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September 21, 2023

Human Wisdom Discounts God’s Power

I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.

–1 Corinthians 1:19

In 1 Corinthians 1, Paul described several limitations of human wisdom. First of all, our so-called wisdom rejects the message of the cross. The gospel is foolish to unbelievers.

Second, human wisdom discounts the power of God. To illustrate that point, Paul quoted from Isaiah 29. Let me explain the context for this passage in Isaiah: Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, was getting ready to level the kingdom of Judah. It looked like there was no hope for Judah. But God told Isaiah not to be afraid. Why? Look at 1 Corinthians 1:19, which is a quotation from Isaiah: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” God was saying He would be the one to fight the battle. And in spite of the well-laid plans of Sennacherib, in one day God killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Why did Judah win? Not because of their strength or their strategy but because God intervened in their situation.

Right now you might not be facing an invading army, but perhaps you are facing a family problem, an illness, or a financial dilemma for which there seems to be no solution. Man’s wisdom says, “Your situation is hopeless!” Do not discount the power of God. God has a way of intervening in impossible situations and displacing human wisdom.

A third limitation of human wisdom is that it cannot lead a person to the true God. Look at 1 Corinthians 1:21: “The world through its wisdom did not come to know God.” Never will human philosophy lead a person to the true God, but it may lead people to a false god. In the book “Habits of the Heart,” sociologists examined American individualism. They interviewed a woman named Sheila, who said, “I believe in God. I’m not a religious fanatic. I can’t remember the last time I went to church. My faith has carried me a long way. It’s Sheilaism. Just my own little voice.” That is what human wisdom does: it leads people to a god of their own imagination.

But there is a day coming when all human wisdom will be supplanted. Look at verse 20: “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” One day, human wisdom will be visibly destroyed, and that is when Jesus Christ returns. Philippians 2:10-11 says, “At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and . . . every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” One day, every philosopher who has ever lived will bow down before the name of Jesus. That is what Scripture promises!


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Foolishness of God” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2010.

Robert N. Bellah et al., “Habits of the Heart” (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1985), 221.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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