14But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
The Story: Christians do not take their cues from the fallen world when it comes to determining ethical conduct. Worldly wisdom is self-serving — “narcissistic,” as Christopher Lasch described it — and cannot further the cause of the Gospel. Its only interest is self-advancement. Its spiritual provenance is not from the throne of grace and truth, but the pit of hell. James wants us to be clear on this. It’s not just that self-interest is “unfortunate.” Or that jealousy is “natural.” They are demonic and keep us from knowing the wisdom of God because we are filled with the “wisdom” of this fallen world. Such “wisdom” might serve us in gaining some personal advantage over others, but it makes for discord, disorder, and dissolution within the community. Don’t look to the spirit of the age for your standards of conduct. The world is passing away, and all its wicked ways with it. Look to Jesus, the Wisdom of God, and follow in the ways of wisdom He commands.
The Structure: James reminds us that our everyday lives are the arena for a vast, unremitting spiritual struggle. In all our words and deeds, we are advancing the cause either of the Kingdom of God or the ways of hell. Paul called us to be very careful about how we use our time and opportunities, lest we fumble them into the hands of the enemy of our souls (Eph. 5:15-17). James is merely anticipating Paul’s exhortation and thus reinforcing the Lord’s warning that we cannot serve two masters (Matt. 6:24).
How can we recognize when we’re following the “spirit of the age” rather than the Spirit of God?
For more insight to the epistle of James, order the book, James: A Commentary, by Guy N. Woods, from our online store.
The Worldview Bible examines the teaching of Scripture according to the Story and Structure of Truth – the Framework of Christian Worldview – using only other Scriptures for illumination. Information about The Framework of Truth is available on this site. Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.