As many of you know, I'm in the final stages of publishing a Kingdom Come trilogy about heritage theology, formation, and care. This trilogy provides a foundation for my calling to encourage leaders with a writing and coaching ecuministry.
In the second book, I write at length about "systems anti-the-Christ" that ostracize people from the basic resources and safe love that they need to continue. The method of ostracism relies in part on scoffing, and our ignorance or complicitness to it.
That is the behavior of "lovers of self" of our times, and the reason for abuse and strife, whether in homes from family, social media, or in public squares, especially the media spectacle and political display we've seen this past few years (see 2 Tim. 3:1-5).
Scriptures on Scoffing
Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease (Prov. 22:10).
"I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth with a muzzle, so long as the wicked are in my presence' (Psalm 39:1).
From a biblical counseling perspective, abusers (scoffers) often use the church to further and hide abusive scheme, the "deception principle," and even conceal contempt for Christians and knowledge or wisdom (e.g., Jude; Matt. 23-25; Titus). I refer in the trilogy to the "second wound" that happens when people or helping organizations invalidate and do not believe, and so dismiss or ostracize the sufferer of scoffing instead of corralling the scoffer.
Scoffing definitions crop up in areas of public health and safety, such as abuse of intimate partners, often cloaked by hyper-headship models in the church. Those same models that do not distinguish between supremacy and it's corrosive -isms, such as racism, sexism, childism, ageism, and ableism to name a few.
Emotional abuse occurs in some form in all abusive relationships. It is a very effective tactic used by abusive partners to obtain power and control and it can cause extreme damage to the victim’s self esteem. Commonly, emotional abuse makes the victim feel like they are responsible for the abuse and to feel crazy, worthless and hopeless. It is so damaging that many survivors of domestic violence report that they would have rather “be hit” than endure the ongoing psychic damage of emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can include: constant put downs or criticisms, name calling, “crazy making”, acting superior, minimizing the abuse or blaming you for their behavior, threatening and making you feel fearful, isolating you from family and friends... ("Forms of Abuse - NNEDV" https://nnedv.org/content/forms-of-abuse/)
Scoffing (abuse) can break spirits and threaten life or even good things, like relationships, health, peace of mind, vacations, special occasions, or democratic republics, anything, from continuing.
I wrote in the second book that scoffing is a satanic response directly connected to the fall and temptations and accusations of Satan "day and night" because it opposes God's heart and system that we see in the advent, promises, rebukes of religious elite, and the teachings of Jesus (see Gen. 1-3; Luke 1-2; Matt. 5, 23-25; Rev. 12:10). "Driving out" scoffing is one way to dismantle strongholds, and keeps the church healthy while validating the needs of those suffering abuse (see 1 Cor. 5:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-5).
"Death and life are in the power of the tongue," and "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks" (Prov. 18:21). In contrast, God is near those with broken hearts and spirits (Psalm 34:18). Choose life takes on new meaning.
Scoffing is a fruit that doesn't identify a person with Christ's example as an empathetic high priest (see Heb. 4:15). Proverbs, Ephesians, and the book of James show Christlike words and deeds of wisdom in contrast to scoffing (see also 1 John 3:18). This wisdom comes from exalting the LORD and from "gazing at the crowds with compassion" instead of contempt (see Dan. 4; Mark 6:34; Matt. 9:36; Psa. 34:3).
Other wisdom comes from passaging through suffering to the other side of called service and solidarity that we observe in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus (see 2 Cor. 1:3; 2 Tim. 4:14-16; Heb. 4:15). We learn to live by love instead of fear-triggered ostracism (see 1 John 3-4). This transformation can teach the imagination of empathetic, compassionate, and commited communal leadership instead of hyper-headship.
Jesus said his words are from the Spirit and give life, and faith comes from hearing the Word (John 6; Rom. 10). Such words share the gospel, "encourage the faint-hearted" versus inflict fear, offer hope with gentleness, each because love edifies (1 Cor. 8:1; 1 Peter 3:15; 1 Thess. 5:11-14; 2 Cor. 13:10; Acts 9:31; Eph. 4:11-16; Rom. 14:19, 15:2). With a kind word we "lift up" or relieve anxious hearts weighed down instead of oppress them (see Eccl. 7:7; Prov. 12:25).
