“This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic” (James 3:15).
True wisdom is from God; false wisdom is from the Devil.
Wisdom that is bitterly jealous and self-centered is not “from above.” Such traits constitute a wisdom that doesn’t come from God, the source of true wisdom (cf. 1:5, 17). Human wisdom, rather than being from above, is “earthly” (3:15). It is limited to the sphere of time and space and marked by the curse of man’s own fallenness, which is characterized by pride and self-centeredness. Everything the world initiates in the way of supposed truth is self-centered. Unregenerate man’s finite system demands an earthly wisdom and nothing more.
Man’s wisdom is also “natural” (v. 15), which means “fleshly” and refers to man’s humanness and frailty. First Corinthians 2:14 says, “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.” The natural man is sensual. All his feelings, impulses, and appetites are locked up in a fallen and corrupted system. All of man’s wisdom comes from his unsanctified heart and unredeemed spirit.
Besides being earthly and natural, human wisdom is “demonic” (James 3:15). This is the only place in the New Testament where the Greek word translated “demon” appears in its adjectival form. Human wisdom is actually generated by demons, who have been made captive to the same evil system as man. Satan and his agents disguise themselves as ministers of light when in fact they are ministers of darkness (2 Cor. 11:14-15).
The wisdom of the world is spawned by demons, reflects man’s humanness, and proceeds no further than the fallenness of mankind. Since that is so, be sure to “be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might” (Eph. 6:10). Don’t let Satan and the world beguile you with their so-called wisdom.
Suggestions for Prayer
Pray to be “filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:9-10).
For Further Study
According to 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 and Colossians 2:8, how is the believer to fight against Satan and his demonic wisdom?
From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187