Wisdom and Folly

‘Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise that they are futile (1 Corinthians 3:18-20).”

The Differences between Wisdom and Folly

Wisdom – What is it? The Bible has a lot to say about it – God’s wisdom and the wisdom of men. Being foolish is the opposite of being wise, and the Bible poignantly states in Proverbs, ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Proverbs 9:10).’

For the Christian that is the heart of the matter – not fearing God as one who is condemned to suffer His wrath, but as one who has received His forgiveness and experienced His mercy, His love, kindness, joy and peace. For those in Christ there is no fear in love, for love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18).

God is wise (1 Timothy 1:17; Jude 1:25) beyond our understanding. In His wisdom He created the world (Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15) and foreordained (1 Peter 1:20) all that would happen there until He destroys it and creates a new one (Revelation 21:1).

In His wisdom He created both the wise and the foolish, and this is what perplexed the writer of Ecclesiastes. He saw that wisdom excels folly (2:13) and yet in an event – perhaps a catastrophic one – both the wise and the foolish suffer the same fate (Vs 15, 16). This caused the writer to despair (v 20) because he wasn’t viewing things with the eye of faith. He was looking at them from a worldly point of view. He reasoned that if a man is wise, works hard and accumulates wealth, he should be able to reap the benefits. Others should not profit from his industry and wisdom after his death. The foolish lose nothing because they accumulate nothing; furthermore they may inherent a wise man’s estate – possessions for which they did not labour. To the author of Ecclesiastes this was ‘vanity’. Man’s toil, therefore, to him was pointless, and moreover, a man’s days are ‘sorrowful ‘and his work is ‘burdensome’ (2: 23). This is the folly of an unbeliever.

The Wisdom of God

Paul the Apostle has a completely different understanding. He explains, ‘The deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10) are revealed to those who receive the Spirit of God: ‘But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew, for had they known they would not have crucified the Lord of glory …….. But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:7-14).’

The psalmist through God’s Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16) wrote, ‘I will hear what the LORD will speak, for He will speak peace to His people and to His saints; but let them not turn back to folly. Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land (Psalm 85:8, 9).’

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7), and, ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever (Psalm 111:10).’

In His wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:21) God sent His Son to die for those whom He predestined (Romans 8:29) for glory from before the creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). He makes men and women wise (1 Corinthians 2:7) in His knowledge through His Spirit (V 10), and He speaks peace to them (Psalm 85:8) and gives them His *rest.

*Christian Sabbath?


About thebiblicalway

I am a Christian by the grace of God. Ephesians 2:8, 9 Jesus loves me and I love Him. I love my wife, my family and my larger family, the true Church of God.
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