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In Luke 8:12, Jesus describes the first scenario in his parable of the sower:

Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so they will not believe and be saved. NASB

Is this a case where the person receiving the word has something to do with the devil taking the truth away from their heart or is this situation one where the devil chooses to take away the word from specific people’s hearts, regardless of their willingness to believe?

Also, what does it mean for the devil to take away the word from their heart - does this mean they will never believe?

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The key to success, according to the parable, is cultivation.

Lack of removing stones was the downfall of some. Lack of removing weeds was the downfall of others, who, initially, had no stones to hinder their growth. But the weeds had not been removed and they competed : a competitive form of life to the word.

The wayside had no cultivation at all and therefore was an unsuitable place for seed to fall. It was wasted. The enemy (birds or Satan) had access and the seed lay unprotected in an infertile area.

There had been no preparation. No clearance, no digging. Nothing could go grow there.

It was uncultivated.

The initial chapters of all four gospel accounts clearly express the importance of a preparative work (prior to the sowing of the word) which work will ready the heart for the reception of the word.

If one has had no thought of death, of eternity, of one's own sinful state, of the brevity of life, of the necessity of judgment, of one's own committed sins - in thought and word and deed - then the word will be meaningless. No cultivation.

It is clear from the gospel accounts and the epistles and the book of Revelation that the Wicked One, Satan, Diabolos, the Serpent, the Drakon - that that entity has ready access, through the world and worldliness and the lust of the world ; and through the flesh and its desires and its proclivities and its lusts ; and through the effects of nature and natural relationships, through all these means he can influence the soul.

Unless it has been cultivated, otherwise.

For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns. [Jeremiah 4:3. KJV]

Spiritual exercise, penitence, moderation in natural things, carefulness in regard to the flesh, circumspect behaviour in regard to relationships : all is necessary if one is to benefit from the word of God.

Otherwise, it is immediately plucked away.

The heart has no grasp on it. No affinity. The heart will pulse after that which is vital. It will not engage with that which it does not recognise. Survival depends on priorities. And what is uppermost (as the heart sees things) is that which will receive prime attention.

'The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked : who can know it ?' Jeremiah 17:9. It requires a powerful work of the Holy Spirit to break it up, to break it down, to make it malleable, to render it receptive.

Otherwise, it simply does what nature does : eat and drink and marry and give in marriage . . . . until the Flood (of judgment) comes, Matthew 24:38.

No cultivation : no penetration.

And thus . . . no fruit.

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This is in the parable of the sower. It is also in the portion where the parable is being deciphered by Jesus to the disciples.

The first category that is referred to when speaking of the word being removed

“The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:12‬ ‭

Is the ground along the path or on the path.

““A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it.” ‭‭Luke‬ ‭8:5‬ ‭

The trampling under foot of the seed, or the word of God being trampled under foot means those hearing the word show disregard for the word because either they or others “walk” all over it. They discredit the validity of the Word or the sower or both. They don’t care for the Word and walk all over it. For such hearers of the Word, the preaching does not penetrate at all, it’s all on the surface.

It’s like someone listening to a sermon and the person sitting next to them saying this all sounds good but it’s unfounded, so don’t put stock in it, it doesn’t work, it’s been discredited and scholars have found too many errors in the text. Such a person doesn’t even have a chance to let the Word penetrate, much less produce fruit because the Word(seed) is rejected almost as soon as it is heard.

The birds of the air are unclean spirits, this can be seen in other passages of OT Scriptures through in-depth study but Jesus Himself informs us that they are demonic because it’s satan that takes this word away from the hearers and he does this by the birds of the air or the unclean spirits.

When does satan do this? When the hearer rejects the word and disregards it. At this point the word is removed from the hearer’s heart and they will not recall it for it has been removed.

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