Wisdom – Earthly versus Divine

What is wisdom?

According to our usual understanding and definition (and a simple online search): “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.”

Synonyms: Sagacity, intelligence, understanding, insight, perceptiveness, acuity, discernment, sense, shrewdness, astuteness, acumen, smartness, judiciousness, judgment, foresight, prudence, etc…

From Webster's: accumulated learning

In the world's/human view, wisdom stems from the accumulation of knowledge, which, if understanding follows and is applied over a period of time in multiple experiences throughout life and in various circumstances, can lead to wisdom.

A person who is truly wise is the kind of person you choose to go to for advice because you believe that they have the ability to apply the knowledge and understanding gained from experience to a variety of situations, issues and problems.

While this is a reasonable, understandable and practical understanding of wisdom, and it is the type that as individuals we tend to pride ourselves on. It is not primarily and exclusively the type of wisdom upon which we should rely.

You see, the fatal flaw of this kind of wisdom is this: it is dependent on knowledge, and then on the understanding of that knowledge.

Worldly/human concept of Wisdom:


The problem with humans is that our "knowledge" usually is "information" (gathered by our senses), and not true Knowledge, which is perception of the Truth.

Our perception of TRUTH is limited; therefore, our "knowledge" is limited (because we can’t know all truth really). Often we take as "true, " things, which really aren't, because again, our knowledge is really just (bits of) information collected by our senses, and we often even have a misperception of the facts that are presented to us. I recently gave a group a task of identifying five animals from pictures. On average, 90% identified the porpoise as a dolphin, the hedgehog as a porcupine, the jaguar as a leopard or cheetah, the American alligator as a crocodile and the Alpine salamander as a lizard or gecko. This may have been a simple task, and the error may have been a result of insufficient knowledge about the target items, but it points to the fact that:

1) Our knowledge is dependent on the bits of information we receive, and

2) Even when we are presented with facts, we can misidentify them.

From the student to the scholar, in small issues and in great, we can misperceive or misidentify the facts.

Moreover, even when we have correctly identified the facts with which we are presented, we can have a misconception about them. For example, there are people in the world who struggle with their gender identity; there are boys who express themselves in more feminine ways by usual standards and women who express themselves in more masculine ways than usual (whether or not they actually have any issues regarding their own gender identity); there are people in the world who even if they don’t struggle with gender identity prefer to have intimate and romantic relations with the same sex rather than with the opposite sex, and there are people who have been bullied for any of the above.

Now, these are facts. The individuals, the issues and the stories exist. But people have a misconception of what these facts point to. They say it must mean that ALL of these situations are normal, natural and acceptable. And because bad things have been done (e.g. bullying) to those for whom any of the above descriptions is true, we must not only protect them, but we must also support them in forwarding their agenda for the whole world to accept their ideas as normal, natural and acceptable.

In the quest for human wisdom, if our identification of the facts or our inferences about them is off then, at the next step, our Understanding of them will be false or skewed—MISCONCEPTION. Our concepts are the building blocks with which we develop our worldviews. Whole philosophies, ideologies, social and political systems have been built on misconception!

However, the main problem with earthly “wisdom” is that it is only as good morally as the principles upon which it is based.

A principle is like a pillar. It is set up to hold up the shelter. So when you need to make a moral decision, you internally check your principles. Your principles are like the load-bearing walls of your house. You build your life on them. Decisions are made based on principles. Your lifestyle is a series of decisions about living, which are held up by the various pillars/principles in your life (your lifestyle is like the floor in your house…it’s the regular path you walk on).

Unfortunately, our principles can also be based on misconceptions: if it feels good to me then it’s good. Therefore, do what feels good to you. Wisdom in business—do what brings the most profit.

Human wisdom is unstable because there is a weak foundation. The foundation is self. We measure ourselves by ourselves. Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees accept glory from each other and receive those who come in their own name (John 5:41-44). Mankind generally operates in the same way. I build my house up and up, and my house looks nice on the outside and people say I am wise. It’s fancy, but there is no substance. We build on sand, not on the Rock.

Worldly/Human wisdom is understood as the product of understanding developed from information and experience. Humans prize the gathering of knowledge because they think that the more they have, the wiser they will be. They idolize knowledge, but Divine wisdom has a whole other setup…

Proverbs 24:3-4

“Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established; 4 By knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.”


Interestingly, in this setup, knowledge has last place. It is a gift that flows towards us as a result of having received Divine Wisdom. “By knowledge, the rooms are filled...”

Proverbs 4:7-9

“Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding.

English meaning: most important, from Old French from Latin principalis , from princip-, princeps “one who takes the first part”.

Meaning of “principal” Hebrew: reshith- beginning, chief; the first in place, time order or rank.

Wisdom was and is FIRST.

