THE WISDOM OF MAN VERSUS THE POWER OF GOD
BY REV. DR. JANET ONAOLAPO
“My message and my preaching weren’t presented with convincing wise words but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power. I did this so that your faith might not depend on the wisdom of people but on the power of God” – I Cor. 2:4-5
Apostle Paul emphasized that his preaching was not enticing words of man’s wisdom so that the faith of believers will not rest on the wisdom of man, but on the POWER OF GOD.
Truly, the wisdom of man is very important because it is given to us by God. As a matter of fact, James 1:5 says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him”. This means that God is interested in our wisdom.
However, he said that our faith should not stand on the wisdom of man because as vital as it is, as critical as it can be, as viable as it is, the wisdom of man is limited when compared to the power of God. The wisdom of this world is foolishness when it is confronted with spiritual things. In I Corinthians 3:19-20, the Scripture asks why anyone would want to base his faith on the wisdom of man. The wisdom of man will only work for a while and then fade away. It never lasts. But when you build your faith solidly on the power of God Almighty, all things will become possible. There will be no more limitation.
We shall be looking at some Scriptural application of the wisdom of man and the power of God so that we can decide which option is best.
- MAN’S WISDOM LOOKS AT THE OBVIOUS WHILE THE POWER OF GOD LOOKS AT THE UNFAILING WORD OF GOD:
If one is not realistic about something, it will be said that he is foolish but the power of God is far beyond what anyone sees. This is because it is the unfailing word of God. In Genesis where God told Abraham to leave his father’s land and go to a place He would show him, bless him and make his seed great, Abraham obeyed. Even when God told him that He was still going to give him a child, Abraham believed. Of course it was easy to believe at that point because he and Sarah were still very young but as days ran by into months and months into years, Sarah began to see that the natural ability to bear a child was no more in her.
The Bible did not specifically state why but when you read through the Scriptures, you will understand that Sarah entered menopause. This is where the wisdom of man says that when a woman reaches menopause, she will no longer be able to get pregnant. In this case, she may be advised to try something else! But as a child of God, if you don’t reason this way, someone may tell you that you are foolish because you are not being reasonable. The wisdom of man goes with reasoning.Little wonder “Sarah said to herself, well since God has forbid me from having a child and I have come to reason that this could be the way out. My maid; Haggai is still a very young lady, go into her and give yourself a child.”
In the Jewish custom, when a woman gives her maid to her husband, any child that comes from that relationship by the maid automatically becomes hers and the maid can no longer lay claim over the child. What the white man calls surrogacy is a perfect example of the wisdom of man
which is undoubtedly very reasonable. What Sarah did was according to their culture and it was no sin as far as God was concerned. That was why Abraham accepted the offer. He lay with Haggai who conceived and bore him a son. As Haggai began to enjoy her motherhood with Abraham as the mother of his son Ishmael, Sarah naturally became lonely and sad about it. When she could no longer withstand the situation, she asked her husband to send both Haggai and Ismael away. That is the limitation of the wisdom of man! It does not last.
And God said to Abraham: “I told you not to allow your faith, your lifestyle and religion, what you believe in to rest on the wisdom of man but to depend on the power of God. I will still give you a son through your wife Sarah.”
(Genesis 15:1-4 Paraphrased)
It was at that point Abraham believed the Lord and stopped considering the weakness of his body and that of his wife Sarah. The Bible says that he was strong in faith giving glory to God and by Faith, Sarah eventually conceived. (Romans 4:18-21)
May your faith move from the wisdom of man to the power of God. Many people’s faith cannot go beyond the wisdom of man. That is why they cannot see beyond the wisdom of man and rest on the power of God. Though wisdom is good and important (where there is no wisdom foolishness abounds), the power of God is better.
- THE WISDOM OF MAN LOOKS AT THE IMPOSSIBLE WHILE THE POWER OF GOD SAYS THAT WITH GOD NOTHING SHALL BE IMPOSSIBLE:
When something is impossible, naturally with human wisdom, it is just impossible. The wisdom of man always tells you to give up for cases that literally seem impossible. It takes the wisdom of man to know that something is impossible but it takes the power of God to say that with God all things are possible. This means that when you put your faith in the wisdom of man, you may never see possibility in tough cases but when you put it in the power of God, you will see that nothing can be withheld from you; nothing shall be impossible for you.
