Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
What is wisdom? What is folly? While we may have our own answers to these questions, are they accurate? What is our standard in defining these words? Is it an objective or subjective standard? Whatever it may be, there’s only one standard that gives us a true and accurate definition of wisdom and folly—God’s word. True wisdom stands in direct relation to God’s glory, while folly is anything that doesn’t stand in relation to that.
Paul started to emphasize man’s great deception: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” Man’s heart is “deceitful above all things” (Jer. 17:9). While he may claim to be wise, even boasting in himself, he’s diving deeper and deeper into folly. Paul doesn’t leave us clueless as to why man, by nature, is a fool.
At the core of every sin is an exchange. The first sin is our prime example. God had clearly stated not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil: “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:17). Eternal separation from God would be the result.
The serpent came and told the opposite: “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil’” (Gen. 3:4-5). Adam and Eve rejected God’s truth and in doing so they rejected God. They exchanged God for a lie.
That’s why Hebrews referred to sin as “the deceitfulness of sin.” It deceives us to exchange “the glory of the immortal God” for images—future promises—that are only a mirage, having no true substance. It’s an exchange of infinite worth for worthlessness. That can literally be anything, for only God has infinite worth. No matter how good or great something may seem, it absolutely pales in comparison to God’s glory.
Paul said it best when he wrote: “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and county them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8). While by sin we lost “the glory of the immortal God,” by faith in Jesus Christ we will regain it.
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The Devotional Writer
Author of “An Unfathomable Gift!“