My first apartment was a memorable one. I was in the Navy, and my roommate and I were given permission to move off base. Honestly, the apartment and complex needed some “TLC,” but it was our first place, and home.
One early morning, after living there a few months, I awoke to the sounds of a burglar crawling into the apartment through our bathroom window. Instinctively, I got up and ran toward him. He saw me coming and jumped back through the window, trying to get out. I grabbed him by the legs and tried to pull him back in! I was only 21, and justice was important to me. He managed to slip out of my grasp and got away. We found out later that several apartments had been burglarized that night—I was frustrated I didn’t catch the thief and bring him to justice.
Aren’t you glad that Jesus, has brought the “thief,” humanity’s enemy, to justice? Sure, he is still wreaking havoc across our world, but Jesus defeated him on the cross. The believer, through the authority of Christ, has authority over the enemy’s schemes. To live the abundant life that Jesus promises us, you must not let the enemy rob you! It’s easier said than done, and some events are beyond our control. But often, Christians open wide the front door, not just a bathroom window, and announce to the thief, “Come in, take what you want!” Let’s recap from last week and talk further about this important subject.
Jesus is our life, our joy, our hope and the source of abundant living
Jesus said that He came to give life—not just ordinary existence, but life in fullness, abundance, and prosperity. Jesus said, “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
To further understand this passage, let’s look at what Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us…” Eph 3:20 NKJV
The same Greek root word Perissos is used for the English word abundantly in both passages. The word means: superabundance, excessive, overflowing, surplus, over and above, more than enough, and extraordinary.
Consider the contrast: the thief (Satan and his minions) want to rob and destroy you—but God wants you to overflow excessively with his love, grace, and provision!
Understand that abundant living begins with a devoted relationship with Jesus. He is your life, your source, your joy, and hope. He is the author and finisher of your faith! The enemy begins to rob you when you take your eyes off Jesus, when you allow your heart to dim with love and devotion to Jesus. Sure, Jesus’ grace guards and keeps you, but when your relationship to him grows cold, you begin to lose the fullness of the abundant life he promised you. Satan’s #1 strategy to rob from you and destroy you is to dull your relationship with Jesus—who is the essence of life and life more abundantly!
I shared four principles last week to live an abundant life, here is the summary:
Principle #1: Allow Jesus to consume you.
It begins with surrender and is maintained through daily pursuit. Genuine relationship with Christ is the beginning of abundant living. Aline your desires with his. Give yourself totally to God, God will give of himself totally to you—beyond measure! Keep in mind that “grace isn’t opposed to effort, but grace is opposed to work…” – Dallas Willard. In other words, you are secure in his love and grace, you can’t work to earn that. However, his grace leads you to effort, where you chose, out of free will, to remain in his love and as a follower of him.
Principle #2: God’s Covenant to us is one of Abundant Life
A key step toward experiencing full biblical prosperity (spirit, soul & body) is to believe that this is God’s highest desire for you. John wrote, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2 NKJV
Abundant living begins with the divine flow of the river of God within, the very presence of God! No good thing will the follower of Christ lack!
Principle #3: Learn Godly Contentment Content
Paul learned to live humbly and in prosperity—a tension. He learned how to be content in every situation. Why? He lived from his life in Christ!
Phil. 4:11-13 CEB:
I’m not saying this because I need anything, for I have learned how to be content in any circumstance. I know the experience of being in need and of having more than enough; I have learned the secret to being content in any and every circumstance, whether full or hungry or whether having plenty or being poor. I can endure all these things through the power of the one who gives me strength.”
Paul told Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain …” Paul also knew, and wrote to the churches, that the essence of our new life in Christ is anchored in the eternal unseen realm. He anticipated the resurrection and the day when he would see Jesus face to face…
Principle #4: Ask for More!
Eph. 3:20 “…above all that we ask or think…”
Here lies a kingdom “paradox.” We need to learn to be content, free of striving and grasping for “things” and “stuff.” Yet, God also challenges us to “ask for more!” But it’s a heart issue—a stewardship issue. Can you be entrusted with more?
There is something in the asking that releases God’s power Eph. 3:20 “…according to the power (kratos) that works in us” in and through you. Petitionary prayer places a demand on heaven, faith moves God’s heart to respond. Motives are the key here …
This week, Principle #5: Don’t Let the Enemy Rob You!
Remember, there are two kingdoms, God’s kingdom and Satan’s kingdom, diametrically opposed to each other in our world. Keep in mind that Satan wants to steal, kill and destroy. He looks for every opportunity to oppress humanity—both those who know Jesus and those who don’t.
When you became a believer, you were immediately placed into God’s family and kingdom; isn’t that great news? However, being part of God’s family doesn’t eliminate the adversary who wants to stop you, rob you, and destroy you!
Consider some of Paul’s writing about the thief:
Eph. 6:12 CEB “We aren’t fighting against human enemies but against rulers, authorities, forces of cosmic darkness, and spiritual powers of evil in the heavens.”
Peter, who understood the devil’s treachery wrote, “Be clearheaded. Keep alert. Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…” 1 Pet. 5:8-9 CEB
The enemy comes to rob you of God’s blessings, to oppress your soul and body through hardships and sickness, and to destroy everything that we love and hold dear.
Satan has been stripped of his power, but he attempts to distract you from Jesus (through temptation) or believe his lies about yourself (carry shame) or be focused on your past sin and failure (live in condemnation). If you open the front door to your life, for example through unforgiveness, addictions (drugs and alcohol), sexual sin, or the occult, you give him permission to steal from you. He is a legalist who looks for a legal reason to destroy your life. But as a follower of Jesus, you have authority to say no to his lies and schemes, but you must exercise that authority through your faith and obedient living.
When you dwell completely in Christ, temptation has no allure! As you mature in Christ, renew your mind to your identity, live out of the truth of God’s Word, and allow your heart to be healed of life’s hurts, you can live free from shame and condemnation. His lies now have no power over you! Destiny begins here, free in Christ. Live free and stay free—don’t let the enemy rob you!
In Christ, your sin nature is gone, you are made righteous and becoming more like him as you follow him. You must have more faith in God’s ability to protect and keep you than in the enemy’s ability to attack you.
Yes, warfare at times occurs, but Jesus is greater! Consider John’s words and believe this as truth, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world…” 1 John 4:4 NKJV
Next week we will examine how to develop Godly strategies to remove ungodly thinking from our hearts and minds.