The Way of Wisdom and the Way of Folly A Biblical Contrast

by Mike Ratliff

6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:6-9 ESV)

As we live in a time of great deception, let us reflect on our Lord’s ways in contrast to the way of men. God’s ways are not man’s ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. No matter how high and lifted up we perceive that God is, He is higher. No matter how good we come to believe that we are, we are nothing compared to God. Without our Lord, we can do nothing.

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5 ESV)

I know that this teaching is abhorrent to those who deem themselves “postmodern” or “emergent,” but that does not change the fact that this is biblical. When men and women attempt to claim that they are Christian, but refuse to bow the knee to the Lordship of Christ and believe all that He taught then they are not of the way of wisdom, but the way of folly.

1 Wisdom has built her house; she has hewn her seven pillars. 2 She has slaughtered her beasts; she has mixed her wine; she has also set her table. 3 She has sent out her young women to call from the highest places in the town, 4 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To him who lacks sense she says, 5 “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. 6 Leave your simple ways, and live, and walk in the way of insight.” (Proverbs 9:1-6 ESV)

Wisdom’s house has seven pillars. The number 7 here conveys the sufficiency of this house as being able to encompass all those who come to eat and drink there of the wisdom and the truth that has been given to men by God. Wisdom makes a public call for all to come and partake. Godly wisdom is not esoteric. It is not full of hidden meanings that only those on the deep inside can understand. No, it is available to all who seek it with a heart to learn it and live by it.

7 Whoever corrects a scoffer gets himself abuse, and he who reproves a wicked man incurs injury. 8 Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. 9 Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. (Proverbs 9:7-9 ESV)

My experience as a Christian teacher and writer is that it is a complete waste of time to try to convince people of the truth when they are obviously deep in self-deception and are bent on not being convinced that they are wrong. The blogosphere is a wonderful place for information, but it is also the favorite hangout of people who love to argue. What did Jesus tell us about this?

6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. (Matthew 7:6 ESV)

Arguing is not the free exchange of ideas. It is a contest of wills. Reasoning is God’s way, arguing is man’s way. Which is the way of wisdom and which is the way of folly?

10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. 11 For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life. 12 If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it. (Proverbs 9:10-12 ESV)

Only the regenerate believer, that is, a genuine believer, has this fear of God, which is a combination of reverence, awe, admiration, as well as submissive fear. In fact, if a person claims to know God, but walks completely outside of this fear then they either are liars or they are not wise. Spiritual knowledge of God and His ways comes from the fount of godly wisdom and that has the fear of the Lord as its foundation. Every person is responsible for his or her own conduct. This means that our choices affect our own lives.

13 The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. 14 She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, 15 calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, 16 “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” And to him who lacks sense she says, 17 “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” 18 But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol. (Proverbs 9:13-18 ESV)

In contrast to wisdom, folly is seductive and knows nothing. It is the way of men and is outside of the grace of God. Just as humility and pride are complete opposites and mutually exclusive, so is wisdom and folly. Humility grows abundantly in the broken heart bringing forth the fruits of Christlikness and wisdom. Pride cannot grow there. Instead, it grows in the hard, rocky soil of the hard heart and brings forth the fruits of the flesh and folly. While wisdom’s call is public and to all, folly’s call is seductive, and appeals to the flesh, but pretends to be like stolen water, or bread eaten in secret. Think of the methods that the advertising industry uses to get people to buy what they are peddling. They always go to the flesh and try to appeal to our pride and may even pretend to be “behind-the-scenes” wicked or “naughty.” This is an appeal to that dark and hidden part of our hearts that is still in deep rebellion against God and His ways. When we partake of these things we are also flirting with the portal into realm of those who are dead in their trespasses and sins.

Examine yourselves my brethren…

Soli Deo Gloria!

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