True And False Wisdom

Text:              James 3:13-18

By:                 Godwin Eyiangho

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Wisdom plays a significant role in the work of teachers in the church (Eph. 4:11-15).

In order for the saints to worship God in spirit and in truth and abide solely in the doctrine of Christ, teachers must carefully study, teach and apply the word of God rightly (John 4:22-24, 2 John 9, 2 Timothy 2:15).

Christians are also to grow in the knowledge of Christ which they can only do through the word taught by teachers (2 Peter 3:18).

Thus the essence of teachers’ wisdom in the church and elsewhere (evangelism,…) cannot be over-emphasized (Proverbs 11:30). However, this lesson is for all. 


A teacher is one who teaches, instructs, or imparts knowledge, which is translated from the Greek word didaskalos meaning teacher or teachers (Matthew 23:8, John 3:2,10, Acts 13:1, 1 Cor. 12:28,29).

Wisdom is the knowledge gained by having many experiences in life, the natural ability to understand things most other people cannot understand. Knowledge of what is proper or reasonable, good sense or judgment.

From the two Greek words, Sophia and Phroneeie, wisdom is of God, full and proper knowledge of all things (Prov. 8:22, Rom. 11:33, 1 Cor. 1:21-24, Eph. 3:10, Rom. 7:12).

Sophia is the insight into the true nature of all things while Phroneeie is the ability to discern modes of actions with the view of their results. Hence, wisdom is the acquisition of knowledge and the proper or right use of it. It is practical, for instance, King Solomon and the two harlots (1 King 3:10-28).

The writer of the book of James shows the difference between the wisdom from beneath (earthly) and that from above (heavenly) and those who claimed to have wisdom and their being so. 

Verse 13

A truly wise man does not lay claim to knowledge only but a good stock of knowledge and proper or right application and use of it.

These two things right application and use of knowledge answer the question of who is wise among you and endued with knowledge?

He must show it by his lifestyle, not in words only but one that informs, heals and does good to others, no mischief, or evil. It is of good and useful actions or deeds…let him show by good conversation and with works.

True wisdom also comes with meekness of spirit and temper. Ability to control our anger and bear patiently with the anger of others which enables us to carefully hear, listen and reason well. This wisdom comes with meekness and meekness increases wisdom. 

Verse 14-16

You have no place to glory – when there is bitter envying, and strife among you in your hearts; when you neglected love and gave way to hate (envy), you have contradicted Christianity which you professed.

Envy and strife are opposed to the meekness of wisdom and the heart is the seat of both of them but they cannot dwell in the same place (the heart). True or holy wisdom and bitter envying are different as the flames of seraphim and the fire of hell.

Where malice, envy, and strife exist, there will be confusion and envy from of evil work verse 16.

This wisdom is from beneath, earthly, sensual, and devilish. Earthly wisdom comes from earthly principles, acts on earthly motives, and serves earthly purposes.

Sensual – indulging the flesh and making provisions to fulfill the lusts and desires of it (1 John 2:15-17). From the original Greek word rsychike, it is animal, of human, making of natural reason, without supernatural influence

Devilish – of devils or demons (to create uneasiness and to do harm) being inspired by the devil whose condemnation is pride and these who are lifted up with such wisdom fall into the snares and condemnation of the devil (1 Timothy 4:1-4; 3:6). 

Verse 17,18

Here we have a beautiful illustration of the wisdom that comes from above (heavenly) as opposed to that which comes beneath. It is not gotten by conversing with men nor knowledge of the world (as some think) but it is a gift from God (James 1:5, 1 Cor. 12:8) and it comprises the following:

Purity: It is first pure, without maximus and surmises. No sin or defilement but holiness in knowledge and lifestyle.

Peaceable: Peace follows purity and depends on it. Those who possess true wisdom preserve peace that it may not be lacking, and restore peace as peace-makers in kingdoms, societies, churches, and homes. Heavenly wisdom makes people peaceable and lives in peace (Matthew 5:9, Hebrews 12:14).

Gentleness: It is gentle not standing upon extreme right in matters of property, not doing anything rigorous in opposition, not harsh or cruel (temperate as it is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). 

Easy to be entreated: The Greek word for entreat is eupeithes denotes very persuadable – either for what is good or from what is evil. Not persuaded with envy wind of doctrine and evil but by only the truth of the word of God and what is reasonable. It is the wisdom that enables you to listen carefully to fellow man and respond reasonably.

Are you approachable teachers or easy to be entreated? 

Full of mercy and good fruits: Heavenly wisdom is in the hearts of those who are disposed to every kind and good thing, ready to relieve those who want and forgive those who offend and it is a careful love to God’s glory. 

Impartial: Leading all people and groups equally, not partial nor biased. To treat matters or people justly without preference to one person more than others (Acts 10:34). 

No hypocrisy: It has no disguise, pretence, or deceit but sincere and open, steady, uniformed, and consistent with itself. Such wisdom sows the fruit of righteousness in peace which gives peace to the world and assurance forever.


Christians especially teachers must be able to discern true and false wisdom (heavenly and earthly) and possess heavenly or godly wisdom with all characteristics in the Scriptures and practice them for all to see (Matthew 5:16). Light and darkness as true and false wisdom have nothing in common.

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