READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l The apostle Paul was a deeply learned and articulate man, yet he knew that the world could not know God through human wisdom. (v19-21) Paul was not suggesting that we leave our human knowledge and wisdom aside. Rather, his concern was how we can go about applying our human intellect.
Wisdom: Unite or Divide?
Do we apply our wisdom in a way that unites or divides? Human wisdom in the culture of the Corinthian church had resulted in quarrels, jealousies and divisions. Paul reminds them that Christ is our life and became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Cor 1:30). The simple truth was that we are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28) Paul had approached the Corinthian church, not with lofty eloquent, persuasive words of wisdom, but in weakness, fear and trembling, and in the fear of the Lord. He offered the plain message of the cross, which proved to be the power and wisdom of God. When we lean on human wisdom and adopt a critical attitude during worship, does it build up the church and glorify God, or does it divide, destroy and result in unholy living?
Wisdom: Heart or Head?
There is head knowledge wisdom – the wisdom of our rulers and wisdom of this age. Paul explained that the highly educated and intelligent, despite their head knowledge, could not grasp God’s wisdom. To them, God’s wisdom was secret and hidden. It was foolishness to them. They had missed everything, so much so that they even crucified their Christ. Meanwhile, God prepares and reveals the things that are hidden from the wisest to those who love him and apply wisdom with their hearts. If we truly offer our hearts, God will reveal His wisdom, decreed before the ages for our glory and we can grasp the depths of God. (v9-10) This means worshipping as a sincere seeker, not as a spectator; reading the Bible as a follower, not as a critic; and praying to God as a lover, not as a skeptic.
Wisdom: Spiritual vs Unspiritual
For us to decipher the mind of Christ, we need to go through his Holy Spirit. Human wisdom and the unspiritual is limited. It cannot discern and receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. The unspiritual can only view it as a problem they have to fix. They are conflicted with the spiritual and sometimes may even have to crucify others. The unspiritual simply cannot fathom the mind of Christ.
While we think that as we receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit it will open the way, many times the spiritual and the unspiritual are conflicted. (Mt 10:34-36) Perhaps some of us are facing great persecution. We have humbly obeyed the mind of Christ, yet the world seems to be against us. We can take comfort that the Holy Spirit gives us affirmation in our hearts, wisdom, power and the guidance needed to face each day’s challenges. God grants us a peace that surpasses all human understanding in our hearts and minds.
When we apply wisdom, does it unite us as a church and community or does it divide and lead to destructive ends and unholiness? Do we apply wisdom with our hearts or our heads? There will always be conflict because the culture and forces of this world are against the mind of Christ and the spiritual. When faced with difficulties, the Holy Spirit enables us to meet every challenge in our walk and discipleship.
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- Discuss situations where human wisdom contradicts the Gospel of Jesus.
- In what ways has the Gospel of Jesus been adopted through the head & not the heart?
- Share instances where the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your life was viewed as foolishness to your family/friends/colleagues.