We are going through this letter that Paul has written to the church at Corinth. In our Bibles, it’s called First Corinthians, and if you have your Bible, go ahead and turn to First Corinthians chapter three. First Corinthians chapter three, we’ll be starting in verse 18. And like I said, this is a letter that Paul wrote to a real church, real people about 2000 years ago. But it’s not just Paul’s words, it’s also the words of God. This is Holy Spirit breathed revelation. It’s relevant for us and just as much God’s words today as when he wrote it.
Now, if you’ve been here, if you’ve been following along in our First Corinthians series, you’ve seen that this is a church in Corinth that’s rather divided. And we’ll go on to see the additional ways that they’re divided, but we’ve seen that they’re divided over what true preaching is. What kind of leaders should we follow? How do we know? And as we continue on in the letter, we’ll see that they’re divided over the practice of spiritual gifts. They’re divided over how they respond to sin in the body of Christ. And Paul is writing to unify them around biblical, theologically accurate truth.
And the section we’re going to be in today in chapter three, really ending chapter three, concludes a line of argument that Paul began all the way back in chapter one starting in verse 18. And I want to read that to put us in context. So we’re going to see the book ends of his argument. And this is what he says,
“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. But it is the power of God to us who are being saved.”
Briefly put, the wisdom that God is opposed to here is a wisdom of the world. It’s concerned, in Paul’s context here, with evaluating preaching according to what’s persuasive according to the standards of men and not what is accountable to God and his revelation. It’s more based on the speaker than it is the truthfulness of the content. Another way to say it is, it’s skilled in the things of the world and not in the things of the kingdom of God. And my hope for us today is that we will see what true wisdom is according to God in his word to us. And that our hearts will be lifted to worship God as we see in this passage, that all things are for us in Christ: the future, the present life, death. All things serve us and Jesus and all things are for our benefit. So let’s read our passage today, starting in First Corinthians three verse 18.
” Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, let him become a fool so that he can become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, since it is written, He catches the wise in their craftiness; and again, the Lord knows the reasonings of the wise are futile. So let no one boast in human leaders for everything is yours- whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come- everything is yours, and you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.”
This concludes where he started out saying,
”The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,”
back in chapter one verse 18.
And today’s section really has two parts and they each start with, “Let no one,” which is just a way of saying, “Don’t do this.” Examine yourself. Don’t fall prey to human leaders and amassing around them. But he’s addressing the two main struggles the church has at this point so far in the letter. Quarreling over human leaders, and doing it all the while thinking themselves to be wise. And he’s saying, “No, you’re actually being foolish.” They have an estimation of their circumstance that is 180 degrees off of reality. And that’s why in verse 18 he says,
“Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, let him become a fool so that he can become wise.”
He’s telling them to evaluate themselves to determine are they wise in the world or are they wise in God’s eyes? Because they all thought they were wise in God’s eyes. And he’s saying you’ve been self deceived, you’re actually fools. But we should feel the brunt of this and the weight of this too. Don’t be deceived. Much of what we count as true wisdom is actually foolishness in God’s eyes. This letter is not just for Corinth 2,000 years ago. We need to consider this today and we need to ask where we and our families are believing and practicing and living according to the wisdom of the world and not the wisdom of the kingdom of heaven. And all of us have places where this is true. And you’re probably thinking there’s nothing I believe that’s actually foolish. I don’t knowingly believe something is foolish. Well, of course you don’t. And neither did the Corinthians.
That’s why Paul says, “Don’t be self deceived.” We need to make sure we are not self deceived. We are blind to our blind spots. That’s why they call them blind spots because you’re blind to them. You can’t see them. So we need the power of the spirit of God and the power of the word of God to remove the scales from our eyes in certain areas of our life so we can determine where we’re believing the lies of the world and believing things are wise that are actually foolish in God’s eyes. And that’s where we need to repent and we need to change our mind and become a fool in the world so that we will be wise in the kingdom of Heaven.
