“Professing Themselves to be Wise”

By Irvin Himmel

In his letter to the saints at Rome, Paul wrote about the idolatry that engulfed the Gentiles. Men had been given opportunity to know God, but “they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four footed beasts, and creeping things” (Rom. 1:21-23).

1. Some profess to know that God does not exist. A few years ago Charles Smith, President of the American Association for the Advancement of Atheism, was one of this nation’s champions of “no-God-ism.” Later, Mrs. Madalyn Murray O’Hair gained the dubious distinction of being the chief voice crying in America that there is no God. While disavowing communism, she has sown the seeds of the same brand of atheism that prevails in communist countries.

If there is no God, how did intelligent life originate? How could an impersonal force produce a personal being? How could that which neither thinks nor wills produce that which thinks and wills? How could lifeless matter ever by chance grouping of the particles produce that which is not matter, a soul? How could that which has no self-consciousness, and consequently no purpose, ever produce that which is self-conscious and which shows the. result of purpose? How could that which has neither life, consciousness, intelligence, nor morality produce a living, conscious, intelligent, moral being?

The individual who claims to know that there is no God is placing man, the thing made, above the Maker. Atheism is the fruit of human conceit. People turn to atheism because they are unwilling to admit that there is wisdom greater than that found in human intelligence. The Bible is right when it says, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psa. 14:1).

2. Some profess to sit in judgment on the word of God. It never ceases to amaze me that there are men who claim to believe God, and claim to accept the Bible as God’s revelation, yet they are constantly pronouncing judgment on God’s decrees. For example, the Bible plainly reveals that the wicked will be cast into hell, the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Mk. 9:43-48; Rev. 20:10, 15; 21:8).. Some profess themselves to be so wise that they pronounce the doctrine of eternal punishment as “unjust” and “contrary to the nature of God.” They evidently feel that they know more about how God ought to handle the wicked than He knows. How absurd that puny man should exalt his wisdom above the wisdom of God!

3. Some profess to be wise above that which is written. Paul told the Corinthians that they needed to learn “not to think of men above that which is written,” or to use the wording of the New American Standard Bible, “not to exceed what is written” (1 Cor. 4:6). Some people are just sure that it pleases God to accompany the singing in worship with the playing of musical instruments. It is not so written in the New Testament. If it is, where is the passage? Others are positive in their minds that sprinkling will suffice for baptism. It is not so written in the Bible. They are exceeding what is written. And others insist that burning incense is perfectly lawful as a part of our devotion to God. But where does the New Testament authorize us to burn incense to God?

4. Some profess to know that God’s word does not mean what it says. Men have argued that “water” in John 3:5 means everything imaginable except water. One woman told me that “water” means “the word” in that passage. I asked her if that is what “water” means in Acts 8:38 where Philip and the eunuch “went down both into the water.” She replied, “Well, that could mean that they were both digging down deep into the word.” I guess that is supposed to mean that Philip figuratively immersed the eunuch in one of those “in-depth” studies that some preachers talk about!

Some religionists maintain that “one body” in Eph. 4:4 does not really mean that the Lord has only one, church.Yet Paul identified the body as the church in that same letter (Eph. 1:22,23). They would sooner believe that “one body” means three hundred bodies than to believe that it means just what it says.

5. Some profess to know all the answers. No question is too complex or difficult. They have an answer for every inquiry. How can they profess themselves to be so wise? The Bible does not answer every curious questfon that man might frame. There are some things undisclosed, and these secret things belong to God (Deut. 29:29). It is the part of wisdom and humility for man to admit his limitations of knowledge.

Men often become fools by professing themselves to be wise.

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