Other Things – Pt. 2
(God’s Gag order)
“And these are the seeds being sown in the thorns; they are the ones who are hearing the Word, and the anxieties of this age, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for OTHER THINGS coming in choke out the Word, and it becomes fruitless.” ~ Mark 4:18-19
In reading the Bible we need to allow it to provide its own definitions for the words it uses. In this case, we need to remember that Jesus IS the Word. That being true, this is some statement!
My thoughts, My actions, My decisions can actually place hands around the throat of my Lord and choke out His influence so that it has no effect in my life! I know that such verbal imagery is offensive, and it should be – but it is in fact what we do none the less.
Grace… What’s Grace?
Now believe it or not, it becomes important here to define grace. It has been my unfortunate experience, that most Christians do not understand what grace is – only how it comes.
This is typical of our current “carnal state” in the body of Christ. We are SO caught up in the HOWs of religion that we most often miss the WHO of relationship.
When I was young, one of the Southern Baptist Churches I attended was Pastored by a really great man. Mind you, I do not believe he was called to be a Pastor – but an Evangelist. He could lead more people to a genuine relationship with Jesus by accident than I could on purpose. I greatly admire him!
When it came to the topic of grace, he used an acronym as a teaching aid and it went like this:
- G – God’s
- R – riches
- A – at
- C – Christ’s
- E – Expense
Now that is a terrific teaching tool if all you are wanting to explain is the ‘HOW’ of grace.
This tells us:
1. Grace comes from God
2. It is available because of what Christ did.
All true – but what IS it? Yes, I know that the above tells us that grace is His riches – but WHAT are His riches?
Grace is the influence of God upon the heart of man. That is what makes it different than the Law in function, but not purpose. The Law set a standard before us which was good because it was a revelation of God’s very character.
The Law however had a negative effect on fallen man – condemnation. It made us aware of God’s character while leaving us completely incapable of attaining His likeness.
Ironically, the “grace movement” as it has come to be called, often teaches a grace which it fails to properly define. Once grace is defined, SO many things in the Word become clear.
Under the influence
In our opening text we see that “other things” entering into our hearts have the ability to choke the Word and make the Word unfruitful in our lives. Now let’s compare the negative example of “other things” influencing our hearts with God’s influence upon our heart.
- “enter into” our hearts
- encourage us to believe a certain way
- empower us to take action (or bear fruit).
The fact is, they both work exactly the same way!
Now if the cares and anxieties of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the desire for “other things” are simply “other” influences upon my heart…
- What makes one “influence” work and the other fail?
- Why does it sometimes seem that the influence of the world “enters in” easier than God’s influence?
Now that is the real question!
“Other Things” are grace stoppers!
I believe the largest reason for the powerful influence the world seems to have is simply our flesh.
Paul says it this way,
“For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) nothing good dwells.” (Rom. 7:18)
“But when a man is tempted, it is his own passions that carry him away and serve as a bait. Then the passion conceives, and becomes the parent of sin…” (Jas. 1:14-15)
Where do these passions come from?
“For while we were living in the flesh, sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies to bear fruit for death.” ~ Rom 7:5
You might say, “But I am no longer in the flesh”, and if you are Christ’s that is true, but you still have flesh and it is far from obtaining the fullness of its redemption.
“However, not only creation groans, but we who have the first fruits of the Spirit also groan inwardly as we eagerly wait for our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.“ ~ Rom 8:23 ISV
I like the way Weymouth puts it,
“And more than that, we ourselves, though we possess the Spirit as a foretaste and pledge of the glorious future, yet we ourselves inwardly sigh, as we wait and long for open recognition as sons through the deliverance of our bodies.” ~ Rom 8:23 WNT
Paul while writing the Galatians said,
“For what the flesh wants is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to the flesh. They are opposed to each other, and so you do not do what you want to do.” ~ Gal 5:17 ISV
The Good News:
The same gospel that describes our difficult state of being torn between our spirit and flesh, also tell us the cure.
“For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to deal with sin. He condemned sin in the flesh.” ~ Rom. 8:3
“If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He Who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit Who dwells in you. So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” ~ Rom. 8:11-13
It sounds too good to be true, but it is not! These same basic words are spoken by Paul in another place, which we have already read,
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” ~ Gal. 2:20-21
That is the good news!
- Christ lives in me – Gal. 2:20
- I am complete IN HIM – Col. 2:10
- I died and my life is now hid with Christ IN God – Col. 3:3
The list just goes on and on.
Remember, Eternal Life is to know Jesus. To know the same Living Word the Holy Spirit plants in our hearts and satan would love to choke out of you with “other things”.
So we have then a choice set before us even as the Israelites did under the old Covenant. God said to them and says to us,
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” ~ Deut. 30:19-20