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1 Corinthians 3:16–23 KJV 1900
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
THE WISDOM OF THE WORLD
CONTEXT:
Corinth was an affluent and a celebrated Greek city in the region known as Achaia. It had the Aegean Sea on one side and the Ionian Sea on the other, rendering it a haven for the import/export trades and a major thoroughfare because of these waterways.
Corinth had all of the usual vices that seem to characterize most affluent and celebrated cities: greed, pride, luxury, vanity, extravagant and often lewd entertainments, inordinate ambition and covetousness. All in all, you will find that if anyone were to describe Corinth to you today without mentioning its name, it would sound a lot like New York City or Los Angeles.
Paul came to Corinth and taught there for a year and a half where he taught with simplicity, the simplicity of the gospel and the simplicity that there is in Christ. When Paul departed Corinth heading for Syria he left a vacuum of sorts in Corinth and many people were prepared to seize the opportunity to fill it.
1 Corinthians 3:16–17 (KJV 1900)
16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 
17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
The church is God’s temple! We are God’s temple.
2 Corinthians 6:16 (KJV 1900)
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Ephesians 2:19–22 (KJV 1900)
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Speaking about when Christ would return;
2 Thessalonians 2:3–4 (KJV 1900)
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
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1 Corinthians 3:18 (KJV 1900)
18Let no man deceive himself.
0r,
“Do not deceive yourselves”
Deceit, Deception. †Delusion or false dealing with another.
A vast array of Hebrew and Greek terms represent various shades of fraudulent behavior.

Heb. rāmâ (cf. Akk. ramûgrow loose”) means to forsake (Lam. 1:19; JB “failed”; NIV “betrayed”), trick (Gen. 29:25; so JB), and betray (1 Chr. 12:17). The RSV renders Heb. šāqar (piel) “deal falsely” (e.g., Isa. 63:8; KJV “lie”) or “lie” (1 Sam. 15:29). The basic sense of Gk. planáomai is to wander from the straight path (e.g., Jas. 1:16; KJV “err”; JB “make a mistake”). Gk. apátē represents seduction (Rom. 7:11), delight (Matt. 13:22 par. Mark 4:19; JB “lure”), or misleading speech (Rom. 16:18; Col. 2:8).

To deceive oneself is to believe that it is okay to bring what God has not invited or authorized or what is unholy into HIS temple, which we are.
Those who deceive themselves by adopting wordly wisdom and bringing it into the temple and thereby defiling it, I refer to as, “Religious Smugglers!” Are you a religious smuggler? Do you bring the ways of the world into the church? Do you do it under the auspices of, so called, progress? A Christian brother once told me, with a group of church members, that the US Constitution was the gift from GOD to America. I believe that the US Constitution is probably the greatest document ever drafted by men as a platform for national governance and for the building of a democracy in this sinful world--but, at its best, it is man’s greatest display of wisdom in terms of building a democracy. But,
Let me ask you a question, how does the Constitution compare to the Sermon on the Mount, the Constitution of Christ kingdom? do we give them equal footing? Are they partner documents? Do they complement one another? Is one built atop the other? If you answer yes to ANY of these and you bring this into the temple of God (the Church) would you be charged with defiling God’s temple? Would we be deceived to embrace this view?
Self-deception is bribery of the conscience. If you can’t silence your conscience bribery is the last stand. You make a pact with your conscience to remain silent as you practice sin without reflection or remorse. Thus, making it easy to become caught up with business and pleasures of this life which are dangerous amusements that easily divert and distract the soul.
Notice, that Paul says not to deceive YOURSELVES and he intimates by this that the deceived are deceived by their own device. He begins this section by appealing to the WILL of his hearers and gives them a stern directive which clearly assumes the free agency of his hearers to be able to act, positively or negatively. The deceived Christian has made himself a victim of himself. Mark it well, that Paul does not merit Satan with personal deception but rather credits the individual soul with the WILLFUL act. The apostle adopts the principle of personal responsibility. The deceived soul cannot assert, that “the devil made me do it.” He cannot assert that his culture, background or tradition is responsible for his deceived state. He cannot blame his family. He cannot even blame his church and he certainly cannot blame God. In Ex 20:16, we have this commandment listed in Law of God, that “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.” Just as self-murder violates, “Thou shall NOT kill,” so likewise, to bear false witness or to lie to oneself violates the law of bearing false witness. In this current context those who are deceived are expected to KNOW BETTER, to be able to discern its coming, and be equipped to thwart its onslaught. Remember, Paul is talking to believers! Adam and Eve did not know the Savior. No one knows how long they lived before they knew sin. But one thing is for certain, they were never afforded or had access to the blessings that we have mined from the treasury of faith. Next,
Deception, has no degrees. One is either deceived or not deceived, THAT is the real question! Deception is like death in that it is always complete and absolute. Who ever heard of someone being partially dead? In like manner, deception cannot be partial. Nor, does it overtake the deceived in stages. You can be deceived but like a diamond deception is multi-faceted. This very same apostle told us that a little leaven, leavens the WHOLE lump. The key to successful self-deception is coming to the conclusion that its not a big deal or its mildly relevant. “Duty” can also be your lie. Paul thought that he was operating in service to God acting like a “coat rack” to those who murdered the righteous Stephen.
