Welcome back! Last Tuesday, we explored the problems with resting in worldly knowledge and God’s methods for training us to instead rest in belief. We also discussed how wisdom is commonly misunderstood – which explains why Paul reserved this topic for the spiritually mature. Today, we will delve into this spiritual wisdom that God gives us upon believing, find out how exactly it differs from the secular brand of “wisdom”, and how we can apply it to our modern lives.
So, let’s get started! Grab your Bible and follow along in 1 Corinthians 2. Here are 3 more amazing verses that will help you see wisdom from a whole new perspective!
4. 1 Corinthians 2:2
Laying a solid foundation
Paul makes it crystal clear that he had no intention of persuading them through fine sounding arguments, or wise words. Furthermore, he writes that he himself would know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Why is this crucial? Well, let’s back up. Why do you desire spiritual wisdom over worldly knowledge? Because it has power. Why does it have power? Because it is built on a firm foundation of belief in Jesus Christ.
Before we move on, it is necessary that we strengthen this foundation even more. Nowadays, people think they can be on the fence with Jesus. In one philosophy book I recently read, the author went so far as to say that Jesus Christ was an admirable historical teacher – a proponent of peace, and a lover of goodness. Yet, he would not admit that Jesus Christ was who He claimed to be – namely, the Son of God.
Yet, Christ, by his very nature, made claims that demand to be either embraced or abandoned – there is no in between. In the words of C.S. Lewis,
Either [Jesus] was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
This simple acceptance of Christ’s true identity emphasizes the stark contrast between cultural knowledge and spiritual knowledge. You will, unfortunately, be hard pressed to find a popular, cultural philosopher who will openly embrace the claims of Christ as correct.
The Christ of the Bible
When he writes this letter, Paul wants to clarify that he is not simply condoning some sort of “historical” Jesus. He is urging these new believers to follow his example – to ditch the whole worldly knowledge and social-reform-Jesus philosophy – for something unbelievably more powerful.
Remember, there really is no such thing as a “historical” Jesus. Jesus cannot be historical if you remove his miracles and his message of forgiveness from the equation. As a Christian, this is your first step: accepting all of Christ’s teachings and claims as truth, and believing in the power of His crucifixion. That is the first step towards spiritual wisdom.
5. 1 Corinthians 2:12-13
Spiritual, not just emotional or mental
Jesus, as I have said, is not another form of Socrates.
The wisdom that Jesus taught and Paul writes about is one that is established in power. A few years back, I took a philosophy course for school. Although I took a Christian approach to it, the textbook itself was blatantly liberal. Time and again, the book presented philosophies that lacked application (excepting Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle).
Sure, they stimulated my mind and appealed to my knowledge-thirsty brain, but underneath the “fine sounding arguments” there really was nothing. This fact is unfortunately evident in many of the philosophers themselves. They are stuck “spinning their wheels” – as we used to say in my class – trying to break free of the philosophic mud, but hopelessly trapped without the important aspect of spirituality.
Christ’s wisdom satisfies the soul
Humans are spiritual creatures, longing for not just mental and emotional stimulation, but an appeal to their soul. Ever since the beginning of time, cultures have understood that right and wrong are not just optional choices, but are real, tangible instincts that God has ingrained in us. Philosophy – truly loving wisdom – should, ideally, address this aspect of humans. But it doesn’t. How could refusing to recognize Jesus’ power ever result in anything but a stale, self-centered “wisdom”?
There is a novel that I think illustrates this concept wonderfully. In the horror tale Frankenstein, Shelley’s protagonist – Victor Frankenstein- is haunted by his knowledge of the terrible beast he had created. He had worked day and night to learn all he could to satisfy his hungry mind. He hunted wisdom – the knowledge to make the dead come back to life.
Yet, when he finally achieved this goal, it destroyed his life in the end, because he lacked moral and spiritual guidance. He lacked the application of his knowledge. As in Victor’s life, knowledge is only a burden when it does not satisfy your conscience or your soul. How is worldly wisdom ever useful without the correct worldview of Christianity to temper is application?
6. 1 Corinthians 2:15-16
Speaking of application…
So, how does this all apply to my life, you wonder? Great question! There are three main concepts that I want to leave you with regarding spiritual wisdom and its relevance.
First, know that spiritual wisdom gives you discernment.
What is discernment? Think of it as the ability to make wise choices; but not just any choices. It is the ability to make wise decisions about the crucial things in life, the choices that really matter in your spiritual battle.
Remember, you have a piece of God’s spirit within you – so, be sensitive to what it tells you. 1 Corinthians 2:15 specifically says that the spiritual man makes judgments about all things. From deciding what your major will be, to deciding who to invite to your party, to planning for your next vacation, spiritual wisdom means asking God in prayer to reveal His wisdom to you.
Second, know that spiritual wisdom gives you confidence.
In the last part of 1 Corinthians 2:15, Paul writes that the spiritual man “is not subject to any man’s judgment”. Since you are owned by Christ, you are now only subject to His judgment. God’s spirit within you is a higher authority than any mortal, which means that even if His commandment breaks a human command, it must be obeyed before anything else.
Yet, this verse should also encourage you. Contrary to what culture may tell you, you don’t have to listen to what everyone says about you. Your conscience belongs solely to Christ. In fact, Paul himself experienced intense criticism for being a Christian, including flogging, stoning, and near-death experiences. But in the end, he was fulfilled. Happiness didn’t depend upon what others thought of him, but what his Heavenly Father thought of him. Your spiritual wisdom enables you to rise above the nonsense of this world, and live according to a higher standard: Christ.
Third, know that spiritual wisdom gives you the power to accomplish.
Unlike the majority of the philosophers and thinkers of the centuries, you are not imprisoned in your mind. Christ not only gives you the power to think, but to act. Christianity is not just another philosophy, but a way of life because it has genuine power. It is the most practical religion in the world, because it is not merely a changing of the head, but of the heart. You are a new creation. As Lewis writes in Mere Christianity,
…Let me make it quite clear that when Christians say the Christ-life is in them, they do not mean simply something mental or moral. When they speak of being “in Christ” or of Christ being “in them”, this is not simply a way of saying that they are thinking about Christ or copying Him. They mean that Christ is actually operating through them; that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts – that we are His fingers and muscles, the cells of His body.
Isn’t it exciting to know that Christ not only changes your desires and motives, but also hands you the power to accomplish them? That is why His spiritual wisdom reigns in supremacy over anything the world could ever think up. I hope that you will continue to think about the concept and pursuit of wisdom as is prescribed by the Bible. I also hope that you, too, will feel Christ’s enabling in your life to achieve whatever God has planned!
What has challenged your perspective on wisdom during your Christian walk?