My Wisdom or God's? - 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

My Wisdom or God’s?

I know a lot of people that are much smarter than I am. Sometimes, they have a hard time getting passed something that is so incredibly simple. Sometimes, it is something so simple that it is just blown off. 

The answer of the cross is something incredibly simple that many people still struggle with today. The simplicity of its message is a stumbling block for some because they just can’t fathom that it is by faith alone and not by works that we are saved. 

How often are we trying to use our intellect or our wisdom to solve problems when we are nothing compared to the wisdom of God? 

1 Corinthians 1:18-26
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“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.

In verse 17, Paul says that Christ didn’t send him to baptize but to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he was to preach the truth without embellishing it or using words that detract from the power of the cross. 

Paul moves into verse 18 by stating that the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. What is the message of the cross? Crucifixion was a horrible and shameful way to die. Dying on the cross was not something you brought up casually in conversation. Jesus was in the lowest and most shameful position when humiliated on that cross. But Christ defeated sin and overcame death so we may have everlasting life and abide in Him forever. To those who have faith in Christ, the cross symbolizes God’s power because of the great work done through it. Our sin died with Christ on that cross, which is its message. We are either perishing, or we are being saved, and these are two opposite ends of the spectrum that move in different directions from each other. 

So, why is Paul talking about the foolishness of wisdom? Because when we rely on the wisdom of man and our own minds, we get nowhere. When we rely on our own wisdom, we are foolish because God does not conform to our will and our wisdom. It is only in the understanding and discernment given by God that we can know His will and live in His peace. Paul says that there isn’t any human, no matter how smart or wise, that can do what Jesus did for us. Human reason tells us that we come from animals and that things happened by chance over billions of years, but we only know the truth and gain the wisdom of God when we faithfully commit and submit ourselves to Him. We aren’t supposed to know all the answers because we only need to know THE answer…the answer to salvation. God gives us what we need for His will in our lives. 

During Paul’s time, the Jews were still looking for their signs, and the Greeks continued to rely on their wisdom, but they were lacking and missing an important piece of the puzzle. Christ crucified as the Messiah was what they were lacking, and some could not grasp and comprehend that a poor carpenter that shamefully died on the cross would be the key to salvation. Let us not overlook the simple things and the small but key truths as we pursue our relationship with Christ.

 In today’s world, it is very much like the days of the Corinthians. Today, the world sees the cross as a stumbling block. They can’t seem to understand that the message of the cross is the one message that they need to hear. It is foolishness to them that something so simple is something so important. Even in the moment of the most humiliation, weakness, and shame on that cross, God’s wisdom at that point was still infinitely greater than ours ever will be. 

We should be encouraged that we have the wisdom provided by God through our faith in the resurrection of Christ from His death on the shameful cross. Today’s world is very similar to the city of Corinthians. As Christians, we must continually be submissive and humble ourselves to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. Spend time in prayer and seek God’s voice through His Word so that you may grow in His wisdom.
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