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1 Corinthians 3:18–20 (KJV 1900)
18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
He goes on to say that if you think you are wise by the standards of this age, and this applies to any age, that you should become “fools” in order to become wise. And, then he follows up with an indictment upon the world in that he says “the WISDOM of this world is FOOLISHNESS in God’s sight.” This is a BOLD statement of Paul who is relaying to us the mind of God in this regard and without any ambiguity whatsoever. He is teaching us NOT to rely on the WISDOM of the world at all because it is foolishness. He says that if you take the best of what man, individually or corporately, has to offer in terms of wisdom, that the family of God ought to regard it as foolishness and it doesn’t matter if it is civil, political, religious, or otherwise.
The more wise we are by the standards of the world, the more foolish we are to God.
The more foolish we are to the world, the wiser we are to God.
The subject doesn’t matter! Why? Because any perception of wisdom that derives from man that does not involve the glorification of God in Christ IS FOOLISHNESS and should never be believed or followed. It is a chasing after the wind.
The Lord says that the “wise” of this world are “crafty” and he assures us that they will be caught in their craftiness. He also says that He knows the thoughts (all of them) of the “wise” (all of them) and that they are futile, meaning that they will never be able to carry out the intent of their evil designs characterized under the auspices of wisdom. When it comes to “craftiness” of the “wise” this bespeaks of shrewdness. Paul didn’t just have this problem with the Corinthians but he also confronted the Galatian church, as well, where we read,
Gal 1:6  I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
These orators, by their craft, since they could never crush the gospel from the minds of men sought to dilute it. This is crafty. This is satanic.
The Corinthians, in general, were taken in by what they perceived as great oratory and the orators themselves who were nothing more than the blow hards of the day who spoke with great swelling words of vanity whose only interest was the accumulation of followers for themselves which resulted in party-ism, sectarianism and factions amongst the people.
There is only God’s Wisdom and EVERYTHING else is foolishness. This might be a bitter pill for some to follow but there is NOTHING outside of Christ that ultimately matters. If you are asking the question, “well, how do you define wisdom?” - you are probably deceived! If you think that YOUR church has cornered the market on truth, you are probably deceived. If you equate embracing the wisdom of this world with “being in the world but not if it” or with “rendering to Caesar what is Caesar’s and rendering to God what is God’s,” you are probably deceived. There are no “loopholes” in the christian faith.
So, to sum up his argument, he commands us to STOP boasting and being cheerleaders for human leaders and glorifying THEM. In verse 21, he states plainly, “let NO man glory in men!” This message could not be more relevant than today in this age of men seeking “followers” after themselves rather than leading others and themselves to FOLLOW CHRIST.
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1 Corinthians 3:21–23 (KJV 1900)
21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
Paul, refers back to how he began this chapter where we read, the following;
1 Corinthians 3 (KJV 1900)
3For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 
4For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 
5Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 
DONALD TRUMP!
KIM KARDASHIAN!
BARACK OBAMA!
GRETA THUNBERG!
SEAN HANNITY!
I have no doubt that just the mention of any one of these names elicit the emotions of a few. If it did, be careful. These people, like so many others, represent the wisdom of this world and they have garnered tenacious support and from their fans and followers who are relentless in their defense of them. Job was reprimanded by God for defending himself with those miserable comforters rather than defending his God. Who have you vigorously and openly defended more than Christ? Who have you supported more openly aggressively than Christ? Whose agenda do you are committed to? You can only serve ONE master.
FB, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok.
Social Media, Celebrity & Fame
When we talk about God’s glory we are talking about HIS fame!
Let this be a lesson to this “follow me” generation.
We are NOT to exalt ourselves above Christ.
We are NOT to exalt anyone else above Christ.
We are, especially, NOT to blend/dilute/share the Wisdom of Christ w/the wisdom of the world.
So, let’s no longer glorify men. Why? Because ALL THINGS ARE ALREADY YOURS!
Use the Covid-19 quarantine period as a time for reflection and introspection and really get to thyself and reset wherever you need to. The Lord will meet you there.
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Follow up questions:
Can Satan deceive Sprit-filled believers?
Does Satan deceive unbelievers?
Can believers know that they ARE currently deceived?
How can a Christian remedy their self-deception?
Can a Christian adhere to an admixture of secular wisdom and ecclesiastical wisdom and remain accepted in Christ?
How does the Holy Spirit operate within a self-deceived believer?
What is the difference between a deceived believer and a deceived unbeliever?
Can a self-deceived believer remain so throughout their life?
Some might rationalize the words of Christ, when He says, “render to Caesar...,” to allow for the wisdom of man in some quarters but then how does that square with, “ No man can serve two masters...?”
What the difference between self-deception and satanic deception?
Can you be deceived and still be Christian?
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