James 3:17-18 – Pure Wisdom

“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” James 3:17-18 (emphasis added)

After warning us that there are two different sources of wisdom James now goes on to unpack how a life marked by the wisdom from above will look. The wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is free from blemishes, free from all inappropriateness, with nothing contaminating it, it is clear and is does not have a mix of anything lesser in it. We have already seen James warn us that the same source can not give both fresh and saltwater – likewise a person living according to the wisdom from above cannot have any impurity.

We are called to be pure. In 2 Timothy 2 Paul tells us to “flee youthful passions” (2 Timothy 2:22). We must run from anything that is not pure. We have been made pure by being washed white as snow by the blood of the Lamb – our purity was bought at a high price and so we must value it. We can not treat it lightly, dabbling in things that would contaminate us but must flee from such things.

That means being careful about what we watch, what we listen to and what we read. It means giving careful consideration to where we go, and what we do there, fleeing from anything that will leave us blemished, for we are called to be pure, led by the wisdom from above.

Jesus tells us in the Beatitudes that “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 7:8). Our ultimate aim in life is to see God face to face at the end of our life and be welcomed into heaven with the greeting “Well done, good and faithful servant” (see Matthew 25:23) and in order to do that Jesus says we must be pure in heart.

Being pure in heart is not easy. There is much that will tempt us and seek to corrupt us, and so it is vital we are led by the wisdom from above. It is vital we must let the Holy Spirit guide us in all that we do, and ask Him to convict us when we veer towards something not pure. It will mean making sacrifices in the realm of entertainment, for much of what passes for acceptable TV and movie content now is inspired by earthly wisdom rather than the wisdom from above. But our purity was bought at too high a price for us to jeopardize it for the sake of watching the latest hit TV show.

Paul gives us a good filter to run things through as we strive to live a life marked by purity in Philippians 4:8 – “whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” If something we want to do or something we want to watch ticks all those boxes then we can probably safely go ahead and watch it. But if it doesn’t tick all the boxes caution is needed.

We can live a life marked by wisdom from above because we have been redeemed and been made pure by the blood of the lamb through justification. But between now and the end of our life or the return of Jesus we must rely on the Holy Spirit to continue to guide us and help us walk in purity and remain pure as we continue through the process of sanctification, the ongoing process of being transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ.

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