The Insufficiency of Human Wisdom and Sufficiency of the Wisdom of God -1 Cor. 1:18-31


I once read a book and at the back cover of the book one person recommended, “If you don’t have this book consider your library empty!” In the same vein, godly wisdom is important and if you don’t have it, I dare say consider your life to be empty!  A wise man in the Bible fears God; wisdom leads to life, bounty, blessings, sustenance, and security. A fool is by definition someone who says in his heart there is no God, Ps 14:1.

Bible talks of two kinds of wisdom: human wisdom/wisdom of the world, and wisdom of God. We do not just need any kind of wisdom but wisdom that leads to life, wisdom from above.

Wisdom of the World/Human Wisdom and its insufficiency

Basis- Human wisdom has its foundation in the cleverness of speech, persuasiveness of words-wisdom of words. The danger to this is that words can be used manipulatively, hypocritically, deceivingly.

Human wisdom is temporal– “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world” where is their power? Where are those who declared ‘God is dead’? has not the living God finally declared them dead. Where are those who mocked God/persecuted believers? Where is their wisdom? You will realize that their human wisdom and pride came/comes to nothing.  Within a twinkle of an eye, they are no more; they will be blown like chaff.

Insufficiency– The wisdom of the world is about sagacity, natural wit and only head knowledge; it consists of knowledge of natural things. It has a general knowledge of God and not specific in reference to the person of Christ; not for of lack of facts and information but lack of faith. In Rom 1:18ff, men failed to know God who has revealed himself in the universe, in man and in history. They essentially knew God but not as exhibited in Christ. It is true that not all intelligent people are wise- Jer 8:9; 1 Cor. 3:18-21. That is why salvation depends on faith not on wisdom, “to save them that believe”. It is not by human reason but by revelation. The physical cannot in itself comprehend the spiritual unless enabled.

The intellectualism of our day is insufficient in reaching God because God has made foolish the wisdom of this world. As a matter of fact, the philosophies of this world, however appealing they are, are hollow and deceptive, Col 2:8. At best they give birth to: atheism, materialism, rationalism, agnosticicsm, and refined selfishness.

We therefore need a better wisdom…

The Wisdom of God

Basis– The wisdom of God rests on the power of God- not dependent on what we know, or our eloquence, linguistic proficiency or polished accents, thoughts or our skill in exposition. It has a foundation on the gospel, the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, Rom 1:16.

The wisdom of the world leads to atheism, materialism, rationalism, or agnosticicsm but the wisdom of God leads to from a righteousness and justice, truth, peace, joy, love. When God’s wisdom is present it is evident for all to see, Gen 41:38,39; 1 kings 3:28; Dan 5:11.

The wisdom of God is about the cross. This message is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is power of to those who are being saved. It is about Jesus crucified on the cross to pay the penalty of our sin. It is about the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ; it about the resurrection and ascension of Jesus. It is about the revelation of God’s love. The cross of Jesus is the wisdom of God; on that Friday afternoon it looked like it was a defeat and weakness but on the Sunday morning it was victory and power of God to impact lives. What was hidden was revealed (1 Cor. 2:7); and since then the message of the cross has continued to change lives. Your are a testimony to what am talking about here if the cross of Jesus has transformed you.

God’s wisdom is seen on the use of the weak to shame the strong. Obviously,  any coach would want to have the best players in his team to win a game. But it is not so with God. Sometimes/most times we feel inadequate but in our weakness God’s strength is manifested. He qualifies the unqualified for his service.

God in his divine ways know how to use the unwise by human standards, the un-influential, the un-noble as his vessels to display his purposes and glory. For the purpose that anyone who boasts should humbly boast in God. Do you feel inadequate for his mission? He refills those who have emptied themselves and surrendered all to him for his usefulness. Think of the disciples Jesus called. Peter and a few others would be the least persons you would want in your team; but thankfully God uses anyone willing to follow him. People noted that the disciples were unschooled ordinary men from Galilee (villages), but they were astonished by their courage and they took note that they were with Jesus, Acts 4:13. Paul in his self-evaluation confesses he was the chief of sinners, 1 Tim 1:12-16. Jesus can totally transform a person; he can make the vilest sinner live. In His wisdom, he can make the unproductive vine productive.

So why has God in his wisdom call us despite our nothingness? First to shame the strong, and second that, “the world does not know him”, he wants to use you in a unique way that will leave the world in wonder.

Do you desire wisdom from God? The wisdom of God is a person: Jesus Christ, God’s self disclosure- “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God”. Wisdom is a person; he is personified in the book of Proverbs. We know/learn God’s purpose and plan of redemption through Jesus, the exact representation of God. We also understand the OT wisdom literature better through beholding Jesus, he is wisdom incarnate. He is the image of the invisible God, Col 1:15.  To become wise is to know Jesus. Christ who is able to save, transform, sanctify.

In comparison, V25, the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, God’s “folly” is the highest wisdom; man’s highest “wisdom” is but folly.  The wisdom of the world in its pride and rebellion leads to perishing; whereas the wisdom of God leads to salvation.

On what foundation have we built our lives, families or ministries/careers on? Human wisdom will fail, but godly wisdom lasts. What the human wisdom fails to accomplish God’s wisdom does.

The wisdom of God which is also the word of God (Lk 11:49) teaches us to be humble, that God opposes the proud, not to fear but to be courageous. It instructs us on how to speak, to wait upon the Lord, it teaches us the goodness of God’s discipline, and brings in us the fruit of righteousness, how to live in evil times, how to succeed, and how to understand the will of the Lord. It comes by embracing the word, valuing it and applying it in our lives.

Make God’s wisdom your ally!


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