Enemy at Work

Home Church Service 4/17/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. But when the wheat sprouted and bore grain, then the tares became evident also. The slaves of the landowner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this!’ The slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us, then, to go and gather them up?’ But he *said, ‘No; for while you are gathering up the tares, you may uproot the wheat with them. ‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”‘”                                                 Matthew 13:24-30 (NASB)

There is one question that has always been and will always be asked, no matter where or when you live, this question is asked. That question is the question of evil; “Why does evil exist?” or “Why does God allow evil?” Evil, in fact, is the reason – or excuse – many choose not to seek or believe that God exists. Sadly, many of these people do not really want to know the answer because that would mean they might come face-to-face with An Enemy at Work in them.

Our passage today deals with the subject of good and evil. In its original setting Jesus is speaking about the world, not the church, though this passage certainly has application to the church and that is exactly what we will be examining in this message. We have An Enemy at Work who is very real and seeks to destroy any and all things associated with Christ Jesus.

An Enemy at Work has caused tares to grow wheat even though the man planted good seed. They will grow together until harvest when they will bind the tares to burn them while storing the wheat in the barn.

By An Enemy at Work the bad grow among the good, though they both have received the same message. They grow together until the end when the bad find their destruction and the good find their reward.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “Why do we need to be aware of An Enemy at Work?”

By the deception of An Enemy at Work we can miss our heavenly reward only to find our own destruction.

1). By An Enemy at Work there are both carnal and spiritual Christians in the church.

Both receive the same message, but carnal Christians are deceived.

From this passage we learn that good and evil will always be found together in the world until the end of the world. But this also has application to the church today. At this moment Satan is the ruler of this world and he is diligently working to corrupt and deceive the world, so it comes as no surprise to find good and evil together in the world. But what of the church? Yes, good and evil will also be found together in the church. But…it is supposed to be this way!

Wait! What?! Evil is supposed to be found in the church? Consider these two statements from Jesus, the first coming from Matthew 9:12 after Jesus heard the Pharisees questioning why He ate with tax collectors and sinners. “But when Jesus heard this, He said, ‘It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.’” Sickness comes in many different forms; it is not limited to just physical illness. This sickness could include mental illness which drives the mind to evil thoughts and deeds. The second comes from Luke 19:10 as Jesus speaks to Zaccheus. In His reply Jesus said, For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

So, who are the lost? Obviously, those who do not know Jesus as Lord and Savior are lost. They wander aimlessly through life under the influence of Satan and his demons, even though they may not be aware of the influence. We must remember that we are all sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), but Paul goes on to say that as sinners we were enemies of God, reconciled through His Son, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:6-10). So, it is easy to see how and why there will always be evil in the church – people need to hear the message of Jesus and experience His love to be reconciled to God and no longer be His enemy. From this perspective there should be no surprise that we will find evil in the church.

But what about those we have always been in the church? Could some of these Christians be considered evil? If so, how? The simple answer is yes, some that have always been in the church can be considered evil. So, let us fill in some details so we can understand this. Jesus is the One who sows good seed, that is, righteous people. Jesus also owns the field which is the church. Jesus owns the church because He created it. He has scattered righteous people throughout His church, all over the world. Seed has one purpose – to bear fruit. If it does not it is either dead or not real seed. The same is true for those considered righteous people.

The enemy is Satan; he sows in the same field as the man, but he sows bad seed or wicked, unrighteous people. Satan is a liar, a deceiver and the one who struggles against everything that is truth. He operates under darkness and deception. Satan is the sworn enemy of Jesus, the world and everything good. Once he has done his work, he goes his way – this is a hit and run attack! He does not want to be known as the deceiver who sows wickedness.

In the church Satan is the one who plants the carnal Christian next to the spiritual Christian. They live, grow and are fed in the same soil of God’s word, hearing the same message; but because the carnal Christian has been planted by Satan they are deceived and become enchanted and entangled in the pleasures and desires of their selfish flesh. In many churches today, these carnal Christians rebuke the spiritual Christian who is on-fire for God; they urge on-fire Christians not to lift their hands in worship; they throw sideways glances at those who offer an Amen; in general, they seek to keep the church stuck in a manmade rut of false worship that caters to the desires of the flesh rather than being pleasing to God.

By the deception of An Enemy at Work we can miss our heavenly reward only to find our own destruction.

2). By An Enemy at Work the carnal and the spiritual must be separated at the coming of Christ.

Both grow together, being fed at the same time, but deception sends carnal Christians to destruction.

