Share This Episode
The Bible Study Hour James Boice Logo

Work of the Enemy

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
October 6, 2020 8:00 am

Work of the Enemy

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

On-Demand Podcasts NEW!

This broadcaster has 586 podcast archives available on-demand.

Broadcaster's Links

Keep up-to-date with this broadcaster on social media and their website.

October 6, 2020 8:00 am

What is it with the church? Outsiders criticize it for hypocrisy and irrelevance, and insiders complain about everything from long-winded preachers to lazy pew-sitters. If the church is supposed to be the vanguard of the kingdom of heaven, why does it fall so far short? Keep listening as Dr. Boice looks at three parables about enemy activity within the kingdom.

Finishing Well
Hans Scheil
Jesus Breaks the Chains
Michael Bowen
Truth for Life
Alistair Begg
Cross the Bridge
David McGee

What is it with the church outsiders criticize her for hypocrisy and irrelevance and insiders complain about everything from long-winded preachers to lazy pew sitters. If the church is supposed to be the vanguard of the kingdom of heaven. Why does it fall so far short.

Keep listening as Dr. James Boyce looks at three parables about enemy activity within the kingdom welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically. What do weeds mustard seeds in East heaven, there are the main ingredients in three parables in Matthew 13 and their symbols of the way the enemy works to undermine the kingdom of God. Let's listen now to Dr. Boyce. Nothing good ever comes into the world without opposition that this is true in general or secular terms. It's most certainly true in spiritual darkness. Something good is coming to the world in Jesus Christ and therefore where to expect opposition, not only from mere men and women who of course do oppose the gospel but in the far more significant way from Satan is why the Bible warns us that the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. That's why it tells us to be alert to his schemes so that he can outwit us the kind of a situation.

It's not surprising to find that when our Lord began to deliver these parables of the kingdom that we have in Matthew 13 he included in the midst of these parables, a number that warned us of the opposition that Satan is going to make to the gospel. We've already looked at the first parable where the seed is sown in some produces good fruit send others falls on rocky ground in Solon. This tells of the spread of the gospel.

The origin of the gospel.

The nature of the kingdom's work in the second parable at the same kind of imagery is a field in the planting and our Lord tells us that the devil calms and sews tears in among the wheat that I believe the parables of the mustard seed in the East also fit that category because these show us what the devil is doing to hinder the work of God in this age I think of one of the time.

I must begin with the one that is the most evident Jesus talks about in verse 24. This great chapter told him. Another problem kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and he went away when the wheat sprouted and formed heads then the weeds also appeared in owner servants came to him and said sorry didn't you so good seed in your field where it ended the weeds come from an enemy did this, he replied servants asking do you want us to go and pull them up. We answer because while you're pulling the weeds. You may wind up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest at that time I will tell the harvesters first collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned. Then gather the weeds and bring it in the Bible are some aspects of that story are easy to understand and indeed most of them certainly have the sewing of the seed. Again, Christ worked in his explanation of you versus further on. He describes the sower as the Son of Man that is referring to himself and the devil is easy to identify.

There is a point of difficulty, however, and that some interpreters have focused on one phrase that Christ use in his interpretation, you find it in verse 38, namely where he says the field is the world is the way it goes. He answered the one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world and the good seed stands for the kingdom weeds of the sons of the evil one in the enemy of sews them is the devil. All that is clear enough.

But here's this explanation, the field is the world now some people I think of build on that inordinately and by that I mean they want to stress that if the field is the world the field is not the church and therefore all this parable is really saying is that there are going to be believers and unbelievers in the world until the time when Christ comes again and is not really saying anything specific about the kingdom or about the church. I think in a certain sense. It's irrelevant whether that field is the world or the church. All this parable is saying is that the devil is going to bring along his disciples that are going to look so much like Christians low. In fact, they are not making the same kind of profession.

Living the same kind of lives apparently being interested in the same kind of things, but so infiltrate them, whether in the church specifically or without the church in the world, specifically so infiltrate them in such a way that unique qualities of the gospel are lost and even Christian people are confused.

That's what parable to say now that's the case I think it's also difficult to apply it the source of all this application. If this is what the devil is doing. If he's bringing along his people that are supposed to look just like Christian people, we should at least be alert to the fact this doesn't mean then the Lord himself makes clear that we with our understanding and our ability are going to be able to weed out of everything Christian.

Those were the devil's people is going to be so confusing at times.

We won't really know. I will not do it lest we damage the Lord's people, but nevertheless we should be alert to the fact that this is something the devil does, and when we have opportunity, we should certainly work for the purity of the church should exercise doctrinal purity and moral purity in all such things as are many examples of that in the New Testament in many instructions to do precisely that in the epistles. Secondly, as we apply this parable, we have to say that it's no excuse for non-Christians failing to become Christians.

