SATANIC ACTIVITY AND PERSONAL STABILITY
The devil is objective; i.e., he has a goal. Stated in summary, it is to drive a wedge between man and God. He knows the best way to accomplish this diabolical aim. It is to take away the Word of God--to make it impossible for the individual to think about it, ponder it, and meditate upon it. Jesus pictured some individuals as those who did not understand the Word. These are vulnerable to Satan, and he never misses an opportunity to fulfill his will in them. His activity is directly related to the subjection of men to the Word. Hear Christ's words again. "When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart."
Notice, this applies to "anyone" that "does not understand" the Word. Their deficiency is not their mind, but their heart. This is not a child, or someone deprived of mental capacities. It is the person with a hard heart. Such have steeled themselves against the Word of the Lord. It "flies," so to speak, over their heads. God's Word is central! It cannot lie dormant in an alienated mind, and foolish is the person that thinks it can! Jesus makes it plain. He pictures Satan as a bird hovering over the hearts of those that hear the Word of the King. If that Word is not understood, the devil "comes and snatches away what was sown in" the heart of the hearer. Do not suppose for one moment that this will not happen! The person that "does not understand" is the one that sees no relevancy in the Word of God. It does not appear important to him. He does not think it has anything for him, and consequently pushes it to the back of his mind. It does not impact upon his conduct, and certainly will not be allowed to mold his thoughts. Seeing this, the devil ensures he will not think upon it later. He "snatches away what was sown!" No other word can summon the devil into such instant activity. God's Word is central!
From God's standpoint, what makes a person stable or unstable? reliable or unreliable? The stability of people is measured by their acceptance of the Word. "The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." See, some people are glad to hear the Word because they only see its surface. For them, Jesus is the resolution to their temporal problems. They do not think in terms of eternity or "the world to come" (Heb 2:5). Because the Word does not go deep into their hearts and minds, they are incapable of withstanding opposition for Jesus' sake. When they are assaulted "because of the Word," they "quickly fall away." The inconvenience of trouble is not worth maintaining the Word in their heart! They choose to leave God rather than endure the temporary opposition of the world.
The Word of God is central! It has defined the shallowness of these people. Professional counselors may contrive explanations for the lack of stability in such individuals, but they only waste our time. They may point to their past, their parents, or the manner of their upbringing--but they only cast dust into our eyes. The real reason for their vacillation is their failure to let the Word of God get down into their hearts--down where it cannot be easily forgotten. The Word of God is central. If you treat it as though it is not of primary importance, you will become spiritually unstable. There are no exceptions to this rule.
The centrality of the Word of God is seen in the danger of things that distract us from it. God does not allow His Word to compete with other interests. If the attention of the individual is drawn away from God's Word, eternal consequences will be suffered. Everything the world has to offer is compared to the inestimable worth of the Lord's Word. "The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful."
For some, the Word of God is just another novelty. They like the idea of salvation, and see the forgiveness of sin as a wonderful thing. However, they are not willing to give the Word preeminence in their lives. They are easily dominated by "the worries of this life"--everything from health to possessions, and all that is in between. They see "wealth" as a sort of security blanket that will keep them safe. They are willing to forget God's Word, even refusing to subject themselves to it, so they can make a better living. It all seems innocent enough to them. After all, they are caring for their family and securing their future. However, they have acted very foolishly. Soon their concerns choke out the Word of God. They do not think about it any more, and consequently it does not do its work in them. The Word of God is central! If other things are allowed to compete with it, they will eventually neutralize its influence, thrusting us into eternal jeopardy.
Fruit to God
The worth of personal productivity is found in one's unreserved acceptance of the Word of God. For some, academic credentials are the test of worth. For others, achievement in the religious institution is the criterion. How does God measure our productivity? What gives us real worth? Hear Jesus speak. "But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."
Luke states it this way, "But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience" (Luke 8:15).
How refreshing! Matthew identifies the spiritually productive person as the one that "understands" the Word of God. Luke accentuates the cause of that understanding--"an honest and a good heart."
And what is the evidence of an honest an good heart? It is receptivity to and understanding of the Word of the Lord! See, the Word is central! It is the means through which people are measured or evaluated. The heart that does not take in and dwell upon the Word is neither honest nor good! It makes little difference what men may think. The Word is central.