26 February 2017


James 3:13-18

Our lives in general are filled with many challenges, trials and temptations. And it’s for this reason James addresses issues of wisdom, friendships, and speech, showing us how faith in Christ certainly affects our ordinary, mundane, everyday life in this world. We have been looking at how powerful this little letter speaks directly to heart of a professing believer. There is no beating around the bush…he gets right to the point and the concerns that face the Christian faith.

We have seen…… 
Count it all joy when you face trials…..no excuses.
Loving God even in your trial and circumstance.
The importance of the sufficiency of Scripture in the Christian's life.
The vital importance of being doers of the word…practical Christian living.
Not to show favoritism towards others, for we are all equal in our sins
Faith without  active works is dead……“you will see my faith by my works"
How the tongue could be used for both good and evil as we are to use it for good.

We come to a portion of this letter that speaks about two sources of wisdom. One the world seeks after that leads to… Destruction….deception and death…..which ultimately resides in Hell with Satan and his fallen angels. The other that leads to life and godliness. Where do you go…or where do you turn to in order to find wisdom and understanding? The Spiritual status of your life will dictate your answer! God or this world? As John MacArthur says "the kind of wisdom a person possesses will be revealed by the kind of life he or she lives"

Remember what Solomon said “I’m a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted.  Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?" The speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.” 1 King 3:7-10. The question we need to ask ourselves this morning is What are we going to do with this wisdom that we hold in our hands?

Joshua Harris said this as we approach that question!Whether our theological knowledge is great or small, we all need to ask a vital question: What will we do with the knowledge of God that we have? Will it lead us to an ever-growing desire to know and love the Lord? Will it practically affect the way we think and live? Will we have the courage to hold on to the truth even when it isn’t popular? And how will we express our beliefs? With humility–or with pride?

Sadly many in this world seek out those in this world for help and wisdom; where the Christian seeks His kingdom and His righteousness to find wisdom through God’s people. Let me explain what I mean by this………So please turn to Psalm 1. This is a person who seeks after true wisdom, who will delight themselves in the precepts found in scripture……not the mob mentality of others. You will hear me say again and again “This book is sufficient in every aspect for your life.” But you have a choice to make! Will I listen to God or to this Post Modern world?

Listen to some of the so called wisdom of this world! The French philosopher Voltaire, a skeptic who destroyed the faith of many people, boasted that within 100 years of his death, the Bible would disappear from the face of the earth. Voltaire died in 1728, but the Bible lives on. Albert Einstein said this about the wisdom of God "The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish." Sigmund Freud who declared that “religion is the universal obsessional neurosis [a mild psychiatric disorder] of humanity.” This is coming from a guy who wanted to have relations with his mother. Professor Richard Dawkins has claimed that forcing a religion on children without questioning its merits is as bad as 'child abuse'. 

SEE! True wisdom only comes from God. Sadly these highly educated men didn’t realize their lost state. So when fallible man or women fail you! God won’t. He is faithful!

Job said “God is wise in heart and mighty in strength...” Job 9:4

Psalm 104:24 says “O LORD, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made them all….”

Solomon wrote “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, But fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Prov 1:7

Jeremiah said “For among all the wise men of the nations, And in all their kingdoms, There is none like You.” Jer 10:7

Paul said to the church “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col 2:3

What is your source and who is your source when you are faced with obstacles and decision making on a day to day basis? SEE! Almighty God is our source of wisdom!

Let me ask you…….Who would you rather listen to?
A person who says “We’re a product of our society.”
A person who says “We’re no different than animals.”
A person who claims “We can find wisdom on our own?”

Every one of those ideologies and anyone who professes them to be true is absolutely wrong! I’m not a product of my upbringing. I’m the one who broken God’s heart with my disobedience and Kingdom of one (me), I’m a sinner saved by sovereign grace. I’m not some animal or cosmic goo. We are above animals and all created things! We have been created in the image of God and that is no small or insignificant thing. I’m not able to do it on my own our in my own strength. Apart from Him I can do nothing other than make a mess of things.

