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Wed, Sep 01, 1999

60 - Production of Wisdom

James 3:17-18 by Robert Dean
Series:James (1998)
Duration:1 hr 1 mins

Production of Wisdom; James 3:17-18

Versse 17 & 18 describe for us the characteristics of divine viewpoint thinking. James 3:17 NASB "But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy." This starts off with the contrastive DE [de], which should be translated "But," and it indicates the contrast with what has gone before, i.e. the description of human viewpoint thinking. So once again the Scripture presents the fact that there are two opposing positions. These are mutually exclusive. Throughout the Scripture there is always a juxtaposition. There is God's way and there is man's way. "Wisdom" here is the Greek word SOPHOS [sofoj] is not referring to wisdom in the Greek sense. This word and others that we will run into, for example "peace" in verse 18, are words that gain their meaning not so much from the Greek culture and etymology but from the Hebrew Old Testament concept of the word. Wisdom in human viewpoint thinking is academic knowledge. It is instruction, learning a lot of data and facts. We are not arguing against learning data and facts because not matter what it is we have to learn that before we can get anywhere. Everything is predicated upon having that knowledge base. But in divine viewpoint the end result of SOPHOS is not knowledge for knowledge's sake. It is not mere intellection or academic accumulation of information so you can impress people with how much we know. The end result is the concept of skill. It comes from the Hebrew word chokmah which has as its fundamental root meaning the concept of skill. You take that skill and then apply it to life, and what we are talking about is being able to take those outside pressures of adversity with a skill and beauty and grace that brings glory to God. It is that ability to create something in your life that has beauty and grace as a result of the application of doctrine. That is why Proverbs says in two or three places that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, because you can't produce something skilful in your life, something of grace and beauty, unless it is built upon authority orientation to God. That is your starting point. We have to produce a skill; skill comes from knowledge. It takes time to develop those skills. To create anything of value it takes practice. That is why when we look at the problem-solving devices they are called spiritual skills. This wisdom is the wisdom of doctrine; it is not just academic information.

This wisdom is said to be "from above" – ANOTHEN [a)nwqen]. This word is used in a very important passage, John 3:3 NASB "Jesus answered and said to him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again [ANOTHEN] he cannot see the kingdom of God.'" It has two meanings and Jesus used that to emphasize both aspects of regeneration: born again indicating a second time, and from above. Now this is an example of a use of ANOTHEN in verse 17 which does not have the "again" nuance, it simply means from above, emphasizing the source of this wisdom. It comes from God. God has revealed His thinking to us.

So the wisdom that comes from above is revealed to us and it is characterized by a series of adjectives here. The first one is that it is pure, from the Greek word HAGNOS [a(gnoj] which is from the same root as HAGIOS, the word for "holy" which means to be set apart, dedicated exclusively to the service of God. So when we come to our word here, HAGNE, it is going to relate to knowledge that is related to service of God. Think a minute. When we go too Romans 12:1, 2 we are told that we are to not be conformed to the world but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind in order that we can prove that the will of God is pure and acceptable and holy. And that has to do with a life that is set apart to the service of God. So pure is not exactly the meaning here. The root meaning is to be set apart to God and since God is absolute righteousness and he cannot have fellowship with that which is unrighteous, then that which is related to God must also be absolute righteousness. That is where the concept of purity comes in. If you are going to be set apart to God you have to have the same kind of righteousness of God. So that brings in the idea of that which lacks any moral blemish or defect. Corrected translation: "But the divine viewpoint wisdom from above is without defect." There are no mistakes in divine viewpoint thinking. That gives us the basis for being able to handle problems.

The second adjective here is "peaceable," from the Greek word EIRENIKE [e)irhnikh]. In classical Greek thought this word was usually juxtaposed to violence, but that is not how the Scripture uses this word. In the Old Testament there was another word, shalom, and although it is used in a few cases as an opposite or in contrast to warfare and violence primarily it refers to inner tranquillity, to the absence of turmoil, the absence of conflict, the absence of disruption, to stability and contentment. So when the New Testament writers are talking about peace we have to have that Old Testament background to understand that they are not talking about some pacifist movement, some anti-war movement; they are talking about having inner tranquillity in the soul. So the wisdom from above is first without defect, and secondly is brings tranquillity.

