previous blog, we discussed the spiritual condition of the rocky, shallow soil. In Jesus’ parable of the soils, this soil was a metaphor for those who had shallow, undeveloped faith, a group that may be at a spiritual epidemic in the American church today. Since their faith wasn’t developed, they ended up walking away from Christ and His church.
But why does this happen? What led them to abandon their relationship with God and the message of grace found in God’s word? What led them to walk away from so great a salvation, or as the writer of Hebrews says, “How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Hebrews 10:29
This is the place at which we need to take an honest look at ourselves and the condition of our faith, and be more aware of the spiritual condition of those around us.
Jesus’ story portrays the hot summer sun coming up and scorching the fruitful growth so that it withered and died. Understand withering is often used throughout Scripture as a term to express God’s judgment on the unfaithful.
In his explanation of the parable, Jesus says that when times of testing come their faith fails.
At this point we have to ask; what does Jesus mean by “time of testing”?
The phrase has three applications based on the meaning and context of the word translated testing. The next three blogs will consider the implications of the three ways that “time of testing” can be interpreted.
One meaning for the phrase is “a period of temptation”. We are tested when we are tempted. When we are victorious over the temptation our faith grows. When we give into the temptation our faith flounders.
We can see numerous characters throughout Scripture who met their spiritual demise when they let temptation get the best of them.
We can start at the very beginning with Adam and Eve. Protected in paradise with a personal relationship with the creator of the garden, they blew it by shopping in the wrong produce aisle.
Cain let a little sibling rivalry expose his murderous side.
Saul couldn’t wait on God, and died in battle under God’s curse.
Ananias and Sapphira thought a little cash was reason enough to lie to God. But they never got to spend the money.
Demas, after spending years in ministry alongside Paul, abandoned him because he loved the world.
Solomon the wise made the foolish decision to marry foreign wives, and worship their gods.
Judas thought a handful of silver coins would ease turning Jesus in to the religious leaders. But those coins only bought his suicide.
We see this struggle with temptation in the people of Israel in how quickly they forgot the God who led them out of Egypt, and offered their worship to a golden calf.
But we see that disobedience intensify when God brings them to the boundaries of the promised land, the promised place of rest. But, they refuse to trust that God will deliver their enemies into their hands. So God delivers them back to the desert where they find their final rest, and the sands of time cover their remains.
We see this battle with temptation lost:
as the church in Ephesus forgets her first love;
as Sardis looks alive, but is dead;
as Christians in Thyatira and Pergamum attempt to walk the line between faithfulness and spiritual and moral compromise;
as Laodicean believers determine that they no longer need Jesus because they’ve placed their trust in their prosperity.
We all know that battle well don’t we? We know that power of temptation. We have felt its grip tighten around our spiritual necks. We have experienced the shame and guilt of defeat as temptation turned to sin.
We know full well what Paul meant when he said, “The very thing that I do not want to do I find myself doing, and the very thing that I desire to do I do not do.”
But let me make clear this is not the defeat that the shallow experience. The defeat of the rocky soil is not the occasional battle with temptation that results in a fall to sin.
The defeat of the shallow is that they choose no longer to battle. They surrender to temptation, and choose to live a life of willful and volitional disobedience, a life that is fully incompatible with a life in Christ. When the heat of spiritual battle got too hot, they raised the white flag, and surrendered to a life of sin.
If you have been a member of the body of Christ for very long, you have undoubtedly witnessed someone who looked like they had it together. They looked like they would be a tremendous asset to the kingdom, and God was using them to accomplish his purposes. But, seemingly out of the blue, they shipwrecked their faith. Through an affair, or through drug abuse, or any number of other invitations to sin they turned their back on Jesus, and they walked away.
For some that has been your mother or father, a child, a spouse, or a sibling, and you have shed streams of tears for their souls.
— Pastor Steve