The Bible not only speaks of two types of fear, but it also speaks of two types of wisdom. In referencing the heavenly wisdom, James says, “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy” (3:17). James contrasts this with a human wisdom that leads to bitter envying, self-seeking in the heart, boasting, and lies—a wisdom that that he calls “earthly, sensual, demonic” (3:14, 15).
Thus, Proverbs warns us: “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil” (Prov. 3:7). Paul states: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise” (1 Cor 3:18). Human wisdom is deceptive. Divine wisdom is counterintuitive to human reasoning. The best advice Paul could give to the church at Corinth was to reverse its way of thinking from human logic to divine insight.
Paul goes on to say: “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness’; and again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.’ Therefore let no one boast in men” (19–21). From God’s perspective, that which the natural mind of humanity considers to be wise is foolishness to Him.
In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul describes the fundamental problem with human wisdom. The tendency we have is to measure wisdom by comparing ourselves with one another (2 Cor. 10:12). This tendency leads us to envy when the other seems better, and pride when the other is not as good. It causes strife in the heart because we are at war with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and it ultimately makes each of us devilish in our greed for superiority. Thus, many a time have human beings totally exhausted their mental capacities to create great inventions out of selfish motivations to be better than others.
The only way to obtain that wisdom from above is to find the person of Jesus Christ “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). And the beauty of it all is that this invaluable and seemingly unreachable wisdom is actually very present and near us. When we find the wisdom of God hidden in His Son, we discover the most beautiful truth of all: the Wisdom that is from above exhausts His energy in knowing everything about us—His fallen, selfish children. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it” (Ps. 139:6)!