By Your Good Conduct
James 3:13 ESV
“Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.”
There are a lot of professing Christians today teaching that, as followers of Jeus Christ, we are to have no works. But is that what the Scriptures teach? No! They teach we are NOT saved by our own works, of our own flesh, which we do of our own choosing, thinking they will gain us heaven (Eph 2:8-9).
But they teach that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared in advance that we should WALK (in practice, in conduct) in them. So, they are works of God, of righteousness, which he had planned for us to do (Eph 2:10; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13).
Do our works affect our eternal salvation? Yes! Scripture teaches that if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction, but if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. God will render to each one according to his works.
If we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the misdeeds of the body, then we will live. For, we are slaves of the one whom we obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness, which ends in eternal life.
[Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 6:9-10; Rev. 2-3; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:1-17; Jn 15:1-11; 1 Jn 2:3-6]
Earthly, Unspiritual, Demonic
James 3:14-16 ESV
“But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”
Also, we have many professing Christians today who are teaching that we can “believe” in Jesus Christ, have our sins forgiven, escape the punishment of sin, and have heaven guaranteed us at death no matter how we live while we are still on the earth. Is this true? No!
The Scriptures teach that we must die with Christ to sin and live to Christ and to his righteousness. We must walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. If we make sin our practice (habit, addiction), we will not inherit eternal life with God, but we will die in our sins.
For, if we hold on to our old lives of living to the flesh and to sin, we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives for the name of Jesus, i.e., if we die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, and if we walk with him in obedience, then we have eternal life with God.
For, Jesus Christ gave his life up for us on that cross, not just to forgive us our sins, and not just to give us the hope of eternal life, and definitely not to give us free license to continue living in sin without guilt. But he died that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness.
Thus, a good summation of the gospel is found for us in Ephesians 4:17-24. We aren’t supposed to live like we did before we believed (if we believed). The way in which we should have learned Christ, which is the truth in Christ Jesus, is this:
“To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:22-24; cf. Rom 6:1-23).
The Wisdom from Above
James 3:17-18 ESV
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”
To be pure is to be unadulterated, undefiled by sin and by the things of this world. It is to be holy, set apart for God and from the world, because we are being made to be like Jesus. It is to be unmixed with the world and its practices, attitudes, philosophies, and behaviors.
To be peaceable has nothing to do with making compromises with the world so that the people of the world will like you. This peace has as its source God himself, so it is God’s gift of spiritual wholeness which results from knowing God’s will and obeying it.
Also, this word “gentle” does not make compromises of truth, righteousness, or morality in order to make other people feel more comfortable. For, this has to do with fairness, equity, and following the spirit of the law, which does not mean relaxing God’s moral standards or his righteousness in order to make others feel more at ease.
And “open to reason” is not “open to compromise the word of truth,” either. But we do need to make certain that what we are teaching is sound in doctrine under the New Covenant and that we are not forcing things on others that God does not require of us under the New Covenant.
Open to reason, thus, has more to do with our hearts being opened to the Lord Jesus and to his teachings with a willingness and an eagerness to obey his commands under the New Covenant. This has to do with us being well-persuaded by God as to his gospel and being ready to obey.
And mercy makes no compromises with the sinful flesh or with the world, either. We can have compassion toward people without coddling them in their sins. For this mercy involves us being loyal to God’s covenant with us, his people, which requires that we die to sin and live to righteousness.
And “good fruits” originate with God and are empowered by God’s Spirit in our lives as we yield control of our lives over to the Lord, and we surrender our lives to his will for us, and as we walk in obedience to his commands.
And making peace is, again, not making compromises with the world, but it is leading the people of the world to have peace with God, which only comes through us dying with Christ to sin and us living to Christ and to his righteousness, which is by faith, and which is empowered by God’s Spirit.
*The following is a secular song, but these words express God’s words to us, that we would let him be our freedom, that we would let him shelter us and be our light, and that we would find our hope, and our peace and safety in him and not in the things of this dark world. All he asks of us is that we love him, which means we submit to him as Lord, and we obey his commands.
All I Ask of You
by Andrew Lloyd Webber
No more talk of darkness,
Forget these wide-eyed fears;
I’m here, nothing can harm you,
My words will warm and calm you.
Let me be your freedom,
Let daylight dry your tears;
I’m here, with you, beside you,
To guard you and to guide you.
Let me be your shelter,
Let me be your light…
Love me, that’s all I ask of you
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