We all know the parable of the Sower (Mark 4:3-9). He spread his seed everywhere and it fell on different kinds of soil. Granted, the point of this parable is from the perspective of the sower. We need to sow everywhere if we want any of it to fall on good ground. However, this passage helps me see the plans Satan has for us.
Plan A: Satan wants you to STAY OUT
The packed down path with its accompanying birds represents the heart the gospel does not penetrate. Satan doesn’t mind so much that we hear the word, as long as we don’t listen to it and allow it to sink in. I can’t help but think about Ezekiel 33:30-32:
As for you son of man, your people who talk together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, say to one another, each to his brother, ‘Come, and hear what the word is that comes from the Lord.’ And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain. And behold, you are to them like one who sings lustful songs with a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument, for they hear what you say but they will not do it (ESV).
Satan will do what he can to keep you from accepting God’s word so you will stay out of covenant relationship with God and avoid the eternal salvation God is offering.
Plan B: Satan wants you to DROP OUT
To Satan’s chagrin, he can’t seem to steal the Word out of everyone’s heart before they believe it, accept it and act on it. He does not, however, accept defeat easily. He has a back-up plan. He capitalizes on the rocks in our heart. That is, he makes use of anything that will keep the soil of our heart from being well-suited to grow the plant. He lulls us into a sense of safety, letting us believe we do not have to work very much to be safe in the arms of Jesus. He lets us believe we have had our moment of salvation and now everything is good.
Because of that, we do not grow in Christ. The roots of our faith do not dig deep and gain purchase that can withstand the attacks that will inevitably come. Because our faith is shallow, the moment Satan brings an attack, like the blistering heat of the sun, we are scorched and wither away. We drop out. We head back to our old ways. I can’t help but think of the Israelites, freed from Egyptian bondage. The first sign of trouble and they cried out
Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’” (Exodus 14:11-12, ESV).
Their faith in God was shallow. Even after God’s ten plagues, they simply did not believe God would really deliver them. They were ready to turn back to Egypt.
Plan C: Satan wants you to FIZZLE OUT
Once again, to Satan’s chagrin, his repeated attacks don’t always work. Some folks believe and hang in there even in the midst of real trials and full frontal assault. Satan, however, is not done yet. He has one more plan up his sleeve. If he can’t keep us out and can’t make us drop out quickly, he will make us fizzle out. To be honest, I think this is his main plan in our time. Instead of directly attacking, he allows that sense of safety to continue to grow. Then he allows little things to creep in like weeds and thorns to choke us out. He brings in the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of riches. He lets us get so worried about paying for our kids college or planning for our retirement. He lets us get so focused on our own personal pursuits that we forget to focus on God’s will.
This makes me think of the restored Israelites following the Babylonian captivity. They immediately returned to Jerusalem and got to work. They rebuilt the altar and restored the sacrifices. They reinitiated the feasts of the Lord. They laid the foundation of the temple. But then they got sidetracked. God explained what was going on in Haggai 1:2, 4, 9:
Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord…Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?…You looked for much, and behold, it came to little, And when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why? declared the Lord of host. Because of my house that lies in ruins, while each of you busies himself with his own house (ESV).
Satan is actually happy for us to think we are still in the safe arms of Jesus so long as we aren’t bearing any fruit. If he can get us more focused on earthly things but still think we are being spiritual, then he has accomplished his greatest coup.
God has plans for you too!
The final soil represents what God wants for you. In this final illustration, God explains that He wants you to COME IN, STAY IN, GROW UP and BEAR FRUIT. Whether you bear as much as someone else, doesn’t matter. What matters is that you find salvation in Jesus and let Him build you up and grow you into the fruit bearing child of God He planned for you to be.
As II Peter 1:5-11 says:
for this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins. Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (ESV).
Keep the faith and keep reading,