The World, the Flesh, and the Devil

“This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.” (James 3:15)

True wisdom is “from above” and is “pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (v. 17). False wisdom, on the other hand, may come from the world outside us (“earthly”), the flesh within us (“sensual”), or the powers of darkness tempting us (“devilish”). All such wisdom leads to “envying and strife . . . confusion and every evil work” (v. 16). Believers, therefore, should be able to recognize the influences of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

The good news is that each divine Person of the triune Godhead is on our side. The Father is opposed to the world, the Spirit to the flesh, and the Son to the devil, and they are well able to give victory.

“If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. . . . And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof” (1 John 2:15, 17). Thus, to overcome the love of the world, we must cultivate the love of the Father in our hearts and lives.

Similarly, to overcome the desires of the flesh, we should follow the leadings and convictions of the Holy Spirit, “for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other” (Galatians 5:17). Therefore, “walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (v. 16).

The devil and his evil hosts use their own dark powers to tempt and destroy the people of God, but “for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Christ assured Satan’s defeat when He paid for our redemption on the cross. “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15). HMM

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