So today we continue our study of Paul’s letter to his church plant in Corinth. Last week we started in on the second chapter and today we will continue working through Chapter 2 of this letter and I love the subject matter. We are talking about how we live our lives, and today we are going to hear about this thing called wisdom a good bit but we also see another big player come to the table…The Holy Spirit. I can’t tell you just how much I enjoy our time diving into books of the Bible like we are here this summer. My hope is that by the end of today we would have a really good understanding of these ten verses we are focusing on. We are going to look at why he would write them and most importantly, we will look at how we can apply this to our lives. As I like to say a lot here at MRC, it’s the daily application that makes it real…which is a really big deal to me. It is one thing to read scripture, or even be able to recite scripture but it’s a whole other thing to be able to take it, and apply it to our lives! That is when things get real! And today, the theme keeps growing out from the Gospel into wisdom…not a bad thing to apply to our lives! So here we go!
1 Corinthians 2:6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”- 10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: 16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. NIV
So by the third week of this series on 1st Corinthians you are probably starting to pick up on the theme right? These people in Corinth were a rough bunch! I love how Ken brought this out week one…saying that they were so good at being bad, that it literally became a verb, to act like they act. Do you remember that verb? Corinthianize! So this is a very messy group of people, world famous for their sinful ways, who have just found Christ, and Paul is trying to pull them back together as they start to fall apart. Remember we spoke of this last week, just because we are saved, doesn’t automatically clean up our behaviors! We see Paul pushing in on this idea early in the letter as he tries to rally them to unite.
1 Corinthians 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. NIV
Paul wants them to come together as a community and rally around Jesus! Which is tough because they are still really learning how to LIVE out the life of a disciple of Christ which is really what we were talking about last week. If you remember we were focused on the first 5 verses in chapter 2. Where Paul was really trying to remind them, that it’s always and only about Jesus! And he is introducing them to the idea that they need to keep the Cross front and center in their lives each and every day. I just love those 5 verses, where we get to understand just how big the Cross is…it is where salvation is found, but it’s more! It’s a mentality and a way of life, and it’s where Paul’s perspective and motivation for everything he does is found!
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I decided to concentrate only on Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. NLT
Last week felt so important, because we were bringing the full magnitude of the Cross to the table. We were seeing that the Cross goes far beyond just our salvation. Salvation is HUGE, and it is an amazing gift of love from God…it’s literally what we worship and celebrate each and every Sunday here at MRC. But there is more. Yes you are saved by grace through Jesus’ amazing sacrifice on the Cross but isn’t just something that happened. It’s a way of life. It’s happening. It’s living and active in our lives each and every day, it’s the place we who know Christ can go each day to unload our mess. This is such a huge point, and for many Christians who aren’t growing towards holiness, or feel stuck in the Spiritual journey this is the one thing that can hang them up. They focus on the Cross as something that happened years ago for our sins, and we lose sight of the fact that as Disciples of Christ we pick up our Cross and carry it right along with Jesus on a daily basis. Those two words DAILY AND FOLLOW are so essential. The Cross is a DAILY part of our lives, a place where through prayer we can take our sin, our self-centeredness, our appetites, all those old grooves of evil and we nail them to that Cross daily…so that we can walk in that whole life to the full thing that we all desire. Which comes as we FOLLOW Jesus. The Cross is so huge…it is the glue that pulls everything together. It is the center of everything we do. As we live a life of surrender as Jesus did, we find strength in ways we never knew we would.
So today we are going to continue walking through 1 Corinthians by finishing Chapter 2. Here we see Paul transition from The Cross to explaining that we can live a life of wisdom BUT that wisdom comes as we gain the right perspective AND as allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives. Do you notice that he continues to bring them back to how they are living right now? He is still trying to push them past just we are saved by grace…to say, “Hey, now we have work to do as we grow in our relationship with Jesus.” Do you see it? It’s really about how they were living that needs to be changing! In this section we will see the perspective Paul wants them to have as they move towards a life of wisdom. He also introduces them to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will help them find this wisdom. The Holy Spirit is God in us. This is the Helper that Jesus sent us to guide us through life. So this chunk of scripture is a really big deal. We are going to look at living a wise life which Paul would say is a life led by the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit living and active in our lives Paul would say that we just won’t grasp this kind of wisdom…we just won’t have the mind of Christ. So let’s get started looking at the first few verses here…
1 Corinthians 2:6 We, of course, have plenty of wisdom to pass on to you once you get your feet on firm spiritual ground, but it’s not popular wisdom, the fashionable wisdom of high-priced experts that will be out-of-date in a year or so. 7 God’s wisdom is something mysterious that goes deep into the interior of his purposes. You don’t find it lying around on the surface. It’s not the latest message, but more like the oldest — what God determined as the way to bring out his best in us, long before we ever arrived on the scene. 8 The experts of our day haven’t a clue about what this eternal plan is. If they had, they wouldn’t have killed the Master of the God-designed life on a cross. MSG
So as always with Paul everything comes back to the Cross. It always centers on the Gospel message…and as he starts this passage speaking of wisdom he is really saying that this is where our perspective should come from…The Gospel. It’s the Gospel that shapes our actions and thoughts. It always comes back to the Cross. If we look back a little in the letter we can reinforce this thought…
1 Corinthians 1:18 The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. MSG
Wow! This is so important, Paul wants our lives to be centered on the Gospel, which again is the opposite of what people of this world would see or buy into! That verse is so good let’s read it in another version!
