K Neill Foster


a series of essays on the Spirit-filled life
by Del McKenzie

There is a great amount of material in the Bible about wisdom.  Included in wisdom are discernment, discretion, knowledge, understanding, prudence, discipline and probably many other qualities like them.  Wisdom is the opposite of folly.  A person with wisdom desires to and is able to make choices that are spiritual and morally upright.  The person who lives in folly makes choices that are from the desires of the sinful nature and lead to immorality.  Wisdom equips a person to discern good from evil, right from wrong, valuable from incidental, important from trivial.  In the Bible, people with wisdom build their houses on rock instead of sand and have extra oil for their lamps instead of going to get more when the bridegroom comes.  A fool is someone who has no answer when the Lord says, "This very night your life will be demanded from you."

The book of Proverbs makes a point that whatever we get we should be sure and get wisdom.  We humans have been able to acquire great amounts of knowledge.  Information is in abundance and increasing at a gigantic rate.  But wisdom has escaped us.  Human folly is rampant and observable all around us.  Why has it been missed by all the searching of the human mind?  Wisdom is one of God's gifts of grace and comes only through the Holy Spirit. 

This is pointed out numerous times in Scripture. He is identified as the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.  He also gives the gift of wisdom.  It is possible for us to be Bible taught and not Spirit taught.  We can have a load of biblical information and theological facts and not have a heart and mind illuminated by the Holy Spirit.  Information (knowledge) puffs up.  It is love that builds up and that love comes from the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  People who love are wise.  People who hate or are selfish are foolish.  When we are focused on information only we miss the dynamic of the Spirit's wisdom.

Paul wrote that the natural man does not accept what comes from the Spirit.  It is foolishness to him and he can't understand it.  The thrust of I Corinthians, chapters one through 3, is that the carnal man will not accept what comes from the Holy Spirit.  He is locked into self-sufficiency which leaves him walking in folly.  That goes a long way in explaining why much of professing Christianity is weak and deficient. 

Jesus was so marked with wisdom that people asked, "What's this wisdom that has been given him?" – Mark 6:2.  The Holy Spirit makes the things of Jesus real to people who will respond to him.  The promise to the disciples was that he would guide them into all truth.  The people of the world are without wisdom because they cannot accept the Holy Spirit.  He fills only what he can control.  His wisdom is for only those who seek and surrender to him.  His is given to those who obey.  Resisting, quenching, grieving or insulting him leaves a person consigned to folly.

One of God's great provisions for his children is the life and ministry of the Holy Spirit.  It comes for those who are born of the Spirit and are filled with the Spirit.  Joshua was a man filled with the Spirit of wisdom.  It happened when Moses laid his hands on him.  He had a specific and important role in God's working through Israel but the New Testament has numerous accounts of ordinary people receiving the Spirit.  In fact, "receiving the Spirit" is the most often used term for initiating, renewing and enhancing a relationship with the Him.

Wisdom is connected with maturity in I Corinthians 2:6.  It is something we grow in as we develop an ever deepening relationship with the Holy Spirit.  In our companionship with him he is able to mold and refine us to be people into which his wisdom can be poured.  It is a process but not an automatic one.  We need to live in him, walk in him, learn to please him, bear his fruit, serve through his gifts and draw on him for life, light, love, power, strength and wisdom.  He is our companion and as we become his companion he is able to impart his wisdom to us.  That process will not end until we are glorified.  It is a journey that requires a humbling of ourselves before him and seeking him with all of our hearts.

The wisdom of the Holy Spirit is cultivated by the Scriptures.  Psalm 119:130 says that the entrance of God's words gives light and understanding to the simple.  "Simple" can describe people who are foolish, "simpletons".  They are people who don't know how to live in the light of God's truth.  They go through life making poor choices and reaping the consequences of those decisions.  Our world, and often our churches, is filled with people who walk in moral darkness.  The answer is for them to have the Holy Spirit impart the Word of God to their lives.  He is the Spirit of revelation.  Insight to truth and righteousness comes from Him taking us to, and giving us understanding of, God's word.

It is possible for people to walk all the way through life fully satisfied with their own wisdom.  The sad part of coming to the place where we know it all is that we have nowhere else to go.  That is true of the unbeliever and the believer.  Without a hunger for the Holy Spirit and his work in our lives we can be on a road that is going nowhere.

This great ministry of the Holy Spirit, however, is available to all who will seek him, respond in submission and obedience, trust him, and learn to hear his voice.  Time on our knees with an open Bible and a heart humbly waiting on the Holy Spirit will result in a learning that goes far beyond the collecting of information.  It will move us into a walk with God that is fulfilling and transforming.