Jack Graham - Choosing Wisdom Over Foolishness
Well, there are a lot of foolish things that the world produces. And you know the Bible talks about the foolishness of this world. The wisdom of the world which is foolishness and the wisdom of God which is righteousness. Now when we talk about someone being a fool, it grates on us, doesn't it? It's like putting your fingernails on a chalkboard. It's offensive. To call someone a fool or foolish, that's not accepted in public or polite company. And, of course, we know, if you read the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus says that we are not to call anyone a fool in anger. We don't have that prerogative or that judgment or discernment to know one fool from another. But God has the prerogative to describe someone as a fool or as being foolish.
As a matter of fact at the close of the Sermon on the Mount He told that famous story about the two men who built their houses; one upon sand and when the storm came the house collapsed. Jesus said, Matthew 7:27, "Great was the fall of it". And the other man who built his house on the rock and when the storm comes, the house stands because it is built on a firm foundation. Jesus went on to say that if you build your house on the shifting tides and sands of this world, it will collapse. Your life will collapse if you don't build your life upon God's truth and the foundations of faith in Christ. As opposed to building your life on that firm foundation, Jesus who is the Rock, and we build our lives upon the solid Rock. That is wisdom as we obey the word of God. Yes, Jesus said there's such a thing as being wise and such a thing as being foolish.
The Bible says in Psalm 14, verse 1, "The fool has said in his heart there is no God". So it really is, isn't it, all about the choices that we make: whether to obey God or disobey God; whether to please God or displease God; whether to win in life or to lose in life. Now I could say it is wise to choose godly companions, the Bible talks about that. Proverbs 13:20, "Companion of fools will be destroyed". We're to choose godly companions. I could talk about how it is wise to win souls and foolish to live your life without being a witness for Christ. Proverbs 11:30, "He that wins souls is wise". We've already seen that it is wise to live sacrificially and selflessly rather than hoarding our goods and hoarding our things; that we are to be rich towards God and not rich towards man; and certainly first and foremost, wise to choose Christ as our Savior. But I want to concentrate today on what Proverbs in narrowing this down, narrowing the search, if you will, that it is wise to choose to discipline our appetite.
There's a lot about this is Proverbs. This is where I've been running to in this message: Wisdom abstains from dangerous habits. And interestingly enough the primary dangerous habit talked about in Proverbs is the use and abuse of alcohol. Alcohol is a dangerous habit. Now, of course, we know, the Bible teaches very clearly that drunkenness, the abuse of alcohol is a sin. There are others who, regarding social drinking, drinking in moderation which we are advised to do by many, believe that we can drink for relaxation or amusement or sociability, and that is fine. Others believe, as I believe, that we should completely abstain from alcohol, and then, of course, there are those who have a drinking problem, those who drink for the buzz, those who drink for the high. And I believe with all of my heart that the highest and the best thing that we can do, the wisest choice that we can make for the sake of our families, for the sake of our future is to abstain totally from alcohol. Why? It's a wise decision to make.
Now I could stand here for a longer time than you have and rehearse one of my doctoral papers that I did way back in seminary regarding of the use of the use of the word oinos, the word for wine in the Bible. I believe I can stand here and make a very, very strong biblical case for total abstinence. I really can. But let's just lay that one aside for a while, and let me talk to you as your pastor, let me talk to you as your friend, let me talk to you as a father to spiritual children, if you will, and let me be willing to risk offending you at some level, perhaps, or risk your displeasure and you walk out here and say, "Well, you know, the pastor's a legalist" or "The pastor's out of touch". Or "The pastor just doesn't know". Or "Yeah, he's a preacher; he can say that".
At the risk of all of that I am willing for the sake of you, your family, your future to talk to you straight on about what the Bible says about this dangerous habit, alcohol. I believe it's so wise to abstain. Why? Well, there physical reasons and emotional reasons and social reasons and spiritual reasons. We have a massive problem with alcohol in America. Most families have been hit hard at some level by the problem with alcohol. Now make no mistake about it: I understand that alcohol is a socially accepted mind-altering drug, and it is a mind-altering drug. A legal mind-altering drug if you are at of age. We're going to be watching the Super Bowl, and we're going to see scores and scores and scores and more scores of messages encouraging us to drink alcohol. The kids will see those messages, I will see them. Super Bowl advertisers will spend millions and millions and millions of dollars in order to encourage you to drink.
