Before we took our short hiatus, we had just finished our examination of Luke 7. Recall that in the final passage of that chapter, we read about Lazarus’ sister, Mary, anointing Jesus with precious oil of Spikenard, washing His feet in her tears and drying them with her hair. Mary’s devotion to Jesus was obvious. What remains in question was just how much Mary realized about what was to take place in the coming week – Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, His arrest, “trial,” and torture, and finally His death on the cross. We saw that Jesus had taught His disciples that all these things would soon happen, but that none of them really “got it” until after Jesus’ resurrection.
Let’s press on, now into Luke 8, remembering that the chapter and verse divisions in our modern printed Bibles were added much later by Bible translators as an aid to the study and reference of the Scripture. After describing the anointing at Bethany by Mary, Luke takes a brief aside to mention by name some of the women who followed Jesus during His earthly ministry before continuing his narrative of the ministry itself.
In recent decades the church has been accused of being paternalistic, and oppressive toward women. The Bible has been increasingly denigrated as having been written by a male chauvinist elite, making it irrelevant to our times. Certain passages in the Word of God have been cited as particularly out of touch with modern life, and oppressive toward women, for example…
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 14:34-35
34Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.
1 Timothy 2:11-12
11Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.
Even churches and teachers who honor and revere the Word, and have chosen to stand firm in seeking to obey the full counsel of God, find such passages uncomfortable at best. Most modern churches in the West simply choose to skip over such passages in their teaching, or to disobey these directions altogether by appointing women as pastors and teachers. Other churches indulge in legalism, requiring specific conventions of dress and behavior for their women. Those few teachers and pastors who purpose to teach and obey these passages in the full context and counsel of the Word of God, are accused of being bigots and oppressing women.
Indeed, these are difficult passages to rightly divide, and are also subject to abuse by those who would seek to place and keep women in subservience to themselves. Nevertheless, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the thrust of Jesus’ teachings was inclusive of all people…
16For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Jesus makes no distinctions between people by any earthly characteristic whatsoever. The Greek word translated “whoever” here is πᾶς pas. It means – each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything. The only distinction Jesus makes between people is whether or not they have entered into a personal relationship with Him as their savior through belief in His Gospel (See Matthew 25:31-46 – the separation of the sheep from the goats).
This does not imply, however, that everyone in His Church is to have an identical role. Quite the contrary…
1 Corinthians 12:27-28
27Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. 28And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.
Nevertheless, all the members of the Body of Christ are of equal value. No one’s role is any more or less vital to the life of the Church than any other’s…
1 Corinthians 12:20-26
20But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.
As we shall soon see, the role of preparing a person’s body for burial was assigned to the women of the early Church. Although this might seem to be a menial task of little importance, which should rightly have been shared among all the members of the Church, it was a vital role based on a long-standing tradition, and deserving of honor. Recall Jesus’ rebuke of His disciples when they objected to Mary’s anointing His feet with expensive oil…
6But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.
Furthermore, we would all do well to recall Jesus’ admonishment when His disciples wondered which of them would be greatest in the Kingdom of God…
24Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. 25And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.
Now, after that lengthy introduction to a very brief passage, let’s continue our study in Luke with a look at some of the women who followed Jesus during His earthly ministry…
1Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, 2and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, 3and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.
Note verse 1. Clearly, the “afterward” here in this verse refers to the anointing at Bethany that Luke relates at the end of chapter 7. Yet, recall that when we studied that passage, we saw that this anointing took place on the evening before Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of the week in which He was crucified. If that’s true, there was precious little “afterward” in His earthly ministry – certainly not enough for Him to have gone “through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.”
How can we reconcile this conundrum? I see three possibilities…
- Perhaps Luke means that Jesus went only through the cities and villages on his way from Bethany to Jerusalem. Since Bethany lies on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem, this seems unlikely.
- There may have been two occasions on which a woman anointed Jesus with oil, washed His feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair. This is certainly possible, but I personally doubt it.
