8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; 9 that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, 10 and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 11 For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, 12 in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
Have you ever noticed how a group of people will get upset, leave an organization, have everything settle down and then in short order have their own crisis and split yet once again? I tend to refer to this as “the splintering of the splinters”.
Why does this occur?
24 Jesus presented another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven [a]may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed [b]tares among the wheat, and went away.
Some versions prefer “weeds” to “tares” or “darnels”, which I strongly dislike. The reason is simple. Anyone who has done gardening probably realizes that one person’s weed is another person’s flower. Dandelions are a weed in a lawn, but they are delicious (and good for you) in a salad. In reality, a weed is a plant that is in a place where it does not belong. It may simply be location, or it may even be quantity in one location. Decorative garlic is nice to have around, but when it is not kept under control, it can easily take over the territory it is in.
Tares, however, are not just weeds. Wikipedia says of the darnel, or Lolium temulentum:
Darnel usually grows in the same production zones as wheat and is considered a weed. The similarity between these two plants is so great that in some regions, darnel is referred to as “false wheat”. It bears a close resemblance to wheat until the ear appears. The spikes of L. temulentum are more slender than those of wheat. The spikelets are oriented edgeways to the rachis and have only a single glume, while those of wheat are oriented with the flat side to the rachis and have two glumes. The wheat will also appear brown when ripe, whereas the darnel is black.
The darnel can be infected by an endophytic fungus of the genus Neotyphodium, and the endophyte-produced, insecticidal loline alkaloids were first isolated from this plant. It parasitizes wheat fields. The French word for darnel is ivraie (from Latin ebriacus, intoxicated), which expresses that weed’s characteristic of making one feel poisoned with drunkenness, and can cause death. This characteristic is also alluded to in the scientific name (Latin temulentus= drunk).
The tares look just like the real deal until they get to the stage where they mature enough to spread their poison. This poison can cause a type of intoxication, and we all should know that intoxication causes strong delusions. Enough poison can kill.
Not all tares will leave in a split, and not all tares will stay. To assume otherwise is to show ignorance of how Satan works.
Satan, like God, tends to work through human beings. God works through human beings to teach them how to become leaders in His Kingdom, but Satan uses human beings for purposes of plausible deniability. “I didn’t do it!” he can claim, in his mind. Not only that, but it also reinforces people’s belief that he does not even exist (and perhaps even that God does not even exist). After all, who needs a devil when human beings are making all the mess?
Satan does this by appealing to any number of emotions. He appealed to Eve’s pride. She would have the opportunity to see for herself what was right and what was wrong, good and evil. During the days of the judges, Israel did what was right in their own eyes, deciding for themselves good and evil.
Have things changed any? Each person has a responsibility to choose that which is right, but right in whose eyes? Shouldn’t a “Christian” be a follower of Christ, determining right and wrong according to God’s view and not their own?
How many issues come up because a person determines on their own what is right vs wrong? When issues are not resolved according to their own take on things, how many leave in a huff and/or try to gain a following after themselves?
When a group starts to take the attitude “we left because we were right”, they had best be careful. That spills over into other areas as well! “We were right because we were mistreated” can easily become “we are right because we don’t believe the Church has the authority to declare when a calendar year begins”. This “we are right” position then mutates into another split, which then splits for yet other reasons, which then finds fault with that group and splits again.
Nothing has changed in 2,000 years, either.
11 Look at what large letters I use as I write to you in my own handwriting. 12 Those who want to make a good impression in the flesh are the ones who would compel you to be circumcised—but only to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 For even the circumcised don’t keep the law themselves; however, they want you to be circumcised in order to boast about your flesh. 14 But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. The world has been crucified to me through the cross, and I to the world. 15 For both circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing; what matters instead is a new creation. 16 May peace come to all those who follow this standard, and mercy to the Israel of God!
Notice how Paul had to deal with people who claimed to be zealous for the Law. They had the book, and it said the descendants of Abraham were to be circumcised. They were convinced they were right. In reality, they not only misunderstood the original command, the original command’s intent and the authority of the Church, but they were adding rebellion on top of their prideful sin.
Even today, each person decides what is right in their own eyes.
15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
We are to “submit” (KJV) or “be subject to” (NASB, NIV) one another under the headship of Christ! This is the opposite of doing what is right in our own eyes.
It is a fine line indeed between rebelling against what is wrong and rebelling against God unless we are being humble and submitting to God in all things.
Have you ever noticed how this section leads right into the instructions about marriage?
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body.
The relationship between Christ and the Church is like the relationship between a husband and wife. If a husband really “nourishes and cherishes” his wife, then will he not on occasion submit to her wishes as well? Why this turn right after the church is told to submit to “one another”? Because it is the opposite of doing what is right in our own eyes.
There is another interesting parallel between marriage and the Church, though. Splitting up a church leads to more splits. A divorce usually means subsequent marriages are at higher risk as well.
Past statistics have shown that in the U.S. 50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second, and 73% of third marriages end in divorce.
~ Psychology Today, 6 Feb 2012
Commitment. Relationships require commitment. The breakup of a congregation is not unlike a divorce. Feelings of betrayal, anger, resentment, etc., are not unusual. Even the relief afterwards is still filled with the stress of change. The problem is that everyone carries the same old problems and attitudes into the new relationship as well.
A church split is splitting up a family, and it is just as painful as a divorce at times. Like a marriage, it takes all parties concerned to hold it together, but it only takes one to break it up. Yet, God allows this at times.
Why would God allow us to be pared down to what almost is the level of home churches? Perhaps that is what will be required in the end times. Once persecution sets in, will we still have the communication links we have today, or will they all be subject to surveillance?
A more important reason, though, might be because God wants to know, and for us to know, what is in each one of us independent of others. Will we still follow him? Will we still love Him? Will we still try to please Him.
Once the varnish is all stripped away, and it is pure wood, what will we do?
31 When the ambassadors of Babylon’s rulers were sent to him to inquire about the miraculous sign that happened in the land, God left him to test him and discover what was in his heart.
One definition of integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. What do we do when we are all alone? When no one is looking? Do we honor God?
Those who will make it will not drink of the poison that the tares bring into the field. We must learn to be peacemakers not splinterers. When we feel wrong and abandoned, we must cling to God and honor Him even when no one seems to be looking. We must not allow bitterness to poison us.
15 Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many.
God is not the god of splinters. Christ came to heal, but before we can be healed, we must fight the poison of bitterness that causes division unnecessarily. Instead, we must seek humility on our knees before God.