1 Corinthians 2:2

Verse of the Day Devotion: 1 Corinthians 2:2 

“For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” – 1 Corinthians 2:2

The Gentile believers in the city of Corinth to whom Paul is writing almost exclusively came out of idol worship of “the gods” of Greek or Roman mythology.  The philosophers of the Greeks attended to the seeking of wisdom.   To a Greek, having wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of the ‘seen and unseen’ was the epitome of being Man in discovering how to live.  Many philosophers did try to establish or discover universal laws of conduct.  The Greek philosophers asserted that their philosophy reflected the true will of the gods. This was the previous mindset of these new Corinthian believers.  They coupled their faith in Christ with what was called ‘wise’’ according to the culture.   Paul wanted to set things straight for them.  Paul told them that Christ did not send him to baptize (which they undoubtedly heard continuously from Jews who followed Christ), but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect (I Cor 1:17).   Today, if a man or woman is teaching or preaching a different or additional gospel message to the masses other than what was given to Paul, most specifically the crucified Christ, watch out.  Having the wisdom of words is not the same as the power of the cross message.  “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.  For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom 16: 17-18).   There are plenty out there that draw the masses through their ‘smooth words and flattering speech’ but are deceiving the hearts of the simple.

Paul emphasizes to them that through the wisdom of this world you can not know God (I Cor 1:21).  In fact, it pleased God through the (assumed) foolishness of the message preached (Christ crucified for you), to save those who believe, plus nothing.  Just BELIEVE it, by FAITH.   “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom…” (I Cor 1:22).   But in contrast to what the Jews were seeking and what the Greek culture was seeking Paul’s message was this: “…but we preach Christ crucified” (I Cor 1:23).   To the Jewish man or woman, the Messiah being killed and crucified was a stumbling block to them, just as Old Testament prophecy forecast.   To the Gentile Greek man or woman, the message of Jesus Christ being crucified specifically for them in order to save them from the penalty of sin and the Adamic nature and receive full forgiveness from the Creator was ‘foolishness’. Why?   Because the message of the cross can only be understood by ‘faith’. This means you cannot figure out with your earthbound wisdom and insight and great knowledge the truth of Christ crucified for you.   To the Ancient Greeks they were dedicated to cultivating the life of the person of practical and theoretical wisdom, the education of the mind.   From birth onward, a Greek educational system involved developing the mind to such a dimension that the mind in wisdom and knowledge could rise above the natural.   Millions of people today do the same thing through opening their mind to any sort of comprehensible value in practice or religion to attain a higher degree of wisdom – to know how to live – how to be stress free, and how to be calm in the mind, and saved from this Adamic nature from doing unhealthy things.     So ‘why’ did God design it so that you cannot figure out how to be saved through access of worldly wisdom?   One of the greatest attributes of Man’s fallen nature is pride.  Therefore, Paul writes in verse 29 “…that no flesh should glory in His presence.”   If you could figure this out, you would glory in your self-discovery.  Pride.   But God’s perspective says this: “…it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (vs 31). 

There is one thing the Apostle Paul was determined to know and determined to share: Jesus Christ and Him crucified (2:2).    The word ‘determined’ fully means that he reached a decision to a course of action. He made up his mind to share nothing else as priority except Christ’s death.  Therefore, he continues in verse 5 “…that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God”.  I encourage you at this time to focus upon what Jesus Christ has done for you; to ponder and grasp by faith the depth and wisdom of Christ’s finished work of the cross on your behalf.  The world has gone amuck.  But the security of being ‘in Christ’ because of the cross far out measures what wisdom this world could ever offer as relief.  Do not be corrupted by what this ‘world’ offers, even so-called smooth-talking preaching that does not focus upon the cross.    “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Cor 11:3).  

Jaca Kier, Board Member, True Devotion Ministries, Inc.  

Galatians 2:20

Verse of the Day Devotion: Galatians 2:20 

“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” – Galatians 2:20

Paul, in this passage, is laying out a distinction of our new life in Christ in opposition to our old life of sin.  In the verse just before this, he states that the law by which He lived under in his past he no longer lived under.  “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God.” Galatians 2:19.  The ‘law’ referenced here is the Mosaic Law. He has come to the realization, through his conversion to The Way (Christianity) that salvation did not come through obedience to the law.  There was no hope in being saved through his own deeds.  In our focus verse, we see the reality he has come to understand.

When Christ died on the cross, it was not that we died physically with Him.  It was that He died for us, and the penalty for our sins was paid through His death.  Paul puts it this way in his letter to the Church in Rome.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23.  When He died, our sins were paid for because He had never sinned and therefore His death was for our benefit.  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” John 3:16-17.

Because of this, we are to set aside our old life and put on our new life.  “if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.” Ephesians 4:21-24. 

We are to put away those things from our old life that is sin and displeasing to God and put on those things which are good.  “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another. BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.”  Ephesians 4:25-32.

It is important to understand that we are saved completely by the work of Christ on the cross: His death, burial and resurrection.  And this is purely the work of God and not by anything we could ever do.  It has nothing to do with following any rules. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:9-10. All that is required is that we accept the work He did for us. 

True acceptance of what He did is shown by loving Him above all else.  We are called to love the Lord with everything we have: all our heart, soul, mind and strength (see Luke 10:27).  And how do we show that love?  “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15.  We are not to keep His commandments because they will save us, we are to keep them to show our love for Him. And this love shown by the keeping of His commandments is proof that it is no longer we who live, but it is Christ who lives within us.  It was not us who saved ourselves, it was God’s sacrifice that saved us.  Put another way, it was not the keeping of the law, or following specific rules that saved us, it was Christ.  The keeping of His commandments is only the proof that it is no longer us who live, but Christ who lives in us.  Paul wants to make this very clear here in Galatians 2.  Remember, one sin condemns us.  We all have sinned; therefore we cannot save ourselves.  So the following of the law is of no effect, except to show our love for Jesus because of His salvation we have accepted.  What a beautiful picture of the grace and mercy of God.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.