- Recalling that ancient Hebrew storytelling often recounts events out of chronological order, Luke just decided to place this interjection into the middle of his narrative. If this is the case, Luke’s editor gave him very poor advice because this interjection is very confusing, at least to modern western sensibilities about storytelling.
Having offered these three possibilities, I must admit that I am baffled by this verse. So I’ll just do as the college professors and textbook authors do whenever they don’t know the answer to some question and say, “The answer to this problem is left as an exercise for the student.” Let’s press on…
Apart from queens and princesses, it is very uncommon in ancient writings of most cultures (including ancient Hebrew society) to see references to women at all. Therefore, this short passage in Luke is noteworthy in citing several common women by name, so we will briefly explore what the Word says about these particular women.
The Bible mentions six women named Mary…
Mary the mother of Jesus
Mary Magdalene, a women from Magdala
Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha
Mary of Cleophas the mother of James the less
Mary the mother of John Mark, a sister of Barnabas
Mary, a Roman Christian who is greeted by Paul in Rom. 16:6
The name “Mary” is derived from the Hebrew name מִרְיָם Miryâm meaning “rebellion” – a strange and portentous name to call a baby girl, indeed!
The Mary seen here in Luke 8:2 was called “Magdalene” because she came from the village of Magdala, which lies on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee a few miles southwest of Capernaum along the via Maris – the ancient coastal road from Egypt to Damascus. In Israel today, there is a museum near the site of ancient Magdala which houses a fishing boat dating from the time of Jesus’ ministry that was discovered buried in the muddy lakebed in 1986.
Jesus visited Magdala after the miracle of the feeding of the 4,000 recorded in Matthew 15:32-39, arriving in Magdala by boat. It may have been during that visit when Jesus cast seven evil spirits from Mary Magdalene, although there is no account of that healing in the gospels. Having been cleansed of these demons, Mary Magdalene became a follower of Jesus. She was an eyewitness to Jesus’ crucifixion and burial, and was no doubt one of the sources who related to Luke some of the stories recorded in his gospel…
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
A couple of years back, the theme of our church’s men’s retreat was – “Man Up.” The reference verse for the retreat was…
2 Timothy 4:5
But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
How humbling and shameful, then, that (apart from John – c.f. John 19:25-26) we see none of the men who followed Jesus standing at the foot of the cross in His hour of greatest crisis, only some “lowly” women. Remember that all of Jesus’ male disciples had scattered into hiding when Jesus was arrested, just as Jesus had predicted…
Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:
‘I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered.’ [Zechariah 13:7]
Peter, the brave, manly fisherman, who proudly proclaimed his willingness to die for Jesus’ sake, had instead denied three times that he even knew Jesus, and had gone into hiding in abject shame and regret for his lack of courage. But these brave women were there at the cross to offer what little comfort they might to their Lord in His time of need.
Isn’t it interesting that three of the four women listed by John as standing at the foot of the cross were named Mary. Yet these “rebellious” Mary’s were there in obedience to Jesus’ Gospel. I’m not sure if that fact has any particular theological significance or not. It stands to reason that Jesus’ mother would have been there along with His unnamed aunt who was no doubt there to comfort her sister at the death of her son. The devotion and strength of Mary Magdalene and these other three women is clearly witnessed here as well.
Mary Magdalene was the first human being to meet the resurrected Christ…
Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons.
She was also the first person in the world to give a Gospel testimony…
11But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
14Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
16Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
17Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”
18Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.
We know practically nothing of Joanna or her husband, Chuza. We know only that she was a follower of Jesus, and (being the wife of the tetrarch’s steward) must have been reasonably well to do, so she was able to provide for Jesus’ needs from her substance, as it says here in Luke 8:3. Joanna also accompanied Mary Magdalene and Mary mother of James the less when they made the first testimony of the resurrection to Jesus’ other disciples (Luke 24:10).
Susanna is mentioned only here in Luke 8:3, so nothing further is known about her.
