“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.” 1 Corinthians 3:18
The fruit and effect of divine teaching is to cut in pieces, and root up all our fleshly wisdom, strength, and righteousness. God never means to patch a new piece upon an old garment. All our wisdom, our strength, our righteousness must be torn to pieces! It must all be plucked up by the roots—that a new wisdom, a new strength, and a new righteousness may arise upon its ruins.
But until the Lord is pleased to teach us, we never can part with our own righteousness—never give up our own wisdom—never abandon our own strength. These things are a part and parcel of ourselves—so ingrained within us—so innate in us—so growing with our growth—that we cannot willingly part with an atom of them until the Lord Himself breaks them up, and plucks them away.
Then, as He brings into our souls some spiritual knowledge of our own dreadful corruptions and horrible wickedness—our righteousness crumbles away at the divine touch. As He leads us to see and feel our ignorance and folly in a thousand instances, and how unable we are to understand anything aright but by divine teaching—our wisdom fades away. As He shows us our inability to resist temptation and overcome sin, by any exertion of our own— our strength gradually departs, and we become like Samson, when his locks were cut off.
Upon the ruins, then, of our own wisdom, righteousness and strength, does God build up Christ’s wisdom, Christ’s righteousness, and Christ’s strength. But only so far as we are favored with this special teaching are we brought to pass a solemn sentence of condemnation upon our own wisdom, strength, and righteousness—and sincerely seek after the Lord’s.