James 3

The following is from OBC’s daily devotional for today:

A living faith recognizes the power of the tongue (speech, vv. 1-5a) and the influence of an untamed tongue (vv. 5b-12, in other words, not controlled by the Holy Spirit). James’ test of the genuineness of a professing believer’s faith is addressed in verses 9-12—true believers must use their God-given gift of speech to both praise him and bless others. If only one of those happens, that is not a characteristic of true, living faith.

True believers are distinguished from false believers by their decisions and lifestyle (vv. 13-18). One should not say he’s a Christian if his lifestyle shows he is still controlled by the world, his sin nature, and Satan. Unbelievers are controlled (“hearts,” v. 14) by their own sinful impulses and orientation (“bitter envy and self-seeking,” v. 14), demonstrating they are characterized and controlled by the world, the flesh, and the devil (v. 15). Their sinful view and assessment of how to live (“wisdom”) is seen by the results and effects of their envious and selfish actions and decisions (v. 16).

True believers are controlled by the Holy Spirit (“from above,” v. 17). A Christ-like life is essential evidence that the Holy Spirit indwells and controls a believer (vv. 13, 17-18; cf. Gal 5:22-23).

Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On

  1. Christians must be controlled by the Holy Spirit for their tongues to be controlled.
  2. The world considers God’s truth and godly living to be foolish.
  3. Everyone makes decisions based on what they believe; belief controls decisions, and decisions show belief. This is “wisdom.” The “wisdom” of the world, sin-nature, and Satan makes decisions from the perspective of this life. One controlled by God’s wisdom makes decisions from the perspective of God’s truth.
  4. True wisdom—the correct and skillful application of God’s truth to life—is only found in God (Job 28:20, 23), is given by him (1 Kings 3:9, 12; Jam 1:5-8), and is characterized by a reverent faith in Jesus Christ, exclusively loving, obeying, and worshiping him (the “fear of the Lord,” Job 28:28).
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