One day when Jesus was teaching He compared Himself to a shepherd and His followers to sheep. During this time of teaching Jesus told His listeners: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10; NASB). Today I want you to just think about the first part of this verse.
The thief symbolizes Satan. I have no idea if you believe Satan is real, but let me tell you that he is. The reality of Satan is one of the core doctrines of Christianity. C. S. Lewis wrote:
“One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe–a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death and disease, and sin. The difference is that Christianity [compared to other religions] thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong” (Mere Christianity; p. 51).
Satan wants my life destroyed because it is God’s will that my life be restored. Our lives, when lived in faith, bring glory and honor to God and that makes Satan mad. He doesn’t want God to have the glory. Satan wants God to be cursed and forgotten. It is for this reason that we can be certain that when we follow Jesus our lives will be opposed by Satan.
The greatest tool Satan has in destroying our lives is sin. What is sin? The apostle John describes sin this way: Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God (1 John 3:4; NLT). We sin when we disobey God. Usually when we think of sin we think of things that God has told us not to do. Things like disobeying our parents, using God’s name in vain, having sex outside of marriage, murdering people, lying, cheating, or stealing. Yet sin is more than this. James wrote; Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it. (James 4:17; NLT). Sin also is not doing those things that we know we should do. Acts of kindness such as talking with a social outcast or serving a family in need are examples of loving behavior that God wishes we would do. Basically sin is living outside of the will of God.
The sad reality of life is that often we become so accustomed to sin that we don’t even notice it’s awful stench in our lives. Matthew writes in his gospel:
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-36, ESV)
Consider what William Pile wrote about this passage:
“The spiritual consequences [of sin], however, are even more serious. Matthew says that Jesus saw crowds of sinners as being ‘harassed and helpless’ (Matt. 9:36). The Greek word here for ‘harassed’ literally means ‘flayed, torn, and mangled.’ Sin does leave its victims full of wounds and bruises and festering sores. When the spirit of a man is raped and ravished by sin he is very much like the victim of a physical assault. There are serious doubts that he can ever be whole again” (What The Bible Says About Grace; p. 28).
Sin breaks us by damaging our relationship with God. James wrote to Christians who had a sin problem. He told them: You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God (James 4:4; NLT). When our goal is to fit into the world rather than becoming the people God created us to be means that we live as God’s enemies. Being God’s enemies (we are His enemies, not because He hates us, but because we have sided and aided His enemies) means that we are cut off from our source of true life: Jesus Christ.
One of the essential ways we stay connected to Jesus, our source of life (John 15:5), is through obedience. Henry Blackaby reminds us:
“A love relationship with God requires that you demonstrate your love by obedience. This is not just a following the ‘letter’ of the law, but it is a following the ‘spirit’ of the command as well. If you have an obedience problem, you have a love problem” (Experiencing God, workbook, p. 61).
A sin problem means we have a love problem. We cannot stay connected to God if we allow sin to break that connection.
Sin also breaks us by enslaving our lives. There is a habit forming aspect of sin. Read what Leon Morris wrote about being slaves to sin.
“Sin makes slaves of all of us. Take, for example, the person who has a temper. He finds that his outbursts cause trouble and unhappiness to all sorts of people and more particularly to those he cares for most in life. So he repents. He decides that he will control himself and not say those harsh words. And if he is a strong person, perhaps he succeeds–for a time. But then one day along comes some provocation and before he knows what is happening he has burst out in those angry words and deeds which bring so much unhappiness to others and deep sorrow to him. Do you see what is happening? He is not free. As far as this thing is concerned he is a slave” (The Atonement, p. 120).
When we are caught in the grips of sin it is hard to break free. We will often find ourselves doing things we don’t want to do, because sin has us in chains. In Romans 7 the apostle Paul writes about his struggle with the enslaving nature of sin. He writes:
And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it (Romans 7:18-20; NLT).
We cannot be slaves to sin and live lives that please God. Being slaves to sin prevents us from becoming the people God created us to be. Ultimately sin makes us miss the life God wants us to live. By constantly following our sinful desires we are led far way from where God wants us to be and into a land of unnecessary pain and conflict. Sin exposes us to pain and hardship that God never intended for us to bear.
Another way sin breaks us is by the consequences of other people’s sin. Our personal sin is not the only sin we have to deal with. We also have to face the negative results of the sin of other people. Ravi Zacharias shares an experience when he came face to face with this reality:
Many years ago I was speaking before an audience that consisted primarily of junior-high and high-school students…After my last session, I let it be known that if anyone had a personal need that he or she needed to talk about I would be available to take a few moments with each one. Within minutes the sign-up sheet was full.
The first student to come, though she made a valiant effort to look calm and composed, sat very nervously and did not do too well masking a troubled heart. Her entire conversation was about a friend that I shall call Karen. Karen was suicidal, I was told, and in dire need of help. This young woman wanted to know how best to help Karen and keep her from taking her own life. As the minutes ticked away, I interrupted her and asked, “Are you sure you came here to talk about Karen, or is there something more important on your mind?”
There was an annoyed look of surprise on her face, a hard swallow, and then she could conceal her battle no more. Her tears flowed as I had seldom seen, and I felt there was so much bottled up deep within her that I would need both more time and help to bring any comfort to her. But even at that I did not realize how far out of my depth I would be.
As she continued to weep she unfolded a story of sexual molestation by her own father that had begun when she had been seven years old, a wretched hell that had been thrust upon here sporadically for nearly ten years. “I have been terrified of telling anybody because I do not know what this will do to my family and what this will do to my father. Will he end up in jail? Will my mother be able to manage the shock and the hurt?” (Cries of the Heart, pp. 106-07)
We all bear the scars of the sins thrust upon us by other people. They come in various forms like the hurtful words from parents to the betrayal of a close friend to the death of loved one in an accident caused by a drunk driver. Pain and brokenness are visited on us through no choice of our own. It should be worth remembering that our sins also carry consequences for other people. Our sins rarely, if ever, only affect us.
In Galatians 5:13-15 the apostle Paul tells the Galatians what would happen if they continued with their selfish bickering:
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another (NLT).
When we are controlled by sin we will end up destroying people. We will be a source of pain and heartache in their lives rather than a source of joy and love. Because we have been hurt by other people we should do our best not to hurt others through our actions.
Here is what I want you to remember today: Sin in destroys our lives! Sin cuts us off from our source of life, it enslaves us, and we are hurt by the consequences of other people’s sins. If you are broken, scarred, wounded, apathetic, or disillusioned know that is because you have an Enemy trying to destroy your life. He is glad that you are broken because that means you that you aren’t living the life God wants you to live..
Keep in mind that while Satan is trying to destroy your life, Jesus wants to give you life. Not the life you have always wanted, but Real Life, the life you were created to live.
Questions to Consider:
- Do you believe that Satan is out to destroy your life? Why?
- How have you experienced the consequences of sin?
- Why is obedience connected to love?