Correcting a Fool
“Do not answer a fool according to his foolishness, lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his foolishness, so that he may not be wise in his own eyes” (Proverbs 26:4-5 MKJV).
Victor wrote this letter to Anton Bosch after receiving a copy of his article Don’t Correct the Fool from “Bible Lover Bill”:
I would like to address many of the things you say in this article, which was sent to me by Bill Stevenson (a.k.a. “Bible Lover Bill”), thinking it applies to me. It does not apply to me. It applies to him, but that is the way it is with those to whom we hold up the mirror.
We have spoken the truth, not scoffing, but Bill and his companions have scoffed at us. You, I expect by the spirit, tenor, and errors of your article and writings, will scoff at us as well. We will see if I am wrong.
You say some things about fools. The problem with fools is that they can recognize nothing beyond their capabilities. Therefore, if you are a fool and I speak truth to you or bear witness of the ways and will of God, you will not receive it. However, light does dispel darkness and will eventually do its work to perfection. We have that faith. So, for now, see if you have the wherewith to determine whether or not we are fools, whom you say go through life never learning. Read Our Testimonies to start and then go to some of the Music and Poems.
“Bible Lover Bill” sends me your article, thinking that the following words apply to me:
“Fools simply do not want to learn and so any attempt at correcting such is not only a waste of time, but is counter-productive and will only bring problems to the one who brings the correction.”
That is so true! So why do I argue with Bill and his friends? For the same reason that God sent the prophets to those who would not listen to the Words He put in their mouths (God even giving the prophets advance notice the people would not listen), which Words are red to this very day by the same religious fools who still do not listen.
That is why Bill is not aware that those words apply to him. If he is a fool, how will he know? But now we have given him and his associates plenty to think about, referring to specifics in their thinking and backing it with Scripture, while all they can do is get defensive and throw out pontificating criticisms without any substance at all; they can only say that we are wrong, quoting general Scripture that almost any religious fool can quote. What does that say about who is what here?
We recognize that you did not send your article to us, Anton. Bill did. Therefore, we are not accusing you of accusing us. However, I will address several errors that indicate you need to hear some things, contrary to your opinion of yourself. Claiming to work hard at being humble is your pride at work, an indication you are not about to be corrected by a servant of God. Nevertheless, if you are prepared to listen and consider, good; if you are prepared to humble yourself and turn to the Lord for righteousness’ sake, wonderful.
“A wise person, on the other hand, hardly needs to be corrected.”
Of what nature or degree of wisdom do you speak? I happen to know that a wise man is always corrected, that the Lord corrects him, and that is how he receives wisdom. Therefore, to be wiser, more correction is needed. Was any wiser than the Lord, of Whom it is said that He learned obedience by the things He suffered? So if the Son suffered, even unto death, wherein He was perfected, how do you say that a “wise person hardly needs to be corrected”?
“My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of His correction: For whom the LORD loves He corrects; even as a father the son in whom he delights” (Proverbs 3:11-12 KJV).
But we see you, Anton, perpetually trying to maintain a humble façade in your own sight. It is pure self-righteousness, which is why you look down your nose at other professors of Christ, whom you lecture about humility and other ways in which they do not meet your standards. This is a stink in God’s nose.
Of a wise person, you say:
“Such a person will be evaluating their own progress all the time and will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit to correct and lead them.”
Is a wise man his own judge? Was Paul not wise? Yet he needed a devil to keep him in place. Furthermore, he said:
“But it is a small thing to me that I am judged by you or by man’s judging; I am not even a judge of myself” (1 Corinthians 4:3 BBE).
The word “judge” here means “scrutinize, determine, discern, examine, search, question, judge, investigate….” You say a wise man is sensitive to the Holy Spirit. It sounds to me like you are in all self-righteousness. Who needs a Savior with such virtue? How do you know that you are not the fool who thinks to be right and virtuous? The Bible says one cannot evaluate himself, but you say otherwise.
Yes, we know Paul also said:
“For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged” (1 Corinthians 11:31 MKJV).
But that is a different Greek word for “judge,” which means to “separate thoroughly, discriminate,” referring to applying what God has given and shown in order to choose rightly. That is not at all the same thing as revealing our own hearts to ourselves and being able to evaluate our progress. Only God can do that:
“LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. LORD, correct me, but in measure: not in Your anger, lest You bring me to nothing” (Jeremiah 10:23-24 HNV).
So, is it wise to think you can correct yourself? Isn’t the heart deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9)? Isn’t every way of a man right in his own eyes (Proverbs 21:2)? Wouldn’t that also apply to your judgment of yourself? Isn’t this your description of the fool?:
“The fool is self-confident and thinks that he is always right and never wrong. And here lies the heart of the issue, pride.”