We now come to one of Jesus’ most famous parables…
Luke 8:4-15 (Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20)
4And when a great multitude had gathered, and they had come to Him from every city, He spoke by a parable: 5“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. 6Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. 7And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. 8But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.”When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
9Then His disciples asked Him, saying, “What does this parable mean?”
10And He said, “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that
‘Seeing they may not see,
And hearing they may not understand.’ [Isaiah 6:9]
11“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. 14Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
Matthew and Mark report that Jesus sat in a boat just off shore when He gave this teaching, so the likely location was the fishing village of Capernaum. The teaching itself, and the explanation of it that Jesus gave only to the inner circle of His disciples are well familiar to most of us. The passage requires little by way of exposition, so let’s work our way through it…
5“A sower went out to sow his seed.
We know from Jesus’ explanation of the parable, that the seed represents the Word of God. In fact, the Seed is Jesus Himself…
Genesis 3:15 (God speaking to the serpent in the garden)
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.”
10“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
11So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
1 John 5:7
For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.
For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
From these passages, we learn one very important lesson regarding God’s Word – it is continually being sown into men’s hearts, just as it has been since God’s creation of Adam (Genesis 1:26). So it will continue until Jesus returns to establish the new heaven, new earth, and new Jerusalem, foretold in Revelation 21:1-2.
In his final blessing of the children of Israel before he died, Moses proclaimed that everyone will hear the Word of God…
Yes, He loves the people;
All His saints are in Your hand;
They sit down at Your feet;
Everyone receives Your words.
The only difference in God’s eye between one person and another is how they respond to the hearing of His Word (Jesus). This is what the parable of the sower is all about. In it, Jesus speaks of four distinct responses to hearing His Word. In my own life, there have been seasons in which my own response to the Gospel has been all four of these.
…And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it.
In Jesus’ explanation of the parable, He says that these hearts do not accept the Word they receive, because our adversary comes and prevents them from accepting it. In my own case, Satan used my secular, self-reliant upbringing, and my public school education in which Darwinism, and secular humanism were set forth as givens. Children will innocently believe whatever they are taught, and I was no different. I don’t recall ever meeting a single devoted Jesus follower in my family at all growing up. Certainly, no one sat down with me one-on-one to share the Gospel.
I was nevertheless exposed to the Gospel occasionally over the years. Every Christmas our family read the nativity story in Luke 2 from our family Bible, which remained on its shelf throughout the rest of each year. I remember attending Vacation Bible School one year during my elementary school days. It was a lot of fun, and I’m sure I heard the Gospel during that week, but I can’t even recall hearing it. My mother and I went to military chapel services together for a short time while my father was in Thailand during my early teens, and I was intrigued by the ceremonies and the music. I’m sure I heard the Gospel proclaimed by the Chaplain, but I don’t remember specifically. On each of those occasions, the evil one easily stole away the Seed that God’s Spirit had sown in my heart, so it never took root.
6Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.
Luke’s account is unique in talking of a lack of moisture to nourish the newly planted Word, so that it failed to take root. Water is used throughout God’s Word as a symbol of salvation in Christ Jesus. This symbolism was easily understood by the nomadic desert people to whom the Word was first revealed – God’s people, Israel, and their neighbors.
Recall from the books of Exodus and Numbers, the rock which symbolized Jesus, and the water which flowed from the Rock, representing the salvation He brings…
1Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 2Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, “Give us water, that we may drink.”
So Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the LORD?”
3And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
4So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”
5And the LORD said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. 6Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”
And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”
1Then the children of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the Wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh; and Miriam died there and was buried there.
2Now there was no water for the congregation; so they gathered together against Moses and Aaron. 3And the people contended with Moses and spoke, saying: “If only we had died when our brethren died before the LORD! 4Why have you brought up the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? 5And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place? It is not a place of grain or figs or vines or pomegranates; nor is there any water to drink.” 6So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them.
7Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 8“Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” 9So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him.
10And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” 11Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.
12Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”
13This was the water of Meribah, because the children of Israel contended with the LORD, and He was hallowed among them.
