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Sermon No: 760-The fool



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SERMON TOPIC: The fool

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 18 September 2011

Topic Groups: FOOLISHNESS, SALVATION

Sermon synopsis: 1 Corinthians 1:20-27.
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things that are despised God has chosen, and the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence.
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The Fool

Certain people immediately come to our minds with the mention of the word fool.

Jerry Lewis, followed by the Three Stooges, Larry, Curly, and Mo. However none of these men fit the definition which Proverbs gives us of the fool. These “fools” are all rather harmless creature, basically well-intentioned and innocent. All of them evoke a certain sense of pity, mixed with amusement. Not so with the fool in the Book of Proverbs. This is just one of the reasons why the study of “the fool” is important.

The world’s Fool is chosen by God.

1 Corinthians 1:20-27.

Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things that are despised God has chosen, and the things that are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in his presence.

God’s definition of a fool.

Psalm 14 & Psalm 53.

The fool has said in his heart there is no God.

Matthew 7:24-27.

But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell with a great crash.

The wise man builds his house on God’s Word by hearing it and putting into practice.

Biblical characteristics of a fool.

1. THE FOOL IS UNRIGHTEOUS.

Desire realized is sweet to the soul, But it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil (13:19).

Doing wickedness is like sport to a fool; And so is wisdom to a man of understanding (10:23).

Fools mock at sin, But among the upright there is good will (14:9).

2. THE FOOL IS UNWISE.

Throughout Proverbs the fool is the counterpart of the wise. Wisdom is contrasted with folly. The fool does not possess and cannot obtain wisdom.

THE FOOL DOES NOT POSSESS WISDOM;

The lips of the righteous feed many, But fools die for lack of understanding (10:21; 1:20-33).

THE FOOL IS NOT CAPABLE OF OBTAINING WISDOM:

A scoffer seeks wisdom, and finds none, But knowledge is easy to him who has understanding (14:6).

Wisdom is too high for a fool (24:7).

The fool has no capacity for wisdom. In the words of 17:16, he has “no heart” for it. He may seem to seek wisdom, but is incapable of recognizing or retaining it.

Biblical characteristics of a fool.

THE FOOL HAS NO DESIRE FOR WISDOM, AND WOULD REJECT IT EVEN IF HE COULD ACQUIRE IT BECAUSE HE HATES IT:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction (1:7; 1:22).

The mind of the intelligent seeks knowledge, But the mouth of fools feeds on folly (15:14).

A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind (18:2).

Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words (23:9).

The fool is not neutral toward wisdom--he hates it and will do everything I can to avoid it.

More Biblical characteristics of a fool.

Proverbs 10:18. Slander.

Whoever spreads slander is a fool.

Proverbs 14:9. Mocking at sin.

Fools mock at making amends for sin.

Proverbs 15:5. Despising correction.

A fool spurns his father’s discipline.

Proverbs 18:6. Talkative.

A fool’s lips bring him strife and his mouth invites a beating.

Proverbs 20:3. Quarrelsome.

It is to a man’s honour to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.

Proverbs 28:26. Self-confidence.

He who trusts in himself is a fool.

Jeremiah 17:11. Dishonesty.

Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay is the man who gains riches by unjust means. When his life is half gone, they will desert him, and in the end he will prove to be a fool.

Luke 11:39. Hypocrisy.

Then the Lord said to him, “Now then, you Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You foolish people…. But give what is inside the dish to the poor, and everything will be clean for you.

Calling your brother a fool.

If we take the words of our Lord seriously, we must ask whether our study is sanctioned by Him in the light of His teaching in

Matthew 5:22.

“But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother ‘Raca,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the hell of fire.”

Calling your brother a fool.

We must always be careful to look at all of God’s Word and not to just select portions on their own.

We have seen in previous ministry how we must not try take the speck out our brother’s eye when we have a beam in ours and that the measure we use to judge others will be the same measure used to judge us.

However we must be mindful that the Lord does not forbid us from discerning the character of fools, the Book of Proverbs commends this assessment as a necessity for those who would be wise.

Several reasons are given for the need to discern between those who are fools and those who are wise.

Reasons to discern who are fools.

1. TO ASSOCIATE WITH FOOLS IS BOTH UNWISE AND UNPLEASANT.

Leave the presence of a fool, Or you will not discern words of knowledge (14:7).

A fool is bound for his own destruction, and he will inevitably destroy everything in his path. Those who get in the way of the fool will get hurt.

Let a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, Rather than a fool in his folly (17:12).

The scoffer, the worst form of fool and is not only to be avoided, but is to be driven away.

Drive out the scoffer, and contention will go out, Even strife and dishonour will cease (22:10).

Reasons to discern who are fools.

If anyone needs to be able to recognize a fool it is the young man or woman who is seeking a life’s mate.

There is nothing more miserable than to be married to a fool. While Proverbs takes the positive approach here, exalting the godly wife (e.g. 31:10-31), the fool should be avoided as a partner in marriage. Abigail was married to a fool (I Sam. 25), but God was gracious enough to deliver her by his death; but this is not the norm.

