PASTOR DON'S CHRISTIAN ED NOTES
The Path of the Scoffer
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Sunday, April 29, 2007 -

To scoff - “To treat with derision or contempt. To deride, mock, or jeer.” This is the way the dictionary defines scoffers. If you use the King James Version of the Bible the word “scoffer” will usually be translated to its English equivalent, “mocker.”

Another important point: Scoffing is different from criticism. Criticism can sometimes be constructive and helpful. That’s because criticism can be given with a loving heart. Such is not the case with scoffing. Scoffing involves not only the words uttered, but the heart and attitude behind the words. Perhaps the closest common cousin to scoffing is ridicule. But while the dictionary can give you the meaning of the term, only the Bible can give you God’s viewpoint on it. And nowhere is that viewpoint made more clear in the Scriptures than in the book of Proverbs.

1) THE GREATEST DANGER OF ALL IS TO SCOFF AT SIN AND AT GOD

Proverbs 14:9a - “Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.”Take a look at the most dangerous game in town. Why does the fool mock sin? Is his problem that he’s slow and not too bright? No, that’s not it. Is it that he’s mean? No. His real problem is fear. He can’t bring himself to honestly face his sin, nor his helplessness to overcome it on his own. He can’t bring himself to face his own accountability and the future judgment of God. Scoffing is the nervous response to serious truth. And it only looks clever to others trying to dodge the same issues.

Nothing makes us more unlike God than mocking sin. We know how seriously God views sin. He sent His Son to die on account of it. We know how seriously Jesus viewed sin. He wept over the repeated unresponsiveness to the sins of Israel. The angels don’t scoff at sin. Godly saints don’t scoff at sin. They know its power and fear it. Only those still numbed by the deceit of sin scoff at its reality and consequence.

2) SCOFFING BECOMES HABITUAL. THE WAY PEOPLE MOCK EARTHLY AUTHORITIES IS THE WAY THEY WILL ONE DAY MOCK GOD

Proverbs 13:1 - “A wise son hears his father's instruction, but a scoffer does not listen to rebuke.” The patterns of life at home quickly establish responses in other areas that have eternal consequences. Whether before parents (as in this verse), or law enforcers, or educators, those who grow up with a quick wit, but a deaf ear to authority, will find life quickly closing in on them.

The important point here is that scoffing becomes addictive. As you start down the road of mocking truth it becomes your natural, reflexive response whenever you’re confronted by its costly demands.

3) FOR ALL THE ABOVE REASONS, THE SCOFFER CAN NEVER MAKE ANY PROGRESS IN THE WAYS OF GOD

Proverbs 14:6 - “A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding.” - Not everyone who thinks he’s pursuing wisdom really is. Why would a scoffer seek wisdom? Why is he looking for something he just mocks anyway? The key is found in remembering the two kinds of wisdom described in the Bible:

2 Corinthians 1:12 - “For our boast is this: the testimony of our conscience that we behaved in the world with simplicity and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God, and supremely so toward you.”

James 3:15-17 - “This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. [16] For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. [17] But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

There is a kind of wisdom that is described as earthly. That is, it appeals to the desires of the senses. It seeks self-fulfillment. But in this pursuit of earthly wisdom, the scoffer will never embrace eternal truth because He refuses to make room for the will of God. Proud wisdom and understanding is embraced. But that which is costly to self is rejected. Thus, the ways of God are squeezed out.

4) SCOFFING AT TRUTH IS NOT ONLY ADDICTIVE, IT IS CONTAGIOUS

Proverbs 29:8 - “Scoffers set a city aflame, but the wise turn away wrath.” - Scoffers and scorners are spiritual pyromaniacs. Their clever words set others on the same path of ruin. This is why the Bible always insists that the call to Godliness includes a call to avoid scoffers and mockers - Psalm 1:1 - “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers....” Such profound words, these. This inward spiritual disease is contagious beyond our expectations of infection. We can’t live close to God and close to scoffers at the same time. We are called not only to embrace truth, but to shun those who devalue it.

5) GOD’S COMING JUDGMENT AWAITS THE SCOFFER

Proverbs 9:12 - “If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it.” - If scoffing brings a host of admirers in this world, the time will come when the scoffer will reap the fruit of his own words all alone. The crowd gets narrowed down. The scoffer gets singled out. The ridicule that feeds pride in the crowd turns to fear in the particularity of judgment. Nothing in the moral realm is ever lost in God’s universe - Proverbs 19:29 - “Condemnation is ready for scoffers, and beating for the backs of fools.”