God told Moses to gather the people and bring them to the Promise Land. They went through the path which He asked them to go through until they suddenly reached a dead end; The Red Sea. There was Pharaoh and his army coming behind them! The children of Israel could neither go forward nor retreat. They could neither go left nor right. They got trapped right where they were and waited for the army of pharaoh to catch up with them. At that point, the wisdom of man was saying: “Everyone get ready to die” but when Moses cried unto the Lord, God told him not to put his faith in man’s wisdom but in His power. He then asked him to stretch out his rod and continue the journey. Moses switched his faith immediately from man’s wisdom to God’s power and there was a manifestation of God’s power! Thank God for the use of wisdom but, enough of your wisdom. Start depending on the power of God!
“I have a daughter in the Lord who at the age of 57 was still believing God for children. She had been married for 18 years but there was no child in the marriage. When she told me she was going for IVF, I prayed with her and asked her to go. IVF was fashioned by the wisdom of man through God’s inspiration so, I was not against it. There is nothing wrong with it. It has been paving way for some people. She went for it in one of the best and most expensive hospitals in Abuja, Nigeria but she did not succeed even after eight attempts. At her fourth attempt, I begged her to come back home because of the agony she was going through in the course of the failed attempts. Again, I asked her to come back home because while she was away, some ladies had begun to
chase her husband to seduce him. I asked her to come back home for her husband so that she would not lose everything and she did. Today, God has visited her and she has delivered a set of twins; a boy and a girl. Though the concept of IVF is no sin, there is something which goes beyond the natural and that is what the power of God specializes in acting on.
- MAN’S WISDOMGIVES IN BECAUSE OF DELAY WHILE THE POWER OF GOD STANDS ON HIS UNCHANGING PROMISE:
God’s power stays on the unchanging word of God which is His promise that can never fail. Naturally, when there is a delay, it is only natural for wisdom to give in and recommend something else. Wisdom says: “You’ve been trying this for a while now, why can’t you just be smart…” That is human reasoning but there is something better than being reasonable. In the book of Luke Chapter 8 :41-56, there is an interesting story of a man called Jairus. He was a rich and noble man who had a sick daughter that was dying. Though the Bible did not categorically say that he did not have money to take his child to the hospital, Jairus must have tried all possible medical procedures which may have proved futile. So, he decided to travel to see Jesus and narrate his ordeal to Him. Jesus said to him: “Let’s go and see your daughter”. Something happened on their way. A certain woman who was not even expecting to see Jesus met them along the way and when she touched Jesus, she was healed of a twelve year ailment. Jesus knew that someone had touched him because virtue went out of Him. All along, Jarius may not have been himself because all he wanted was for Jesus to quickly get to his house and heal his sick daughter. For him, time was of essence. But Jesus took His time because He was not working with time which is man’s wisdom but He was working with the power of God.
While they were still on the way to Jairus’ house, a woman came from the house of Jairus to inform him that his daughter had died. At that point, the woman’s wisdom said: “Ha! Jairus, what took you so long? There is no need again for Jesus’ presence. Your daughter is dead so, you should just tell Jesus to go back while you go and bury your dead”
But Jesus made Jairus to understand that he had started with the power of God so, he had to continue with it and believe. Jairus then switched immediately from man’s wisdom to the power of God and got his miracle; his daughter was brought back to life. Delay is not denial and failure is not fatal. Though there might be some truth in man’s wisdom, the power of God will take you beyond that.
- MAN’S WISDOM ACTS ON WHAT IS SEEN, HEARD AND EXPERIENCED WHILE GOD’S POWER ONLY SEES GOD’S PLAN FOR YOU:
Elimelech in the book of Ruth, lived with his family in Bethlehem. Bethlehem means “the land of bread”. Suddenly, there was famine in Bethlehem! With famine, there will certainly be starvation and death. At that time, the wisdom of man said: “Move out of the land of famine”There was nothing wrong with moving out because it was just “Common Sense” to do so. So, Elimelech called on all the members of his household and told them to start packing their things. After packing, they relocated to Moab; a land of idol worship where God had warned the Jews not to have anything to do with. Because he had to run away from the land of famine to a land of abundance, he relocated to Moab. This is what many Christians do. They run from the presence of God to the camp of the enemy just because they want more. The promises of God are available to them but because there is a challenge where they are presently, they seek alternative measures that are against the plan or will of God for them. If you are a child of God, please don’t do this.