Well, who's going to advise us not to drink? I'll raise my hand. I'll advertise for abstinence. I'll say it's wrong for the Christian because our influence and our witness, and if we want to live skillfully and successfully, is compromised by alcohol. I want to help you wise up regarding alcohol. So Proverbs 31 and verse 4 is a starting place. Proverbs 31, verse 4: "It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine or for rulers to take strong drink", verse 5, "lest they drink and forget what they have decreed and pervert the rights of the afflicted".
Alright, number one, leaders are not to drink, period! Not get drunk, but not to drink! They say there are three parties in Washington D.C., Republicans, Democrats and cocktails. More drinking per capita in Washington D.C. than perhaps any other place in America. So leaders, kings and rulers are not to drink. You say, "Well, I'm not a king". We are a kingdom of priests in Christ. We have all been given leadership and the responsibility of making decisions. We'll talk about that a little more, but let me say that Old Testament priest were forbidden to drink. Don't turn to it but just write down Leviticus 10:9. We're told that the priest were not to drink.
You say, "Well, I'm not a priest. I'm not a preacher. I'm not a prophet". Oh, the Bible says, Revelation 1:6, that we are a kingdom of priests, that we are priests unto God! Those who took the Nazarite vow of the Old Testament. Number 6, verse 3, Samson was a Nazarite who ruined his life by breaking his vow, by the way, but in the Nazarite vow that one who made the promise was never to touch alcohol. It was an act of separation from the world. And God has called us to separate, to be different, to make a difference in the world! John the Baptist was a Nazarite! He was the forerunner of Christ, the one who said, "Behold, look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world"! And we, like John the Baptist have been called to introduce people to Christ.
If you are a Christian, a Christ-follower, you have a big responsibility and that is to advance the kingdom of God! And if you need a clear focus to do anything, you need a clear focus to do that! You need your head clear, your mind clear, your life clean before God! Look at Proverbs chapter 23, verses 29 and 30: "Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? (that's emotional problems) Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? (That's physical problems) Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red". Now I do need to stop right here, and say this is one of my key cases in point for my belief in total abstinence taught by the Bible.
Again, I'm not going to bore you with the details, but there are two kinds of wine described in the Bible: one that is fermented, one that is non-fermented, basically grape juice. And oinos is the Greek word which can mean fermented wine or unfermented grape juice. They're used interchangeably in Scripture. But the Scripture clearly says, Proverbs 23:31-35, "Do not tarry at the wine, don't look at it when it's sparkles in the cup". What does that describe? Fermentation! The bubbly! And "when it goes down smoothly. But in the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. And your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things! You will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, like one who lies on the top of a mast. They struck me, you will say, but I was not hurt. They beat me but I didn't feel it. When shall I awake? I must have another drink".
This shows the terrible cycle that those who are addicted to alcohol face. There's the promise I won't touch it again, and then comes the desire, and then the bottle again, the drink again, and just over and over it is repeated. And I can tell you that there are people in this room today who'll be among the first to stand up here and say to you, because they've battled with alcohol and they've struggled with it, and many of them have come through this this addiction in their life. But they would be among the first to say to you, "I wished I'd never touched it". The wisest thing that you could do, teenager, the wisest thing that you can do, parents, is stay away from it! Did you know that 80 plus percent of teenagers whose parents drink will also drink?
Well, duh! Did you know that 75 percent of parents who don't drink, their children don't drink? It's as simple as that in many ways. Alcohol steals brain cells, is damaging to your body. It's the leading cause of family violence, and car accidents and deaths. Read the newspaper, watch the media, talk to people in prison. And some of you have in our prison ministry, as I have in the past, talked to people in prison and in jail, and they will ultimately say, "The root cause of this thing in my life is alcohol". Many times people don't realize they have a problem and so you've heard of interventions that take place, family and friends who confront the person whose got a problem with alcohol.
So consider this today a bit of a spiritual intervention. And if you do have an issue or problem of alcohol, get the help you need! Jesus will set you free. Alcohol is an addiction; Jesus specializes in setting people free! And you get the help that you need from Christ and He will give it to you, and there are Christian brothers and sisters who will guide you! And I can point to people that are listening to me right now, somebody, radio and television, whose lives have been transformed by the power of Jesus Christ because they have been delivered from alcohol. And it's possible, quite probable that today the word of God and the spirit of God, not Jack Graham, but that the work of the Spirit through His Word is convicting you right now!
