Rooting Out the Weeds of Sin

At the beginning of this summer, my family and I decided to plant a garden. We started out with really good intentions, motivated to keep it watered, weeded, and fertilized in hopes of harvesting a healthy crop of produce.  That went well for a few weeks. At the beginning, my siblings and I would walk out to the garden with watering cans and manually water our thirsty plants. Every week, I would step into my boots, get down on my hands and knees, and carefully pick any semblance of a weed that could be rearing its ugly head near my plants, threatening to deprive them of sunlight and nutrients.

But that didn’t last very long. Eventually the excitement wore off. School started and life got busier. No one wanted to go out and pick weeds anymore. Soon small weeds began to sprout alongside our flowering plants. They grew bigger and bigger, feeding off the nutrients meant to nourish our plants. Eventually those small sprouts weren’t so small anymore. They grew into huge weeds towering above struggling plants, soaking up their sunlight and water, slowly choking them out.

After just a few weeks of neglect, the garden we started with such good intentions has become so overgrown that hardly anyone dares venture into it to pick what fruit there is to harvest. The weeds have taken over so much that the thought of bringing back the neat, tidy garden we started with is too daunting to even consider.

This story about my family’s garden teaches a lesson that can be applied to our spiritual lives. Our hearts are like that garden and those weeds are the sins that creep into our lives, seeking to choke out a healthy love for God, zeal for spiritual things, and desire to walk in a new godly life. So often we start out with great intentions, motivated to keep God’s law, fight our sins, and walk holily. But soon tiny little sins creep into our lives. They may not seem like a big deal at first, and we might initially stamp them out. But eventually we grow weary. Our motivation runs thin and we get caught up in the busyness of life and the pleasures of the world. We forget to fight those little sins, or we just don’t care enough anymore. Besides, they’re just little sprouts; they can’t do much harm. Until we turn around and find that those small sprouts have grown into massive flowering weeds. By then it’s too late – those weeds of sin are so deeply rooted in our hearts and lives that we don’t even know where to start to root them out.

This illustration should serve as a warning to me and to you about the pervasive nature and power of sin in our hearts and spiritual lives. If we do not remain vigilant weeding out those small sins that persistently make appearance in our lives, they will take root and grow exponentially until they are choking out the good fruit of sanctification in our lives. How much easier isn’t it to pluck out those small sprouts when they first appear than to pull up the deep roots of a full-grown flowering weed?

But if and when we do allow those weeds to take root, we must not despair, thinking there is no hope and all is lost. Christ has given us His Spirit, Who strengthens and renews us in our godly walk. Constantly we must be examining our hearts and lives for sins that may be taking root so we can weed them out. With the power of the Spirit, we can and do fight against those sins, plucking them up at the root and tilling our garden back into neat rows. The life of the child of God is a constant battle against our sinful flesh, but we are not alone. “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).

Anna Langerak

The Parable of the Sower

Think for a moment of the parable of the sower and his seed.  This is a story which most (if not all) Christians are familiar with.  The seed falls in four different locations, and in three cases it does not produce fruit for various reasons.  Sunday school classes often teach this particular parable for its simple structure – it is easy to grasp, even at a young age.  It is interesting, then, that we so readily forget it.  If you are like me, you typically think of yourself as simply the “good ground” we read of in Matthew 13:8.  This is altogether too easy a mindset for us to slip into – I’m saved; it’s all meaningless now.  Nothing I do can merit my salvation, and it’s already been bought anyway.  I’m good.  Now I just have to find the best way to produce some fruit. 

If we adopt this thinking, there is nothing here for us – this parable is totally meaningless.  We would do well to consider ourselves in connection to the other kinds of soil.  By nature, of course, we are the hard ground that the seeds are incapable of penetrating; we know this and are often willing to acknowledge it.  But we are sometimes also the other soils as well.  How often do we not make our faith overtly obvious in the best of times but then become mysteriously quiet in the face of trials?  When we do so, we are the stony soil – there is precious little foundation there, and the sun blisters and withers anything that grows.  When the seeds of offensive doctrine are sown to us by God’s Word, how do we react?  Often, we are choked out from confessing them by the thorny old man.  When the command comes to us to lead a new and godly life, the old man closes our throat with his thorny earthly pleasures and prevents us from speaking up in obedience.  Instead, we continue to live lives of utter sinfulness, drinking, lusting, and lying as we did before.

