The Foolishness of Preaching
In 1 Corinthians, chapter one, Paul greets these brethren, stating that he thanked God for them. Since Chloe let Paul know of their division over names (v. 11-12), he told them they were to be united (v. 10). He also stated that he was glad he baptized none but the few mentioned in verses 14 and 16 for fear that some might think he had baptized them in his own name (v. 15).
Paul then turns his attention to the "preaching of the cross" (v. 18). In so doing, he makes several interesting contrasts. In the last half of 1 Corinthians one, Paul contrasts the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of God. Paul said God used what appeared foolish to the world, what appeared weak, that which was considered base, despised, and things that are not "to bring to nought things that are." Paul's comments in 1 Corinthians 1:18-21 really brings out the contrast. There, we read, "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." Paul makes it clear that God chose what the world calls foolish to save lost souls. And truly, those who are lost consider the things of God foolish. In fact, "the fool hath said in his heart there is no God" (Ps. 14:1). Therefore, it pleased God to use what men consider foolish (preaching the gospel) to save those who believe (1 Cor. 1:21). Understanding passages like this makes me appreciate passages like Romans 1:16 all the more. Remember that Paul said he was "not ashamed of the gospel of Christ." Though it was considered foolishness by men, he told the Romans it was "the power of God unto salvation" to save those who believe. Knowing the saving power of God is revealed in the gospel, it is imperative that men and women do all they can to spread the gospel (2 Tim. 2:2). Only through teaching and spreading the gospel will men be presented with the opportunity to hear and obey the saving gospel of Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-2).
Yet, in spite of the above, we see men and women who consider the gospel, and gospel preaching foolishness. This is especially true when we consider the moral issues that are addressed in the gospel of Christ. Yes, friends, the gospel deals with moral as well as doctrinal issues! In fact, we cannot talk about morality without talking about God, for morality cannot be possible without God! This is evident from just a casual look at society today. So much of our society wishes to be considered "moral," but at the same time wants to deny the existence of an Omnipotent, Benevolent, Just Creator. Friends, we cannot have it both ways! Without God, there is no morality, and man is free to do as he wills. (Which many would prefer!) Yet, when we consider that sense of "ought" that every man has, and that sense of a definite "right" and a definite "wrong," then we must have One who stands as the lawgiver and the lawmaker, determining what is moral and what is immoral. Of course, that One is God Almighty. Therefore, it is imperative that those who are preachers of the gospel, as well as all Christians, must make sure and stand for those things which are moral and upright in our society. It is not enough to allow "someone else" to do our job!
It is difficult, at times, to stand for that which is moral and upright. The world laughs at our efforts, and considers it foolish to discuss such things as morality (After all, many consider morality to be a "personal" decision!). But, if we stop teaching and preaching and showing people that God expects us to live pure lives, then who will do it? Unfortunately, we see more and more of those claiming to be Christians who do not want to hear about morality, living in a pure manner, and letting our "light" shine in a dark and sinful world (Matt. 5:16). Why is this? Well, there are several reasons: 1) Seeing that these people have been called out of the world, they may still have some growing to do (Heb. 5:12-14; 2 Pet. 3:18; 1 Cor. 3:1-3). 2) It may be that these people are more concerned about the things in this life rather than spiritual matters (Matt. 13:22; 2 Tim. 4:10). 3) It may be that they are conforming to this world, and continuing to allow worldly friends and contacts to sway them rather than conforming to God's Word (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 15:33). 4) Some may allow their love of money, or their need for power to sway them to laugh and consider "foolish" the preaching on such subjects as morality (1 Tim. 6:10). Regardless of the influence behind it, many today in the world, but also many in the Lord's church, consider preaching on morality foolish. In the remainder of this article, we wish to discuss what God has said concerning several moral issues, and some complaints registered by men. As we do this, this author wishes to encourage all to hold fast and to "fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life" (1 Tim. 6:12).
