TWO FOOLISH MISTAKES THAT UNDERMINE GOD’S WISDOM AND CAUSE DIVISION WITHIN THE LOCAL CHURCH
In this section Paul has already shown how the church must be built on the wisdom of God rather than human wisdom. His goal is to combat divisions that were forming in the church of Corinth where believers were dividing into factions based on their attraction to the preaching style and personality of specific gifted leaders. There were also false teachers whose motive was to destroy the temple of God (the church) by substituting their own religious philosophies for the authoritative Word of God. The only safeguard for the church was to humbly rely on the revealed wisdom of God as contained in Scripture. This approach stands directly in opposition to the sophisticated educational and philosophical and psychological systems of human wisdom.
This message has application to unbelievers who need to renounce their worldly thinking in order to be filled with God’s wisdom as well as to believers who need to guard against worldly wisdom infiltrating and harming the church.
I. (:18-20) FOOLISH MISTAKE #1 – THINKING TOO HIGHLY OF SELF
A. (:18a) Clear Warning – Human Wisdom Is Attractive and Seductive —
(Exalt the Word of God and the Foolishness of the Cross Rather than Human Wisdom)
“Let no man deceive himself.”
It is an easy sell for Satan to try to convince men that their own opinions have merit and that they can rely on their own powers of logic and argumentation.
B. (:18b) Consistent Antidote: Acquiring God’s Wisdom Requires Forsaking Human Wisdom (this antidote works for everyone, everywhere, all time)
1. Pride Associated with Human Wisdom (“knowledge puffs up”)
“If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age”
2. Humility Required for Acquiring God’s Wisdom
“let him become foolish that he may become wise.”
C. (:19-20) Clinching Explanation: God’s Wisdom Always Trumps Human Wisdom
1. Thesis Stated
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God”
2. Thesis Supported from 2 OT Quotes – “For it is written”
a. (Job 5:13) Catches the Crafty
“He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”
b. “ and again” (Psalm 94:11) Frustrates the Futile
“The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.”
II. (:21-23) FOOLISH MISTAKE #2 – THINKING TOO HIGHLY OF ANY PROMINENT MEN (NOTABLE TEACHERS, SPIRITUAL LEADERS, ETC.)
A. (:21a) Clear Warning – Our Natural Tendency is to Place Undue Dependence on Specific Visible Human Leaders
“So then let no one boast in men.”
Goins: The point is that if we give ultimate authority to any human being in our lives, even someone who is spiritually sensitive, trustworthy, and mature, we’re being much too limiting. We are to no longer place our confidence in the impact that human beings can have on us.
B. (:21b-22) Consistent Antidote: Embrace all that God has Provided for All Believers
(this antidote works for everyone, everywhere, all time)
1. There are No Second Class Believers – So no need to choose up sides
“For all things belong to you”
You are just missing out on the riches of all that God has provided for you when you focus attention on loyalty to one key leader
2. Delineation of these precious “all things”
a. “whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas”
b. “or the world or life or death”
c. “or things present or things to come”
3. Repeating the Theme: There are No Second Class Believers
“all things belong to you”
Goins: Twice he makes the powerful statement, “…All things belong to you….” Either this is some exaggerated religious cliché or it’s literally true. And in fact we have riches that we don’t understand or take advantage of. We sell them much too short. We’re willing to give them up to follow some human leadership or some human opinion or theory. In the New Testament there is a consistent pattern of emphasis on the truth that because we have life in Jesus Christ, we have everything. Paul writes in Romans 8:16-17, “…We are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ….” He also says in 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how will he not also with him freely give us all things?” There is no limitation on what will give us a life of health and wholeness. God has given us every resource that we can imagine in this inheritance with Jesus Christ.
C. (:23) Clinching Explanation: Focus must ultimately be on Boasting in the Headship of Christ and the Fatherhood of God – not Boasting in Man
“and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.”