Discipleship Means Learning to Love God’s Wisdom

by Nov 10, 20170 comments

The word disciple means learner. First of all, being a disciple means learning to love God’s word. We must apply our minds to diligent, careful study of the Bible. Additionally, the word disciple means learning to love God’s wisdom.

You see, Jesus is not only after our minds. Certainly, wisdom has an intellectual component. But, wisdom does much more than to cram academic information into our heads.

Instead, wisdom is not primarily after our heads, but our hearts.

You Will Always Choose What You Want

There is a very simple reason to commit yourself to gaining God’s wisdom. Namely, you will always choose what you want.

Now, I know that it doesn’t feel like this is the case. You want to obey God, but you often don’t. Instead, you feel like you routinely choose the sin that you do not want to do (Rom. 7:15–19).

But that’s actually the point. At some level, you do want to commit those sins. If you didn’t desire those sins, then you wouldn’t choose to do them. That is, if your desires were different, you would choose to obey God.

Two Natures at War Within Us

The Bible teaches us that we have two natures dwelling in us. On the one hand, God gives us a new nature as the first installment of the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). This new nature includes a desire to do what is right (Rom. 7:18).

But on the other hand, the old nature of sin still dwells within us (Rom. 7:20). So, we have two natures that war inside of us. One nature draws us to obey Christ, and the other draws us back toward our sin.

The goal, however, is not to get rid of the old nature entirely. That is impossible on this side of glory. Instead, the Bible urges us to mortify our old nature. In other words, we have to kill our old desires (Rom. 8:13).

Putting our Sinful Nature to Death

We do not kill our old, sinful desires directly. Instead, we cultivate new, godly desires to grow stronger than our old, sinful desires. Over time, our new desires put our old desires—and our old sins—to death.

Jesus doesn’t ask us simply to manage our behavior. In fact, Jesus calls surface-level, outward obedience hypocrisy (Matt. 23:1–36).

Loving What Ought to be Loved

Instead, Jesus demands that we manage our hearts—that is, that we control what we love. The Apostle John writes this:

[15] Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. [16] For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. [17] And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15–17)

The great church father Augustine puts it this way: “Moreover, even in this life there is no virtue except that of loving what ought to be loved. Good sense consists in choosing that, courage in allowing no hardships, moderation in allowing no temptations, justice in allowing no pride, to divert one from it.” (Augustine, Political Writings, 96.)

In our old nature, we may love comfort (and therefore despise hardships) or sinful pleasures (and therefore love temptations) or even ourselves (and therefore default toward pride). Therefore, God calls us to learn to love what ought to be loved even more than we love of the world.

Discipleship: Learning to Love God’s Wisdom

This is where wisdom comes in. The only way to cultivate godly desires is by learning to prefer God’s ways above sin. God’s wisdom first teaches our heads to discern good from evil (Rom. 12:2). Then, God’s wisdom teaches our hearts to love good and to hate evil.

Delighting in the Law of the Lord (Psalm 1)

The central role is wisdom is so important that it is the theme of the very first psalm:

[1] Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; [2] but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Ps. 1:1–2)

The blessed man is the one who turns away from sin. Instead, the blessed man cultivates delight in the law of the Lord by meditating on it day and night.

Get Wisdom (Proverbs)

For this reason, Jesus urges us in his word to do whatever we can to acquire wisdom:

[5] “Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. [6] Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you. [7] The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight. [8] Prize her highly, and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. [9] She will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.” (Prov. 4:5–9)

It is critical to devote yourself to learning of God’s word in your mind. But, all that learning is in vain if what you learn with your mind does not affect your heart. Discipleship requires us to take the data we glean from the Bible and apply it to our hearts.

Jesus is the Wisdom of God

Why does Jesus care so much about wisdom? Quite simply, Jesus cares because he is the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:30). The Holy Spirit takes all the riches of wisdom that the Father has given to Jesus and declares them to us (John 16:15). By his word and Spirit, Jesus instructs us in his wisdom by giving us his own mind that has comprehended the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:16).

In discipleship, Jesus calls us to heart-wrenching, soul-searching, and idolatry-confronting study of his word that will shape our hearts to love him. We study so that we learn to desire rightly.

How Do We Learn to Love God’s Wisdom?

How, then, do we learn God’s wisdom? If the heart is deceitful above all things (Jer. 17:9), how can we possibly seek to reform it?

Study God’s Word Prayerfully

First, we must study God‘s word prayerfully. When we read God’s word prayerfully, we remind ourselves that we are not cramming to pass an exam. Instead, we are sitting at Jesus’ feet as he teaches us by his word.

So, before you even open up God’s word, start with prayer. Pray that God will “give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (Eph. 1:18). Ask that God’s Holy Spirit would remove the veil from your eyes to behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ as you read (2 Cor. 3:12–18; 4:6).

Then, as you read, ask that God would help you learn to love him and his commandments (1 John 5:2). Ask that God’s Spirit would remove your hard heart of stone and give you a soft heart of flesh (Eze. 36:26). Ask that God would write his law on that soft heart (Jer. 31:33).

Join the Church

Second, recognize that you were not meant to undertake this journey of discipleship on your own! You need the encouragement, support, prayers, and accountability of the body of Christ.

God pours out his wisdom on his people in the church (Rom. 12:3–21). In the church, we learn from one another (2 Tim. 2:1–2; Tit. 2:3–5). In the church, we stir up one another toward love and good works (Heb. 10:24–25).

To learn to love God’s wisdom, the church is just as necessary as your private prayer life. Do not neglect either.

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