I refer, of course, to the kind of excuse that we sometimes your non-Christians make they say well I would become Christian. But the reason I don't is that there's so many hypocrites in the church ought to begin with. That's not even an entirely true statement that might be one thing that bothers them. And certainly there are hypocrites of the church. That's not even the main reason why people don't become Christians by reason people don't become Christians is that they hate sin. They hate God and love sin.

That's why everything else really is an attempt to cover that people will say that so is not even true. Secondly, it's hypocritical itself because when a person says the reason I'm going to join the church is that there hypocrites there. What is really saying is I'm better than that. And that's not true. Others are sinners as well.

So you got that problem with that kind of a statement with the real difficulty with the statement. Is this everyone hypocrites in the church. Brother would be room for you and it's a symbol of the mercy of God that the church is imperfect because while we know what the Lord Jesus Christ came to Dewey himself said it is that I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. And finally, there's this application.

Nobody should inspire all the imperfections and impurity of the church. Take comfort in sin because although the Lord Jesus Christ explains the imperfections will exist until the time of his coming again, he is nevertheless coming again when he comes again. There will be a judgment or that time the weeds will be weeded out stands for the weeds will be gathered in the bar. The Scripture says it's just the kind of age in which the purity that you desire can't be achieved now. Don't forget the judgment is coming in in that day there will be the weeding out. Therefore, Scripture always says again and again. The brethren take care to make sure of your calling and election, examine yourself to see whether you really be in Christ are not here we are within the company of God's people.

We don't profess to be pure. We don't profess to be without sin, without hypocrisy, but we examine ourselves.

But the instruction of Jesus Christ to become as pure and holy and is faithful as we can possibly be by his grace.

All that I think is there that first paragraph.

Now we come to these next to the mustard seed in the East.

They go like this. The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in the steel though. It's the smallest of all your seeds.

Yet when it grows since the largest garden plants becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and purge in its branches. I told him another parable of the kingdom of heaven is like yeast of the woman talking mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the eye. I suppose all the stories of Christ told there is not one over which there is so much diametrical opposition where the interpretations are concerned. These are points that are just when you spell them out as far as the east is from the west people see these as teaching to entirely different things. On the one hand there are those who regard this as a pair of parables that prophesy the continuing growth and expansion and eventual triumph of the kingdom of God on earth.

In other words kingdom is going to go on expanding beginning is a little thing, but getting bigger and bigger eventually is going to fill the whole earth is going to be victorious.

Now, on the other hand, you have an interpretation that says this it says work when it talks about the growth of a mustard seed into a tree.

It's not talking about something Bundestag about something bad and when it talks about Jesus permeating the adults are talking about Buddhist talking about something bad, and what you have here is Christ's warning of two other tactics of the devil, but merely to infuse his unbelievers in among the believers, but because the kind of abnormal growth of the church which we would describe as bureaucracy and which manifests itself as Christendom and infiltrate sin in the lives even the believers so their witness is entered as I say I can imagine two interpretations that are farther apart in that expansion triumph of the church in the weakening and infusion of sin in the church, accompanied by a kind of abnormal and certainly unspiritual bureaucratic growth. What are normal people to think when confronted with an alternative like that.

Well, I've already given away a way that I understand it, and that's because I lump it together with the other parable that I regard it says, speaking of the mother of Satan's tactics to hinder the work of God during the church age and at least let me explain why I think that so first of all, I give you four reasons. First of all, for a mustard seed to grow up to be a tree is abnormal mustard seed grows up to produce a mustard Bush shrub and when Jesus spoke to the people of his day, who I'm sure, had their herb gardens just the way we do, and said that you know you got these little mustard seeds and they grow up to be trees. Everybody must've been alerted to the fact that something was wrong there because mustard sees don't grow up to be trees, so the body may not have understood the full meaning of what he was going to say should've been alerted to the fact that something was wrong so we got that first difficulty.

Now the second is this in this parable of the mustard seed growing up to be a tree. Jesus says, almost as an incidental comment. We hardly understand why says it that the birds of the air, and nest in the branches of this tree. I doesn't explain what that means.

And of course it may be that we don't understand or know what it means but it is significant that in the first of the parables just a little earlier in the chapter. These birds occurred once before, and in this case, the birds were Satan are the messengers of Satan. The birds were the ones that came and snatched away the seed number three in joist apology yeast is never a symbol of something good.

But always of something evil. I grant you again that sometimes the word yeast occurs without any symbolic overtones or when there is a moral overtone.

East is not good but evil symbolizes evil sin, the kind of thing that has to be put out of the people of God has to be purged.

