Wisdom is not book knowledge. Satan is sometimes referred to as an evil genius. How do we recognize godly wisdom? A person can have great zeal but lack wisdom. What are the traits of godly wisdom and how do we acquire them?
These are the notes taken live during services as captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing. This is not a word for word transcript. For the exact wording, please consult the audio recording.
There are some interesting scriptures requiring us to give thanks to God. We get self centered. Me. Me. Me. We forget to give God thanks for the beautiful environment we live in. If God appeared to you and said He would give you whatever you ask for, what would it be? A good job? A big house? Fancy dessert? Have you seen the commercial where the wife has a huge closet? And it has all her shoes and such. Then the guys open it and it is full of beer. Would you ask for a car? More kids? Successful kids? Would you ask for the neighbor that toilet papers your trees every year to move? A solution to your health problems? There is a man in the Bible that asked for wisdom and understanding. It pleased God. The man was Solomon. 2 Chronicles 1:7-12 2 Chronicles 1:7-12  In that night did God appear to Solomon, and said to him, Ask what I shall give you.
 And Solomon said to God, You have showed great mercy to David my father, and have made me to reign in his stead.
 Now, O LORD God, let your promise to David my father be established: for you have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude.
 Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this your people, that is so great?
 And God said to Solomon, Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked riches, wealth, or honor, nor the life of your enemies, neither yet have asked long life; but have asked wisdom and knowledge for yourself, that you may judge my people, over whom I have made you king:
 Wisdom and knowledge is granted to you; and I will give you riches, and wealth, and honor, such as none of the kings have had that have been before you, neither shall there any after you have the like.
American King James Version×Vs. 7 – Do you want purses? Shoes? Your enemies killed? Vs. 10 – He didn’t ask for his enemies to knocked off or wealth or fame or power. He asked for wisdom. He knew that on his own, there was no way he could rule this people. He asked for help in ruling the people. Vs. 11 – Solomon asked for something special. In order to serve this people, I need to know how to do it. He was wiser than any other man who has lived or will live. The Queen of Sheba came to check him out. To see if he was truly as wise as the stories made him out to be. Here was a dispute he had to settle. Put yourself in Solomon’s place.
1 Kings 3:16-22 1 Kings 3:16-22  Then came there two women, that were harlots, to the king, and stood before him.
 And the one woman said, O my lord, I and this woman dwell in one house; and I was delivered of a child with her in the house.
 And it came to pass the third day after that I was delivered, that this woman was delivered also: and we were together; there was no stranger with us in the house, save we two in the house.
 And this woman's child died in the night; because she overlaid it.
 And she arose at midnight, and took my son from beside me, while your handmaid slept, and laid it in her bosom, and laid her dead child in my bosom.
 And when I rose in the morning to give my child suck, behold, it was dead: but when I had considered it in the morning, behold, it was not my son, which I did bear.
 And the other woman said, No; but the living is my son, and the dead is your son. And this said, No; but the dead is your son, and the living is my son. Thus they spoke before the king.
American King James Version×, 24-27 Vs. 18 – Two ladies gave birth 3 days apart. Vs. 22 – Here you have two ladies that have just given birth 3 days before. They came before you, the king, to settle the dispute. Vs. 24 – This is not what we would say. Off with their heads; we will give the child to someone else. Vs. 27 – This is an interesting insight to the wisdom God granted to King Solomon. How would you have settled this dispute? Would you have threatened to divide the baby? Probably not. But later, Solomon demonstrates that even a wise man can become a fool. God commanded not to marry foreign women. They would pull you away from God. Solomon took lots and lots of foreign women. Proverbs 9:10 Proverbs 9:10The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
American King James Version×Wisdom and character are inseparable. This tells us that there is a progression to wisdom. There is a start to it; there is a middle to it. As future members of God’s family, should our goal be to acquire the wisdom of Solomon? It is interesting that the Bible makes two contrasts in regards to wisdom. Proverbs contrasts wisdom to foolishness. They are stark contrasts. It makes the example very alive. The man who is wise does this; but the man who is foolish does this over here. The other contrast the Bible makes is godly wisdom vs. devilish wisdom. Wisdom can either be good or bad. Perhaps we never thought of bad wisdom. There is such a thing as devilish wisdom. We will see that in a minute. As Christians seeking to follow the guidelines of Jesus Christ, do we need wisdom? Is that something good to have? It can help us make good decisions. It can help us decide which path to follow. What is it that makes wisdom grow?
