By Our 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.”
Our faith and our wisdom are not shown just in what we profess with our lips, or in what we teach, but they are shown in what we do, in how we live our lives day by day. Does our walk match our talk? Do we live what we preach? And I am not saying we must be absolutely perfect, but are we who we say we are no matter who we are with?
Do our lifestyles and our actions reflect what we profess with our lips? Or do we say one thing while we do another? Are we honest? Or do we put on a show for an audience? Do we blend in with our culture or with our environment, and do we change like shifting shadows, or are we consistent, dependable, and faithful to what we profess?
For, our faith in Jesus Christ is not just a confession of Christ so that we can have our sins forgiven, escape punishment for our sins, and so we can go to heaven when we die, although that is what the majority appear to be teaching. By faith in Jesus we die with Christ to sin, and we are raised with him to newness of life in him to be lived to God and to his righteousness.
The Scriptures teach that we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. We are to abound in the work of the Lord. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
We are to walk by faith and not by sight, and we are to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh, and we are to walk in the light as Jesus is in the light, and we are to walk in obedience to our Lord in purity and holiness. And we are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
[Php 2:12-13; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Eph 2:10; Col 1:9-14; Tit 2:11-14; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; Rom 12:1-2; 2 Co 5:7]
But if You Have…
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.”
Some people do horrible things to other people out of bitter jealousy which is stored up in their hearts. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were jealous of Jesus, and they were threatened by him, which is one of the reasons that they plotted and carried out his death. Some people today kill other people for the same reasons.
Those with bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in their hearts will be those who use and abuse others for their own advantage, who will cheat, lie, and steal in order to get what they want. They will slander others, and they will commit adultery, and they will plot evil against others on their beds in order to feed their own fleshly appetites without concern for who gets hurt.
And they may even be people who are trying to get past sinful addictive practices, but unsuccessfully, because they won’t deal first with all the bitterness and unforgiveness and pride stored up in their hearts. They may make attempts at behavioral modification but those eventually fail because the heart has not changed, and it is out of the heart that evil comes.
But if they are not honest with themselves, and if they refuse to look into their hearts under the guidance of the Holy Spirit – and I am speaking about professing Christians here – then they will never get victory over their sinful practices (habits) because they are not willing to be honest and to tell the truth in full repentance so that they can be healed.
And if you show them what the Scriptures teach, that those who are living in sin deliberately and habitually will not inherit eternal life with God, then they refuse to listen to that, too. For, they have accepted a gospel message which tells them that they can keep on in their sinful practices and that God won’t judge them.
For, they will not see that the wisdom they are following is not the wisdom of God but of the devil, and of the flesh, and that which is unspiritual. And as long as they refuse to deal with the evil stored up in their hearts, they will continue on the path which leads them to many a vile practice, and to a continuance of recycled sinful behaviors unending.
[Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:7; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10]
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.”
If we are truly trusting in Jesus Christ to be Lord (master) and Savior of our lives, we aren’t going to be living in sin. Sin will not be our practice, but righteousness will be what we practice. We will not willfully be holding on to bitterness, unforgiveness, hate, pride, and resentment in our hearts, but we will deal with those at the cross of Christ and die with him to sin so that we might now live with him to his righteousness.
And now we will be walking according to the Spirit and no longer will we be walking (in conduct, in practice) according to our sinful flesh. Our desire will be for our Lord to please him in all that we do, and our hunger and our desire will no longer be to live to satisfy the sinful cravings of the flesh. We will still be tempted to sin, but we will call on God to help us to resist Satan and to flee temptation and to draw near to God.
And the result of this will be lives which are surrendered to Jesus Christ, committed to him and to his service, no longer under the control of Sin and Satan but now living under Holy Spirit control and living lives which are self-controlled (not out of control).
Now we will be walking in obedience to our Lord and we will be doing what he has called us to do, for his praise and glory, and for the salvation of human lives, and for the encouragement of the body of Christ.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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