“I’m taking back everything the Devil stole from me!” Have you ever heard this statement? Have you ever made this statement? Have you ever thought about what this statement means?
Spiritual catchphrases. Theological sound bites. Pulpit ear tickling. Harmful error set to beautiful music. Nonsense. These things are the order of the day. Consequently, many of our lives and churches are preoccupied with superficial things, rather than the God-centered, Christ-exalting, Spirit-empowered, life-transforming, and culture-engaging mission and message of the gospel.
For instance, there is a popular “Gospel” song that declares God to be faithful and holy. But the response to these divine perfections is this: “I’m reaching the harvest God promised me. Take back what the devil stole from me.” Well, at least it rhymes. I think. I also think this way of thinking tries to make God our puppet.
The consideration of God’s attributes should cause us to respond with reverent worship, the confession of sin, and a passion to serve him. At least, that’s how Isaiah responded to the sovereign holiness of God (see Isaiah 6). But a true encounter with the majesty and supremacy of God will definitely not result in a militant determination to fight the Devil over the stuff he supposedly stole from you.
The Bible describes our great spiritual enemy in many different ways. It tells us that Satan is a murderer and a liar and a deceiver. The Devil is even pictured in scripture as a serpent and a roaring lion and a dragon. But the Bible does not say much about the Devil being a thief. In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” But the “thief” Jesus is referring to is not Satan. He’s talking about false religious leaders! And, if Jesus was talking about Satan, why it is that we are only concerned about what he has stolen? Shouldn’t we be just as concerned about what he kills and destroys?
Beyond what the scripture tells us about Satan, we should also think about what it says about following Christ. We are to fight. Stand firm. Resist. Watch. And pray. But the instructions the New Testament give about spiritual warfare do not teach us that we should try to take anything back from devil. This is not the focus of the Christian life in any way. And talk like this only trivializes the biblical and historic Christian faith.
What stuff we are to take back from the Devil? If you let the high profile religious personalities tell it, we are to take back our families, health, wealth, joy, ministries, etc. Let the church say, “Huh?” This is really bad theology. It suggests that Satan is behind every adverse, difficult, or unpleasant thing that happens in our lives. And it fails to embrace the Lord’s sovereign authority, providential wisdom, and good purposes at work in our lives, including our bad times.
This way of thinking about fails to recognize that some challenges we face in life are the result of sin – both others and ours. Sometimes, we lose things because God will not be mocked. We reap what we sow (Gal. 6:9).
And there’s another important theological word that describes why some bad things happen: life. Life happens to all of us. Following Christ does not guarantee happy marriages, financial success, perfect health, problem-free relationships, or carefree circumstances. However, Christianity gives us resources for facing life challenges that unbelievers do not have. We can pray and trust and obey and wait and rejoice and love and forgive and give and serve in the midst of and in spite of life’s difficulties. But Christianity does not teach believers to attack the devil and reclaim stolen stuff from him.
In Ephesians 1:3, Paul declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…” Did you get that? In Christ, we are perfectly, completely, and irrevocably blessed. And we should praise God for it. But to neglect our great spiritual blessings in Christ and focus on things you think the Devil has stolen from you is to dishonor the unfailing promises of God, the redemptive work of Christ, and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. That’s like Bill Gates crying because he lost one hundred dollars. So I recommend that you let the Devil keep whatever he has stolen from you! Friend, if the Lord Jesus is the Forgiver of your sins and the Leader of your life, you have too many blessings to enjoy and bless God for to worry about what the Devil supposedly stole from you.
The Most Important Commandment
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. – Mark 12:28-34 Armies win…