July 17, 2022 | Jess Rainer

Passage: Matthew 13:1-23

There’s a fight for your heart.  A fight for truth to reign supreme in your heart.  Jesus tells the disciples and us a parable about this fight for God’s truth and your heart.   What is a parable?  “An earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” – JD Greear.  Simple analogies for profound truth.  Today, we see a parable from Jesus about this fight for truth to take hold in your heart.  And that’s what I want you to talk away with today…God’s truth must be rooted in your heart.  The fight for God’s Word—God’s truth—matters eternally.  

There are two reasons Satan wants to take away truth in your life:
1) Your Salvation  - Without knowledge of Jesus and the gospel, your spiritual life will end in eternity apart from God.  
2) Your Spiritual Growth  -God’s design is for you to not stay a spiritual infant.  Without God’s Word, you can’t grow.  Let’s look at this parable and see God’s plan, Satan’s plan, and your part in it all.

In verse 1, Jesus leaves the house where the crowds had gathered.  This is the same house and the same day where Jesus shocked everyone by elevating his spiritual family over his biological family.  Jesus heads out. Goes to the lake for some alone time.  The crowds follow. He gets in a boat, sits down, the people stand on the shore, and Jesus teaches them.  Jesus tells the parable to the crowd—which we will come back to.  We are going to pick up in verse 10 to see that God has a plan to reveal His truth.

1) God has a plan to reveal His truth. (vs. 10-13).  While Jesus was in the boat, Jesus taught several parables.  At some point, either the disciples go to Jesus or Jesus gets out of the boat.  I love the freedom the disciples feel to ask Jesus questions.  Evidently a lot of people were confused about what Jesus was saying.  My guess is while Jesus was in the boat, the disciples had people coming up to them, “What does Jesus mean?”  “Thank you for your inquiry. We will respond in 2-3 business days…”  The disciples came to Jesus and said, “Hey, can you help us out a little bit?”  10 His disciples came and asked him, “Why do you use parables when you talk to the people?”  In other words, “Jesus, why don’t you lay it all out there in plain language for us?”  I’ve asked that before.  I would venture to say that most people have asked that before.   “God, is the Bible true? How do I know? Why does it not make sense at times?” “God, can you rearrange the words before my eyes so that I know it’s all true.”  “Can you write out the answer in the stars tonight…?  Critics of the Bible will use the idea that Jesus wasn’t straightforward enough to claim that Jesus didn’t really believe He was the Son of God.  From a merely human perspective, the expectation would be for Jesus to be like, “Hey, I’m God! Watch this… and then Jesus does something cool…”

Why did Jesus leave some room for confusion with parables?  Jesus answers this in verses 11 through 13.  11 He replied, “You are permitted to understand the secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven, but others are not.   What did Jesus mean when he said, “You are permitted…?”  Look at what 1 Corinthians 12:3 says, “So I want you to know that no one speaking by the Spirit of God will curse Jesus, and no one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit.”  The Holy Spirit is the one who provides the insight we need to know Jesus is Lord.  We need the Holy Spirit because our hearts are naturally sinful that we can’t see the truth on our own.  

The reason some people don’t believe in God’s truth is that they don’t listen to begin with. Look at verse 12:  12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.  God’s truth involves both head and heart.  For some, hearts are so hard they don’t even listen to the truth.  And this could be a number of things:  Love of sin, apathy, hate.  But what does the other part of verse 12 say?  12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge.
When you submit your heart to God, God works out your listening, understanding, and knowledge.  Knowing God’s truth begins with submitting your heart.

This whole parable is about the condition of the heart.  If salvation was purely an intellectual pursuit, then Jesus would have come out of the gate in preschool, showing people He is God.  People wanted salvation to be nothing but head knowledge in Jesus’ time, and they still do today.  But that’s missing it all together!  When your heart is prepared for God’s truth, you listen.  As you listen, you gain more understanding.  And more understanding leads to knowledge.  God has a plan to reveal His truth and it begins with your heart.  13 That is why I use these parables, For they look, but they don’t really see. They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.  Satan knows that when a heart becomes primed toward the gospel, he loses the fight.  Satan does what he can to keep the heart-changing gospel away from people.  And that’s what we see in this parable.  Satan has a plan to hide God’s truth.

2) Satan has a plan to hide God’s truth. (vs. 18-22)  Let’s jump down to where Jesus explains the parable in verse 18.  18 “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds:   And we Satan’s involvement in verse 19:  19 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. 

