January 8

“…Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:30)

We remember, from yesterday’s post that God gave The Ten Commandments to Israel as a unique gift from a loving Father to His children. The Law reveals God’s holy character and remarkably high standards. However, our problem is, that being judged by His law, we come to hate and resent the guilt that arises from our failure to keep it. Our efforts to obey the Ten Commandments result in disappointment and personal discouragement. This is why it is vital to not only know the law, but to understand its purpose. Without proper understanding, we cannot progress toward wisdom, but remain trapped in knowledge alone.

God, in His mercy, uses His Law to instruct sinners. David wrote: “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way…Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose” (Psalms 25:8, 12). Now we must remember that God’s Law cannot save us, but instructs us in God’s ways. The Law is also a mirror that exposes our sinfulness; it drives us to Jesus Christ in our desperation to be rescued from its judgment. Only in Christ can we truly know the fear of the Lord, since only in Him can we truly know God and understand His ways. Until we know Christ, our sinful nature prevents us from accurately knowing, understanding, and fearing God. Therefore, Godly wisdom, established on the knowledge, understanding, and fear of God cannot be obtained outside of Christ. Let us adopt Paul’s prayer, “[That our] hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:1-3).

In what way do you continue to try to live under that law rather than by the grace of God in Jesus Christ? Sinner, are you tired of the Law’s judgment? Will you run to Christ in humility, for forgiveness, repentance, and true wisdom?

January 7

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” (Hebrews 10:19-23)

Proverbs teaches us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10). Many people, even Christians mistakenly think that fearing the Lord is what the Old Testament is all about, since God, the righteous Judge, condemns all sin. Thus, we should tremble in our boots. However, the kind of fear to which the writer refers is not that of dreading destruction, but having great reverence and respect for God. To fear God in this way is to love, honor, exalt, and delight in His holiness, righteousness, and majesty. Some Christians are surprised to find great truths, such as this in the Old Testament. However, God gave The Ten Commandments to Israel as a unique gift from a loving Father to His children. The Law reveals God’s holy character and remarkably high standards.

When we look at the commandments, however, we cannot help but appreciate how different we are from God. We are sinners who cannot control our own hearts, let alone our conduct, to worship God as He requires and live holy lives. We have the opportunity to worship God rightly in our churches today, to know that we have a sure hope in Christ, by the shedding of His blood on the cross as our substitute. As we worship corporately, Christ attends to His bride, the Church, for His own glory, but also for our unity together with Him. The wisdom that results from our biblical fellowship is unique. “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) Assurance of our cleansing and receiving the imputed righteousness of Christ adds to our wisdom. As you prepare for church, or reflect on your worship today, what was the quality of your worship with Christ’s family? How can you be more attentive to the grace of God, with the wisdom He has given you?

January 6

January 6

 “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God…” (Colossians 1:9-10) 

For many years I worked in Africa as a missionary with The Rafiki Foundation, which runs Christian Classical schools in ten countries on the continent. Like many Christian Classical schools, the Rafiki curriculum is built around three natural stages of learning: grammar, logic, and rhetoric, which reflect the biblical worldview, so central to CCE.1 Simply put, knowledge is the foundation for the development of understanding, which leads to wisdom. As in CCE, Christians are to build wisdom on a foundation of logic, which is built on the foundation of true knowledge. Wisdom is only accomplished to the extent that there is trustworthy knowledge of a subject and understanding of how this knowledge interrelates. God’s people can only be as wise as they are knowledgeable and understanding in the person and work of God. John Calvin writes: “…it is a true knowledge of God which begets confidence in him, and leads us to call upon him; and as none can seek him sincerely but those who have apprehended the promises…”2

Knowledge of God and His attributes is evident in the world around us. “The heavens…day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2) God also give us personal knowledge of His existence and holiness in our conscience, so we have knowledge of God every time we make a decision that has moral or ethical implications. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge…” (Proverbs 1:7a) However, Christians have special knowledge and understanding of God through the person of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit. “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20) Understanding that leads to biblical wisdom requires consistent study of the Bible, since it is the revelation of God for His people, and the primary means by which we mature in our knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Sermons, talks, podcasts, articles, study Bibles, devotionals, and commentaries that are true to Scripture help us to know and understand the Lord. Only then can we begin to apply what we know and understand for wise choices and decisions. With practice, we can learn to make the best use of our time, resources, intellect, interests, affections, skills, and spiritual gifts to glorify God—this is wisdom. How will you enlarge your knowledge and understanding of God, in order to develop more effective wisdom?

