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Some Fell Among Thorns

“And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.” Luke 8:7. “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” Mark 4:19. And, “…go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” Luke 8:14.

At this point the sower reaches yet another heart with the gospel, a third type of soil. It is called a thorny heart. This heart is not hard like the hard country road where the small birds alighted and where there was no receptivity. This person is not satisfied with himself the way he is.  Neither does he feel that what he hears is foolishness, something to reject at once.  No! This heart is much softer than the hard country road; it is no country road at all.  Neither the evil one nor anyone else is able to steal away or crush the seed that is sown in the thorny heart, so as to prevent him from being converted. 

The thorny heart does not have a superficial layer of soil barely covering the rock as the stony heart does. That is because there is no rock under the surface. The thorny heart is deeper and softer than the stony heart.  Just as the stony heart, it understands that it is sin that brought corruption into his life, and he knows that he needs to repent. 

Therefore the thorny heart is also a person who receives the sower’s word. He bids the world goodbye, repents from his sin, and receives Jesus Christ, with the result that his sin is forgiven and his conscience is cleansed by the blood of Jesus. In this way he is included with the others in the wheat field.  So at the beginning everything looks very hopeful in the case of the thorny heart.  “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”  Isaiah 43:25.

Since the thorny heart is deeper, softer and more humble that the stony heart, we can be quite confident that the thorny heart receives more from God through the ministry of the sower than the stony heart does.  He receives more and advances further along the way because his soil is deeper.  He receives more knowledge and has a deeper measure of self acknowledgement. The Son of Man does not say that the thorny heart takes offense at the first trials that come his way because of the word.  Neither does He say that the shoot shrivels up at the rising of the sun because it lacks moisture and a root, as happens to the stony heart. 

Therefore we assume that the thorny heart starts to be rooted in God’s word during the first showers of rain. Roots go down into the elementary principles and the foundation laid by the apostles, where instruction is given about repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,” “of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands,” and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.” Heb. 6:1-2. As a result of this instruction, he puts off all evil, guile, and hypocrisy, receives the spiritual, pure milk and through it grows in salvation up to a certain point.  In other words, he allows himself to be chastened by God’s grace unto salvation from the manifest works of the flesh, and he is not sifted in the sieve of the evil one in the same way as the chaff is sifted.  At this stage in life there is actually no difference between the thorny heart and the good seed – the heart of good ground.  So far the evil has been overcome.

In this case also, a new blade appeared (a new creation) ready to serve God.  It did not shoot up right away, before the day dawned.  The thorny heart is not so superficial in its zeal that it allows the blade to shoot up before it has had time to drink the milk and break through to full faith in victory.  The old man is truly put off and put to death by faith before it embarks on any ministry for God.  The thorny heart is not the servant of sin in secret, while appearing to be a servant of God – as was the stony heart.  The blade does not shoot up at such a fast rate that its works are tainted with lying and hypocrisy.  No!  The thorny heart acknowledges the truth when things go wrong, and bows for the chastisement God gives him.  He repents when he has fallen, and exercises himself in faithfulness in this area so that he melts together with the light of the sun. This is what the stony heart turned away from and eventually hardened himself against.  The word of the cross and the teaching about baptism does not become for him a growing fire and an increasingly harder hammer which he opposes more and more. At this stage, when a person comes to the point of putting off or crucifying the old man with his deeds, and begins to seek the things that are above where Christ sits, it becomes clear that it is humility and an acknowledgement of the truth that dwells in such a person’s innermost being. 

