Monday, July 4, 2016

"Fools pursue the way of death … while the wise follow the path that leads to life!"

Day #187

Scripture Reading:  Proverbs 14 - 15 …

Has anyone ever said to you, "Don't be a fool!"   It's not a pleasant statement, no matter whom it might come from.  No one likes to be called a fool.  But throughout his proverbs, Solomon contrasts the wise man and the foolish man, giving various criteria for both.  As we have seen, you could say that Jesus summarized the book of Proverbs in His Sermon on the Mount, when He said, "Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matthew 7:13-14).  Without the Spirit of God all people are fools, unable and unwilling to seek the small gate or to walk the narrow road.

Jesus followed that with two illustrations.  First, "a good tree bears good fruit and a bad tree bears bad fruit," and second, "the wise man built his house on the rock, while the foolish man built his house on the sand."  The winds blew and the rain fell on both houses, but when the storms came, the foolish man's house fell, while the wise man's house stood firm.  These are the kinds of things Solomon wrote about in Proverbs.  God's truth is unchanging and the principles He reveals in His Word apply to all generations.  While the ideas and theories of mankind regarding human behavior are adapted to fit the changes in culture and the world around us, God's Word remains the same.  It is never out-of-date and it speaks to every generation, every ethnic group, every gender, every political persuasion, every economic level, every social division …

In Proverbs 14 and 15, Solomon speaks repeatedly of the lot of the fool or the foolish.  Fools bring trouble on themselves by their talk and by their actions.  "The folly of fools is deception" (14:8).  The sad thing about fools is they don't know they are fools … they don't know they are being deceived.  "There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death" (14:12).  Such ARE the religions of the world and the philosophies of the world - ALL of them!  In Paul's letter to the Colossians, God says, "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2:8).  Any philosophy, no matter how appealing or wise it may appear, that does not point to Jesus Christ, is foolish and deceptive and leads to death.

Without Jesus you cannot know God or come to Him.  Without Jesus and the work of His Spirit you cannot and will not desire to please God and you will live for yourself until you either fall to your knees in repentance, asking God's forgiveness, or face His judgment when your life ends.  You don't HAVE to learn things the hard way … you can listen to God NOW, and follow the path that leads to life.  "The path of life leads upward for the wise to keep him from going down to the grave" (15:24).  The "way" that seems right to people is the self-centered life of the fool.  "I am the captain of my fate," one such fool declared.  "I think, therefore I am," said another. And "I did it MY way," sang another.

Wisdom comes from the knowledge of the truth, not lies.  And that truth is found in God's Word.  Solomon wrote in Proverbs 1:7:  "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Throughout these chapters Solomon hammers away at the "fool" who "mocks at making amends for sin" (14:9), who "is hotheaded and reckless" and "quick-tempered" (14:16-17, 29), whose "mouth gushes folly" (15:2), who "spurns his father's discipline" (15:7) and "despises his mother" (15:20).

But the wise "give thought to their ways" (14:8), "fear the LORD and shun evil" (14:16), are "crowned with knowledge" (14:18), have "wealth" the world cannot find (14:24), and "save lives" by their witness (14:25).  Meanwhile, "the eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good" (15:3).  The LORD hears the prayers of the upright and loves those who pursue righteousness (15:8-9).  Jesus told His disciples to "seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33) and God would give them all they needed.  Solomon wrote, "righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people" (14:34).  The choice between being wise or foolish, between righteousness and wickedness, between life and death, would appear to be obvious, yet sinful man makes the wrong choice every time.

God says, "there is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good; not even one" (Psalms 14:1-3; 53:1-3; Romans 3:10-12).  Wisdom is a gift that God gives to those whom He chooses, and it comes through His Word as the Spirit works in the hearts and minds of believers.  Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.  This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught us by the Spirit … The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. … But we (who believe) have the mind of Christ" (I Corinthians 2:13-16).

Do not be a fool.  God has revealed truth through His Word and in His Son Jesus Christ, who is “the Way and the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).  Listen to GOD's instruction as you read and study His Word.  Jesus says, "Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock" (Matthew 7:24).  The one who is spiritually wise will listen to God's instruction and will find pleasure in doing what He says … believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, trust in His sacrifice on the cross for forgiveness, and live a life of thankfulness as you walk the path of life!

"Heavenly Father, as I live in this world the foolishness of sin becomes more and more clear as I gain knowledge and wisdom from Your Word and as Your Spirit works within me.  I thank You for the forgiveness of my sins through faith in Jesus, and for the empowering presence of Your Spirit that moves me to turn from sin to pursue righteousness … the path that leads to life.  May my life be built on the solid Rock that does not move, that I may live to glorify You, my Father, and my God, in Jesus' name, Amen"

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