There are three strategies that Satan will use to hide God’s truth—all with timing:  
1) In verse 19, Satan takes away the seed—the truth—immediately.  Mark 4:15 describes Satan taking it away “at once”. Satan will do whatever he can to keep your mind off God.  You may not realize this, but when you make an effort to come to church, there is a battle for your mind.  Have you ever wondered why you have the most random thoughts on church during the sermon?  It’s okay to admit it. I’ve been there too.  You’re thinking about lunch plans.  You’re thinking about your presentation at work that coming week.  You’re thinking about a childhood toy that you loved to play with.  You’re contemplating who choose red to mean stop and green to be go?  Was there a committee that made this decision?  Was it one person?  And why did they choose red? Why not blue?  Not that this has ever happened to me…And now I just lost some of you for the rest of the sermon.  But you get the point!  Satan does whatever he can to distract you from hearing God’s Word immediately.
2) Other times, Satan will wait until after the seed has been planted.  Look at verse 20 and 21:  20 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy.   21 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word.   Satan lets the problems of the world take away the truth.  For some people, there is an initial reaction to the gospel, but the truth never actually takes root in their heart.  It’s usually an emotional reaction.  The expectation is that life becomes an on-going emotional high.  And when life throws a curve ball and the emotions fade, the question that must be answered is:  “Is God’s truth worth it?”  And Satan hammers that question over and over until the truth fades.  
3) The third strategy of Satan is a deceiving strategy.  Look at verse 22:  22 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced.   If the problems of the world aren’t enough to lure some away from the truth, then Satan will use the prosperity of the world to lure some away.  Satan uses both the problems and the prosperity of the world to lure people away from God.  Satan loves to tell people who have heard God’s truth, “Look at what you will be missing out on.”  Money, power, and sex are all used as a carrot to lure away people from truth.  And it can be more subtle too:  Kids sports or work promotions.  It’s anything of this world that causes you to push away God’s truth.  And this isn’t a quick reaction—it takes time—like thorns choking the life out of a plant.  This is the battle that most of us face.  Over time, we let our guard down about the “good things” of this world.  I could name a 100 different good things in this world that slowly take the priority in our lives.  Job, family, cars, sports, money…  The problem is when those good things take the spot of where God is supposed to be.  Those “good things” start to become “god things”.  Satan turns “good things” into “god things” to pull you away from God.  The question that is left is, “What do I do to let God’s truth root into my heart?”  You have to prepare the soil.  You must prepare your hearts for God’s truth.

3) You must prepare your hearts for God’s truth. (vs. 23).  We see three actions we can take in verse 23 to prepare our hearts:  23 The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
1) Prepare the soil of your heart  - Good soil comes from good preparation.  A ready heart comes from a prepared heart.  Let me go back to the battle that takes place on Sunday mornings.  This is just one example—preparation comes at all times.  Satan is trying to distract you during church.  Now some of the you wondered off at some point between when I first said that and just now…“What, wait happened? What did I miss?!”  It’s okay. Jump back in with me. This will help you next Sunday.  Satan’s distraction actually starts way before you sit down.  It starts on Saturday night by convincing you to stay up really late.  So, that you either don’t want to wake up or you are just too tired to concentrate.  Sunday church is a Saturday night decision.  It continues on Sunday morning when you choose social media over reading your Bible.  Or it is choosing a TV show over listening to worship music.  You get the point—there’s so many things we can do to prepare our hearts to receive God’s truth.  And you can do it all throughout the week.  
2) Hear.  Find what distracts you from listening and eliminate it.  
3) Understand - Understanding comes through applying God’s Word.  We apply what we know.  The result?  We produce a harvest. We grow spiritually!  That’s the whole point of a seed being planted—to grow!  

The whole point of this sermon—and of this parable—comes down to one question:   What are you going to do with God’s truth?  Maybe you’ve never even thought about the battle that has been waging against you.  Maybe you’ve been questioning why the Bible and Christianity seem so confusing.  It’s because Satan is doing whatever He can to keep you from understanding and believing.  It’s a fight that taking place every day.  Jesus is calling you into His family.  He wants you to take hold of the truth.  He wants you to believe in Him.  

Let’s be a church that let’s nothing distract us from what really matters.  Let’s be fighters for the truth—for the gospel.  Let’s be tending the soil of our hearts.  Let’s make the hope of Jesus so far rooted down that Satan has no chance to take it away!

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Series Information

This series deals with the parables of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew. Through understanding the context and audience, we can see that parables teach us about compassion, faithfulness, responsibility, the generosity of God, and the importance of living kingdom lives for God.

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