Then it is "gentle." As we see in John that Jesus was "meek," and meek is related to the concept of authority orientation, recognizing your place in God's plan and living in light of God's plan. It is an absence of arrogance but it is strength based upon the power of God and doing what God wants in your life. So when we find this word "gentle" in the Greek, EPIEIKES [e)pieikhj] it is related to grace orientation. So it brings us back to our problem-solving device which has as part of grace orientation humility and authority orientation. Humility means we realize that our life has nothing to do with who and what we are but it is everything to do with depending on who and what God is. Because of that we can respond in trials, we can remain humble and not arrogant, and we can deal with people in grace. That is what gentleness means, dealing with people in grace and not reacting with bitter jealousy, vindictiveness, revenge motivation, hostility and anger, which is pretty much a natural response when anything doesn't go our way.

Then it is "reasonable." This is the Greek word EUPEITHES [e)upeiqhj] which means something that is open to reason, is rational, is based on the use of the intellect. Notice what it doesn't say. It doesn't say that the wisdom from above is emotional. There is no emotion listed in any of the adjectives describing wisdom. It is the proper use of intellect to understand the thinking of God.

And it is "full of mercy and good fruits." This indicates the production of wisdom. Mercy is ELEOUS [e)leouj] – grace in action, the use of grace toward other people which is part of unconditional love for all mankind. "Full" is MESTOS [mestoj] means full but it indicates a characteristic, that it is completely characterized by mercy. And "good fruits: is KARPON [karpon] normal word for fruit or production; AGATHON [a)gaqon] which is good of intrinsic value. This is production of divine good. So in the midst of trials when we are operating under the filling of God the Holy Spirit and applying doctrine the production is divine good and it promotes spiritual growth.           

Then the last two characteristics: It is "unwavering, without hypocrisy." That, again, means that there is no defect in the wisdom that comes down from God and it does not advocate two different value systems, it is completely consistent. The entire Word of God is one hundred per cent consistent and presents the same framework, the same viewpoint from beginning to end. So here we have the remarkable description of divine viewpoint thinking. Then in verse 18 we see its production which is in righteousness. 

James 3:18 NASB "And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." Here this is not talking so much about the gospel as it is the seed of Scripture. We have the seed of Scripture being implanted. The seed is Bible doctrine and the fruit is that which it produces—righteousness. This is not imputed righteousness. It is talking about production righteousness. This is the process of sanctification. We as believers are expected to produce righteousness in the life.  

The doctrine of production righteousness

1)  The goal of the spiritual life is the production of the character of Christ. We are to be transformed into the image of Christ, according to Romans 8:28, 29. God is in the process of transforming our character into the character of Christ.

2)  This was one reason Christ died as our substitute on the cross. It was not so believers live as they desired and do what they wanted and have an enjoyable and happy life (in the world's sense of happy) but so that the character of Christ could be developed in them and expressed through them as witnesses in the angelic conflict. 1 Peter 2:24 NASB "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."

3)  Production righteousness is clearly spelled out as the goal of divine discipline and passing testing. This is why God disciplines us when we are out of fellowship: to produce righteousness. Hebrews 12:11 NASB "All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." Ephesians 5:8, 9 NASB "for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [9] (for the fruit of the Light {consists} in all goodness and righteousness and truth)."

4)  There is a mandate to produce righteousness. 2 Timothy 2:22 NASB "Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love {and} peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." 1 Timothy 6:11 NASB "But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance {and} gentleness."

5)  Production righteousness is the result of the renovation of the thinking based on Bible doctrine and then filling of the Holy Spirit, not on moral reformation through the energy of the flesh. 2 Timothy 3:16 NASB "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness." Philippians 1:9, 10, 11 NASB "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, [10] so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; [11] having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which {comes} through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."

So when the seed of divine viewpoint thinking is planted in the soul it produces righteousness. And it "is sown in peace by those who make peace." Then he moves to the next subject, don't read the chapter division. 4:1 NASB "James 4:1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?" It is going to be human viewpoint thinking. That is why he is making this point that if we are operating on divine viewpoint thinking there is going to be harmony in relationships. Why? No arrogance.