by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 6 August 10, 2004 Lincolnton, N.C.
(049)Thesis:Man's foolishness consists in two realities: his profession of personal wisdom; and his dependence upon temporal entities for his life.
Introduction:As we turn in our Bibles to Romans 1:22-23, let me ask you this question: what is the significance of the fact that John, one of the sons of Zebedee, was the only one of the original twelve that died what we call a "natural death"? What help do we get from the fact that he was the only one of the original twelve who was on hand at the crucifixion? There is, in the Bible, this principle: if we don't "need" the experience to firm up our faith in the Truth, the likelihood that we will face the experience is highly diminished. There is also this statement by the apostle Paul, "Have ye sufferedsomanythingsinvain if it be yet in vain?" (Galatians 3:4). His pointed question implies that the Sovereign of our Experiences actually puts us into the very circumstances that are most necessary to address the areas of our weaknesses. This is not to humiliate us, but to grow us up in faith. This is related to Romans 1:22-23 in this way: as long as man "professes to be wise" his experience will ultimately prove to be an experience of death; and the proof of his foolishness will be more than obvious. There is a profound lesson to be learned here: it is only by real dependence upon the true glory of the true God that our lives are filled with joy...the essence of life.
I. Paul's Indictment of Man For His Foolishness.
A. He addresses man's insistence that he be considered "wise".
1. Paul says that man "professes" to be "wise".
a. What is it about man's situation that requires "wisdom"?
1) What is "wisdom" for?
a) Matthew 23:17-19 says that wisdom is "to enable a person to discern what the relative value of a thing is".
b) Matthew 7:26 says that wisdom is "to enable a person to act according to the real value of a thing".
c) The matter that gives "discernment of value" and "ability to act" the weight they have is "the quality of a man's experience in his soul".
i. In the final analysis, there is only one thing that matters to God: whether men are joyful or not [Matthew 25:21-23].
ii. Every detail of Scripture relates to man's "education" so that he may enter into "the joy of his Lord".
iii. Every detail of man's experience is designed by God so that, by growing through experience, man might come to fulness of joy.
2) Why does man need it?
a) The current universe has a relatively pervasive inimical opponent of God's values.
i. This opposition is obvious at the external level.
ii. This opposition is, perhaps, more real at the internal level.
b) In the face of an "enemy", man needs "wisdom" in order to "overcome" the onslaught of death.
b. What is it about man's condition that requires him to insist that others see him as "wise"?
1) This is not about the question of "whether" a man is wise, or not.
2) This is about why man "professes" to be wise.
a) A profession of wisdom is always made to an "audience".
b) A profession is always about the attempt to cause others to agree with the one making the profession.
3) This, thus, is about this question: why is it important to man to be seen as wise?
a) Being alienated from the joy of life, man has determined to seek joy on the wings of the opinions that others have of him. There is no method of life that is more foolish.
b) The more significant question is this: what is driving man to seek affirmation of his wisdom from other men? In a word, his fear that his joylessness is not only going to get worse, it is going to be raised to the "n"th degree and then be fixed there.
i. This was the problem in the Garden when man's "faith" in the goodness of God was shaken.
ii. This problem continues to be the very same today: when men do not have a solid confidence in God's goodness, the panic sets in and man begins to seek a solution in other men.
B. He addresses man's reality in foolishness.
1. Paul says man "became foolish"...or, more literally, man "was made foolish" (passive voice).
2. "Foolishness" is the inability to discern what the relative value of a thing is and the inability to act on the relative values in such a way as to experience the joy of life.
II. Paul's Proof of Man's Foolishness: He Became a Worshipper of Maggot Food.
A. Paul says he "exchanged" the glory of the incorruptible God for the glory of corruptible things.
1. This is the exchange of the incorruptible for that which decays -- i.e. maggot food.
2. This is the ultimate illustration of the foolishness of man.
B. Paul writes into an overtly idolatrous context, but he has also written into the more subtle context of hidden idols.