Now acknowledging our shortcomings, we can consider our ultimate place – the soft soil.  Remembering that is only by the Spirit’s continual work of sanctification in us that our inner thorns are more and more uprooted, we ought to turn to God in utter dependence and thanksgiving!  However, now that the gospel is able to take root in our hearts, the work is not at an end.  The plant must continue to grow and to produce fruit.  What better way to cause this growth than the opportunity we have tomorrow morning?  Enter into God’s house and worship Him.  When you hear the Word preached, you will grow spiritually in the warmth that is the “Sun of righteousness” (Malachi 4:2).  Jesus Christ, the living water, will enter into the roots of your faith and heart and rejuvenate you from your thirst after a long, sinful week.  Only when we have the grace of God within us are we able to produce the fruit that He demands of us.  If we fool ourselves into thinking that we can produce fruit of our own accord, we will find that we fail; it will be tainted by our self-righteous pride, and it will be rotten.  This fruit is not pleasing to God – of such He says, “I will spue thee out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16)!  So, child of God, when you go to the house of God tomorrow, soak up the sunlight, and drink of His goodness!

Matthew Koerner

Digging Deeper: Who Am I?

Do you know who you are? If you asked me this question a year ago, I most likely would have said “yes!” and given a list of things I like or stated something about my personality. All those things listed might be true, but this display of facts would only have given you a surface definition of who I am, and not gotten to the deeper meaning of the question. Recently, God has brought me to know myself better and thereby Him as well, through a discontentment which He has placed in my heart concerning how I spend my free time.

In the past few months, God has opened my eyes a lot and helped me better understand who I am at center. He has brought me to realize that if I want to understand the core of who I am, I need to dig deeper inside myself to find the answer. I need to peel away the layers of sinful thoughts and desires, down to that seed which God has planted in me. That seed of righteousness and true life, that new man. By the grace and strength given me by God, I have begun to understand what it means that I am a child of God.

Each of God’s children have certain sins which they struggle with every day. One of those struggles for me is how I use my free time. An example of free time would be after dinner when I have nothing planned for the evening. I have all this free time to fill before I go to sleep. During these times I would think things like: all I want to do is curl up and read a good book, watch a good movie, go on You Tube, play a game on my phone, etc. And yet when I do these things, there would be emptiness inside me. I’d find I wasn’t really content. One book would lead to another, after one movie there was sure to be another soon. One video lead to another and one quick look at Facebook lead to an hour. Why? Why was it never enough?

God works in mysterious ways. Through this battle going on inside myself, God has lead me to see a very vital part of what I need to acknowledge about myself if I am ever going to really know who I am. One video, one book, one game, one minute is never enough. Why? Because my old man will never be satisfied with just one. My sinful flesh will never reach a point when it is full and does not demand more and more wickedness. When I click on this which leads to that and then the next thing, watch movie after movie, I am feeding my sinful flesh. In order to see this I need to understand what it means that I have an old man and new man. There is a war going on inside of me every day. In Romans 7 God, through Paul, describes this battle inside the elect child of God. Verse 19 says “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.”  My flesh says “Yes! I need to watch that new movie which just came out and everyone is talking about. It sounds so good. It will make me happy if I watch it! It is such an innocent story. It will teach me so much!” So I go and watch the movie. When I do fill my time with such things, I am dissatisfied and left feeling empty. The void I thought I was filling is left aching.  Why am I left so discontented?  Wasn’t that entertainment supposed to satisfy me?

It is important that I know who I am at center. When I peel away all the lies and deceits the devil has worked so hard to have me believe about what I need and what will make me feel better/ happy, when I look beyond all that, I see a little seed which God has instilled in me when He regenerated me. 1 John 3:8-10 says, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning.” This would be the old man in me who wants to watch the sin filled movie. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” This new man in me is born of God and cannot sin. While I yet live on this earth I will sin because I have my old sinful nature, but when I die, I will be freed from that man of sin and I will worship and serve God perfectly. Yet, in this life, the command of God comes to me and all of Gods children, “Gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (I Peter 1:13-16)

Who am I? By the grace of God, I am His child, who has a new man at center which does not sin. I strive to live out of my new man and put away the old. I no longer fill my time on earth feeding my fleshly desires. I do not indulge in the movies, concerts, and entertainments of this world, filling my mind with things of this earth. I will be as God calls me in 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

Kate Doezema