The thorny heart partakes of a far greater blessing than the stony heart.  It does not believe that the preaching received in a wheat field is merely “cleverly invented fairy tales.” The thorny heart gets rid of its chaff, becomes a corn of wheat, slips through Satan’s sieve, becomes part of the wheat field, and intends to bear fruit for God.  In this way, the thorny heart, at least to some extent or for some time, experiences Mal. 4:1-3, “The Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings.”  The thorny heart is not one of the illegitimate children who will have nothing to do with a battle.  No, this kind of heart gets to experience things that the stony heart never experienced because of his indifference to sin and because he was led astray by the evil one.  He truly heeds the prophetic word, as light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in the heart.  2 Pet. 1:16-19.  After this, he continues in the rising warmth of the sun as a child of the day.  It has to be that way.  Otherwise we can’t even talk about the possibility of bearing fruit for God.  For if we remain in the flesh, we will “bear fruit to death,” says Paul in Romans 6:20-21 and 7:4-5.

All the same, the thorny heart has his shortcomings, or his limitations, says the Son of Man.  Hidden in the soil, deep inside the thorny heart’s character, little thorny shoots are hiding, and as he moves on, these will soon get nourishment and begin to manifest themselves.  He tells us that in the course of the daily circumstances of life, these shoots will begin to appear and the person with the thorny heart will be choked.  Even though it’s written that “…the thorns sprang up with it…” , the blade  and the thorns did not grow up and appear at the same time.  No; the thorns were not visible at the beginning. We see from this parable that the Son of Man emphasizes that the thorns “…entered in…”  He says that this happens when they “…go out,” in other words, as they are walking along life’s path.  At that point, it would be natural to expect that a person would have begun to truly bear fruit for God. 

Both the word of scripture and the thorny heart itself have been alive from the beginning, because only something that is alive can be choked. The thorny heart is therefore a person who from the start has been lifted up into the sheath of the workers with the grains of wheat.  There it rests, receives faith and life from the unadulterated spiritual milk, grows, and is saved from the manifest works of the flesh.  2 Cor. 4:11-12.  A maturity in understanding develops, and then he or she falls out of the sheath and begins an independent walk with God.  After this, at the point when he or she must personally go into the ground and die with Christ, the thorns appear and everything goes wrong. 

What is it, then, that with time enters in and chokes both the word and the hearts themselves with the result that there is little or no fruit?  What are the thorns?  It must certainly be a person’s human reasoning and all that accompanies it. When reasoning comes in and starts to take over the leadership of a person’s life in the many tests that come his way, then the heart and mind are filled with the desires of life and many temporal worries.  Such things as: “Oh, what a nice….I simply have to have that.....now we’ll be more modern and stylish....now people will really have something to talk about….after all, I can afford it….this will be fun….for sure, we should be able to have that lifestyle.” Or: “Oh, dear! How is this going to go? How am I going to manage all this now? I had better try to earn some more money.  What are people going to say now? They’ll look down on me for sure.” In this way a person becomes deaf to the guidance of the word and the leading of the Spirit that would lead him to give his life in confidence and faith in God, the One who has all power in heaven and on earth. If this pattern of thinking continues, faith and the word in the heart will be choked, and it must unfortunately be said that the heart of such a person has become a thorny heart.  This is because he or she has not held firmly to what has been heard and learned from the beginning.  He has not become so rooted and grounded in confidence and love to Christ that he is able to grow or progress.  Eph. 3:14-19.  The victor’s prize does not shine brightly enough. Phil. 3:14-17. So there is little or no fruit as a result. 

It has been said that human reasoning is the worst enemy of faith.  I believe that is true.  On this level, faith and reason cannot both steer the ship. Either Christ is Lord, and is by faith the Head who leads me through my life, or I am my own lord and follow my own “clever” head. By using my reason, the outward circumstances will get power in my life on account of the inherited indwelling sin, simply because I am only able to look at the situations with my natural eyes and do not look at the invisible and eternal things.  Reason and anxiety at this level is pleased to operate under the pretense of showing care and taking responsibility both for me and mine. Such a person must always play it safe, given the circumstances, and not risk anything by faith.  But God should have that care and responsibility, and when we indeed let Him have it, then we will be safe and full of rest, and on the watch for doubt and fleshly desires.  Such people preserve the power to die to themselves in a deeper way. But for the thorny hearts, the outward circumstances mean far too much.  They would rather not take any more risks, as when they were in the faith, but now seek the peace they can find in created things. To thorny hearts, to overcome the world – the bondage of all things corruptible, that is, fear – by faith and in confidence to God, appears to them to be far too dangerous and irresponsible.

