HS Week #30: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord”

Brad Libolt speaking at High School group. He spoke on 1st Corinthians 1:18-31. He spoke about how sin has clouded our vision causing us to boast in things that will not satisfy. Reminding us that we are created to boast in the Lord and that in him we are satisfied.


  • Everyone wants to be known. In high school I wanted to be known by my athletic ability, in relationships and in my grades.
  • I thought being known for my athletic strengths would make me feel accepted. I thought being known for my grades would make me feel important. I thought that being liked by girls would make me feel loved.
  • Sadly I never found significance in these things. Instead what I found was disappointment and hopelessness.
  • I realize now that my search for love and acceptance was fueled by pride. I wanted to be better than others. I wanted to be proud of who I was and what I had accomplished. I was boasting in my intelligence, strength, and popularity.
  • This same kind of pride is what Paul is addressing in 1 Corinthians. The underlying issue in the church at Corinth is pride.
  • Last week Dave talked about how the people of Corinth were boasting in the abilities of Paul and Peter and Apollos and not the cross of Christ. So at the end of the last week’s reading Paul says that his mission is to preach Christ in a way that points people to Him and to the power of the cross.
  • So we get into verse 18 and Paul talks about the foolishness of the word of the cross.

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

  • The word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. We have talked to people who think what we believe in is crazy, it doesn’t make sense, it’s foolish.
  • The idea that a carpenter from the Middle East 2000 years ago died on the cross and that somehow makes it so we can get into heaven is a foolish idea.
  • But, to those who are saved, it is the power of God. In our own lives we have experienced the power of God in the gospel. We have experienced the life changing love of God that was shown to us through the sacrifice of Jesus. We have personally experienced the freedom from sin and shame and now have full access to our creator, because of the power of the gospel.
  • This gospel, this powerful good news that has the ability to change lives, the gospel is how Paul addresses pride, and Paul does it because that is how God does it.
  • Look at verse 19. It’s a quotation from Isaiah 29. In that verse God says that his people worship him with their mouth but their hearts are far from him. They only fear God because they are told to, not because they have actual reverence for him.
  • God is talking about their hard hearts, the heart problem we all have before Christ. He says that he is going to do something about this heart problem, and the thing he is going to do will be wonderful. This wonderful thing that God is going to do to fix the people’s sinful hearts is going to destroy the wisdom of the wise.
  • God sent Jesus to fix the people’s hearts and destroy the wisdom of the wise. That the word of the cross, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is the wonderful thing that God has done that simultaneously saves people from their sin and destroys their pride.

20Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.

  • So Paul calls out the wise, the scribes, the debaters. The wise have wisdom, the scribes had power, and the debaters had social status. We are proud of our intelligence, our power, and our social status, he later calls it noble birth.
  • So these people were the best of the best according to the world. He calls them out and asks where they are? Where is your wisdom, your discernment, your intelligence, your power, your strength? Saying what you think is wisdom according to the world, God has made foolish. Your wisdom doesn’t compare the wisdom of God.
  • In fact God himself, in his great wisdom, has blocked our worldly wisdom from making it so we can know God. We know God because of what was preached, the word of the cross, the gospel. Not because of our great wisdom or intellectual capacity.
  • People see this message as foolish, but really their own wisdom is foolish, because they can’t know God on their own. God did this intentionally, it says he did it out of wisdom. He did this because if we could know God by way of our own power, our own wisdom, our own works, there would be no need for the gospel. We could praise ourselves rather than praising God for saving us. God made sure there was nothing we could do to truly know him, so that he would receive all the glory.

20For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

  • Then Paul explains the object of our pride. He says that Jews demand signs and Gentiles seek wisdom. The Jews wanted power and the Greeks wanted knowledge.
  • In 23 it says that Christ crucified is a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles. Think about it. The Jews wanted power, they wanted a king of kings who would rule the nations, deliver them from their Roman oppressors, display great political and military power and re-establish Jerusalem and the nation of Israel.
  • Instead, Jesus rode into town on a donkey. He spent time with sinners, cared for the outcasts and unclean, he taught peace. Then he was crucified. He was hanging on the cross, bloody and broken, mangled and unrecognizable, naked and humiliated.
  • The Greeks wanted intelligence, and the cross doesn’t make any logical sense. To them a king is Cesar, with a royal family, lots of economic and political influence. A king leads militaries and conquers nations. People don’t need saving, we are free to enjoy the pleasures of the world and just make sure the gods stay happy. The cross doesn’t make any sense. A king doesn’t die, isn’t humiliated, the death of a man from Nazareth doesn’t some how save us from our sins.
  • But, Paul says, the message of Christ crucified is both power and wisdom to both Jew and Greek. There is power in the cross. While Jesus was hanging lifeless on the cross he was at war with sin, death, and the enemy. He won that war, conquered sin and death, and rose victorious in great power. In fact the work that was done on the cross is the greatest display of power in history. There is wisdom in the cross as well.
  • God created and loves his people, and he knew from the very beginning that Jesus would have to die for them. This plan was perfect, and God was intricately involved in the entire story of the gospel, from creation to the cross, and from the cross to Christ’s return someday. The gospel makes perfect sense.
  • Christ crucified is the greatest display of God’s power and wisdom ever, and to some it seems weak and foolish, but even the foolishness and weakness of God is greater than the wisdom and strength of man.

26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

  • Paul then gets really personal. He he calls out specifically the brothers in Corinth. He says consider your own pride, you really don’t have anything to boast in. You aren’t wise, you aren’t strong, you don’t have social status.
  • Verse 27 says, “But God chose…” Its not something you did, it is God’s doing, and what God did was choose the foolish in the world to shame the wise, he chose the weak to shame the strong, and he chose what is low and despised to shame the high and exalted. And this makes perfect sense.
  • The first step in accepting the gospel is humility. We have to recognize that we cannot save ourselves on our own. When we realize we are incapable of knowing God and saving ourselves, then we can accept the fact that God has saved us through Jesus Christ. God uses the humble in the world, the lowly to do his work. And he did this with Jesus. God used him to bring down those who think they are something, those who are proud.
  • And the reason why he did this is in verse 29. He did this so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. When we realize that we can do nothing, the things we are proud of and the things we boast in hold no weight in comparison with what God has done.
  • We can’t boast in our wisdom, strength, or social status in the presence of God, because his wisdom, strength, and nobility surpass ours. It isn’t even comparable. God sent Jesus to display his perfect wisdom and power so that the world would boast in him and not themselves.

30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

  • Again it is because of God, not because of ourselves, that we are in Christ Jesus. And being in Christ Jesus means we have wisdom, we have righteousness, we are being sanctified, we are redeemed.
  • It is only through Christ that we can have these things. Wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption are all very very good things. But we can only have them because of Christ.
  • Sanctification is the process of becoming holy, the process of becoming more like Christ. It is simultaneously a work of the Holy Spirit and something we do as well. The Spirit convicts us of sin, nudges our heart, shows us things we should remove from our lives and things we should add to our lives.
  • Right now I want you to think about what you’ve been boasting in. What are you proud of?
  • Are you searching for acceptance, love and acknowledgement in your accomplishments and achievements and these things that you are boasting in?
  • If you are, they are never going to satisfy. Instead, tonight, let’s together stop boasting in our own wisdom, power, and nobility, and let’s boast in God. Because we were all created to boast. We were created to boast in God and glorify him.
  • Sin has clouded our vision, and in our pride we boast in ourselves. But we have been redeemed, we are declared righteous, sin no longer has a hold on us so let’s stop boasting in who we are and what we’ve done and let’s boast in who God is and what he has done.

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