"And other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it, and choked it out" (Luke 8:7). "And the seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity" (Luke 8:14). Those who are not entangled with the worries and cares of this life, and are not pursuing the love of money, may be entangled with the love of ease and pleasures. "Let us press on to maturity" (Heb. 6:1).
We have a responsibility as Christians to grow up to be spiritual adults in Christ. In order to do this, we must "lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us" (Heb. 12:1). The weights are those things which take time and strength away from God - appointed duties. Spending valuable time in watching television, playing cards, watching movies, etc., are weights which hinder our spiritual growth and choke God's word. These things must be laid aside. Bible study, prayer, and meditation should take their place. Without proper Bible study one cannot grow spiritually.
"Like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation" (1 Pet. 2:1). The duty exhorted is a strong and constant desire for the word of God. God's word is food for our souls whereby the mind and heart are nourished and strengthened. Christians should hunger and thirst for God's word as a baby does for his mother's milk. This is one sign of a person being truly born again. A newborn baby and a newborn Christian will both have strong desires for nourishment, one physical and the other spiritual. Without proper milk neither one will grow.
"For they all seek their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus" (Phil 2:21). In a very real sense we all either live by Phil. 1:21: "For to me, to live is Christ;" or, Phil 2:21: "For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ." We are either spending our time seeking our own interests or Christ's honor and glory. We prefer either earthly pleasures or truth, holiness, and duty. Jesus said, "where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Our hearts follow after the things we treasure. If earthly pleasure is our treasure, our time and effort will be spent seeking such things. If Jesus and His interests are our treasure, our affections will be on things above, not on things of this earth. The way we spend our time identifies what we treasure.
People become "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God" (2 Tim. 3:4). How can we know if someone loves pleasures more than God? "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matt. 7:16). We are taught to "prove all things" (1 Thess. 5:21), "try the spirits" (1 Jn. 4:1), and here we have a rule to go by. The fruit identifies the tree. Not by the bark or leaves, but by their fruits ye shall know them. People may boast that they love God more than pleasures, but their daily habits will either confirm or deny their assertion. People who spend their valuable time indulging their carnal nature in worldly pleasures while neglecting Bible study, prayer, meditation, and teaching, are exposing what kind of "tree" they really are.
"For I am jealous for you with a Godly jealousy; for I have betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2-3). The conversion of the soul is its marriage to Christ. Christians must keep themselves pure and faithful, not having their minds led astray from sincere devotion to Christ. There is a wedding day coming and those who are found doing the Lord's will are the ones who will attend the wedding service (Rev. 19:1-9). As the bride of Christ, we must remain faithful to Him. When we leave Christ to cleave to the things of this world, we are branded by God as "adulterers and adulteresses" (James 4:4). By giving our valuable time to this world with all its attractions, we become God's enemy. Our minds are being led astray from spiritual responsibilities to rest upon earthly things. Our God is a jealous God (1 Cor. 10:22, Dt. 32:16). Do we dare provoke Him to jealousy by flirting with the pleasures of the world?
"For we were once foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved for various lusts and pleasures..." (1 Titus 3:3). We are foolish when we are without true spiritual understanding and knowledge. We are disobedient when we are not pressing forward in spiritual growth as we are commanded. We are deceived when we allow Satan to lead our minds and hearts away from truth, holiness, and devotion to God, to cling to worldly pleasures. We are enslaved to various lusts and pleasures when we devote more time to those than we do to serving God's interests.
"He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf" (2 Cor. 5:15). Christ did not die so we could live as we please. Christ died that we should not make ourselves, but Him, the end of our living and actions.
The early Christians met daily, not just on Sunday and Wednesday, to study, pray, break bread, and fellowship. They met in the temple and from house to house. Their minds and hearts were set upon holy duties. They worshipped God daily. They grew numerically and spiritually because they were Christ-centered and not self-centered. Why don't we see Christians meeting daily to study and pray together? We seem to find plenty of time to watch television daily. Maybe our minds are on earthly things instead of things above. Maybe this world has our hearts instead of Christ. Maybe our minds are polluted with movies, songs, etc., which promote sin through sex, violence, and filthy language. Television and country music are filled with such. Would Jesus take pleasure in such entertainment? "Those who say they abide in Him ought to walk in the same manner as He walked" (1 Jn. 2:6).
We often boast that we are the one and the only true church because we don't sing with mechanical instruments, and we have restored baptism and the Lord's Supper, but can we boast that we have restored our hearts? Apostasy is not missing a Sunday worship but is simply heart departure from God. It is easy to be faithful in attendance, but are we truly faithful in our devotion to God? Are we truly the pattern of the early church we read about in Acts 2:42-47? Pleasures become idolatry when we put such before our Christian responsibilities. "Coveting is idolatry" (Eph. 5:5, Col. 3:5). Coveting is simply a desire for something more than God. Ye shall know them by their fruits!