Paul tells us why this is, he shows us there’s no middle ground. In verse 19,
”For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”
So it’s not just that the gospel is foolishness to the world, it’s also that what is wise in the world is foolish with God. There’s no middle ground here. And I think there are many examples of this. I mean, consider the world’s importance that it places on wealth. Or the primacy that it puts on personal autonomy or the prize of place it puts on comfort and security and safety. Or the way it prizes power. All of those are believed to be wise ends in the world. And biblically speaking, they’re not a prime importance at all and often many of them are foolish and directly lead to ruin and shipwreck. The world considers them to be wise, but God does not. And for this reason, the gospel isn’t viewed as foolishness.
It says that salvation comes through surrender. It says that the meek inherit the earth and he who dies pursuing the most toys really does die and goes to hell. That what the world thinks is wise and worth pursuing isn’t just a neutral ground. It’s not just a couple of degrees off of the truth. It’s diametrically 180 degrees opposed to biblical wisdom at many points. You’re either a fool in the world or you’re fool in the kingdom of Heaven. You’re either wise in the world or you’re wise in the kingdom of Heaven. In verse 19 Paul continues,
”Since it is written, he catches the wise in their craftiness.”
And again, the Lord knows the reasonings of the wise are futile. And he’s quoting two Old Testament books here. He’s quoting Job and he’s quoting the Psalms.
There’s this idea floating around today often in christian circles that the New Testament church didn’t have a Bible. They did, it was the Old Testament. Their reasonings about ethics and morality, right out of the Old Testament. Their understanding of who God is and grace and justice, straight out of the Old Testament. The New Testament church had a Bible and it was the Old Testament. So it’s not surprising when basically on every page of our New Testament they’re quoting what God had spoken before. And here Paul quotes Job 5:13. And this is Eliphaz speaking in Job. And Eliphaz is giving a speech, which ultimately goes on to be discredited. But that doesn’t mean everything he said was false. He’s right, here. God really does catch the wise in their craftiness.
And then Paul quotes Psalm 94:11, to show that God really does know what the wise in this world are thinking. He knows their reasonings, that they’re futile. And Paul is using this imagery of a hunter who uses the very cunning of his prey to catch them. Like God is using what people think is wise in this world to actually catch them in their sin. This is the idea that Paul puts forth in Romans 1 verse 22, where he says that people believing themselves to be wise actually became fools. Because they exchanged the knowledge of the immortal God for images and creatures and created things. They put off what God had made known about himself in nature and in creation and in the hearts of men and said, “No, I don’t want that. I want to do something else.” And they thought they were wise when they did it, all the while it was foolish.
So by people’s very sin, God catches and judges them. They think they’re being wise, throwing off restraint, but all the while they’re piling up for themselves condemnation. That’s not just someone else’s story. If you are in Christ, that was your story. We all thought the ways we were living, which were out of accordance with God’s design, were wise. We didn’t think we were doing it wrong. We didn’t think we were fools. But the Bible tells us the truth about our situation before Christ. And it shows us the reality of what we were doing and how God used that to bring a knowledge of our sin and ultimately lead us to repentance.
But the second verse here shows how utterly futile it is to live outside of God’s design. Because God knows the thoughts of the wicked person, of the non-Christian. He knows their reasonings and he knows more than that, that they are futile. In fact, they are futile because they’re outside of his plan and he is actively using what they are doing to judge them. And I think for us, we need to understand reasoning that is not done from a foundation of Godly wisdom as revealed in the scriptures, is futile. It amounts to nothing. It’s empty, it’s pointless, it’s vain. It may lead to momentary happiness, but it doesn’t build anything that lasts.
And that’s the picture Paul gave us before this passage today, just a little earlier on in chapter three. Where he describes people who will build on the foundation of Jesus with wood, hay, and stubble. And he says,
”When God judges that with fire,” that’s the picture uses, “What they built will be destroyed.”