Do you see what James is telling us this morning? Look at the opening remarks in (v13) “Who is wise and understanding among you?” which gives the idea that James is saying if there is any among you……..to step forward and identify themselves. Who is wise in this age or any age for that matter? There are a lot of knowledgeable people but it doesn’t mean there wise. See knowledge helps us to break things down but wisdom helps us to put all the pieces together properly. There is only one Source of true wisdom and that is found in the God breathed scriptures. See James begins this portion with the negative

(V13- V16)

James gives us 3 characteristics or negative descriptions of false wisdom.

“Earthly Wisdom” limited to the present material world, by definition it is restricted to things that man can theorize, discover, and accomplish by self. And it tags along….

Selfish ambition
Self interest
Basically looking out for number one
This is wisdom has a limited perspective and doesn’t see things in light of eternity.

“Natural Wisdom” sensual, fleshly, it relates only to the fallen, unredeemed man, corrupted by the fall and separated from God. It originates in the natural man and is a product of Satan. It draws our senses to our heart desires.

1 Cor 1:18-21 says be careful “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND BRING TO NOTHING THE UNDERSTANDING OF THE PRUDENT."  Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
This is wisdom that is measured by you and how it advances you and self interest.

This is motivated by self-centeredness that is dangerous everywhere it goes.

“Demonic Wisdom” its root source is Satan himself, working through his demonic fallen angels, who rebelled with him against God in ages past. This is wisdom that comes from Hell itself.

2 Cor 11:13-15 warns us about this “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.  And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”

This wisdom comes from Hell and its subtle and yet powerfully demonic. In Genesis 3 we see this in action when the Serpent tempted Eve to trust in his wisdom instead of God’s wisdom. This is where we need to be aware……..the Adversary is doing the same thing in every one of our lives today. This is where we need to aware that the most important factor of growing in wisdom is to look upward.
James gives us the outcome of earthly, natural or demonic wisdom (v15) “full of Disorder” instability, a state of confusion, disturbance, and disarray. Have we not seen this of late! We live in a society that a person can change his or hers identity on demand by how you feel. And society is OK with this. We can even claim to be a cat trapped in a humans body and society says “Well that’s ok” The wisdom that this world is producing is everything that points us away from the Living God.

“Every Evil thing” worthless, it means vile and contemptible, it goes nowhere! It says one thing, but means another and it leads to destruction. Such wisdom like this only produces anger, bitterness, resentment, divisions, and divorce. And robs us of love, intimacy, trust, fellowship, and harmony with others. 

Sadly though as Jesus said “many go in by it” Matt 7:13 and this why we need to be so discerning and sensitive to the Holy Spirit. James makes it very clear if we have any of these characteristics in our lives, this wisdom is not from our Heavenly Sovereign Lord, but Earthy which is evil, sensual and Demonic and we must it at once and flee from this world’s disposition.


James gives us 7 characteristics/truths of what wisdom genuinely is. The wisdom that we were instructed already to do if we lack understanding “Now if any of you lack wisdom, he should ask God.” God’s wisdom produces what is right, that which is pleasing and honouring to God. It’s Christ centered and focused on His direction and understanding.

Heavenly wisdom is Peaceable it’s someone who displays humility. Accepting truth despite how they feel or their disposition. They find rest in God’s word.

Heavenly wisdom is Gentle it’s fair, moderate, forbearing, courteous and considerate. “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient,” 2 Tim 2:24

Heavenly wisdom is Reasonable it’s willing to yield without bitterness or disputing, it’s teachable, compliant and not stubborn with the desire to understand.

Heavenly wisdom is Full of Mercy the evidence of saving faith and transformed life through the gospel of Christ.

Heavenly wisdom is Full of Good Fruits which refers to every sort of good work or deed. Again this goes back to what James said earlier about faith and works James 2:14-20

Heavenly wisdom is Unwavering  it’s not to be parted or divided, therefore without doubt, wavering, inconsistency, treating everyone equal without favoritism. Again this also goes back to what James said in James 2:1-9

Heavenly wisdom is Without Hypocrisy it’s without malice, deceit, envy, and slander.

These are the characteristics of heavenly wisdom and the results of this true wisdom brings about (v18) A Fruit” baring harvest! Godly wisdom produces a continuing cycle of righteousness, which is planted and harvested in the life of the believer. This brings about a Peaceful righteousness!A harmonious relationship between the Lord and His faithful servants……you and me! This results in a life that demonstrates genuine faith by authentic good works. We are known by doing good, not evil. We are known by speaking the truth in love, not lying. Godly wisdom produces a cycle of righteousness and daily living that he or she is a true believer.