Because of the newspaper, television, radio, and other media, homosexuality is gradually gaining acceptance. Many call it nothing more than an "alternate lifestyle." Some say God made them that way. Others will be honest, saying it is a choice they made, but will still deny that there is anything immoral about homosexuality. All along, there are those who will deny that God condemned it, or that Christ condemned the sin of homosexuality in any way. Those who preach against homosexuality are considered foolish, to be sure! What has God said about homosexuality? God has said: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination" (Lev. 18:22). "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" (Lev. 20:13). Don't forget that Sodom and Gomorrah were reduced to ashes and smoke because of their sins, one in particular being homosexuality (Gen. 19)! In the New Testament, we read, "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet" (Rom. 1:16-17). "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:9-11). At a glance we learn that homosexuality is an abomination, it is vile, it is against nature, it is unseemly, it is error, it is an act equated with some of the lowest of sins, and one practicing such things will not go to Heaven. Some may have a problem with my being "blunt," but it needs to be understood that the subject of homosexuality and its sinfulness is not merely a matter of opinion, but a matter of Heaven or Hell!! Because this is true, it is imperative that we speak as plainly as possible so that people will understand how terrible this sin is. It is imperative that homosexuals be encouraged to get out of that sin before it is too late!
Some today try to justify homosexuality by saying that Christ never talked about it. Thus, according to them, it might have been a sin in the Old Testament, but it is not a sin today. Well, let's just see about that. In Matthew 19, Jesus discussed the marriage relationship among other things. There, Jesus told the Pharisees, "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matt. 19:4-6). Now, when Jesus talked of the marriage relationship, He showed it to be between one male and one female, never two males or two females! Notice, Jesus said that God made them male and female at the beginning! As the old saying goes, "In the beginning, God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!" Notice also that the man leaves his father (male) and mother (female) to cleave to his wife (female) and then those two (man and woman) are to be one flesh! This subject is really not that difficult to understand when we simply let the Bible speak. Jesus condemned homosexuality by showing what was acceptable with God.
Some claim that being a homosexual is not a matter of choice, but a natural thing, "a genetic thing." They will often say, "I didn't choose this, did you choose to be heterosexual?" My response is, that at some point you had to have chosen to be a homosexual. Just because we are accustomed to certain things, or have established certain habits, does not mean that they still are not choices! The second thing I would say is that no, I didn't have to "choose" to be heterosexual, you see that is a "natural" thing according to God. It is "against nature" or unnatural to be a homosexual. Thus, homosexuality is a choice that needs to be reversed! It is obviously possible to reverse this decision concerning homosexuality, for some in Corinth "were" homosexuals, among other things, but came out of that to be "washed," "sanctified," and "justified in the name of the Lord Jesus" (1 Cor. 6:11). Regardless of what men may think about it, and regardless of its "acceptance" in society, God says the homosexual activities are immoral and sinful in the sight of God. Those today who refuse to talk about homosexuality and call it sin, do not love men's souls as they claim!
Immodesty is something that is rampant in our society. It is getting so that even the winter months do not curtail immodest dress. And those who at one time at least made an effort to dress decently and modestly for worship services are not doing so anymore. More and more are dressing as the world dresses, and as such, do not see anything wrong with wearing indecent clothing. We often see young women in the worship services who spend all their time fidgeting, fighting, and stretching their short dresses so it will cover their bare legs and thighs. Some today seem to have a problem getting enough material to cover the top half of their body, as well! This is not limited to the worship services, though. Some women seem to always be fighting, stretching, and fuming over their short dresses every time they sit down! Please do not misunderstand, this is not simply an indictment against the ladies, men also are known for their immodest dress, and it certainly is not condoned by God. God does not have "double-standards" as the world does. Both men and women can be guilty of dressing immodestly.
Brethren, there needs to be more and more preaching on modest dress, and what it means to be "shame-faced" as the Bible talks about. Paul wrote to Timothy and encouraged him to preach on these matters. He said, "In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works" (1 Tim. 2:9-10). Paul made it clear that for a woman to have "too much" or "too little" on was wrong. Of course, as we see society today, they lean more toward the "too little" than the "too much." Though this is a problem in places when we see women who are in the worship services either to see what "so-and-so" has on today, or to be adored herself! People ought to be able to see us as godly people, people who let our lights shine (Matt. 5:16). Therefore, it requires that we (men AND women) dress in an appropriate manner. Solomon showed us that it is possible for one to wear the "attire of an harlot" (Prov. 7:10). You reckon that if one was wearing the attire of a harlot that people would think she was a Christian? Peter discussed the importance of dressing in a modest manner as well in 1 Peter 3:1-6.
