INTRO: Good morning. Our text for this morning is Luke 11:37-54 – “37. And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. 38. And when the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. 39. But the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40. "Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also? 41. "But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you. 42. "But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 43. "Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like graves which are not seen, and the men who walk over them are not aware of them.'' 45. Then one of the lawyers answered and said to Him, "Teacher, by saying these things You reproach us also.'' 46. And He said, "Woe to you also, you lawyers! For you load men with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47. "Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. 48. "In fact, you bear witness that you approve the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. 49. "Therefore the wisdom of God also said, `I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,' 50. "that the blood of all the prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation, 51. "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who perished between the altar and the temple. Yes, I say to you, it shall be required of this generation. 52. "Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.'' 53. And as He said these things to them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to cross-examine Him about many things, 54. lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, that they might accuse Him.” [NKJV]
In verse 40 Jesus calls them Foolish ones! What do you think about when you hear the term “fool”? Probably about someone doing something that gets them in trouble when they should have easily seen the negative result coming. We see this all the time. It has been a popular topic in stories, books, films, TV, and the internet. We see all sorts of dumb things being done. People complain that governments are being run by fools, but that's a different problem. At the same time, none of us want to be thought of as a fool. Yet, most of us have played the fool at times, doing or saying something foolish in the heat of the moment, perhaps pressed for time, not having a full understanding of the situation, or even due to social involvement.
A couple of examples from the news. Back in 1995 in West Chapel, Florida, Joseph Aaron, who was aged 20 at the time, while repairing a car, found that he needed to put a hole in a pipe. He couldn't find his drill, so he tried to shoot a hole in it… and hit his leg with the fragments from the bullet that ricocheted.
Canada - A man was cleaning a bird feeder on the balcony of his condominium apartment in a Toronto suburb when he slipped and fell 23 stories to his death. The police report read; Stefan Macko, 55, was standing on a wheeled chair Sunday when the accident occurred, said Inspector Arcy Honer of the Peel regional police. It appears the chair moved and he went over the balcony. One of those freak accidents reported Inspector Honer. No foul play is suspected.
Mark showed me a quip last week that went like this; The pessimist sees a dark tunnel. The optimist sees a light at the end of the tunnel. The realist sees a train entering the tunnel. The train engineer sees… 3 fools standing on the track.
If we only thought about it more, if we only knew a little bit more about the situation, perhaps we would have done something different and not been foolish. When I hear the word “fool” I instantly think of what Jesus says in Matthew 5:22 – “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, `Raca!' shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, `You fool!' shall be in danger of hell fire.” Jesus in this context shows that ALL insults are sinful and that all our derogatory and deprecatory expressions against our fellow human beings find their origin in a heart full of anger and hatred.
What else does the Bible say about this word though? We find that the Bible speaks of the problem at great length. The word “fool” occurs in 62 verses in the King James version, in the books of Samuel, in the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Jeremiah, Luke, and the Corinthians.
The book of Proverbs especially has a lot to say about foolishness. This morning we will focus a little bit on learning how to not be fools. One of the problems with fools, and this is mentioned in the definition of the word, is that a fool is a person who refuses to learn.
I. The fool does not want to learn - In Proverbs 1:22 Wisdom is discussing the fact that she has tried to get people's attention to teach them how to live better. She says in verse 22, “"How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge.”
A. It isn't that the fool is incapable of learning, they just do not see the need. Often we find that they despise good advice and they will reject correction because they don’t see any need for change.
B. In Proverbs 15:5 – “A fool despises his father's instruction, but he who receives reproof is prudent.”. A father's instruction proceeds from love, and it is folly and ingratitude to despise it. But some children are such enemies of themselves that they break the spirits of their affectionate parents by spurning the admonitions needed for their own welfare.
C. Often we will find that the foolish person acts like they’re listening, but we know, because nothing changes, that they were not hearing what was being said. This can be a very serious problem. Take a look at Matthew 7:26-27 - “Now everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
1. The person was foolish because they were not thinking ahead. It's foolish that when we hear God's words, when Jesus tells us what we need to do, and we don't do those things, we're not thinking ahead.
2. The fool ends up walking in darkness. He doesn't see the problems around him because he refuses to learn. He doesn't want to see them.