Proverbs 8:22-31 poetically describes the primacy of Wisdom:

“The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. I have been established from everlasting, From the beginning, before there was ever an earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills, I was brought forth; While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, Or the primal dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, When He drew a circle on the face of the deep, When He established the clouds above, When He strengthened the fountains of the deep, When He assigned to the sea its limit, So that the waters would not transgress His command, When He marked out the foundations of the earth, Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman; And I was daily His delight, Rejoicing always before Him, Rejoicing in His inhabited world, And my delight was with the sons of men.”

Wisdom is first and comes from acknowledging that God is the sovereign and supreme Lord.

Proverbs 9:10

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Worshipping God as the supreme Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of Him (not bits of information) is true understanding. You will be filled with true knowledge (perception of the truth) from there- from the One who knows and is Truth.

It STARTS with wisdom…

You see, with humanity, it starts with knowledge because the reliance is on self—the ability to gather information, make sense of it, use it for gain, and to decide and do what is good in our own eyes—the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. With God, the reliance is on CHRIST—The Tree of Life!

Christ is the Wisdom of God. (1 Corinthians 1:24)

Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

John 1:1 states: “In the beginning was the Word.” Who is the Word of God? CHRIST!

Seek First the Kingdom of God…

Man is truly in need of the secrets of the Kingdom, they desire it, but attempt to find it through their own efforts—in the search for knowledge. This path is futile.

Romans 1:18-23

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. (Emphasis added)

Looking at the words that have been bolded above, let's dig a little deeper to break down the language of this passage to mine its significance:

Strong's Concordance: Foolish – unintelligent, by implication wicked – foolish, without understanding. From 1 negative particle (the “un” in “unintelligent”) and 4908 - mentally put together, from 4862 - from primitive preposition denoting union; with or together (close) i.e. by association, companionship, process, resemblance, possession, instrumentality, addition:- beside, with. In comp. It has similar applications, including completeness.

So what made those of whom Paul is speaking foolish, not mentally put together not fully comprehending, not complete in their understanding, and dark? It was this fact—that though they knew God (that is I believe they knew that God existed and they knew that God was God), they did not glorify him as God. They did not “fear” Him. That is, they did not acknowledge Him as the Sovereign and Supreme Lord. Nor were they thankful. In other words, they did not look at the things that they had and the things that they were able to do as something that was given to them by God. They did not even look at the marvel of creation as something given by Him! Because they did not acknowledge Him and glorify him, thank him and look to him, their minds became futile–empty, without purpose.

Having no connection between them and God, not having that union, makes man incomplete and scattered internally (the root meaning of foolish). Mankind, therefore, spends all of its days trying to put the pieces together to find wholeness and purpose. Hence the passionate pursuit of knowledge.

Yet their pursuit is futility…

Strong's — Futile/vain

3154 From 3152 to render (passive become) foolish i.e. (mor.) wicked or (spec.) Idolatrous: - become vain. 3152 from base of 3155; empty i.e. (lit.) Profitless, or (spec.) An idol: - vain, vanity. 3155 from the base 3145 (through the idea of tentative manipulation, i.e. unsuccessful search, or else of punishment); folly, i.e. (adv.) To no purpose: - in vain…

Because there is no acknowledgement of the Creator, man remains dark on the inside because as James 1:17 explains, “Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of Lights”. If we don't acknowledge this Father for all that He is and all He has done, we will become dark in our minds, lacking understanding in our hearts, lacking guidance life, for we are without sufficient light to see and put the pieces back together.

I love the idea of “tentative manipulation” expressed in the root of “futility”. Basically, it means not searching deep enough, barely moving things around on the surface. Therefore, your search is unsuccessful/in vain because you're only seeking superficially. For all the knowledge the world tries to gather. They are really only seeking superficial things—a superficial life—not the one that really matters. The devil sold mankind a counterfeit life—knowledge apart from God—as if it were enough, but what was already offered (and is still being offered) was knowledge of God. Remember, “knowledge of the Holy one IS understanding”! They had access to Divine Wisdom itself! Eating from the Tree of Life was the source of ALL things and true wisdom. Christ Himself is the Tree of Life!

What’s the point? What do we need to take away from this message?

Do not be intimidated by the world’s wisdom. (It is not true wisdom and not truly profitable. Take courage that God is above it all.)

1 Corinthians 1:19,21

For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate”… For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

Do not rely primarily on what you know or understand. The Lord knows more.

Isaiah 55:8-9

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Decide that you are going to remember that God knows what you do not know and sees what you cannot see. The just shall live by faith.

Romans 1:17

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Continue to remind yourself that the Christian walk is not about a reliance on Self.

Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding.

Finally, may this scripture be as great an encouragement to you as it has been for me:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. 19For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.