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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. -- John 10:10 (ESV)
As the modern apostate church continues to rush to embrace the world it continues to sacrifice the word of God on the altar of pseudo-relevance and marketing schemes. The purpose driven industrial complex leverages the bible to lend the appearance of piety to what is clearly a work of the devil. The problem is that even well intentioned Christians start to be lulled into this spiritual complacency marked by biblical apathy. Modern American faith has been reduced to a checklist. Did I go to church this week? Check! Did I serve in a ministry? Check! Did I give my tithe? Check! Did I vote Republican? Check! I checked all the boxes so I must be Christian! The word of God however has been relegated to a subordinate role in our lives and in the church. Joel Osteen rarely reads scriptures for example and instead speaks in terms of what the bible says without actually saying what it says. Even when you have mega pastors who read from the word like Rick Warren, it is usually from an abhorrent paraphrase like The Message. Instead of expositing the bible so that the sheep might hear what God is trying to say, hirelings disguised as pastors across this country preach topical messages and proof text the bible out of the intended context. This may come as a shock but Jeremiah 29:11 was not written for you. Malachi 3 was written to the priests, not the congregation. The Matthew 7 "judge not" scriptures are about hypocrisy -- not judgement. John 10:10 is not talking about the devil.
Yes you read that right beloved. The key verse today is not speaking about the devil. Yet time and again it is always presented as if it is. It is just hermeneutical laziness to pretend it does and by ignoring the actual context, you ignore what God is actually trying to say and therein lies the real danger. So let us walk through the tenth chapter of John to discern what the Lord is actually saying:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. -- John 10:1-2 (ESV)
God uses imagery we can easily understand to convey His message. Christians are likened to sheep. As animals, sheep are very social and very docile. They are followers by nature. What is interesting is they have a wide scope of vision and rely solely upon what they can see. This of course is the opposite of faith, which is surety in what we cannot see. This is why faith is always a supernatural occurrence. Because of this wide linear vision, they have poor depth to their vision, as noted here from a website about sheep:
"On the other hand, sheep have poor depth perception (three dimensional vision), especially if they are moving with their heads up. This is why they will often stop to examine something more closely. Sheep have difficulty picking out small details, such as an open space created by a partially opened gate. They tend to avoid shadows and sharp contrasts between light and dark. They are reluctant to go where they can't see." -- sheep101.info
They tend to avoid the sharp contrasts between light and dark and instead must be led there. They are reluctant to go where they cannot see. They rely upon being shepherded but will easily follow where they are led. This the way we are to know the true shepherd is He who comes into the pen via the door. They do so because the sheep belong to the shepherd and they have nothing to hide. Jesus is also teaching us here however that others enter the pen that have malicious intent. They are thieves and robbers and they do not have the direct access to the sheep so they climb over by a different way.
To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. -- John 10:3-4 (ESV)