Peninsula Community Church
Abundant Life Versus a Stolen Life
August 20, 2017
John 10:7-10 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I love the Star Wars series. It is the ever existing battle between good and evil. The Star Wars saga serves as an illustrative review of what life is really like. Since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden there has been an ongoing battle between good and evil. In our society today, we see this played out in ways that we have not seen since the 1960’s. The Bible is clear about this sort of thing as Jesus proclaimed that there would be wars and rumors of war in this life, especially as Jesus’ return gets closer (Matthew 24:6). When you read the stories of Genesis, we find that just one generation after Adam and Eve sinned we have the epic battle of Cain and Abel (Genesis 4). Cain out of rage and an untempered jealously kills his brother.
So much of what we are experiencing today on the pages of the news and flashed across our TV screens is a result of man trying to live without God. The clashes at Charlottesville and other locations are just a microcosm of the heart of many in America today. Hatred and anger rule the day rather than love and Godward thinking. In so many areas of society, it seems that sin rules rather the positive moral affects of Christ’s life. Jesus, I believe, foresaw such a day and for that reason he wrote the text we have before us.
In this text, Jesus gives us a vivid comparison of life with Christ and one where we fall prey to the power of the enemy. In Christ, we have abundant life but the enemy’s primary task and goal has been and will continue to be to steal, kill, and destroy that abundant life. It has been said that Jesus never promised a long life, what He promises is a full life. Many have lived but have not had life. Jesus promises us that we can live and have life at the same time.
Let us look at the thief for a moment. First of all by virtue of the fact that he is a thief he has no legal right to what he is taking. We need to understand that today. The thief in our life does not have any legal rights to what Jesus has given us. He can only take those things by deception and by what we allow him to steal from us.
There is also something else about the thief that bears mentioning here. The thief never knocks at the door. He comes in the dark of the night to steal what is legally ours. It was said the thief in the old days would burrow underneath the walls of the tents or sheep pens. Their desire was to take in secret without the other party knowing what had happened. You see the enemy never stands face to face with us but uses others and all sorts of circumstances to impact what he wants to accomplish. Have you ever felt blindsided by someone who was close to you? Have you ever experienced rejection and you were not even sure where that rejection was coming from? Most likely this was the enemy of our souls coming in the cloak of darkness to deceive and destroy.
In this passage, we find three key tactics used by the enemy. One characteristic is that the thief steals. And one of the key things he steals is our joy and peace. To accomplish this he creates anxiousness within us. He gets us to look at the negative around us rather than being focused on the good that is happening. Now before you think I am not a realist, I am not advocating a head in the sand approach to life, I am simply saying that the enemy can steal our joy by causing us to focus on the worse case, on our fears, on our anxieties, and on our failures. The enemy loves to take territory in our life that he has no legal right to. Let me tell you today as passionately as I can, “the enemy has no legal right to your joy or your peace. It is found in Jesus and Jesus alone.
Secondly, the enemy loves to kill any hope we have in what God has called us to do and who Jesus says we are. I believe he does this in two ways. See if you agree. First, the enemy gets us to focus so much of the past that we cannot live with joy and peace in the present. We constantly look back at our failures and our mistakes. We repeat these thoughts over and over again. We do so so much that we can talk ourselves into believing that there is no hope and that nothing will change. The second problem here is that if the enemy cannot get us to live in the past then he will cause us focus on the future so much that we will begin to live in fear and anxiety. We will be anxious about the future and what will come. We will begin to be so worried that we can never enjoy the moment. The goal of the enemy is to steal our ability to live in the present where we celebrate the greatness of God even if the world is falling apart around us.
The third tool the enemy uses is that he loves to destroy relationships. He loves to use little things said or done to cause there to be unforgiveness and unrest. We see it all of the time. The enemy knows that if he can destroy our relationships then he can begin to destroy our effectiveness. He can punish us by using our families and friends to wound and hurt us. Why is this? It is because at our core we are relational. Relationship issues often cause us the greatest pain of all and it is relationship issues that are often the hardest to overcome. In the creation, God created man to have a relationship with him. That is why God came in the cool of the day to fellowship with man (Genesis 3:8-13). Through man’s fall that fellowship was broken.
It is not a mistake that Paul reminds us that we are to put on the full armor of God so that we can stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11). What are his schemes? He causes us to believe that we are a failure and that no good can come from our life. He begins to get us to ignore the problem and pretend it does not exist. He gets us to think that the grass is greener on the other side. He gets us to think that we do not need God. He gets us to focus on the one negative problem in our life so that we forget there is a whole world before us.
While all of this is true, there is an answer. The answer is to know God and in knowing God you will be less likely to fall for the schemes of the enemy. Jesus reminds us here that we do not have to live in the grasp of the enemy’s devices. We can have an abundant life because it is a gift of God. The choice for us is to choose how we will live. Will we live defeated or will we walk in the victory that is ours? The enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy but Christ came to give us abundant life.
Jesus is the shepherd of the sheep. As the shepherd He is the door. As the door, He provides us with safety, abundance, and plenty. But here is an amazing thought. Jesus came not only to preserve us but to impart life. Jesus came to give us amazing powerful life. It is a life that is full of the presence of God. If we allow Him to, He will protect us from the advance of the thief. This does not mean that we will not face difficulty but we will be protected from the onslaught of the enemy. We will become more aware of the tactics the enemy uses against us.
Secondly, the more we know the shepherd, the more we will hear His voice, and the more we hear His voice, the more will have the ability to avoid the power of the thief to control our life. To know His voice, we must know Him. Listen to John 10:3-4. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
The secret to standing against the enemy’s schemes has been and will continue to be knowing Christ. This is not to know about Him. This is not the ability to quote all of the fancy stories and Scripture found in the Bible but it is to know Him personally. It is to have a personal relationship with Him that is built through prayer, the word, and worship. If we do not know God, we will be more susceptible to the enemy’s tactics and schemes of defeat. I encourage you today to saturate yourselves in the word of God. Be steadfast in your prayer time. Focus on worship and honor God in all you do. You will be amazed. And you will begin to hear and understand His voice better.
You see Christ came to give us an abundant life. The abundant life that John 10:10 speaks of is not necessarily a long life, though it may be, but it certainly is a full one. Medical science seeks to add years to your lives, but only Jesus can add life to your years. So what do you choose today? Do you choose a life filled with deception, fear, and broken relationships, or do you choose life?
What has the enemy stolen from you? When the church was broken into a few months ago, the police took an inventory of what was stolen. They took fingerprints which were used to identify the culprits. They did that and they were caught. So let me ask you? Where are the fingerprints of the thief upon your life? Today is the day to catch the thief and put him in his place. Today is the day to take back that which was stolen. Take back your joy and peace. Take back your ability to live in the present. Take back those relationships destroyed by the thief. It may not be easy. It may take some time. But know that God is at work on your behalf. Get to know Him, I mean really know Him and you might be amazed at what He will do.
For an audio of this message go to http://pccministry.org/media.php?pageID=14
Copyright © 2017 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom