The enemy’s real mission against you might be a bit different than you’ve understood.
Have you ever looked at a verse of scripture for like the thousandth time and had God suddenly show you something in that passage that you’ve never noticed before? He did that for me recently in a verse that is very familiar to many believers.
It’s the verse where Jesus contrasts His own reason for coming to earth with the purpose of the enemy of our souls, whom Jesus names a thief.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.— John 10:10 (NKJV)
In this passage, Jesus makes it clear that He is not the cause of the bad stuff that happens in our lives. We can boil this statement down to its most simplistic form like this:
Enemy = Bad ∧ God = Good
This is one of many scriptures which helped change my view of the Sovereignty of God to where I no longer believe “God is in control” in the way many claim.
Instead of God causing the bad stuff in our lives, we have an enemy whose only purpose is to come against us in three very deliberate ways.
First – To Steal
Jesus starts by telling us our adversary is a thief. In keeping with that identity, the first mission He tells us the enemy has where we are concerned is to steal from us.
The Greek word Jesus uses here that gets translated “steal” is κλέπτω kleptō. It’s basically referring to a pickpocket who is so skilled at thievery that his methods are nearly undetectable. The thief doesn’t come at you head on, but rather steals stealthily and is long gone before you realize what he took.
Yet, just like a kleptomaniac, the thief also compulsively attempts to take everything all the time. This makes him predictable so we can know his schemes.
Second – To Kill (Sacrifice)
This next one was eye opening to me. I always assumed when Jesus said the enemy comes to kill that it basically meant the enemy was coming at us to take our lives and kill us. I thought it meant that he seeks to murder us.
However, if that is what Jesus intended, then He would have used the Greek word φονεύω phoneuō like He does at other times when He is clearly speaking about murder. For example, in His conversation with the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:18 Jesus says, “you shall not murder” and uses phoneuō
But in John 10:10, Jesus uses a different Greek word to describe what the thief is doing.
This time Jesus uses θύω thyō instead. This word means something all together different from murder. Instead, it means to offer a blood sacrifice. We see this word translated more in line with this meaning in various New Testament scriptures.
Here are a couple examples:
Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice [thyō] with the multitudes.— Acts 14:13 (NKJV)
Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice [thyō] they sacrifice [thyō] to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.— 1 Corinthians 10:20 (NKJV)
Whatever the thief can’t steal from us outright, he attempts to convince us to sacrifice. He presents a lie that what we long for is not of God, that it’s unobtainable, selfish, or whatever, so that we give up on believing God to receive it. And as those thoughts are swirling in our minds, Loser-fer might even ramp up the spiritual or emotional pressure in an attempt to get us to believe the only way out of our current stressful situation is to give up on that thing we hold dear.
This attack is even more insidious than stealing from us because it convinces us to freely give the thing up ourselves. The enemy might even deceive us into believing it is good and holy for us to do so.
But it gets even worse.
Jesus Was Killed/Sacrificed For Us
As God was showing me this meaning of the word, He also showed me that I have fallen victim to this ploy of the devil multiple times throughout my walk with Jesus. Loser-fer had convinced me to give up several things that were near and dear to my heart over the years.
I considered giving them up to part of “counting the cost” of following Christ.
And let me be clear here. I am not referring to fleshly things like heavy drinking that I once indulged in (I was a drunk before Christ). I desperately needed to give those sorts of things up. Besides, giving those fleshly things up wasn’t something I considered a sacrifice at all. In my case, giving up that junk was a tremendous relief. I had already attempted to quit drinking in my own strength, but failed miserably. Thank God Jesus stepped in and accomplished what I could not!
No. I’m talking about dreams for my future and things that brought true joy to my heart which I believed I needed to give up on because I was following Jesus. In truth, I never asked God whether He would have me give those things up or not. I just assumed I needed to set them aside.
I just assumed that some sacrifices needed to be made and that they were part of counting the cost of following Jesus.
Yet the Bible tells us that Jesus already was sacrificed for us. Most any Christian understands this truth. But perhaps, like me, they might not realize this is the exact same Greek word too.
Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed [thyō] for us.— 1 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV)
Jesus already was sacrificed for us. On the cross, while He was offering up His body once for all, Jesus said, “It is finished!” Since Jesus finished the sacrifice for me, then is there any reason for us to continue offering sacrifices?
New Testament Sacrifices
It turns out there are at least two passages I can think of which exhort us to offer sacrifices in the New Testament. Here is the first one that comes to mind.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.— Romans 12:1 (NKJV)
Here we see the noun form of that same Greek word for sacrifice. But in this case we see Paul tell us to offer our bodies as a “living sacrifice.” At first glance, that doesn’t seem to make sense because sacrifices die.
By using the term living sacrifice, Paul is urging us to an ongoing commitment instead of just a one-time thing. And he says this is our “reasonable service.” So it’s not like it’s too much to ask this of us.
Here is another verse where I see that we are called to make sacrifices in the New Testament:
But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.— Hebrews 13:16 (NKJV)
As in Romans, this is again the noun form of that same word. In this case we see that doing good and sharing with others is considered a sacrifice by God, and pleases Him. In reality these are just two of the many ways we can love one another.
Regardless, these two scriptures clearly reveal that we cannot simply dismiss making sacrifices out of hand because Jesus said, “It is finished!” when He sacrificed Himself. We must acknowledge that there is a right time and way for us to sacrifice in the New Covenant.
Therefore, we do well to seek God’s wisdom to discern which sacrifices He would have us make, and which things Loser-fer is attempting to deceive us into giving up. As with a great many things in the Kingdom of God, there is no one-size-fits all formulaic solution set. Instead, we lean into our relationship with God and take our guidance in these matters directly from Him.
In my case this means there are some things that I thought I was supposed to sacrifice which God now is showing me He never asked me to give up.
I encourage you to also seek God and His wisdom and guidance when you consider giving something up, especially because we now see Jesus warned us this is something the enemy will attempt to deceive us into doing.
Third – To Destroy
This brings us back to the third way Jesus said the enemy comes against us in John 10:10.
Jesus also says the thief comes to destroy. This is the Greek word ἀπόλλυμι apollymi and means to utterly destroy.
According to Vine’s: “The idea is not extinction but ruin, loss, not of being, but of wellbeing.” It’s the word the father said about the prodigal son who was “lost” in Luke 15:24. A different form of this same Greek word is used for the angel of the bottomless pit when he is named Apollyōn in Revelation 9:11 and means “Destruction” or “Destroyer.”
Whatever the thief can’t steal from you outright, or convince you to sacrifice, he will attempt to ruin completely some other way.
Jesus Counters the Enemy’s Real Mission
We can take great comfort in the truth that Jesus has overcome the enemy in every possible way. Jesus says His counter to the enemy’s real mission against us is that we may have life, and have it more abundantly.
While the way Jesus phrased that might seem a bit awkward to our ears today, He does so to let us know that He makes it possible for us to “have and continually possess” the life He offers. He said it this way so we would know this life He enables is ongoing and not a one-time thing.
Jesus uses the Greek word ζωή zōē here. It means the absolute fullness of life, real and genuine, active and vigorous. This is a life where we experience God’s perfect supernatural peace, where our joy is overflowing, and where we ever walk in His righteousness.
And then Jesus takes it up several notches by adding that He intends for us to continue enjoying this life “abundantly.” This is an amazing word, which meanings include “beyond measure, more than is necessary, superior, extraordinary, surpassing, and uncommon.”
I especially like how the Amplified adds “to the full, ’till it overflows” to the end of this verse.
This is the life that Jesus provides for us.
According to Jesus’ own words, He intends for us to experience something radically different from the life of self-sacrifice and self-deprivation that the enemy is working to convince us we should live.
God has more of His goodness for you to experience here in this life than you’ve yet to imagine. Look to Jesus and allow the abundant life He offers protect you from the enemy’s mission to deceive you into sacrificing things God does not ask of you.