A fool is what God calls all who believe in their hearts that there is no
God. Those deniers then tend to grow angry but lash out at Christians for
pointing out what Psalms 14:1 and 53:1 says. This has happened often on
Usenet when those passages are quoted. Ironic, isn't it. Atheists who claim
their is no God getting angry at what God has said of them. Their fight is
with God on this since it is He who calls them fools. The sermon below by
James Jack examines the 14th Psalm in regards to those who reject God.
May God bless,
my website -- http://www.nettally.com/saints
my blog -- http://www.anniemayhem.com/cgi-bin/wordpress
The Foolishness Of Ignoring God
by James Jack
The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." They are corrupt, their
deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any
who understand, any who seek God. All have turned aside, they have together
become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.
Will evildoers never learn - those who devour my people as men eat bread and
who do not call on the Lord? There they are, overwhelmed with dread, for God
is present in the company of the righteous. You evildoers frustrate the
plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge. Oh, that salvation for
Israel would come out of Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his
people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!
The word "fool" doesn't get as much use now as it once did. If one of my
mates does something profoundly stupid I don't usually cry out "you fool". I
might say "you are such an idiot" or "what a goose". I'm sure many people
you know would use much more colourful language than that. Fool is one of
those sort of quaint, old words that generally conjures up images of a court
jester or maybe some act of silliness. There's a very prestigious
competition held every year called the Darwin awards. It gives recognition
to..well, fools. And often fools who have made fatal mistakes. Here's some
of the award winners from 2006:
. Two teenagers in Britain where so into Star Wars that they wanted to
re-create the light-sabre fighting scenes. So they got two fluorescent
tubes, opened them up and poured petrol down it, then set them alight. One
of them died, the other escaped with serious burns.
. A man was travelling by train home from work in the US. He fell asleep and
missed his stop. He so wanted to get home that he pried open the train doors
and jumped out. What he hadn't considered was that the train was travelling
at 80km/h across a bridge over a deep ravine at the time. Needless to say,
he did not survive.
. In Croatia a man named Marko wanted to clean his chimney. He went to his
workshop to build a tool to clean it. It was a very high chimney and his
broom was too short. However, he planned to attach it to a chain, weigh it
down at one end with a metal object and hang it in from the roof. He found
what he thought was the perfect metal object -heavy yet small - and went
about welding it to the chain. Somehow he overlooked that the object was a
hand grenade and filled with explosive material. Very soon after heating up
the welder there was a loud explosion. Marko was killed instantly, his
workshop destroyed and the windows of several cars shattered. His chimney
These are indeed very foolish people. They did things without thinking
through the consequences. And that's sort of what a fool is. Someone who
ignores the consequences of their actions. But the way the Bible, or more
specifically, the NIV translation that we're using this week, uses the word
fool has nothing to do with silly mistakes or immature behaviour. It's
nothing to be laughed at or joked about. When the Bible uses the word fool
it is to refer to actions that are deeply misguided and have incredibly
serious consequences. It's talking about an attitude that is inherently
wicked. It's no trifling matter to be called a fool by God.
Who is the fool in Psalm 14? Well, according to vs. 1 it's those who say in
their hearts "there is no God".
Now in a group this size I reckon there will always be someone who thinks of
themselves as an atheist - a person who doesn't believe in God. Or maybe an
agnostic - a person who thinks the question about God's existence is so
irrelevant that effectively they don't believe in God, either. Those might
be new terms to you this morning. While technically they're different
beliefs, in effect they lead to the same place.
That might be you here this morning. Maybe you were forced to come here by
your parents and sat through yesterday thinking what a load of bollocks! God
didn't create anything, he doesn't even exist! Or maybe you were invited her
by a friend and keen to think through this biggest of questions - but at the
moment you're not convinced. It's not my intention to rant and rave at you
this morning. It's not my intention to be simply insulting and tell you what
fools you are. Nor am I going to sift through the scientific and
philosophical arguments for the existence of God. But I will challenge you
to think about why it might be foolish to claim there is no God. And I will
challenge you to think about the consequences of that belief.
But when Psalm 14 talks about those who say in their heart there is no God,
I don't think it's just talking about the atheists out there. Because there's
many, many more ways to say it in your heart than to say it out loud with
your mouth. And I reckon quite a few of you here this morning might fall
into this category.
