Today we begin one of Paul’s letters to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 1-4). This letter was a response to questions that arose from his first letter (1 Cor. 5:9). Since Paul could not be present to pastor all the churches he had established or visited, his letters were the next best thing. I’m so glad God inspired him to write, and that He has divinely preserved the wisdom contained in each of the 13 letters in the NT written by Paul.
The church in Corinth was struggling with many issues. Paul will discuss marriage and relationships, cultural issues, spiritual gifts, and morality. Corinth was a port city filled with a mixture of cultures. One article described it as being like San Francisco in the gold rush days. There was division in the church as people claimed allegiance to different teachers. The church was comprised of many Gentile converts with a history of pagan worship and immoral lifestyles, as well as Jewish believers learning to let go of the law and live according to grace.
One of the key thoughts in these first four chapters is Paul’s repeated emphasis on setting aside our human wisdom in favor of the wisdom that comes from God. After all, doesn’t division come when we fight amongst ourselves about what we think we know? Here are some truths about God’s wisdom.
* The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God. (1:18)
* The world can never know God by its own wisdom. What we think is wisdom is foolishness in God’s sight. (1:19-21)
* The person without the Spirit cannot understand spiritual things (2:14)
Humility about our own inability to know things is the first step to understanding and believing what God says is true. Until we are willing to admit that we might be wrong, that we might not know, our eyes will never be opened to true spiritual wisdom found in Christ. Paul says it plainly in 3:18 …
“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.”
Are you confident in your own knowledge? Welcome to the human race! The core of our sin problem is pride. Pride will keep us from coming to Christ unless we are willing to lay it down and risk being considered a fool in the eyes of the world.
Are you a believer, but struggling with disunity and disagreement with others? Lay down your own knowledge and defer to God’s wisdom. You might be wrong. Seek the wisdom of God’s word and let the Spirit bring the unity that comes when we all are thinking with the mind of Christ (2:16).