Overcoming Thorns
(week 40/04)
Olubi Johnson

Jeremiah 4:3-4 NIV:  This is what the LORD says to the men of Judah and to Jerusalem : “Break up your unploughed ground and do not sow among thorns. 4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, circumcise your hearts, you men of Judah and people of Jerusalem, or my wrath will break out and burn like fire because of the evil you have done– burn with no-one to quench it. 

Here, the scripture instructs us not to sow among thorns.

Well, what are we to sow?

We are to sow the seed of God’s Word (1 Pet. 1.23) into our hearts by confession or speaking of the Word.

Mark 4:13-14 NKJV: The sower sows the word.

We water the seed of God’s Word by meditation (i.e. thinking on the Word with the purpose of understanding it so we can practice it) as we pray in the spirit fuelled by the life of God.

John 7:37-39 NKJV: On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” 39 But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Revelation 22:1 NKJV: And he showed me a pure river of water of life 

If, however, the seed of God’s Word is sown among thorns the thorns will choke the Word and make it unfruitful.

What then are the thorns and how do we overcome or get rid of them?

Mark 4:18-19 NKJV: Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, 19 and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

The thorns are the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches and the lusts or desires for other things.

We overcome these thorns by abstaining from them:

1 Peter 2:11 NKJV: Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul,

God gives this same commandment to the Kings of Israel in:

Deuteronomy 17:14-20 NKJV: “When you come to the land which the LORD your God is giving you, and possess it and dwell in it, and say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me,’ 15 “you shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses; one from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall not return that way again.’ 17 “Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. 18 “Also it shall be, when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. 19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 that his heart may not be lifted above his brethren, that he may not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, and that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children in the midst of Israel.

The thorns here are represented by:

1. The horses representing the cares of this world

2. The wives representing the lusts of other things.

3. The excessive multiplication of gold and silver representing the deceitfulness of riches.

We overcome these things by:

1. Avoiding them:

1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV: Abstain from all appearance of evil.

Practically, this does not mean you shut yourself away from the things, people and activities of this world, since we still live here (1 Cor. 5.10). However, it does means abstaining from overindulgence of any kind that will expose you to avoidable temptations for the lusts of other things.

For the cares of this world, it means to prioritise your time so you put prayer and the Word first in your daily schedule so that legitimate activities of family, business and even ministry (Lu. 14. 18-20) do not choke out your time with God: learn what Jesus said ‘sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof’ (Mt. 6.33, 34).

For the deceitfulness of riches, it means, as riches multiply, you learn to give it out firstly, for the furtherance of the gospel and secondly for the blessing of humanity: do not spend it all on yourself and physical desires. Enjoy all things richly but be temperate in all things (1 Tim. 6.17, 1 Cor. 9.25), let your joy and contentment come from the presence of God (Ps. 16.11, Heb. 13. 5) and not things so you can easily give money and things away when it is spiritually expedient to do so.

2. Killing our desires for them by the power of the Holy Spirit through confession, prayer, meditation and obedience to the Word of God.

Romans 8:12-13 NKJV: For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.