The parable of the wheat and tares (or weeds in the NLT) can be found in Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43.
To summarize: One night, a farmer’s freshly planted field is polluted with weeds by his enemy. Instead of removing the weeds then, he instructs his workers to wait until harvest time.
At harvest, they’ll be able to clearly distinguish the wheat from the weeds and dispose of the weeds. The weeds represent the children of Satan, and the wheat represents the children of God.
In the parable, some Christian leaders erroneously teach that the field also represents the condition within the Church of God. However, Jesus plainly said the field represented “the world.” Christ didn’t say the Church had the same mixture of good and evil.
37 Jesus replied, “The Son of Man is the farmer who plants the good seed. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. 39 The enemy who planted the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the world, and the harvesters are the angels (Matthew 13:37-39 NLT).
The purposeful misinterpretation of the parable has been used to justify tolerating wickedness in the house of God. The idea is: since the Church has tares in it, we’ll have to suffer any hindrances and stumbling that comes from these “children of Satan.”
The truth is: the Church is no part of the world. The Church is physically in the world, but we are not of it (John 17:16). Therefore, the Church cannot include the wicked. See our “Who are the Elect?” sermon.
Of course, sinners may come to Church to be transformed and they’ll either become saints or leave, but to say that those who have rejected God are allowed to stay and cause problems is against commands in scripture.
Keeping the Church free from tares
Good pastors and vigilant saints keep God’s Church free from tares. When false brethren attempt to plant seeds of false doctrine, discord, and anything else that would harm the growth of the Church, we are instructed to correct them a few times. If they don’t repent, we must remove them and reject them. Scripture is clear:
Galatians 2:4-5, says “We refused to give into deception.”
4 Even that question came up only because of some so-called believers there—false ones, really—who were secretly brought in. They sneaked in to spy on us and take away the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. They wanted to enslave us and force us to follow their Jewish regulations. 5 But we refused to give in to them for a single moment. We wanted to preserve the truth of the gospel message for you (Galatians 2:4-5 NLT).
2 Timothy 3:5 says, “Stay away from people like that.”
They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that! (2 Timothy 3:5 NLT)
2 John 1:9-11 says, “Don’t invite them into your home.”
9 Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. 11 Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work. (2 John 1:9-11 NLT)
Titus 3:10 says, “Have nothing to do with them.”
If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them (Titus 3:10 NLT).
2 Thessalonians 3:6 says, “Stay away from them.”
And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us (2 Thessalonians 3:6 NLT).
Romans 16:17 says, “Stay away from them.”
And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers, and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them (Romans 16:17 NLT).
Weeds are in the world, not in the Church.