Tag Archives: godly wisdom

The Whole Counsel of God: The Wisdom of God

Today we introduce a new series that, I hope, will help believers in our daily challenge to live in a world where our faith and our Christian lifestyle are at risk.  While God’s salvation is unquestionable and His faithfulness to us is undeniable (2 Tim. 2:13), it is we believers who must be reminded to grow in our faith (2 Pet. 1:5-8) so that we may remain free from the sinful influences of the world (Gal. 5:1.)

This series, “The Whole Counsel of God”, will focus on building our confidence and spiritual “grit” to earnestly contend for your faith—unashamedly, openly, without guilt or embarrassment (Jude 3).   Reliance on the whole counsel of God will fortify the believer against persistent assaults from the world and satanic attacks (1 Cor. 2:5).

I’d like to kickoff this series by returning to an earlier WordBytes entitled the “Wisdom of God”.   I have chosen this teaching because the believer’s understanding of God’s wisdom is foundational in their acceptance of the whole counsel of God and for living victoriously under “Kingdom Rule”.  God has the first and final word in all things!  Why?  Because we trust in His love, we submit to His sovereign rule in our life and we willingly receive His wisdom.   Welcome to “The Wisdom of God”.

But we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”  1 Cor. 1:23, 24 (NKJV)

After reading 1 Corinthians 1-2, I wanted to get out of my seat, stand tall, and stick out my chest, and figuratively, “drop the mike.”  This teaching by Paul to the Corinthians was, for me the capstone, the finale, the ultimate answer for those who are desperately seeking wisdom.   “Christ crucified” or the Gospel message is not only the power of God but also the wisdom of God.  While time and space does not permit me to fully teach on this passage, I would invite you to include it in your future Bible study devotion.  Today, however, I’ll attempt to contain myself as we conclude this series, “Desperately Seeking God” by exploring the wisdom of the God.

What is the Wisdom of God?

For believers in Christ, the wisdom of God is the truth set forth in His Word and through His Holy Spirit.  This wisdom becomes accessible to us through belief in Jesus Christ and His saving work to lost humanity (Matt. 1:21).   This wisdom shapes our beliefs and the reality in which we daily live.

Although 1 Corinthians is not part of wisdom literature, it does illuminate the fact that the Gospel and acceptance of its truth will result in “true wisdom from above” (1 Cor. 1:30).   So why was it considered “foolishness” in Paul’s day (and today)?  This requires we take a look at the context of Paul’s letter—the city of Corinth and the beliefs at that time.

Corinth was a key city in ancient Greece until it was destroyed by the Romans.  The city was filled with shrines and temples leading to idolatry and corrupt living.  The diversity of the population produced many philosophers with Greek philosophy being the dominant thinking.  These men filled their days with study and in espousing their beliefs as to the existence of divine beings, the nature of life, and how life was to be lived.  When Paul spoke of the wisdom and power of the Gospel, the Jews demanded “signs” while the Greek demanded “worldly wisdom”.   Both groups appearing as wise “became fools” (Rom. 1:21-22).

You might find some parallels with activities and beliefs we find in the 21st century.  Technology, information, and knowledge are being touted as the “crown jewels of wisdom” for this age.  Explosion of the Internet and microchip development, robotics and artificial intelligence, and genetic re-engineering have become but a few of man’s self-proclaimed proofs of his superiority to any professed god.  Such progress has created a sense of “deity” within man, leaving God and His wisdom behind as mere relics of a past civilization.  The result of such thinking puts future generations in jeopardy of forgetting God and His mighty works (Judges 2:10).   Such thinking has become nuevo wisdom.

So why does the wisdom of God seem like “foolishness”?  Paul answers this question in 1 Corinthians 2:7-15.

    1. The wisdom of God cannot be understood using human wisdom
    2. The Holy Spirit (being God Himself) is the revealer of the wisdom of God, and
    3. The Holy Spirit does not dwell within unbelievers therefore they cannot receive the revealed wisdom of God.

This being the case, God’s methods in sharing His wisdom, through His Word and through His Spirit are “spiritually incompatible”  with the “natural”, unregenerate man.  To them, it appears as foolishness.

The wisdom of God, however, is available through Jesus’ work of salvation, providing “whomsoever will” with access to the wisdom of God the Creator, God the Deliverer, and God the Sustainer.   He is all wisdom.

