THE THOUGHT OF FOOLISHNESS
“The thought of foolishness is sin:…” (Proverbs 24:9).
THE BIBLE says that God “created all things” for His pleasure (Revelation 4:11). For that reason, God’s book instructs men “how ye ought to walk and to please God” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). Because it is impossible to please Him without faith (Hebrews 11:6), God designed His book so that faith comes from hearing it (Romans 10:17). When Christians believe, trust, and obey that book, God works in them “to will and to do his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).
Because God wants His people to “do his pleasure” (Ezra 10:11), there is no room in believers’ lives for foolishness. Because foolishness is a sin (Psalm 69:5; 2 Samuel 24:10; Numbers 12:11; 1 Samuel 13:13; Mark 7:21-23)-and because He takes no pleasure in wickedness (Psalm 5:4)-God “hath no pleasure in fools” (Ecclesiastes 5:4). Because foolishness perverts the way of God (Proverbs 19:3), the Lord warns His people that even “The thought of foolishness is sin:….”
“The Thought of Foolishness”
God defines foolishness as “the wisdom of this world”:
“… the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19).
In contrast to heavenly wisdom (James 3:14-17; 1 Corinthians 2:6-7), -worldly wisdom exalts self, focuses on the present, trusts the flesh, and relies only on what it can see or do for itself. Although the schools, cultures, governments, religions, and media of this world endorse and promote it, the “wisdom of this world” is nothing but foolishness (Romans 1:22; 1 Corinthians 1:20).
God says that man thinks in his heart (Hebrews 4:12; Matthew 9:4; Proverbs 23:7; Isaiah 10:7). The “thought of foolishness,” therefore, is a heart problem. God also says that as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). Because his thoughts control him, any man who thinks a “thought of foolishness” must therefore be a fool. The “thought of foolishness,” then, must be the way that a fool thinks in his heart.
How a Fool Thinks
The Bible explains how a fool thinks in his heart:
“THE fool hath said in his heart, There is no God….” (Psalm 14:1 and 53:1).
“… God is not in all his thoughts” (Psalm 10:4).
A fool thinks in a way that ignores and thus denies the existence of God (Romans 1:21-22), refusing to receive the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). His consequent actions acknowledge God no more than do those of an animal (Psalm 73:22). That means, of course, that a man doesn’t have to be an “atheist” to think like one, because any thought that does not include God is an atheistic one! Jesus told a parable about a rich man whose plans for the future did not include God. For that reason, God called that man a fool.
“But God said to him, Thou fool, this night thy soul is required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:20).
Sadly, foolish thoughts are not limited to unbelievers, being found also in the hearts of carnal believers who displease God because they live and work in the flesh instead of in the Spirit (Galatians 3:1-3; Romans 8:8). After His resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared to two disciples as they walked to Emmaus. These two men were disciples, yet in their hearts they ignored what God Himself had said in the scriptures and engaged instead in human reasoning (Luke 24:15). In His rebuke, the Lord called those disciples fools.
“Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26).
Foolish believers are not limited to the New Testament. When attacked by king Baasha, king Asa never considered God as a source of help, trusting instead in the king of Syria:
“… thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, … Herein thou hast done foolishly: …” (2 Chronicles 16:7,9).
Asa would have saved himself much grief had he paid attention to what his predecessor Solomon wrote: “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered” (Proverbs 28:26).
Even a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14) can yield to the thought of foolishness. In 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21, Satan provoked David to number Israel. God never commanded any king of Israel to number his subjects that way-and in Exodus 30:11-12 He warned Moses that if such a numbering wasn’t accompanied by a ransom, the Lord would strike Israel with a plague. When men keep numbers, they usually do so for pride (“Look how many …!”), for tyrannical control (“What is your social security number?”), or for confidence in fleshly might (“In time of battle, I can depend on this many fighting men!”). As he aged and and no longer had the physical strength to battle giants (2 Samuel 21:15-22), David apparently weakened spiritually and decided to trust in the numerical strength of Israel’s fighters instead of in the strength of the God Who in time past had delivered him from wild beasts and a giant. David himself recognized that this trust in the flesh was foolish:
“And David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the Lord, I have sinned greatly … I have done very foolishly” (2 Samuel 24:10).
When hidden in believers’ hearts (Psalm 119:11), God’s word reminds them that God is trustworthy-and it smites them and pricks their conscience before they sin foolishly. When people (even believers) deliberately ignore (and thus disobey) the words of God, they show themselves as practical atheists at heart and therefore fools (Matthew 7:26) who question God instead of fear Him-and who think that they are smarter and more righteous than He (Job 35:2).
Overcoming the Thought of Foolishness
Foolishness violates God’s purpose for our lives. Believers are commanded to stand for the Lord (Ephesians 6:13), yet God warns that fools “shall not stand” in His sight (Psalm 5:5). If your “Christian life” is in a shambles as a result of foolish thinking, the Bible tells you how to overcome the sinful thought of foolishness.
First, you need to realize that God knows your thoughts (Psalm 94:11; 1 Corinthians 3:20). (You might fool others-you might even fool yourself-but you don’t fool Him.) Through His words God can expose the true character of your thoughts-if you desire that He do so (Hebrews 4:12; Psalm 139:23).
Second, after the word of God has revealed any foolish thoughts in your heart, you need to repent of them and forsake them: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts:…” (Isaiah 55:7). Third, after you’ve forsaken the foolish thoughts, God will establish your thoughts properly as you labor for Him and commit your works to him (Proverbs 16:3). Fourth, as you labor you must capture every thought that comes into your mind and bring it under Christ’s control (2 Corinthians 2:5). Finally, do what is right, walking “circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise” (Ephesians 5:15).
Daryl R. Coats March 2005
SOLDIERS IN TRAINING
1187 Highway 529,
Taylorsville, MS 39168