Christianity Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Part 9: Good Signs of Godly Wisdom
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - April 15, 2012
*Everybody needs Godly wisdom. And last time, the key verse for us was James 3:17, which tells us that the wisdom from above “is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”
*Now in James 4, God shows us some of the practical impact His wisdom should have on our lives. And in the Scripture tonight we can see some good signs of Godly wisdom. Thinking about this background, lets’ read James 4:1-10.
*Signs are important. Have you ever gotten into trouble, because you didn’t see a sign? I almost did about a year ago, but thankfully the officer only gave me a warning.
*Signs are important, and this is certainly true in our spiritual lives. How do I know if I have Godly wisdom? James gives us some good signs.
1. First: I make the right requests. Godly wisdom leads me to make the right requests.
*James has already warned us about the natural, wicked wisdom of this world. Starting in James 3:13, he said:
13. Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.
14. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.
15. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.
16. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there.
*Now here in James 4, God’s Word begins to show us some of the worst ugliness that can come from worldly wisdom:
1. Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
*Do we ever see wars and fights among Christian brothers and sisters? -- Sadly, sometimes the answer is yes. We see how ugly it can get in vs. 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.”
*Does he literally mean that Christians can get to the point that they could kill each other? -- In the most extreme circumstances, yes. But remember that 1 John 3:15 says that whoever hates his brother is a murderer. In other words, he has the same spirit as a murderer.
*Our fussing and fighting may not kill someone’s body. But it can very easily kill friendships, dreams, opportunities and possibilities. This ugliness is the natural result of being led by the evil, selfish wisdom of this world.
*But there is more ugliness to see here. In vs. 2&3 James talks about our prayer life and says:
2. . . You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
3. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
*In vs. 2, worldly wisdom puts an end to our prayer life. Then in vs. 3, worldly wisdom poisons our prayer life.
*But we don’t have to be led by the wisdom of this world. And Godly wisdom will put power in our prayer life. That’s because God’s wisdom will lead us to pray both regularly and righteously. Godly wisdom will lead us to make the right requests.
*Think of the wonderful prayers we find in the Word of God. One of many examples is Paul’s prayer in Eph 1:15-20. There Paul said:
15. Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,
16. do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:
17. that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
18. the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
19. and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power
20. which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
*These prayer requests are the result of Godly wisdom. It leads us to pray regularly and righteously.
-We can pray for everyday things and eternal things.
-We can pray for mundane things and miraculous things, trusting God to always do the right thing.
*How do I know if I have Godly wisdom? -- I make the right requests.
2. And I form the right friendships. Godly wisdom helps us form the right friendships.
*In vs. 4, James was very strong about the wrong friendships when he said: “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.”
*Everyone has a choice to make: Be a friend of the world or be a friend of God.
-You can go along with the world or you can go along with God.
-But you can’t do both.
*When James talks about the world here, he’s talking about the world system, the evil system believes that might makes right.
-It puts outward beauty over inward beauty.
-It believes the end justifies the means.
-It is based on lie on top of lie.
*It rejects Jesus Christ and puts someone else on the throne.
-It puts self on the throne. -- It is selfish, sensual and sinful.
-It celebrates the darkest parts of our hearts.
-It gives great reward to the trashiest kind of talent.
*Everyone has a choice to make: Be a friend of the world or be a friend of God.
*Now of course, this doesn’t mean we can’t have friends in the world.
-I thank God for my friends. -- I thank God for you.
*But God Himself wants to be our Best Friend. That’s why in John 15:13 Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” -- And that’s what Jesus did when He died on the cross for our sins.
*Thinking about the cross, Charles Spurgeon said:
-“See what (our) sin deserved. -- It was all laid on Him.
-Ridicule for the folly of sin. -- Scorn for the pretension of sin
-Shame for the audacity of sin. -- And Jesus took it all.” (1)
*Martin Dale told about a woman who was sentenced to death during the French Revolution. Her only crime was being a duchess who came from a wealthy family. She was thrown into prison, but still allowed to be served by a maid who loved her dearly.
*While the duchess slept, the maid quietly put on her mistress’ clothes. And when the duchess’ name was called, the maid went out and was executed in her place.
*The duchess woke-up and found her clothes gone, so she put on the servant’s clothes. And when the jailer came in, he said: “You are free to go. Your mistress has just been executed.” (2)
*That’s what Jesus Christ did on the cross for us: He took our place.
-Knowing that, how could we ever choose friendship with the world over friendship with God?