Unfortunately, a few years down the line, Elimelech and his two sons died and Bethlehem that was ravaged with famine became fruitful again. God turned things around for the people who remained in Bethlehem during the time of famine. Naomi the wife of Elimelech, took a bold step, leveraged on the power of God and God turned everything around for her.
Contrary to the above story is the account in Genesis 26:1-6; the story of Isaac. When there was famine in the land, Isaac was instructed by God to remain and sow in the famine land. He obeyed, became so great that the Philistines began to envy him. This does not go with the wisdom of man but it does with the power of God. As a child of God, you must understand that there is no one without challenges. Jesus said it Himself that in this world we will have tribulations. It is man’s wisdom that will make you want to leave the presence or promise of the Lord because of a challenge. The wisdom of man acts based on what is seen, heard and experienced but the power of God sees the plans of God for your life. Do you even know what the plan of God for your life is? The word of God says “Harken diligently to the voice of the Lord your God and observe…”
- THE WISDOM OF MAN HOLDS BACK WHAT IS NOT ENOUGH TO SHARE WHILE THE POWER OF GOD RELEASES IT:
It is mere wisdom not to want to give out something that is not even enough for you. In the wisdom of man, it is only a fool that will do that. Just like the story of the ten virgins, when the five foolish virgins asked for oil from the wise virgins, they were simply told that it would not be enough for them and were sent away to buy theirs. That was pure wisdom of man and naturally, there was nothing wrong with what the wise virgins did. But when it comes to the power of God, His power will tell you to release it because it is only in releasing it that you will have more.
In the story of the prophet and the woman in the book of I Kings 17:7-16, the prophet asked the woman to give him water to drink. When Elijah asked her for food, she told him that she only had little food which she wanted to prepare for herself and her son to eat and die. Perhaps there was something the Lord saw in that woman which made Him want to sustain her life. The Prophet did not just go to her because he was hungry but God wanted to do something in her life. God knows how to supply our needs. That is why sometimes He does some things for us because of His love for us. On our part, we always want to reason everything with our head and do not always get it so, we end up losing it. The wisdom of the widow of Zarepath could have said: “If truly when I give you this little cake made for me and my son, you will supply more, first make the supply for me to see before I can believe you..” but the power of God does not operate that way. The power of God expects that you first release whatever it is you have by faith before you can see the manifestation of an abundant supply. The widow switched and understood the power of God. She fed the Prophet and was blessed afterwards. She enjoyed abundance in famine.
Is there any farmer who goes to his land and says to it: “Land, listen to me. I am here to sow this seed of corn but you have to first of all prove to me that when I sow this seed of corn, I will have plenty” Don’t you think any farmer who says that will need deliverance? It only takes a wise farmer to understand the principles and system of farming before harvesting
- THE WISDOM OF MAN SEEKS REVENGE WHILE THE POWER OF GOD LEAVES VENGEANCE TO GOD:
The power of God forgives and leaves vengeance to God. In the book of I Samuel 24, David was anointed king and after his anointing, he went to serve in the palace of Saul. At the palace, he served faithfully. Despite his faithful services, Saul was unhappy that David had been anointed
king. The Bible says that Saul hunted David to kill him with 3000 soldiers but David fled for his life. The Bible also records that where he was hiding at a particular cave was the same place where Saul chose to freshen himself up. One of David’s servant saw him and quickly ran to tell David and wisdom said: “David, God has put your enemy into your hands. Use this as an opportunity to get rid of him” but David did not kill Saul right there. He only cut off a piece of his garment and while he did that, Saul did not know. When Saul returned to their camp, David also came out and said to Him: “Saul, if I wanted to kill you, I would have done that with ease” and Saul was ashamed. The same thing repeated itself and this time around, it was God that killed Saul.
Always leave vengeance to God. In fact, planning vengeance is very natural because it is the wisdom of man to want to pay back for a hurt done. Malice is vengeance in silence because it is a rehearsal of it. Again, unforgiveness is the younger brother of vengeance. When you go through the Scriptures, you will realize that people who left vengeance for God did not regret doing so because the law of Karma eventually caught up with their enemies.
