One of the first stories in the gospels is the record of Jesus being tempted by the Devil. His famous response sets the example of how we are to live.
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4 ASV)
He emphasizes here that we are to live by the word of God! Jesus fasted for 40 days to illustrate that it was more important to live by the Word of God than anything else. Jesus showed that to live by the Word of God simply means to act in every situation as God would have us instead of doing what we would like to do when what we would like to do is different from what God would have us do.
Luke records that teaching the Word of God was what Jesus did and the people “pressed” him to teach it:
And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, (Luke 5:1 KJV)
Jesus taught about the Word of God in the parable of the sower and the seed where the sower sowed seed in various places and got various results. He expounded on his point when he declared:
Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. (Luke 8:11 ASV)
This parable is about the growth of the Word of God. Jesus goes to great lengths to explain this in the verses following the parable:
And he said, Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to the rest in parables; that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand. Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. And those by the way side are they that have heard; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word from their heart, that they may not believe and be saved. And those on the rock are they who, when they have heard, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among the thorns, these are they that have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. And that in the good ground, these are such as in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, hold it fast, and bring forth fruit with patience. And no man, when he hath lighted a lamp, covereth it with a vessel, or putteth it under a bed; but putteth it on a stand, that they that enter in may see the light. For nothing is hid, that shall not be made manifest; nor anything secret, that shall not be known and come to light. Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he thinketh he hath. And there came to him his mother and brethren, and they could not come at him for the crowd. And it was told him, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. But he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these that hear the word of God, and do it. (Luke 8:10-21 ASV)
Here we see various responses to the Word of God in people’s lives, the ultimate being to hold fast to the Word and bring forth fruit with patience. But there are many that don’t respond with a steadfast holding to the Word. There are those that have heard, then the devil comes, and takes away the word from their heart. How does that happen? These people listen to the naysayers, those that say that Christianity is a bunch of bunk. These naysayers point to things like the errors in the texts and the sins of believers and the scandals in the Catholic Church. They point to the impossibility of the miracles in the Bible and how evil God looks in the Old Testament. The person becomes persuaded against Christ and the word of God and loses the joy that they received when they heard the word.
The second group that Jesus talks about are those that hear the Word of God and enjoy the love, joy, and peace of the abundant life for a while. But they don’t guard their hearts and strengthen their faith so when the temptations of the world come they give in and turn away from God to follow the temptation. The temptation could be many things; chasing dollars at work and acquiring wealth, having unhealthy relationships with people for gratification of any number of desires; partying, gossiping, focusing on past hurts and angry responses, or seeking the favor of some crowd that doesn’t believe the word of God. The end result is the same; they abandon the Word of God.
Luke 11:28 again emphasizes Jesus’ promotion of the Word of God.
But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it. (Luke 11:28 ASV)
But there are those that hear the Word of God and bury it deep in their hearts. They guard against others trying to persuade them not to trust the Word of God. They change their minds as they change their actions to avoid actions that steal the Word of God from their lives. They discipline themselves to take a righteous stand for the truth of God’s Word in spite of all the challenges everywhere, in the world, and even in the church sometimes! They are good ground.
In Matthew 15:1-9 we see more verses that emphasize Jesus’ stand on the importance of the Word of God in peoples’ lives even in the religious world. People can think they have the Word of God in a church or synagogue setting when they really don’t:
Then there come to Jesus from Jerusalem Pharisees and scribes, saying, Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. And he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God said, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, He that speaketh evil of father or mother, let him die the death. But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, That wherewith thou mightest have been profited by me is given to God; he shall not honor his father. And ye have made void the word of God because of your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people honoreth me with their lips; But their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men. (Mat 15:1-9)
Here we have the example of people who are religious but are clearly marked by the Lord as not having the Word of God in their lives. In their religion, they have replaced the Word of God with traditions. The lures of traditions are powerful and seem righteous. Jesus is exposing the reality that people teach their own humanly reasoned traditions as the Word of God when those traditions actually make void the Word of God. This is what happens when people elevate their religious traditions to the status of the Word of God.
The warning in scripture is clear: since some people elevate their own humanly reasoned traditions to be the Word of God, we need to learn to recognize it and turn away from any tradition that negates the true Word of God!
This is certain, Jesus lived by the Word of God and taught others to do likewise. If you are like me, you want to be in the good ground group.
© copyright 2012 Mark W Smith, all rights reserved. Revised 2019-2020.