Think about this type of man, or this type of woman - the sort of person who
goes to church or youth group, who comes from a nice Christian family, who
can spout all the right answers in bible studies. But when they're at school
the same filth comes out of their mouths as their non-Christian friends. The
same course language, the same jokes that make fun of intimacy, or ridicule
the opposite sex. The same selfishness that wants to spend all my money on
myself rather than giving a bit to God's work. Perhaps even the same
drunkenness at parties. That type of man or woman - that type of teenager -
could still be the fool who says in his heart "there is no God." They might
say in their heads "yes, God exists" while they say in their hearts "he's
not my God." He's not my God because I don't submit to him. I do what I want
when I want. And that may not always be a conscious decision, it might come
about in stages with a little temptation here, a little peer pressure there.
And in the end we have a fool who's heart says "I have no god but me."
Vs. 2 explains where that sort of attitude leads: "they are corrupt, their
deeds are vile, there is no one who does good".
I was at a funeral not that long ago. I've actually been to three or four
funerals of young men in their late teens or early twenties in the last few
years, none of whom were Christians. But without exception at each of these
funerals the comment was made that this was a good man. He was a good
person, it was said. I saw on the news not that long ago the distraught
mother of another young man who had died in a car accident. At the time he
was being pursued by police because the car he was driving was stolen.
Through her tears, his mother kept saying "he did some silly things but
beneath it all he had a good heart. He had such a good heart. He was a good
person". This guy had a criminal record as long as your arm. Now those sorts
of sentiments are perfectly understandable coming from a mother who's just
lost her son. But in the end, it's fantasy. If we think we can be good
without God we are deceiving ourselves.
You'll hear plenty of people in our culture tell you that you don't have to
be religious to be a good person, that you don't have to follow God to be a
kind, generous, moral person. And by the world's standards that may be true.
But that, too, is a fantasy. Many of the greatest tyrants and genocidal
maniacs of the last century were confirmed atheists or people who had
bizarre beliefs about God. Joseph Stalin in the Soviet Union murdered
millions of his political and ideological enemies throughout the 1930s, '40s
and '50s. Pol Pot, the communist leader of Cambodia similarly was
responsible for the deaths of millions. Mao Zedong, the leader of communist
China sent millions to their deaths in his "cultural revolution" of the
1970s. And, of course, Adolf Hitler, who wrote that he considered himself
the new Jesus Christ, the new king of the world, he murdered 9 million Jews,
gypsies, disabled people, political opponents, including many Christians.
Now that list doesn't necessarily prove anything - many evil men and women
over the years have committed atrocities supposedly in the name of God, as
well. But it starts us toward the conclusion that the Bible comes to - that
without God there is only corruption and wickedness. In fact, ignoring God
is the very heart of corruption and evil - let me read the first three
PS 14:1 The fool says in his heart,
"There is no God."
They are corrupt, their deeds are vile;
there is no one who does good.
PS 14:2 The LORD looks down from heaven
on the sons of men
to see if there are any who understand,
any who seek God.
PS 14:3 All have turned aside,
they have together become corrupt;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.
All have turned aside from God, and that's why there is no one who does
good. You can't be good without following the LORD. However much money you
give to the poor, however many little old ladies you help across the street,
if you've rejected the authority of your creator then nothing you will do
will impress him. As Jesus says, no one is good but God alone.
But those three verses tell us something even more profound than that. They
give us God's assessment of all humanity. Those of you who know your new
testaments well would have recognized these verses from Romans 3, where this
psalm, as well as a few others, is quoted. I mentioned self-esteem
yesterday, and if you want to get a good dose of self-esteem then read
Romans 1-3. After a bit on an intro in chapter 1, it flows like this:
- the writer, Paul, points out that the barbarian peoples of the area are
all godless and wicked. They worship the created things rather than the
creator and commit all sorts of disgusting acts.
- But, he goes on to say, you civilized, refined, wealthy Greeks are no
better. You too are sinful and corrupt.
- And if the Jews, God's chosen people, think themselves any better, they've
got another thing coming. They are just as bad.
- In fact, he concludes in Romans 3 with this psalm, all have sinned. No one
is good, no one lives up to God's standard.
It's inspiring stuff! There is no one who does good, not even one.
It reminds me of Genesis 18 when God is threatening to destroy the city of
Sodom. Sodom is a den of sin, particularly sexual sin - just like our cities
and towns of today. The incident that's recounted is in Genesis 19 and you
can read it for yourself. I won't re-tell it now, it's very much M-rated!