The cares of this world basically consist of fears for all the things that may or may not happen, and if a person is without God and without hope in this world, he has every reason to be fearful and anxious. We are born into a blood thirsty, unrighteous and brutal world.  For the most part, evil has the upper hand wherever you look.  Life’s journey on the ship of fate can quickly end in horror.  I am sailing on that ship of fate unless I have given myself to God and He has given me in return His map and compass so that I am being guided by His Spirit towards the coast of heaven.  All people, whether they are believers or not, are bound to meet with dangerous seas, adverse currents, and storm winds during their course on the sea of life.  We are perfectly safe for time and eternity if we are obedient to the faith “under God’s mighty hand,” - regardless of how many mighty storms rage or how much we are tossed around by hurricanes. 

The thorny heart is anxious, and when it comes down to it, is actually an unbelieving heart.  Fear and anxiety quickly overtake the thorny heart as he faces what seems to him to be the risk of living in this world.  By doing this, the thorny heart makes God small.  Such exhortations as: “Be anxious for nothing…” and “…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you,” become impossible scriptures to fulfill and find rest and help by in the many differing situations of daily life.  Phil. 4:6-7.  As soon as the thorns begin to emerge, they grow up quickly and become much taller than the wheat stalks.  Anxieties can quickly become a tremendously depressing and dominating force.  All of a sudden, humbling myself under “God’s mighty hand” seems dangerously far to go. 1 Pet. 5:6-7 However, it is only when we preserve a connection with God and seek to please Him by our choices in all the situations of life, and by faith are unconcerned about all the earthly consequences that could follow, that our hearts are free of anything that could nourish a thorn.  We must dedicate ourselves to God, over and over again, in full confidence that He knows best, and will care for us perfectly and watch over us in this world.  Then we will also experience God’s omnipotence in our lives.  Our confidence and rest in Him will become more and more unshakeable as time goes by as we experience more and more of God’s unending care.

The deception of riches can also easily enter in, should I be successful purely from a financial standpoint.  It takes the fear of God to a high degree not to start chasing after more money when the opportunity presents itself.  The same applies if I set my heart on riches should they begin to increase (Psalm 62:11).  Then reason begins to take charge and a desire is awakened for many different things. The lust of life is simply the many ideas for what to do or what to buy with my money, once I have it and am able to spend it. 

Unfortunately, with time, the thorny heart is choked. As time goes on it becomes inactive before God’s face, and with that unfruitful in knowledge. 2 Pet.1:8. As they are being choked, the thorny hearts are left with some degree of grief and despair, or at least the best of them are.  The daily circumstances of life which should in due course produce growth and development in love to Christ, become instead the cause of anxiety, a reason to seek one’s own advantage in a human way, or they stir up all kinds of interests.  As a result, the thorns are nourished and begin to grow up in the heart. Thus the devil also gets his revenge, not with his roar, in this case, but through his cunning.  In these circumstances, the evil one hides himself for the most part.  He operates behind the scenes so it is difficult to spot him. For this reason, a person needs a clearer light to see with as well as a more open ear and a more daring faith, more than was needed to separate oneself from worldliness and put off the old man with its lusts and desires.  A greater godly fear is also needed, and a greater sensitivity towards losing God’s good pleasure over one’s life.  One must fear to steer one’s own ship.