Jesus use the image himself, he said, beware of the least of the scribes and the Pharisees. Beware of the leaven of Herod. He wasn't talking about their good deeds he was talking about their bad deeds or bad influence. Watch out for them. He was saying. Again, the apostle Paul. Several times in Galatians and also in first Corinthians will say put out that yeast that you might become a new batch of dog pure batch of the web that kind of background it's hard to see. At least it's hard for me to say how the Lord to take that which, in the Israel was above all a symbol for evil and use it. Not even in a neutral way, what is the exact opposite.

But evil, but that good blessed influence of his kingdom which is to come in the world and I said I had four reasons I give you the fourth not only the mustard seed becoming a tree being abnormal of the birds with their meaning of the messengers of Satan of the yeast being a symbol of evil, but the fact that these two parables parable the mustard seed in the East are bracketed in Matthew 13 Christ's telling of these parables by the parable having to do with the devil sewing weeds and the explanation of the parable of the devil. Sewing weeks other words, he tells that parable first then he throws into more than he goes back and interprets the first one and it would seem to me the logic of the passage would be, unless this is done absolutely at random, that the three belong together that are all supposed to be seen in the same terms and for that reason, I take them as teaching the devil will be active and not merely in placing unbelievers within the church leading the church of this kind of unspiritual top-heavy growth and working even in the lives of Christians to infuse that which is said what is that mean it simply means that we are to be aware and beware of what we would have to call the secular church that is the church which does things not in God's way. But in the world's way and becomes all too readily a tool of the devil. Rather than a tool of God and what Christians so to do is to be aware of that and by the grace of God be different. You say, can we be different than this yeast be weeded out. Can we avoid the influence of Satan, humanly speaking, we And perhaps in the ultimate sense, we cannot we can't answer for others.

We can shore up the church by ourselves, but certainly we can give attention to ourselves and our families and our churches, and apply the grace of God and the word of God and the power of prayer. The problems that confront us and be on guard against Satan at those points. It was quite interesting that the two timeless in the epistles where the apostle Paul speaks of yeast.

He speaks of it in the context which would indicate that something really can be done about these things I mentioned the person first Corinthians, where he says we doubt that yeast get rid of it in order that you might become a new batch of dough I go to the context they are to see that what he's talking about is immorality in the church. That's not a situation of somebody looking like a Christian but you're not sure whether their Christian. This is gross of morality you apply biblical discipline. There we read that out in order that you might become infused in a new way, at least at this point there's something that can be done again. The other place that Paul uses the images in Galatians the fifth chapter where he talks about the danger of Lebanon yeast and that's in the context where a few verses before he identifies that as legalism and says stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made you free, and be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage. In other words, this yeast of legalism.

This false gospel had infiltrated the church at Corinth, but the very people to whom Paul writes are those that he says look. Be alert to this thing and do something about it. On the one hand you have a moral issue. On the other hand, you have a doctrinal issue only says don't allow this situation that we have to face in the church year by year and day by day allow you to be feed defeated in those two areas.

Rather, by the grace of God. Repent of sin and seek his way and ask that he might make the church everything, but again dated praise of his glory. That's what we desire. We have no illusions that we will bring in the kingdom and the sense of establishing the pure charge on earth before the coming of the King. It is going to take the king to set up his kingdom and all its power in all its glory. In the meantime we are the servants of the King we live by the standards of the king and we desire the glory of the King and his God gives a strike. That's the way in which we want to live my God do that. May we be responsive for Jesus site. Let us pray father, bless these truths to our hearts. We confess that in dealing with stories such as this, we have difficulty we recognize the difference of interpretation.

Various Christians give to them and we ask only that you teach us that we might learn by your grace. We by going the way that we should go, and above all that we might learn these lessons that we've been discussing.

So go on, but merely in indifference and therefore from weakness to weakness but in a serious commitment to Christ and his gospel and therefore from strength to strength, the praise of the glory of his grace in whose name we pray. You are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by. We seek to provide Christian teaching that will equip believers to understand and meet the challenges and opportunities of our time and place. Alliance broadcasting includes the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce every last word with Bible teacher, Dr. Philip Aiken and Dr. Barnhouse in the Bible featuring Donald Barnhouse. For more information on the alliance including a free introductory package for first-time callers or to make a contribution. Please call toll-free 1-800-488-1888. Again, that's 1-800-488-1888. You could also write the alliance at Box 2000, Philadelphia PA 19103, you can visit us for Canadian gifts mail those 2237 Rouge Hills Dr., Scarborough, ON, and 1C2Y9 ask for your free resource catalog featuring books, audio commentaries, booklets, videos, and a wealth of other materials from outstanding reformed teachers and theologians.

Thank you again for your continued support and for listening to Bible study hour

Get The Truth Mobile App and Listen to your Favorite Station Anytime