Yeah, the person will still be saved. But what they spent their life building into, because it wasn’t built with Godly wisdom, but instead was built with worldly wisdom, it’s futile and amounts to nothing. And God will tear it down. So as we consider what we want to build our lives on and build our lives from, build with godly Wisdom.
But more so, Paul continues in verse 21 and says,
”So let no one boast in human leaders.”
So, other words, in light of, after all that’s been said about God and how he views human wisdom, no one should be bold enough to put their hand up and say, “I’m still with Paul.” Because in Paul’s mind that says you are putting your confidence in the creature instead of putting your confidence in the creator. Human wisdom still today, boasts in human leaders. Now, we might not raise our hand and say, “I’m with Paul,” and think that that matters in that sort of way. But how many times do we raise our hand on social media and say, “I’m with X candidate.”? Do we excuse their moral failings? Because, “Well, they’re a human leader that stands to give us something we want.” Or they align with our politics or they defeat our earthly enemies?
I think often today, worldly wisdom still says we boast in human leaders. Maybe we’re thankful they’ll do the things we won’t. That’s an interesting position to hold, right? We’re thankful that someone does something we think is wrong, even though we wouldn’t do it ourselves. We shouldn’t boast in human leaders. Godly wisdom says in fact, no one boasts in themself or another man. But if you boast, you only boast in the Lord. And Paul continues and tells us why this is. “For everything is yours-” whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come- everything is yours. So why not boast? Because everything is yours. And he’ll say, you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.
And he actually starts out listing the three men at the center of the division here: Paul, Apollos, and Cephas. And he’s saying they actually belong to you all as the church. You’re dividing over them, but you don’t belong to them. They belong to you. So the Corinthians are saying, “I belong to Paul.” And Paul changes that to say, “No, you belong to God and Paul belongs to you.” It’s actually exactly opposite of what they think. The church didn’t belong to the apostles, the apostles belonged to the church. And today, pastors don’t, or at least shouldn’t, see their churches as belonging to them. The pastor and the elders belong to the church. They serve the church. They’re accountable to the church.
And in Paul’s mind here, it’s not just that things belong to believers, he includes himself and Paul’s a person. Leaders belong to the church. And I think an extension of this is that we as brothers and sisters in Christ belong to each other. That one of the things God has done is create a new family, the family of God, where if you are in Christ, you are brothers and sisters, co heirs with Jesus. So one of the things that we have in Jesus is each other, a new family. But more to Paul’s point here, the more of a leader someone is in the kingdom of Heaven, the more of a servant they should be. They don’t lord their authority over those they lead, they use it as a way to serve. They actually belong to the church.
But the other thing that should come away from this passage is that all things are not ours in selfish isolation. They are actually ours so that we can love and give and serve and share. And in so doing, come to glorify God. And Paul goes on to show that he really does mean all things, when he says all things. I don’t think there’s anything excluded from this list of the world or life or death, the present or the future. That’s comprehensive. But if we stop and think about it, we probably don’t think of those things as serving us, do we? We don’t think of those things as ours. If you were to think about tomorrow, perhaps in our specific context today with all the uncertainty, we don’t think about tomorrow being something that belongs to us. In fact, we probably think of life and death and the future and even the present as tyrannies. Inescapable realities that hold us in bondage, that we have no control over. But the very reason we feel that way is why we need this passage and why we need it today.
Because for Paul, the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus was the decisive turning point in human history. Everything leads up to it or is seen in light of it. And for Paul, because of the good news of the gospel, because of what Jesus did, all things serve the believer and the church. So we don’t have to have anxiety looking at them. If you’re like me, if you’re riding in a car with someone who’s not a good driver, you probably feel like you’re the only one paying attention. Like you’re coming up to an intersection and you’re like, “Why aren’t they looking around?” So I’m going to look right, I’m going to put my head right where they can’t see and make it more likely that they’ll get in an accident. But I’m going to be hyper-vigilant because I don’t trust the person driving. Maybe you’re like that.
