Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
We cannot go beyond or fall short of what the Lord openly declares. Therefore, let us examine the parable of the wheat and the tares in light of the whole counsel of God.
It has both a general and specific context:
Generally, it establishes that the Lord’s field isthis present world(Psalm 2:8).
Specifically, it establishes a principle forthe assembly of the saints–that we do not destroy the work of God by attempting to do what He alone is qualified to accomplish [rid His people of the presence of false converts]–for the day is coming when the Lord Himself will divide the goats from the sheep (Matthew 25:32-33).
It is important to note that other passages of scripture establish some exceptions to this rule. However, before we examine these exceptions in greater detail, let’s consider the following passage as a foundation to this discussion:
And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
–2 John 1:6-8
The admonition is that we love one another–and then, the apostle establishes the means by which we are to do this, which is to walk in truth, obeying the commandments–and on this basis, a common unity is established.
The commandments reveal Christ’s character and affirm His virtues.
As we obey them, we are made clean through His word: for whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected (John 15:3; 1 John 2:5).
Therefore,we find that love and truth are inseparable companions, as these are our weapons in contending for the faith and resisting the apostate beliefs introduced by deceivers.
While the epistle’s warning concerning false brethren has a specific context [some deny that Christ came in the flesh], it also establishes a general principle applicable to all deceivers: that their intent is to compromise our understanding of Christ’s character and nature [Who He is, as evidenced by what He did, and why He did it].
Christ is revealed through His gospel, and all attacks against Christ are focused upon undermining our understanding of His atoning work: and this includes why it was needed–and upon what basis it may be received–and how it is expressed in His people.
The aim of seducers is to make saints disobedient [by introducing error], and if disobedient, then perhaps, rebellious, and if rebellious, then perhaps, apostate.
We know that some false workers will rise up from among us, turning from serving God to serving Satan (Acts 20:30; 1 Timothy 4:1).
Others will creep in unawares, affecting a righteous disposition, though they serve that which is evil: and their end [and the end of those who follow their pernicious teachings] is hell (Ezekiel 14:10; Matthew 7:15-23; Acts 20:29; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 1).
Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.
–2 John 1:8-11
The real danger of a corrupted understanding of Christ’s character is here introduced–that we may suffer loss: “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire,” (1 Corinthians 3:15).
However, it is possible to suffer the loss of all: “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth? This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,” (Galatians 5:7-9; Hebrews 6:4-6).
When believers respond to lies, they are persuaded by something other than Christ–whether their own soulish desires and inclinations–or another spirit working in concert with these things.
In either case, their response is evidence of a corruption of the heart.
Moreover, left unchecked, these errors will root and grow in the human heart and can even choke out a true faith in Christ (Matthew 13:22; 1 Timothy 3:13; Hebrews 6:4-6).
Consequently, the Lord has established some exceptions to the general principle expressed in the parable of the wheat and the tares. We are not to allow any of the following to remain among us:
Those who cause dissensions and divisions by teaching things contrary to the doctrine we have received from Christ [and this implies, contrary to His Person]: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple,” (Romans 16:17-18). See also, Colossians 2:8 and Ephesians 5:6-13.
Those who promote false gospels: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed,” (Galatians 1:6-9). Specifically, this involves placing our faith for righteousness in anything other than Christ’s atoning work: “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth,” (1 Timothy 4:1-3). False gospels are the ultimate end of false teachings.
Those who persist in sin (Ephesians 5:11; 1 Timothy 5:20).
And 2 things remain:
Everyone must be challenged at times to contend for the faith, as it is written: and this encouragement is not only through our own faithful witness, but also through our opposition to what is false. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” (Jude 1:3).
We are to judge all things by the Spirit, according to Christ’s word (John 7:24).