Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. ~~Matthew 13:7
As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. ~~Matthew 13:22
Thorns in Galilee by Leo Mauldin
So, we come to the part where I will probably be the most critical. One, because this is the most dangerous group. They generally stay in the church, deceiving themselves and others about their salvation.Two, because I was once numbered among them.
This group of people can grow up in the church, or not. They can hear the Gospel rightly preached, or not. They are usually baptized, often active in church, and completely clueless about what true salvation really is. The most terrifying thing is they think they have it. The second most terrifying thing is the church often insists they do.
For over a decade I lived in fear as to whether or not I was saved. I was certain I wasn’t. There was just something off. I kept looking for it. I thought I’d found it in “right” doctrine. But still the fears persisted. My pastor assured me, and others like me, often, that our fear was our proof of our salvation. I didn’t know Scripture so I didn’t see this for the lie it was. This church also denied the necessity of any fruit except right theology. Again, not knowing Scripture, I was doomed to believe them because they were learned and I wasn’t (another thing the pastors and elders liked to stress in that church).
Still others think they are saved and have no fear or questions about it. They said their prayer, they were baptized as infants, whatever it is they think saved them, that’s their defense.But you get to talking to them, you get to know them really well, and slowly you begin to see that their faith is not in Christ at all.
2 Timothy speaks of them clearly:
For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them! For among them are those who make their way into households and captivate silly women, overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires, who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. ~~2 Timothy 3:2-7
We are a scary lot, because you think we are like you. You think we have answers. You think we will guide you toward the Truth. And, either because we have been deceived, as I was, or we self-deceive, we only think we have the best interest of others at heart. We don’t. Make no mistake about it. We can’t. We are worse than open Atheists, to be honest. And we are the most difficult to see. We know the Christian language, we are in church every Sunday. But, if you take the time to get to know us, not just brush us off as one way or the other, you’ll see that at some level we are deceived.
For these people, I would argue, just as I did in my last post, that we need to get to know them, we need to talk to them, we need to find out their reasons. They might, and probably will, feel threatened by our faith, so they will most likely end the relationship. But how can we witness to them if we don’t even bother to find out? If we just assume that because they do and say the right things outwardly, that they are just like us?
To be honest, it was God alone who brought me to Him. I was in the midst of false teaching, there was no way I could hear His voice, save one. Scripture, the very thing I didn’t know.
I finally reached a level of desperation that even I had never known before. As a result, I disobeyed my church and participated in a Bible study that was not only not sanctioned by the church, but it was not even led by a man. See, I was in a church where women couldn’t even teach children, because some children are boys. (See John Piper on why women can’t be police officers for more on that.)
Maybe you know a person who isn’t even in your church. They claim to be a Christian but you start to see they have a lot more love of the world than any Christian ought. You have probably met one of us who have been choked out by the thorns. We are not interested in Christ, we are interested (in my case) theology, or (in the case of others) living a life of ease that the Western church claims Christians are entitled to. And, most notably, we bear no real fruit.
We are no more saved than the other two groups of people, we’ve just found that we are more comfortable around the clean Christians where we think we are safe, and where people commend us for agreeing with them. Where rocking the boat is discouraged, and where we can feel morally superior to the world around us, either because our theology is right, or because we “aren’t like this tax collector.”