1Co 1:18-21 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.
I imagine that most of you have met him (or her). The “Christian” who is, as Paul puts it, wise according to the wisdom of the world. Who approaches Christ with his head, measuring the gospel and God’s Word with the filter of his intellect. To such, as Paul says, the gospel word of the cross is foolishness.
We cannot come to know the Lord through our own wisdom. The foolishness of the Cross will remain foolish until we humble ourselves and come to Christ by faith.
This does not mean that the gospel is contrary to the reason which God has given us. Christianity is not a religion which demands we put our brains out to pasture. Consider for instance how Jesus so wonderfully opened up the Scriptures to us – but to those who refuse to come to Him in faith, He will only speak to them in dark sayings, in parables so that they cannot understand. Faith must precede reason. Reason must be governed by faith.
People who get this backwards (because in their pride they boast of their intellect) operate with the notion that faith must be governed by their reason. I knew a scientist once who, when I observed that God created light before He created the sun and stars, scoffed. The man claimed to be a Christian, but he rejected the very opening words of the Bible.
Why do I write about these things here? Because the “Christian” who walks according to the wisdom of this world will inevitably be a counterfeit – and an arrogant one at that. All kinds of other evils flow from such a person. And in the end, as the Lord says, the wise according to this world will be shown to be fools.
The man who is a “wise-according-to-this-world Christian” is mean. He holds Christ’s people in contempt. He only comes into the fellowship of Christ’s flock to exalt himself, boasting of his wisdom. But that wisdom is absolutely incompatible with God’s wisdom in Christ. Actually, though these counterfeits may speak of the cross, in truth it is foolishness to them.
Paul mentions one class of these kind – the debater of this age. Here is the one who Paul instructs us to reject:
Rom 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (18) For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
You may have seen these kind in action. Exalting themselves via their intellect, they create divisions and obstacles which hinder people from coming to Christ. Many of the domestic abusers who hide in the pews are of this very ilk. They have an incredible mindset of superiority and entitlement, demanding that people bend to their views…or else. But the Lord sees, and the Lord knows. These creeps who creep in among us are perishing. For all their boasting and religion, they are on the Broadway to hell.
1Co 1:18 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.