Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Tare in the Fabric

No that's not a misspelling. I want to talk about tares as in "wheat and tares". Who are the tares and how can they be differentiated from the wheat? These terms come from Matthew 13:24-31.

"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."

To understand the nature of the tares, we will look at their source, their presence and growth, and their fruit.

First, some definitions. Take a look at for a great treatise on this subject.

"Darnel is a weed grass (probably bearded darnel or Lolium temulentum) that looks very much like wheat until it is mature, when the seeds reveal a great difference. Darnel seeds aren't good for much except as chicken feed or to burn to prevent the spread of this weed" (World English Dictionary).

Easton's Bible Dictionary describes "tares" as follows:

"the bearded darnel, mentioned only in Matt. 13:25-30. It is the Lolium temulentum, a species of rye-grass, the seeds of which are a strong soporific poison. It bears the closest resemblance to wheat till the ear appears, and only then the difference is discovered. It grows plentifully in Syria and Palestine."

The source of tares in the kingdom is Satan (the enemy) as written in verse 25. Why does Satan do this? He is trying to destroy the kingdom from within by using deception and counterfeit. Whatever he sows, be sure that the harvest includes a liar (see John 8:44 - "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.")

The presence and growth of tares in the kingdom is well documented in the Bible. What I wish to focus on however is the personal aspect of it.

Are there tares in your church?

Could it be that you are a tare?

Are there tares in existence today or do they come around in some later age or were they perhaps part of some historical age now passed?

First let's be clear about one thing: the tares are NOT simply the unbelievers of the world. They are present in the kingdom. That means in this age that they are in the church. Formerly in Jesus' time, they were in the synagogue. Many of them were known as Pharisees. They were the religious leaders. Is your pastor a tare? What about the person next to you in the pew?

These verses talk about the tares of the kingdom in these last days:

2 Peter 3:3
2 Timothy 3:1-7
Matthew 7:15
Matthew 24:11, 24
Mark 13:22
2 Peter 2:1-3

But you may say that none of this happens until the age spoken of in Revelation, when the False Prophet himself shall come. No, all these are predecessors, readying the church and the world for his broad and welcoming acceptance. Do you welcome tares into your church?

What is the fruit of the tares and how do we tell them apart from the wheat? As described in the natural world, the wheat and tares are impossible to distinguish until they bear fruit. By then one must wait for the harvest to separate them lest damage come to the wheat. Jesus told this parable in a natural way because His audience was very familiar with wheat and tares. Wheat was the staple of much of their diet. Wheat is nutricious. Tares are poisonous. They carry a certain bacteria that cause symptoms similar to drunkenness. To livestock, tares can be deadly.

That is Satan's purpose. He wants to poison the church even kill it outright if he could. The best he can do is dilute it and make it ineffective. He does this in two ways. First, he works very hard to reproduce more tares so that the tares outnumber the wheat.

How would you know you were a church of unbelievers if everybody in the church was a tare? Certainly no one would rationally reach that conclusion because everyone would want to believe that they were right, believe the right things, do the right things, and tell others the "truth". What would you do if you were the only wheat in a crowd of tares?

The other way Satan makes the church ineffective is by forcing them to wait until the harvest. Weeds have the strong propensity to reproduce quickly thereby starving vital nutrients from reaching the wheat. If this happens, the tares bear fruit and the wheat does not. In the case of the kingdom, tares bear the fruit of more tares while the wheat dwindles and produces very little if any more wheat.

The other delay is in the waiting for the fruitbearing. The tares are deceptively slow in their works. No one would spring all the lies, sins, lusts, scoffings, false teachings, and other evils all at once. Nobody would follow such a fellow. But feed a slow steady diet, make it look normal, convince the crowds that everybody else does it, show them signs and wonders, and soon you will have the masses begging for more. That's how Satan does it. That's what our flesh lusts for. What are your strongest desires for? Jesus? or the things of this world?

The fruit of wheat is more wheat. Wheat exhibits the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

The fruit of tares is more tares. Tares do not exhibit the fruit of the Spirit nor do they produce wheat. Yes you will find disciples of tares, but they will not be disciples of Jesus. Just look at their fruit. Jesus says that His disciples will have nothing of this world about them for they have forsaken all (Luke 14:33). On the other hand, the tares will have nothing but the world about them for out of their lusts they will accumulate these things. Demas is a good example.

But the easiest fruit to identify is the lie common to all tares. John gives evidence abundantly in his first epistle: 1 John 1:10, 2:4, 2:22, 4;20, and 5:10. the verses I gave earlier also provide may evidences of tare fruit: scoffers, lustful, ignorant, lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, and having a form of godliness.

What are we to do with these people? God commands us to "turn away" from them in 2 Timothy 3:5. We are to have nothing to do with them. No fellowship, no worship, no church.

But doesn't that contradict what Jesus said in the parable? Aren't we just supposed to wait until the harvest? Absolutely! But when is the harvest? When the fruit comes in! Don't confuse this with the rapture or with the separation of the sheep and the goats. This harvest is now. Jesus says in Matthew 9:38, "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest." He says that the fields are white for the harvest NOW (John 4:35).

Finally my fellow remnant, the Bride of Christ, you shall know the fruit of the tares by their apparel. They are not dressed as we are, ready for our Bridegroom. We are dressed in fine white linen, washed in the blood of the Lamb. What are we to do with the tares in our midst who are not washed and dressed?

Jesus tells us plainly in Matthew 22:11-14, "And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen."

Are you among the few or the many? Are you the wheat or the tares? The truth will set free the remnant and bind the wicked.

1 comment:

W McCallum said...

Strong words. I don't know about you brother, but I find that when the Word of God is taught in balance like this that some Christians don't like it! They like the 'grace' side of the Word of God but the 'defining' between wheat and tears and the 'separating' part of God's Word brings offence or is overlooked altogether.