In I Corinthians 3:18, the beloved Apostle Paul writes, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.” Corinth, like any other part of Greece, especially Athens, was deeply involved into philosophy. Hence, such a thing a powerful thing as this would surely make its way into the church there, unless Paul, as the saying goes, “nipped it in the bud.”
Self-deceit is prevalent among many people, and is the worst of all deceptions. To the world, one who follows the Bible is a fool, and one who follows his own heart, thoughts, philosophy, is a wise person. Quite an irony on both sides, to be sure. Also, much an accent on “self.”
Those who would ponder following Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, as well as those who actually do so, are warned of such backward thinking numerous times in God’s Word. We may label this as “self versus God.” Being a “fool” appeals to one’s pride, as does being “wise.”
To quote Brother Mike Willis in “Truth Commentaries”, he says in his own commentary on I Corinthians that the sentence under consideration should be paraphrased as, “Let him become a fool according to this world’s standards, that he may be wise in the sight of God” (page 98). So, I will place this question to the reader: Would you not rather look the “fool” in the eyes of the world, or would you rather look the “fool” before God on Judgment Day? Please think about this.
Paul deals with this ironic verse not only when writing to Corinth, but in some of his other epistles, as well. I Corinthians 1:20-25 reads, “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. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom. But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness. But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Man is quite the delicate creature: Pat him on the back, and he gets a swelled head. Like all other things in life, thinking for one’s own self, (while good and necessary in much of daily living), has gone to many extremes. We are known as the “ME”generation. Man is a natural born hunter. He is always after something new to learn—-but so often, his desires constitute that of a worldly nature. That was the problem with the philosophers in Athens Greece, when Paul spoke his famous sermon to them on Mark Hill: “(For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear something new)” (Acts 17:21). The term “get a life” would certainly apply here.
In Colossians 2:8, Paul warns the brethren there, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” “Rudiment” is from the Greek word STOICHEION, and is defined as, “One of a row or series” (“Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words”, page 978). Vine then says to see the word “elements.” Indeed, the whole of philosophy has its own “one, two, threes.” Another way put, philosophy also contains its own foundation, skeletal structure, and body parts. Philosophy feeds the ego and vanity, both of which fall under “pride.” This is the main reason this is a menace to Christianity, thus, pulling many people away from God.
You and I need to be a “fool” in order to become “wise.” We need to drop our pride and ego, drop our self-will, drop being parrots to other people’s beliefs, drop being in bondage to man-made traditions and customs, drop having anyone’s personal opinions and consciences forced on us, and drop any desire to only read and abide by certain “pet passages.” Isolating Bible verses to one’s own benefit and personal satisfaction does nothing for one’s soul in eternity. After all, II Timothy 2:15 says, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (Emphasis mine, PN). Furthermore, be like the Bereans back in the book of Acts, and not like those in Thessalonica: “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea, who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:10-11).
Then, James instructs us, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? Let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthy, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy, and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:13-18).
So, gentle reader, which really makes for being “noble” and “wise?” Is true, godly nobility obtained by allowing one’s pride and vanity to rule in all areas of life, or by reading and following the precious pages of God’s Holy Writ? Answer that with all of Heaven watching you right this very second, and you have settled the issue.