Wisdom Won't Immunize You from This

I crave wisdom—the ability to discern right from wrong, to adopt a long view on life, to experience a peaceful existence, to prosper, and to raise delightful children.

But you know who else loved the idea of wisdom? Eve. When tempted by the serpent, she looked upon the contraband and "saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom” (Gen. 3:6).

Dr. Wendy Longo (CC)

The irony, of course, is Eve’s desire to gain wisdom led her to act foolishly in disobeying God. The old saying, "The ends don’t justify the means" applies here. As Solomon said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10a) Translation: if Eve really wanted wisdom, she should have respected God's command not to eat of the tree. So the first lesson is this:

Lesson 1: Wisdom obtained by ungodly means leads to ruin.

But invoking Solomon is ironic itself since he strayed from God in his latter years. If he fell, how wise could he really have been? And what hope is there for you and me—ordinary bumpkins compared to Solomon?

Recognizing the truth of lesson 2 is a good start:

Lesson 2: Wisdom cannot immunize you from sensuality.

Simply understanding the right path to choose is not enough when it comes to righteousness. Solomon was the wisest man ever to have lived, but he couldn’t even take his own advice to fear God and follow him. Why not? Why didn’t his wisdom suffice?

Solomon's problem was essentially the same as Eve’s. Both were overcome by the sensuality of this world. In Eve’s case, she “saw that the fruit … was good for food and pleasing to the eye” (Gen. 3:6). She was first tempted by her senses—the tongue and the eye.

In Solomon’s case, he married hundreds of wives for political advantages who then infected his religious outlook with foreign gods. Earthly power and prestige led him astray followed by lust for sexual gratification.

I used to think wisdom was enough—the end all and be all, but following this line of thinking exposes you to the temptations of the flesh. As long as we dwell in this bag of bones we will be tempted by sensuality. No matter how wise you are, sometimes the animalistic side of your being attempts a coup against the spirit.

You see a doughnut, and the endorphins kick in. You view a sexually charged image and the pleasure center of the brain starts churning. Your flesh cries out to be satisfied, overriding any wisdom you may have obtained.

Food and sex (and many other pleasures) are not intrinsically bad. These are gifts from our Father. But when their purposes are violated against the will of God they because corrupting vices.

This duality of wisdom and sensuality is a persistent struggle for humanity as the apostle Paul famously wrote, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Rom. 7:15).

So what’s the solution? Is there hope for us humans?

First is to recognize the struggle. You’re most vulnerable when you think your wisdom is sufficient to trump the temptations of the flesh.

Second is to memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13:

God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

This is only possible if you remain close to God. How? By regular communication with Him, in prayer and in studying His word.

Both of these are well encapsulated in the words of the LORD via the prophet Jeremiah:

Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight. Jeremiah 9:23-24

Whatever causes you to boast, if it’s not of God then you’re heading toward destruction. Just ask Eve and Solomon. But don’t forsake the pursuit of wisdom; instead acknowledge that wisdom does not equate to righteousness and can't immunize you from the sensuality of our world.

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  1. A good post for me right now. Thank you, Andy.

    1. You're welcome. I'll have to give God the credit though. :) Hope you are well Debra!