But the reason I don’t … the reason I’m doing that is just like I said, I don’t trust the driver. But that should not be how we as Christians are with regard to the future. Because God is ultimately in the driver’s seat of human history. And because he’s totally sovereign and because he’s good, we can sit in the passenger seat and trust him when he says, “Everything, including the circumstances you don’t understand, I’m working them for your good.” So we don’t have to be looking around the proverbial corners as we come up to intersections or saying, “That was a rolling stop. What are you doing?” We don’t have to do that. Because we trust the good sovereign God who has told us in his word, everything serves us in Jesus. That the things God has promised will happen. In the end of time, that we will ultimately be transformed into glorified people that are totally righteous. That there’s a sense in which they’re true today, that he is already beginning to transform us into righteous people.
So because we have this confident certain expectation of what God will do in the future, we can live, as Gordon Fee has said, “The life of the future in the present age.” That’s what we as Christians are doing if we are living with a New Testament mindset. We are living the life of the future in the present age because we don’t fear the future. Because those things that used to be tyrannies on us: life, death, future, the present, they’re actually a new birthright that has been given to us as a part of our new birth in Jesus. They now serve us, so we don’t need to fear them.
Paul concludes this verse, and really this chapter, by saying, “You belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God.” That’s an amazing pair of statements, we could spend all day on that. But this statement provides the foundation for all Paul has just said and it actually qualifies it. All things ultimately serve us because we are in Jesus. So, here’s how this works. All things are Jesus’s. We are Jesus’s, therefore Jesus has given us and works all things actively to us and for our good. It’s because we are in him, that all things are for us. Because we who used to be enemies and alienated from God have been brought near and are now in Christ.
I think of John 6, where Jesus says,
“All that the Father gives me will come to me and all of the ones coming to me, I will lose none of them, but I will raise them up on the last day.”
That’s part of what it means to be a possession of Jesus. Like this passage says, we are Christ’s. One of the things that it means to be His, is he is holding on to you, and the Father is holding onto him in a way. So your salvation, your confidence in the future is totally secure because it’s Jesus holding onto you, not just you holding on to Jesus. You might have a weak grip, but he does not. So all things are for our good in Christ.
But this also qualifies what he’s saying. Since all things serve us in Christ, it’s clear they don’t serve us in a way that should lead to pride or self-sufficiency or self-reliance or just selfishness. One of the reasons why I say this is Paul is using a plural you here. In English the word you can be singular or plural. And before you check out, I know you didn’t expect to hear a grammar lesson when you came to church this morning. But one of the realities we have to confront is God has revealed himself. He’s pulled back the curtain on his character and on his essence and told us about himself. And he’s done it in human language. He’s done it in words which have grammar and syntax and a cadence to them and they have context. So if we want to understand the depth of what God has said, we have to understand not less than the words he’s given it to us in.
And I think many of us, myself included in this kind of Western ruggedly individualistic culture, see a ‘you’ in scripture and we think ‘me’. So in our passage last week when Paul said that, “You are a temple.” We’re like, “I’m a temple and you’re a temple and I’m a more fit temple than you.” That would not apply to me currently. Right? But we think individualistically like we’re all little temples. And what Paul is saying is no, you as in the body of Christ. The plural you, y’all are a temple of God that the spirit comes to indwell. And here he is saying not that all things are yours as an individual to live your individualistic life, but all things are yours in a plural sense, as the church.
Now yes, that obviously has ramifications for us as individuals. But Paul is primarily thinking of them as a group. And that makes sense, right? This is a divided church. He doesn’t want to divide them into a bunch of individual people. He’s saying, “No, you’re all together. The ones to whom God’s promises are true and they’re true right now.” Paul concludes by saying, “Christ belongs to God.” That’s probably a confusing statement. In part, because the way the New Testament often speaks of God when it’s talking about the Father is just with the word God. So when you see in your New Testament the word God, often though not always, the New Testament writer is speaking of God the Father. Because Jesus is truly God, fully God. The father is fully God. The Spirit is truly God. And they are not each other, there is one God. That’s our doctrine of the Trinity.
