Question: "What does it mean that God is not mocked?"
Answer: To mock God is to disrespect, dishonor, or ignore Him. It is a serious offense committed by those who have no fear of God or who deny His existence. The most easily recognized form of mockery is disrespect typified by verbal insults or other acts of disdain. It is associated with ridicule, scoffing, and defiance. Mockery is a dishonoring attitude that shows low estimation, contempt, or even open hostility.
In the Bible mockery is a behavior and attitude shown by the fool (Psalm 74:22), the wicked (Psalm 1:1), the enemy (Psalm 74:10), the hater of knowledge (Proverbs 1:22; 13:1), the proud (Psalm 119:51; Isaiah 37:17), and the unteachable (Proverbs 15:12). A mocker goes beyond mere lack of judgment to making a conscious decision for evil. Mockers are without a spirit of obedience, teachability, discernment, wisdom, worship, or faith.
Those who mock God will mock the people of God as well. The prophet Jeremiah “became the laughingstock of all my people” and was mocked “in song all day long” (Lamentations 3:14). Mockery of God’s prophets was commonplace (2 Chronicles 36:16). Nehemiah was mocked by his enemies (Nehemiah 2:19). Elisha was mocked by the youths of Bethel (2 Kings 2:23). And of course our Lord Jesus was mocked—by Herod and his soldiers (Luke 23:11), by the Roman soldiers (Mark 15:20; Luke 23:36), by a thief on a cross (Luke 23:39), and by the Jewish leaders who passed by the cross (Matthew 27:41).
It is easy for us as believers to point the finger at those outside the church who mock God. But the most subtle mockery of God, and the most dangerous, comes from those of us sitting in church. We are guilty of mockery when we behave with an outward show of spirituality or godliness without an inward engagement or change of heart.
Charles G. Finney, a preacher in the 1800s, wrote about the effects of mocking God: “To mock God is to pretend to love and serve him when we do not; to act in a false manner, to be insincere and hypocritical in our professions, pretending to obey him, love, serve, and worship him, when we do not. . . . Mocking God grieves the Holy Spirit, and sears the conscience; and thus the bands of sin become stronger and stronger. The heart becomes gradually hardened by such a process.”
God warns that mockery of what is holy will be punished. Zephaniah predicted the downfall of Moab and Ammon, saying, “This is what they will get in return for their pride, for insulting and mocking the people of the LORD Almighty” (Zephaniah 2:10). Isaiah 28:22 warns that mockery will cause the chains of Judah’s sin to become stronger and that destruction will follow. Proverbs 3:34 says that God will mock the mocker but give favor to the humble and oppressed. Second Kings 2:24 records the punishment that befell the youths who jeered Elisha.
This is what it means that God is not mocked. There are repercussions for ignoring God’s directives and willfully choosing sin. Adam and Eve tried and brought sorrow and death into the world (Genesis 2:15–17; 3:6, 24). Ananias and Sapphira’s deception brought about a swift and public judgment (Acts 5:1–11). Galatians 6:7 states a universal principle: “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”
God cannot be deceived (Hebrews 4:12–13). Achan’s sin (Joshua 7) and Jonah’s flight (Jonah 1) were not unknown to God. Jesus’ repeated words to every church in Revelation 2—3 were, “I know your works.” We only deceive ourselves when we think our attitudes and actions are not seen by an all-powerful and all-knowing God.
The Bible shows us the way to live a blessed life, sometimes by the good examples of godly men and women and sometimes by the negative examples of those who choose to follow another path. Psalm 1:1–3 says, “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.”