Robert Wurtz II
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:12–14 KJV)
One of the greatest deceptions of all is to mistake past experiences for wisdom; especially bad experiences. The older we get the more bad experiences we go through. This does not necessarily make us wise; it can just as easily make us cynical. What happens? We compare present circumstances with past bad experiences and then make decisions based on those bad experiences. If we do this we are not moving in wisdom — we are moving in our own understanding. In fact, we may be sabotaging our own commitment to be led of the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever wondered why God sometimes uses young people? Men like Josiah and Uzziah? I suggest that often it is because the older people have had so many bad experiences in life that they are cynical and faithless. They are forever comparing the present with the past and recalling all the times “when we tried that in 1927 and ____ happened.” It’s a wonder God can get anything done through leaders who have become old and cynical. What is worse is that they posit their catalogue of bad experiences as wisdom. It is not. True wisdom comes from God — not bad experiences. This is not to say that we don’t learn from bad experiences and failures; but we must guard ourselves against the temptation to look to them in making present or future decisions.
Carnal people often assume they are wise simply because they have filed away a lot of information and experience in their mind. Not only can they pull up twenty personal experiences that they have been through that relate to the present situation — but they can recall hearing about twenty more. These anecdotes become the basis of argument for their decision making. Soon the devil is leading and guiding the person by bringing to their remembrance all the bad stories of the past as excuses to why we shouldn’t do _____.
Genuine wisdom comes from the word of God and through the Spirit of God. The natural man cannot understand these things. For example, in Luke 5:4-7 we have the Disciples frustrated from a night of fruitless fishing. We read, “Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have worked all night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.” (Luke 5:4–7) Had Peter and the others gone off of past experience, they would have disobeyed the Lord and missed God. It simply did not make sense to let down the net again based on past experience. From the standpoint of man’s wisdom it was foolishness! The key is found when Peter said, nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.
When we need wisdom we need to go to the Lord in prayer and ask of Him. This is what James tells us. God will give wisdom and will not scold us for asking. He wants us to have His wisdom. Keep in mind that the Serpent was the wisest of all the creatures on earth and yet led the human race into sin and destruction. So we need to be very careful what we call “wisdom” and make sure it’s not the concoctions of the enemy resulting from a lot of bad experiences.
When we need direction for decisions we need to seek God’s counsel and wisdom. Moreover, don’t assume that just because a person is known as a “man of God” or “woman of God” that they are steering you right. The people you trust the most could be leading you in their own “experience based ‘wisdom’…” with a little of God’s word thrown in the mix to flavor it as spiritual. You are responsible for the decisions you make no matter who counseled you about them.
The Folly of Man’s Wisdom
The problem with man’s wisdom is that it is almost always biased and devoid of all the facts. The first question to ask is, “What does God’s word say?” Nothing can claim to be true wisdom that does not line up with God’s word. The second thing to do is make sure you know all the facts and not just the gossip. Fools jump to conclusions before they know all the facts (Proverbs 18:13). I have known of ministers to be slandered by hearsay. The problem is that the slanderer probably doesn’t even know they slandered the man… because they never bothered to deal with the issue Biblically. Now everyone has gone on with their lives and the slanderer is on their way to the Judgment Seat. Sadly, they will probably be ambushed by the revelation of their own foolishness — that they mistook for wisdom. Why? They didn’t move in God’s wisdom. They operated in their own understanding… with maybe the added counsel of some trusted cynic. It’s very sad, but there is no excuse for it. We have been taught of God not to do such things.
How can we avoid false wisdom and the bad behavior that accompanies it? Don’t simply trust the source of information… make sure you know the facts — even if it’s your best friend telling you. You have heard the old adage, “trust but verify?” What is their motivation? Are they seeking to build up or tear down? Are they moving in love or something else? Is the voice of God in their mouth or the subtle voice of Satan? Are they leaning on their own understanding or are they seeking to know God’s mind on the matter?
Leaders need the wisdom of God — not the false wisdom of past bad experience, but the good gift of wisdom that comes down from above. (James 3:13-4:4) Bad experiences can make a person cynical and suspicious of everyone. If one make decisions on that basis that is ones own prerogative; just understand that it is probably not wisdom, but what is sometimes called experience bias. God’s wisdom employs the full counsel of both His knowledge and wisdom — and moves to accomplish His purposes (emphasis on His).