Vs 18 I know very well how foolish the message of the cross sounds to those who are on the road to destruction. But we who are being saved recognize this message as the very power of God. NLT
So really when you read through the letter, you see from like 1:18-2:5 how often he talks about human thoughts and ideas and how different they are to the wisdom and thinking of God. You know what else comes up a lot? The Cross. This comes up a lot because he wants our perspective and thinking and lens of viewing things to come through that daily life of the Cross that we spoke of last week. And here as we jump into our study today we see Paul speaking of wisdom, and what is interesting is he is saying not everyone is going to get it…and he explains that he is sharing this God Wisdom with a specific person who can actually hear it.
6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature (NIV)
So he starts off by saying yeah, we speak a message of wisdom to the mature Christian because frankly those who aren’t mature, they just won’t get it. With maturity comes a few things right? As you grow, you gain an understanding that you may not be the only person on the planet…and with spiritual maturity comes a person who is living their lives centered on Jesus rather than themselves. This person’s living a life surrendered to God’s will. Someone who is spiritually mature (Christ centered) is someone who is allowing God to lead their lives. This is someone who understands the magnitude of the Cross and they use the Cross as a way to make decisions and resolve conflict. Let’s personalize this for a moment. When you are in a tough spot where do you turn? What do you do? How do you make decisions? When you are in a conflict how do you handle it? Is the cross your solution to the tough situations of your life? Is it the grid through which you make your decisions? Many people allow emotion and how they feel make decisions for them, rather than trying to line them up to the Gospel and using those priorities to make the decision…and it can really get you into trouble. You see this is where we went last week again, as a disciple of Jesus we get to follow Him to the Cross daily. Surrendering our will to our Heavenly Father and nailing all our mess to the Cross…which is a very different way to live! Is Jesus involved in your solution to conflict? In your family stuff? Challenges in your marriage and with your work? Does He help guide your decisions and actions? Paul says He should. When the Cross is central life is different. It literally becomes the motivation and the grid by which you do things…it changes your actions and your thinking. When you see your life centering on Jesus you are growing in maturity and Paul would say this is who understands and receives the wisdom of God. Spiritual maturity brings things into your life that aren’t there without help…things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control just to randomly name a few things. J Frankly these are all the things we want to see coming in and out of our lives, they are what we call the fruit of the spirit and that life is their waiting for you…but you do have some work to do to get there because it just isn’t in our nature to live that kind of life. This is why we hit the Cross so hard last week and continue to see it coming up today. Everything comes back to the Gospel message. So the mature person is someone centered around Jesus, the blood stained cross, and the empty tomb…they live a life with a Gospel perspective and God’s wisdom is opened up to them. You know later in Chapter 3 Paul actually describes the immature person.
1 Corinthians 3:1 Dear brothers, I have been talking to you as though you were still just babies in the Christian life who are not following the Lord but your own desires; I cannot talk to you as I would to healthy Christians who are filled with the Spirit. TLB
So that really brings what Paul is saying to light. A mature Christian is filled with the Spirit and submitted to God’s desires. The immature “baby” as he calls them in the Christian life isn’t following God’s desires. They live for themselves. Here’s what is funny, I think there are a lot of people out there who think it takes years to become spiritual mature, but by Paul’s definition someone Spiritually mature is someone filled with the Holy Spirit who is submitted to God’s will. Well that is open to anyone! There are people who have been around church their whole lives who think they are more spiritual than someone else, who are actually immature. They could be a 40 year old Christian and still be a baby in the Spiritual sense because they live a life centered on themselves and not God. That whole idea of the spiritual elite just has to stop…especially if we want to continue celebrating the fact that we are all sinners in need of a Savior, and God loved us enough to give us one. We need to stop this talk of spiritual rankings and elite…and grow in our love of Jesus, centering on the Cross and walking in the Spirit. So this idea that you have to be the spiritual elite to be considered a mature Christian needs to go away…it’s all a gift, it isn’t about how long you have known Jesus, it’s about how you live. It’s all yours and our job is to simply receive the gift, submit to our Lord and Savior, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives. There’s a real peace found in living this way.
