We live in a world that considers itself wise, never before has information and technology been as readily available as it is now. Yet wisdom as the world defines it, is not devine wisdom as the bible defines it. Let’s look at James 3:15-18
“Such ‘wisdom’ does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”
Here, Paul describes two kinds of wisdom. First of all, there is wisdom from above, divine wisdom that comes from God. But Paul also recognizes that there is a wisdom that is worldly, natural, and even demonic. In 1 Corinthians 1, the apostle Paul wrote of teachers and philosophers as the “wisdom of this world” (vv.20-21).
The world’s wisdom comprises of human wisdom, unspiritual wisdom and demonic wisdom.
God has given humans the ability to study, analyse, categorise and develop the physical resources in this earth to benefit physical life. But that’s where our human wisdom ends. Because of sin, our mind is unable to discern the spiritual dimension. We have no power to change our own heart, no understanding to solve our spiritual dilemma and no resources to satisfy our soul – we are spiritually dead, therefore unspiritual wisdom.
We generally operate on our human wisdom, namely what we think we know. However, human wisdom is shaped out of the latest experiences, knowledge, trend, fashion, the era we are living in, popular opinion, popularity etc.
Human wisdom is changeable and influenced by worldly philosophies and methodologies, which divert us from the Word of God — the only source of truth that can satisfy the deep needs of the human heart. The Corinthian believers had the same problem; the prevailing ideas of their day strongly influenced them. When they became Christians and were awakened to the revelation of God, (divine wisdom), they were exposed to an obvious conflict between their human wisdom and God’s wisdom.
Paul, describing that conflict said, ‘the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?’ 1 Cor 1:18, 20. While the first-century philosophers viewed the wisdom of God as foolishness, in truth, God exposed their so-called “wisdom” as foolish.
That opposition makes the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God incompatible – they are mutually exclusive.
Demonic wisdom as also described by Paul in James 3:15, and we often do not realise that this wisdom also operates in our world. There has been situations where people, thinking they are operating in human wisdom, have actually been operating in demonic wisdom, eg. Hitler and Germany; genocide in Rwanda and even suicidal tendencies may appear like human wisdom to the sufferer, but it is actually demonic wisdom that is focused on the destruction of the individual or people (John 10:10). Satan inspires demonic wisdom, it started in the garden, disguised as a lie (“listen to me, I have true wisdom,”) and continues today.
Demonic wisdom is always out to destroy the lives of people. The wisdom of man (human, unspiritual or demonic) does not contribute to the spiritual dimension. God’s wisdom is rich and infinite – it needs no supplement.
Worldly wisdom produces trouble – envy, strife, and disorder that comes from instability and works that are worthless and of no account (James 3:16). The true nature of worldly wisdom (human or demonic) can be observed in the fruit it produces; it breaks down people and destroys relationships. Whereas according to James 3:17, devine wisdom produces good fruit, particularly in the area of relationships with people.
Father open my eyes to discern the difference between human, demonic and godly wisdom in the world around me. Help me to recognize godly wisdom when I see it and may my heart pursue Your wisdom above all other types of wisdom. I confess that I have followed worldly wisdom before, but I see now that only your wisdom leads to good fruit in my life. Help me to recognize areas of my life where I am still following worldly wisdom and help me to replace it with Your wisdom Lord. I confess that Your wisdom will produce purity in my life, along with love for peace, consideration for others, submission, mercy and good fruit that is impartial and sincere. I am a peacemaker in the world around me because Your wisdom lives in me.
What is a Fool? (Next in the 10 part series on Wisdom)
Knowledge and Wisdom (previous)