John 10:10, “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.”
There is a thief on the loose in this planet. His fiery eyes and corrupted heart is set on something of inestimable value. He must wield his powers of deception to distract man from that which is timeless to that which is limited, within the limits of time. (Satan distracted man from the tree of Life to that of knowledge of good and evil.) He must make a case against God to discredit His grace and goodness, and thereby (stealthily) seize man’s rest so as to plunge the entire mankind into spiritual death. (Satan lured Eve to eat from the forbidden tree, after discrediting God to her).
The thief is here…don’t allow him
The word “cometh” in the scripture above emphasizes this as current matter. Even now, the thief is here! Even though Jesus has come, man has been redeemed, and all those who believe have been saved; yet, “the thief cometh…”. The thief does not come just to make you miserable in life; he has come to steal, to kill and to destroy. Now the context of that scripture shows us the thief’s target. And it is Life. In as much as he may disguise his interest and you may think he is after your money, your job, your family etc, he is a master trickster. The real thing he is after is Life.
He got Adam and his wife to ignore the tree of Life and rather to eat the other tree. And that is what we see the thief doing again today: he will preoccupy you with everything, as long as “Life” is missing, it is OK! He doesn’t even mind you having a knowledge of the scriptures. He who knew how to keep the Pharisees from coming to Jesus to receive life, even though they knew the scriptures, has not run out of tricks to try on this generation (John 5:39-40). In Paul’s time, this thief was so much at work that much learning in scriptures did not automatically translate to knowledge of the Truth, which is a personal one-on-one knowledge of Christ (2 Timothy 3:7).
There are three steps to his approach.
1. Isolation: “…to steal…”
2. Disconnection: “…to kill…”
3. Damnation: “…to destroy…”
We see how he comes in to steal in verse 1 of the same scripture: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” He doesn’t come through the door because Christ Himself is the Door, and Christ will not open to him so that he can steal. He climbs up some other way. When you begin to entertain another way different from the Way, another gospel different from what the bible actually teaches, and another Jesus that is loved by all other belief systems, philosophies and religions, you are preparing the way for the thief to strike (you). Galatians 1:6-9, 2 John 9-11
When he strikes, he will isolate you (that is stealing). You will find “good” reasons why you should be out of the fellowship of the saints. You will feel that you know something that others don’t know. All of these is to lure you out of fellowship, out of the church life. Please note that the thief can’t kill until he steals, he can’t disconnect you from God until you allow him to isolate you from the sheepfold. Even when you linger in this deception, God’s mercies continue to flow towards you, to restore you, and to recover you. If you yield, God intervenes instantly and you are recovered into the fellowship of the Spirit and the saints. But if not, the thief will carry on his assignment. He will not only kill (spiritual death and disconnection), he will destroy (eternal damnation).
Experiencing the second stage of Life
“…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
Two stages of life are involved here. The Life we received instantly at new birth and then, the multiplication of that Life. The first one is objective; the second one is subjective. We only believed and we are saved; we received new Life. Yet, God’s will for us is the overflowing of His Life in us, the complete mastery of God’s will over our wills, the increase of His government or economy spreading out from our spirit man into our souls (thoughts, mind, emotions, will, intellect) and bodies (our 5 senses).
Immersed into God’s Word
In John 3:3,5, we see this two stages expanded for us. “…Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (v3). This is the first stage of life. We did nothing. We only received what was done, and we believed and we are saved. Now, this is just a beginning. This is standing at the threshold of the Door (John 10:7,9), where you are seeing the possibilities and the promise of the New Life. But you must press on. “…Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” (v5).
This is the means for multiplication, overflowing and abounding of the Life promised. Apart from the physical baptism that symbolized our death, burial and resurrection with Jesus, “water” in a more deeper sense, actually points to our immersion into God’s word. “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,” (Ephesians 5:26). A life not only washed but born of water, that is immersed into God’s word, will and purpose, such that it is now subjected to all the objective privileges of God’s household administration. All the wealth of the New Creation that we have as a will (title deed), we now begin to inherit it, as a way of life, because we are heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
Immersed into God’s Spirit
The abundant Life that Jesus promised us is a life we experience in positive, forward movement into the kingdom of God. When we got born again, it was a very instantaneous and objective event. It was a change of life and location. We now have Christ as our life and location. Although Christ is yet little in our experience, it is our God-given privilege to have Him in fullness.
To be born of “water” (God’s word) and to be born of the ” Spirit” (Holy Spirit), is what makes us legitimate sons, who are now partaking of the nature of Christ (Hebrews 10:5-11). If we are truly immersed into God’s word, we will (seek to) be immersed into the Holy Spirit. This is a twofold experience that occurs simultaneously. For it is by Him (Holy Spirit) that we are sealed (marked as God’s own) until the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30). When we are immersed into the Spirit, He will lead us not to fulfill the lust of the flesh (desires against God’s will and order), but to walk in the Spirit (which is the very same way Jesus walked). (1 John 2:6).
To be born of the Word and the Spirit are the twofold immersion that will make you an overcomer. We are born of the Word by reading, studying, meditating and obeying God’s word day and night. This will produce the proper renewal of mind that should accompany our salvation (Romans 12:2, Joshua 1:8, 2 Timothy 2:15). We are born of the Spirit by receiving the sovereign Baptism into the Holy Spirit by Our LORD Jesus Christ Himself (Matthew 3:11-12).
“Fire” is an accompanying effect of the Holy Spirit as seen in Matthew 3:11-12. We need this immersion to deal with the “leftovers” of our old ways in our mentality and personality. “…he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (v.12). Hence, the “water” cleanses us presently in our inward parts (mind, will, emotions), while the “Spirit” purges us more deeply with “fire” in our hidden part (conscience and motivation) (Psalm 51:6).
All the “chaff” of our carnal sentiments and behaviours are burnt with “fire” So, we see that while the Word is watering the seed of God’s nature in us on the positive side, the Spirit is burning all the leftovers of the flesh on the negative side. And the burning continues to deal with any inflow of wrong ideas, behaviours or mannerisms that wants to infiltrate our spirit man.
Jesus said, John “…was a burning and a shining light…” (John 5:35). That is the burning of the Spirit and the shining of the Word. While the Spirit of God works God’s will into us, the Word of God works it out. Entering into the fullness of God’s purpose and inheritance for us in God’s kingdom demands the growth of Life, which comes by being born of “water” and of the “Spirit”. This immersion into the ” water” and “Spirit” is maintained as we remain in the sheepfold of Christ, staying connected as a branch on the Vine and not neglecting our fellowship with the saints.
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.
Picture credits: georgeofei, foundedonfaith