On the 31st December 2007 Billie Piper got married to Laurence Fox. A newspaper article compared her celebrity journey to that of Britney Spears. It said they had both done a lifestyle nosedive into drugs and the like but that Billie Piper (possibly through her marriage to Chris Evans) had pulled herself back and now she was reasonably on the straight and narrow.
I don’t follow the lives of celebrities but many will have started out with something of a Christian background, and it’s as if such a background is a high profile target for destruction by the enemy. It’s a graphic illustration of the Parable of the Sower. It’s as if the enemy takes delight in destroying those in the public eye from a godly background.
The enemy at work
The Parable of the Sower seems like a nice story for children, but through it Jesus is giving us a wake-up call. It’s not just celebrities the enemy is out to get but he’s after us all, and we must be alert to this - Jesus said it would happen.
In interpreting the Parable of the Sower Jesus specifically says it’s the enemy who snatches away the seed, and in a later parable on the same theme he makes it clear the enemy, the evil one is the devil (Matthew 13:39). The Apostles recognised this and through-out the New Testament the writers warn Christians of the devil’s activities. But they always do this in the context of emphasising our security in Christ, Ephesians 6:10-13 for instance.
In all passages the message directed at Christians is clear: The devil’s at work but you can resist him firm in your faith.
It’s for Christians!
Whatever lessons the Parable of the Sower has in relation to non-Christians responding to the Gospel, the parable has continuing relevance throughout our Christian lives.
For instance, take the words of Jesus: ‘give and it will be given to you’ (Luke 6:38). Our response to these words of Jesus can echo the outcomes in this parable so, like the first part of the parable, some don’t understand. Some think it’s a great idea but come unstuck and give up. Some think it’s a great idea but pressure of circumstances prevent it’s application. Others hear, receive and act, and prove God to be true.
But the parable is also a warning over Christians falling away. The devil doesn’t like us serving God so he works though our temptations, our circumstances and difficulties, our friends and others, to trip us up and lead us away from fellowship and our relationship with God.
Sadly there are those, possibly people close to us, who could fall away this year. But they don’t have to. They do need us however, to recognise this and help.
The fact is, Jesus himself said the Devil’s strategy is to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Jesus himself was all too aware of this as it was the Devil who tempted him in the wilderness. He told this parable therefore, so we can know this and be alert.
However, some Christians are too preoccupied with the devil’s activity and not enough focussed on God and living in the good of our salvation. One of the Devil’s tactics is to get us focussing on what’s wrong in our lives instead of on God and his love and grace towards us. The Devil may not be able to lure us away from fellowship but he is very good at causing us to feel condemned and negative about ourselves and our unworthiness.
The New Testament writers encourage us to resist the Devil and concentrate instead on enjoying and living in the fullness of life that Jesus went on to speak of.
Circumstances bring all sorts of interruptions to normal living but nothing can destroy our peace and our relationship with God unless we let it. Judas was tempted to betray Jesus but he didn’t have to. He was free to resist the devil’s temptings - and so are we. But we need to have our focus in the right direction.
What is our strength
1: We have Jesus praying for us
Jesus said to Peter… "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:31-32) (see also John 17 - ‘that they may be one’, and Luke 23:34 - ‘Father forgive’). The writer to the Hebrews says… But because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them (Hebrews 7:24-25). Paul says… Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)
2: We have the authority of Jesus’ Name
Jesus said… “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father” (John 14:12-13).
3: We have the authority and encouragement of God’s Word
Paul says…Therefore put on the full armour of God… Take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:13, 17).
4: We have the support of the Christian family
The writer to the Hebrews says… And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25). As part of this, James says… Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5:16).
•Is there anyone in heaven or on earth who loves us more than Jesus Christ?
•If we had to look for another intercessor, could we find one who loves us more than Jesus?
•If we had to look for one who has authority and power, has anyone more than Jesus?
•If we need someone to stand before God on our behalf, who will be heard more readily than God's own well-beloved Son?
So, what am I saying:
1: Recognise the enemy is at work seeking to destroy everything of God in you.
2: Resist him, but don’t be preoccupied with his activities. Instead, focus on God and the life of Jesus within you.
3: Remain confident in who you are as a Christian as you resist the Devil’s activities.
4: Stand together shoulder to shoulder with each other as the family of God; for each other, our families, our friends, our church, our communities, our nation.
Paul says… Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain (1Corinthians 15:58)
Let’s make this our commitment year by year.
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