Proverbs 14:15 - The Simple Man

Steve Viars May 18, 2002 Proverbs 14:15

- let me do something today that is a bit out of the ordinary--I'd like to give you the bottom line of this discussion right now, and then fill in the details.
- the reason this particular topic is so important is that our culture is actually lifting up and promoting the very approach to truth that the Bible would label as "simple."
- in other words, in our culture [today perhaps more than ever], the simple man is the preferred man…that comment should make more sense as we go along.

- let's begin with a:

I.  Definition of Simplicity

- please turn over to Proverbs 14:15
- the Scripture actually defines this issue so there is no question in our minds of what the Lord is speaking about here.

- read Proverbs 14:15

- INPUT - Based on Proverbs 14:15, how would you define "simplicity"?
- the person who will believe anything, he is not discerning, he will not do the hard work of determining right from wrong.

Warren Wiersbe - We’re living at a time when people who have convictions are considered bigots if not ignoramuses. It’s popular and politically correct to be open-minded and uncritical of what other people think or believe. Except when it comes to cashing a check when they’re broke, getting a prescription filled when they’re sick, or asking directions when they’re lost, most people don’t believe in absolutes. They insist that there’s no such thing as objective truth. According to them, whatever “feels good” down inside is truth for you; nobody has the right to criticize you for what you believe. Apply that philosophy to money, medicine, mechanics, or maps and see how successful you will be!

- that quote brings up a lot of issues, but let's hold off on talking about some of the cultural implications until we look up a few more verses and get some additional biblical data on the table.

II.  Biblical Truths about the Simple Man

- read Proverbs 1:22

A.  He loves simplicity

INPUT - Why would a person actually love being simple?


- read Proverbs 1:4 [cf. 2:1-9]

B.  He has rejected God's means of wisdom.

- one of the points we want to very clear on is that this has nothing to do with IQ.
- we have all known some very intelligent people that were biblically simple, and at the same time known some people who might not have ever had much formal schooling but who were very wise.

- read Prov. 22:3, 27:12
- INPUT - What characteristic of the simple man is being emphasized in these two passages?

C.  He does not anticipate danger and avoid it.

- you might remember that we came across this characteristic in Proverbs 7 because it was the simple man who went by the door of the prostitute.  He did not anticipate where that path would lead.


- read Proverbs 14:18


D.  He might pass his simplicity along from one generation to another.

- Have you ever known an entire family system of people who lived this way?  What is that experience like?


- read Proverbs  19:25, 21:11
- INPUT - What characteristic of the simple man is being emphasized in these two passages?

E.  He might learn if he sees others punished.

- one of the reasons it is appropriate to deal directly with scorners and fools is that the simple might observe it and change.
- it would have been better if he would have sought wisdom, but these kinds of persons might learn if they see a negative example before their eyes.

- as I said at the beginning, this very characteristic is actually being encouraged by our culture's emphasis on a new kind of tolerance.
- [recommend Josh McDowell's book]

III.  The Simple Man and the New Tolerance

A.  Traditional tolerance

• “Respecting and protecting the legitimate rights of others, even those with whom you disagree and those who are different from you. In a passive sense, traditional tolerance means "everyone has a right to his own opinion." Actively, it was traditional tolerance that enabled Christians (and others) to fight for the abolition of slavery in nineteenth-century America, to shelter Jews from Hitler's Nazis, and to be among the leaders in the early civil rights movement in the U.S. and elsewhere.
• “Listening to and learning from other perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds. A Christian teen who respectfully attends a classmate's bar mitzvah is demonstrating traditional tolerance, as is a Westerner who removes her shoes upon entering a Japanese home or a high school student who listens courteously as an exchange student describes his native land, culture, and religion.
• “Living peaceably alongside others, in spite of differences. "Make every effort to live in peace with all men," the Bible says (Hebrews 12:14 NIV); the people of God are commanded to be peace seekers (Psalm 34:14), peace promoters (Proverbs 12:20), peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), and peace pursuers (1 Peter 3:11). This does not require you to sacrifice godly principles to achieve peace, but it does mean "as far as it depends on you, [to] live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18 NIV).
• “Accepting other people, regardless of their race, creed, nationality, or sex.  After all, Jesus (though a Jew) spoke freely and respectfully to a Samaritan woman, shared meals with tax collectors, and even touched lepers (all strict taboos for Jewish men of Jesus' day). When he was hounded by a Canaanite woman (the Canaanites were historic enemies of the Jewish people and worshiped Baal, Dagon, and other gods), Jesus commended her faith in him and healed her daughter.  Traditional tolerance exhibits that kind of loving acceptance of people as individuals (while not necessarily accepting their beliefs or behavior).