3. Ecclesiastes 2:14 says this; “The wise man's eyes are in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. Yet I myself perceived that the same event happens to them all.” Jesus said this too in Matthew 7. “The rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house”. But the house of the wise man stood and the house of the foolish man fell.
D. Inevitably of course the fool reveals that he's a fool. Take a look at Proverbs 13:16 – “Every prudent man acts with knowledge, but a fool lays open his folly.” A person who doesn't want to learn, eventually exposes that there's not much going on in their head but their selfish thoughts.
II. A fool is more interested in being heard – The fool thinks they have something interesting to say, and they think what they have to say is important because it's their thoughts.
A. They are not interested in understanding anybody else's thoughts. They want to spout their own ideas. In Proverbs 18:2 – “A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart.”
B. Easy enough to recognize this because once their jaw starts flapping, we realize there's nothing of substance that is present. Take a look at Proverbs 12:23 – “A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims foolishness.”
C. In a real sense, a fool's native language is folly. Proverbs 15:2 – “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness.”
D. The problem is, he doesn't have anything worth saying. He's never learned. He never grew. He's never done much of anything other than lived his own life. The fool typically makes up for the lack of content with the quantity of words. In Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 – “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool's voice is known by his many words.”
III. A fool lacks reason - Because a fool doesn't use their reasoning, they do not think about matters, nor look into them in any depth. The result is, a fool tends to be led by their emotions.
A. They trust that what they feel must be right. In Proverbs 28:26 – “He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.”
B. It follows that because fools are focused on their emotions, they tend to focus on pleasures. Ecclesiastes 7:4 says “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.”
IV. The fool acts confident - They are indeed self-confident, but at the same time, because they are emotionally led, they tend to get angry very easily. In Proverbs 14:16 – “A wise man fears and departs from evil, but a fool rages and is self-confident.”
A. Fools oftentime are overcome with the emotion of anger. In Ecclesiastes 7:9 – “Do not hasten in your spirit to be angry, for anger rests in the bosom of fools.”
B. I suspect the reason for that is it's easier to get angry at somebody than to try to reason with them. Reasoning takes work, and it takes thought. It takes trying to understand the other person's position. A foolish person goes beyond wanting to reason with someone. They want it their way so they respond in anger. Proverbs 20:3 – “It is honorable for a man to stop striving, since any fool can start a quarrel.”
C. Since the foolish person gives in to anger they will often pick fights with the object of their anger. Proverbs 18:6-7 – “A fool's lips enter into contention, and his mouth calls for blows. A fool's mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.”
D. Then there is the foolish person who instead of trying to solve their problems, stew in their anger, hide their feelings, and then spend their time plotting out how to backstab their perceived opponent. Take a look at Proverbs 10:18 – “Whoever hides hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.” This is not talking about being restrained in your speaking when you are angry. In fact, the next verse says, “… he who restrains his lips is wise.” What this is talking about is the person who holds in their anger, maintains a grudge against someone, and plots to “get even”.
V. A fool is arrogant - If you haven't got the idea yet, a person with a foolish nature is arrogant. They think that they are superior to those around them.
A. Another foolish position some people take is to make fun of sin because they don't believe they're guilty of it. Proverbs 14:9 tells us; “Fools mock at sin, but among the upright there is favor.” In reading that Proverb you probably immediately think of Luke 18:11-13 – “"The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, `God, I thank You that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. `I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.' "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God be merciful to me a sinner!'”
1. The foolish person doesn't believe that something is sinful or that they are guilty of sin.
2. Instead, they make a mockery of the seriousness of sin.
B. In fact, sin to a fool is almost like a sport. It's a game. How close can they get without going over the line that they imagine is there? Take a look at Proverbs 10:23 – “To do evil is like sport to a fool, but a man of understanding has wisdom.” They get a kick out of it—to see how much they can get away with.
C. Like we mentioned about hiding their anger, sometimes the fool will hide what they believe. They might act religious, but when you look at their life, they do not walk the walk. In our text this morning, Luke chapter 11, look at verse 39 again. “But the Lord said to him, "Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. "Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also?”
1. Some people look on the outside like they're religious. They're all whitewashed. They look good, but are corrupt inside.
