifestation of the in working of headquarters which is the heart. This is the opposite of gentleness, humility of God’s wisdom.  In this verse it has to do with a critical, contentious person.

He mentions them both twice, v 14,16. They have to do with the hidden motives of the heart. They have to do with covetousness and seeking power and prestige. “Selfish Ambition,”- has at it’s end self, not God. The worldly wisdom is characterized by  bitter jealousy and selfish ambition and has one primary question,”What’s in it for me?”…”what do I get out of this?” This person has their own standards, desires, opinions as the ultimate standard. They use people as things with one intent to further themselves, promote themselves to achieve their agenda, and to oppose them they will turn on you or try run over you. They will resent you and treat you as their enemy. They are self absorbed. Saturated with themselves, the world revolves around them. Their creed is “you exist for me!”

“Bitter”- {Pikron} this means harsh or bitter. It was used of water that could not be drank. This person sees others as enemies to be annihilated rather than friends to be persuaded and helped.

“Jealousy” {Zlos}- The Old Testament word for jealousy means “to burn or to inflame”—an apt description of what goes on inside the person who allows jealousy to smolder.

speaks of an evil jealousy. It speaks of harsh, bitter self -centerededness that has a resentful attitude towards everyone else.  They resent anyone who threatens their little self manufactured kingdom. Anyone whom they see getting in their way of getting what they want.

This wisdom from below is self centered, self focused, self promoting and is bitter towards anyone who opposes them!  They make those who oppose them their enemies and anyone who is doing well, successful, they are bitterly jealous, envious of them. They struggle big time with bitterness! Bitterness creates conflict!

“Selfish Ambition.”– {Eritheia}. This word speaks of personal ambition that creates rivalry or antagonism. Self again the focus and  the word was used of spinning for hire, women who would sew and then came to mean anything done for pay. It then entered the realm of politics and spoke of “selfish ambition” that was out for only self, and nothing else. Doing whatever. at any cost to achieve their self centered goal, no matter what they had to do to achieve it.

More interested in displaying self than a life that benefits others.

Self centered, egotistical, at any cost to get what self wants!

Such are the goals of lost individuals who show the type of wisdom they have through these traits of bitterness, jealousy, selfish ambition all to promote selfish ends irrespective of who they use, walk over, push aside indeed they are devoid of love for others because they are so full of self love!

The world’s goal is self fulfillment, self promotion, “me-me-me” mentality. “Look out for number one,” the motto! Get all you can and live as though this life is all there is and what you were made for. So the world system says live for this life, fame, prestige, power, materialism, pursue it at all costs and don’t let anyone get in your way! This is what the world system, advertisements seek to seduce into believing  this is what you need, this will satisfy you! This world’s system is run on this world’s wisdom which is fueled by bitterness, jealousy and selfish ambition… and arrogance!

2. Worldly Wisdom Is Arrogant.

“Stop being arrogant,” is how it is written grammatically.

Selfish people are boasters By Definition!

Some translations say “Glory not” this is what arrogant is. They are boasting they have God’s wisdom and they are told stop doing this when your life portrays the practice of your life is contrary to the gentleness of wisdom but instead manifests bitterness, jealousy, self centered living and pursuits.

Selfishness is what could be written over the door of your heart. Here lives “selfishness!”

Here is what is crazy, insane about sin. Bitter, jealous people who are self absorbed boast about it. Boast about their sin. Selfish people are self centered, self occupied and boast about self to others, Why? Because they are bitter, self-centered, arrogant! And in doing so they lie against the truth. They don’t possess God’s wisdom!

They are to stop being so arrogant that they possess the wisdom of God when their lives show contrary. And it is obvious by their living that overflows from their motivation for living that originates “in your heart” that they do not have the gentleness, humility of wisdom. Stop lying against the truth!  Note v 13 “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.” “Let him SHOW…” Show me by your behavior of good works done in gentleness of wisdom and what you are showing is not that if you are habitually living showing  bitterness, jealousy, selfish ambition,conflicts, resentment, arrogance, lying against the truth, For your life is one of self-centeredness, self promotion, strife, conflict, bitter towards anyone who gets in your way or is succeeding! Stop living a lie! You do not have the wisdom that comes from God. For your life shows the opposite!

“This wisdom is not from above.”  The “wisdom” they are manifesting is not from God. They are manifesting that which is bitter, the wisdom that is jealous, the wisdom that is selfishly ambitious, the wisdom that is arrogant, prideful, self inflated with self importance that lacks humility, gentleness, kindness consideration for the welfare of others for Jesus sake. This wisdom is not from above…this is NOT the life that God’s wisdom produces and is on display habitually in a life where His wisdom REIGNS not merely in knowledge but in skillful application to living life and the numerous circumstances we find our-self in. It is  the wisdom that reflects Him. His wisdom when applied changes the individual in their thinking, attitudes, desires, choices, behavior. They model being a new creation in Christ and as they grow in their faith and knowledge of the LORD Jesus they apply His truth they are being changed and growing in their application of wisdom. But this is not so for those who are living by the wisdom from below!