“Traditional tolerance values, respects, and accepts the individual without necessarily approving of or participating in his or her beliefs or behavior. Traditional tolerance differentiates between what a person thinks or does and the person himself.”  The New Tolerance, 16-18


B.  The "new tolerance"

1. “Truth is relative to the community in which a person participates.  And since there are many human communities, there are necessarily many different truths.”  Stanley J. Grenz, A Primer to Postmodernism (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1996), 14.
2. “Since there are multiple descriptions of reality, no one view can be true in an ultimate sense. . . . Since truth is described by language, and all language is created by humans, all truth is created by humans.”  Don Closson, “Multiculturalism,” Probe Perspectives (Richardson, TX: Probe Ministries, n.d.), 1.
3. “Tolerance . . . the doctrine in vogue, is that all opinions are equal.  Each one has its point, and all should be respected or praised.  That is to say, there is no rational way to discern between them.”  Fernando Savater, El Mito Nacionalista (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1996), 16-19.
4. “The definition of new . . . tolerance is that every individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyle, and perception of truth claims are equal. . . .  There is no hierarchy of truth.  Your beliefs and my beliefs are equal, and all truth is relative.”  Thomas A. Helmbock, “Insights on Tolerance,”  Cross and Crescent (the publication of Lambda Chi Alpha International Fraternity), summer 1996, 2.
5. “Multicultural education is inclusive. . . .  A lot of people are on the margins of society because of their race, class, gender, or sexual orientation.  Multicultural education is about bringing them to the center, making one nation from many people. . . .  To do that we have to validate their experiences.”  Dr. James Banks, An Introduction to Multicultural Education (Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1994).
6. “The arts and the humanities reflect the high place accorded by the American people to the nation’s rich cultural heritage and to the fostering of mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all persons and groups.” [italics added].  Edwin J. Delattre, “Diversity, Ethics, and Education in America”
7. “Each student will develop the ability to understand, respect, and accept people of different races; sex; cultural heritage; national origin; religion; and political, economic, and social background, and their values, beliefs and attitudes.”  E. Calvin Beisner, “The Double-Edged Sword of Multiculturalism,”  The Freeman (March 1994), 109.
8. “In 30 years of college teaching, Prof. Robert Simon has never met a student who denied that the Holocaust happened.  What he sees increasingly, though, is worse: students who acknowledge the fact of the Holocaust but can’t bring themselves to say that killing millions of people is wrong.”
Simon, who teaches philosophy at Hamilton College, says that 10 to 20 percent of his students are reluctant to make moral judgments—in some cases, even about the Holocaust.  While these students may deplore what the Nazis did, their disapproval is expressed as a matter of taste or personal preference, not moral judgment.  “Of course I dislike the Nazis,” one student told him, “but who is to say they are morally wrong?” John Leo, Washington Times, as quoted in “That’s Outrageous! (It’s All Relative),” Reader’s  Digest 152, no. 910 (February 1998), 75.

“The impact of this dangerous doctrine [does not] stop there.  Since the new tolerance teaches that all beliefs, values, lifestyles, and truth claims are equal, it is not enough for you (or your children) to ‘live and let live.’  It is not enough for you to assert another person’s right to believe or say what he thinks is right.  It is not enough to allow another person to disagree with what you believe or do.
“In order to be truly tolerant (according to the new tolerance), you must agree that another person’s position is just as valid as your own.  In order to be truly tolerant (they say), you must give your approval, your endorsement, your sincere support to their beliefs and behaviors.”  The New Tolerance, 22


C.  Examples

1. “It is the mission of public schools not to tolerate intolerances.”  Stephen Bates, “Religious Diversity and the Schools,” The American Enterprise 4, no. 5 (September/October 1993), 19.
2. “Our idea is that to be a virtuous citizen is to be one who tolerates everything except intolerance.”  Bob Harvey, “Wanted: Old Fashioned Virtue,” Montreal Gazette, 19 February 1995.
3. “Tolerance… involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism.”  “Declaration of Principles on Tolerance,”  The Member States of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, meeting in Paris at the twenty-eighth session of the General Conference, from 25 October to 16 November 1995.


