Bible Think Tank

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sinful vs. Foolish


I want to ask a question that I have been thinking about for a long time and I haven't come to any conclusion on yet. Here goes: is there a difference between a sinful act and a foolish act? Is there a difference between a righteous act and a wise act? There are lots of applications to the answer. "A fool spends all that he has." Is it a sin to spend all that one has?

So, I'd love to hear your insight. Give me reasons why you answer the way you did. I will go through with my rationale in the comments section. Peace.

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7 Comments:

Blogger delawaregirl said...

Thanks for giving me something to mull over today.

8/29/2007 10:39 AM  
Blogger delawaregirl said...

I've been thinking about this.
Mostly about if there is a difference between a righteous act and a wise act. Both righteousness and wisdom come from God. Righteousness through the blood of Christ and wisdom is a gift as well. Both Ezra (Ez 7:25 refers to his God-given wisdom) and Daniel (Dan 2:21 says "He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding") received wisdom from God (among others in the Bible). If wisdom comes from God then it just seems that a wise act must be a righteous act. I think it must go the other way also. That a righteous act would be a wise act....how would one know to do the act rigteously without any wisedom.

Ok, so on to the sinful and foolish act.

Here's what is listed in my Bible's concordance on fools:
-All men are with out the knowledge of God
-Deny God
-Blaspheme God
-Reproach God
-Make a mock of sin
-Despise instruction
-Hate knowledge
-Delight in not understanding
-Walk in darkness
-Hate to depart from evil
-Worship of, hateful to God
(I'll write this verse because I thought it very interesting "Walk prudently when you go to the house of God; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil" Ecc 5:1)
-fools are corrupt and abominable, self-sufficient, self-confident, self-deceivers, mere professors of religion, full of words, given to meddling, slanderers, liars, slothful, angry, contentious, a grief to parents, the list goes on and on.
Looking at this list, it seems that all things decribing what a fool does are sins. Even if they do not know it's evil, it still is. So with the biblical decription of a fool I think that a sinful act is the same as a foolish act.

8/29/2007 2:28 PM  
Blogger Timothy Schmoyer said...

Can we make righteous decisions that are not wise? Yes, think of what Jesus told His disciples: "be wise as serpents, yet innocent as doves." Here He shows that we tend to be innocent, innocent to the point where we lack shrewd wisdom.

Can we make wise decisions that are not righteous? Yes, there are many people in our society, putting into practice the guidance of the Proverbs, yet they lack any form of righteousness. Many wise, yet not "wise unto salvation" as Paul tells Timothy. Paul also says that there are many wise, but "the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom" (1 Cor 1:25).

Can someone make a sinful decision that is not foolish? No, all sin is foolish. In Numbers 12:11, Aaron asks Moses "do not hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed." Saul says to David "I have sinned ... Surely I have acted like a fool and have erred greatly." (1 Samuel 26:21). All sin is foolishness.

Can someone make a foolish decision that is not sinful? Here is the important question in my mind. My answer (don't hurt me) is Yes. Someone can make a foolish decision but that decision does not also have to be sinful. Two illustrations. First example: a man cheats on his income tax. This is a foolish decision as he will likely get caught. This is also a sinful decision as God tells us to pay the taxes that are demanded of us (Romans 13:6-7). Second example: a woman gets a bonus at work and in her excitement stops at the mall to "celebrate," spending it all on clothes and lattes. The Bible say that she is foolish... sinful? I'm not so sure. "The wise man saves for the future, but a fool spends all that he has" (Proverbs 21:20). Not all foolishness is sin, but some of it is.

A final problem to resolve if this is the correct schema: how do I know which statements in the Bible are fool/wise ones and which are righteous/sinful ones? In general, I would say that "do not" or "do" commands are righteous/sinful commands and "a wise man ... a foolish man" statments are wise/foolish ones.

You haven't sinned if you shot your mouth off before the king and eat all his food, but you are an idiot!

