2 Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, and he sins who hastens with his feet. 3 The foolishness of a man twists his way, and his heart frets against the Lord. (Proverbs 19:2–3, NKJV)
I grew up hearing that “ignorance is bliss.” Maybe you did, too. Sometimes it was said somewhat sarcastically to warn us against thinking it is true. But sometimes I heard it said to justify choosing a particular (usually foolish) course of action. After all, we frequently hear people say, “I didn’t know” to explain something they did or did not do. We have most likely used that line, too. The Bible does not teach ignorance is bliss; just the opposite. Solomon said a lack of knowledge propels us into doing dangerous things that lead to sin (v. 2). To think ignorance is bliss and then act without understanding puts us on a twisted path (v. 3). When trouble comes due to our foolish choices, many get angry at God for the problem. The remedy is to accept instruction from the Lord and gain knowledge and wisdom (Prov. 1:1-6). Solomon said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7). Bliss comes from revering God, not getting angry at Him. When we respect God, we can “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). By doing so, our feet will not run to sin but walk the path that leads to life (Matt. 7:13-14).
Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. (1 Corinthians 4:6, NASB95)
The apostle warned the Corinthians “not to exceed what is written.” His warning still applies. What does that mean? How does that happen? Another version translates this phrase, “not to think beyond what is written” (NKJV). We are not to entertain, have a sentiment for, be disposed to, or interested in reaching beyond what the apostles of Christ have written (Strong, G5426). According to today’s verse, this happens when we become arrogant. In his broader context (1 Cor. 1:10-4:21), Paul identified the “message of the cross” (the revealed mind of God) as that which we must not exceed (since it is the power, wisdom, and mind of God). By contrast, the “wisdom of this world” is the thinking that exceeds what is written. Due to pride, the wisdom of this world concludes the message of the cross is foolish. Pride’s deception rejects the apostolic traditions for the traditions that men put in their place (1 Cor. 3:18-20; 2 Thess. 2:15). The “pattern of sound words” is trampled upon as the philosophies, commandments, and doctrines of men advance, plundering the eternal treasures of the gospel in Christ (2 Tim. 1:13; Col. 2:8, 20-23). To guard against this, we must humble ourselves to the gospel of Christ. It is God’s power, wisdom, and mind (1 Cor. 1:23-24; 2:6-13, 16). Thinking that exceeds it takes one into regions of doubt, compromise, and unbelief – places the Father and the Son will never be (2 John 9; Gal. 1:6-9).
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, (Romans 1:21–22, NKJV)
The elevation and exaltation of human wisdom comes at the expense of gratefully honoring our Creator. Knowing God exists should compel us to revere Him and thankfully obey His will. After all, it is His power that created us and that now sustains us each day (Rom. 1:20; Acts 14:15-17). Wisdom was the companion and possession of God at the beginning of creation and before (Prov. 8:22-31). How arrogant it is to think wisdom begins and ends with us (Job 12:2)! The apostle calls our attention to the futility of thoughts when void of a faithful recognition of God. The philosophy of humanism – a materialistic, purely humancentric view of life that rejects the divine – does not successfully answer the most basic questions of our existence: “Where did I come from?,” “Why are I here?,” and “Where am I going?” Asserting we are wise does not make it so. In fact, it exposes our foolishness (v. 22). Such prideful conceit darkens the heart and numbs the senses to the evidence of our Creator’s power and deity, and to the faith we should place in Him. Without God’s wisdom to guide us we are left to our own devices and sin’s demise (read wisdom’s plea in Prov. 8:32-36). “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (Jas. 4:10).
“Though you grind a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him.” (Proverbs 27:22, NKJV)
The proverb depicts a process of separating the husk from the kernel of grain in a manner that is more intricate and careful than the usual threshing process. (The word “grind” means “to pound or beat small.”) Pulpit Commentary notes in this proverb “is expressed the idea that the most elaborate pains are wasted on the incorrigible fool…an obstinate, self-willed, unprincipled man cannot be reformed by any means; his folly has become his second nature, and is not to be eliminated by any teaching, discipline, or severity” (Proverbs, 519). Although pounding and grinding grain yields its intended results, you cannot beat foolishness out of a fool. You cannot pound the truth of God into a heart that is hardened by sin against it. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why it is said to be “impossible…to renew them again to repentance” who have tasted heaven’s sweet goodness and then fallen away from the Lord (Hebrews 6:4-6). Unless and until the obstinate heart softens toward God and toward His truth, the sinner will go on, unaffected by efforts to separate him (or her) from the foolishness of his sin. “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your heart” (Hebrews 3:7-8)!
21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He ponders all his paths. 22 His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin. 23 He shall die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray. (Proverbs 5:21–23, NKJV)
God sees everything about you (v. 21). He observes everything you do, everywhere you go, even everything you think (Psalm 139:1-4). Therefore, it is a given that God sees all your sins. Which begs the questions, “Are you able to see your sins?” You need to see your own sins, lest you fall under sin’s deadly power. Sin captures and ensnares the wicked (v. 22). When a person refuses the instruction of the Lord, he will die in the foolishness of his sin (v. 23). Do you view your sins as a path to freedom, happiness and fulfillment? If so, you have believed a lie. That is a fool’s errand. Sin always enslaves and destroys (2 Peter 2:19). Denying your sins does not make them go away; they are still before the eyes of the Lord. Thankfully, there is a path to forgiveness, freedom from sin and life’s true fulfillment. It begins by fearing the Lord and accepting His instruction (Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
22 His own iniquities entrap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin. 23 He shall die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray. (Proverbs 5:22–23, NKJV)
The Bible clearly explains the effects and consequences of personal sin. The worldly mind refuses to acknowledge what sin is, and what it does to one’s soul (Romans 1:18-32; 3:9-18; 6:23). Sin is very real, even though the fleshly mind ignores it, and even redefines it to justify its wrongdoing. Sin is a snare from which no one can escape without God’s help. Its bands grow increasingly tight as one ignores God and His truth. Every sinner must listen to and follow the instruction of God to be freed from the bondage of their sin. Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jno. 8:32). Do not believe the lies of the world the says sin is nothing. To practice sin is exceedingly foolish, and those who choose to go astray in it are not wise. If you are living in sin, you are headed for eternal death, a fiery punishment from which there will be no escape (2 Thessalonians. 1:8-9; Revelation 20:11-15; 21:6-8). Jesus Christ will save you from your sin and death, if you will listen to His word, believe Him and obey Him (read Luke 8:8; John 8:23-24; Acts 17:30; 22:16; Hebrews 5:8-9).