Jesus also spoke of this water of salvation to the Samaritan woman at the well…
7A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
In their gospel accounts of this parable, Matthew and Mark speak of a lack of depth to the soil of the stony heart in which the Word was planted…
5Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.
This symbolism is reminiscent of the symbolism we saw in Luke 6 when Jesus chastised those who hear His Word but do not obey…
46“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say? 47Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: 48He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. 49But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great.”
When I think of the Seed which fell on stony ground, I imagine a boulder high on a windy cliff with a small recess of soil on its surface. One frequently sees young plants growing tentatively in such rocky hollows, but never any mature trees unless there is also a deep crack in the rock into which the young plant can send its roots, and establish an anchor for itself. Otherwise, the first strong rain or heavy wind that comes along will blow the dust out of the hollow of the rock, taking the young plant with it. So it is with those who harden their hearts after hearing and believing the Gospel, so that the Truth never has a chance to establish a foothold in that person’s heart which would then be able to withstand the onslaught of temptations and troubles.
Luke’s account of Jesus’ explanation of the Seed which fell on stony ground speaks about the temptations of the old life’s sins causing the new believer to fall away from faith. This matches my own personal testimony. In my late teens, I finally heard the real Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly proclaimed by a street evangelist in Alexandria, VA. I believed the Truth of the Gospel, and even prayed (privately and silently) a “sinner’s prayer” to accept Jesus into my heart. But at the time, I was still deeply involved in a sexual sin that pervaded nearly my entire life. I was unwilling to depart from that sin in repentance, and so I fell away from faith in the Gospel. Thus the seed of the Gospel withered and died in my heart.
In Matthew and Mark, Jesus declares that it is persecution for the Gospel’s sake which destroys the faith of those new believers whose faith lacks the depth needed for it to thrive and grow despite hardship…
16These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble.
But whether the temptation of an old sin entangles the new believer, who – not having a strong root – is easily pulled away from faith, or s/he stumbles and falls away from faith, driven away by tribulation and persecution for Jesus’ Name’s sake, the obvious question is, “How can the new believer establish the strong root which will preserve her/his faith when temptation, tribulation, and persecution come (as surely all of them must)?”
The first and most vital step, is diligent daily study of the Word of God…
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
When I finally did return to following the Lord, 27 years after I first heard and believed the True Gospel, God was faithful in leading me to a church which honored and taught God’s inerrant Word. A brother there recommended that I read the entire Bible, starting with the Gospel of John, and then working through it from Genesis to Revelation. This was perhaps the best advice any Christian brother has ever given me so far. God speaks to us by His Word.
If we are not focused on what He tells us about His nature, and His commandments for our conduct, we can easily fall into the trap of founding our theology on some mystical mumbo jumbo of our own emotions and imaginations, mixed together with the blasphemies of false teachers. This can easily destroy our effectiveness as Gospel witnesses, or even rob us of our own faith.
Through study of God’s Word, the new believer is continually reminded of God’s true character, love, and direction, so it becomes much harder for the evil one to distract baby Christians from the righteous paths that God has set before them.
The second important step for a new believer to take is to make it their habit to partake in continual fellowship with other believers who are of like mind in Christ Jesus…
As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
19Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
When I first believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ on that street in Alexandria, I brought to the table a deep-seated prejudice against established religious institutions. Like many, I was turned off by the hypocrisy I saw in the ostensible “Christian” church, so I never sought out the fellowship of any true Christ followers. In order to stand against the temptation of old sins, and persecution against our testimony from the largely secular society in which we live, we need to have other believers to whom we can be accountable, with whom we can pray, and from whom we may get encouragement and advice. If we don’t place ourselves in the midst of a healthy flock, it is easier for our enemy to snatch us from faith…
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Since I failed to seek out fellow believers who might have helped reinforce my faith, and warn me of dangers, the flame of my belief slowly grew dim and cold, so that my old sin once again became the center of my life instead of my newfound Savior, Jesus.