The root problem is pride and selfishness

4. Worldly Wisdom Is Earthly, Natural And Demonic.

Here we see three words that describe a False wisdom.

Paul tells them this type of wisdom is not from God nor reflect Him. At best it is…

“‘Earthly.” – It comes from this world and not God. It’s rooted in the values and goals of this world value system. It measures success according to this worlds standards.

This wisdom is earthly, and has a humanistic approach. It is earth bound, having all to do with the “here and now.” Paul speaks of it in 1 Corinthians 15:32″If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me?  If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.

” You built a reservoir between the two walls for the water of the Old Pool,but you did not look to the One who made it, or have regard for the One who planned it long ago. The Lord, the Lord Almighty, called you on that day to weep and to wail, to tear out your hair and put on sackcloth. But see, there is joy and revelry, slaughtering of cattle and killing of sheep, eating of meat and drinking of wine! “Let us eat and drink,” you say, “for tomorrow we die!” – {Isaiah 22:11-13}


And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man was very productive.And he began reasoning to himself, saying, ‘What shall I do, since I have no place to store my crops?’Then he said, ‘This is what I will do: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’  But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ “-{Luke 12:16-20}

Wisdom From Below; It is the “best” of sinful people whose minds are spiritually darkened and devoid of concern or counsel from God. A person is locked in as it were to this sphere never able to break out from it. Confined to this world’s system devoid of the personal knowledge of God in a saving relationship. It is like someone born and brought up living in a darkened cave who has never seen the lights of sun, moon or stars outside the cave and grappling and groping in darkness unaware of the light outside!

It is  to be bound in its own value system promoting materialism, educational, human philosophy trying to solve a persons spiritual problems it fails for it is not of God. This earth bound system promotes sports, academic, materialism as the ultimate aim and goal of “having arrived,..,you made it!’ You are now a “somebody!” This wisdom boasts of self sufficiency but like the best society could do at the time was chain up the demoniac, so today people are left in different types of chains but nevertheless still in spiritual bondage through human wisdom. For its limitations are due to the “best’ of mankind which is devoid of the knowledge, insight and power of God to illumine their darkened and spiritual dead souls {Read Eph 3:1-3}

“Natural” – “psuchik’- fleshly. “James is saying that this wrong kind of wisdom is no more than an animal kind of thing; it is the kind of wisdom which makes an animal snap and snarl with no other thought than that of prey or personal survival.”- {Barclay}

  It is used in 1 Cor 2:14 to say the See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. Natural man does not understand the things of God. IT’S UN-SPIRITUAL. It is used negatively in the New Testament, as opposed to “spiritual” – {Read 1 Cor. 2:14; 15:44, 46Jude 19.} It’s a wisdom that is a product of a person without a relationship with the LORD Jesus.”sensual.” Un-spiritual. Opposite of what the Holy Spirit produces.

The natural person in all their human frailties, who cannot understand the things of God and indeed consider as foolishness to them as they view everything from a natural perspective and so their view of life is from that fallen nature and cannot help people with spiritual problems that set them free. For they view life from a humanistic, fallen view. They do not have the wisdom to help someone spiritually. Un-spiritual. No interest in spiritual things, in God, the LORD Jesus, Heaven, Hell.

“Demonic” – “demoniacal. That is the adjective really from the term “demon.” It is the only place in the whole New Testament where it appears in an adjective form. And it means demoniacal. And that is to say that human wisdom, though it is all that man can spawn out of his own mind and is locked into his own earthly existence, is really generated by what source? Demons who have been made captive to the same kind of evil system of which man also is a captive. It’s just what Paul said in writing to Timothy when he said that false teachers are really teaching doctrines of demons generated by seducing spirits. So earthly wisdom – now mark this – earthly wisdom is spawned by demons. It is reflective of sensual feeling, and it goes no further than the fallenness of mankind. That is earthbound, sensual, demonic wisdom, and that’s the way most people live. But Satan calls it wisdom. Hey, when Eve was in the garden in chapter 3, verse 6, she looked on the fruit because she heard that the tree was able to make one wise.That was a lie. Satan always promises wisdom and he always promises that you will know and be in the know and understand, be erudite and be educated. But the wisdom of the world proceeds from evil spirits. It proceeds from fallen angels. It proceeds from demons. It proceeds from Satan and his agents who are disguised as ministers of light when in fact they are ministers of darkness. The thing that makes human wickedness so devastating is that man is smart and man is wicked and the combination is deadly. Demonic, natural, earthbound wisdom – mark it – never touches God. It never touches God. ” -{MacArthur}

How is demonic wisdom manifested?