Now, of course, one of the things that alcohol does is to assist you in loosening up. But the problem of loosening up with alcohol is so often we get out of control. And we are not to be under the dominion or the power, the control of anything else. People who are under the influence, of course, can become argumentative or abusive, even violent. They lose their inhibitions and more susceptible to seduction and temptation. Why? Because it's so foolish. Now you'll act the same. People under the influence of alcohol have all the characteristics of the foolish person. You know, simple, gullible, "What were you thinking"? "Why did you do that"? "What's wrong with you"? Under the influence. And yet in Ephesians 5:18 we're told in the Bible "Don't be drunk with wine; that's dissipation; that will destroy you! But be filled with the Holy Spirit".
If you like discernment your life is at risk, your morals are at risk, your mentality is at risk! And the problem is the more you drink, the more you want to drink; the more you want more! And it's so hard to quit! Wisdom is the wise thing, the right thing when it comes to alcohol. And you say, "Well, it doesn't hurt me. I'm not hurting anybody". Oh, yes, you are. You hurt the influence of your witness, you can hurt the influence of your church, hurt the witness of your family. There are a lot of people today talking about liberty when it comes to alcohol and view what I'm saying to you today as legalism, as fundamentalism. Old school Baptist! That's Jack Graham. Alright, well, it's not legalism; it is liberty to live your life as God intended, under the influence of His Spirit and His wisdom and His grace and His peace! You don't need the buzz if you've got Jesus in your life!
And look, one of the problems, and let me just be upfront with you, one of the problems that we have today and we hear about it often, is people kind of drinking undercover; a closet problem-drinker. And this is a problem with many females in our society. Get the help you need! You don't have to live like this. Everything that we're to do is to honor God. Our language, our attitudes, and what we eat, our appetite, what we drink. I heard a guy say one time, "Well it's just as wrong to be overweight and fat as it is to be drunk".
Let me tell you something: I'd rather meet a fat man on the road than a drunk man any day, wouldn't you? I mean let's just be honest! But we don't have to be either. Let's don't live lukewarm or lazy in these spiritual disciplines. And I would call this a spiritual discipline. A mental and physical discipline in your life. Choose wisdom over foolishness in every area of your life. There's a story in the Old Testament in the life of David. David gave an epitaph or a message, a eulogy of a great man in Israel. His name was Abner! And Abner committed manslaughter. He killed another man. And in that day somewhat vigilante justice was on, and so he's running for his life.
Now to protect a person in these kinds of cases, Israeli law had set up cities of refuge, places where you could go and get security until your trial came. And so Abner ran to a place of security at Hebron, one of cities of refuge. And the brother of the man who was killed found him there, outside the gate of Hebron. He took a dagger from his clothes. He said, "Abner" Abner turned around and he said, "yeah"? And he ran him through and killed him at the gate. And so when David pronounced his funeral he said, "Abner died as a fool dies"! Why? Why would David make such a statement at a man's funeral? Because he died at the very gate of safety and security. He could have walked in and been saved and delivered, but he died at the gate, right there at Hebron, which means the presence and the place of God.
I always loved that about our church. It's on Hebron Road, the presence of God. Jesus is the gateway! Jesus is the doorway! Christ is our wisdom! Don't die like a fool at the gate! Don't live like a fool and then die without God! All for pleasure! All for the love of things! All for the love of a life without Him! I beg you, I plead with you! Don't die like a fool. Come to Jesus now. You know it's possible, and Proverbs talks about this, that you can say no for the last time. Sometimes I hear preachers say something like, "You know, you can never get beyond the grace of God". Not true. There comes a time when you sin against the Spirit of God.
You say, "No and you no, and you no, and you no and you die without God! It's too late"! Or the Spirit of God, in your own hardness of sin, in your own pleasure. This is why alcohol is such a big problem. I don't know how many times I've had men, especially, say to me, "I can't do it right now. I can't come to Christ right now", because they know they're addicted and they don't want to give up or think they can't give up their bottle! Don't let anything keep you from coming to Jesus! Don't die at the gate! Don't die right here at the face of God. Jesus loves you; He died for you! And He accepted your pain and your sin and your death and your hell so that you could live in wisdom now and forever.
I don't know, I always pray over my messages but I've prayed really, really hard about this one. Got up this morning early thinking about it because I just know that this connecting to the message that needs to be heard. And if you need Jesus in your life, regardless of your circumstances and your sin, wisdom says come to Him. He is our wisdom. Come to Jesus today. Pray a prayer in your heart like this: Lord Jesus, I believe You died for me and rose again. I call upon Your name and trust in You. I turn from my sin and receive You as my Lord and my Savior. You see, you can be smart. You can be a scientist, you can be a doctor, a teacher, professor but if you don't know the wisdom of God, you don't know anything yet. You need Jesus in your life. Come to Him today.