Satisfying Restless Hearts

God has made everything beautiful for its own time.

He has planted eternity in the human heart,

but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)

In what is now becoming an endangered means of communications, the newspaper offers a service known as classified ads.  The “classified’ allows individuals to list requests for particular services or products they want.   If you were to purchase a classified ad, with regard to “desperately seeking”, what would you request?  What is the motivation behind your request?

Motivation is the force that initiates, guides, and maintains behaviors. It is what causes us to take action.  The forces that lie beneath our motivation can be biological, social, emotional, or intellectual in nature. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, one of the best-known theories of motivation, states that our actions are motivated in order to achieve certain needs ranging from basic needs for survival to the highest level of motivation dealing with self-esteem and the need to be “all one can be.”

How does this theory of motivation square with the biblical explanations for our “seeking” behavior?  The Words of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes (Solomon) gives us the answer.  In Ecclesiastes, Solomon is desperately seeking what is the true source of meaning and happiness in life.  Much like those in last week’s WordBytes, he is seeking those things he “can’t seem to get”.

Solomon investigates those things which his “lusts” have directed him to pursue:  pleasure-seeking (2:1-11), wisdom (2:12-17), and labor for reward (2:18-6:9).  In the process of his search, God slowly reveals the explanation for Solomon’s restlessness.  God’s revelation begins in Ecclesiastes 3:11:  “He (God) has planted eternity in the human heart.”  God made men for His eternal purpose, and nothing in this fallen world can bring men complete satisfaction.  I visualize this fact in the picture of the heart with a missing piece exposed to the world.

Many times we pursue counterfeits instead of God—the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16)—thinking they will satisfy our deepest needs.  This pursuit, unfortunately, can prove to be a dangerous path to follow.  We witness the lives of celebrities and social icons whose needs have been met through fame, fortune, and influence yet still voice dissatisfaction with their life.  Many have fallen victim to addictive activities, broken relationships, and suicidal behavior.

Can you image driving your car without an engine?  You put new wheels on it but it won’t go.  You park it in the best garage money can buy yet it still won’t move.  It can’t go!  It cannot accomplish its purpose without an engine.  God created us for His specific purpose that includes a personal relationship (not religion) with Him (Is. 43:21; Eph. 2:10).   It is in daily discovering God’s unique purpose for our life that we find meaning, satisfaction, and contentment.

God is the missing piece in the life of those who are desperately seeking. God is the critical, life-giving piece.  In Him, we live and move and have our meaning (Acts 17:28).  The restless heart can only find satisfaction in God.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430), like Solomon, offered a “faith nugget” for the desperately seeking heart.

Thou hast made us for thyself, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.

Now that we have THE ANSWER for those who are desperately seeking, we will focus the remainder of our series on the specifics of how God satisfies the desperately seeking heart.  Please share this devotional with friends and family.  Also let us know what you think of the series by writing your comments below—we’d love to hear from you.

The Fear of the Lord, Part 2

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Proverbs 9:10 (NKJ)

In Search of Wisdom

Man has always searched for the best method to assist him in making good decisions, right judgments and sound pronouncements.  In primitive times, groups would cast lots and dices, leaving the outcome to the proverbial “fates” (Lev. 16:8; Joshua 18:8).  In Israel’s early formation, decisions were informed by the High Priest who consulted the Urim and Thummin (Exo. 28:30).  As the nation grew Israel deferred key moral and political decisions to God’s chosen representatives—judges and kings who were often counseled by wise prophets and priests.  While the fear of the Lord offered motivation to seek “God’s face” (Num. 6:25-26), it was the knowledge of the Holy One that established the critical link to God—the source of all knowledge and wisdom.

Knowledge of the Holy One

The true source of wisdom is identified in the parallel statements found in Proverbs 9:10—the  fear of the LORD  and knowledge of the Holy One.  In general, knowledge (da’ath, DAH-ath) provides insight and discernment based on personal experiences.  It involves the process by which one can recognize, classify, and organize information gained from varied experiences and use them to develop an appropriate response.  This “process of knowing” is illustrated in the story of Moses.

Moses’ early knowledge of God came vicariously through others he knew in Pharaoh’s court.  Moses knew little about God therefore God had no part in his thinking or planning.  Forty years later, Moses experienced God personally at the burning bush (Exod. 3:2).  In seeing that the fire did not consume the bush, Moses recognized God’s power and holiness.  Moses’ response to knowing God was awe and reverence (Exod. 3:5).