So to kind of put a cap on these first three verses. We see Paul describe God’s wisdom a few ways in verses 6-9. First in verse 6 we see this…
Vs 6 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. ESV
So God’s wisdom isn’t going anywhere. It’s an eternal wisdom. Basically he is saying there is no one on this Earth who can give you this kind of wisdom. You can read all the books you want, and talk to all the philosophers of this world…you will never get this kind of never ending wisdom. We humans are not eternal. Check out what God says through the prophet Isaiah says about this…
Isaiah 40:8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever. NIV
So well said…the wisdom of God is not here today and gone tomorrow…it’s eternal, which is a really long time compared to today. Next we see something really interesting about this God wisdom…
Vs 7 No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” NIV
So we see that this wisdom is a secret wisdom, something that has been hidden away by God from us, until now! Then he says that people of today just don’t understand it. How does that hit, you…super, God’s wisdom is secret and hidden from us humans…thanks a lot right? Well, remember those who are spiritually mature do have it. The have eyes to see it, and ears to hear it, and the mind of Christ to comprehend it. So this kind of wisdom is very spiritual, and then Paul quotes another passage from Isaiah…this time it’s Isaiah 64:4
Isaiah 64:4 Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him. NIV
So this kind of wisdom is very spiritual, it’s a mystery to those who aren’t centered on Jesus. Those who are led by the Spirit are the ones Paul says get this kind of Godly wisdom in their lives, but it only happens as we have the proper perspective…and see things through the lens of a Jesus lifestyle. If you are going to live a life full of God’s wisdom, it must be led by the Spirit and centered on Jesus.
So let’s jump into the next section of the letter…
10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: 16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. NIV
So if this is a Spiritual wisdom something needs to open this wisdom up to us. Do you see from what we just read who it is that opens up the Spiritual wisdom to us? It’s the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is often overlooked or forgotten, but frankly without the Spirit we would be in big, big trouble. The Holy Spirit guides, speaks, teaches, and opens us up to the wisdom of God.
Vs 10 But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by his Spirit, and his Spirit searches out everything and shows us even God’s deep secrets. 11 No one can know what anyone else is really thinking except that person alone, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. NLT
Do you see just how essential it is to have the Spirit leading our lives from what Paul is sharing here? It’s the Holy Spirit who unlocks it all for us. Basically if you want God’s supernatural wisdom the Spirit has to reveal it, no Holy Spirit no Godly wisdom.
Let’s talk about the Holy Spirit for a moment. It’s not just Paul who says it’s a big deal, if you remember Jesus says the Holy Spirit is so important that He had to leave so that the Holy Spirit could come!
John 16:7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. NIV
I have always felt like Jesus’ statement here is the strongest stance on how huge the Holy Spirit is…because who wouldn’t want to spend time physically with Jesus if you could? We all would. Yet Jesus says he has to leave and the Holy Spirit HAS to come! This is really what Paul is helping us see, that we can live a different kind of life, a life centered on Godly wisdom as we live our lives led by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our guide through life, helping us stay on course as we journey through this world. The Holy Spirit literally unlocks our spiritual eyes and ears to live a different life, a life of Spiritual Maturity. We need the Spirit…so let me ask you this. Do you depend on the Holy Spirit in your life? Do you allow this God given GPS device to guide you through life? Do you ask the Holy Spirit to open you up to God’s word when you read the Bible? Do you invite the Holy Spirit to move in your prayer life? How about in your day to day activities? Do you invite the Holy Spirit into your day at work, at school, do you ask Him to speak and do you listen as He does? We need the Holy Spirit in our lives…this is so important that Jesus himself would say that he must leave so the Spirit could come. Let’s look at the next two verses a little closer now…
1 Corinthians 2:12 And God has actually given us his Spirit (not the world’s spirit) so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 13 When we tell you this, we do not use words of human wisdom. We speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths. NLT
So this is so cool! Paul is saying that God gives us His Spirit we can know and understand the things God has freely given us…wisdom, grace, love. Wow! That is awesome. Again Paul is really sharing the depths of life with the Spirit. Don’t we all want this? We want this kind of Spirit led life with things like the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control) coming out of us. And you know what is so awesome about this, it’s given to us freely! Our job is just to accept Him and allow the Spirit to lead our lives! Listen to this…
Ephesians 1:13 And now you also have heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us everything he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. This is just one more reason for us to praise our glorious God. NLT