As was said earlier, this rule applies to both the man and woman. Why must both sexes dress in a modest manner? First of all, because it is commanded, and second of all because it helps to not place a stumbling block in the way of others. Consider Matthew 5:27-28: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." Ladies, would you like to be the one that influences another to commit adultery "in his heart"? It is possible! And yes, once again, it works both ways -- men can have an influence on women and cause them to think impure thoughts. Someone may say, "Well, if someone lusts after me, then that is their fault, they have a dirty mind." To an extent, this is true, we certainly cannot control the thoughts of others. But, if our dress can have an effect on the opposite sex, (and it can) and we dress as the world dresses with no thought for modesty or godliness, then we can have a bad influence upon others and have sinned ourselves (Matt. 18:6).
Dancing is also something that is immoral, for it leads to many other sins. One we have already discussed, and that is the placing of impure thoughts and motives in the mind of the opposite sex. Some downplay this, but all of us need to realize that what we think about will eventually come out -- good or bad! This is why Jesus said what He did in Matthew 15:17-20, and why Paul encouraged us to think on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8). What we think about will eventually come out!
So many today wish to portray dancing as "wholesome" fun. Many today consider you foolish if you talk about dancing and what it can lead to. Dancing is portrayed as a way for people (especially the young) to gain "style," "grace," and other social skills. This sin and it's end is then promoted not only by parents at times, but also by the schools which sponsor Proms, Homecoming dances, Sweethearts' dances and the like. What seems "innocent" on the surface is really something that effects your eternal soul! Some may not see the problems related to dancing and ask, "what is the problem?" Think about it, when you have two people of the opposite sex swaying in a rhythmic motion and holding one another close, does it take a genius to figure out that eventually they will do what they are acting out? One man called dancing "vertical fornication" and I think he got it right.
Brethren, do we know what the word "lasciviousness" means? I wonder sometimes. Nevertheless, the word "lasciviousness" means "wanton (acts or) manners, as filthy words, indecent body movements, unchaste handling of males and females" (Thayer's, p. 79-80). Now, I know that there are other things that could apply, but clearly, we can see that the definition for lasciviousness applies to dancing. No, it is not "good" or "harmless fun." It is a dangerous thing that can lead men farther and farther away from God if we are not careful. The Bible discusses lasciviousness in such passages as: Galatians 5:19-21, calling it a work of the flesh; in Ephesians 4:18-19 and 2 Corinthians 12:20-21 as well. In no Scripture is lasciviousness shown in a good light!
Before one thinks I am simply foolish and the things we are discussing are "out-dated" or not relevant, let me ask this: In what other situation would we allow people of the opposite sex to handle one another as they do in most dances? Take the music out of it, and who would defend the "rights" of our teens, or adult men and women holding one another in the manner common in most dances? Husbands, what would you think of a strange man swaying back and forth with your wives in any other situation? Yet, this goes on in dances, does it not? What makes it right or acceptable? Is it the music? Is it the dance floor? What is it? Brethren, it is high time we realized that dancing and such things as this are sins, and are not to be "glossed over." Just because a thing may be considered "socially acceptable" does not make it right in the sight of God!
Believe it or not, we've come to the place in our society where a point like this is needed! People need to be reminded that in order to live a pure and moral life in the sight of God, we need to make sure and not commit such sins as fornication or adultery. As Satan continues to lead men away from that which is pure and right, it is going to become more and more necessary to preach on such basic truths as these. Many today consider this "foolishness" for they say "Everyone does it!" A man may convince a woman to "live with him" for a while as a "test marriage." (Have you heard of this?) What this man really wants is to engage in acts reserved for marriage (Heb. 13:4) without actually being married! Others see this as a thing of beauty, for these people are supposedly "in love," and people excuse fornication and adultery if people are truly "in love" or "committed" as the popular saying goes!
To answer one argument, no, "everyone" does not commit fornication or adultery! I am glad to know many young people, as well as some older single people who have control of their passions and will not allow Satan to get a toe-hold in their lives! It is possible to live a life for Christ and do so without engaging in sexual activity outside of marriage. What is fornication, and why the distinction between fornication and adultery? Well, fornication is defined as any illicit sexual act. Therefore, such things as homosexuality, bestiality, necrophilia, and adultery fall under this definition. Adultery is more specific, and has to do with illicit sexual relations specifically between a man and a woman. While adultery is fornication, fornication is not necessarily adultery (as explained above).