After witnessing the ten (10) plagues against Pharaoh and Egypt, Moses’ knowledge was exponentially expanded.  As Moses observed (classified) the different ways God dealt with Pharaoh’s resistance, he knew that God was more powerful than any god worshiped in Egypt and that He was “more than able” to deliver His people (Exod. 3:6-8).  Moses’ response to knowing God was obedience.

Moses’ knowledge of God through his various experiences resulted in the organized deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt.  Their collective response to God was worship and praise (Exodus 15: 1, 11).   Pharaoh’s disregard of what he knew of God, on the other hand, led to the destruction of his army (Ex. 14:18).  Pharaoh refused to factor in his knowledge of the Holy One.

Knowledge of the Holy One is the revelation of God (Ep. 1: 17-18).  It shapes our reality so that we conform to the will of God and respond appropriately to the events of life.  This knowledge reminds us whose we are (our relationship with God), who we are (our position in Christ), and how we are to live (in obedience and service to God).  It is gained through our personal experiences with Him, through His revealed Word, and through the Holy Spirit.  Knowledge of the Holy One is foundational for all wisdom and righteousness (Prov. 1:7).

SELAH:   What shapes key decisions and choices you make with regard to your family, profession, and relationships—your personal experiences or your knowledge of the Holy One?   Are you a Moses or a Pharaoh?

“Will the real wisdom please stand up?”

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  James 3:17 (NKJ)

Have you ever watched To Tell the Truth?  It is a television game show where three people who claim to be someone are questioned by a panel of celebrities. One of them is the real person while the other two are impostors. The panelists take turns questioning the people about their subject and then try to guess which of the three people the “truth teller” is.  The program concludes with the contest moderator asking the question, “Will the real ***** please stand up?”    While this is a harmless game of deception, James finds no humor in doing the same as we search for the true meaning of wisdom.

James methodically unmasks the wisdom impostor by clearly delineating what is wisdom and what wisdom is not”.

One doesn’t normally think of James as a book of wisdom.  While generally grouped in General Epistles, James has, however, been called the Proverbs of the New Testament because it is written in the terse, moralistic style of wisdom literature—Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon.

Today’s scripture is found in the overall context of how inner faith is demonstrated outwardly by the believer.  In this case, godly wisdom should be an extension of the believer’s faith walk.  James challenges believers who would claim to be wise to, “SHOW IT!”

If you are wise and understand God’s ways, live a life of steady goodness so that only good deeds will pour forth. And if you don’t brag about the good you do, then you will be truly wise!  (James 3:13, NLT)

James shares how wisdom can either result in that which is divine or that which is demonic.  He does this by contrasting seven characteristics of human wisdom with seven qualities of divine wisdom.

  • Human wisdom is described as earthly, unspiritual (sensual), and demonic. Such wisdom spawns jealousy, selfish ambition, disorder, and every kind of evil (James 3:16).  It originates from a heart that is “sin-bent” (Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9), flawed with personal bias, and focused on self-gratification.  Such wisdom is also subject to fierce temptation by the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).
  • Divine or godly wisdom is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere (James 3:17). This type of wisdom (sophia) acknowledges the holy influence of God upon the actions and thoughts of believers.  With God as its source (Deut. 4:5-6; James 1:5), wisdom is framed by those attributes demonstrated in His character within His moral qualities of purity, integrity, and love.

We began our series defining godly wisdom as a way of thinking and conduct that is orderly, socially sensitive, and morally upright.  It is a way of viewing and approaching life that results in purposeful, God-honoring living (1 Pet. 1:13, 14).  Unfortunately, as we look around our city, our nation, and our world, godly wisdom seems to have been abandoned as men and nations do what is “right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25; Prov. 3:7).   It is therefore incumbent upon us as believers to demonstrate outwardly the godly wisdom being placed within us as we obediently follow the teachings of God and the leading of His Holy Spirit.  Let James’ words become your wisdom battle cry:

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. (James 3:13, NIV)

Also read:  God’s Moral Qualities

SELAH:  Click on the “God’s Moral Qualities” link above and review the attributes of God’s goodness.  Meditate on how each quality shapes “godly wisdom”—a way of thinking and conduct that is orderly, socially sensitive, and morally upright.  Share your thoughts with us.