Matthew 13:4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up.

Luke 8:5b And it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.

Matthew 13:19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the wayside.

Mark 4:15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts.

Luke 8:12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

II Corinthians 4:3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

II Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you.

Hebrews 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;

15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

MEMORY VERSE: Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. —James 1:21b

CENTRAL THOUGHT: The hardened ground of a thoroughfare, over which many feet have pounded, is unlikely for germinating seed; so it is with a hardened human heart which is calloused by the many deeds, ideas and voices of sinful man and is blinded by satan, who catches away every bit of God’s word before it can be understood, received, and believed; and accomplish the work of salvation.


Matthew 13:19 “Catcheth away”: seize, snatch; take by force or robbery. “Careless, trifling hearers, are an easy prey to Satan; who, as he is the great murderer of souls, so he is the great thief of sermons, and will be sure to rob us of the word, if we take not care to keep it” (Matthew Henry Commentary).

II Corinthians 4:4 “The god of this world”: called by Jesus the “prince of this
world” (John 12:31) and “rulers of the darkness of this world” (Ephesians 6:12). This refers to satan, who has dominion over the hearts of this evil world and is worshiped by them.

Hebrews 3:15 “To day if ye will hear his voice…”: a quote from Psalm 95:7-8. James 1:21 “Engrafted”: implanted.


In our last lesson we discovered how God’s Word is the seed which is sown in the heart. Today we compare what the three Gospel writers recorded about the effect the Word has on the hardened, calloused heart.

Through the three accounts, we learn that when the word is preached to hard hearts, immediately, before the person can understand or believe, satan takes the word away.

This condition of hardness is also described as being blinded by the Apostle Paul in II Corinthians (blindness in Ephesians 4:18), and describes the heathen nations who were under the dominion of idolatry and devil worship.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites, through unbelief, hardened their hearts to the point where, when it was time for them to walk into what God had promised them from the beginning, they refused, not believing that God could defeat the giant foes, break down the mighty city walls and eradicate the idol-worshipping nations. We as believers are warned about that kind of hardness in the book of Hebrews. So it is not only hardened sinners who are being described in our lesson as not being able to received the Word being planted, but God’s own people who profess to know Him can also be blinded and hardened through “the deceitfulness of sin” so that they will not be partakers of Christ —His will, His way, and His inheritance —but will be cast away in the end.

We are entreated in the Thessalonian letter to pray that God’s Word will have free course when it is preached. Since we know that satan is on hand when the gospel message is going forth, we as believers should have a constant prayer on our hearts that hearts will be softened to receive it and that satan would be rebuked and not able to accomplish his robbery.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. Review what happens when the seed (Word of God) is received into the heart.
  2. What does satan do to prevent this?
  3. Satan snatches the Word before a person can __________________ it and be saved.
  4. What can we do to prevent this?
  5. Share some ways by which we can work to soften the hearts of people before we ever invite them to hear God’s Word.
  6. Explain the importance of preaching the Word in such a way that it has “free course” and that people can clearly understand it.
  7. What did the writer say we need to do as believers to keep hardness from developing in our hearts? What are ways to do this?


As powerful as God’s Word is, it must have a receptive, softened heart in which to germinate, grow and bear fruit. Consider seed being cast along a busy roadway that has been pounded by many feet, vehicles, animals, or machinery. A plow or cultivator hasn’t touched it in years. Torrential rain may at times turn it into gooey muck, which is then baked rock-hard by the hot sun.

The human heart today also has much traffic—everywhere you go you hear pounding music, flashing advertisements, non-stop radio and movies. There are constant voices— parents, teachers, professors, business associates and friends; the news media and social media. People stay plugged into their headsets for hours a day. The television runs day and night in many homes. We are subject to its relentless spewing of worldly propaganda in places of business, restaurants where we eat, hospitals, and nursing homes. False prophets fill the air with deceptive doctrines and commandments of men.

This is the noise-polluted environment into which the precious seed, the Word of God, is sown. No wonder so many people rarely stop what they are listening to in order to comprehend God’s message. They hear something being said, but do not understand. Again, there must be work done beforehand to soften the hearts of people. Personal kindness, friendship, a listening ear, an earnest prayer for healing of the body, an unselfish gift of time or food.

“Get down on your knees and talk to God about people; then go out and talk to people about God,” someone once said. It is going to take a burden, fasting, tears and earnest prayer to soften the hardened heart so it can receive and understand God’s Word.

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


Many times in scripture, the word fowls denotes evil spirits. We realize that satan uses evil spirits to accomplish his work. Although we cannot see spirits with human eyes, spirits have the ability to communicate (present thoughts) to human intelligence. The process is so subtle that many times we are totally unaware of the presence of evil spirits and think it is just our own thoughts or mind.

“The word was sown,” also signifies communication—from the Lord to us. The Lord uses sowers to communicate divine intelligence, mind and will. However, when there is a heart that is hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, love of the world or for one’s own way (lack of honesty), then “satan cometh immediately” to steal the divine inspiration that was communicated to the heart. Satan, through evil spirits, lies and uses an “opposing intelligence” that when believed or pursued steals the potential and capability of divine intelligence, rendering it powerless. In this sense, the good seed is stolen or the hearer loses or misses the benefit that could have brought change and spiritual birth or growth.

Looking back over my life, I can clearly see many of satan’s “counter intelligences.”

“Not now—later.”

“Look at what you have to give up.”

“What will the people think of you?”

“The way is too hard!”

“You know you aren’t going to make it—you might as well give up.”

“You are not able.”

“You are a loser”—and the list goes on and on. He will also try to direct your mind into different channels of cares, responsibilities, troubles or anything to distract your mind or attention away from what the Spirit has communicated.

—Bro. Bob Wilson