Nobody likes to be called a fool. Yet in the Bible God uses this label to identify certain individuals. Take a look at Psalm 14:1, for example. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” The purpose of this article is to take a look at what it takes for God to call you a fool.
The foolishness of unbelief in God.
Psalm 14:1 quotes the obvious atheist, the one who refuses to acknowledge the existence of God. I’ve known a few atheists in my lifetime. My father was an atheist for many years. He was a World War II Army vet. I’ll never forget the day he said, “After all I saw in the war, you can’t tell me there’s a god.”
I, too, am a former atheist. After preparing for the ministry and serving in a church, I turned my back on God and convinced myself He did not exist. I spent the next 20 years believing the gospel according to atheism. Like father, like son. But thanks to God’s mercy, I eventually came to my senses.
Yes, the Bible is clear: atheism is the ultimate form of foolishness. Perhaps that comes as no surprise to you.
The foolishness of belief in the goodness of man.
There’s another type of foolishness that is much more subtle than atheism. I realize that many may disagree with me, I hope you’ll hear me out. David spends most of Psalm 14 describing what theologians call the “total depravity” of mankind – the fact that every person is born in a sinful state and, apart from the grace of God, can never truly liberate himself from slavery to evil thoughts, words and deeds. The teaching of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation is that we are not basically good but inherently bad – rotten to the core.
Now, that’s not to say we cannot do individual acts of kindness, whether random or intentional. But even such “good works” are flawed because our sinful nature makes it impossible for us to do nice things without an impure motive. This is why Isaiah was compelled to write, “all our righteous acts are like filthy rags . . . like the wind our sins sweep us away” (Isaiah 64:6).
And so we read these incriminating words in Psalm 14, “They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good” (Psalm 14:1).
The point is this: you don’t have to be an atheist to be a fool. All you must do is accept the foolish notion that humans are basically good rather than evil. This is the devil talking, and many have fallen for it.
Please do yourself a huge favor and consider the teaching of Scripture, for what the Bible says, God says. Shouldn’t we start any discussion by giving heed to what our Creator says?
Jesus addressed this issue when He said, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11). Yes, we lavish our children with gifts — yet we are evil. So said God the Son.
Why is it so important that we view ourselves as corrupt rather than exemplary? Our eternal destiny is at stake. Saying we are basically good removes the need for dealing with our most critical problem: sin and its consequences, which include not only the temporal devastation that surrounds us every day, but the far greater plight of spending eternity in hell as the just reward for our character and conduct.
I’m not OK. You’re not OK. We’re all in desperate need of deliverance from the well-deserved wrath of God. And Jesus, who spoke of eternal punishment more often than we care to admit, is the only One who can provide that salvation. Until we acknowledge that sin is our #1 problem, we are unlikely to reach out to Jesus for the solution.
Don’t be a fool in this life or the next. See our condition as God sees it, and then look to Jesus and see Him as the Savior whose death and resurrection make forgiveness possible. Only then will you leave the path of foolishness and travel on the road of wisdom.