We can get pretty puffed up with wrong notions and erroneous beliefs. In fact, we are encouraged that direction by the messages of the world in which we live. The New Testament uses a little phrase, “if anyone supposes ...” as an indicator of some of these wrong notions and beliefs. Here is a summary of them, with a few notes.
God’s wisdom and power trumps worldly wisdom and power
1Cor. 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.
The short answer here is that Christ is my life. He is the source of true life, the meaning of true life, and the goal of true life. Therefore, any kind of worldly wisdom that denies this truth needs to be overthrown. Here are a couple of examples:
“if you have your health, you have everything”
“the key to a good life is a good education”
“the one who dies with the most toys wins”
There is no point in being opposed to health, education, or even toys. However, when they are allowed to supplant Christ as the source, meaning or goal of life, they are dangerous and damning.
Love trumps knowledge
1Cor. 8:2 If anyone supposes that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; 3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.
It is said that “knowledge is power.” I’ve seen this happen among believers. But God, who gave us our brains and our minds as gifts to be used for Him expects that all knowledge will be pressed into the service of love. Knowledge is not a leveraging tool. It is an instrument by which we express love.
Participation in Christ trumps association with Christians
1Cor. 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.
“Hanging out” is the new Christian activity. We aren’t going to teach or learn. We’re just going to hang out. We’re not going to pray or evangelize. We’re just going to hang out. Well, in the Old Testament history that Paul recites at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 10, there were a lot of people hanging out with God’s people who will not be hanging out in heaven. Having Christians around you is not of much use if you do not have Christ in you.
God’s Word trumps human reasoning
1Cor. 11:16 But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God.
I’ll be honest, the first half of 1 Corinthians 11 is tough. But what is clear is that God has a design, even if it does not always make sense to us. We may not understand the cultural significance of head coverings, but we understand that God has established a principle of male headship in the home and in the church. So while it may be true that women are smarter and better listeners and thus better corporate officers and organizers (WSJ this week), it does not change God’s design. We just need to take God at His Word.
God’s Word trumps subjective expressions of prophecy or spirituality
1Cor. 14:37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment.
Our notions and feelings need to be checked by God’s Word. There are many people with powerful personalities and winning charisma that can be at odds with God’s agenda, whether because of some malicious motivation or being unwittingly used by the enemy. What does God’s Word say?
The Spirit of God and Glory of Christ trump human accomplishments
Phil. 3:4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:
God delights to use the weak to demonstrate His power; to take something ugly to create something beautiful. So why do we always gravitate to the best and the brightest. The company of believers in heaven will be trophies, not of human genius and greatness, but of grace.
Self-control trumps self-expression
James 1:26 If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless.
Is anyone more practical than James? Ouch, ouch, and ouch. You think you’ve got it together? What do you say when you’re mad? What do you say under your breath, and inside your head? As we fail in this area, we take our minds and hearts back to God over and over again, asking for forgiveness, cleansing, and the construction of a deep and real holiness in our hearts.