So who are we going to seek? Who are you truly going to seek for wisdom? This self-seeking world that is selfishness, immoral, corrupt and spiritually bankrupt? Or are we going to seek the wisdom that flows down freely from Heaven which is pure, holy, perfect, gentle, merciful and most of all peaceable? John Calvin said “…man is never sufficiently touched and affected by the awareness of his lowly state until he has compared himself with God’s majesty.” Seek Him…..cast your burdens upon Him…..rest in Him…..mediate on His word……and you will grow in grace………you will grow in His wisdomWhy? The bible says so and that’s good enough for me, you…..because His word is sufficient! Herman Bavinck said “faith is concentrated on the historic realities of redemption and results in trust that these historic acts are God’s saving acts for us. It is the same Spirit that inspired the apostolic witness that now seals the truth of that witness in believers’ hearts. Christians submit to Scripture because they believe it is a divine word, a word from God…. The authority of Scripture, accepted in Spirit-inspired faith, is a powerful self-asserted authority. We believe it because God said it, and God’s speaking is the final ground of our faith. There is no power in the world comparable to that of Scripture.”

As Jesus said in Matt 7:24 "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:” We are to be people who build our lives, homes, marriage, churches and family on the foundation that cannot be shaken or destroyed. Think about how that plays out in our homes when the husband and wife are humbly going after God, pursuing wisdom that is pure and honoring to God. Think about that when God’s children in the church going after God, pursuing wisdom that is pure and honoring to God. The church becomes a beautiful picture of the way God intended the church to look like. See, the results of this bring blessings and peace in the home. We need to ask God to remove from us worldly thinking and worldly wisdom. And pray that God would us each and every one of us to sow a harvest of peace and righteousness in our communities, homes, and church. Why? This is where we find rest, find wisdom, for a tired, weary, broken spirit as we live our lives for the glory of His great name.

19 February 2017

Battle Of Words

James 3:1-12

No matter where you live, no matter what you do every day, there is one thing we do all day long! Can you guess what that is? You talk! From the time you say “its morning already” to “Good night” you are constantly moving your mouth throughout the day. Think about it! You talk in the bedroom, bathroom, hallway, kitchen, the garage or the man cave, you talk at work, school, when you eat and so on….all we do is talk, talk, talk. It’s interesting to note that communication is one of the things that separate us from the rest of creation. For some communication would be better if you didn’t talk at all, and for others they can’t live without talking. We are a people who talk and that can be good thing, but it also can be a bad thing. Prov 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”  What the Writer is saying is this “Words kill, words give life; they’re either poison or fruit….you choose.” Our speech can go from 0 to 60 in a matter of seconds. What we say can change a mood, a conversation, a group, a marriage, friendship to disaster………….by the way you communicate to others. Talking  seems so normal and so unimportant or harmless, yet underneath the normal there is a great struggle or war of words going on that we are fighting every day. Here are as few examples that demonstrate how quickly things can change by our communication: 

“I never thought when we were going together that he would talk to me the he does now.” 
“I can’t believe what I’m hearing when my son talks to me!” 
“She hung up on me right in the middle of a sentence.” 
“My parents never talk to me unless I’m in trouble.” 
He is only talks to me nicely when he wants something.” 
“I’m not comfortable with the way she talks to me about other people.” 
“He talked a long time, but I don’t have a clue about what he was trying to say.” 
“What happened? We seem to be so close and now we hardly talk.” 
“I feel like I spend all my time breaking up my kids’ arguments!” 
“Yes, he asked for forgiveness, but I’m having a hard time letting go of the hurt. What he said was so cruel.” 
“I don’t know why I waste my time talking. It doesn’t seem to make a difference.” 
“Sometimes I think it would be better if we quit talking altogether.” 
“I wish our family could go an entire day without someone yelling.”

