Paul continues to address worldly wisdom by addressing three main concerns in chapter 2.
- The gospel centers in the Death of Christ.
- The gospel is Part of the Fathers Eternal Plan.
- The gospel is revealed by the Spirit through the Word.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
It's recorded in Acts 18 when Paul originally went to Corinth. He arrived there and met Priscilla and Aquilla who were tentmakers also. They began to work together and minister together in Corinth. That's when Paul first came to these people and he stayed with them for about a year and half.
Paul said at the end of Chapter 1 that he didn't come to win a following to himself. He wasn't preaching the gospel to gain followers of Paul. He only wanted to preach the gospel message. That message wasn't to be taught in such a way as to bring glory to another. If anything else was exalted the message of the cross would have no affect. No flesh should glory in His presence.
The only way to preach this message is in humility and in total realization of the predicament of men. It becomes easy to have Christian arrogance thinking we have arrived at some safe haven and we are somehow wiser for being here. That's what was happening in Corinth and it can happen in any church. We are prone to forget we have all sinned and fallen short of God's holy standard. Not one of us deserves anything close to heaven. None of us could even come close to meeting the standards of our perfect God. Of our own power we have only the capacity for total depravity. thought would turn to evil and wickedness.
We have nothing to boast of or be arrogant about. We can be thankful for all the years we've walked with the Lord but we can't be boastful about it like it was some great personal accomplishment. The accomplishment was the work on the cross. It was an incredible loving God that reached out and saved us. In spite of what we were and what we were capable of.
Paul told the Corinthians he didn't come to them with any kind of pride or arrogance. He wasn't preaching in great flowery speeches meant to impress them. He was offering the testimony of God. Not as a salesman or a philosopher seeking to acquire a following or to make a deal. He came simply to preach.
Paul knew the Jews were looking for a sign and the Greeks or gentiles were seeking after wisdom. It would have been so easy to get sidetracked trying to please them or give them what they wanted. But Paul knows he can't get caught up in that. Instead he says, "2For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified."
Paul wasn't rejecting all other knowledge. He was simply saying that he was putting Jesus Christ first and that He would be at the center of all that Paul spoke of. He wasn't interested in exploring the culture of Corinth or having intellectual arguments with them. He didn't care about being relevant to their culture. It wasn't important to be cool or hip in their eyes. Paul said he was determined to not know anything among them except Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.
Paul had made a decision to return to the basics. He was going back to the fundamentals of his faith. I think this was because he had just left Athens where all they did was carry on in endless philosophical debate. Anyone could get up and plead their case for God and give their thought on why the other gods didn't measure up. When Paul came to the people of Corinth he said he was with them in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. He arrived there after being beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, run out of Thessalonica and Berea, and mocked in Athens when he preached to the men of Athens about the unknown God.
In 2 Corinthians 10 Paul writes, "For when I am weak, then I am strong." Whatever was going on in Paul's life must have been evident to those around him. Paul notes that he came to them at a very weak time in his life and he brought them the message of the gospel and there was nothing special about his words. All this weakness and inadequacy became a testimony to the Power of God. When he was weak, then he was strong.
Paul didn't want them thinking about some moving speech or some great wisdom he imparted. He wasn't there to entertain them or occupy their mind. He wanted them to see the power of God through the gospel message. This message had power to save them from their sin and transform their lives in righteousness and holiness. The people or Corinth heard Paul's message and it did change lives and a church was planted there. And now, as Paul was writing this letter, that church was struggling with worldliness.
Remember, these folks are saints, they all had a common experience. Each person had come to the ends of themselves, to the end of their will, and yielded them selves and their life to Jesus Christ. Because of that it makes no sense that they are now relying on worldly wisdom, especially to the point of causing division. Paul told them to not put their faith in this worldly wisdom but to put their faith in the power of God.
1 Corinthians 2:6-8
Paul's message when he first came to them was a demonstration of the power of God, not a demonstration of wisdom that might exceed their wisdom or impress them. Now as he writes this letter it's some time later, it's well over a year since he first brought them the gospel message and Paul is still trying to get them to understand there was no place for their worldly wisdom.
There is a place for wisdom. Paul said, "We speak wisdom among those who are mature." His message wasn't to say they needed to totally disregard wisdom. He was only saying they shouldn't put their faith in worldly wisdom. 'This age' is speaking of all of human history until the Lord returns. The wisdom of this age isn't eternal, it had a beginning and it will come to an end when this age ends. It is a fleeting wisdom, because it is ever changing. To try to rest on it or rely on it will only cause great disappointment.
But its end is the way of death.
It seems right to a man that we should seek power. It seems right to man to make lots and lots of money. It seems right to do whatever pleases us. That wisdom will let you down. Worldly wisdom says you came from nothing, you are going to nothing and you are not responsible for what you do while you are here. The message is, 'Just make the best of it and do what you have to do to be happy'.
One definition of wisdom is the use of the best means for attaining the best ends. Paul was trying to get the saints of Corinth to understand the best means. He said 'we' speak wisdom among the mature. The 'we' are the saints of God and the mature are those who are being perfected in Christ; those that are living in the word and seeking the deep things of God. This wisdom of God is for the spiritually mature. It is hidden from nonbelievers and it is hidden from those who don't, or won't grow in the Lord.
Paul said we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory. This mystery was hidden from the beginning of time. It was ordained before the foundations of the earth and kept a mystery to be revealed through Jesus Christ. The rulers of this world didn't know this wisdom. Satan knew of one who would come, asavior had been prophesied about in the Holy Scriptures.