Are you proud, Anton, or humble? You tell us, seeing you are able to judge yourself and others. And are we speaking to fools, those who are self-confident? I see you as quite self-confident, quite unprepared to be corrected by anyone. Bill, Jennings, and Anne all glory in self-confidence and think that we are fools for not listening to them. Are we fools for not heeding fools? Must we prove our wisdom by listening to those who speak foolishly, who are proud and not about to be corrected by sound wisdom?
“The difference between those who accept correction and those who turn on anyone who should dare bring correction to them is simply one of pride.”
If you are a fool, how can you tell the difference between wise correction of error and righteous rebuke of false accusation on the one hand, and a fool’s rejection and abhorrence of the wisdom that reproves him on the other?
Then, ironically, you write:
“The arrogant fool thinks he can do no wrong and has never come to terms with how weak and foolish we are at the best of times.”
If we are weak and foolish at the best of times, then what hope do we have of not being fools? Why denounce fools if they can only be weak and foolish at the best of times? How can a man ever be wise if he is only weak and foolish at the best of times? Do you not contradict yourself? Is your paper not a foolish tirade of fools?
“The wise man has come face-to-face with the weakness of his flesh and knows all too well how imperfect he really is and so his humility allows him to receive correction.”
Have you come to terms with yourself, Anton? It does not appear so. In essence, your paper is saying, “I am a humble, wise man, not like that publican over there. I pray, fast, give alms, have come face-to-face with the weakness of my flesh, receive correction, discern my need….” Might you have a halo, too? Is that a silly question…should I be able to see it from here? You are a noble, Christlike person in your own estimation.
Now let us take a closer look at some of the things that show where you stand. I can say you are a fool and you can say I am a fool. Some of what we have spoken can appear to be subjective and can appear to leave us in a deadlock, not that we are. But here are some statements you make that are foolish and unlearned according to Scripture.
“Even Paul after all his powerful revelations, miracles and education lived with the possibility that he could have made a mistake.”
“Powerful revelations”? What revelations of God are not powerful? “Education”? Did you not read what Paul had to say about his “education”? Here is the record:
“Circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; with respect to the law, a Pharisee; with respect to zeal, persecuting the church; with respect to righteousness which is in the Law, blameless. But such things as were gain to me, these I have considered loss for the sake of Christ. More than that I also consider all things to be loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for Whom I have sustained the loss of all things, and I consider them to be rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:5-8 EMTV).
Moses also had a great education, and as with Paul, it was the kind that tends to puff up. Moses forsook it for the better. So why do you bring up Paul’s education as something positive? It is evident that you have your confidence in the flesh. That is the mark of a fool, Anton. I would not address a fool who does not say he is godly and wise, but you are something else.
“Paul said that even though he had received his doctrine directly from the Lord (he was the last and one of the few that had this privilege), he still went to Jerusalem to meet with the Twelve to check whether his doctrine was right ‘lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain’ (Galatians 2:2).”
Those are unlearned, foolish words indeed, unlearned because you have not learned anything of the Lord in truth, and foolish because you speak as though you have. Paul declared:
“Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father Who raised Him from the dead)” (Galatians 1:1 EMTV).
Do you really think Paul had spent years learning directly from Jesus Christ, as he declared, only to have to get approval or confirmation from the apostles in Jerusalem? That event happened after the Lord had sent Paul out to preach the Gospel, which was confirmed among several faithful witnesses (Acts 13:1-2) and by the fruits that followed. If the Holy Spirit bore witness to Paul and Barnabas and the Church separated them out in obedience, then why would there be any need of him to cover himself with the apostles at Jerusalem as to the validity of what he was preaching?
Anton, you do not know what you are talking about. You certainly do not know how revelation from God works. You call his revelations “powerful,” yet deny their power; you also deny the power of Jesus Christ – “having a form of godliness and denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5).
Paul was informing the apostles of what the Lord had given him, letting them hear it from his mouth rather than hearing it in a twisted form from someone else’s, which could have harmed the unity and harmony of the Body.
Apparently, you are also a Bibliolater, at least a stranger to revelation and to Christ the Revelator within, because you say of Paul having revelations:
“He was the last and one of the few that had this privilege.”
Those matured and learned in Christ have everything Paul had. If the God of Heaven takes up residence within a vessel, why would that vessel not have all that He is? Did not John declare?:
“But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things” (1 John 2:20 EMTV).
“And as for you, the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him” (1 John 2:27 EMTV).
