In 1992, James Carville, a political strategist for Presidential candidate Bill Clinton, came up with the phrase, “The economy, stupid.” It was used against then President George H.W. Bush in the November general election. The economy was in a state of recession and constantly reminding the voting public helped Clinton defeat Bush in the election that November.
Would the election have turned out different if that wasn’t one of the main focal points? Hard to say, especially with the fallout from the first Gulf war and the fact that the country may have been in a mood for a change. Whatever the reason, we look for a place to put the blame. Accurate or not.
We can treat sin the same way. Ed Cole talks about this in chapter 1 of “Irresistible Husband.”
In the “Parable of the Sower,” Jesus gives us four examples of what happened to seed that was sown. The seed is the word of God.
“A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up.” Luke 8:5 (NIV).
Jesus tells us that this seed is taken by the devil.
“Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.”
Luke 8:12 (NIV).
“Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.” Luke 8:6 (NIV).
Jesus tells us that this seed has no root.
“Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.” Luke 8:13 (NIV).
The next seed,
“Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked out the plants.”
Luke 8:7 (NIV).
Jesus tells us that this seed succumb to life’s problems.
“The seed that fell among the thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Luke 8:14 (NIV).
“Still some seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” Luke 8:8 (NIV).
Jesus tells us that one seed out of the four was productive.
“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Luke 8:15 (NIV).
It’s the culture, stupid.
Ed Cole points out that out of the four seeds, one produces, another is taken by the devil and the other two fail because of culture. Jesus tells us that the road to life is narrow and that few will find it. So one seed out of the four found life. Another was lost to Satan. But half of the seed failed due to the culture around it. This is still a lesson for us today.
We live as if everyone who claims to be a Christian is a follower of Christ. Despite the fact that scripture and their behavior tell us different.
Flip Wilson used to do a character called “Geraldine,” who always claimed “the devil made me do it.” Satan does have power but his power is not comparable to the power of God. Satan is not omnipotent, omniscient or omnipresent. If he is on you, he’s not on anybody else. Yes, he has minions that can do his bidding, we must remain strong in our relationship with Christ to defeat them but in this parable he is only a quarter of the problem.
The majority of the failed seed can be blamed on giving in to the culture around it. How often do we see people just fade back into a previous life or give into the pleasures of the world around them? The only way to protect yourself is to be grounded in the word of God. To be planted in good soil and have a strong root structure. And this isn’t accomplished overnight, it takes time, work and sacrifice.
George Whitefield, also known by Whitfield, was asked after he had preached and many made professions of faith, “How many were saved?” He replied, “Give it six months to a year and we will see.” Whitefield preached in England and America during the 1700’s. He was part of the revivals preached in this country that was called the “Great Awakening.” Would he say the same today?
“Nothing is more generally known than our duties which belong to Christianity; and yet, how amazing is it, nothing is less practiced?” George Whitefield.
The Prodigal Son left home, not under the influence of Satan, but by his own selfish will to be a part of the culture. As we know, it didn’t go well for him until he returned home to his father. How often do we give in to the culture around us? It’s not hard to do. It is constantly calling us to join in the fun.
How many men are struggling with pornography? I don’t just mean the XXX stuff but the subtle, soft-core pornography on television, in magazines and on the internet. It’s everywhere, even on news and sports sites. How many are struggling with inappropriate music, hanging out in inappropriate places with inappropriate people? How many are struggling with their “thought life?”
The only way we can combat all of this is through the Holy Spirit and committing ourselves to God’s Word. We really make it easy on Satan at times and just give in to the culture around us.
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:15-17 (NIV).
Cultivate your soil, do the will of God, stop making it easy for the devil and run to the Cross!