2. God knows both the inside and the outside, and you can't get away with that.
D. Gary Coles wrote an illustration about this and I’ll just read a part of it here. Sam was what you might call a middle-of-the-road Christian. He saw himself as a faithful member of the local church of Christ. However, his heart had not truly been into serving God for about the past 15 years. He was the kind of Christian who shows up for Sunday morning worship, and maybe one bible study a month. He didn't believe it was necessary to attend every time the church assembled to worship. After all, He was a busy man who often worked 50-60 hours a week. He needed weekend time to rest and unwind, and he was usually too tired to attend every service. Besides, there was usually a good ball game on TV. God understood. If the people at the local church didn't, well, that was just tough. Besides, it boiled down to their opinions, versus his. That argument had served him well through the years.
VI. The fool disbelieves – Then there is the fool that is convinced there isn't a God. In Psalms 53:1 – “The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God.'' They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; There is none who does good. God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. Every one of them has turned aside; They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one.”
A. Why? It's because they don't think they are responsible to anyone else but themselves. They don't act as if there's a God. They don't believe they're going to be called into judgment.
B. Fools don't want to retain any knowledge of God. I believe that is why our society has reached the low point we see now. In the past, people have chosen to forget about God and the Old Testament gives examples.
C. In the New Testament also, as we see in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Take a look at what happened to the Gentile society in Romans 1:20-22 – “20. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21. because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22. Professing to be wise, they became fools,”
It's not that the evidence isn't there. Those Gentiles were not ignorant of God, nor was their information limited to the knowledge that came from the observance of natural phenomena and the existence of conscience within man. God had manifested himself to the Gentiles repeatedly through many centuries, and their knowledge was more than sufficient to make their conduct inexcusable.
Heathenism is not the primeval religion, from which man might gradually have risen to the knowledge of the true God, but is, on the contrary, the result of a falling away from the known original revelation of the true God in His works.
The fool would rather believe the world exists without God. R.C. Bell wrote, “Who close their two eyes (worship and praise) for seeing and knowing God, and turn their backs on the light to walk in their own shadow.”
That's what fools are. Having closed the eyes of their minds with which they might have seen the invisible things of God, they fall into a state of total disability in the perception of spiritual realities. How profoundly sad is the state of persons like that, they might have the highest academic degrees, perhaps occupying positions of trust and honor, possibly considered by their contemporaries as the wisest and ablest of people, but from whose minds the light has gone out, and the knowledge of God has faded. Those, despite their worldly excellence, are the living dead!
Verse 27 says, Professing to be wise, they became fools The persons addressed by Jesus as "fools" in our text today, include an impressive list of the "respectable." This Pharisee was doubtless hailed by his peers as wise; the man who built on the sand (Matthew 7:26) may very well have been a respected builder; the rich farmer who mistook his body for his soul (Luke 12:20) probably had a high social status; and the foolish virgins of the parable (Matthew 25:1ff) were without doubt the cream of their society. This gives a glimpse of what Jesus meant by the terms "fools" or "foolish"; any person who does not respect his soul's deep need of salvation is foolish.
Ah, yes, how wise man fancies himself; and, if we hesitate to believe that, look in the dictionary and see that man is listed as "Homo sapiens," which is Latin for "the wise one;". Perhaps instead we should be called "Homo ignoramus"! Because, apart from what God has revealed to us, we have no certain knowledge of who we are, from where we come, or to where we go. Why be a fool? We are free to choose our master. When a soul turns away from God, there remains no meaningful initiative left. The soul’s great option has already been exercised, the unbeliever is left free to choose only among secondaries, all of which are evil. Demonstrations of this truth are continually visible in Christians who turn away from the gospel. Why be a fool?
We learn from the New Testament how to be saved. We need to hear the word; believe in Jesus; repent of our sins; we must confess our belief that Jesus is the Son of God; and be baptized for the remission of our sins… If we follow these steps, the Lord adds us to His church.
Perhaps there is someone in the assembly today with the need to be buried with Christ in baptism. If you have never done these things, we urge you to do so today. If anyone has this need or desires the prayers of faithful Christians on their behalf, we encourage them to come forward while we stand and sing.
Taken from a sermon by Jeffrey W. Hamilton
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