“An Enemy Hath Done This”

Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

THE parable of the tares throws clear light on a number of issues. Interpreted by our Lord Himself, it plainly declares that the world will not be converted in this age: good and evil shall exist together until the end. Thus it destroys that dream of men who imagine a world brotherhood to be created by the preaching of the gospel which shall set up in this age the reign of universal righteousness. This parable declares the distinct personality of the devil. Sin is not imperfect goodness, biological growing pains; “An enemy hath done this.” Moreover, there is to be a fixed and final separation of good from evil, the wicked being gathered for burning, the righteous to shine as the sun in the Father’s kingdom—as Daniel long before had seen (Dan. 12:3). The seed here is not the Word, as in the parable of the sower, but rather what the Word produces, the children of the kingdom; and the tares are the children of evil. They may get into the churches and look like Christians, but they have another nature.

The sowing of tares was done “while men slept.” The devil gets his works done today while ministers are asleep; he sows evil in the churches while they are taken up with their own ease. He sows in homes while parents sleep, careless of their children’s welfare. He sows abroad in the land while rulers, who should have an eye to the public welfare, look to their own comfort. Then, we read, the evil sower “went his way.” So goes the devil stealthily about, gliding in and out and on his way.

Mind you, this is not a description of the world in general but of Satan’s work in the professing church. The field indeed is the world, but the sphere of action here is the professing kingdom. We cannot separate the false and true for we cannot read men’s hearts. Some who appear righteous are but hypocrites, and some who appear wicked are truly saved but not walking in the Spirit. God will attend to the final dividing; vengeance is His.

It is possible in church discipline to overstep our boundaries and attempt a separation beyond our right. However, there is little danger of that today, for few churches exert as much authority as is their right. But we must be careful lest, in ridding ourselves of offenders, we root up the good also.

The old emphasis upon a final gathering has disappeared from much of our preaching. But our Lord will gather His wheat (Matt. 3:12) when He takes up His Church (1 Thess. 4:13-18). His reapers, the angels, shall also gather out all that offend and the wicked. Mind you, it is our Lord Himself who declares the judgment of the wicked to be a furnace of fire (Matt. 13:42) with wailing and gnashing of teeth. He said more about hell than anyone else in the Bible.

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