So in this passage here, Paul is not teaching us something about how the persons in God relate to each other and how they exist and about their essence. He is telling us though, how Jesus in salvation history did the will of the Father by adding human flesh to himself, becoming incarnate, going to the cross, dying and rising. And in the same way that Jesus is for the Father, we should be for the Father. And because all things belong to the Father and the Father has given them to the Son, they also belong to us because we are in Christ. So in this passage, Paul has told them, and by extension us, not to be deceived, not to boast in human rulers and to consider the true blessings they have in Christ. So the question for us today is where do we need these same corrections and encouragements? And I have three applications for us today, specifically.
1. Decide to be a fool
The first is, decide that you will be a fool. Decide that you will be a fool. Here’s what I mean, we need to come to terms with being a fool in the world’s eyes so that we can actually be wise in the truest, most full sense in God’s eyes. So often Christians are worried about looking dumb or intolerant or uninformed or unintelligent or non-affirming, so they don’t share their Christian convictions with the non-Christians that actually need to hear them. And in fact sometimes we think, “Well, I need to slowly change them over time so I’m consistently on the right side of history.” And that’s false. I think this is also one of the reasons why Christians often attach themselves to well-known conservative public voices who are popular, who aren’t Christians. Because they think, “Hey, they make what I believe, not look so dumb.”
As a Christian, if people actually know what you believe, they are going to think you’re dumb. They are going to think you’re a fool. Because in the world, you actually are. And if they don’t think you are, you’re fooling them. It’s not because it’s reality. We can’t make Christianity acceptable without changing it, so we shouldn’t even try. I mean, consider the things we believe. We believe there’s one eternal God that is simultaneously three coequal persons who have always existed. And the second person of God, the Son, Jesus, comes to earth, takes on human flesh. That’s just craziness in and of itself. Goes to the cross after doing miracles, something people also reject, dies and rises from the dead. And that this atones for a sin that we all have, which also people think today is stupid. And it’s not just that he rises from the dead and ascends to Heaven, he’s coming back on the clouds and he’s coming for us and we’re going to get our own resurrection bodies. All of that is foolishness in the world. But if that’s not true, what are we doing here?
We need to come to terms with being a fool in the world’s eyes so that we can actually be wise in the only person whose eyes matter, God. I’m not a very silly person. You may have picked up on that. I haven’t buttoned my top button today. I could, I could be comfortable with that. And when my wife and I had our little girl Piper, I decided I’m just going to be silly. If I can do something that seems dumb and my little girl is going to laugh and think dad’s fun, I’m going to do it. Everyone around me can think I’m an idiot or I’m acting like I’m two myself. But if Piper thinks dad is fun and dad can be silly, I’m going to count it as a win. And so I’ll do one of those like gymnastics rolls things, which I’m pretty sure is going to send me to TOC or the orthopedic clinic or something, and probably will one day. I’ll do it because she thinks, “That’s funny when dad does that.”
Now, I think she’s laughing at me and not with me, and we’ll have to talk about that as she gets older. But I’ve just decided I’m going to be a fool to everyone around me if Piper thinks dad is fun. And that’s kind of what we need to do as Christians. We need to just decide that when we go into a conversation, it’s not if they’ll think we’re a fool, it’s that we are a fool in their eyes. So why do I care if they actually think of me as what I am? We can’t change our message. And if people think the gospel is foolish or off putting when we share it, we did it right probably.
Now, I’m not saying you should be offensive. I’m saying your manner should match your message, but the message is offensive. And if we share the gospel with someone and they’re not offended and they don’t think it’s stupid, we might not have done it right. Remember, Paul said, the Holy Spirit said in chapter one verse 18, “The message of the cross is foolishness to the world.” If it’s not, we should consider if we shared it right. So decide you’re going to be a fool.