We know that true habit change over time comes from a heart regenerated by the Spirit, and spiritual vitality and attunement to God's will, and not feeding other impulses, whether contempt and control of people, or scoffing instead of Spirit-driven attitudes and responses (Acts 2; Eph. 5:18; Ezek. 36; Heb. 3). Correcting scoffing can lead to healthier homes and thriving communities, and to that, by replacing scoffing with the work of Spirit-driven ministry instead of the lazy destructiveness of pride (Gen. 1-3; Jude; Matt. 23-25; Prov. 16:18; Titus).
"The mouth of the righteous speaks wisdom" and justice with "the law of God" coming from the heart as "out of the heart the mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45; Psa. 37:30-31). The mastermind of the gospel involves "exchanging their heart of stone with flesh" (2 Cor. 5:17; Eph. 2:8-10; Ezek. 11:19, 36:6; Heb. 8:10; Jer. 31:33).
We can follow the "saint-like" people in our lives who have modeled faith in a gentle way (see 1 Tim. 4:12; 2 Tim. 1:5; Heb. 4:15, 10-11; Rom. 16). My childhood pastor and wife and grandmother among others have been among such persons. The Spirit makes this positive progression possible with our cooperation: "'In the last days I will pour out My Spirit on all people'" (Acts 2:17-18; Joel 2:28-29). This same Spirit that rose Jesus from the dead, and who preaches "good news to the poor, binds up the broken-hearted, and sets the captives free" (Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18; Rom. 8:11).
Churches can "tear down this stronghold" with biblical language and accountability (see 2 Cor. 10:3-5; 1 John 3-4; 1-2 Tim.; Jude; Matt. 18; Psa. 9:9; Titus). Given our times God is not letting us get away from this need to learn how to tear down the lies of the enemy (strongholds) in scoffing, whether abuse of people in homes or in public of BIPOC or troller followers or operatives on social media.
Sometimes well-intended places, such as church, but also other organizations, can stay persistently ignorant of the "wolves in sheeps clothing" that come in their midst to prey upon those who are relying on their communities for help (see Matt. 7:15). People may want to forgive scoffers, such as abusers or predators, of their sin, but without genuine repentance or proved rehabilitation and safe integration. Scoffers may assume that church goers are easy targets to deceive for the goodwill of wanting people, or assuming people, to become Christians, but without accountability.
Accountability for abuse (scoffing) honors Jesus as our empathetic high priest because he ministered to those harmed by scoffing systems (see Isa. 9, 60-63; Matt. 5, 23-25). "This type won't come out except by prayer and fasting" because we know our battle isn't the person, but the enemy, so "let's be wise to his schemes" (see 2 Cor. 2:11; Mark 9:29; Matt. 10:16, 17:21). "Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease" (Prov. 22:10). The "drive them out" imperative boundaries to gospel sharing that seems counterintuitive to the culture of church to welcome all, yet there's safety in discerning and boundarying "false prophets." If people abuse, then they do not share the gospel or live on mission.
I care deeply about encouraging the health and leadership of the churches and the communities to whom we minister (Greek word diákonos (διάκονος), or "servant," "minister," or "messenger"). I have seen too many congregations and lives eviscerated by this scoffing spirit because the temptation to elitism that this spirit triggers. I don't want that abuse or subsequent suffering, spirit-vampiring, and divisiveness to happen anymore (see John 17).
We can begin anew to "drive" the spirit of scoffing to transformation of the Holy Spirit worthy of a "well done" (see Eph. 6:10-18; Matt. 25:23; Phil. 2:13; Rom. 12:1-2). We worship Jesus as the head, not a scoffer hyper-head, as a living body of Christ with real people and breathing souls working to build God's house, a place to not fear inviting all "tongues, tribes, and nations," for his glory and kingdom (see 1 Cor. 11-14; Col. 2:10; Eph. 1:22, 4:8-12, 5:23; Isa. 46:7; Jer. 7:11; John 14:1-6; Mark 11:17; Matt. 21:13; Psa. 118:2).
I'm committed to God's calling to serve with a ministry that encourages leaders, heritage workers, and women with the Word. Will you join me with appreciating the richness and courage that a gospel heritage offers for wisdom of our times?
We drive out with tools consistent with the gospel and our mission as the church.
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Thank you for reading, and for your passion and commitment to community and the gospel!
Rosko, D. M., & Rosko, G. X. (2021). Sign and chalk artwork. Renton, Wash.