God intended for one man and one woman to live together as husband and wife (Gen. 2:18-25; Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Cor. 7:1-4). Therefore, all others who might engage in sexual activity have sinned, and are considered by God to be fornicators and adulterers (Heb. 13:4). The sexual act, in its proper place, is a beautiful thing. The problem is that many have taken it out of its proper place. For example, anyone who gardens knows the value of good topsoil. If you can get some good topsoil, get a good soaking rain on it, those vegetables will really take off in that garden! But, what if we decide to take that topsoil, which is so good, and bring it into the house on the freshly-cleaned carpet?? What then? Some husbands may end up sleeping in the garden if they bring that dirt in the house!! Why is this? What was wrong with that good soil? Nothing, when it is in its proper place (the garden), but take it out of that place, and it becomes dirty, filthy, and a big mess. Thus it is with the sexual act. In it's proper place (the marriage relationship) it is right, proper, and good. However, out of this relationship, it is ugly, dirty, immoral, and sinful!
Before we leave this point, it is also necessary to understand that God considers some to be fornicators and adulterers if they are married to one that they do not have the Scriptural right to marry. The Bible teaches that there are only two reasons for one to remarry. One reason is the death of the spouse (Rom. 7:1-3). The other reason is seen in Matthew 5:32 and 19:9. There we see that one may remarry if his/her mate has been unfaithful to him/her. Then, only the innocent spouse may remarry. Friend, if you find yourself in a situation where you are unscripturally married to someone, you will face God's wrath unless you repent and get out of that relationship. This is a serious matter, to be sure. The apostles understood how serious it was (Matt. 19:10), and we need to understand it as well.
Abortion is simply the unlawful killing of another human being. Abortion is considered a "moral" choice for a pregnant woman. Abortion is something that is encouraged at times. I have a neighbor who found out her granddaughter was pregnant, and was willing to pay for the abortion procedure herself!! Can you imagine that? Truly, a people "without natural affection" (Rom. 1:31) is appearing in America. Abortion procedures are becoming more defined and more specific. Not that many months ago, our local newspaper reported that a man had figured out a way to kill a baby at 2-3 weeks after conception! One man justified the technique by saying, "People are more comfortable with this type of abortion -- it is not the picture of a little baby sucking its thumb." It is a baby, nonetheless, regardless of whether or not it ever sucked its thumb!! I have had experiences with this, myself. My wife and I are the parents of a nine-month-old baby boy. While my wife was in the early months of her pregnancy, we were given the option of abortion (termed "termination" by this doctor). We denied it outright, but in the days and weeks following, I wondered how many countless couples sat in our places before us and seriously considered killing their child, or even went through with it.
People consider this foolishness, but it is a serious matter. God says, that He hates "hands that shed innocent blood" (Prov. 6:17). Who is more innocent than an unborn child?? Unlike many modern doctors and others, God says that a child not yet born is still a child! Genesis 25:21-24 calls Jacob and Esau "children," "nations," "people," and "twins" though they were not yet born. In the book of Exodus, God demanded punishment in the case of a man causing a woman to miscarry and lose her child, though no harm came to her personally. He said the punishment would be "life for life" (Ex. 21:22-23). Psalm 139:14-16 records David's words: "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them." Finally, we note that Dr. Luke (Col. 4:14) called John a "babe" though yet unborn (Lk. 1:41-44). Consider this question: What if Eve, and Mary, the mother of Christ were pro-abortion??
If God calls the unborn "babies," "children," etc., then woe is me if I call them "dead matter," "tissue," or anything else that would take away from their value and worth as human beings! Now, can a woman be forgiven by God for aborting her child? Can a doctor be forgiven by God for killing babies? Yes, they can. But, the best thing to do is never get in this situation in the first place! (This is why our point about "fornication and adultery" preceded this one!) Yes, brethren, there needs to be more preaching on such timely subjects as this, regardless of whether or not men think it "foolish" to do so.
Gambling is something that is overlooked by many today. Yes, gambling is a sin, and must be avoided by men. So many times, we see gambling (in the form of casino gambling, raffles, bingos, lotteries, employee "pools" on the ball games, etc.) being defended by men as a means of raising money, and simply having fun. While these things may be fun at the beginning, the end of these things is not fun at all! People try to justify such things as lotteries (especially state-wide or nation-wide lotteries) as ways in which the state can raise more funds. Having been born and growing up in a state which legalized lotteries, I can tell you the people of the state are still waiting on the money that was supposed to "roll in"! In the first year the lottery was legalized, there was a big scandal over funds, secret sexual affairs, and other things. After that first year, the people overseeing the lottery left in disgrace, but the lottery was there to stay, and it is still going strong! Catholic churches are known for their bingo games and other things such as that. This is nothing more than gambling, pure and simple, regardless of who condones it! Raffles for cars or school raffles, etc. are the same. It is nothing but a means by which to play on the covetousness of men and to take their money!
