Summary: We can get back what Satan has stolen from us if we want it. Taken from Jim Cymbala’s book Fresh faith.
The other day I was standing in line at the grocery store and the woman in front of me was wearing on of those backpacks with a toddler in it. As I stood there I noticed a large sign on the backpack that read. “This child tends to shoplift,” it read. “Please inform mother.”
In the spiritual realm, a kind of stealing is going on in many lives that is much more serious. Satan is in the business of ripping off things far more important than candy from the check out line. That is his nature. As Jesus said in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy."
Satan obviously doesn’t want candy. Or your house, your vehicle, your clothes, or you money. But he is very interested in stealing spiritual treasures things that have value with God and are of eternal significance.
Take, for example, our very purpose for living. Satan loves snatching men and women on the streets of my city and your city-people who have potential-and turning them into glassy-eyed wanderers through life, with no goal from day to day. They lie in bed at night staring at the ceiling, saying, "What’s the point? Just to make money? Just to have kids? Why?"
People turn to drugs and alcohol because they don’t have a clue as to why they’re alive. Others turn to career achievement, or pleasure, or stuff. . . something, anything to fill the void. But it doesn’t work. God created us to worship and enjoy Him forever, but this awareness has been stolen from their consciousness.
Notice the progression in John 10:10. Satan’s first move is just petty larceny. Once he manages that, he can move on to actual killing, and from there to mass destruction. "Steal . . . kill . . . destroy." But it all starts with stealing.
WHAT HAPPENED TO "FIRST LOVE"?
Even among those of us who are Christians, the devil has a strategy of theft.
For example, as a preacher I have seen over and over the tragic loss of our "first love " for Jesus. There was a time in our lives when we loved Jesus so much more than we do today. We longed for God’s Word. Our love for God’s house was enthusiastic. Our eagerness for spreading the gospel was so strong. . . . Now, how is it? Yes, we still love the Lord. We still come to church. But what happened to all that energy and passion?
That is the problem Jesus addressed with the Ephesian church in Revelation 2: 2- 5: "I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance… Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lamp stand from its place."
Where does "first love" go? Our zeal and our intensity don’t evaporate. Satan steals the hot embers of devotion and consecration. We get ripped off.
Someone might say, "Well, you have to understand that back when I met Christ, I was an energetic teenager. A lot has happened since then. You know, we all mellow out with time." Does anyone really believe that?
The Bible says God’s plan for us is that we be "transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18). There is no end to the power he wants to exhibit in our lives. The Bible has no retirement plan. God can keep his people on fire for Him; can keep them sharp and intense. We need to be honest and admit what has really happened. There is no point in conning ourselves. We’ve been ripped off by the master thief.
Or how about that unique calling that rests on every Christian’s life, the desire to serve others in the name of the Lord? Five years ago there was a stirring inside of you; He gave you a dream about what He wanted to do in your life. Maybe He wanted you to teach children. Maybe he wanted you to be a prayer warrior, standing in the gap for other people in need. Maybe there was even a pull toward the mission field that was birthed by the Holy Spirit himself.
But then… you got discouraged. Somebody let you down. Something went sour at your church. You tried once or twice, but somebody criticized you. Soon the dream was gone, and the calling wasn’t so real. All the inspiration you had felt was missing.
Where do you think they all went? Something very precious was stolen along the way.
The devil is always trying to rob us of something God blessed us with. When he succeeds, the spiritual gifts seem to fade, and the material things occupy our attention twenty-four hours a day.