Satan holds no power with God. He is not a divine opponent to our Heavenly Father, and he has no strength to truly battle with God. Satan was expelled from Heaven on God’s command, Satan is only allowed to operate within God’s permissive will, and Satan will ultimately be condemned to Hell for eternity by God’s divine order.
This is plainly seen in scripture as Satan had to obtain God’s permission before testing Job, as Satan had to obey the command of Christ to leave His presence in the wilderness, and as the demons cried out to Christ “Have you come to torment us before our time?”
Satan knows he has a limited time on this earth before his judgment is carried out and he is condemned to Hell for eternity. He knows he cannot win. So, his only recourse is to cause as much disruption as possible in an attempt to blunt God’s glory and to cause the Lord loss.
In God’s infinite power, Satan will find that to be an exercise in futility, because God takes all adversity and converts it to good, thus bringing Him glory.
In Matthew 13, Jesus gives the parables of the Wheat and Tares, the Leaven, and the Mustard Seed to foretell of Satan’s disruptive tactics among God’s people.
In the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, Jesus tells the story of a man who sowed good seed in his field. However, while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the good seed. When it was discovered, the man recognized the tares as the work of his enemy.
Prioritizing the safety of the wheat (the good seed), the man instructs his servants to allow all of it to grow, and that the tares would be separated out at the harvest. In Matthew 13:36-43, Jesus gives the interpretation of this parable, which enhances the interpretation of the parable of the sower and provides a greater framework for interpreting the other Kingdom Parables (Leaven, Mustard Seed, Pearl of Great Price, and Treasure in a Field). Further framework in interpreting the parables can be found here.
In the Parable of the Wheat and Tares, we find that the man that sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The good seed is the word, the Gospel. The field is the world.
As we learned in the Parable of the Sower, Christ sowed the Gospel to the entire world indiscriminately. He made the word available to everyone regardless of whether they would accept the word or not.
However, in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares, we find that an enemy (identified in Matthew 13:39 as the devil, Satan), sowed a false gospel. He sowed a false word. As a result, true believers (wheat) and fake believers (tares) grow alongside one another in this world waiting for the day of the harvest, when the Lord will separate the believers from the non-believers, condemning the non-believers to Hell while gathering the believers into His Heaven.
The result is that the “righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father.”
The reason Christ shared this parable was to prepare us for the inevitable conflict and disruptions that will come from having believers and non-believers living side-by-side. He prepared us for such disruptions so that we would not be discouraged or disillusioned by them.
The presence of Spiritual conflict is evidence that God is working. The presence of moral and Spiritual failures validates the predictions made by Christ in the parables, and thus lend even more credence to His words. Neither of these things, Spiritual conflict or Spiritual failures on the part of the people should discredit the Gospel. Quite the opposite.
In this parable, there are a few other lessons we should learn.
First, we ARE NOT to try to figure out who the non-believers and false believers are. This is a very clear point to this parable. The man in the story said that if the servants tried to dig up the tares, they may accidentally dig up the wheat also.
Our efforts to identify the “tares” among us will result in an atmosphere of constant scrutiny, and will create a culture of judgment. Often, we will misjudge a true believer to be a false believer, and destroy the faith or testimony of the true believer thinking they were false.
For the safety and sake of the true believers, Jesus taught us not to judge, not to scrutinize each other, and to allow Him to sort it all out on the day of judgment. This lesson from this parable holds true to the teachings of Christ in the Sermon on the Mount to “judge not lest ye be judged,” and the writings of Paul in Romans 14:4, “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.”
Secondly, there is a dire warning to confirm whether you are a wheat or a tare. The wheat is gathered into barns. This is a picture of the saved being gathered and taken into God’s eternal Kingdom. The tares are gathered and burned in a picture of the eternal condemnation of Hell.
When I read the Lord’s interpretation of that part of the parable, it motivates me to check my faith and make sure my faith is in the true Gospel. It should be the same for you.
And thirdly, there is a message of hope. In that day, when the wheat and tares are separated, the “righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father. (Matthew 13:43). The day is coming when the Lord will glorify us, and will give us the eternal blessing that He has promised.
We know for sure that we will inherit that promise, if we know Him as Savior.