A Voice in the
"And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them" (Mt13:7, Lk8:7)
They "[hear] the Word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches, and pleasures of life choke the Word, and they bring no fruit to maturity" (compiled from: Mt13:22 & Lk8:14)
A companion to this third item is the next parable Jesus tells. You can read it from Mt13:24-30. A farmer plants good seed; while people were sleeping the enemy comes along and sows tares; and so the seeds sprout with both wheat along with weeds. The servants ask, "Do you want us to go and gather them up?" And the farmer says, "No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them."
There's two kinds of weeds. There's the willfully carnal, and there's the plants. In this case the word "plant" being used the same way an organization infiltrates another with "plants". People sent ('planted') in to pretend to be part of that organzation, but their real purpose is either to garner classified information by stealth, or to do deeds of subterfuge.
I dare say this category makes up easily 90% of today's church, of the ones who are saved. Yes... "saved" because they did sprout, but the weeds "choked" them. Choking cannot happen if the seeds did not sprout; choking is not done to something that is dead; by definition. But the good seed sprouts, but when a person looks in their direction, all one can see is weeds. This is the person that, if you saw them next to a person of the world, you would not be able to pick them apart from the world. They dress the same, they makeup themselves to look like prostitutes the same, the "slang" out of their mouths is the same, they still go to the same parties, and never seem to see the need to kick old habits like smoking, drugs, drunkenness, etc. They still sleep around. When you turn on the TV and see a musical group performing on stage, where the volume happens to have been on mute, you see them dressed and gyrating around just like any other of the world's groups of the day...only, when you turn up the volume do you hear words like "Jesus" and such, to realize they are presuming to be a "Christian" group. (I've often mentioned that there is nothing I write about, but what I've either been there, done it, or witnessed it. This last example I experienced back in the 70s during my college years. I was at 'home' with my parents for the summer, and happened to come downstairs and the TV was on, with the volume turned down. The group was gyrating around, the girls in their miniskirts...and when the volume was turned up, and a bit of listening took place, it became revealed that this was a Campus Crusade group doing a TV special.)
Now, let's add to this the supporting parable. You plant a field or garden, and then at night, or while you are away, somebody comes along with weed seed, stirs around in the dirt with the rake and hoe, planting other things. The seeds sprout. Where you planted some discretely spaced hills of cucumbers, now the entire area is overgrown with gourds. Where the farmer planted a field of oats, what comes up is wild oats. The farmer planted alfalfa, and the field is full of mustard. A landscaper planted a lawn, and up comes crab grass.
In these scenarios what happens to the 'good' seed? Several different things. If the weeds are of a broad leaf variety, and the good seed was of diminutive proportions, the weeds can actually "choke" them out. By definition, "choking" is one method of making somebody cease to be alive. They die. Just like the seed in the rocks, they wither away. They -never- truly 'left' the world. They make an initial "claim for Jesus" (with their 'mouth' Ro10:10), but never follow through; and eventually they, too, forget their 'claim' and in their heart they -are- 'of' the world. Due to their proximity to the weeds, they "forgot their Creator" and now "have no pleasure in [Him]" (Ec12:1)
In other cases, the weeds overgrow...but if you pull the weeds aside and look very carefully, you can see the little 'runt' of the good plant there. But it is helplessly overpowered by the weeds. It just sits there and stagnates. It never produces fruit.
In some other cases it produces the 'nubbins' of fruit. There is a nubbin where the flower should bloom, but it never comes out to bloom. And when there is no flower, there is no fruit. Although, in some cases, like radishes, there might be something under the ground...but there is no production of new seed for the next generation.
Jesus taught: "...from their fruits you shall know them" (Mt7:20) And of the unfruitful ones what does He proclaim? "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who work out lawlessness!" (vs23)
In other words, those who "make -claims- for Jesus" and who are unfruitful "runts" will hear from Jesus, "depart from Me!" Neither of these are bearing fruit. They are not abiding in the Vine. They are not bearing fruit, so the Vinedresser prunes and "takes [them] away" and they are thrown "into the fire" (Jn15:2,6)
What about the nubbins? God knows each heart. Perhaps they are part of the makeup of next month's "thirty-fold"? (compared to the "hundred"?)
