The love for the truth is distinctly different from the love of the truth. One’s love for the truth occurs as the concepts of truth are pursued; this love motivates toward the discovery of truth. In contrast, the love of the truth results from knowing God and embracing His character as pertains to love. To state this in a different manner, the love of the truth is godliness personified in the person of the followers of Jesus.

Peter had a great love for truth when He boasted of his intent to go to his death should that be necessary to remain faithful to Jesus. However, He did not have the love of the truth in Him to the extent necessary to fulfill that boast. That is why Jesus later asked him three times if he loved Him (see John 21.15-17). This was the love that was necessary to faithfully and without fail feed Jesus’ sheep! When Peter began to love like Jesus, He began to exhibit the love of the truth; when he merely loved truth, Peter stumbled and fell in spite of his intent to excel! The difference in these two types of love is the difference between daylight and dark.

It is this love of the truth that Paul identified as being essential to carry us through difficult times and to protect us against spiritual deception. As Paul noted, Satan possesses great power and is capable of performing signs and lying wonders even to the point of deceiving the elect (see 2 Thessalonians 2.7-12). Now, dear reader, connect this potential for deception with Jesus’ exhortation to His disciples in the Parable of the Soils as recorded in Luke 8 and Matthew 13. You remember the parable but perhaps have heard it referred to as the Parable of the Sower. You recall that a sower went forth to sow and the seed that he cast abroad landed in four vastly different environments, i.e. upon the wayside soil, upon a rock, among the thorns, and upon the good ground. Without recounting the entire parable, we fast forward to the end. Only the seed upon the good soil resulted in sustained growth and a bountiful harvest. The seed upon the wayside soil did not even germinate before being destroyed. The seed that landed upon the rock sprouted but due to the lack of a root system was soon destroyed by the sun. In contrast, the seed among the thorns sprouted and began to grow much like the seed in the good soil. However, it was not to live long as the cares of this world (represented by the thorns) choked it out and brought it to no good end. At its conclusion, Jesus explained the parable to His disciples. It was here that Jesus said something unique and of extreme importance; we will note that saying of Jesus.

“Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” (Luke 8.18). So we do not miss the point, I want to note with emphasis the exhortation of Jesus: “Therefore take heed how you hear.” On several other occasions He exhorted His listeners in a similar manner saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear,” or some similar expression (see Matthew 11.15; 13.19; 13.43). But, His charge in Luke’s record did not have to do with content as much as with manner. “Take heed how you hear.” The exhortation is one that requires diligence and discernment. Failure to follow this exhortation would result in the destruction experienced by at least some of the soils in the parable just cited.

The non-critical listener is poised to fall. As John so succinctly put it, “…many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4.1). This being the case, John implored his brothers and sisters to “…not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God.” The critical hearer has what it takes to discern the difference between truth and error; the non-critical hearer will be deceived and destroyed! “Therefore take heed how you hear!”

Questions:

1. What did the seed represent in the Parable of the Soils (see Luke 8.11)?

2. What was the difference (if any) in the seed that was sown among the various soils?

3. How would one “test the spirits” as John exhorted his readers to do?

4. Is it wrong to listen critically? Is it wrong not to listen critically? Given the fact many false prophets have gone out into the world, what will happen to believers who fail to listen critically?