26 February 2017

THE LIVING GOD VERSUS THE POST MODERN THINKER


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

PURE WISDOM CANNOT BE FOUND IN THE WORLD 
(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….

Pride
Selfish ambition
Arrogance
Self-centeredness
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.

PURE WISDOM IS FOUND ONLY FROM ABOVE 
(v17-v18)

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.
  
Why?

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.

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