James 3:16

Friday, 9 August 2019

For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. James 3:16

Apologies for not commentary being posted yesterday. I had no internet.

James now ties verses 14 and 15 together in thought –

14 – But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth.

15 – This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.

16 – For where envy and self-seeking (14)  exist, confusion (connected to the false wisdom of verse 15a) and every evil thing (15b) are there.

The thoughts are all drawn together in a masterful explanation of the matter. If there is envy and self-seeking, there cannot be order and harmony. Rather only confusion will result. The word translated as “confusion” is one that speaks almost of anarchy. There is a breakdown of the moral sphere, and the result is disorder and a situation where anything is up for grabs.

In addition to this “every evil thing” will be there. The word translated as “evil” gives the sense of that which is vile. The breakdown of morality will inevitably lead to an unholy state, and actions which are completely opposed to that which is pure, moral, and upright.

Looking at the actions of those on the left in political matters forms an exceptionally good picture of what James has in mind. They deny that life in the womb is actually human life, and they vilify those who accept God’s norms of male and female as binding. On and on they continue down avenues of depravity, and it all began with envy and a self-seeking attitude.

James will contrast such things in the coming verses.

Life application: James has pretty much summed up the entire case for evil in the world – from the fall of man down to current times. It was envy of man’s favorable position as God’s image-bearer, and also selfish ambition that he could usurp God’s authority, which prompted the devil to bring about his rebellion. Likewise, Adam was tempted with prideful, selfish ambition and he was enticed to sin –

“You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4, 5

Since that time, man has been enticed into every evil practice through envy and/or selfish ambition. We now live in a relativistic world where ultimate truth is considered a myth and “all paths lead to God.” But this thought process stems directly from selfish ambition as well.

Rather than believing in man as having been created in God’s image, we follow a god created in man’s imagination. We do this because we ourselves want to be the ruler of our own fate and thus we become our own “god.” This only produces more disorder, which in turn produces more evil practices. Eventually, this can only lead to further chaos and discord.

This is where the world is heading, and the results are recorded in the book of Revelation – judgment on an unrepentant world. God has shown us His path to reconciliation; His one path. Outside of Jesus, there is only death and destruction, but in Him there is forgiveness and reconciliation. In Him alone are light, order, and every good thing.

Lord God, help us to be wise and discerning in our thoughts. Take away the darkness of envy and selfish ambition and replace it with the light of contentment and peace that is found in Jesus our Lord. This we pray so that others may come to understand the truth of Your gospel through us. Amen.

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