Never Distinguish Tares From Wheat

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Mercy and love, kindness and encouragement, forgiveness and patience are things we all constantly want and need from others. Shall we not constantly bestow them upon others?
Our thoughts are never lower and self-righteousness never greater than when we engage in the hellish practice of trying to determine who is saved and who is lost. Our Lord told us plainly that we can never distinguish tares from wheat. That is his business. Our business is to preach the gospel. Let us be taken up with and have our every thought consumed with the glories of Christ, let us expend all our energy in the great work of preaching our all-glorious Christ to eternity bound sinners. Nothing else is of any real value to the needs of men’s souls.

TARES AMONG THE WHEAT

Tares look very much like wheat. Therefore the wise farmer will not try to separate the one from the other until harvest time. At that time they are easily distinguished. The tares will stand straight and erect. But the wheat will bow its head. Proud, self-righteous religionists are tares, which shall be bound up for the burning. The humbled, submissive, broken believers are the wheat, which shall be gathered into the heavenly granary.

“Let Both Grow Together”

Matthew 13:30

Wherever there is a vineyard of grace satan sows tares with the wheat. When a young, zealous laborer sees one of the tares, he starts uprooting. But the wise laborer knows better. He leaves the tares alone, knowing that tares cannot be distinguished from wheat until havest time. We must “let both grow together” lest we uproot the wheat in our misguided zeal to rid the field of tares.

The Saints at Corinth

1 Corinthians 1:2

Paul begins his letter to the Corinthian church by reminding them that they had been sanctified in Christ and been called of God. He assures them of continued grace and peace from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, and of his continual thanksgiving to God for the grace bestowed upon them by Christ (vv. 3-4). He then proceeds to assure them of his complete confidence that the gospel and the boundless grace of God had been confirmed to them by the operations of God the Holy Spirit upon them in effectual calling, causing them to ever look for Christ’s coming (vv. 5-6). He goes so far as to assure these Corinthian believers that our ever-faithful God, who had called them into the fellowship of Christ, would at last bring them blameless into glory in the resurrection (vv. 8-9).

The Corinthian Church

All these assurances of grace and glory were given by divine inspiration to the church at Corinth. I cannot imagine a local church anywhere in the world, at any time in history, plagued with more evil than the church at Corinth. Among these saints, horrid immorality was winked at as a matter of indifference (chap. 5). Yet, they embraced the notion that by abstaining from physical pleasure they could make themselves more holy and spiritual (chap 7). God’s faithful servant, by whom they were taught the gospel, was scorned among them. Pride caused them to disdain the poor and the weak. Those who possessed, or thought they possessed, great spiritual gifts looked down their noses at those they considered less spiritual. Though the Corinthian church was probably the wealthiest of the New Testament churches, it was the most miserly in giving. They horribly abused the ordinances of God, making the person by whom they were baptized a matter of pride and spiritual superiority, and turning the Lord’s Table into a carnal, religious feast. And they denied the resurrection of our Lord.

All these things divided the local church at Corinth into factions, threatening to destroy it. Yet, when Paul wrote this Epistle to them, he addressed them as “them that are sanctified (having been sanctified) in Christ, called to be saints” (1:2), assuring them that God would confirm them unto the end and make them “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 6).

A Needful Lesson

I call your attention to these things because they set before us a very, very important lesson, a lesson of which we need to be constantly reminded. ― God’s saints in this world are often plagued with moral weaknesses, poor judgment, spiritual evil, and doctrinal error. So long as we are in this world, God’s saints (all of us) are sinners still. We dare not make excuse for our own sins or the sins of others, giving license to evil. But, even more importantly, we dare not make ourselves judges over our brethren, pronouncing those whom God has sanctified accursed. If men and women profess to believe the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ, they are to be received and embraced by us as our brothers and sisters in Christ, “not to doubtful disputations” (Rom. 14:2). ― “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand” (Rom. 14:4).

God’s Work, Not Ours

Such judgment is God’s work, not ours. There are many who think they have the ability to distinguish between sheep and goats, between tares and wheat, between good fish and bad, and try to make it their business to separate the one from the other. They foolishly and arrogantly think they have the ability to determine who is saved and who is lost. The fact is: ― No one has that ability. Our Lord Jesus pointedly tells us to let the wheat and tares grow together (Matt. 13:30).

