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. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written,
“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 (ESV)
“You can’t beat something with nothing.” This is one of the soundest truths about motivating groups of people to action. If they want to do something and you simply tell them why the way they are going about it is wrong – they will almost certainly end up carrying out their original plans. Consider this famous story from the life of Dwight Moody: One time a very proper lady told him: “Mr. Moody, I don’t like the way you do evangelism!” He naturally asked, “Ma’am, how do you do evangelism?” When she told him that she wasn’t engaged in evangelism Moody gave this classic response: “I think I like the way I do evangelism better than the way you don’t do it.” You can’t beat something with nothing. Paul has shown how many of the believers in Corinth had been bringing the worldly wisdom and ways into Christ’s Church. He has shown how foolish and fruitless that is, but he doesn’t stop there. When people pursue worldly approval through means of worldly wisdom, they are actually trying to meet a genuine need in an illegitimate way. Every person who has ever lived was created both for significance, to understand the world, to understand God’s plan for history, and to be in a vital relationship with and to know the Living God. Paul doesn’t simply stop with showing the Corinthians what a miserable failure the world’s wisdom is at achieving these things, he makes it clear that what the world could not achieve God offers to His people as a gift. You can think of what Paul is doing using the image of a balance scale. On one side are all the best insights that autonomous man can muster on his own. Paul doesn’t stop simply by showing how light they are, he goes to the other side of the scale and says: “Let’s place God’s revelation on this side.” This picture is vitally important for Christians to remember. We do want and need genuine wisdom in our lives. The key question is, “How can we get it?” Paul’s unambiguous answer is that we don’t achieve this wisdom by ascending to God, we receive it as a gift through Christ and the Holy Spirit who have come down to us. As Thomas Aquinas points out:
Just as … it would be the height of folly for a simple person to assert that what a philosopher proposes is false on the ground that he himself cannot understand it, so (and even more so) it is the acme of stupidity for a man to suspect as false what is divinely revealed … simply because it cannot be investigated by reason.
Paul’s point in today’s passage is even more dramatic than this. God has not only given the revelation to us, He has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us into the truth of that revelation and to conform our hearts and minds to that truth. In a phrase that none of us would dare to use save that God Himself has given it to us, “We have the mind of Christ.”
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 87
Q. 87. What is repentance unto life?
A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.