Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” Therefore let no one boast in men. (1 Corinthians 3:18-21)
One of the effective tools of Satan in destroying the work of God is to infiltrate the church with the wisdom of men and neglecting the word of God. Human wisdom is an appealing philosophy that can corrupt the authority of scripture to resemble truth but not be the truth. In the church at Corinth, the carnal mind divided saints into camps of allegiance based upon a man instead of Jesus Christ. The church was filled with contentions as some appealed to their allegiance to Paul, while others claimed to follow Apollos, and others put Peter up as their favorite. Human wisdom corrupted the unity of the church over the factions of the word of men. The result was the church became fractured over doctrinal, moral, and issues of authority. Through the wisdom of the world, the Corinthian church had become filled with envy, strife, and divisions.
After showing the futility of their divisions, Paul declares to the saints the wisdom of the world is foolishness and must be rejected. The self-deception of human wisdom led the disciples to vain deceit in their wisdom rather than the word of God. Every time God’s will is supplanted with the word of men, chaos, and confusion follow. By the world’s standards, the Corinthians looked wise. Looking at the church through the divine eyes of the Lord, the Corinthians were foolish. The philosophies of men have never helped man achieve his potential. Party affiliations bring division. Seeking the glory of self-worth creates disharmony. Unity comes when speak the same thing by the word of God that is unchangeable. God does not desire for divisions to be in the church. Unity is found when all the saints are perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
Jesus built His church on one foundation – the word of God. The church can only grow when men reject the “good ideas” of human wisdom for the one truth. God is not impressed with the world’s wisdom, and the Father calls it what it is: foolishness. Paul quoted one of Job’s critical friends who said, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness.” This is a telling quote as Paul used the criticism of human wisdom seeking to understand divine law. Eliphaz was wrong (as were his two friends) about what was happening with Job. From a human standpoint, the three friends of Job found cause to condemn him. When they sought to comfort Job with human wisdom, they failed. Then Paul quotes the psalmist who declares that God is a refuge to those who are righteous and seek the knowledge of God.
The word of men is where men find their boast. There is nothing to brag about in the wisdom of men unless it mirrors the word of God. Human wisdom has done many wonderful things to alleviate the suffering of humanity. What it cannot do is to relieve the burden of sin. Only the word of God can accomplish the destruction of the flesh. When human wisdom is used to solve the human equation and burden of sin, it fails miserably. The wisdom of the world is foolishness when it comes to eternal life. There is only one Author, one Truth, one Way, and one Life. Let no one deceive themselves. If someone thinks they are wise by the world’s standards, they need to become a fool to be truly wise.