Summary: This passage explores some of the key implications of buying into "man’s wisdom."
- v. 18a - note that this is an area of danger.
What Are The Dangers Of Buying Into The Wisdom That The World Applauds?
1. What we’re called to do: Let go of the wisdom the world applauds.
- v. 18b.
- What that wisdom looks like:
- having lots of possessions is the key to happiness;
- if you’re not happy in your marriage, get divorced because you owe it to yourself to pursue happiness at all costs;
- climbing to the top of the corporate ladder makes for a successful life;
- satisfy whatever urges you feel;
- you should be entertained;
- right and wrong is in the eye of the beholder.
- There are plenty more ideas to go along with that, but those are representative.
2. Why we’re called to do it: The wisdom the world applauds doesn’t fly with God.
- v. 19a.
- This verse makes it clear that there is not much overlap between what impresses the world and what impresses God.
- How does God view the wisdom of the world? Paul cites a couple examples:
a. Example #1: It’ll be used to trip you up.
- v. 19b.
- This verse is from Job. It’s true at first glance, but there is more depth there if you dig. The verse is a quote of Eliphaz in Job 5:13. Eliphaz, one of those friends who came to comfort Job (and did a poor job of it), is later chastised by God for not having spoken correctly (see Job 42:7). This raises the interesting prospect of Paul quoting someone who was called wrong by the Lord. The key to understanding this is to know that Eliphaz was not wrong in his statement (because God in fact does catch the wise in their own craftiness), but he was wrong in his application of that truth to Job. Job had done nothing wrong (see Job 1:1, 8). Thus, Eliphaz, speaking in his own wisdom and not God’s, makes a accusation toward Job that the Lord later uses to trip up Eliphaz. Eliphaz was “caught in his own craftiness.”
b. Example #2: It’s a dead-end street.
- v. 20.
- As great and exalted as the wisdom of this world is among the people of this world, it’s easy to forget that, in the end, all that they devise in futile. For example, as applauded and renowned as the theory of evolution is among the scientists and intelligencia, in the end it is coming to nothing and all the efforts to build it up are coming to nothing.
3. What that should look like: Quit basking in your association with a particular guru and club.
- v. 21a.
- We want to build ourselves up by building up those that we are associated with. This happens both inside and outside the church.
- Inside the church, a person may pick their favorite preacher and use that as a badge of honor because “he really knows how to preach” or “he preaches the whole truth” or “he tells it like it is.” Further, a person may pick a particular group to be their badge of honor. “We’re independent Baptists” or “We’re Spirit-filled” or “We’re the biggest church in town” can all be ways of trying to lift yourself up by your association with that group that’s “better” than everyone else.
- One common denominator in this thinking is that there is often some “secret wisdom” or belief that “no one else understands this biblically.” Thus, a particular distinctive of the group is not just a humble attempt to obey the Bible as you understand it, but it is the incontrovertible evidence that you are the true remnant and genuine believers.
4. Why we can do that: It doesn’t get any better than our association with Christ.
- vv. 21b-23.
- There are a variety of motives for misguided pursuits that have been described up to this point. For some it is their personal insecurity and subsequent desire to feel better about themselves that drives them to make distinctions among preachers or denominations. For others, the problem is the desire to be accepted by those around them that leads them to embrace the dominant worldly ideas of our day. Still others may find their exaltation in trying to tear others down.
- All these pursuits are misguided and come up short.
- Christ has invited us into something much greater, fuller, and deeper. When we grasp who we are in Christ and that, through Him, “all things” are our’s, we realize how broad our benefits are in Him.
- In v. 22, Paul lists eight things, each of which can potentially be used to divide and distract us. Do we look at Paul, Apollos, and Cephas as preachers to follow or as all being one in proclaiming the same news of Christ? Are we “of” this world or merely “in” this world? Do we see this life as the pinnacle of our existence or as a testing ground for the life to come? Do we fear death or know that Christ has conquered it? Are things present all we get or is there more to come? Do we believe things to come to based on decisions for Christ or that everyone who was “good” by their own reckoning inherits eternal life? In each of these eight, do we choose a divided vision or the big picture?