Reasons to discern who are fools.

2. TO EMPLOY A FOOL IS A TRAGIC MISTAKE.

He cuts off his own feet, and drinks violence Who sends a message by the hand of a fool (26:6).

Like an archer who wounds everyone, So is he who hires a fool or who hires those who pass by (26:10).

THE FOOL IS A WISHFUL THINKER.

His “ship” is always about to “come in.”

Wisdom is in the presence of the one who has understanding, But the eyes of a fool are on the ends of the earth (17:24).

Reasons to discern who are fools.

3. FOOLS MUST BE DEALT WITH DIFFERENTLY THAN THOSE WHO ARE WISE.

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonour for himself, And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you, Reprove a wise man, and he will love you (9:7-8).

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, Lest he be wise in his own eyes (26:4-5).

These considerations necessitate discerning the character of others. Not only will we be able to see foolishness in others in Proverbs, we will also see a greater measure of it in ourselves. May God enable us to be honest with ourselves, to confess our foolishness.

Reasons to discern who are fools.

4. THE FOOL IS UNDISCIPLINED.

THE FOOL IS UNDISCIPLINED WITH HIS MONEY AND MATERIAL RESOURCES:

There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise, But a foolish man swallows it up (21:30).

THE FOOL IS UNDISCIPLINED WITH HIS TEMPER:

A fool’s vexation is known at once, But a prudent man conceals dishonour (12:16).

A fool always loses his temper, But a wise man holds it back (29:11).

Reasons to discern who are fools.

5. THE FOOL TALKS TOO MUCH.

He who conceals hatred has lying lips, And he who spreads slander is a fool (10:18).

The wisdom of the prudent is to understand his way, But the folly of fools is deceit (14:8).

Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity Than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool (19:1).

The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, But the mouth of fools spouts folly (15:2).

The lips of the wise spread knowledge, But the hearts of fools are not so (15:7 & v. 14).

Reasons to discern who are fools.

6. THE FOOL IS UNTEACHABLE.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction (1:7).

Because they hated knowledge, And did not choose the fear of the Lord. They would not accept my counsel, They spurned all my reproof So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way, And be satiated with their own devices. For the waywardness of the naive shall kill them, And the complacency of fools shall destroy them (1:29-32).

A fool rejects his father’s discipline, But he who regards reproof is prudent (15:5).

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonour for himself, And he who reproves wicked man gets insults for himself. Do not reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you. Reprove a wise man, and he will love you (9:7-8).

A scoffer does not love one who reproves him, He will not go to the wise (15:12).

A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding Than a hundred blows into a fool (17:10).

Reasons to discern who are fools.

7. THE FOOL TRUSTS HIS OWN JUDGEMENT. The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, But a wise man is he who listens to counsel (12:15).

Realizing the tendency of the fool to trust in himself enriches our understanding of one of the most familiar passages in the Book of Proverbs:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and turn away from evil (3:5-7).

FOOLISHNESS IS INHERENT IN CHILDREN

Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him (22:15).

Proverbs offers hope to parents that foolishness can be cured if detected early and disciplined diligently.

The fool in Psalm 14.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God”. They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.

The LORD looks down from heaven on all mankind to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God.

All have turned away, all have become corrupt; there is no-one who does good, not even one.

Footnote Psalm14:1. The Hebrew word rendered fool in Psalms denote on who is morally deficient.

Four reasons why it is foolish not to believe in God.

1. The creation declares God. Psalm 19:1.

The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

(There is exquisite design and order in the created world, all the more remarkable when we observe it emerging from chaos. It is foolish to say categorically in the face of this; “There is no God”)

To believe evolution is even more difficult to believe than it is to see on the beach written in the sand “John loves Mary” and believe it happened by chance with waves and shells and pebbles.

A building has an architect.

A painting has an artist.

Creation has a creator.

Four reasons why it is foolish not to believe in God.

Romans 1:19-20 & 23.

Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse……

Although they claimed to be wise they became fools.

Evolution is a ridiculous theory that some fools have embraced in their attempt to deny the existence of God.

Four reasons why it is foolish not to believe in God.

2. Man’s conscience declares God.

God has revealed himself to mankind, even pagans retain some of that revelation in recognisable form, but some have chosen not to hold on to that knowledge of God.

Romans 1:21.

For although they knew God, the neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.

V28. Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind……

Romans 2:14-16.

Indeed, when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them. This will take place on the day when God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my Gospel declares.

Four reasons why it is foolish not to believe in God.

3. The nation of Israel declares God.

Romans 9:4.

The people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption of sons; theirs is the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.

On numerous occasions, Satanically inspired anti-Christ’s have come to the fore and tried to wipe out the Jews. The Bible gives the account of both Pharaoh and Haman and their attempts to wipe out the Jews and prophecies points to the anti-Christ who will kill two thirds of the Jews. There have been more attempts but none as well known as Hitler’s annihilation over 6 million Jews in the holocaust of World War 11. Yet God has against all odds miraculously protected them and restored them to their promised land.

