Here in Proverbs we see a progression of sinful behavior. We can learn quite a bit about our witnessing encounters from this verse.
We first have the simple ones who love their simple ways. In ignorance, they cling to the coziness of their simple life and simple way of thinking in regards to God's truth, eternal salvation, good and evil. I've encountered many simple people while witnessing...they hear the Gospel but shrug their shoulders and walk away…back to their simple life. As a result of their indifference to the truth, they turn away from God and consequently any hope of salvation (See Proverbs 1:32).
The scoffers who delight in their scoffing make a mockery of everything holy and religious. Just think about the new atheists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. and movies such as Religulous by Bill Maher. They worship the god of naturalism and scoff at the thought of a Holy God who reigns supreme over all of creation. This group is particularly tough because even the mention of God, the Bible, and Jesus is immediately counted off as superstition and foolishness. However, 2 Peter 3:3 tells us that they mock the truth of God's word so that they may follow their own sinful desires (see John 3:20).
And the final group is those who hate knowledge. These are the worst of the three because they hate to be taught any truth whatsoever. Their pride deceives them into believing they are above reproof and as a result, they reject any truth that would lead them to knowledge of God which would ultimately lead them to salvation. This is especially true with false Christians. Now I know I'm not the judge of one's salvation but I encountered someone that may fit this description perfectly while I was witnessing in Atlanta. I handed a tract to a lady at the BET Awards and asked her if she were to die, would she go to Heaven but before I could even finish my sentence she replied , " I asked God for forgiveness and I know I'll make it in." I tried asking her if she considered herself to be good enough to go to heaven and she didn't want to hear it.
With God's help, I patiently took her through the law and told her that the Bible declares no one to be good but she continued to put her hand in my face and proudly exclaim, "Nah uh…stop…that's the end of this discussion!"
She then went on to say that she prays every night and asks God to forgive her so nothing anyone says to her will convince her otherwise...keep in mind she had her hand in my face the entire time. I tried getting a word in but she kept shaking her head and making loud and obnoxious high-pitched noises. It was extremely frustrating. I asked her if she had read her Bible recently and she claimed she read it earlier that day. I asked what passages and she said, "Isaiah 1, 2, and 3." I then asked her what she read and if she learned anything new and she said she forgot.
She then said, "Look...we will see who's right when we both die...maybe I'll see you in Heaven or maybe I won't!"
Her pride and contempt for any knowledge or reproof whatsoever was ultimately her own stumbling block. She hates the knowledge of God's word and as Hosea 4:6 says, "my people perish for a lack of knowledge." And unfortunately, a sinner full of pride will reject the truth of the gospel that can set them free and give them everlasting life…in other words, pride paves the way to eternal destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Furthermore, when our hearts are filled with pride, the Bible states that God is at war with us (1 Peter 5:5, James 4:6, Proverbs 3:34).
But we also know that God gives grace to the humble. As Christians, we must preach the Gospel and not quarrel with anyone but with great patience and kindness, gently oppose the simple ones, the mockers and the haters of knowledge and believe that through upon hearing the outward call of the Gospel, God is doing an inward work by pouring out His Spirit upon their hearts and granting them repentance(2 Timothy 2:25, Romans 5:5).