Welcome back! This second part has thrown me for a loop inside my brain. As I struggle to put thoughts to words and ask God for His guidance and truth, the black and white theory of the world comes full circle. A parable written in 3 separate books of the bible keeps coming to mind and I just cannot move forward until I study on it. How does the black and white thinking theory come into play in the parable?
The Parable of the Sower breaks down the heart of four types of people. Let’s take a look at each person and how Jesus defined each experience they had when they heard the word of God. Each of these people have been presented with the Truth of Jesus and his sacrifice for their sins; but there are four outcomes that occur to give us some food for thought on what is black and white and what is not. In all of these the seed represents the word of God. For we must first hear before we can believe.
Mark 4:3-23 Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, and did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable. And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them. And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables? The sower soweth the word. And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred. And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick? For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.
Defined in this parable given by Jesus himself, are 4 types of people. I believe it is safe to say that in this world we live, Jesus is telling us there are 4 ways people will react when hearing the word of God.
- This person was presented with the seed of Christ and did not understand. Satan came along and took whatever seed was there. Satan snatched it away before they could believe in it.
- This second person was presented with the seed of Christ and received the message. With great joy he accepted. When affliction, persecution, trials, and temptations come along like the heat of the sun, the seed withered and they fell away and became tripped up.
- This next person was presented with the seed of Christ and received the message. The thorns of the world and its riches and pleasures and the deceitfulness choked the word and it did not grow fruit.
- Lastly, we have the person who was presented with the seed of Christ and received the message. His seed was planted within the field of an honest and pure heart that studied the word and kept it. It was of good ground and the seed of Christ could grow.
Each person heard the word of God. One did not believe. Three believed, but two of them were overcome with temptations and worldly desires. The two that were overcome did not bear no fruit. They let their desires of the flesh control their choices instead of turning to the word of God for guidance. (I believe this is also defined as the carnal Christian in the scriptures, that we will address in another blog). The last one not only took it to heart, but when those trials, temptations, and enticing pleasures of the world came about, they chose to battle it out and turn to the word and God for guidance. With that guidance they grew and developed fruit.
As you can see, the black and white theory does not necessarily fit in this parable that Jesus is describing. With four types of people only one is black, three are gray, and none of the are white until they reach complete righteousness in heaven. Why is that? Because, none of them are perfected and righteous until they stand before God (Hebrews 9:27). Their path to righteousness begins with belief, but it not made full until the appointed time. Just as the prodigal son. Two of these believers will pull away and be enticed with the ways of the world and the trials that come. They will look to themselves and others for guidance. They will direct their own path and find hardships. They have accepted Christ as God’s son, but they have yet to make him the Lord of their life. Maybe, at some point there will be a time when they will find their way back. Back to the truth, back to the belief and to the seed that was accepted before. This time, they will water and grow that seed and face the trials and temptations of this world without succumbing to them. They may grow fruit, but all at different quantities. This process is called sanctification.
The path to complete righteousness is called sanctification. It’s at the time from when a person accepts Christ as their Savior until they pass from this life and stand before God. I call this the gray area! When they stand before God their righteousness will be made whole (2 Timothy 4:8), then they will be white. During this time period from salvation to death, believers will grow and change, and lay up treasures in heaven. Everyone will be at a different level on this path. Based on their choices and decisions and the amount of growth they choose to have. On this path we must understand the obstacles that lay in our ways to divert us. I would not call them black and white obstacles. I would just call them like I read them in God’s word.
All three of these obstacles have been already introduced. Just because you accept Christ does not mean you won’t still be enticed and subjected to the ways of the world; there will be distractions and arrows the devil will sent your way.
- Satan- Satan is constantly roaming seeking who he can devour. He is always around stealing seeds that are trying to be planted, laying traps, and doing everything he can to keep us from believing in God or bearing any fruit.
- Affliction, persecution, trials and temptations- Our world is full of all sorts of burdens. Pressure to conform, criticism, struggles, and testing of our faith. When the time comes, we flounder and have no roots in God’s word to stand on. Instead of digging into Gods word for truth and answers we tend to get mad at God for not delivering us, or blame other Christians who lack knowledge and depth in God’s love and misrepresent what God stands for.
- Worldly Riches, lust, desires of the flesh, pleasures of this world. The avoidance of fear, pain, and uncertainty because it’s just so hard. But also chasing after the desires of the flesh. Chasing those feel-good endorphins. Chasing activities and situations that cater to the flesh, instead of letting life come and go with the highs and lows. The lack of making sacrifices of the flesh to heed to the obedience of Christ.
Life is a battle. It is the battle between the flesh and the spirit (Ephesians 6:12). These 3 things are ways the devil will use the flesh to keep your spirit from maturing and growing deeper in the truths of God and His word. Wherever the spirit lies, the flesh with follow (Luke 6:45). The battle of this life and keeping the faith while growing deeper trust in the spirit is defined as sanctification. I Peter 1:1-9 lays it all out. The conclusion of part one brought back to conclude this blog as well.
1 Peter 1:1-9Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
The development and skill to go through struggles and trials, while keeping your faith and trusting in Gods ultimate plan while praising God for it all! This is the path of sanctification. To stay the course, while keeping the faith. No matter what uncomfortable feelings or circumstances may come. It is truly a testing by fire. The growth, trust, and maturity of faith that come from it is so precious. Through all this God does not leave us alone. He is with us, He has given us his word to study and find solace, comfort, and guidance in it. He gives us the promise of an expected end and treasure to lay up in heaven for Gods glory. I pray this has brought clarity to you on the difference between justification and sanctification. I pray that you choose to grow deeper and cling to the promises of God as Satan and this world try to steer you away.
I also pray this has brought some clarity to black and white thinking. You see, Following God is a process of growth in ourselves as we have been reading. Being in the black is a person that has totally rejected God and refuses Him, they are born dead in their sin. Refuse to acknowledge their sinful nature, and turn their back on God. They live their life without thought to anything spiritual. The white is those believers who reach heaven and are presented to God. They no longer have anything to learn, gain, grow in. They have finished the course, and kept the faith. The gray! Hold onto your hats. The gray is those who believe in God, accepted those non-negotiable truths, and are continually growing in Christ. Now remember, we are all growing at different speeds. Some take a detour on the path in their growth, but ultimately God is in control, willing to help, be there, rescue us, forgive us, and guide us. Once we are in his hands, we are His and nothing can pluck us out. There is nothing we can do to be taken out of his hands. I believe black and white thinking keeps us on constant edge in fear and anxiety of being rejected by God for any false move we may make. Instead I choose to live in the gray area of grace. I may make mistakes, I may fall, I may crash from time to time, but my God sees me as a working progress. I believe that’s how we need to see ourselves.
Take a deep breath, take two. Now go out into this world, not as you are either black or white, good or bad. Go out with your head held high and walk in the gray where the grace of God abides.
1 Corinthians 6:12 All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.