Ephesians 1:17. 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him…
In Genesis 3 we find the story of Adam and Eve seeking knowledge. They eat from the forbidden Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. They wanted to be fully alive. But rather than wanting to know God they wanted to know what God knows. There’s nothing wrong with the knowledge of good and evil. But what humanity needs even before knowledge is wisdom. Wisdom tells us how to use knowledge in order to find life and avoid death. For Adam and Eve wisdom was offered in the Tree of Life (see also Proverbs 3:18). They chose unwisely.
btw- the whole Bible is a book about wisdom. That is, the whole purpose of the Bible is to teach you how to live your best life. Of course the Bible also tells us that our best life is only lived within the Fear of the Lord. That is as we know God, relate to him, image him and live for his glory.
Yesterday we looked at Paul’s prayer for the saints in Ephesians 1. What does he petition God for? Knowledge. He prays that we would know God in a deeply intimate and personal way, and know him through the spiritual blessings that are ours in Christ Jesus (1:3-14). But back up a few words – that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom. Paul prays for the Spirit of wisdom before he prays for knowledge.
Before we can know God, we must have wisdom. Just as we see in Genesis 3, to pursue knowledge without wisdom is dangerous. It is also true that to pursue God without the wisdom of Christ is dangerous. It is only through Jesus that we can know God and understand his nature, his character, and his deep desire to redeem, rescue, and adopt us as his own.
As wisdom, Christ alone shows us how to live. He gives us our best life – a spiritual life united to God’s own life. He allows us to relate to God, image God, and glorify God. In short, he is our tree of life (wisdom) that then allows us to pursue the knowledge of God within the life giving reality of grace rather than the deadly reality of good and evil works. Without Christ every pursuit of God will only end in death. Our knowledge of good and evil will only ever condemn us. But with Christ as our Wisdom every pursuit of the knowledge of God will end in grace filled living of the good life. God’s life.
And so Paul asks God to give us the Spirit of wisdom.
OK this is a bit tricky. Don’t we already have the Holy Spirit and his wisdom? In Ephesians 1:8 Paul said that we have been lavished with grace with all wisdom and insight. And in 1:13-14 he said that we already have the Holy Spirit.
So why is Paul asking for it all again?
I think the answer lies within our union with Christ. Yes, we have Christ. Yes, we have the Spirit. But yes we are still ourselves. We still have our human spirit which is influenced by indwelling sin. And this may be the spirit that Paul is talking about in Ephesians 1:17 (stay with me here). In Greek the word spirit is never capitalized. So Paul may be praying for the Spirit (Holy Spirit) of wisdom, or he may be praying for a spirit (human spirit) of wisdom. It’s very possible that Paul is praying that our human spirit would embrace the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, that is, the wisdom that is Christ. In other words you have Christ, you have the Spirit, you have wisdom, now let your own spirit truly embrace and be impacted by the Spirit of Wisdom so that you have a spirit of wisdom.
Why would this be necessary? Because even though we ALREADY have the Spirit and the wisdom and insight of Christ, we are NOT YET fully living from the Spirit and his wisdom and insight. We need to let God change our own spirit, causing us to rely on the wisdom of grace so as to grow in the knowledge of God. Just because we have it, doesn’t mean we’re using it. But we can. We can know God. And we can know God through a spirit of wisdom that comes from the Spirit of Wisdom and his death and resurrection.
“To live is Christ” means our spirit is joined with the Holy Spirit. But the transformation that the Spirit is bringing to our own spirit is a process. It’s a process that requires prayer and petition. The prayer isn’t for the Spirit of wisdom (we already have him). The prayer is for our own spirit to be conformed to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, so that we can pursue knowing God from the grace of eternal life. So that we want to know God, not just know what he knows. And that requires the wisdom that is Christ.