by Mike Ratliff
6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written,
“THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” 1 Corinthians 2:6-9 (NASB)
When we are pressured in our circumstances to compromise and respond via the flesh, i.e. the way of the world, we are actually employing worldly wisdom. That wisdom says to, “Look out for number one!” It says to, “Never allow yourself to be taken advantage of.” It says to, “If attacked, respond in kind.” When Christians react this way then they are actually utilizing values that are part of a system that does not know God, cannot know God, and sees truth as relative. Those who hold to relativism appear to the unregenerate as the most enlightened and, obviously, more fair minded. However, as we have seen during the latest SBC Convention when the disciples of Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, and Intersectionality come head to head with those who will not compromise God’s truth, their response can be anything but godly. Outright lying, deception, and bullying to silence critics were in play while those who voted for these things in ignorance had no idea they were being played by people with very evil intent.
In my latest book, Complete in Christ, I expand over Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians who were struggling with false teachers who were teaching a “strange doctrine” that was definitely not based in the Gospel that the Apostles taught when they planted churches. In the book and in other Epistles of Paul, such as Galatians, we read where false teachers come into churches in secret and pretend to be “seekers” or just another Christian, but then they start teaching their strange doctrines by blending them in with the truth. This is still going on in our time. What I referenced in the opening paragraph is just one example of the tactics these wolves in sheep’s clothing use to penetrate churches and Christian organizations in order to corrupt them and their messages. However, the truth is still present and we must counter what is going on by standing firm in it and obediently preach and teach it. In the following passage we read of our Lord instructing His disciples as He sent them out to witness for the Kingdom of God.
11 And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. 12 As you enter the house, give it your greeting. 13 If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. 14 Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. 15 Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city.
16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; 18 and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. 20 For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Matthew 10:11-20 (NASB)
In our ministries we will encounter the worthy and the unworthy. The worthy are those who are of the Kingdom of God. The unworthy are of the kingdom of Satan and are of the world. We are to speak the truth of the Kingdom to all. Some will believe by God’s grace, but the rest will not. Some of them will become hostile, belligerent, and try to silence us. Our Lord tells us that those who are His are being sent into the world as sheep surrounded by wolves. Therefore, are we to hire lawyers or buy a gun or try to censure those who are attacking us? No, He tell us to to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. This wisdom is God’s wisdom and through it we are to beware of those who mean us harm. They will do their worst to us, but we are not to strike back. We may be in a position to flee and that is okay, but God’s will may be for us to stand in the flames and proclaim His truth as a witness against those who are persecuting us.
To be able to do this requires wisdom that is not of this world. The wisdom God gives His people has no root in Man or the world at all. No, it is spiritual wisdom.
6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 (NASB)
The Greek word translated as “mature” in this passage is the adjective τελείοις (teleiois) the dative plural masculine case of τέλειος (teleios) . The King James Version translates teleiois as “perfect.” Some have taken this and other passages in the Bible and misinterpreted this to teach that Christians are divided into two groups, the carnal and the mature. Through this teaching have sprung various “perfectionism” heresies. Is this what Paul is talking about here? Are there mature and carnal Christians? My understanding of this is that there are immature Christians and maturing Christians, but even the newest Christian is viewed as “perfect” in God’s eyes because He imputed Christ’s righteousness to them when they believed. Paul is using teleios here to refer to genuine believers who have been saved by Christ. So, who is to receive, hear, and grasp this wisdom that Paul is imparting here? All genuine believers are to hear or read it and understand it because each of them have been regenerated, have faith, and the Holy Spirit.
Who are the rulers of this age? These would be all in authority of some kind who are in position between the time of Christ’s ascension and His second coming. In other words, they are in power of some kind outside of the Kingdom of God in this age we are in right now. This spiritual wisdom is not related in any way to the wisdom of these rulers. Notice that Paul tells us that these rulers are among those who are perishing. That is referring to the fact that they are outside of God’s Kingdom. They are not genuine Christians. Their power is based in the world and the ways of this world and its wisdom.
What is the nature of this spiritual wisdom? It is the wisdom of God hidden in a mystery. Paul is referring to truth known to God before time which He has kept secret until the appropriate time.
4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; Ephesians 3:4-5 (NASB)
The mystery or secret of Christ was not made known to anyone by God except to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery would also include what Paul shared in Ephesians 1.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:3-12 (NASB)
All in Christ were chosen before the foundation of the world. They were chosen to be holy and blameless before Him. Now, do you see who the “perfect” or “mature” are? They are those whom God has regenerated. They are new creations who can now know Him and obtain His wisdom, spiritual wisdom. Why? Because they are no longer of this world. The contrast between those in the Kingdom of God and those still in their sins is marked by a great divide. Those in the Kingdom of God see the truth because they have God’s wisdom. They know their Lord, their Kyrios and recognize that they are His slaves, His douloi. They are His sheep and know their shepherd because they recognize His voice. However, the contrast with the those on the other side of the divide is more than striking. They did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah and crucified Him.
This Spiritual wisdom is only for the regenerate my brethren. Sadly, it is often neglected as Christians operate in the flesh. However, if we deny ourselves, take up our crosses daily and follow Christ, respond to trials as obedient slaves, submit to others, then we become spirit-filled believers who are operating within God’s spiritual wisdom. This wisdom is not knowable or understood by the unregenerate.
9 but just as it is written,
“THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD,
AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”
10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NASB)
The depth and awesomeness of God’s spiritual wisdom which He imparts to His people was prepared for them. It is beyond the understanding of the unregenerate. This is why they cannot understand how Christians can willingly be martyred or how they can pray for those who abuse them. This wisdom is of the deep things of God and He has revealed these things to us by the Spirit.
11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. 16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:11-16 (NASB)
Carefully read this passage my brethren. Now, when we use scripture correctly as we rightly divide it to show professing Christians that what they are doing is not of God and is not right yet they reject our counsel and even threaten us with censure, what does this tell us? Only genuine Christians can discern the wisdom of God. These truths are spiritually discerned. Genuine Christians attain the mind of Christ more and more as they mature. They must line up with His will in all they do, say, and think. This means that they are obedient to their Lord and this will cause conflict between them and those in darkness. This is inevitable. Therefore, we should not be surprised when professing Christians who are part of ungodly enterprises respond like the world with threats and persecution. They will not tolerate the truth of God shining its light into the darkness they love.
My brethren, take some time to thank the Lord for imparting His spiritual wisdom to you. Worship Him and seek to submit your will to His in all things. Do not use the wisdom of this world to make decisions. Reject it out of hand as you respond to your circumstances entirely within God’s Spiritual Wisdom. It may appear to fleshly eyes that you are losing or being taken advantage of, however, as we operate in His wisdom and reject the wisdom of this world, He is actively building up good treasure in our hearts and building up eternal treasure in Heaven. That is far superior to anything this world has to offer.
Soli Deo Gloria!
It’s good to read a thoughtful explanation of a spurious doctrine than a mere denunciation. Far too many people denounce “progressive sanctification” (for example) without explaining what they mean by that term. People get spun up without knowing what the issue behind the words actually is.
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