Continuing our discussion from last week, in the next few verses (2:6-8) of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we find him giving a contrast between God’s wisdom and human wisdom.
6Yet 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; 7but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8the 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 (New American Standard Bible)
Paul points out that he does use wisdom in his teaching and speaking about the things of God, but it is a wisdom that cannot be comprehended by the unregenerate man—the person who has not been enlightened by God’s Spirit. As intelligent as people can be about all kinds of things, when it comes to certain spiritual truths, they can be amazingly obtuse. Paul’s example demonstrates what they did when God, Himself, came down in the flesh. Instead of recognizing Him and receiving His message, they killed him! Absolutely amazing!
It seems that humans can study and make meaningful progress in many areas of knowledge, but when the studies focus on our inner selves, our motives, and our relationships to others and to God, then things begin to fall apart. Kenneth Samples, in discussing this issue in his book, Without a Doubt (page 48), includes the following quote from theologian Millard Erickson:
Sin’s distortion of human understanding of the general revelation is greater the closer one gets to the relationship between God and humans. Thus, sin produces relatively little obscuring effect upon the understanding of matters of physics, but a great deal with respect to matters of psychology and sociology. Yet it is at those places where the potential for distortion is greatest that the most complete understanding is possible.
In other words, we are able to study physics and chemistry and geology with great effect, but we don’t do nearly as well in the study of the workings of the mind or of the interactions between humans. The image of God in us is effaced.
Sin has also taken its toll when it comes to understanding the things of God.
We’ll explore in next week’s post how God reverses that misunderstanding.