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A Comfortable Lie

A Comfortable Lie

Words of Faith 5-8-17

Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017


Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL

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1 Corinthians 3

[18] Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. [19] For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; [20] and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." [21] So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, [22] whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, [23] and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

Paul gave a pointed warning to both the ministers and to the congregation in Corinth. Don't deceive yourselves. After all the consideration of how God uses different ministers to plant, water, and harvest-- and the warning to be careful what we build upon the foundation of Christ-- much of the "division problem" at Corinth came down to self-deception.

Sometimes we lie to ourselves.

Notice that Paul did not say "Don't be deceived by others" or "Don't listen to lies of leaders or outsiders" or even "Don't be deceived by Satan. Paul was clear that the big danger here is a self-deception-- lies told to ourselves. It is a deception that we cannot blame on anyone other than ourselves. Don't pull the wool over your own eyes!

But wait a minute. Isn't Satan the "Father of Lies" (John 8:44)? Certainly. So why would Paul weigh in so heavily on the side of personal responsibility? It is because these were believers. They had a choice. They had the Spirit of God in them. They had been born again by the Spirit. They had the mind of Christ available to them.

Yet, instead, they had chosen the wisdom of the world. They had judged leaders and speakers the way that the world does, by their rhetoric and clever turn of the phrase. They had built human loyalties based upon personality rather than simple loyalty to God and the value that God puts on all of those He is using. God did not lead them to this. It was a self-deception. A comfortable lie.

Paul was clear that the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God's sight. The Greek means "absurdness" or "silliness" as if to say it would make God chuckle. But choosing the wisdom of the world for the work of the church is more serious than that. It is an insult to God.

In Paul's letter to the Ephesians he makes it clear that the wisdom of the world reflects the mind of Satan. Before knowing Christ, we are all "dead in transgressions and sins and following the ways of the world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air.” This is the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Eph. 2:1-2). Silly? Yes. But it is no laughing matter.

The answer to such self-deception? Paul says the answer is to become a "fool," so that you may become wise. Set aside the common wisdom of the world. Evaluate ministries by the Word and the Spirit of God, not by the measure of the world. Realize that the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. Paul supported this by quoting from Job 5:13 and Psalm 94:11, "He catches the wise in their craftiness," "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile."

So then, no more boasting about men! Those in the congregation at Corinth needed to see that the practice of boasting about ministers was a self-centered spirit. Instead, they should boast in God to whom they belonged, and who was the source of their every blessing. No Christian is to boast or glory in the wisdom and attainments of men, not even Paul or Apollos. We are not to put our trust in anything human. The reason is that all things,-yes, all the blessings of God in the whole universe, belong to the redeemed church.

The wisdom of God that Paul shares here is enormous! The ministries of Paul, Apollos, Cephas (Peter), and any other Christian worker belongs to all God's people. In fact, the world itself (the kosmos)-- the processes of living and dying, the present and the future--all are to be viewed in relationship to God's purposes and plans for his redeemed people. This is why Paul can say, "All things are yours." Everything is for the believers' benefit. Everything belongs to them.

"And you are of Christ, and Christ is of God." Though all things belong to the Christian believer, they are not centered in him. All things actually and finally belong to God. They belong to the Christian but since he himself belongs to God through Jesus Christ, they belong to God, as we do. Christ and the Father are one, yet Christ was sent by the Father into the world to effect our redemption so that we may "inherit the kingdom."

What do we learn from this for today?

Watch out for self-deception. No one sets out to lie to oneself. But when we choose the way of the world over the Mind of Christ, we slide away. Sometimes we become so stubbornly certain about that worldly way, we pull the wool over our own eyes and refuse to see the Mind of Christ.

Watch out for the deception of personality worship or human loyalty that resists God's ownership and dominion over all things. There can't be any jealousy or competition among churches if I own them all... and I am owned by God. There can't be any loyalty to personalities if they are all mine and I belong to God.

Seek the wisdom of God. God's Kingdom does not need application of the latest business theory or smartest new idea in system management. It is actually God's plan that His Kingdom will invade all those places and things. Compared to the wisdom of God that is found in the Mind of Christ, the wisdom of this world is just plain silly. The worship of celebrities is absurd and marketing schemes are laughable. Better to become a fool that we may become wise.

Lord, help me to see that all things are mine in Christ and that I am Yours. All things exist for the benefit of Your wonderful sovereign plan. Forgive me for the times I slip back into the wisdom and thinking of the world. Forgive me for the times I have lifted a personality above Christ alone. Forgive me for loyalties that have been set above You-- loyalties to denomination, leaders, places, styles or things. Lead me into the Mind of Christ by Your Spirit. In Jesus' name.

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Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)



2820 Business Center Blvd.

Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200

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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 2007 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.