First let’s define wisdom. Wisdom is the trait of utilizing knowledge and experience with common sense and insight. It is all about your response to a situation. It is not book knowledge. If we were to put stacks of encyclopedias and dictionaries and other books here, and you read them, would that make you wise? Would that alone make you wise? No! You would have a head full of knowledge and random facts, but that does not make you wise. The amount of wisdom you have shines forth in how you respond to situations. You aren’t born with it. You grow it. As you grow certain character traits, wisdom should be one of them. Mr. Armstrong said that Satan is the third most intelligent being in the universe. He took this from the Amplified Bible. It refers to him as evil genius. Wisdom is not always good. The wisdom that Satan uses is devilish wisdom. That is not the kind we should be developing. Luke 2:52 Luke 2:52And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
American King James Version×You could have some great conversation regarding this verse alone. If we are born with wisdom, we have it or we don’t, how do we explain this scripture? Wisdom must grow. Jesus grew in physical stature and in wisdom. Christ’s life was a perfect life. He always responded perfectly. But He still grew. We must grow in favor and wisdom like Christ. It is not that we are born with wisdom or not. I have two cowlicks. They do weird things when I comb my hair. Some have freckles. You are born with them. You can’t go back and ask your parents to do it differently. Wisdom is not just about getting older. There are old fools. Wisdom doesn’t come from casual effort. We can also lose wisdom. Wisdom can go to our head. God wants to see growth. He wants us to develop a great deal of godly wisdom. Not many wise men are called, but it shouldn’t stay that way. God expects growth. This is one area where God expects us to grow. We will spend quite a bit of time in James.
James 1:5 James 1:5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraides not; and it shall be given him.
American King James Version×Just as trees and plants need good soil to grow to produce beautiful flowers and healthy crops, wisdom needs good soil. God is the perfect person to provide it. We should ask God for the right answer and reaction to things as they come to us. The Bible Reading Programs says: Wisdom is not a matter of memorizing proverbs and applying them mechanically and absolutely. Wisdom is knowing the right time and the right circumstances to apply the right principle to the right person. It is all about our interactions. That is wisdom. Depending on how we apply it, it is either good wisdom or bad wisdom. James 3:13-15 James 3:13-15  Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.  This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
American King James Version×Vs. 13 – Let him show by the number of books he has read – or the number of magazines he has read – but that is not what it says. Vs. 14 – We have to do something to show wisdom. It is not just what we say, but how we respond to things. Meekness of wisdom. The Sconcino commentary says: True wisdom can’t be exercised where there is a spirit of arrogance. Wisdom and pride are opposite. They can’t be intermixed. There must be a spirit of humility or it is not godly wisdom. True wisdom can’t be exercised where you are puffed up. Come to me; I can help! Godly wisdom can’t grow there. Godly wisdom is an attitude of patience. It is must be applied to how we act.
We must have meekness Matthew 11:29 Matthew 11:29Take my yoke on you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and you shall find rest to your souls.
American King James Version×– Jesus Christ was meek and lowly of heart. We must have an attitude of patience while we take what we know and apply it to a situation. Vs. 14 – Here we look at some core attributes of wisdom. I’ll let you decide if this is godly wisdom or the other kind. “Bitter envy” means harsh. You can have zeal toward your job. But when it goes the wrong direction, that is bad zeal. The train is running full speed down the track, but the wrong way. If you are unfavorably zealous… Selfish ambition. Greek: Electioneering or running for office. Kiss the babies, but have nothing of merit. If you have bitter envy and you are balloting for office, don’t boast against the truth. Vs. 15 – This is the wrong kind of wisdom. Here are three terms to define Satan’s wisdom. 1. Earthly wisdom. Its goals are worldly. It is unable to go beyond the limits of this world. It is unable to gain a perspective on spiritual matters. 2. Sensual wisdom. Literally, animal like wisdom. A wrong type. An animal’s attitude. They will snap out of nothing. You take food from them, they snap at you. When we snap, we have no concern except the self. Get away from me. Jude 1:19 Jude 1:19These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
American King James Version×3. Demonic wisdom. This produces the situation Satan loves. Ezekiel 28:17 Ezekiel 28:17Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty, you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of your brightness: I will cast you to the ground, I will lay you before kings, that they may behold you.
American King James Version×There are three stages of the wrong kind of wisdom. Earthly. Sensual. Demonic. These are responses we should not have as Christians.
William Barclay’s commentary says this: “James describes this arrogant and bitter wisdom in its effects. The most notable thing about it is that it (produces) disorder. That is to say, instead of bring people together, it drives them apart. Instead of producing peace, it produces strife. There is a kind of person who is undoubtedly clever, with acute brain and skillful tongue; but his effect, nevertheless, in any committee, in any church, in any group, is to cause trouble and to disturb personal relationships. It is a sobering thing to remember that the wisdom he possesses is devilish rather than divine.” Satan wants to cause personal relationship issues. When we contribute to that, it is wrong. What about godly wisdom? We talked about the kind that breaks people apart. James 3:17 James 3:17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
American King James Version×It is interesting that the Bible includes a lot of lists. Some are just lists. Some are sequential lists. This is a sequential list. It tells us where to start and where to end. It is not okay to just jump in with not being a hypocrite. There is an order or sequence that must be followed. First it must be pure. It is the opposite of self seeking. Free from corrupt desire. From sin. From guilt. From what is fault. Blameless. Innocent. Unstained. It must begin with repentance and staring with a clean slate. It doesn’t start anywhere else. It must start with our character and minds being pure. The second step is peaceable. There is a sermon about this I’ll give in a couple of weeks. It is not just the absence of war. I’m not causing war, so I’m peaceable. Not the simple. Being peaceable in Greek is being in harmony.
