From Foolishness to Wisdom (I Corinthians 1:17-31)

I Corinthians 1:17-31 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

1. The wisdom of this world is really just foolishness

The word used for foolishness in this passage is the word from which we get the word “moron.” This world proves just that.

A. In their view of spiritual things

The world by its own wisdom knew not God! With all its achievements, accolades, projects, awards, and so called progression, the wisdom of this world is nothing because it failed to achieve the only important thing: knowing God!

Both Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 say, “the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God

To the world, it is foolish for us to believe in the literal account of Genesis. But somehow, it is wise to believe that dust floating around somewhere collided into the Big Bang, and now we’re all here?

In 1952, Scientology began as an offshoot of L. Ron Hubbard’s science fiction novels and self-help books. It boasts now 10 million members, many of whom are “elite.”

B. Morality

Proverbs 13:19 The desire accomplished is sweet to the soul: but it is abomination to fools to depart from evil.

I remember being handed a school-based social newsletter when I was a senior in high school. I was quickly drawn to an article about abstinence. You would think with all the unwanted pregnancies, broken homes, volatile relationships, and immoral behavior running rampant with today’s young people that this article would say at least something about the practice of abstinence. I don’t remember all that it said, nor the newsletter from which it came, but one thing does stick out in my mind, and that is the conclusion that, “abstinence doesn’t work because teens don’t remain abstinent.”

Obviously the biblical pattern for this is abstinence until marriage. And, by the way, when practiced, it works! But the failure of some young people to follow their commitment was interpreted by many that other forms of “safe” education should be taught in our public schools. After all, who wants the backward, old fashioned, radical Christian Right to have a foothold in our education system? Moral and social issues should be taught by “educated” individuals who have studied behavior for years and can wisely conclude that “abstinence doesn’t work because teens don’t remain abstinent.”

How many highly esteemed individuals in the world advocate abortion, the killing of the innocent, and yet despise capital punishment, which is the killing of the guilty?

It is tragic to know that there are “educated” and “skilled professionals” in this world defending sins like homosexuality, pedophilia, euthanasia, alcoholism, drug usage, gambling, and any other type of immorality you can imagine. Doctors, lawyers, psychologists, celebrities, and the ACLU are all ready and willing to fight for foolish things such as these.

C. Science

When I was in school, Pluto was a planet, and that was a fact.

The idea of spontaneous generation, which taught that living organisms spontaneously appeared in food from decaying organisms, was held to be true for centuries, endorsed by the “wise” Aristotle up until 1861 when Louis Pasteur proved it false. Pasteur, by the way, was a Christian and creationist.

D. Religion

Few people in this country realize how important our Baptist witness was in colonial America. It was Baptist people that fought for freedom of religion. Although Baptists have always believed in an exclusive salvation b y grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, they have always advocated religious liberty, and as a result of their struggle over 200 years ago, all religions enjoy freedom in America. In the wisdom of this world, however, Baptists and other like minded Christians are seen as the intolerant, bigoted, narrow-minded hate-mongers who should be told to stop preaching their message.

2. True wisdom is found in simple truth

A. Christ is the foundation

He is more important than baptism. He is the central theme. His crucifixion and resurrection are crucial. He Himself confounded the wise.

When He said in John 8:32, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her,” He totally confounded the religious leaders of the day. He ate with sinners. He ran sellers out of the temple. He washed His disciple’s feet. He spoke with women, suffered children to come to Him, and claimed to be God.

Even in His youth:

Luke 2:46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

Today, when we preach Jesus, God confounds the wise.

B. The simple gospel message

“To convince the world of the truth of Christianity, it must first be convinced of sin. It is only sin that renders Christ intelligible” Andrew Murray

– God is holy

– Man is a sinner

– Jesus paid the penalty of sin

– Only Jesus can save

– Repent and trust Jesus Christ

Conversion is taking a fool and making him wise.

C. Not to be articulated with fleshly wisdom

If we preach and teach to appease the world, we make the cross of Christ of none effect. One preacher said this: “the gospel has become so watered down that the non-elect can’t even reject it!” Whether it is watering it down as to not offend someone or spicing it up to interest someone or making it academic to gain respect of the world, it is all wrong unless it is simple preaching (heralding, proclaiming) of what God has said! The richness will come as we faithfully examine the scriptures – they’re full of wisdom!

3. We should glory that God has made us, the simple and base, wise

Titus 3:3-7 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life

Every wonder why Christians are some of the strangest people you’ve ever met? We’re nothing great to behold. And yet, God has saved us. He has made us wiser than any professor at an Ivy League school.

We must be wise for what matters. We must know our doctrine, with the goal to know our God. This is true wisdom, and we didn’t get it on our own, therefore we don’t glory in ourselves, but in God.

4. We must exercise our God-given wisdom

If our wisdom is in such a sharp contrast to that of the world, our lives must be lived in the same contrast.

A. In our view of spiritual things

We have attained wisdom through our salvation. Everything is put into perspective by the Word of God. However, we must use it and grow in it.

Psalms 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

It starts with fearing the LORD. Good understanding comes as we obey Him and praise Him.

James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering

We also gain wisdom by asking of God in faith.

With this wisdom, we obey the command of Jesus

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you

For us who have been made wise by Jesus Christ, we must put our relationship with God as the utmost priority in our lives. This means our prayer time must be more important as our meal times. Coming to church faithfully and on time should be more important than going to work on time everyday. Treating one another in love in the fear of God should be more important than treating your neighbor right in fear of the law. Telling others about Jesus Christ should be more important than telling others about the latest news. Wisdom is basically applying the knowledge we have learned. Here we see, as Christians, we have the wisdom of God which makes the wisdom of this world foolishness. But it is nothing if we do not apply it.

B. Morality

We can take a look at the morality, or lack thereof, of this world and stand in awe of its utter stupidity. But God forbid we turn around and do the same thing. Exercising this wisdom is not just living up to a not-as-bad-as-that-guy standard. For example, us young adults have friends that get drunk every weekend. Our lives should be lived in such contrast that we don’t drink a drop of alcohol! God is not pleased because you’re a social drinker rather than an alcoholic. It is unwise for Christians to drink! It is foolishness to claim that you can handle it because you can’t. It does nothing but evil in this world and if you really want to exercise the wisdom that God has given you…get away from it! Contrary to the world’s understanding, the Bible condemns alcohol:

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

I can use other examples like abstinence, sobriety, punctuality, and modesty. These aren’t characteristics of the prudish or the holy club, they are characteristics of how Christians must live in the face of the foolishness of the world. Christians, wise up! We are to be different. We don’t want what the world has and they don’t want what we have. There is a difference. The more they slide into sin, the worse it becomes for them, and then we’ll see how we don’t want it. On the other hand, the more we grow in wisdom and righteousness, the better it gets for us, and Lord willing, those of this world will humble themselves and find life everlasting.


3 comments so far

  1. Fred on

    God isn’t real.

  2. DT on

    You are entitled to your opinion.
    And so am I. Therefore, in my opinion, based on the above sermon and your comment, you are very foolish. May God give you true wisdom.

  3. ADB7 on

    man is foolish with in him self he must change his ways by his choice alone do not follow him do not speak to him but speak so he may hear he must be free to make his own path. remember god doe’s not want you to fear him the devil do. Live in life walk in peace and learn by his example.

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