If we try to separate the good from the bad, we will do so basing our judgment upon the outward appearance. We have no other basis of judgment. That means, our judgment is always wrong. ― “For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).[1]

If it were left to us, we would always run off the sheep and hug the goats, pull up the wheat and cultivate the tares, throw out the good fish and keep the bad (Matt. 13:28-30). Our business is to cast out the gospel net, gathering in fish, both good and bad, as the Lord determines, knowing that where Christ plants his wheat, Satan plants tares, and where Christ gathers his sheep, Satan brings in goats. It is the business of God’s church and his servants to faithfully preach the gospel. As we do, God will, by the preaching of the gospel, separate “the precious from the vile” (Jer. 15:19), gather his wheat into his barn, and bind up the tares for the burning. The gospel fan is in our Lord’s hand. ― “He will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12).

[1] I do not suggest or imply that we are to embrace as our brothers and sisters in Christ those who deny the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ. Anyone who does not believe the gospel of Christ is lost, no matter what he professes, how loudly he claims to believe on the Son of God, or how pious and devoted he may appear to be in his outward behavior (2 John 9-10).
Don Fortner

Don Fortner website

5 thoughts on “Never Distinguish Tares From Wheat

  1. Truth, most clearly and plainly stated. Included in the above is a warning, which all would do well to heed, not only those in the body of saints, but also those pastors and elders who ascribe to their positions the imaginary right to impose their own particular brand of church discipline and ex-communicative powers on their congregations.

    Church leaders who are on enough of a power trip to imagine that they can impose their versions of self-righteous discipline on God’s people, based on outward displays of legalism, asceticism, denominational prescripts or local church board decisions, should well ask themselves what they regard their chances could be of being able to remove from the true church, those who were added to it by God.

    They should superimpose the sign which reads “Right of Admission Reserved” over the signs which proclaim “in Christ alone”, or, as in some instances, “…this Sunday, all are welcome”.

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  2. I believe that if you have discernment of the Spirit, you will be able to discern the fruit of the wheat and the fruit of the tare. As you have mentioned in this article the fruit of the tare is pride along with self contentedness, arrogance and being boastful. However the fruit of the wheat is humble, serving, giving, willing to bow in submission. The bible say’s that you will know them by their fruit which is part of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives who sanctifies us daily. While the wheat and tares are growing the fruit may not be discernable, but when it has matured there are evidences that will separate the two. After all if you don’t have discernment of the Spirit in these area’s than what will protect you from being led away in these last days by the many false doctrines that are arising? Discernment was given to us a gift for protection and to those who rightly divide the word of truth those will be saved.

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    • Donna, thank your for your comment. The Scriptures are clear……

      (Rom. 14:2). ― “Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand” (Rom. 14:4).

      God’s Work, Not Ours

      Such judgment is God’s work, not ours. There are many who think they have the ability to distinguish between sheep and goats, between tares and wheat, between good fish and bad, and try to make it their business to separate the one from the other. They foolishly and arrogantly think they have the ability to determine who is saved and who is lost. The fact is: ― No one has that ability. Our Lord Jesus pointedly tells us to let the wheat and tares grow together (Matt. 13:30).

      If we try to separate the good from the bad, we will do so basing our judgment upon the outward appearance. We have no other basis of judgment. That means, our judgment is always wrong. ― “For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).[1]

      If it were left to us, we would always run off the sheep and hug the goats, pull up the wheat and cultivate the tares, throw out the good fish and keep the bad (Matt. 13:28-30). Our business is to cast out the gospel net, gathering in fish, both good and bad, as the Lord determines, knowing that where Christ plants his wheat, Satan plants tares, and where Christ gathers his sheep, Satan brings in goats. It is the business of God’s church and his servants to faithfully preach the gospel. As we do, God will, by the preaching of the gospel, separate “the precious from the vile” (Jer. 15:19), gather his wheat into his barn, and bind up the tares for the burning. The gospel fan is in our Lord’s hand. ― “He will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matt. 3:12).

      Like

    • Discernment was given to us a gift for protection and to those who rightly divide the word of truth those will be saved.

      Donna

      Your own words, and thank you for them, rightfully describe the gift of discernment: The ability to divide (understand and believe) the Word of truth. Yes! Those who have spiritual discernment will be saved. However, the gift of discernment does not enable the recipient thereof to correctly judge or place other men into categories.

      The Word is clear on the matter. Those who have discernment, have salvation through grace, not authority over fellow men. However, even though God’s chosen people have the gift of discernment to rightly divide the Word of truth, they are still not equal to God. God’s own are not granted supernatural divine abilities to decide, by means of their own perceptions or senses, who will be saved and who will burn.

      Dividing the wheat from the chaff and separating the sheep from the goats has always been, and will forever be, solely according to the will of God. Sin-filled man could never administer the ability to make holy decisions. Jesus did not give His life to save good people. He died for sinners and the baddest of bad people in need of salvation.

      The last will be first. The first will be last. Never forget those truths.

      Like

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