“A scoffer seeks wisdom in vain, but knowledge is easy for a man of understanding. Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet words of knowledge.” (Proverbs 14:6-7)
Do you remember these idioms: “Clothes don’t make the man;” “Don’t judge a book by its cover;” and “The proof of the pudding is in the eating?” Do you know what they have in common? They all speak to the fact that what we see with our eyes is not necessarily indicative of the true nature of the quality of the man, book, or pudding. We can add scoffers to the list since they may appear to be wise but mock true wisdom. Scoffers, by definition, mock God and seek that which brings glory to themselves, ironically emphasizing and showcasing their lack of wisdom. While they may have convinced themselves and others that they are in earnest, the truth is that at the very least they are deceived and complete hypocrites at their worst.
This month I have already identified some of the ways we scoff: in our struggle with pride (March 3rd); when we judge God’s law and compare ourselves with others instead of with God’s standard (March 9th); and when we scoff at God’s warnings and correction from others (yesterday). Now we consider that we are sometimes foolish, acting like those who want to be wise but mentally and attitudinally mocking wisdom, and therefore unable to use the very wisdom we seek. It is our scoffing that prevents us from being people of “understanding.” That being the case, why should any sincerely wise person want to be in our company? Oh, and why would we want to hang out with fools who have no knowledge? Or, if they have some, they are unable to use it because of their scoffing attitudes.
Many religious people believe themselves to have great wisdom and understanding. I have found that university-level comparative religion classes are taught mainly by these men and women. They may indeed have a broad knowledge of man’s religious practices, but no understanding of God. Religion is the study of worship practices; theology is the study of God. If you would like to understand the real God of the Bible, I might suggest picking up a copy of R. C. Sproul’s “Everyone’s A Theologian” to read alongside your Bible. (1) One of the reasons why many Christians insist that Christianity isn’t a religion is because we cannot attain anything worthy of heaven or salvation by our religious practices (our works). Only by being chosen, regenerated, and justified by God are we able to enjoy freedom from the presence of sin, even from scoffing. (2)
If we admit that we would not want to be around foolish scoffers, how much more should we seek to be aware of our own mocking of God’s excellence, holiness, and purity? Yes, we are destined, on this earth to struggle and sometimes fail. But let’s not lessen our determination to stop our mocking of God’s righteous standards. “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)
(1) Sproul, R.C., “Everyone’s A Theologian, An Introduction to Systematic Theology,” Reformation Trust Publishing (a division of Ligonier Ministries), Orlando, FL, 2014.
(2) At salvation, we receive complete freedom from condemnation for sin at the final judgment. Through the process of sanctification, we continue to recognize and do battle with our sin, having the Holy Spirit to empower and enable us to repent. We are victorious in many ways, until the time of our physical death, when we will be completely free of the presence of sin, including scoffing, for all eternity.