The Gospel of Luke - Part 32: Believers Obey - Luke 8:4-21 (continued)

(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)


Review:

We are in Luke Chapter 8 where Luke tells us about how true faith affects us.

As we study this, the question it poses is: Do you really believe?   Remember that the Bible makes it clear that real faith will be conclusively demonstrated by our actions. Luke shows us that as followers of Jesus, as believers, there are several behaviors that we should be exhibiting, behaviors that Jesus exhibited. We will see that:

A.   Believers Partner(v.1-3)
B.   Believers Obey(v.4-21)
C.   Believers Tell Others(v.26-39)
D.   Believers Trust Jesus   (v.22-25,40-56)

Last week, several of you gave me "homework assignments" — questions I will try to answer now before proceeding with our lesson on Luke.

  1. When I made the point that we harden our own heart, Dave brought up the passage in Romans 9 where God hardened Pharaoh's heart.
  2. Becky asked about Romans 1:28, where "God gave them over to a depraved mind".

[Larry's discussion today on these and other questions will be included on the website version of this lesson, on www.singlesplus.net.]

Continuing where we left off last week ...

(3) The Worldly Heart

So our heart may be hard, or it may be shallow, or it might be the third condition, Worldly.

Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. —Luke 8:7

The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. —Luke 8:14
For those of you that are gardeners, why is it important to get rid of the weeds from your garden?  Weeds use nutrients from the soil and soak up water intended for the garden plants. If left unchecked, they can “choke” out the other plants so that they fail to ever bear fruit.

There’s an important principle here — salvation and discipleship are not just a matter of adding Jesus to our lives; they also involve subtracting (abandoning) the ungodly desires of this world.

Jesus said that following Him meant making a choice:

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. — Matthew 6:24
Verse 14 says: " ...they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life ... Luke speaks of these three things being of “this life”. In Mark 4:19, they are called “of this world”. These three “weeds” are three basic characteristics of this world. John tells us:
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. —1 John 2:15-16
Notice how John also emphasizes that we have to choose — to love the world or to love the Lord.

Notice that the things that Jesus warns against are all related to affluence and materialism. As Christians, we need to be careful that we don’t get caught up in the endless pursuit of what is called “the good life” in our society.

Someone has observed that “being better off isn’t always better.”

Jesus identifies three factors that can "choke" out our response to God.

  1. Worries:

    What we worry about shows what is really important to us. In Mark 4:19, Jesus specifically warns us against “the worries of the world”.

    But the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. —Mark 4:19
    What do you think the “worries of the world” refers to?

    Charles Wesley, the great Methodist hymn writer who lived in the 1700's is reported to have said that: "It would be just as inconsistent for me to worry as it would be to take the Lord's name in vain."

    What he had in mind, no doubt, was the fact that both are sinful. To worry is to show little faith in God. "God can’t handle it, so I have to."

    There are many passages in the Bible that warn us against worry.

    Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. —Matthew 6:31-32

    Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap. —Luke 21:34

    Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. —Philippians 4:6-7
    Corrie ten Boom was a Dutch survivor of the Nazi holocaust, turned missionary. When in a concentration camp Corrie vowed that if God allowed her to live, she would tell as many people as possible about the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. She also promised to go wherever He led. After her release from prison, she spoke in over 60 countries. Corrie said:  "Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.

    Ruth Bell Graham, Billy’s wife says:   "I have learned that worship and worry cannot live in the same heart: They are mutually exclusive."

  2. Wealth:

    There are many warnings about the dangers of wealth. Remember the story of the rich young ruler who was told to give up his wealth to gain salvation and he decided the price was too high? After His encounter with this man, here is what Jesus said:

    And Jesus, looking around, said to His disciples, “How hard it will be for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” —Mark 10:23
    Why do you think wealth makes salvation and discipleship more difficult?

    Wealth is not intrinsically evil. There are many godly people in Scripture who were wealthy. But First Timothy 6 helps us understand the dangers connected with wealth:

    But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. —1 Timothy 6:9-10
    Verse 17 says:
    Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. —1 Timothy 6:17
    Billy Sunday said,
    ”The fellow that has no money is poor. The fellow that has nothing but money is poorer still.”


    Haddon Robinson, Professor of Preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a renowned professor of preaching from several other seminaries, said: “For every verse in the Bible that tells us the benefits of wealth, there are ten that tell us the danger of wealth, for money has a way of binding us to what is physical and temporal, and blinding us to what is spiritual and eternal.... When the flypaper says, "My fly," the fly is dead. It is one thing to have money, another for money to have you. When it does, it will kill you.”

  3. Our wants:

    Here in Luke 8:14, Jesus warns us against pursuing the “pleasures of this life”.

    ...they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life ... —Luke 8:14
    Pleasures of this life is translated from the Greek word  ’ηδοναι [hay·don·ay] = “pleasure” three times, and “lust” twice, pleasure or desires for pleasure. This same Greek word is used in Titus and James:
    For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. —Titus3:3

    You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. —James 4:3

    This Greek word, “hedone” is where we get our word “hedonism”. Webster’s Dictionary defines hedonism as the “pursuit of or devotion to pleasure, especially to the pleasures of the senses.”  In Mark 4:19, Jesus calls this “the desires for other things”. The word “desires” can also be (and sometimes is) translated “lusts”. God wants us to enjoy His blessings, the good things of this life. But we need to beware of an excessive desire for these things. We need to be careful that the pursuit of God’s blessings doesn’t replace our pursuit of God.

    John Piper, senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, a widely published theologian, and a graduate of Wheaton College says,

    "The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18–20). The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable. Jesus said some people hear the Word of God, and a desire for God is awakened in their hearts. But then “as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). In another place he said, “The desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19). “The pleasures of this life” and “the desires for other things”—these are not evil in themselves. These are not vices. These are gifts of God. They are your basic meat and potatoes and coffee and gardening and reading and decorating and traveling and investing and TV-watching and Internet-surfing and shopping and exercising and collecting and talking. And all of them can become deadly substitutes for God." (John Piper)
Each of these factors (worries, wealth, wants) are an indication that the world is really more important to me than Jesus. Even for those of us who have trusted Him, these things are still a danger. John's warning in First John  2:15-16 is addressed to Christians.
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. —1 John 2:15-16
The danger of these three spiritual “weeds” taking root in our hearts doesn’t end when we come to faith in Christ. We continue to be susceptible to all three of these spiritual "weeds".

Which one do you most struggle with?
What is something you can do about it this week?

We have looked at:
(1) The hardened heart - (where the seed fell on the hard path)
(2) The shallow heart - (where the seed fell on the rocky soil) and
(3) The worldly heart - (where the seed fell among the thorns and weeds).  The only condition we have not looked at is
(4) The ready heart - (where the seed fell on the good soil). That is where each of us needs to be. That is what we will look at next week.