The powers of this world tried to destroy that child by killing all the babies under 2 years old. The powers of this world watched but what they saw made no sense. If He was the messiah why didn't he take his throne and show his power. Paul said none of the rulers of this age knew; the wisdom of God remained a mystery. It was hidden. He said if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. The powers of this world were acting to destroy Jesus but they were fulfilling the plans and the prophecies of God. They meant it for evil and God meant it for good. Jesus was crucified and that was fulfillment of the plans of God.
The gospel message was the revealing of this great mystery. It was the message of salvation and forgiveness of sins. It was the message that would snatch out of the grip of Satan the souls that were otherwise damned to hell. Satan and all the demons had to be ready to celebrate the bloody, gruesome death of the son of God. But before the party got started they found out they had fulfilled the plan of God. The shed blood of the perfect sacrifice had paid the price for the sins of men. It was the wisdom of God ordained before the ages and it was revealed completely when the stone was rolled away and the grave was empty.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10
Many times this quote is used to refer to the things of heaven. And it is true we can't even begin to imagine what it will be like but this quote is talking about the things revealed to us here and now. As we grow and mature God grants us wisdom and discernment. As we study his word and the Holy Spirit ministers to us. The Spirit searches all things and Paul makes the point that these things aren't just the superficial things. These are the deep things of God. These are the things that delve right into the nature of who and what God is.
The eye has not seen these things because these things aren't visible to the human eye. No ear has heard because these things aren't spoken. The things God has prepared for those who love Him won't enter into the heart by the eye or the ears. This wisdom will be received through the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:11-12
As a born again believer we've received a great gift. As a man we can only understand the things of man. But the Spirit of God knows the things of God. We didn't receive the Spirit of the world to have wisdom that is of the world. We received the Spirit of God that reveals the things of God.
The Saints of Corinth were looking at these things they had received from God as if they had been given some worldly wisdom. Instead of humbly receiving their spiritual gifts and using them to edify the body of Christ. They were using them as if it was some prize awarded to them for being special.
As a born again believer the Spirit resides in you. He desires to reveal to you the deep things of God. He wants you to know the things that have been freely given to us by God. This is not to say we have all wisdom or that we will ever have that wisdom. What it does mean is that the source of all spiritual wisdom is within you.
Spiritual wisdom can't be understood by the flesh. Spiritual wisdom is understood by the spirit. That Spirit reveals and ministers to us as we grow in the Lord and learn to keep our eyes on Him and not on the world.
This Spirit of God that is within us is the source of sanctification. In Romans we heard that we should not be conformed but be transformed by the renewing of our mind. The external forces of the world continue to try to shape and mold us. The worldly wisdom is constantly trying to conform us to the world. It's an external force that is trying to work a change on the inside of us. And as a person is conformed to the world they begin to look like the world on the inside. This world and its wisdom are doomed. It is cold, dead, dark and devoid of love.
However, if we allow the transformation that is driven by the Holy Spirit, the change begins on the inside. Our thoughts change, our attitudes are new, our desires begin to look different. Our mind is no longer captive to the things of this world but we begin to desire the things of God. We are driven by a love and grace that comes from God and we experience that peace when there is chaos all around us.
Since our heart is inclined to the Lord and our mind is on Spiritual things. We seek after the wisdom of God and not that of the world. The deep things of God are revealed to us and ever speck of wisdom reveals to us just how little we know. We see through a glass darkly. As we learn and grow and seek the Lord our vision is broadened. The glass gets clearer. We see more clearly as time passes. And we understand just a little more how incredible, amazing, awesome, holy and BIG God is.
1 Corinthians 12:13-16
As we begin to know the things that have been freely given to us by God then we also begin to speak in the same way. Out of the abundance of our heart the mouth speaks. As we are transformed, this spirit within us reveals the wisdom of God to us and Infects every part of our life as it affects everything we say and do.
The Spirit of God is not in the natural man. The natural man is where we all started. Each of us inherited a sinful fallen nature from Adam. That is the natural man. That natural man has no means and ability to discern spiritual things because they are without the Holy Spirit that reveals the wisdom of God. The things of God will appear as foolishness. Spiritual things can't be known or understood.
The person that is filled with the Holy Spirit has the ability to judge or discern all things. Not by our power or strength, but solely by the Holy Spirit that is within us. Yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. No natural man can rightly discern or judge the Spiritual man. The natural man will try.
Paul wanted to remind those in Corinth that they were to be Christ like. He had come to them originally and taught them and they had never grown up. They had never made the transition from the natural man and the wisdom of the world to the Spiritual man of God filled with Godly wisdom. They had reverted to the natural and now Paul was having to write them again because there was an expectation that there would be a visible growth in the year since he had left them.
Paul quoted Isaiah in sixteen, Who has known the mind of the LORD? The answer is only those who have the Holy Spirit in them; those who yield their life to the Lord and seek after God's desires and not our natural, individual desires.
Our world is full of chaos and crisis. At times fear is nearly rampant about the latest flu bug, terrorist strike or natural disaster. The world is constantly shaken. The wisdom and rulers of this age are continuously shown to be faulty, weak and inadequate. We have to hold on tight to Jesus Christ. He is the Godly wisdom revealed to the saints and the Holy Spirit in us marks us and continues to remake us into image of Christ by that wisdom of God.
©2016 Doug Ford