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The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John.10:10).
Let’s look at this Scripture as though we have never heard or read it before. For now, let’s forget all the teaching we’ve had on it and all the ways we’ve looked at it. I’m not saying that what we’ve heard, thought, or been taught has been wrong. What I am saying is that we need to receive a “now” from the Lord as to how this revelation of Christ applies to our lives today (Hebrews 3:7,13,15; 4:7; 11:1).
When Jesus made this saying He first listed the objectives of the Enemy, so we should do that also. That will help us to better perceive what Jesus says afterward that He came to do. By teaching in terms of comparison, the Lord not only revealed Himself to be the two edged sword and Divider of soul and spirit, but also so vastly different from the Devil that it becomes obvious for us to see the difference between them (Jn.1:1; Heb.4:12-13).
The Enemy Comes to Steal, Kill & Destroy
Yes, the Devil is a liar, a thief, a killer and destroyer, but what is Satan’s focus and how does the Enemy work to accomplish these goals? Some maintain that it is first and foremost a matter of stealing your possessions, then killing your body, and then seeing you destroyed in Hell with an eternal punishment that really belongs to the Devil. In other words: first and foremost getting to your spirit through your natural life. I believe that it can definitely include that dimension. But it seems clear from the balance of Scripture that the Enemy doesn’t seem as focused on your natural man as your spirit man. Satan wants to corrupt who God has now made you to defeat Hell by being a true witness of Jesus in the Spirit.
With that in mind I want to offer the following based on what I believe the Spirit is saying about Satan’s plan. It also matches up with what I have seen take place with believers since beginning to walk with the Lord.
The Devil Comes to Criticize You
A critical spirit is not just a function of the Enemy. It is a definition of the Devil’s personality. Everything the Enemy does is to make you see what is wrong. This is part of what it means that the Devil is the accuser of the Brethren (Rev.12:10). All that the Enemy does is to get you to look at everything and everyone in ways which God does not see them.
When the Lord does come to us to point out sin, it is with the Holy Spirit. His intention is to bring restoration of heart and correction of course resulting in our being comforted as we repent (Jn.16:9-15). You’ve probably heard it more than once: correction is not rejection. True! But let’s also hear this: criticism doesn’t result in conviction. So if there is no Holy Spirit conviction, there can be no repentance. And without repentance there will be no change (Heb.12:17). If you are under criticism- regardless of its source - you can’t be changed. Therefore, if you are trying to change because of criticism, you will fail because of the lack of the grace of God. This is because the Holy Spirit never accompanies and reinforces criticism or condemnation (1Jn.3:18-24).
The end result of living under criticism is that you become not only fault-bound by Hell, but that you become an accusing, condemning person. It is the Enemy’s goal for you to become chained to what is wrong and spread the Devil’s condemnation through the very same bondage and judgment due Satan.
The Devil Comes to Minimize You
When the Lord comes to show us that we are not as important as our flesh and the Deceiver says, it is not to minimize us. Instead, it is to free us from the pride that would make us delusional, into true spiritual sociopaths. It is to give us the grace of living in humility and gratefulness. Such true thankfulness prevents us from entering into the very same sin that expelled Lucifer from Heaven. The pride (which truly does minimize us) can be seen whenever everything and everyone exists for our own personal betterment and even convenience (including God).
You are so important to God that He sent Jesus Christ to redeem you, and not just in the general sense that applies to all humanity. He bore YOUR personal sin- both private and public- on the Cross. This was to personally redeem you from being separated from God in the Earth and then eternally tormented in Hell.
A primary goal of the Enemy, however, is to strip you of any sense of importance, significance, value, or preciousness. The Devil wants you to carry the continual thought and feeling that you do not make any difference whatsoever. If Satan can get you into agreement with being “less than” others or not as important as circumstances in every situation, then you will make choices that reflect the lie that says I do not matter, that my life is worthless. If you carry the sense that everyone is always more important than you are, or find yourself repeatedly feeling that way in various situations, then you have been minimized.
The end result of being minimized into worthlessness is that you become not only devalued demonically but that you become one who spreads that futility to others. In doing so, you will also encourage others to take paths that lead to their destruction, even if both you and they are saved. In other words, you being minimized results in becoming one who then minimizes others.
The Devil Comes to Illegitimize You
If the Enemy cannot get you into the delusional pride of sociopathic religiosity, then accusing you of falseness or apostasy becomes the tactic of Hell (& sometimes these attacks can swing back & forth between the two). The Devil’s goal is to get you to receiving and believing you are not saved, or that you are not genuine, valid, and acceptable- neither justified nor justifiable by the Lord.
The end result of this is not only you becoming stripped of your God-given sense of being truly Christ’s. To compensate you may very well become a heresy hunting, doctrine watching, spiritual know-it-all. That results from a knowledge-oriented works which give you the false impression that your righteousness has been earned. In other words, your faith has come to rest on man’s wisdom about God, rather than His power (1Cor.2:1-5).
After the Lord Jesus Christ comes into our lives, we no longer have any right or even opportunity to look at ourselves as proof of who we are. The opinions of others, our performance, success, failure, and especially our emotions and thoughts apart from the mind of Christ do not make the difference (Ro.8:9-16). We have been made into a new creature and self, neither verifies nor vilifies us in God’s eyes. Behold, all things are become new (2Cor.5:17).
The Devil Comes to Ostracize You
I realize the word “ostracize” is not one we use every day. Basically it means to exclude, banish, shun, ignore, or snub. The Enemy’s ultimate goal in destroying your Spiritual life is to so alienate and isolate you through criticism, minimization and illegitimacy that you become totally disconnected from God as well as the Church Jesus came to build. That is the “how” of one becoming ostracized.
Many times those who end up this way ask themselves, “why did this happen to me?” Simply put, it is because you have something the Body of Christ needs (which we all do). And the Devil hates you because of what Jesus gave you to be and do. Just as much, however, it is also because you need the Body desperately to become who God wants and to have the fellowship of His Company, the Church. But because you have come into agreement with lies of Satan that have come personally and through others, you’ve become ostracized.
The Enemy comes ?to steal, and to kill, and to destroy? all potential for fulfilling God’s destiny. This traps people into the “many are called, but few are chosen” dilemma I have seen in every setting God has called me either to serve or seed into (Mt.22:14). But the devil preys upon those whom are easily suggested to.
The goal of the Enemy is to alienate, isolate and completely separate you from the Spirit through bondages that originated inside Satan’s being. By doing so, the Devil ultimately separates you from the Body of Christ. That way, there can be no possibility of being restored in fellowship that allows you to become a fighting, following, serving and even leading member of the Church Jesus came to build.
The end result of being ostracized is not only that you become a completely rejected person, but that you refuse to accept others from the Lord. Instead, you spread the rejection of the Enemy that was activated by Lucifer’s sin when expelled from Heaven for honoring self above God.
Don’t throw yourself away by believing lies. Take the steps you need to take right now. Who you become depends of what you receive. God is offering His love through Christ, and He will never criticize, minimize, illegitimize or ostracize you. Receive forgiveness right now and you will also be able to forgive those who’ve had a role in all this. You can then forgive yourself for being deceived.
As you receive release, begin to renew your mind in the truth of God which says you are His in Christ, that He will never separate His love from you (Ro.8:31-39).
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches (Rev.2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22).
Conforming to the Mind of Christ
Jesus the Anointed One
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By Bishop Gregory Leachman