Suffice to say, it's pretty disgusting. But before that God tells Abraham
that he's going to destroy the city of Sodom because it's sin is so bad. And
Abraham is aghast. This is what he says to God: "Will you sweep away the
righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in
the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake
of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a
thing--to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the
wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do
GE 18:26 The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of
Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."
But the conversation doesn't stop there. Abraham goes on to say - well, what
about 45. Surely you won't destroy it for only five people less? And God
says - alright, 45 then. And Abraham keeps pressing. What about 40, what
about 30, what about 20, what about 10? And God says - if I find 10
righteous people in the whole city I won't destroy it. And that's the end of
In the next chapter, the city of Sodom is destroyed by fire - all it's
inhabitants and every living thing. The LORD couldn't find 10 people. There
is no one righteous, not even one. These are the fools who say in their
hearts "there is no God".
It sounds insulting, doesn't it, to be called a fool. And it's supposed to
be. But more importantly, it's supposed to be a warning. And this raises the
question - why is it so foolish to ignore God?
The answer to that is pretty easy to work out, really. It's foolish to
ignore God in the same way that it's foolish to ignore the oncoming train
when you're standing in the middle of the tracks. Or the same way that it's
foolish to ignore gravity when you decide to jump off a 50-story building.
If you remember nothing from yesterday, hopefully you remember this point:
God is big and we're little. So we need to get with the programme. We need
to get on board with what God wants, not the other way around.
Given this, vs 4 asks the question - will evildoers ever learn? Will those
who oppose God and persecute his people ever change. Because, in the end, as
vs 5 states, they will be overwhelmed with dread because no one can oppose
God and live.
When we get to our Bible study on psalm 94 in a few minutes we'll see this
with a bit more clarity, this judgment that the evildoers face. But in our
passage here it's more implied than spelt out. In Psalm 94, the writer cries
out to God to judge the wicked, to restore justice. And there's almost a
glee in his words as he reflects on what the corrupt have in store for them.
I've often wondered - is judgment something we should be looking forward to?
I've been having a bit of trouble with a real estate agent recently. I live
with a few mates in this big house and we're not the tidiest of people - but
what do you expect of four blokes. When you rent you have to suffer through
inspections from the agent to make sure you haven't been destroying the
property. We haven't been, and we make a effort to clean up a bit before
these inspections, as well. Just in the last few months the real estate
agent has decided that our house isn't clean enough - even though it was in
the same condition as for previous inspections. She sent us a letter of
complaint saying she would re-inspect. We got some friends around and
cleaned up again. It was really quite good. Floor was good enough to eat
off, if you ask me. Admittedly, that's no saying much. I'd probably eat off
the floor of a public toilet if I was paid enough.
She called back saying it was still unacceptable. Her specific complaint was
that the powerpoints were dusty. We have no contact with the owner, but this
agent sent a bad report to her and a couple of days before Christmas we got
a letter saying that we needed to find somewhere else to live. Because of
dusty powerpoints. We've found somewhere but I then phoned our agent to sort
out some final things to be answered by a different woman. She told me that,
after evicting us, the old agent had been diagnosed with a life-threatening
illness and would be off work for several months. You know what my first
thought was - "I hope she enjoys the judgment of God!" We have since
tempered that, and I have made a point to pray for her health. But is that a
completely inappropriate response? Is it wrong to look for justice in that
I'm not entirely sure it is wrong, given what you'll read in Psalm 94. but
what I am sure of is that we all need to get our own hearts right before
God, first. Judgment is good if you've sought refuge in God - just the
judgment of an exam at school is good if you've studied hard and done well.
But it's bad if you're not prepared.
Psalm 14 tells us that there is no one who does good, not even one. By
rights, we all should be facing God's judgment with dread and fear. We all
deserve death and destruction. So we I look around this room I could point
to anyone and say "you deserve to be punished by God". (go through several
leaders by name). I could point to myself and say "I deserve to be punished
by God." That's a scary thought, and it is a fool who ignores it. But by
taking refuge in God we can be protected, we can be forgiven. And that's our
message for tomorrow.
But for today let me leave you with the challenge that this passage
presents: what does your heart say about God? Not just your head - although
that's important, too - but your heart. Are you a fool?