[as time allows, develop how our culture has elevated a biblical "vice" to the status of a "cultural virtue"]


Adult Bible Fellowship
The Simple Man
Proverbs Series #32


I.  The Definition of ________________
INPUT - Based on Proverbs 14:15, how would you define "simplicity"?
Warren Wiersbe - We’re living at a time when people who have convictions are considered bigots if not ignoramuses.  It’s popular and politically correct to be open-minded and uncritical of what other people think or believe.  Except when it comes to cashing a check when they’re broke, getting a prescription filled when they’re sick, or asking directions when they’re lost, most people don’t believe in absolutes.  They insist that there’s no such thing as objective truth.  According to them, whatever “feels good” down inside is truth for you; nobody has the right to criticize you for what you believe.  Apply that philosophy to money, medicine, mechanics, or maps and see how successful you will be!
II.  _____________ Truths about the Simple Man
A. A.  He ___________ simplicity.
INPUT - Why would a person actually love being simple?
B. B.  He has _________________ God's means of wisdom.
INPUT - What characteristic of the simple man is being emphasized in these two passages?
C. C.  He does not anticipate _____________ and ____________ it.
D. D.  He might _________ his simplicity along from one _________________ to another.
INPUT - What characteristic of the simple man is being emphasized in these two passages?
E. E.  He might learn if he sees others _________________.
III.  The Simple Man and the _______ __________________
F. A.  ________________ tolerance
• “Respecting and protecting the legitimate rights of others, even those with whom you disagree and those who are different from you. In a passive sense, traditional tolerance means "everyone has a right to his own opinion." Actively, it was traditional tolerance that enabled Christians (and others) to fight for the abolition of slavery in nineteenth-century America, to shelter Jews from Hitler's Nazis, and to be among the leaders in the early civil rights movement in the U.S. and elsewhere.

• “Listening to and learning from other perspectives, cultures, and backgrounds. A Christian teen who respectfully attends a classmate's bar mitzvah is demonstrating traditional tolerance, as is a Westerner who removes her shoes upon entering a Japanese home or a high school student who listens courteously as an exchange student describes his native land, culture, and religion.
• “Living peaceably alongside others, in spite of differences. "Make every effort to live in peace with all men," the Bible says (Hebrews 12:14 NIV); the people of God are commanded to be peace seekers (Psalm 34:14), peace promoters (Proverbs 12:20), peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), and peace pursuers (1 Peter 3:11). This does not require you to sacrifice godly principles to achieve peace, but it does mean "as far as it depends on you, [to] live at peace with everyone" (Romans 12:18 NIV).
• “Accepting other people, regardless of their race, creed, nationality, or sex.  After all, Jesus (though a Jew) spoke freely and respectfully to a Samaritan woman, shared meals with tax collectors, and even touched lepers (all strict taboos for Jewish men of Jesus' day). When he was hounded by a Canaanite woman (the Canaanites were historic enemies of the Jewish people and worshiped Baal, Dagon, and other gods), Jesus commended her faith in him and healed her daughter.  Traditional tolerance exhibits that kind of loving acceptance of people as individuals (while not necessarily accepting their beliefs or behavior).
“Traditional tolerance values, respects, and accepts the individual without necessarily approving of or participating in his or her beliefs or behavior. Traditional tolerance differentiates between what a person thinks or does and the person himself.”  The New Tolerance, 16-18
G. B.  The "_______ tolerance"
4. “Truth is relative to the community in which a person participates.  And since there are many human communities, there are necessarily many different truths.”  Stanley J. Grenz, A Primer to Postmodernism (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1996), 14.
5. “Since there are multiple descriptions of reality, no one view can be true in an ultimate sense…  Since truth is described by language, and all language is created by humans, all truth is created by humans.”  Don Closson, “Multiculturalism,” Probe Perspectives (Richardson, TX: Probe Ministries, n.d.), 1.
6. “Tolerance… the doctrine in vogue, is that all opinions are equal.  Each one has its point, and all should be respected or praised.  That is to say, there is no rational way to discern between them.”  Fernando Savater, El Mito Nacionalista (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1996), 16-19.
7. “The definition of new… tolerance is that every individual’s beliefs, values, lifestyle, and perception of truth claims are equal…  There is no hierarchy of truth.  Your beliefs and my beliefs are equal, and all truth is relative.”  Thomas A. Helmbock, “Insights on Tolerance,”  Cross and Crescent (the publication of Lambda Chi Alpha International Fraternity), summer 1996, 2.

