We all need wisdom in how to lead our lives.
But where do we find wisdom?
The book of Proverbs is considered the writings/sayings of wisdom in the Old Covenant.
Proverbs says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom
Proverbs 1 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
What is this “fear” of the Lord and what “instructions” were commanded in Proverbs?
It was about the Ten Commandments:
Proverbs 19 “Whoever keeps commandments keeps their life, but whoever shows contempt for their ways will die.”
Ecclesiastes 12 “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
Under the Old Covenant, the Jews were justified only if they obeyed the Ten Commandments.
Deuteronomy 6 “24 The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. 25 And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”
Therefore Israel had to fear God. This was because if they disobeyed then they would be destroyed and not be in the promised land. They would be cursed with suffering and death if they broke the Law (Deuteronomy 28:1-68). This happened especially when they were attacked by the Assyrians and taken to exile by Babylon.
In the New Testament, some Bible teachers say that the Epistle of James is the book of “wisdom” because it has the exact same teachings of keeping the law for salvation:
James 2 “My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism…8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.”
Do you see what is going on here?
James was preaching OLD COVENANT wisdom about the Law of Israel.
If you read the book of James, there is NOT A SINGLE WORD describing the CROSS of Jesus Christ or His death and resurrection. It is all about WORKS and nothing about JESUS.
That is why he said that Jews are saved by faith and works of the law (James 2 “24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.)
But we are not saved by faith AND works. We are saved by faith WITHOUT works as Paul tells us Gentiles:
Romans 4 4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.”
The book of James was written to Israel under Law and not to us Gentiles.
James 1:1 “To the twelve tribes of Israel”.
Everything in the Old Testament was written to Israelites under the LAW giving them the wisdom of the Old Covenant – where Righteousness was by works and not by grace.
This is because Israel was trusting in the Law and they needed to accept their inability to keep the law and then truly accept the Cross of Jesus to be saved.
This is why James preached LAW to the Jews to make them come to Jesus and be saved.
The truth is that nobody is righteous by the Law and that is why Jesus died on the cross to make us righteous by grace and not works!
Romans 3 “19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. 21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.”
The true wisdom is not found in our good works or obedience to the Ten Commandments.
Today, you will not find wisdom in the Old Covenant Law.
The Law has passed away on the CROSS.
The true wisdom of the New Covenant is Jesus Christ and the Cross and not in the teachers of the Law like Proverbs or James who still taught the Old Covenant Law of works.
1 Corinthians 1 “20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
1 Corinthians 1 ” 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Once you believe in Jesus, you are not required to “fear God” because you are not under Law anymore but you are under GRACE.
Romans 8 “15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. “
Romans 6:14 “….you are not under the law, but under grace.”
Our main aim in the Christian life must be to know Jesus and His cross! To know HIS GRACE and LOVE…and not rules and commands of the Law!
1 Corinthians 2 “2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
On the Cross, Jesus forgave all our sins and made us perfect and holy without our works because He removed the Old covenant and made the NEW COVENANT.
Hebrews 10 ” 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first (Old Covenant) to establish the second (New Covenant). 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are made holy.”
Hebrews 8:13 “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.”
The Old Covenant does not exist today and it disappeared in AD70 when Jerusalem was destroyed. Seeking wisdom in the Old Covenant is pointless because it is obsolete and does not even exist today.
The Old Testament was the SHADOW that disappeared when the GLORY of Jesus was revealed on the CROSS.
Colossians 2 “17 These (Law) are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”
Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ receives the forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43)
The way to seek wisdom is to set our eyes on Jesus, thanking Him every day for the CROSS.
Colossians 2 “2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge….6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. 9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and in Christ you have been brought to fullness…..13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. “