The Bible says that you should pray for your enemies. This is not to say that you should allow the powers of darkness to prevail over you. It is always the wisdom of man to want to have vengeance but leave it for God because He will do it for you with His power even beyond your expectation.
- THE WISDOM OF MAN RELIES ON WHAT YOU HAVE TO MEET YOUR NEEDS WHILE THE POWER OF GOD RELIES ON HIM FOR PROVISION:
I John 5:4, says, “He that is born of God, overcometh the world and this is the victory that overcometh the world even our faith”
OUR FAITH here has something to stand on and Apostle Paul said that we must not allow our faith to stand on the wisdom of man but on the power of God.
Matthew 14:15-20 tells us the story of Jesus and the multitude. When it was getting dark, the disciples in their wisdom came to Jesus and told Him that they were in a deserted place and the time was far spent. They told Him to send the people away so that they could buy themselves food in the nearest village before it got darker. Jesus didn’t mind them because He was not operating in the wisdom of man. He told the disciples to gather the multitude and make them sit down. Making them sit down was telling them to get ready to eat. So, Jesus took the five loaves of bread and the two fishes which a young boy in their midst had, looked up to heaven (He didn’t look down because looking down did not signify the power of God) and blessed it. Then He gave the loaves of bread and fish to His disciples to share among the multitude. Ordinary, wisdom should say: “Why are you giving us to share? Why can’t you share it yourself so that we can see the magic you will perform to make this bread and fish go round?” The disciples did not argue with Him because at that time, they too had started operating in the power of God and not in the wisdom of man. They collected the loaves of bread and fish and started sharing them. The power of God brought multiplication to the loaves of bread and fishes; supernatural abundance and the multitude was fed to satisfaction with left over. As a child of God, you must learn to rely on God’s provision and not on what you have to meet your needs.
Don’t think about how you can pay your tithe even when the money you have is not sufficient to take care of your financial needs or ask how you can pay all you have in the name of “sowing a seed” Asking those questions simply shows that you are working on the wisdom of man.
“Bishop Kola Onaolapo once told us a funny story about a man who had a dream that he died and made heaven. An angel came to take him to his mansion. He was very excited when the angel showed him the first room. It was a beautiful toilet. The angel showed him about four rooms and they were beautiful toilets. The man was confused. He thought to himself: “The rooms are all toilets. Okay, maybe one is for me, one is for my wife, one for my visitors and the other for my children.” But when all the rooms in the mansions were opened and they were all toilets, he became worried and asked the angel why a beautiful mansion like that would have only toilets and baths. The angel said to him: “Well, you served the Lord faithfully but any time it was time to give offerings, you always went to the toilet. So, you reap what you sow”
- THE WISDOM OF MAN LIVES AND ENJOYS THE PLEASURE OF SIN WHILE THE POWER OF GOD SEEKS HOLINESS:
The wisdom of man says: “Oh, I have a girlfriend. I have to test her first to know if she is fit sexually before I marry her”, but the power of God says: “I prayed and got a revelation from the Lord that she is my wife.” If as a brother in church, you cannot pray to ascertain your wife but want to test every lady that comes your way by fornication, then you are not fit to get married. Sisters, note that anyone who seeks to test you in bed first before marrying you is not worthy of you. It is the wisdom of man that says: “Body nor be fire wood”, “I don’t drink but I only drink responsibly”.
In Luke Chapter 15, the prodigal son went to his father and said to him: “Father, I do not think I can continue this kind of life (holiness) here with you. Please, give me my own portion of your kingdom and let me enjoy the pleasures of this world.”
Little wonder the Bible says: “There is a way that seemeth right unto a man but the end thereof is the way of destruction” His father gave him his portion of his inheritance and he left. After living a wasteful life and all that he had got finished, he began to struggle to even feed himself. When he could no longer bear the pain and shame, (the wisdom of man), he decided to go back to his father (the power of God). He made that switch from the wisdom of man to the power of God and there was a turnaround in his life afterwards.
David said: “I rather be a gate keeper in the house of God than to be in the multitude of them that live in iniquity.
May your faith not rest on the wisdom of man but on the power of God. It is the wisdom of God to remain in the house of God, to heed instructions, seek the face of God in fasting and prayer.