What is the cause of this? "While men slept" the weeds were scattered. (Mt13:25) Jesus commands us to "watch therefore" because we don't know when He is coming. (Mt24:42) Of the one who is not watching, that is the one whose house gets dug through, and they get robbed. (vs43) In the spiritual warfare where the "enemy" is coming at us, we are exhorted: "...and, having done all, to stand" (Eph6:13) We can't 'stand' if we are 'sleeping'!!
There was a ("christian") song some years ago that caused many to chuckle. I don't remember all it's lyrics, now, but the main ones were: "Weeds, we're all just weeds..." in God's garden. Thus, unwittingly proclaiming themselves the enemy's implants. God doesn't grow weeds. Weeds are the domain of the devil.
Most congregations today are almost totally overgrown with weeds. Some have nothing but weeds. But some others still have some good plants. What is the solution? Get out the hoe and rototiller and dig all the weeds under? Well, in the parable the farmer says, "No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them" (Mt13:29)
In a mixed congregation where there is a primary Godly witness, what does one do about the weeds? Kick them all out? No. Whilst kicking, some True Believers may, thus, also end up on the street. There -are- True Believers whose works are of such a nature that they all get burned up, and yet -they- themselves are truly saved, "yet so as through fire" (1Co3:15) You don't want to uproot them such that they wither completely. You want, if possible, to "snatch them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh" (Ju1:23)
Remembering that the "Lord knows those who are His" (2Ti2:19), there are cases where suspected unbelievers are allowed to remain in the congregation, pretending to be "christians", in order to not destroy those who, looking for everything to be of the world, actually are Believers. Sometimes the two are growing so close together that it is impossible to pull the weed without also damaging the root of the good plant...the roots are sooo intertwined. Jesus knows the "soul and spirit" (Heb4:12) And in the end, at the harvest of the world, God sends His angels to reap the harvest, throwing the weeds into the fire, and collecting His children to be with Him. We do not "judge another's servant" (Rom14:4) Like with oats, we may not be able to tell, from the plant, whether it's oats or wild oats; until the 'fruit' is inspected when the head is threshed out at harvest; oats is white, and wild oats is black. We are not the harvesters, the angels are. We are part of what gets harvested.
Of course... if a lone 'good' plant is in a church otherwise totally filled with weeds, the exhortation to the good plant is to "come out of her My people" (Rev18:4)
However... what is the 'best' solution?
Over the past few years I've discovered, and developed a different strategy in gardening. I don't wait for the weeds to grow, to -then- get out the hoe to start weeding. I start hoeing before any weeds ever appear. As soon as the 'good' seeds have sprouted, so I know where the 'good' plants are growing, I begin hoeing the rest of the dirt around them. That way, the weeds don't even get a chance to sprout. And furthermore, the soil is much more 'compliant' to the hoe when there are not also weeds to be chopped and dug. Thus, I can hoe my entire garden in about 15-20 minutes in that state, when the dirt is soft. But if I let the garden become overgrown with weeds, it would likely take several evenings to weed it all, having to also be careful not to uproot the 'good' plants. When I PRE-hoe like that, the only weeds I ever see are the occasional 'lone' ones, here and there, which require only a mere stoop over and 'pluck'...and it's gone. My garden consists of 'good' plants, and 'dark' earth.
But if I were to "sleep" and ignore the garden, it would be a different matter.
Do you get the picture?
Do you (you who often scoff at some things that are said around here) now begin to understand past writings to "keep the unsaved out"? Don't invite them into your congregational meetings. In the O.T. the unclean came into the temple at the peril of their lives, as they stationed armed guards to keep them out. (2Ch23:19) If the weeds are not even allowed entrance, as you pre-hoe, they cannot ever overgrow the 'good' plants.
The excuse most-often given is that the weeds need to be 'saved'. Well..weeds are weeds. Weeds are implants from the "enemy". They are not from the Sower's seed pouch. You will not 'save' them; but they will 'choke' you! That's why vigilance to obedience is necessary.
"But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and MAKE NO PROVISION FOR THE FLESH, to fulfill its lusts." (Rom13:14)
God said to Judah: "For thus says Jehovah to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem, BREAK UP YOUR FALLOW GROUND, and do not sow among thorns." (Jer4:3) "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in kindness. Break up your fallow ground. For it is time to seek Jehovah, until He comes and rains righteousness on you." (Ho10:12)
"Seek Jehovah while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to Jehovah, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Is55:6-7)