The pull men feel to get "something for nothing" (or next to nothing) is strong. You see, gambling plays on men's greed. The Bible says "the love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Tim. 6:10). The love of money motivates men to sin in all kinds of ways -- including gambling! Gambling, simply put, is stealing by consent. Some may consent to the consequences of gambling (losing their money and/or possessions), but just because one consents doesn't make it right! If it does, then would "consent" make it acceptable in God's sight for a man and women to commit adultery? They both stand or fall together! If we can see that adultery "by consent" is still adultery and sinful, then we ought to be able to see that gambling (stealing by consent) is still stealing! Men may call this foolish, or being "nit-picky" or whatever, but God calls it sin!
The Bible says that one may receive money or goods through working for it (Matt. 20:1-16; Eph. 4:28). Man may also receive goods and money through a gift or an inheritance (Eph. 4:28; Lk. 15:11-30). However, any other way is unauthorized, and as such is forbidden by God!! We are not to gamble, or to take part in games which play on a man's covetousness, or greed! Covetousness is sin (Col. 3:5)!
So many today do not see a problem with drinking alcoholic drinks. The Bible says that it is wrong for a man to partake in such things. It affects our minds, and our judgments. It causes us to do things we would not normally do, and can ultimately lead to our death or the death of another (Prov. 23:29-35). It definitely leads to our spiritual death! Some justify drinking by saying God condemned drunkenness, but not one drink, or "social" drinking. Like the subjects above, it is considered a foolish thing for men to talk about drinking alcohol and such. Nevertheless, this subject demands our study!
In dealing with the one who says God condemns drunkenness, not a social drink, consider Proverbs 23 again. First of all, drunkenness is condemned (Prov. 20:1, 23:29-30; 1 Pet 4:3; etc.). At the same time, it needs to be made clear that in order to stop drunkenness, one must stop the first drink! In Proverbs 23:31-32, we read, "Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright ("goeth down smoothly," ASV). At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." Understand, brethren, there would be no "at the last" if there were no "at the first"! Solomon is warning against drinking at all by showing the end result. Certainly, we don't stop drunkenness by drinking, we stop it by not drinking! That is his point. If you drink alcohol, you will eventually get to the state described in this text. And, no one, repeat NO ONE who justifies their "social drinking" can say that they have never "slipped up" and ended up truly drunk as is described in Proverbs 23.
Let's look to the New Testament for a moment. Peter says, "Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you" (1 Pet. 4:1-4). Notice please that Peter said these people had committed some pretty terrible sins at one point. Among those were: living after the lusts of men, doing the will of the Gentiles, walking in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, abominable idolatries, and excess of riot. Among all these sins were three we will consider: 1) Excess of wine -- this is the "falling down drunk." This is the man in the gutter, the one people who drink swear that they will never become. 2) Revellings -- this is the man who is drunk enough that his inhibitions are gone. He is "the life of the party" as it were. 3) Banquetings -- This word means "drinking parties" and is literally translated "a drinking." You cannot have a "drinking" without a "drink" can you? If the warnings from the book of Proverbs were not enough, then listen to Peter. Yes, the Bible condemns "social drinking" and even the taking of one drink! Peter lists it in the category with living after the lusts of men, doing the will of the Gentiles, walking in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, abominable idolatries, and excess of riot. If we drink alcohol, we are sinning.
These things ought to really make us stop and think. Are we living for God as we ought? Do we appreciate what God has said about these moral issues that come up from day to day? Yes, the Bible is a relevant book, and yes, God's word has meaning for us today. Woe to anyone who thinks otherwise! Regardless of how "foolish" men think it is, it is our responsibility to preach and promote God's word to a lost and dying world. Remember, God chose the preaching of the gospel to win lost souls to Him. The world considers it foolishness and a waste of time, but we who are saved know better! We know it is the power of God to salvation (1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 1:16)!! Let us not take God's word for granted, but appreciate its beauty and its power and defend it, preach, and live it so that one day we can be welcomed into Heaven, the home of the soul (Matt. 7:13-14; Jn. 14:1-3; Rev. 22:14; Phil. 4:13-14)!
e-mail this author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Return to Watchman Front Page
return to October index