Before we began construction of our house in 2009, we had to clear out the place where we wanted to build. We did not just begin building a house. Trees, stumps, and dirt had to be removed before the actual construction could begin. In a similar way, in order for us to live in the wisdom of God, or in following my construction example, have His wisdom built in our hearts, somethings have to be removed.
A friend of mine lent me a video series teaching on ethics. I have not finished all the videos yet, but I have really enjoyed watching them. In one of the first videos, the teacher shared a great point that has caused me recently to reflect on a lot, as well as, modify how I pray. He said that before God can build in us His wisdom, our reliance on our own human wisdom must be destroyed first. You see, the wisdom we rely on is what determines what we do practically day-to-day. So, if we want our lives to functionally be determined by God’s wisdom, and not our own, then there needs to be a removal of our own wisdom, so that new set of principles can begin directing our lives. This makes sense, yet it is harder to do than we think. At the same time, for the follower of Jesus, it is vital to walking on holiness and faithful living. I have known this principle for years, but walking in it is sometimes harder than we think.
In 1 Corinthians 1:18, Scripture says,
«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.»
We see in this verse that we have one message but two different responses. One calls the message «folly», the other «power». Why is that? The answer: different sources of wisdom. One, operating from solely human wisdom where righteousness is obtained by human effort, or unnecessary to have at all, looks at the message of the cross and calls it foolish. Yet, another response, who sees their spiritual poverty and need of a Savior calls it amazing. The former rejects it due to seeing man as the ultimate authority. The latter receives it due to believing that God is the supreme authority. Why the difference? Answer: a different heart position before God. Look at Proverbs 9:10,
«The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight»
See, those that reject the message of the cross, though function in the greatest of human wisdom, are perishing (see 1 Corinthians 1:18) due to rejecting the means to God, who is life. But, those whose hearts are positionally reverent before God, see His holiness, their sin, and their need for mercy. As they call upon Him for mercy, He graciously gives it through His Son and His redemptive work on the cross. Therefore, they desire God to destroy the faulty worldly wisdom that had build up its foundation in their hearts, so that a new foundation could be laid, that of Jesus Christ (1Peter 2:6-7). Now, getting to this position is solely a work of the grace of God, for no self-righteous person would never admit to a real need of any righteousness greater than their own. But according to Scripture, to even want to begin to operate our lives in the wisdom of God, it requires that we confess that our human wisdom is faulty, thus a renouncing of our trust in it, then a confession of God’s holiness and a calling out for mercy. In other words, a removal (destruction) of a trust in ourselves, and an acceptance of a trust in the Lord is necessary.
Proverbs 3:5 says is beautifully,
«Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.»
So, there needs to be a tearing down, so that there can be a building up.
Jeremiah 1:10 also says,
«See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.»
This passage speaks again of a removal of something before something new can be built.
God, in His infinite wisdom, says «I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.» (1 Corinthians 1:19)
Now, at first that may sound like a harsh statement by God. But if we think about it for just a second, we can see that the destroying of our depraved wisdom is an act of His loving grace. Ponder on this. If what we are trusting in (our own human wisdom) is ultimately leading us to perish, away from God forever in a place called hell, then is it not good of Him to want to destroy this poison that we call wisdom? Do not we want Him to rip out of our hearts what it killing us, like a doctor cutting out the cancer from a human body? This is good and is what leads to our spiritual life! So how does He cut this deadly wisdom out of our hearts? In His great and perfect wisdom, God changes people’s hearts «through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe». «we preach Christ crucified». «Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.» (last 3 quotes are from 1 Corinthians 1:21-25). So, He destroys our wisdom through the preaching of the good news of Christ Jesus and calling for the hearers of this message to respond by faith.
So, how has this truth affected me? First, it has caused me to pray for God to help me identify all the ways I am living my life outside of His wisdom and not according to His. That way I can repent of trusting in it and then ask Him to destroy it and remove it from me by the grace He provides me in Christ. I also have begun praying that He would destroy and remove ways I am not trusting in Him that I do not yet see and are detrimental to my relationship with Him. Then, I ask Him to build up in me His wisdom, according to His word, and I seek to surrender myself to His will and authority. And I thank Him for this working of tearing down and building up.
This great reminder is also generating in me a deeper desire to share the great and powerful message of the cross. I want others to experience the saving work of Christ. I do not want others to perish. In God’s wisdom, He is accomplishing this in people’s lives through the preaching of this message. I pray that He helps me share it more.
I am far from being the man of God that I want to be, but I am convinced that by the grace of God, my life can become less and less of me and more and more of Him. I am convinced that this is what glorifies God. And I know that this is what will give me the most joy. This is why we were created.
Question: Are you willing to let all that you have ever trusted in to be destroyed by the word of God, so that His perfect wisdom can start to build everlasting wisdom in your heart? Will you trust in the message of the cross? This is the beginning of wisdom. All that lies before this commitment can only lead to perishing, no matter how wise it may seem. Think upon that.