The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness. John 10:10 (NLT).
Has someone ever said to you, “What do you want first, the good news or the bad news?” That’s a tension filled question. Why do we have to choose between good news and bad news? Why is there bad news? Why can’t we just hear the good news?
This article’s about bad news. But shouldn’t Christians be into the Good News? Well not exactly. There can be no good news without bad news.
John 10:10 is an excellent example. Jesus said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness” (NLT). First the bad news: “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.” Then the good news: “My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.” Now why would Jesus marry these two statements? Why does He, in the same breath, put the bad news together with the good news? Maybe it’s because the bad news and good news are inexorably linked.
Sometimes we try to shut out the bad news. But with John 10:10, if we read the second statement and ignore the first, we miss something critical. In order to know fullness of life, we must first know that life is opposed. Abundant life isn’t handed to us on a plate. There’s a thief trying to steal the life right out from under our noses.
From the day we were born to the day we die, we’re in a combat zone, slap bang in the middle of a war. Not a physical war. There are no bullets or bombs in this war. We’re in a spiritual war – caught in a great battle between the forces of Heaven and Hell that’s being conducted right here on planet earth. It’s a violent clash of kingdoms. A bitter life and death struggle between good and evil.
The struggle started in the mists of eternity past. Satan, a mighty and beautiful archangel, rebelled against God. With legions of angels who joined his cause, he attacked the angels loyal to God. But no-one can attack God and ever hope to win, not even the greatest of angels. Satan was defeated – banished from heaven – but not destroyed. Unable to defeat God, he turned his sights on those who bore God’s image. And the battle spilled over to earth.
Humans are the object of Satan’s revenge. The enemy of God entered the Garden of Eden. He lied about where true life was to be found, and Adam and Eve believed him (cf. Genesis 3:1-7). But God didn’t abandon us. The battle rages on.
We tend to think of God as love, and He is. But He’s also the God of war. “The Lord is a warrior; yes, the Lord is his name!” Exodus 15:3 (NLT). We struggle with this designation – don’t we? I’ve never been in a prayer meeting where someone has said, “Thank you Lord for fighting for me. Thank you Lord for being a warrior.” Yet that’s what God is. He drowned Pharaoh’s soldiers in the Red Sea. He flattened the walls of Jericho and killed everyone within. He wiped out 120,000 Midianites with Gideon’s 300 men. He struck down 185 000 of Hezekiah’s enemies. And He crushed the Canaanites, Edomites, Perezites, Ammonites, and all the other ‘nites.’ Don’t ever think you can fight God and win. There has never been and never will be a knight who can stand against the Lord. He is “The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, invincible in battle” Psalm 24:8 (NLT).
Just because the love of God is the popular theme from the pulpits of the land we shouldn’t miss the obvious. War is a significant sub-theme in the Bible. And with Jesus too. He came to fight the good fight. In Matthew 10:34 He says, “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! No, I came to bring a sword” (NLT). That’s fighting talk. “The Lord is a warrior.”
Let’s not read the Bible through rose coloured glasses. The birth of Christ was an act of war. The incarnation was an invasion. And Satan knew it. He tried to kill Christ when He was still a baby (cf. Matthew 2:13). It was a battle from beginning to end. Christ was birthed in blood and died soaked in blood. He resisted Satan in the wilderness, confronted the Pharisees, cast out demons, endured the cross, and was resurrected from the grave. It was hand to hand combat. No quarter asked or given. The Mighty One put His life on the line. He stormed Satan’s lair. Single handedly He descended into Hell and wrestled the captives free (cf. Ephesians 4:8-9; Revelation 1:18).
And the battle isn’t done. D-day is coming. Satan’s last beachhead will be stormed. Victory is assured. Christ will be mounted on a white war horse (cf. Revelation 19:11). He will judge and make war, His robe will be dipped in blood, the armies of heaven will be lined up behind Him, a sword will come out of His mouth to strike down the nations, and He will tread the winepress of the fury of his wrath (cf. Revelation 19:11-15).
Yes, the battle raged from Genesis to Revelation. John Eldredge in Waking the Dead says, “War is not just one among many themes in the Bible. It is the backdrop for the whole Story, the context for everything else. God is at war. He is trampling out the vineyards where the grapes of wrath are stored. And what is he fighting for? Our freedom and restoration.”
That’s the Good News. Christ laid down His life and continues to lay down His life so that we might have life. Satan’s fighting to destroy your life, but Christ’s fighting to give you life. That’s the bad news/good news today.