Mark 4:18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word,

19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful.

Colossians 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.

James 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

James 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

MEMORY VERSE: Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul. —I Peter 2:11

CENTRAL THOUGHT: It is important to crucify the desires of the flesh, especially those longings for what is forbidden by God, because such longings will soon overtake the soul, choke out spiritual life and turn developing fruit into rottenness.


Mark 4:19 “Lusts of other things”: a passionate longing, especially for what is forbidden. Same word as concupiscence in Colossians 3:5 and I Thessalonians 4:5 and lust in Titus 2:12, James 1:14 and I Peter 2:11.

Colossians 3:2 “Set your affection”: direct the mind to; seek for; care for. From a Greek root which means “the midriff or diaphragm; the parts around the heart.”

Colossians 3:5 “Inordinate affection”: “a suffering.” Strong feelings or emotions that are not guided by God; burning passion; consuming lust. “Covetousness”: desire for advantage; lusting for a greater number of temporal things that go beyond what God determines is eternally best. From a combination of Greek words which means “have numerically more” (HELPS Word Studies). “Inordinate desire—evil concupiscence: [Inordinate desire is] implying a passive receptiveness of impression from without; the other [evil concupiscence] the positive energy of desire to seek gratification” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers).

James 4:3 “Amiss”: badly; improperly; wrongly; with wrong motives.


We can think of several Old Testament people who ruined their lives by passionately longing for what was forbidden to them. In Genesis 3, Eve was tempted by the pleasurable beauty of the tree, the anticipation of something new and tasty to eat, and the appeal made to her human curiosity to know more and be considered wise. She influenced Adam, who by his transgression passed the nature of sin to all his descendants. They lost their beautiful home, their innocence, and their fellowship with God.

Lot’s wife perished when she, in disobedience to God’s command, turned back to look at the home she loved so dearly (Genesis 19:26).

Achan lost his life, family and belongings because he coveted and stole forbidden treasures from Jericho (Joshua 7).

David brought trouble and sorrow upon his family for the rest of his life when he lusted after Bathsheba and deceitfully killed her husband in order to marry her (II Samuel 12:10).

Ahab so desired Naboth’s piece of property he threw a tantrum and consorted with his evil wife to kill to get it (I Kings 21).

Gehazi coveted Naaman’s gifts to Elisha and paid for it the rest of his life—with leprosy (II Kings 5:27).

In the New Testament there was Judas, who lost his soul for thirty pieces of silver (Matthew 27).

Herod Antipas wanted his brother’s wife, Herodias, married her, and had John the Baptist beheaded for her (Mark 6). At her urging, he went to Rome to gain the title of king, but was sorely defeated and banished, accompanied by Herodias, for the rest of his life (Smith’s Bible Dictionary).

Ananias and his wife Sapphira conspired to sell their land and made it appear they were giving all the proceeds to the disciples; however, they pocketed part of the profit and lied about it (Acts 5). Both fell dead, being found out and condemned by the Lord.

Did you notice that in many of these examples, after they gained what they lusted for, they lost both the object of lust and, in most cases, their lives? How tragic!

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


  1. In the verses from Colossians, three definite instructions are given to the person who has been “risen with Christ.” What are they?
  2. What are the two things that grace teaches us (Titus 2:11-12)?
  3. According to James, what things come from lusts or wrong desires?
  4. James identifies what kind of prayers are not answered. Explain this.
  5. What names did James give to people who are friends with the world?
  6. What is the meaning of the term “lusts of other things”?
  7. Name individuals from Bible history who illustrate this lesson.


I would like to speak quite plainly to the church today concerning these deadly thorns. We see fruitless professors all around us, and sadly, multitudes more who know better are allowing little roots of anxiety, cares of business and social life, and cares brought on them by the affluent way many of them live, to choke their love, their zeal, and their ability to give time and service to the Lord. The evil spirits let loose in worldly media and fashion and the pursuit of wealth are wreaking havoc on marriages. Worldly entertainment is choking out the family altar.

We have been given the heritage of a godly, plain and simple way of living. We can trace this teaching clear from the disciples and the early church, down through the martyrs of the middle ages, Anabaptists, protestors and radical reformers, on into the early holiness movements and in the beginning Church of God reformation throughout the world.

However, following every time of reformation, it wouldn’t be long until formality and worldliness, appearing innocent and harmless, would spread alarmingly throughout congregations, bringing division and confusion and stifling the ardent zeal for the spread of the pure gospel. Sadly, many efforts to weed out worldliness resulted in honest souls swinging too far the opposite way, with harshness, glaring inconsistencies and in-fighting causing bitterness and disillusion.

We stand in grave danger today more than ever before. The thorns Jesus mentioned are consuming all spiritual life from many, and we must take action.

Consider this from Matthew Henry: “It is our duty to mortify our members which incline to the things of the world. Mortify them, kill them, suppress them, as weeds or vermin which spread and destroy all about them. Continual opposition must be made to all corrupt workings, and no provision made for carnal indulgences. Occasions of sin must be avoided: the lusts of the flesh, and the love of the world; and covetousness, which is idolatry. “It is necessary to mortify sins, because if we do not kill them, they will kill us.”

—Sis. Angela Gellenbeck


Sin has a strong pull to it. Samson started with the power of God in his life, but the desire for the forbidden ended him up powerless in the lap of Delilah.

As children, my two older brothers and I loved to go outside after a big rain to play in the water. We lived close to a park, and after a big summer downpour it would be covered with water. We were so excited as we got close to this huge lake of water. But what was most exciting was a very large whirlpool in the deepest part of the park. This thing was like a monster going round and round, gobbling up trash and limbs and disappearing down a hole.

Being curious and adventurous boys, we decided to get closer to it so we could watch it better. We waded out to our waists and then a little bit deeper. We could feel the current around us and hear the noise as everything was pulled down the hole. In just a minute my older brother lost his footing and started being carried toward the center.

Isn’t that like sin? What business do we have desiring the forbidden? The Internet is much like this; if you watch something filthy for just a minute, that’s too close and it will pull you in, robbing your innocence and taking your time. The love of other things will choke out the Word and take you farther away from God.

In the Evening Light song #299, the first verse mentions “my struggle within, between the good spirit and indwelling sin,” and “a foe in the temple not subject to God.” That’s where these desires for the forbidden are coming from. We have to have all foes in the temple under the power of the blood;. In Zechariah 4:6 it says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.” It’s only by His power that we can overcome these desires.

And back to my story, my oldest brother grabbed my brother and pulled him away from the hole and he was saved. My mom never knew how close we were to death.

God help us to stay away from the forbidden.

—Bro. James Bell