And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. … 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 way side.Matthew 13:4, 19
And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the fowls of the air came and devoured it up. … 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.Mark 4:4, 15
A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. … 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.Luke 8:5, 12
The first thing that I feel is important to notice is that both Matthew and Mark tell us that the seed was sown in the heart. This means that, even in this very poor case, the hearer has the ability to hear and receive the word of God. Consider these two texts:
When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.Acts 5:33
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?Acts 2:37
Both of these scriptures use the same metaphor of the heart as it concerns hearing and receiving of the preached word. In the first text, the hearers were cut to the heart. This means they still had a hard and stony heart which clearly shows they were unregenerate. The second text says they were pricked in their heart. This means that they were clearly born again and had been given a heart to receive the preached word by faith (Ezekiel 11:19 & 36:26).
Therefore, all the soil types under consideration have the ability to receive the preached word because each of the hearers is born again.
Knowing this, we can now consider this most dreadful case. The first type of person mentioned by Jesus has no application of the word of God in his life at all! Luke’s account says that word was trodden before it was snatched away by Satan. Although Jesus does not give us specific examples of what this looks like, we can clearly see that this type of hearer has little interest in worship or the preached word. Neither does he have any vested interest in trying to keep the word in his mind and heart. By his own behaviors, he shows that what he has heard has no value to him (trodden down). What a pitiful state for a child of God!
This type of hearer is setting themselves up for disaster in their spiritual walk and life experience. They will not be prepared to save themselves from the influences and temptations in the world around them because they took no responsibility to prepare themselves to attend to the preaching and apply it in discipleship.
David tell us how to remedy this problem by cherishing the word of God:
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.Psalm 119:11