It can be difficult for a person to understand his many worries and cares, the desires for gain that lurk in his heart, or other kinds of desires that surface in life’s situations.  However, a devoted and honest heart will hear the voice of the Spirit and discover the hidden footsteps of the Son of Man, He who did not doubt His Father’s care for Him for one second, so that he avoids being taken captive and choked by anything.  On the contrary, if a person is indifferent and uninterested in the testimony of the Spirit, but is more interested in watching out for himself and his own (ensuring a good future for himself), or if he acts according to what other people think about him, then thorns will quickly grow up and he will be choked.  The fervent prayer of the heart ceases and the word is no longer living and interesting.

Only the heart that remains in the first love and in simple faithfulness to Christ will be free of, and will be preserved from, choking thorns.  Then the word will be living and not choked.  It burns in the heart and is interesting.  Then we too are living and interesting, if not for people, in any case for our Lord and Master, and that should be enough for us.  The fountain of life will constantly well up in our inner being by the Spirit and through the word, and we will sing and play in our hearts before the face of God, in great thankfulness to Him Who brought all this about.  The prayer of our hearts, the words on our lips, and our need for more salvation will persist and we will be happy in all the circumstances of life, instead of being choked with anxieties and lusting for money and possessions. 

There is something wrong when the word is dry and lifeless, when the Spirit’s revelations in the word are not constantly present.  Then we are the ones who have become dry and lifeless, and that should wake us up.  But when the word is always new and living for us, then we also are always new and living, and our root life is growing in God.  Fruit will result from this, according to God’s word and the laws of the Spirit.  2 Kings 19:30-31. Then the word will remain as a fountain to drink from because we truly “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” in all the circumstances of life.  Matt. 6:33. Then we will also be “asleep” so far as earthly things are concerned, and whatever we need from the earth we believe He gives to His friend in his sleep.  Psalm 127:2

When the times are good, there are some people who spend as though the point is to own as much as possible in this world.  To the pure all things are pure, so that is all right in one way.  Titus 1:15.  All the same, I think in this way, when doors are opened for me such as a new position at work, a bigger paycheck, a better car, a larger house, and so on, that I need to fear and “take heed to myself and the doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:15-16),  and really seek to find God’s will in the matter. One of the fruits of the Spirit is temperance – moderation.  The evil one can also open doors for me. If I can possess the things I have, and more, and at the same time have a burning heart and a living Bible, then everything is quite in order.  But if I myself and also the word is choked, then the devil has surely got his revenge, even if he has not totally destroyed me.  He has robbed me of the condition for having the greatest and most precious promises fulfilled in me, namely a walk in the Spirit and divine nature.  2 Pet. 1:2-4. I have turned aside from the way and have allowed myself to be taken captive by one thing or another.  We indeed receive these important exhortations so that the thorns will not shoot up in our hearts and choke both ourselves and the living word of God. 

The fact of the matter is that in reality, the dead things of this world cannot choke either our spiritual life or the word of God.  However, when lusts and desires become active, we find out that it is the evil one that is behind it with all his spiritual hosts of wickedness, even though we are not talking about the works of the flesh.  It is these spiritual powers that come in and hamper our spirit, and so the Holy Spirit’s chance to instruct us in the word is squelched. Therefore we cannot live a thorn-free and fruitful life unless we flee from every kind of idolatry, are willing to give up everything that seems great in our own eyes, and truly serve the living God and Him alone.  If we do this, we will also experience that no temptation that we meet on our way will be more than we can bear.  1 Cor. 10:13-14.

I exhort myself: Everything that is not of faith is sin!  Rom: 14:22-23.  Everything that in all simplicity I believe to be becoming and well-pleasing to my Lord and Master - oh, may I do that with an increasing and greater zeal! Everything that I don’t believe is becoming and well-pleasing – oh, may I turn away from it as I would from a thorn bush!  I will never regret doing that.  To Him is given all power in heaven and on earth, and He is able to take care of me.  This includes, of course, my wife and children, what others think of me, my job, education, bills, health, sickness, and service in the field of the Lord, finances, and everything that concerns the things of the world.  Read about how powerfully the Son of Man exposes a person’s reasoning, I say to myself.  Matt. 6:24-34.
 
Listen!  - You who feel the prick of the thorns when you read this!  You who sense that these choking forces have robbed you of your living faith and your living Bible!  What you are about to lose is your crown (Rev. 3:10-11) and your seal for the day of redemption.  Eph. 4:30.  Would it not be better to be less anxious and more faithful, and so carry the tones of heaven in your bosom?  Give God the chance to demonstrate His almighty power and His care for you!  In your impatience do not give in to the lust for the things that people generally crave, things that even in your own eyes seem to be great and acceptable.  In such cases, choose sacrifice instead and choose to believe that the Almighty God will give you what is the very best for you here in this life.  For “Better is the little of the righteous than the riches of the ungodly.” Psalm.37:16.As a bonus, you will also avoid being anxious about what you have – and for what you are – and for how things will go in the future.  What He gives us in His grace He will not take away again, and even if He should, what would it matter?  He continues to be our tremendously rich Father in heaven who loves us with an eternal love.  In this way we will become happy and full of rest in all the circumstances of life, whether or not we are considered to be anything in this world, and whether we own much or little.  “…for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of things he possesses.”  Luke 12:15-49

“…I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring.” Isaiah 44:3 When we are choked, the words we speak do not contain an incorruptible seed.  Our words will not be able to nourish or strengthen a single living soul who longs for inspiration and progress on the way of life.  On the contrary, our words will rather have the effect of drying things up and quenching the spirit.  It is burdensome to listen to such talk,  regardless of  how much knowledge the speaker has, so we ought to tremble at the thought of getting into such a state.  Not until God pours out His Spirit on our seed (the words we speak) can the thirsty drink and streams flow forth over what otherwise would be very “dry” words. When we are in the first love, and have a living faith as well as the fruits of the Spirit in our inner beings, then our words contain incorruptible seed (heavenly seed).  Then we speak living words that nourish and strengthen those that hear us.  Then we also, just as the wheat before us, will give others life.  1 John 5:16-17.  In this way blessing will fall upon our offspring.  “The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops...”(in his own life) – before he can expect to cultivate them in others, to enjoy them there also.  2 Tim. 2:6.

Thorny hearts are not all the same.  They vary from those who do not bear fully-ripened fruit, to those who bear no fruit at all.  The condition of the root life makes the difference, as well as the amount of choking that occurs.  May none of us have such a heart; we who have been given such tremendous grace to hear the word spoken in demonstration of the Spirit and of power during the course of many decades – by the Son of Man’s true sowers.  1 Cor. 2:1-5.

Choked thorny hearts can also fall away completely and be led astray by the wicked one. The most grievous of all things grievous that the apostles experienced and of which they wrote, was their testimony of those who left “the right way”, in other words, the “way of righteousness”, for the sake of earthly gain – after having been on the way for some time. They are ones who have been born again, baptized with the Holy Spirit, and enlightened and taught by the Spirit.  They have “escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” and have lived by “the holy commandment” that was given to them.  They have tasted “the powers of the age to come,” and have been redeemed from conscious and manifest sin.  They have been rooted in God and in His word to some degree. They were actively working and sowing in the wheat fields; but they took offence at something in the midst of their ministry.  They allowed themselves to be taken captive and returned to their old ways, giving in to unclean lusts and desires; such things, for example, as jealousy, honor seeking, envy, backbiting, the lust to rule over others, uncleanness, adultery, covetousness, bitterness, pride etc.  They became permeated with these things once again. They were not even capable of being renewed again unto repentance.  They had reached too far both in life and understanding for that.  1 Cor. 10:9.  The result was “…unfruitful, twice dead, pulled up by the roots.” These became the worst and most bitter scorners of all.  1 Tim. 1:18-20.  Among these people, there were also some who continued as sowers.  “These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.  For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.”  2 Peter 2:15-22; Heb.6:4-6 and 10:26-31; Jude vs. 1-25.

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