We think of demonic influences and though we see some of it in Scripture there is a manifestation that people would be surprised at that does not mean people doing crazed or frightening things, indeed the most respectable person  in your street, or the school teacher, the priest or poet, the lads down at the pub, the college professor, the sports fan, the mom at the school gate, the date on the factory floor. It can be seen, heard, recognized in all walks of life. It is an ideology that is adopted and repeated as though it is true, factual, wisdom from above. It’s a teaching… it’s a way of thinking that shapes a life. But not towards God and the LORD Jesus the true source of wisdom {Read Col 2;2-3}. And Followers of Jesus Christ are not immune as Paul shows in Colossians 2;8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. ” Seeking to displace Christ, His sufficiency, His Word, as though He is not enough in and of Himself to save a soul or satisfy. Paul answers this demonic humanistic lie when he tells the believers they are “Complete in Him”. The word “complete” means “no deficiency.” No deficiency in their salvation, their forgiveness, or in their Savior.-{Read Col 2:11-14}. They had all they needed in Christ. The humanistic teaching says He nor His Word nor message was enough. Therefore the believers needed something more! Lie. This type of  wisdom of the world  still exists today attacking the credibility of Jesus Christ and the believers salvation in Him!   Becoming a follower of Christ does not make a person immune from the tentacles of false wisdom- the wisdom of this world who do not know Him whom all wisdom is contained!

So where does this type of THINKING come from? Hell! And  how is it manifested?  It is manifested through speech in the “wisdom” we speak and embrace and live by and tell others through our opinions, counsel!  And note there are RESULTS, FRUIT from such influence, ” For where jealousy and selfish ambition exists, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” In James 1:18 it is the same word- unstable. That instability that comes forth as a result of such “wisdom.” The evil one hates order, God is a God of order, the evil one works in chaos, confusion, disorder, instability, through chaos, appealing to making life all about you and adopting his “wisdom” as your wisdom in thinking, viewing and pursuing life as thought the here and now is all there is. Get as much as you can, by any means you can, so you can be all you can! But like the rich man who built the barn found out- there is an accountability with God and there is a future destination!

Demonic is where the source of this ‘wisdom’ is coming from ultimately. It is sinful and is opposes God, His Will, His Word. The “thief comes to kill, steal and destroy.” That is the end goal, destruction of the individual and using one individual against another to destroy! This earthly, natural wisdom is delusional, it thinks it is true wisdom, but it is not. It is delusional, demonic. The evil one wants to keep people from God, turning them away from God and deceiving them with delusions of self sufficiency. Paul warns believers, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”- {Col 2;8}

They value everything by worldly standards and make selfish ends their highest goal.

“Ultimately, says James, false wisdom is demonic. Such a delusion comes from the Devil himself. The Devil’s goal has always been to get us to turn from God and trust only ourselves.  He seduces us with notions of spirituality while moving us further and further from the true God. “- {Goettsche}

5. Worldly Wisdom Results In Disorder And Every Evil Thing.

The Results, effects of such wisdom results in ” Disorder”- {akatastasia,}. Instead of bringing people together, separates them, drives them apart. There is a person who may be eloquent in speech but whose wisdom by it’s showing is demonic in it’s origin not Divine!

Paul spoke to the Corinthians of the problems among them and said “God is not a God of “confusion but of peace.”-{1 Cor 14:33}. The word ‘confusion’ is the same word used here for “disorder.” Where there is jealousy and selfish ambition the outburst will be disorder and evil!

“Disorder,” it means instability coming out of chaos, confusion, disorder. In chapter 1;8 the same word is used as the impact of double-mindedness. In 3:8 of an uncontrolled tongue the same chaos, confusion, disorder.

“Evil.”– {phauloi } It means “worthless.”

It contemplates evil, not from the aspect of its active or passive malignity but rather from its good-for-nothingness, the utter impossibility of any true gain ever coming from it.  “-{RC Trench}

“Thing”-pragma,} pragmatic.

 This type of wisdom produces nothing that pragmatically is of any benefit. It produces only things that are evil, vile, worthless! Such is the wisdom of the highest academia without Jesus Christ , the Wisdom of God! And such “wisdom” is not from God! But the opposite!

Earthly wisdom that is characterized by jealousy, selfish ambition, arrogance, evil, will never produce peace, unity for it is devoid of love. It is self promoting, self seeking, in bondage to self and all its sinful tendencies to achieve selfish gain as its ultimate goal. It destroys relationships. It produces chaos, disorder and every kind of evil. For it’s origins are from hell! And it reflects Hell!

It is Hell’s wisdom on display through an individual, people!

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.” v 16.

“But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic.” – {James 3;14-15 NLT}

The wisdom from above results in the fruit of good deeds, and the gentleness, meekness, humility that God’s wisdom produce. The results of wisdom from below results in contention, evil of every kind. Polar opposites. This is what the behavior shows.

” For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”;-{1 Cor 3:19}

So when you look… and want to know where is this “wisdom” coming from. Ask yourself what is the LIFE SHOWING?  What is on “SHOW?” And there you will find your answer!

“Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom.”-{James 3;13}