8. “Multicultural education is inclusive…  A lot of people are on the margins of society because of their race, class, gender, or sexual orientation.  Multicultural education is about bringing them to the center, making one nation from many people…  To do that we have to validate their experiences.”  Dr. James Banks, An Introduction to Multicultural Education (Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1994).
9. “The arts and the humanities reflect the high place accorded by the American people to the nation’s rich cultural heritage and to the fostering of mutual respect for the diverse beliefs and values of all persons and groups.” [italics added].  Edwin J. Delattre, “Diversity, Ethics, and Education in America”
10. “Each student will develop the ability to understand, respect, and accept people of different races; sex; cultural heritage; national origin; religion; and political, economic, and social background, and their values, beliefs and attitudes.”  E. Calvin Beisner, “The Double-Edged Sword of Multiculturalism,”  The Freeman (March 1994), 109.
11. “In 30 years of college teaching, Prof. Robert Simon has never met a student who denied that the Holocaust happened.  What he sees increasingly, though, is worse: students who acknowledge the fact of the Holocaust but can’t bring themselves to say that killing millions of people is wrong.”
Simon, who teaches philosophy at Hamilton College, says that 10 to 20 percent of his students are reluctant to make moral judgments—in some cases, even about the Holocaust.  While these students may deplore what the Nazis did, their disapproval is expressed as a matter of taste or personal preference, not moral judgment.  “Of course I dislike the Nazis,” one student told him, “but who is to say they are morally wrong?” John Leo, Washington Times, as quoted in “That’s Outrageous! (It’s All Relative),” Reader’s  Digest 152, no. 910 (February 1998), 75.
H. “The impact of this dangerous doctrine [does not] stop there.  Since the new tolerance teaches that all beliefs, values, lifestyles, and truth claims are equal, it is not enough for you (or your children) to ‘live and let live.’  It is not enough for you to assert another person’s right to believe or say what he thinks is right.  It is not enough to allow another person to disagree with what you believe or do.
I. “In order to be truly tolerant (according to the new tolerance), you must agree that another person’s position is just as valid as your own.  In order to be truly tolerant (they say), you must give your approval, your endorsement, your sincere support to their beliefs and behaviors.”  The New Tolerance, 22

J. C.  ______________
1. “It is the mission of public schools not to tolerate intolerances.”  Stephen Bates, “Religious Diversity and the Schools,” The American Enterprise 4, no. 5 (September/October 1993), 19.
2. “Our idea is that to be a virtuous citizen is to be one who tolerates everything except intolerance.”  Bob Harvey, “Wanted: Old Fashioned Virtue,” Montreal Gazette, 19 February 1995.
3. “Tolerance… involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism.”  “Declaration of Principles on Tolerance,”  The Member States of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, meeting in Paris at the twenty-eighth session of the General Conference, from 25 October to 16 November 1995.


Adult Bible Fellowship
The Simple Man
Proverbs Series #32
I.  The Definition of Simplicity
INPUT - Based on Proverbs 14:15, how would you define "simplicity"?
Warren Wiersbe - We’re living at a time when people who have convictions are considered bigots if not ignoramuses. It’s popular and politically correct to be open-minded and uncritical of what other people think or believe. Except when it comes to cashing a check when they’re broke, getting a prescription filled when they’re sick, or asking directions when they’re lost, most people don’t believe in absolutes. They insist that there’s no such thing as objective truth. According to them, whatever “feels good” down inside is truth for you; nobody has the right to criticize you for what you believe. Apply that philosophy to money, medicine, mechanics, or maps and see how successful you will be!
II.  Biblical Truths about the Simple Man
A.  He loves simplicity.
INPUT - Why would a person actually love being simple?
B.  He has rejected God's means of wisdom.
INPUT - What characteristic of the simple man is being emphasized in these two passages?
C.  He does not anticipate danger and avoid it.
D.  He might pass his simplicity along from one generation to another.
INPUT - What characteristic of the simple man is being emphasized in these two passages?
E.  He might learn if he sees others punished.
III.  The Simple Man and the New Tolerance
A.  Traditional tolerance
K. B.  The "new tolerance"
L. C.  Example

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video