Four reasons why it is foolish not to believe in God.

4. Jesus Christ reveals God.

John14:9.

Jesus answered ….anyone who has seen me, has seen the Father.

The testimony about this persons existence, and about his crucifixion and resurrection from the dead, is in the form of written eye-witness documents. The story of Jesus Christ is a matter of fact, not superstition.

“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory” is the one eye-witness’s testimony. (1 John 1:1-4. John 1:1&14.)

There are no reasonable grounds for rejecting such evidence. None but a “Fool” disbelieves in God.

Let’s recap some previous ministry on the validity of the historical account of Jesus in comparison with other accepted literature which is not contested by unregenerate mankind.

The New Testament & contemporary literature.

When the New Testament is compared with other literature of that period, it stands out as the most remarkable book of the ancient world.

There are only 10 manuscript copies of Caesar's Gallic wars, written about 60BC, the oldest is from AD 900, nearly a thousand years later.

The New Testament & contemporary literature.

Of the 7 manuscript copies of Plato’s Tetralogies, written about 400 BC, the oldest also dates to around AD 900, a span of roughly 1300 years.

Homer’s Iliad was written about 900 BC . The earliest of the 643 copies goes back to 400 BC, 500 years after it was written.

The New Testament & contemporary literature.

By contrast we have 5366 copies of ancient Greek New Testament manuscripts!

In addition the oldest copies are far closer in time to the originals than any other ancient writings. The earliest manuscript containing most of the New Testament dates to AD 200 and there are fragments going back to AD 125, only 25 to 75 years after the originals were written.

Spurgeon’s sermon regarding the fool.

In Spurgeon’s sermon “The Carnal Mind Enmity Against God”, he says this:

That passage in the Psalms, “The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God,” is wrongly translated. It should be, “The fool hath said in his heart, no God.” The fool does not say in his heart there is no God, for he knows there is a God; but he says, “No God—I don’t want any; I wish there were none.”

He goes on to say that this proves that the carnal mind is enmity against God – for wishing someone to not be is equivalent to wishing them to be dead.

But what is really interesting is the part about the Psalm 14:1

Spurgeon/ The fool.

It is not merely the wish of the sinner’s corrupt nature, and the hope of his rebellious heart, but he manages after a fashion to bring himself to assert it, and at certain seasons he thinks that he believes it. It is a solemn reflection that some who worship God with their lips may in their hearts be saying, “no God.” It is worthy of observation that he does not say there is no Jehovah, but there is no Elohim; Deity in the abstract is not so much the object of attack, as the covenant, personal, ruling and governing presence of God in the world. God as ruler, lawgiver, worker, Saviour, is the butt at which the arrows of human wrath are shot. How impotent the malice! How mad the rage which raves and foams against Him in whom we live and move and have our being! How horrible the insanity which leads a man who owes his all to God to cry out, “No God”! How terrible the depravity which makes the whole race adopt this as their hearts desire, “no God!”

Comment on Spurgeon regarding the fool.

All this puts an entirely different complexion on the verse.

Previously, I thought this verse didn’t apply to me. Certainly some verses in Proverbs, describing the fool, have applied to me in the past, but I thought I was in the clear on this one.

But if I ask myself if I’ve ever wanted God, in His role as righteous and just judge, to overlook my sin – particularly when I was mired in it at any given time, I’d have to say that I have. How is that different from the fool as described above?

Comment on Spurgeon regarding the fool.

Romans 1:20-21.

Says that God is both understood and known “by the things that are made.” Despite this knowledge and understanding, they became

foolish by exchanging the truth of God and exalting the creature over the Creator.(22-25) by put their own agenda ahead of His.

Verse 26-32. tells us that, because of this exchange, God gave them up to vile passions and a debased mind. It would appear that part

of this debased mindset is the denial of the (verse 20) universal revelation of His eternal power and Godhead.

So the fool who has said “no, God” eventually becomes foolish enough to believe there is “no God.” Dabbling in sin, steamrolling our will over the revealed will of God has a price and that is a hardened, foolish heart. A great example of this process is revealed as we see God harden Pharaoh’s heart as Pharaoh continues in rebellion.

Comment on Spurgeon regarding the fool.

I like Spurgeon’s take on this. It appears that verse does apply to us…in that we are essentially saying “no, God” every time we sin. Just another confirmation of the fallen nature that we are (still) trying to rend impotent.

When Paul says in Galatians that “I am crucified with Christ” he reminds us that, sadly, we still live in the flesh; though we are delivered from the flesh’s power as we live by faith in the Son. “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me,” we are still faced with the presence of the fleshly desires of our fallen selves.

We differ from the fool described in Psalms only by the supernatural regeneration given by grace. We seek to mortify our continual attitude of “no, God” as we relinquish the flesh’s hold on us, moving toward the freedom of our crucified lives.




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