 

  1. CCE—Classical Christian Education

John Calvin, “Heart Aflame”, P & R Publishing, 1999, (August 15 entry on Psalm 91:14)

January 5

“See, I have taught you statutes and rules, as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should do them in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” (Deuteronomy 4:5-6)

Israel, God’s chosen people were to keep God’s commands and not let go of them. In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses reviews God’s instructions to the nation in order that they will remember and teach their children all God had taught them about himself and living for Him as a testimony to the world. Israel’s ways were to be God’s ways, in contrast to the customs and beliefs of the rest of the world. The prophet Jeremiah reminded Israel of their unique calling: “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

 God has always been counter-cultural theologically and practically. The calling for His chosen people of Israel is a picture of the calling we have in Christ—to belong to God, being sanctified, and consecrated to the Lord, devoted to Him. Just as the nation of Israel was to be loyal to God, through His power, Christians are called to be holy and devoted to Christ, by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. In Chapter 1, James, the Apostle defines religion that is “pure and undefiled before God” (v. 27). The second part of his definition is no less important than caring for widows and orphans: “to keep oneself unstained from the world.” If we belong to Christ we also must be counter-cultural theologically and practically. Evidence of our belonging to Christ, by God’s grace alone, includes our desire and ability to live by God’s wisdom rather than by the world’s simulated, artificial, and inferior imitation. This requires sincere and focused prayer, as the apostle notes in James 1:5-8 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” In what areas of life do you doubt the wisdom of God and yield to the world’s influence? Will you identify three areas in which you will seek the wisdom of God, asking and accepting His help to fight the strong cultural pressure to conform?

January 4

“Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, ‘Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number’… But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel. And David said to God, ‘I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing.’” (1 Chronicles 21:1-2, 7-8)

The elect in Christ will not be deterred by the devil’s schemes, but we are not immune to the temporary effects of his plots, as he “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). God, in His grace, offers biblical accounts with warnings, so that the wise may be prepared for Satan’s attempts at diversion. In 1 Chronicles 21:1-17 there is a true account of Satan seeking to discredit Israel by influencing David, through doubt, to number the men of Israel, in direct opposition to the advice of his commander (v. 3). Wisely, David recognized his sin and repented. However, when Israel suffered grave consequences of David’s foolishness, Satan had a bit of a victory—but not the ruin he had hoped to achieve.

We may also study the Book of Job and the ministry of Jesus Christ to see all the advances of Satan seeking to interfere with God’s plans. Only the wisdom of God in Christ overcomes the devil’s meddling.

How does Satan use your fears, doubts, and anxieties to disrupt your reliance on God’s wisdom?

January 3

January 3

“The sower sows the word. And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them.” (Mark 4:14-15)

There are two primary problems with the world’s version of wisdom, from a biblical worldview. Since Satan is the ruler of this world (Ephesians 6:11-12; 2 Corinthians 4:4), he is also the source of this worldly wisdom. Therefore, what the world calls wisdom, God calls darkness and lies (John 8:44). The second deficiency of worldly wisdom is that everything on this earth is temporal, fleeting, and without eternal value.

 

True biblical wisdom cannot be found in the world. The world will contrive to imitate wisdom by manipulation, scheming, intrigue, mystery, and strategy. Only by knowing biblical, godly wisdom can we identify false “wisdom” in ourselves and in others. The twenty-first century finds the world immersed in emotional and relative “truth.” Satan delights in having people believe that truth is based merely on their experience or feelings, hardening hearts and minds to God’s absolute truth and wisdom. He works to keep the elect from salvation in Christ and to discourage the regenerate. Worldly people speak blasphemous things against the Lord, and try to persuade others not to serve Him, arguing against righteous living. They, like Satan himself, rejoice in calling good “evil” and evil “good.” It is sport to fools to engage in mischief, whether or not they recognize the consequences. Will you ask God to help you discern and reject worldly wisdom? Immersing, bathing, engaging ourselves in Scripture is required, in order to recognize the truth.

January 2

“The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him.” (John 1:9-10)

A non-biblical worldview holds that wisdom is found in characteristics such as personal intelligence, power, and shrewd decisions, which are imitations of God’s perfect wisdom. Some powerful people in the Bible recognized the limitations of this fake wisdom and sought a superior wisdom from God. Solomon, the Queen of Sheba, Queen Esther, David, Nicodemus, and Paul, are a few individuals who recognized the supremacy of God’s intelligence. The New Testament is especially instructive—the only way to obtain true wisdom from God is to submit to Jesus Christ, who is “the power of God and wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:24). Christ is the ultimate personification of godly wisdom; those who draw close to Him will find the wisdom that the world seeks, but cannot find. He is “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14) and “the exact imprint of God’s nature” (Hebrews 1:3). Therefore, walking in the path of wisdom requires submission to Christ and the courage to be counter-cultural.

 

Personal conviction of biblical truth emboldens us when we are surrounded by worldly influences. The grace and love of Christ in us, in the dwelling Holy Spirit quiets our desperation to and gives us the perspective, peace, and timeliness needed to share our hearts winsomely with those who need to hear the gospel. But we must first demonstrate that Christ is the “wisdom of God” in our lives. So, let us ask ourselves, “Do my values, choices, and decisions reflect Christ’s wisdom?”