2. Make sure your wisdom is actually wise
Second, make sure your wisdom is actually wise. Make sure your wisdom is actually wise. The wisdom of God isn’t just those theological truths about how God exists and Jesus and the gospel. The wisdom of God specifically speaks to how we live in the day to day and every part of our life. And there’s a lot in culture and even in the church today with Christians that passes for wisdom, that is just foolishness in God’s eyes. A simple way to think about wisdom I’ve heard, is skillful living. I think that can be helpful. Except that it points us often in the wrong direction. Because we have to answer two fundamental questions if we’re going to use that little moniker. Skillful according to whom? In other words, by what standard and in what world? Skillful according to whom and in what world?
Because one way to think about this is there are two worlds. There are two economies. And an economy has a set of values, things that are worth a lot and things that are worth not much. And what’s worth a lot in the kingdom of Heaven and God’s economy, is often not worth very much in the world. And what’s worth a lot in the world is often not worth very much in God’s economy. They are opposed to one another. And I started realizing this, though not fully, when a couple who were mentors of mine had a conversation with me probably around my sophomore year in high school. And I have remembered that conversation all these years later.
Here’s what they said, they were explaining why the husband had retired very early from his career as a high ranking government official. He made a lot of money and he left probably decades early. He could have continued to advance, he could have made a lot more money. And he left to volunteer to see the gospel go around the world, to see Muslims reached, to see Chinese people have a translation in their language that they could read, even though it was illegal. That’s what he devoted his life to. But he didn’t just retire and go to work 14 to 16 hours a day for free volunteering his time. He actually took his retirement and poured it into that same mission.
That seems really foolish, right? Retirement’s supposed to be where you just kind of relax. It’s supposed to be where you enjoy the money you’ve saved. At least that’s what we’re told. And he works harder probably than he’s ever worked in his life, and so does his wife. And they’re spending their retirement not unwisely to be a burden on others, but they’re spending their retirement not on themselves, but to see the gospel go forth. Because, and this is what they said, “I want to exchange what I have in this world for what’s worth something where I’m going.” Exactly they said, “I want to exchange it for the coin of the realm in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
We live in two worlds: this world which is passing away with its wisdom, which comes to nothing as wood, hay, and straw, which will be destroyed by God’s judgment. And the world which is already here and breaking in, the Kingdom of God, and will come in its fullness. We can build things that will last there, but it will look foolish in this world. So we need to consider is what we think wise, actually wise? We don’t want to be the ones who build with wood, hay, and stubble. But we need to ask ourselves. We need to make sure we’re not deceived. Does our conception of wisdom match the worlds with regards to career and success and money and family structure and those sorts of things? If what you think is wise and what your non-Christian neighbor thinks is wise are basically the same, it’s likely that you’re believing things that are foolish in the Kingdom of Heaven.
If two people live in very different economies and their spending looks the same, their conception of what’s wise looks the same, it probably is the same. I think an example here is how people think about and pursue their careers. In my position at my job, I have the opportunity to see a lot of people who are looking to move up in their career. And it’s interesting to see the reasons why and who’s willing to do what and for what reasons. And some people just have a very naked ambition to have more power. Some people want to make a lot more money and they don’t care if that means they may have to travel more, they may be away from their family a lot more. They may not be able to be in church or serve. But what they have bought in that case, is the lie of the wisdom of the world. And they’re going to say, “Well, I’m going to provide more for my family.” What they mean is more money, more things, more trips.
And if your family has a roof over their head and has clothes and food, what you’re called to provide is your presence, your leadership and your discipleship. The other things are just the wisdom of the world that will not come to anything. I’m not anti-trip, I’m not anti-fun. Remember, I can be silly. But what are we basing our lives around? Or think about sports. Oftentimes people at a young age start getting involved in sports so they can’t go to church. Which thing is going to last forever? Your spiritual formation will, or your athletic skills. Which one is more important? One is prized in culture, one is not. One is viewed as foolish in culture, and one is viewed as wise. Let’s consider which wisdom we’re actually basing our lives around.
