Jesus saw the crowds as powerless sheep. Matthew 9:36 explains, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” He didn’t want His followers to be vulnerable and directionless. He wanted to empower them and teach them how to protect themselves, so he gave them some new, important information, recorded in John 10.
He also sought to comfort them, despite this evil opposition, explaining that He came to bring them full and rich lives! He continued in John 10:11 revealing, “I am the good shepherd.” Some of them may have never had good spiritual leadership. This promise was appealing to those who were desperately hungry for guidance.
Still, Jesus doesn’t sugarcoat the revelation that we have an enemy that comes only to steal and kill and destroy. We are forewarned so we can be forearmed. This information is to help us, not scare us. All of these years later, the thief still has this same agenda.
The threat is real, but it should not be ignored or intimidated by it.
John 10:27-29 are words of comfort after revealing our enemy’s plans towards us;
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”
Wisdom and experience show that ownership of certain possessions are particularly threatening to the thief.
6 Key Possessions That Are A Threat to The Enemy
1. Your faith. I Corinthians 16:13 says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” Paul continues Jesus’ critical stance toward passivity. James 1:6 explains, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” Unguarded faith can be subject to changing situations, giving us a rollercoaster ride and rendering our faith ineffective.
The enemy knows that, according to Hebrews 4:6, “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Guard your faith and pray, like the apostles in Luke 17:5 prayed by exclaiming, "Increase our faith!” The enemy wants to spiritually incapacitate you by weakening or destroying faith in your life.
2. Your relationships. It’s a ploy of the enemy to isolate us. He wants to destroy community where we mutually love, nurture, encourage and bless one another. 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”
The enemy wants us alone. He’ll use offense, anger, disunity and pride to keep us from fellowship. Ecclesiastes 4:10 warns,
“Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
The thief is fine with unhealthy, destructive, controlling and abusive relationships and contributes what he can to their survival. Just as we should be careful not to isolate ourselves, we should be careful where we focus our attentions and affections. Proverbs 4:23 tells us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” God can heal broken relationships, but avoiding them when we see them developing in our lives is wise.
The thief is fine with unhealthy, destructive, controlling and abusive relationships and contributes what he can to their survival.
I Peter 4:6-7 holds a major key to keeping peace. It says,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
4. Your destiny. Ephesians 4:10 tells us that God designed each of us with purpose. It says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Sometimes we forget that the enemy doesn’t want us to do what God has made us to do! Entire seasons may pass without us giving much thought to God’s agenda above our own.
An indicator that we’re doing important stuff for God may be the enemy coming against us with force when we are becoming a threat to his works. The good news is that God is behind us when we are walking in His ways. Psalm 34:19 says, “The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all.”
An indicator that we’re doing important stuff for God may be the enemy coming against us with force when we are becoming a threat to his works.
5. Your joy. James 1:2-3 links joy and trials. It says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” Deciding to respond to trials with joy develops perseverance in our characters. We are able to be joyful by considering it and then choosing it.
Joy is not a shallow, silly clapping and bouncing with a pasted on smile. The original Greek word for joy is cara (pronounced khar-ah’) which can mean the opposite of demonstrative exuberance. It can, indeed, mean cheerfulness, but it can also mean calm delight. It’s an understanding that all will end well, and the happiness that accompanies this belief can manifest in non-demonstrative joy. Another way to say it would be “chilled out,” not irritated, annoyed or frazzled.
The enemy wants to derail us with our trials and watch us embrace misery.
6. Your health. 3 John 1:2 is a blessing. It says, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” It seems that it would go without saying that God wants to bless us with health, but we sometimes forget that there is spiritual battle against our health. The enemy doesn’t want us to be healthy. Illness and injury can diminish all that we do.
Luke 12:6-7 says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” God cares intensely about our bodies and our physical well-being. Proverbs 4:20-22 says,
“My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.”
When we understand that the enemy literally seeks to physically kill us, if not through accidents, then through illness, then we understand that we should, and must, guard our health. When we do have health problems, we need to take initiative to address these issues physically, but also spiritually. James 5:14 says, “Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.”
Prayer for any illness or injury should be standard for God’s people. Psalm 107:19-20 says, “Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.” A person is not being “self-involved” when he or she seeks prayer for health reasons! This should be our first line of defense against the enemies ploys to do us physical harm, and thus render us useless to God’s work.
Minor and slight discomforts, like a mildly sore hip or an aching wrist can grow to become larger health concerns. Sometimes people are critical of less-dramatic physical prayer concerns. Prayer for smaller discomforts should be taken seriously. This is part of the defense that we should use against our enemy. Prayer for one another should be more common that aspirin. We should pray for each others' ailments, big or small.
Too often, God’s people watch these things slip away or fall into ruin, not understanding that a war has been on.
Guard and protect your faith, your relationships, your peace, your destiny, your joy and your health. These are all gifts from God that should be pursued, cherished and defended. Too often, God’s people watch these things slip away or fall into ruin, not understanding that a war has been on. God is a God of restoration, but loss prevention is recommended. This is why Jesus revealed the enemy's ways.
Psalm 121:7 is a promise. It says, “The LORD will keep you from all harm-- he will watch over your life.” Sometimes He asks us to work with Him to ward off that harm. The thief is real. Passivity regarding his schemes can be dangerous. God bless you as you live in vigilance, trusting always in His goodness and faithfulness!