This is what is so awesome about God, he gives us the Spirit when we accept Jesus into our lives. Again this isn’t something only for the elite, this is something for those centered on Jesus. The Spirit which is the key to a Godly life, a wise life, is yours just by accepting the gift that it is! Why would God give us such an awesome gift? IT’S BECAUSE HE CARES. IT’S BECAUSE WE NEED THE HELP…AND HE LOVES US…SO HE GIVES US THE HELPER. BUT….yeah, there always seems to be a “but.” Not everyone will respond to the gift of the Holy Spirit. Look at verse 14…
14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. NIV
God’s ways are just so opposite of our ways. We keep seeing it, strength, success, life, time, what matters, it all looks different to our fleshly self than it does to God. It’s always opposite and Paul is saying here that a man who’s living for themselves will just never accept or get the things of God, because they are so opposite. They look foolish to him. This goes back to the spiritual mature vs immature person we looked at earlier. This person’s values are of this world. This person isn’t making decisions with eternity in mind but they are worried about today. They live in the now, and make choices and decision on what will make them feel good today. They don’t see with spiritual eyes, so what matters to them is physical and material. It’s of today. They are not guided by the Spirit but they are controlled by their feelings, their urges and appetites. All of this person’s goals focus on the things of this world. Money, success, power, pleasure it’s all in the now…so they move opposite of the ways of God…and I don’t know if you experience this, if you stand centered on Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to guide you through life, and make decisions that aren’t based on emotion, feelings, or the things of today but make those decisions through the values and priorities of Jesus…you will look really odd to people in this world. Why? Because your focus is on all of eternity and you may get a little “behind” by the world’s standards right now. Unfortunately the majority of people are stuck in the spot Paul is describing here in verse 14. They are caught up in the race of life, and it’s easy to do! They are caught up in all the material, and the now moments…to live in the Spirit is to make God the highest priority and break free from this type of culture…and it will look crazy to this world because they aren’t seeing the importance of all of eternity, their focus is right now. Just to help you today, right now is a much shorter time than all of eternity. And when the right now time runs out, well let’s just say that isn’t the time to realize that you should have been focused on the Spiritual things of eternity all along…and unfortunately time remains undefeated. Ok, we need to skip ahead to a really important phrase at the end of this chapter now…
16 “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. NIV
For who has known the mind of the Lord…but we have the mind of Christ. Wow! Huge statement here and Paul is actually quoting Isaiah AGAIN! Check out Isaiah 40:13…
Isaiah 40:13 Who has understood the mind of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? NIV
Wow, to have the mind of Christ is huge…and we know as we study this text today that we can’t have it without the help of the Holy Spirit. Paul brings up this Christ like mind set a lot and I think we can really understand it here in another one of his letters…
Philippians 2:5 Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. 6 He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. 7 Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! 8 Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death — and the worst kind of death at that: a crucifixion. MSG
So Paul says we should have the mind of Christ, we should think like He thought. He says that and then starts to once again talk about Jesus laying down his life for us. It always comes back to the Cross one way or another. So we (the mature Christians) that Paul is speaking of, we have the mind of Christ. Which is a person who is willing to lay down and sacrifice their life for God and others. Jesus humbled himself, and gave the ultimate sacrifice for us, and we are to think and act the same way, we are to humble ourselves and let God lead. This is a hard mind set to have if your mind is set on the ways of this world. Frankly it is impossible. This is why we can’t live a spiritual life without help. Because our human nature would never allow us to do this, which is why we need help…we are too worried about our own interests.
So as we close down Chapter 2 here today we see this, a life lived with true wisdom is yours. You can have it by centering your life fully on Jesus, the blood stained cross and the empty tomb. When you believe in Jesus and accept the Holy Spirit your spiritual eyes and ears are unlocked and you can live a different kind of life. A life that is free of all the pressures of this world. A life with a Helper that guides you through each and every moment of your life. When you live this way you will look different and you know what, I think that is a good thing. Imagine what life could look like with the mind of Christ? Power would look different, success would look different. I wonder how different our actions would look if every decision and action we made or did was Spirit led? Godly wisdom is yours when you submit to God, and accept the free gift of the Spirit in your life. There is a true freedom and peace found when we can get ourselves out of the center of our lives and live a life fully centered on Jesus. Which really is all we want for you. So for those with eyes to see, and ears to hear, please allow the Spirit to guide you and now we know it’s not just for the elite…the Spirit is a gift given to all of us who believe in Jesus.