You have never had that privilege, which, according to John, is every true believer’s heritage. You may point to “believers” who do not have revelations from God, but are they true believers? Argue and you argue not with me, but with the Word of God by John.
“Could it be that we have not learnt the lesson Paul had that in spite of all his abilities, he at one time was so wrong that he actually persecuted the church?”
You expose yourself. It was because of “all his abilities” that Paul persecuted the Lord and His saints. He even lists “persecution” as one of his accomplishments (“concerning zeal, persecuting the church”)! This is where trusting in your own judgment takes you, but you don’t recognize it because you have never been born again. If you knew Christ, you could not compare what one knows and did pre-conversion, as a dead person, to what one discovers when alive in Him. It is only when one is born again that he knows his utter wrongness, his present corruptness and weakness of the flesh, now having a comparison with the Spirit of God within.
When Paul was converted, he learned that he had no abilities of his own, and those he had, he no longer trusted in; he counted his accomplishments as dung, as loss. You speak in opposite terms because you are based in the man of sin, in self-righteousness, in a house built on sand, the foundation of a fool, Anton, and there you are teaching as though you know something.
I see in your “statement of faith,” you say:
“It is impossible for man to justify himself before a perfect God.”
Do you believe it?
Paul’s persecution of the church happened in the power of his flesh, before he was born again. What relevance does that have to the new man? None whatsoever. But you could only say the things you say because you have never known the difference between an old and a new life. You are still in the old. You need repentance, a death at the cross, and a resurrection. You have only heard of the Lord, but you have never seen Him. Who are you to teach of Him, not having known Him, much less having been sent by Him to teach?
You ask and reply:
“Can it be that someone can be so full of himself that the possibility that he could be wrong never crosses his mind? Very definitely!”
How about it, Anton? Might that be you? You write:
“The list of arrogant fools is endless and will continue to be added to until the Lord comes.”
Are you not in that list?
You “humbly and with broken spirit” write:
“What is the solution and what will prevent us from falling into the same sad situation? The solution is in two words, humility and brokenness.”
Have you indeed been prevented from falling into the same sad situation?
“This honesty generates a great fear of his own abilities and a great dependence on the Lord and others who are able to provide wise advice and council.”
Are you honest, Anton, as well as humble, wise, and broken? Are you able to discern wise advice and counsel? Does it not take wisdom by the grace of God to do so? If grace, then it is not your doing, is it? If it is not your doing, then you have nothing to crow about, do you? Is this not arrogance and foolishness on your part?
You say in another writing, “I am looking for a Kingdom that will not fade away and where I will have real power….” You also speak of expecting the “rapture” very soon. You are looking in vain for what God has already given His saints:
“For He has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son” (Colossians 1:13 MKJV).
Your error, and the pride it breeds, arises from the fact that you have never been converted to experience the victory of the Lord or His power.
The power you live by is your own, the power of the flesh that is at enmity with the Lord Jesus Christ. You strive to be humble according to your own definition of humility, not realizing that the very nature of your quest comes from your pride. If you are not in the Kingdom, as you admit, then you are not in the place of real power, and it is not Christ in you dealing with the man of sin. It is you, the man of sin, trying to emulate what you have conceived Jesus Christ to be. What can be more presumptuous and proud than that, and more of a fool’s errand? How can the antiChrist throw out the antiChrist and attain to Christhood?
God knows how to abase the proud, but you have never been abased by Him, Anton. If you had been, you would know that He is able to put away pride, and to keep it away, by His grace and sufficiency, even when that means sending a devil to provide a thorn in the flesh. Your sufficiency is of yourself, which, even though you admit it is not sufficient, you persist in and judge others insufficient.
This is the height of hypocrisy; you make yourself more righteous than the self-righteous, unwittingly crowning yourself as the hypocrite of hypocrites. You sit there judging your religious brethren, while you do the same thing as them and worse, loading them with a burden impossible to carry and condemning them for not carrying it as well as you think you do. How vile and despicable! You are most repulsive to God, and you anger Him greatly. It is no wonder that you also quote Andrew Murray, a kindred spirit and mentor.
You would have others forever groveling in darkness “until the Lord comes.” For those who are His, He has come, but you continue to wait in your sins and presumption and pride you call humility.
Now for your title and general subject matter, Solomon declares:
“Don’t make a fool of yourself by answering a fool. But if you answer any fools, show how foolish they are, so they won’t feel smart” (Proverbs 26:4-5 CEV).
One who has most certainly been the greatest of fools, but is delivered and now speaks by His Savior and the Savior of all men, that fools may learn as this one-time fool has, by the sheer grace and mercy of the One Who laid His life down for fools and took it up again, bringing them with Him, whole,