Galatians 6:7-8 is a passage of Scripture that has been understood in two different ways by expositors. Some view it as a warning to believers, while others feel it has unbelievers in view. I do believe a case can be made that verse 7 is related to the exhortation given to believers in verse 6. Whether this is true or not, verse 7 obviously states a general scriptural principle that surely takes in unbelievers. Paul’s brief exposition in verse 8 certainly makes that point very clearly. (Note: The “train of thought” begun in verse 7 continues through verse 9, but we will concern ourselves with verses 7 and 8 in this article).
Verse 7 begins with a three-word warning. We will consider this warning later, but for the present let us focus on the four following words, “God is not mocked.” This is a very strong statement. To mock someone is to treat that one in a condescending and contemptuous manner. The word “mock” here is a translation of a verb derived from the Greek word for “nose,” and conveys the sense of “turning up the nose” at someone. Although believers would never consciously do this to God, they may, by their manner of living, do so inadvertently. However, unbelievers certainly do this quite knowingly and deliberately. They are the main offenders. But although God is willfully mocked by unbelievers, He is not mocked successfully. That is the sense here. There will be severe consequences for this behavior. The mockers won’t get away with it; they will reap what they sow.
Moving on to verse 8, we find Paul illustrating this sowing/reaping principle by setting up a contrast between the believer and the unbeliever. He is viewing things positionally here. He contrasts (and this is how it is literally stated in the Greek) “the sower to the flesh” with “the sower to the Spirit,” two distinct categories of people. The life of the first (the unbeliever) is characterized by sowing to the flesh (that is, indulging the desires of the flesh nature), whereas the life of the second (the believer) is characterized by sowing to the Spirit (that is, living according to the promptings of God’s indwelling Spirit). The result of the first life is a reaping of moral corruption (which would doubtless include a deepening resentment towards God), whereas the result of the second is eternal enjoyment of life with God. Quite a stark contrast!
Returning to the warning, “Be not deceived,” we take it as a warning to all, saved and lost. Both the believer and the unbeliever can forget that we live in God’s sight every moment of every day. However, the unbeliever especially views his/her world as devoid of the presence of God. He/she, then, is the greater offender in this matter. For the unbeliever, God is far away or maybe doesn’t even exist, according to his thinking, thus the warning. God wants sinners to realize that not only is He real but He will one day judge them. People who die without Christ will certainly meet their sins at the Great White Throne. Then there will be no escape! Thus, Scripture faithfully informs us, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2Co 6:2 KJV).