From Paul's Tripp book "War Of Words 

See, these are all familiar to every one of us! The war of words is a battle we face each and every day. Whether you’re a child going through the “terrible twos” or an elderly person who has many years of experience, using this powerful muscle that is capable to build or destroy with a single word. I came across a story of an ancient storyteller, who told this fable: “Once upon a time, a donkey found a lion’s skin. He tried it on, walked around, and frightened many animals. Soon a fox came along, and the donkey tried to scare him, too. But the fox, hearing the donkey’s voice, said, “If you want to terrify me, you’ll have to disguise your whinny loud cry of a donkey.” The ancient writer’s moral of the story was……“Clothes may disguise a fool, but his words will give him away.” Think about that statement as we open James letter as he addresses the seriousness of the tongue.
What is the tongue capable of?  It can be used for both good and evil; it’s pretty much a neutral muscle until it’s used by you and me.

It can be used to tear down
It can be used to build up
It can be used to display anger

It can be used to show love “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Prov 15:1

It can be used to deceive
It can be used to bless
It can be used to hurt
It can be used to heal
It can be used to murmur [gossip]

It can be used to pray “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availed much.” James 5:16

It can be used for acts of worship and adoration towards God “Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! Praise the LORD!” Psalm 150:1-6

What I find amazing is that this battle of words doesn’t just affect the unreached and lost people of this world, but it affects the church…..you and me. It’s amazing that it has the capability with one breath to praise God, pray, read scripture and the hope of Christ….and in the next breath tell lies, say hurtful things, ruin your reputation and break a person’s heartSee! Ultimately the tongue displays the true heart of the man or woman. In Luke 6:45 Jesus said “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” If you want to see an example of that at work, observe someone you know or love who claims to be a Christian and observe their lives…..especially when they are of older age, hospitalized, suffering, loss of a loved one to name a few. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth truly reveals who we really are.

And James says “This is battle for everyone……a battle of words.” It’s a powerful muscle that can create many things to bless and many things to destroy. As one person said “The tongue is but three inches long, yet it can kill a man six feet high." James warns the church about the importance of this tiny little muscle that has the capability to murder those who come into its path. Obviously by doing a quick read over this letter… This was a major issue with the heart of the people. I can only imagine what there board meetings or membership meeting were like? James had to address this issue numerous times in his letter.

For example: Going back to (James 1:19) “let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath…” James even went on to say in (1:26) “if anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle [control] his tongue but deceives his own heart, this religion is useless.” In (4:11) He says “do not speak evil of one another, brethren….” In (5:9) James says “do not grumble against one another, brethren lest you be condemned…..” But it’s not just a minor issue among believers……this is the natural man’s way of living. In the Third chapter of Romans we are given a clear picture of all humanity and to what we are capable of doing, even today. Rom 3:10-18 says “As it is written: "THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NO, NOT ONE; THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS; THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS AFTER GOD. THEY HAVE ALL TURNED ASIDE; 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."

But as we come to this part of James letter he gives the underlining warning about the true Christina life………..“these things ought not be so” (v10) What is James saying? There should be no place or room in the Christian’s life for this form of behaviour! PERIOD! It’s unacceptable and completely unchristian-like….and it’s blatant sin, against a holy God who gives us the gift of communication. As John MacArthur said in his commentary on this passage he wrote “When God transformed us, He gave us the capacity for new, redeemed, holy speech, and He expects us, as His children, to speak only that which is holy and right.”

See! Again this always goes back to the Gospel! We have been made new by the precious blood of Jesus Christ found in the gospel. If we use our tongues for unholy speech we need to ask ourselvesDo I really care about whom I’m hurting, and most of all what God thinks when I use my words inappropriately? James gives us three powerful illustrations to really hammer this point home.
The tongue is equally powerful as bit in a horse’s mouth (v3)

A bit that is able to control the horse to do what you want him or her to do. It’s mind-blowing that something that fits into their mouths can control the direction in which you want them to go, especially an animal of that size and strength.
The tongue is as powerful as a ships rudder that controls the direction of where you want the ship to go. (v4)

Isn’t it amazing to see these massive ships of hundreds of feet being directed and controlled by a rudder no bigger than an SUV? Whether it’s at the port in British Columbia or passing through the Welland Canal in St Catharines. Something so small has so much power over something so big.

