If they only knew . . . this is the way that a lot of statements begin about those who reject Biblical truth and the Biblical world view. But this statement assumes that the only problem that is present is a lack of information - a lack of education. Yet today's proverb seems to present a different picture. There are those who even if educated would persist in their worldview and ignorance. Could it actually be that there is a deeper problem in the human race than a lack of education?
Three descriptions are given here about how people view their world. The first is the person who is naive. According to what is written in this proverb, the naive ones actually love their naivete. They enjoy their simple-mindedness. The word used here is "pethi" which means to be naive. The picture that this paints for us though is of someone who is very open minded. In fact to them the greatest character trait that you can have is to be as open-minded as possible. The root for this word means to be wide open and spacious. It refers to someone whose mind is as wide open as can be - to everything - to every view that is out there. The only thing this person cannot tolerate is a view that is considered narrow in its focus. The naive person thinks that everyone would be able to get along - if we would all just accept each others views as equally valid. This is the case even when the views in question are diametrically opposed to each other. This is the post-modernist whose most valued idea is tolerance. They love their open-mindedness so much that they will pretty much gut the real truth of any position so that everyone can have their opinion, be right for themselves, and never a threat to each other.
The writer asks, "How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?" The fact is that all views can't get along with each other. There has to eventually be a right and a wrong. There are some worldviews that are just flat out wrong. Look at Mao in China. To say that his view of communism, which was responsible for the murder of over 50 million people is ludicris! To say that Hitler's position is equally valid with that of Mother Theresa is insane. Yet the naive want everyone's view to be equally valid. They love their naivete so much that they will frontal lobotomize themselves when it comes to thinking to have every view just as valid. Europe took this view as Hitler rose to power - and each and every step along the way, Hitler took advantage of it to Blitzkrieg his way accross most of northern Europe. He wouldn't have been stopped except that at some point the naive ones realized that their open-mindedness could not fit him and his views of the world.
The second group are the scoffers. These are the ones who scoff and mock at the things of God. They belittle them as subpar thinking and subpar reasoning. They don't know how to build up - just tear down. They love their own scoffing, delighting in it every step of the way. They see it as a great thing when someone denigrates Christ, the Bible, or the church in some way. But their scoffing becomes such a lifestyle that they can offer nothing positive in reply. They only become bitter, self-centered critics who have nothing to offer anyone - except a constant cry to destroy and level anything related to God.
The third group are the fools. These are the spiritual dullards and dupes who don't want to be bothered by the facts. According to this passage they hate knowledge. This word speaks of knowledge, knwoing, learning, discernment, and insight. They do not want God's wisdom in their lives and will reject it when it is offered.
Now here is the amazing thing about this passage. None of these three types can have their lack of wisdom repaired by education alone. Their problem is not a lack of information. It is that they don't want the information. They enjoy their simple-mindedness, their scoffing, and their foolish worldview. They need something more than just information and knowledge. They need a change in their heart as a result of a work of God's Spirit in their minds. How do I know this? Because of the very next verse in chapter 1. These three groups are encouraged to "turn to God's reproof. They will have to see their views as wrong, and be willing to turn from them to God's correction. They need the Holy Spirit to be poured out upon them where they will then be able to receive the words that are spoken to them. Their problem is a heart level problem - not just an education level one. They delight in their views - and reject anything that would threaten them. Until there is a heart change - there will be no embracing of any kind of educational outreach to them.
This is actually the view of classic Christianity. The problem with mankind is not just one of proper education. We can educate someone for decades and unless there is a heart change wrought by the grace of God, they will continue to reject the truth. As Romans chapter one puts it, God's wrath is revealed against the unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness. They want their sin. They want their foolishness. They want their unrighteous ways. No amount of education that leaves their hearts unregenerated will do them any good whatsoever. There must be repentance and a change initiated and completed by the work of God's Holy Spirit. If that does not happen - they will simply continue to reject the truth and embrace their unrighteousness - whether it is dressed up as naivete, scoffing, or foolishness. What we see here is that only the grace of God can take a man and change him from a fool into a wise man. Oh, that we would pray that God's grace would touch the hearts of men to convert them from darkness to light - and from the foolishness of this world to the wisdom of God.