Because it is true that carnal Christians exist with spiritual Christians, there must come a day of separation between the carnal and the spiritual members of the church at the end of the age. In our passage, the tares are sown among the wheat because the men were sleeping. This could mean they were unconscious, too busy to notice, unconcerned about an enemy sneaking in, unaware of their surroundings or they were too enticed by the pleasures that awaited them after their work was finished. Simply put, the tares were sown because too many men are asleep.

The tares are called “darnel.” They are a form of wild corn that is slightly poisonous and considered a narcotic. When it is eaten it causes dizziness and nausea. The roots of the darnel become entwined in the roots of the wheat, taking much of the needed nutrients from the wheat, making it difficult for the wheat to grow and if uprooted will destroy the wheat. So, the tares are allowed to grow next to the wheat and then harvested with the wheat so it can be separated, bundled together and then burned in fire.

Carnal Christians are much the same – they grow right next to spiritual Christians, look like spiritual Christians when they are sown and in the growing stage – it is when the fruit bearing begins that the difference is seen. The carnal Christian may look and sound like the spiritual Christian but eventually their true nature is revealed. A life of selfishness and wickedness will make itself known – even though they may continue to profess being a spiritual Christian.

The carnal Christian makes it difficult for the world to see the spiritual Christian and thus distinguish between the good and the evil. The carnal Christian affects the growth of the spiritual Christian by being focused on the world, thus making it difficult for the spiritual Christian to find room for growth as the carnal Christian clings to the spiritual Christian. The seek desperately to be identified with the spiritual even as the fruit of their unrighteous lives begins to show.

The carnal Christian can keep the spiritual Christian from growth by stealing away the needed nourishment – the feeding found in the word. This can happen in several ways – by the pastor who preaches down to the level of the carnal Christian in the hopes of inspiring growth; the carnal Christian can drive the spiritual Christian away from the Lord through continual complaints, bitterness or deceitfulness; or they may tempt the spiritual Christian with worldly desire or pleasure, thus, there must come a day of separation.

Just as the tares are separated from the wheat when they are harvested, so too the carnal Christian will be separated from the spiritual Christian at the return of Christ. The only way to tell the difference between the tare and the wheat is when they have grown to the point of bearing fruit, then the difference is obvious and the reason the planter allowed the tares to remain. At the return of Christ, the difference will be seen in the fruit that is produced in the Christians life. The fruit of the Christian life is seen, not only in the people we introduce to Christ, or how often we have shared our story, but in the peace and joy we find in Christ. Those who stand strong and resist the temptations of the enemy to renounce their faith in the face of persecution with show the bearing of much fruit indeed!

By the deception of An Enemy at Work we can miss our heavenly reward only to find our own destruction.

Clearly the age-old question of, “Why does evil exist?” or “Why does God allow evil?” is going to be around until the end of the world. Sadly, many use this as an excuse not to seek or believe that God exists and many of those do not really want to know the answer, lest they find An Enemy at Work within themselves.

Originally Jesus was speaking of the world and the work of Satan. But this does have application to the church because, whether we like it or not, we have An Enemy at Work in the church seeking to destroy any and all things associated to Christ Jesus.

What must we do to make certain we do not fall into the trap of becoming a carnal Christian? First, we must remember there will always be those carnal Christians in the church growing right next to the spiritual Christian right up until the time of Christ’s return. There is nothing we can do to stop this from happening, the enemy sow’s seeds in the same soil as the owner of the field. Secondly, remember we have An Enemy at Work who seeks to destroy everything associated with Christ Jesus. This is going to require a consistent and persistent prayer life and time spent in the word, reading, studying and meditating.

Thirdly, check your motivation for doing things. Are you seek the glory of God and His will for your life? Or do you seek the praise and applause of people? Are you seeking after your own spiritual growth or are you living on past accomplishments, wearing them as a badge of honor? Do you find yourself becoming overly critical of those who are on fire for the Lord? These are just a few of the signs to be aware of so remember to ask the Holy Spirit to expose other areas where you might be slipping into the carnal mindset.

Finally, if you are on-fire for the Lord and want to stay that way, find others who are on-fire and spend time with them. Scripture tells us “iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” The best way to remain on-fire for the Lord is to feed off the flames of others and allow them to feed off your flames. Spending time with other on-fire believers in Bible study, prayer and fellowship is time well spent. You might even consider starting your own small group to stay connect and fan the flames of on-fire believers.

Time is short and the enemy is hard at work. At the end of a parable on prayer, Jesus asks His disciples a question we must ask ourselves in these very trying times. Churches have suffered with the covid pandemic and subsequent shutdowns. The faith of many is growing colder right before our eyes. Hatred and bitterness are seen inside and outside of the church. Division is the standard rather than the exception. We need more on fire Christians. The question Jesus asked His disciples, “…when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?”

Amen and Amen.

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