The tongue has the power to destroy a countryside. (v6-7)

It’s amazing that a small flame or spark can cause so much destruction, especially after this past year in Fort McMurray. Do you know what the number one causes of Wildfires are? Well according to Conserve Energy Future! Human beings are the number one cause of wildfires in the United States. Many of these wildfires are caused by cigarette butts being left on the land, campfires that have been left unmonitored, as well as intentional acts of arson. 90% of the wildfires in the U.S. are caused by people. Something so small can cause so much devastation just by a spark….just by a human word! 

James uses these powerful examples to warn the Christian and also to remind the preacher of his positon as the shepherd. See! This position isn’t to be taken lightly and pastors must proceed with caution as men of God who stand in pulpits around the globe preaching the truth of God’s word. Why? “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Heb 13:17. Now, we all stand before the Bema Seat of Christ on the day of Judgement, but understand our judgement will be tested by fire. The works we did in the flesh for Christ will tested and the ones done in the body will be burned up according 1 Cor 3:13-15.

But the preacher will stand before Christ and give an account for you! James says “I will  be judged with greater strictness” (v1). This is a role I must never take lightly as Ezekiel explains in chapter 33:7-9 as “Spiritual Watchmen over God’s people.” This is the burden of the preacher! The great Scottish Reformer John Knox was so overwhelmed and burdened by the responsibility to declare God word faithfully that, before his first sermon, he wept uncontrollably and to be escorted from the pulpit until he could compose himself. Another pastor reportedly said of preaching what could also be said of teaching….“There is no special honor in preaching. There is only special pain. The pulpit calls those anointed to it as the sea calls its sailors; and like the sea, it batters and bruises and does not rest….to preach, to really preach, is to die naked and a little at a time and to know each time you do it that you must do it again.”

This is why we need to recognize the power of words and the battle we face as pastors/deacons and church family. Because James says “If you are perfect and you never stumble, you can bridle your whole body (v2)

This is sarcasm by the way! If a human being were able to perfectly control his or her tongue, he would be perfect. But of course no one is immune from sinning with the tongue. What James is describing is those who are spiritually mature and thus able to control their tongues……seasoned veterans of the faith who constantly are sensitive to the Spirit leading. Why is this passage so important for leaders and the church? According to James in this passage apart from Christ all tongue does is………destroy (v6) “it defiles the whole body” and its influence is Hell. And what’s worse is that the natural man has no power over it...….even the Christian has no power to tame the tongue. Which means you and I are incapable of change apart from the sanctifying work of Holy Spirit in our lives.

So! Let me ask you the hard question! Do your actions or behaviour break your heart when you say things that teardown and destroy? Because if it doesn’t, I strongly advise you to examine your life with the mirror of scripture. As Johnny Mac said “He expects us as His children, His righteous children, His chosen children to speak ONLY that which is HOLY and RIGHT!” The Apostle Paul warned the church in Col 4:6 “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” Paul also went to say to the church in Ephesus “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Eph 4:29-30

Remember a continual and habitual hateful heart is an unconverted heart, and it CANNOT and WILL NOT produce loving words or good works found in Christ. On the flip side to that is a regenerated loving heart that fights the battles daily through the Spirit and it CANNOT and WILL NOT produce hateful words, but speak the truth in love to those who listen. Because the Bible clearly says "you will know them by their fruits" Can you leave here today and know that your tongue is being bridled by the Power of the Holy Spirit? Or is it untamed and evil, full of hate and sin, a Tongue that is full of the world and all its desires? As Peter said ““Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:10-12
God created all things by the power of words, by His words. This is found in the opening remarks of Genesis! “God said, “let there be light.” Gen 1:3. God used words to create and not only to create but to reveal Himself. “Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness……So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Gen 1:26-28. Words are powerful, important, and significant. It was meant to be that way. God has designed us for communication, a plan specifically for the body of Christ after the fall. Especially after the battle of words in the Garden when Adam sinned. We need to recognize that the battle of words plagues us all and we need to sensitive to the Spirits leading.
But we must recognize that Satan speaks also! Gen 3:1 we read “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" We must understand the cunning and deceptive words of the serpent! This why we must dive into the scriptures through the preaching of the word and study of the word corporately and privately.

Why do say that? Jesus said this You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matt 12:34-37. The Sunday Question! Do you have a tongue that is bitter like salt water? Or a tongue that is pure like fresh water? In other words do I speak like a child of the world or a child of the living God? Only you can answer that question truthfully!