8/29/2007 9:46 PM  
Blogger Tim Bertolet said...

Tim, I tend to agree with you that not all foolishness is sin. Jesus speaks of a king who counts the cost before he goes to war, and then goes and makes peace if he doesn't have the forces. Granted Jesus doesn't discuss 'sin' or 'foolishness' in this context. But suppose the king didn't have enough troops and still went to war. {assuming all war is not defacto sin}-- we would say he was foolish (or stupid) not neccessarily sinful.

Also Rehoboam's act of spuring the counsel of the wise was foolish BUT his sin was his act of oppressing his people.

I would see "sin" as a subset of "foolish" decisions. In otherwords, not all folly is sin but all sin is folly.
--Although we should consider that if we know the good we should do and don't do it, that is a sin. If we know it is better to save then spend our money on our pleasures, then that would be sin. Sin is also a heart issue, so like with time usage, if I spend 5 hours a day playing video games for 5 years, at what point does my folly become sin because I am misusing the gifts of God's resources (i.e. time)?

A final problem to resolve if this is the correct schema: how do I know which statements in the Bible are fool/wise ones and which are righteous/sinful ones? In general, I would say that "do not" or "do" commands are righteous/sinful commands and "a wise man ... a foolish man" statments are wise/foolish ones.
.

I agree but we should tie wisdom more closely to righteousness. Can I really be wise if I am living in sin? I would say I guess, there are sinful fools, there are just ignorant fools and then there are wise men. I agree the clear commands become sin/non-sin issues. There are things that are issues of wisdom not sin: like should I answer a fool in his follow or not, Scripture says two things: Proverbs 26:4-5, it seems to me it takes wisdom to use wisdom. You may "answer the fool" and in the situation is wasn't the best/wisest thing but that doesn't make it a sin. The same may apply for a non-answering of the fool.

Over sin/non-sin issue there is also the issue of conscience. For example: you might decide to go into a bar because a non-Christian invited you. In some cases that might be wise like you were in the middle of a gospel conversation and that would be the only way it would continue. In some cases it might be foolish, like you just wanted to "hang-out" and in other cases, say for the ex-alchoholic it might be a sin against conscience since it would bring great temptation. {some people in their conscience feel going here is a sin, others do not; either way, while we value Christian liberty, if you conscience is weaker you shouldn't go in}.

Maybe I am rambling. Anyways, what do you think?

8/30/2007 11:47 AM  
Blogger Tim Bertolet said...

Oh, Tim, sorry to use the bar example, I was looking at some of your other posts and now saw you dealt with some of the Christian liberty stuff. I was just using it as an example, not giving my personal opinion on it.

8/30/2007 2:01 PM  
Blogger Timothy Schmoyer said...

tim b,

thanks for posting. I appreciate your insight. This is an important question. I think at the end of your comment we begin to see the difference between righteousness and wisdom. With righteousness, there is no question of how to proceed. With wisdom, you really need to evaluate the situation and there is a lot of uncertainty with how to proceed.

Your comment about the intimate relationship between wisdom and righteousness: you are right. To be a wise person, you need to be righteous. In my original post, I was talking about people who can make a wise decision. They may not be wise in general, but are able to make A wise decision with or without being righteous. Also, there is a difference between earthly wisdom and spiritual wisdom. Reference 1 Cor 1-2 on that point.

Again, thanks for your thoughts!

8/31/2007 9:22 AM  
Blogger Tim Bertolet said...

"In my original post, I was talking about people who can make a wise decision. They may not be wise in general, but are able to make A wise decision with or without being righteous. Also, there is a difference between earthly wisdom and spiritual wisdom."


I agree. Perhaps this is why King Lemuel makes it into Proverbs (ch.31). Yet that 'earthly wisdom' only goes so far since true wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord.

Great reference to 1 Cor 1,2. I love those passages, in fact, I just worked through portions of it for Sunday school. My topic was "The Holy Spirit and Hermeneutics".

8/31/2007 10:11 AM  

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