James 3:13-17 describes two kinds of wisdom: wisdom from God and wisdom that is devilish or demonic.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good conduct, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast in it or deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peace-loving, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap the fruit of righteousness.
That is from the NIV. It is worth reading the whole passage in different translations. The various English words used help explain from the Greek the difference between heavenly, spiritual wisdom, and that which is earthly and demonic. As believers, God wants us to know and discern His wisdom. He makes His prophetic wisdom and revelation known to us because it is what changes lives and nations. Verse 17 describes the character of those whom God uses to minister to the hearts of others.
Verse 17 is of particular interest in this blog on how to live pure and live by God’s wisdom:
NIV: “The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
ESV: “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, free of hypocrisy.”
NKJV: “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
Greek: ἡ δὲ ἄνωθεν σοφία πρῶτον μὲν ἁγνή ἐστιν, ἔπειτα εἰρηνική, ἐπιεικής, εὐπειθής, μεστὴ ἐλέους καὶ καρπῶν ἀγαθῶν, ἀδιάκριτος, ἀνυπόκριτος.
σοφία (sophia) –wisdom. This is divinely given wisdom; wisdom that God makes known. It includes all wisdom, revelation, prophetic insight, and spiritual seeing/knowing. This is the wisdom we are to live our lives by. The wisdom and revelation given to us through the Holy Spirit must be our highest value if we want to be prophetic people. All other information, learning, human opinions, and conversations must be subjected to what the Holy Spirit is saying and doing.
ἁγνή (hagne) –pure, holy. This is the highest form of purity, a sacred holiness, without any mixture or pollution. It means nothing from the world adulterating purity. It is related to ἅγιος (hagios). This is absolute holiness, a set-apartness for/to/by God. To be completely different from the world. We are called out people, called to be devoted and set apart to God.
God’s wisdom and revelation—that He wants to lavish upon us—is clear and clean. It is unaltered by sin, fear, pride, critical spirit, lovelessness, human suspicion, gossip, resentment, bitterness, pain, hypocrisy, etc. Those things are “earthly, unspiritual, and demonic” (Jas 3:15).
To be receivers of God’s prophetic wisdom and revelation, we must continually choose to be vessels devoted to purity in heart, mind, and deed, having integrity before the Lord. The Holy Spirit empowers us into this way of holy devotion.
εἰρηνική (eirenike) –peace, harmony, or well-being. It also means to live in peace or with peace and quietness because of soundness of mind. God is the Peacegiver. He has made peace with us through the blood of Jesus that was shed upon the cross of Christ (Col 1:19-20). We walk in His peace and become peacemakers with Him when we allow His peace, love, healing, and grace to conquer our hearts. These are all connected. A lack of peace in a believer is only a sign of unsurrendered areas in their life, from either pride or unbelief. Peace is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23).
As believers, we need the baptism of the Spirit, and we need to learn to wait for Him, daily, to fill us. Only then can we live dependent upon Him and bear His fruit in our lives.
ἐπιεικής (epieikes) –gentle, meek, equitable, yielding, reasonable, forbearing. It means to do and agree with what is right, fair, or equitable in life, especially concerning God’s life and order and expressing His heart toward people.
εὐπειθής (eupeithes) –ready to be reasonable and live in mutual submission with each other, not asserting your way over others. Harshly demanded submission, compliance, or obedience is witchcraft; it is demonic wisdom (Jas 3:15). Rather, a yielded and gentle submission born from mutual respect and value for each other.
ἐλέους (eleous) –compassion, mercy, kindness, or pity. Felt compassion or mercy that leads to action on behalf of an afflicted person. To be unmerciful is a blatant sign that a person does not know God, so they cannot possess the wisdom of God. To be merciful is to express the Father’s heart.
καρπῶν ἀγαθῶν (karpon agathon) –this phrase means good fruit and refers to the continual growth of the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives: Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. (Gal 5:22-23)
ἀδιάκριτος (adiakritos) and ἀνυπόκριτος (anupokritos) are two words connected by κριτος, and it concerns the way we evaluate and judge things. There is godly evaluation and judging we are to employ. We are instructed to discern rightly. However, this verse warns believers to become aware and repent of false judgments that lead to prejudices, strife, factions, division, and pridefulness between believers based upon human and evil judgments and prejudices. We are not to be rash or impulsive in our criticisms. We are to love our brothers and sisters in purity and be motivated toward their good, what can benefit them, irrespective of their or our status.
The second word in the phrase, ἀνυπόκριτος (anupokritos), is connected to hypocrisy, and the “an” in front means “do not be” a hypocrite. Do not be a liar. Do not be fake. Do not be a phony play actor. Do not have hidden or selfish motives. Be sincere. Be truthful. Always be honest. While the first word in the phrase, ἀδιάκριτος (adiakritos), calls us to be continually filled by God’s grace as we rightly discern, evaluate/judge, and make decisions. It means to have the grace-filled freedom to love all and be impartial with people.
To be an impartial judge means everyone has a seat at the table. Everyone is welcome. There is no place reserved for those with money or high status in society. There are no favors given to those who can help or give back. Everyone is treated the same…
BUT that “sameness” is: Everyone is seen as being extremely precious to God. The blood of Jesus was an extreme price paid and demonstrates God’s value for a person. How we treat others shows whether or not we know and love God. How we treat others lets God see if we can be trusted with His high-level revelation and wisdom.