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The Wise and the Foolish

12/10/06 CC/AM

1 Corinthians 3:18-23


Introduction: Sometimes we are not as smart as we think we are. Has it ever happened to you?  You thought you were doing the right thing only to find out that you were doing the exact opposite of what needed to be done.  A recent problem with the snow blower. Other times things don’t make sense even when they are the right thing to do! Like leaning into a rock or accelerating with front wheel drive when sliding!

Paul speaks about the wise and the foolish.  Because things are not always as they seem we better take a look!


1.   The wise

a.    They are not really wise. They have been deceived by themselves into thinking that they possess true wisdom.

b.   Their wisdom is flawed.  It is the wisdom of this age or the wisdom of the world.

c.    The wisdom of this world is utterly foolishness, moronic and stupid before the omniscient God.  The world wisdom is a joke and will one day be exposed for what it is.

d.   What does the world’s wisdom look like?

                                                            i.      That wealth is the way to happiness

                                                         ii.      Your happiness should be the goal of your life.  Anything that makes you happy should be pursued and anything that impedes your happiness should be eliminated. If the person you married doesn’t make you happy then try someone else until you locate your true “soul mate”.

                                                      iii.      Happiness will come with prestige, popularity, promotion, and position.

                                                      iv.      There is no absolute truth. You get to decide what is right and wrong based upon your own desires and experience.  Tolerance is taunted as a social necessity because no one has the right to decide what is right or wrong for someone else.

                                                         v.      These are just a sampling of the world’s view. 

e.    What does the world think about you as a Christian? They think we are:

                                                            i.      Weak – we need to believe in someone bigger than ourselves because we are incompetent by ourselves.

                                                         ii.      Stupid -  For a lot of reasons. Because we go to church, serve, give, etc.

                                                      iii.      Gullible – that we would believe in someone we have never seen but only heard about from an old book.

                                                      iv.      Unloving – We are willing to identify sin as sin and that is misconstrued as a lack of love or even hate.

                                                         v.      Out-dated – The principles and values that we adhere to are seen as yester years not being applicable to today.

                                                      vi.      Undeserving – The late Christopher Reaves said that Christians should not be able to vote on the issue of stem cell research because of the bias that life begins at conception.

f.     Ever wonder if God sits around and laughs about all the foolish things that man comes up with in his supposed wisdom?  One day God will deal with man’s stupidity.

                                                            i.      God will catch them, or grab them in their “cleverness”

                                                         ii.      God will expose reasoning of the world as useless.

g.    We may excuse these as worldly and we expect the world to have a messed up view of everything.  Understand that Paul is saying that this type of thinking was making it’s presence in the church. Sometimes worldly thinking creeps into a church and when it does, it makes a mess.

h.   Some ways that shows up:

                                                            i.      Praise of  man

                                                         ii.      Politicking

                                                      iii.      Playing favorites

                                                      iv.      Pleasing people

                                                         v.      Popularity

Transition: Paul tells those who have worldly wisdom to become foolish so they might actually become wise.

2.   The Foolish


a.    Just as the wise are not actually wise the foolish are not really foolish.

b.   You and I would be deemed foolish by this world for trusting in Jesus.

c.    Who is really wise?  Paul says that everything that the wise of this age has will be utterly useless.  Look what he says about those who have Christ.

d.   All things belong to them.  He says it twice!  Once at the end of verse 21 and again ant the end of verse 22.  All things belong to you!  What does that mean?

e.    Remember that Paul was trying to straighten out the Corinthians because they were exalting one Christian leader above another.  They were saying that the one that they were following was better than the one that the others were following.

f.     Paul says don’t boast in any of us.  It is not about what any man has thought, communicated, or accomplished.  Don’t imitate the world’s way of doing things.  It is not about exalting man.  Man has nothing to boast about because he is a sinner in desperate need of a savior.

g.    The church was being divided because people were being divisive in their attitudes and claims that the Christian leader that they followed was the best.

h.   Paul told them that instead of competing together they needed to understand the camaraderie that exists in Jesus.

i.      They each possessed the same thing and the same thing was everything!

j.      Man is often concerned with his own significance.  He does not want to lose out or be taken advantage of by another.  Paul says that as a child of God we all get preferential treatment.  God’s supply does not run out at the end of the line!  There is a full portion for each person in God’s family.

k.   Just consider for a moment a few things that are ours in Christ and realize that every other believer in the whole world has the same possessions.

                                                            i.      Total forgiveness for our sins

                                                         ii.      The indwelling of the Spirit of God to direct, illuminate, comfort, and fill.

                                                      iii.      A life that is purposeful

                                                      iv.      Spiritual gifts and the to serve God by serving others

                                                         v.      An eternity in heaven

                                                      vi.      Fellowship with the Lord and His family


Conclusion: The world says compete God says there is more than enough for everyone.  We are to serve the Lord together, we belong to Christ and God the Father.  We have everything that we could ever possibly need.  There is no reason to compete.  The Corinthians had that problem and unfortunately so have many churches since then.  Lets not act in worldly wisdom, it is just plain stupid.

Realize that all things belong to us in Christ!  While some of the blessings are waiting for us in heaven many are available to us today.  Enjoy them!

1 Corinthians 3:18-23 (NASB95)
18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, “He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness”;
20 and again, “The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.”
21 So then let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you,
22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you,
23 and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.

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