Foolish Things Wisely Chosen – Part 5

1 Corinthians 1:20-31 This week’s lessons remind us that we are saved by no merit of our own.
Christ alone.

Finally, this text also says something to those who are already Christians. As you think about what is needed to live a Christian life, to live in a way that is honoring to the Lord Jesus Christ, you naturally feel inadequate to such things; and indeed you are. You say to yourself, “Even with my wisdom I am still foolish; even with my strength I am weak; even with my nobility I feel like a nobody; I still fail to achieve; I still have no status in God’s sight.” So you say to yourself, “Of what use am I? How can I be useful?” Each of those questions is good, and the insights are excellent. But at this point God speaks to you further and says, “Yes, yes, all these things are true. It is true that I have not chosen the wise, the mighty, the noble. I have chosen people just like you. But look, even though in yourself you are inadequate, I am adequate. And so I want to become your wisdom so that in your newfound wisdom you can make the wisdom of this world look foolish. I want to become your strength so that in your new strength you can tear down strongholds. And I want to become your status so that in your new status you might stand high and speak my word to those who are without it.”

Here, I really can do no better than to direct you to the Apostle Paul, the one who wrote these verses. In the very next chapter he tells the Corinthians that when he first came to their city he came not with wisdom but only proclaiming Jesus Christ and him crucified. And yet, if you want to talk about wisdom, Paul had wisdom. Paul was a rabbi. He had studied in Jerusalem at the feet of Gamaliel. He probably also had a Roman education. He entered the intellectual arena of this day as well trained as a man could be. He was at the pinnacle of success, educationally speaking. Or again, if you want to talk about power, Paul had that. Paul came from a good family. His family was probably wealthy because they could send him away to school. He had Roman citizenship. You recall that on one occasion, when they were about to beat him, he said to the guard, “Is it right for you to afflict stripes on a Roman who is not condemned?” This frightened the guard and he asked, “Are you a Roman?”

“Yes, I am,” Paul told him.

Then the guard went to his commander and said, “Be careful what you do. The man is a Roman.”Paul had the power of influence that came from his status as a Roman citizen. Then, if you want to talk about birth, the Apostle had that also. For Paul declared that he was “circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews” (Phil. 3:5).

But what did this educated rabbi, this powerful figure, this pure-blooded Jew, have to say when he spoke spiritually? He said, “All these things that I once counted as being so important, I learned were actually worse than nothing. For not only did they not help me to God, they were actually a hindrance because I was trusting them rather than trusting Jesus Christ. Moreover, I was using my talents to persecute his church. But God intervened. He spoke from heaven with a blinding light. He said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutist thou me?” Then he turned my life around. And I learned to count all these things but refuse in order that I might win Christ” (paraphrase of Phil. 3:4-9).
Let me apply that to you. Is Christ your all as he was for the Apostle Paul? Is he your wisdom? He can be. Paul says so, right here in these verses. For he tells us that Christ “is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (I Cor. 1:30 kjv). Is he our strength? He can be. Paul claims, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13 nkjv). Is he your status? Well, he can be that too. For in Christ we become children of God and can be all that he wants us to be.

Study Questions
  1. Why are believers adequate in spite of personal weakness?
  2. How can worldly status be a hindrance to faith?

Are you feeling weak, ineffectual, or inadequate? Memorize Philippians 4:13.

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