Consider what the world thinks is wise with regards to relationships. Protect yourself, don’t give a second chance, don’t get hurt. Don’t give second chances. Only be around people who are like you with regards to your politics or your race or your ethnicity or your wealth or your class. But that’s foolish in the Kingdom of Heaven. Consider, the only thing that’s going to get this group of people together at one time is the Lord Jesus Christ. There are many today who won’t actually sit next to someone who has a differing political opinion. And we don’t just sit next to people at church who differ politically from us, we worship the same God together. Foolishness in the kingdom of the world, wisdom in God’s eyes. Let us not forget that.
3. Live like everything is yours in Christ
So first, decide you’re going to become a fool. Second, make sure your wisdom is truly wise. And third, live like everything is yours in Christ. Live like everything is yours in Christ. Because it is. Human leaders, the world, life, death, the present, the future. All of it is for you and for your good in Christ. This is what Paul says elsewhere in Romans eight, he says,
“We know that all things work together for the good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”
Here in Paul’s mind, all those that are called come and they will ultimately be glorified. And part of what that looks like is being transformed into the image of Jesus. That’s part of what it means to belong to Jesus. That he is securing not just our salvation and its start, but its finish and every point along the way. And because God in his providence and sovereignty can actually secure everything that happens, we can trust him when he says it’s for our good.
I mean, what’s the other option? That God is sovereign over everything, but he’s not working it for our good? Well, that doesn’t make sense. Or is the option, well, God is good, but he’s not able to work everything for our good. He’s not powerful enough. Well a God that’s not sovereign is not God. The only option that makes sense, and in fact, the teaching of the scriptures from the beginning to the end is that our God is all powerful and all good and is actively working all things for his people and his glory. So we can sit in that passenger’s seat and trust the driver of the car.
So for the Christian, the difficulties in your life, the sickness, the trials, the difficult people, God is using them all in a way that you probably can’t understand, to conform you to his image. Everything in the world serves you in Jesus. And this is also what Paul says in Philippians 1, which we’ll see in a minute. But he’s going to talk about how whether he lives or dies, it’s all for Jesus. It’s all for Christ. And I think this is an area today where we need to feel the additional weight of this passage. Many Christians, in my experience, get weird about death. They don’t want to contemplate their own mortality. It makes them uncomfortable. And yes, there is a sense in which death is an unnatural intrusion into God’s good world. But death is one of the things that’s been given to us in Christ. Even death belongs to us.
And this is what Paul says in Philippians 1,
“My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always and with all courage, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Paul says, if I live, I’m living for Jesus, he’s going to get the glory and God’s going to use it for my conformity to Christ. If I die, God’s going to get the glory and I get to go be with him. So what’s the downside here? There’s not one in Paul’s mind. We often think there is one. And that’s an area where we are believing and have internalized the wisdom of the world. Because death is not something to be dreaded. For the Christian, victory over death has already been secured and accomplished. The future and the present are not things to be met with anxiety. They are ours.
Now, if someone just gave me control over the present, that would be a thing to be afraid of. But it’s not just that they’re ours, they’re God’s. And He secures what is going to happen. So, when he tells us that it’s going to be for our good, we can believe him. He’s sustaining the universe and its existence, every electron in its place. And that same God who can understand all of that, that we can’t even fathom a small slice of, he has said and guaranteed that everything is working together for us and for the good of Him and his Kingdom.
So as we leave today, let’s consider where do we live, think and feel in a way that reflects the wisdom of the world and not the wisdom of the Kingdom of Heaven? God’s verdict matters so much more than anyone else in this world. So decide you’re going to be a fool. I’ll do it if you’ll do it. Let’s decide together today that we’re going to be fools in the world. It’s not an if, like we’re not concerned of if they’re going to think we’re a fool in a conversation. They are. If they actually understand what we believe, they are. And it’s just freeing to decide right now I’m going to side with God and His wisdom over the world and it’s wisdom every single time. And since everything serves us in Christ, let’s serve Christ with everything that we have.