Read about Abraham when the shepherds of Abraham and Lot began fighting. They went on top of the mountain. Abraham said it would be best for us to separate. Lot said there were plains and mountains. Abraham said take first pick. He was trying to be in harmony with Lot. It was one of the characteristics that God liked about Abraham. You should always try to make things work out. Third: Be gentle. English has difficulty translating this. It means a sweet reasonableness. Considerate. Meek. Modest. One who considers others. Is it possible to be one who considers others when you are not clean yet? When you are on top of the mountain with Lot and say if you want the good land, I guess we will have to fight it out? Then we can be gentle. Fourth: Willing to yield. Easy to be entreated. This is not being stubborn. This is being steady. Recognizing the truth. Listening to advice. When you merge on the freeway, do you put on the signal and gun it? Or do you yield? Fifth step: Full of mercy. God is very merciful to us. Without the sacrifice of Christ we are all liable for our sins. We should be paying it, but Christ stepped in and paid it for us. There is mercy there. He said He loved us so much He would die and let us live. We must be ready to forgive. One of the other lists is the fruit of God’s spirit. That is not one we can just decide to work on. Today, I’m going to work on love. Let me give you a kiss. Today is Tuesday, I’m working on joy. Those fruits are byproducts of God’s way of life. It is something we produce when we follow God’s way of life. Be ready to forgive.
Sixth step: Without partiality. This means we are not discriminating against anyone. We are not influenced by rank or status. How will this work out best for you. Imagine how Abraham vs. Lot would have turned out if Abraham showed partiality. Lot, I’m God’s favorite. I’ll take the good ground. Seventh: Without hypocrisy. Genuine. Sincere. Not working under a mask. Not pretending to be something we are not. Godly wisdom grows in a good heart with God’s Holy Spirit. It helps us grow the right kind of wisdom. Wisdom is a character trait. You must grow in it. It is all about having the appropriate response to every situation. You can wonder what your level of wisdom is. Am I here, here, or here, or in the basement? On a scale of 1 to 10, write where you are. 10 is godliness. How you respond tells you where you are on the scale. If you respond with these attributes is like these, you are at the top of the scale. If you are like verses 14 and 15, you are at the bottom of the scale. You can check yourself every day of the week. Maybe you didn’t do so well today. Matthew 5:3-12 Matthew 5:3-12  Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
 Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
American King James Version×These are the attitudes we should have. Vs. 3 – “Blessed” is an exclamation mark. Oh how supremely blessed are those… Vs. 12 – This list is quite similar to James 3. Mercy. Meek. Peaceable. Looking out for others. Outward concern. Putting the preference on the other person. These are character traits Jesus said we need. James supports Christ. These are the character traits that will give us godly wisdom in our daily lives.
Five tips for growing in godly wisdom. 1. Ask. Begin each morning by asking for wisdom and understanding. We have no idea what the day will bring. Ask that our response will please God. No matter who is on the phone, help me react so that it pleases you. 2. Study. We have to meditate and study daily. If we don’t know what is in the Book, how can we please God? Psalms 119:24 Psalms 119:24Your testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.
American King James Version×– Your testimonies are my delight. When something presents itself in the day, where do you go? How do I respond to my kids bouncing off the walls? Do we go to encyclopedias, or to God’s word? 3. Fast. We should fast when a difficult situation arises. We should ask God to be sure you are not in the way. That you are right. Proverbs 3:5-6 Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the LORD with all your heart; and lean not to your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct your paths.
American King James Version×If you tell God you are afflicting your soul for help, God will clear the path. 4. Friends. It might seem obvious that we must choose our friends well. If you want to go God’s way, you must surround yourself with those that are trying to do the same. To be wise, you must surround yourself with people seeking God’s wisdom. 5. Realism. We have to be realistic in our lives. A man heard Christ’s word, and he was wise. But he had to endure storms.
Matthew 7:24-25 Matthew 7:24-25  Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man, which built his house on a rock:
 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house; and it fell not: for it was founded on a rock.
American King James Version×We may consider ourselves wise, but that doesn’t mean your life will be all peaches and cream. Vs. 25 – Those issues will come. Guaranteed. But it doesn’t mean we can throw away godly wisdom and fall back. We must be realistic. Don’t expect it to be easy. Remember Mr. Armstrong said we are fighting an evil genius. He has polluted the airways. How do we react to the evil genius that is bombarding us daily? In a way that please God? Or that delights Satan? Wisdom is a character trait. It is about having a proper response. It is not book knowledge. Repent when we practice the wrong king of wisdom. Say, I’m sorry I had the wrong response. Godly wisdom walks around and shakes hands. It doesn’t care about self. It is outwardly focused. Ask God to work on your heart, so godly wisdom can grow there.