“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Cor 1:18-31 (ESV)
This portion of Scripture is familiar to the majority of Christians, and we quite rightly revel in the message of the Cross, and all that Christ accomplished there on our behalf. For the wisdom of the cross is foolishness to this perishing world, as those who take a stand and proclaim the Gospel know only too well, but to those who believe, it is the very power of God to save. The Gospel itself is what divides believers from the world, and yet unites them together at the same time.
What I would like to draw attention to in this short message however, is to the way in which the wisdom of the world often infiltrates the church, and if we are not on our guard, can cause those within touching distance of Christ crucified, to turn back and embrace the world to their peril. I’m not trying to be negative, but simply desire to admonish those who love the truth of the Gospel, to stay on their guard. We need to be firmly grounded in the truth, and ever vigilant, that we may defend ourselves from the attacks of the enemy, not just for ourselves, but for the Body of Christ that surrounds us too. [1 Pet 5:8-9]
One of the things that it is crucial to understand as Christians, is that it is all about the merit and glory of Christ, and not of our own. Although we are lifted out of the miry clay, and our feet are set upon solid Rock in Christ. And though we are spiritually seated in heavenly places in Him [Eph 2:6], it is always to magnify Christ and not ourselves. We must get away from the popular misconception that God is to raise up “mighty men of God”, able to powerfully operate in the gifts of the Spirit, and express wisdom in abundance in order to convince the world that the Gospel of Christ is true. Though by faith we are adopted as sons of the Living God, it is of little consequence of who we are in Christ, but it is entirely about the person and completed works of Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
In the text above we are reminded of our calling in Christ, and from whence we came, for “not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.” [1 Cor 1:26]. We are in the humbling position, not of being chosen as mighty men of God to fight on God’s side, but as those who are considered weak and of no consequence to this world. And for what reason? “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” [1 Cor 1:27-29]. The Lord does not need our help or assistance to be victorious, but rather chooses to extend His mercy and grace to pitiful wretches like us, in order to reveal His gracious magnificence to the whole of creation.
We are called into the Kingdom of God empty handed, and we are sent out into the world seemingly in the same way. We can do nothing of our own strength to benefit the cause of Christ, and the very tool we have been equipped with as the means to bring in the lost, namely the Gospel of Christ crucified and risen again, is one of utter foolishness to the perishing. We are sent out as lambs amongst wolves, seemingly to our destruction, but it is in our preservation, even being surrounded on all sides by far more powerful adversaries than we, that God Himself will be glorified. Just as Christ Himself faced similar consequences, His perfect obedience and faithfulness caused Him to be raised up to the Father’s right hand in glory, until every one of His enemies have been crushed beneath His feet. It is to this path of willing surrender, even in the face of certain defeat, that we are called to surrender in faith. It is from this place of utter humility that we will truly shine as lights to the world, and will be considered good and faithful servants in His Kingdom. Let us adopt the attitude of John the Baptist who uttered those infamous words, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” [John 3:30]
As much as it may raise our spirits to be emotionally lifted by the wisdom of man found in the church, it is most definitely not to our spiritual and eternal benefit. Though we may find comfort in rallying together as “mighty men of God” in this world, sending forth a victory cry over Satanic principalities and powers, and threatening to advance the Kingdom of God powerfully. In truth we are simply deceived, and remove ourselves from the protective covering of Christ as our Shield. In truth we are nothing more than sheep in need of a shepherd, and unless we seek to follow the one true Shepherd of the flock, we shall be led astray and devoured by the enemy who seeks to do exactly that.
In summary, if you are under the teaching and preaching of those who exalt men, even Godly Christian men, over Christ crucified, then run for your life! Close your ears to those who desire to tell you how great you are in Christ, how He will empower you with signs and wonders to show the world that the Gospel is true, or to the exhortations to rise up and harness the power of God to be all you can be. Run for your lives from those who sell a “gospel” message for profit as do the prosperity pimps we so often see, and from those who claim deep and mysterious knowledge that can be found nowhere in the Bible text. They are wolves out to deceive, kill and destroy, with no concern for your spiritual and eternal welfare.
Instead seek to fight the good fight upon your knees, in sackcloth and ashes, and in mourning for the perishing souls of men. Be prepared to face death by spiritual starvation, rather than feed upon the leaven that surrounds you, and show your hunger for God’s Kingdom and Righteousness to be sincere. Desire to fellowship with the faithful remnant that God has set aside, no matter how inglorious they may at first appear, for they are the living stones that are “being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” [1 Peter 2:5] Let us adopt the attitude of Moses who “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” [Heb 11:26]. And along with the patriarchs of old, whose heritage we now share by faith in Christ, let us turn away from every shade of earthly glory for ourselves. Let us share their glorious vision, who “all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. 15 And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” [Heb 11:13-16]
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