*How do I know if I have Godly wisdom? -- I form the right friendships.
3. And I receive the gift of God’s grace.
*James helps us understand this truth with a question starting in vs. 5:
5. Do you think that the Scripture says in vain, "The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously''?
6. But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.''
7. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
*“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
-Why doesn't God give grace to the proud?
-Well, it can't be because they don't deserve it. -- Nobody deserves grace!
*Remember these definitions of mercy and grace:
-Mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve.
-Grace is God giving us what we don't deserve.
-And grace is G.R.A.C.E: God's Riches At Christ's Expense.
*The main reason God doesn't give grace to the proud is because they don't want it. They don't think they need it. So God resists the proud, trying to get them to the point where they see their need for grace.
*“God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore submit to God.”
*We should passionately submit our lives to God’s control.
-Yield to His leadership.
-Put ourselves under His rule.
-Be obedient to Him.
*Of course this means trusting in the cross of Jesus Christ. God surely gives grace unto the humble.” And we should surely receive God’s grace. We should surely submit our lives to the Lord.
*How do I know if I have Godly wisdom? -- I receive the gift of God’s grace.
4. And I trust in the promise of God’s power.
*God makes an amazing promise to us at the end of vs. 7: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
*The devil is our enemy. -- But sadly, most Americans don’t believe that today. According to a Barna survey in 2007, only 24% strongly believe that Satan is a real spiritual being. (3)
*Most people think that Satan is just a symbol of evil. But Satan is more than a symbol. He is real whether we believe it or not!
*Many years ago a man went to revival preacher Charles Finney and said: "I don't believe in the existence of a devil." The preacher replied: “Don't you? -- Well, you resist him for a while and you WILL believe in him.” (4)
*Do you think we could ever resist the devil in our own strength? -- Of course not.
*As David Holwick once said: “Your devil is too small if he is consigned to long-ago times and faraway places.
-Job 1:7 tells us that Satan roams over the whole earth.
-John 12:31 and John 14:30 call him ‘the ruler of this world. . .’
*Your devil is too small if you decide he is not capable of performing miracles.
-The Bible says he can in 2 Thess 2:9 and Rev 13:13
*Your devil is too small if you assume he leaves Christians alone.
-1 Peter 5:8 tells us: ‘Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.’
*The devil tried to tempt Jesus. And he will try to tempt us. He cannot steal our salvation, but he can ruin our spiritual effectiveness.” (5)
*And he will try to do it. As Priscilla Shirer says, “The enemy knows he can't destroy you. But the rest of your life he will be trying to distract you.” (6)
*The devil and the fallen angels who rebelled with him are our fierce enemies.
-But the good news is that they no match for our God!
*Psalm 146 praises the Lord with these words:
1. Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2. While I live I will praise the LORD; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3. Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
4. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; In that very day his plans perish.
5. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, Whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6. Who made heaven and earth, The sea, and all that is in them; Who keeps truth forever,
7. Who executes justice for the oppressed, Who gives food to the hungry. The LORD gives freedom to the prisoners.
8. The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous.
9. The LORD watches over the strangers; He relieves the fatherless and widow; But the way of the wicked He turns upside down.
10. The LORD shall reign forever— Your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!
*Our God is wonderful, amazing, and infinitely strong. Nothing is too hard for Him!
*And Christians, He is living in us! -- So 1 John 4:4 tells us: “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
*We could never resist the devil in our own strength. But we have the promise of God’s power and protection. And He says: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
-We can always trust in the promise of His power. -- And we should.
*So how do I know if I have Godly wisdom?
-I make the right requests...
-I form the right friendships...
-I receive the gift of God’s grace...
-And I trust in the promise of God’s power.
*Let’s ask the Lord for more wisdom to do these things.
-Would you please bow for prayer.
1. (Original source unknown)
2. SermonCentral.com sermon “Smyrna” by Martin Dale - Rev 2:8-11 - 090303
3. Source: Barna Online 52107 -- (Found in Church Leaders Intelligence Report 071807)
4. Adapted from SermonCentral illustration contributed by Evie Megginson
5. Adapted from sermon #1287 by David Holwick - "PRINCIPALITIES AND POWERS" Eph 6:10-13
6. Priscilla Shirer (Bible teacher, motivational speaker, author) “Facts & Trends,” July/August 2007, p.34 - (Source: “In Other Words,” July, 2007 - #2 - produced by Dr. Raymond McHenry - 6130 Barrington - Beaumont, Texas 77706 (800) 553-4697 - www.iows.net)