We recently had our 25th anniversary service here at KCC, which was a fun time. The music was great, seeing videos from people whose lives have been impacted by KCC over the years was encouraging, and I found the teaching to be inspiring. Pastor Dave spoke about the church’s vision: that we be a body of believers experiencing full life in Christ. Now, I’ve heard this before. As a staff member, I’m certain I’ve heard it more than anyone reading this. So how could something I’ve heard before inspire me again and again? Well, I’m not living a full life in Christ in all areas of my life yet. I’m striving for it, but I’m not there yet. I didn’t have to think long and hard about what to write on my paper when asked what areas you I knew I most needed growth in, because I’m already aware and working on them. I need to pursue a full life in Christ as much as the next guy.
Anyway, Pastor Dave is speaking on the vision of the church, so naturally he puts up John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal, to kill, and destroy, but I (Jesus) have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” I really can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that verse, but if you go here, you know it’s someone close to 1,000,000 times. Right? We’ve done whole series on full life in Christ, and while looking at different parts of full life and how we can live that out, we always come back and reference this verse. I know this verse. I did not look it up. I just typed it. It’s ingrained in my heart and mind. And yet, as God often does with passages we’ve read several times, He brought something new to my mind.
We often look at the Full Life side of this verse, as we should. But God impressed on me, as I listened to Pastor Dave read the verse, that I need to also pay attention to that first part of the verse. There are two opposite options here: full life in Christ, or death, theft, and/or destruction from the thief, the enemy. And I pondered that the rest of the day, and well into the week. And I came to an important conclusion.
Succumbing to temptation is a bigger deal than we tell ourselves when faced with it. I should probably say than the enemy tells us when tempting us, because the lies are from him. But we listen, and we repeat the lies to ourselves, so either phrase is fine. When faced with temptation, we might reconcile it with not being a big deal, it’s only once, wonder what the harm will be, and who it could hurt if no one even knows about it. We make it out to be a decision without consequences, and since it’s what we want, we do tend to succumb to it. But the truth is, temptation is presented by the enemy, by the thief. What’s he trying to do? Kill you, steal something from you, and/or destroy you. Sounds pretty serious.
So I took this conclusion and thought about something I had preached about recently, which is being equipped with the Word of God to ward off spiritual attacks from the enemy (from Ephesians 6). I mentioned that it’s important to memorize Scripture, especially as it pertains to the areas we are most tempted, so that when we are tempted, we can deflect it with the truth of the Word of God. I believe that. But maybe you don’t know where to start, or maybe you have too many avenues of temptation you’re fighting off to memorize that much Scripture that quickly. I don’t know. But you can start here. Memorize John 10:10 if you haven’t already, and when you are tempted, throw that one back at the enemy.
Rebuke the enemy when you’re tempted. “I know you’re trying to kill me, steal from me, and destroy me, and I won’t have it. I want to experience life to the full in Christ!” I’ve been exercising this the last couple of weeks when I’ve been tempted in different areas. And then I take time to talk to God about it, and then I wonder what area of my full life is the enemy after? Is he trying to steal something specific from me or destroy a particular area of my life? Is what he’s tempting me with worth that particular cost? The answer has been no every time. Most importantly for me, drawing a contrast between what’s being offered and what I have and can have in Christ helped me shrug off the repeat temptations when they come back around. I already know what the cost will be, I know what he wants to do in my life, and I’m just not willing to give up a full life in Christ – in my relationship with Him, in my marriage, in my family, in my friendships, etc – for a quick fix that’ll leave me worse off.
Choose to overcome temptation for the sake of full life.