We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him [Jesus] the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)
John 10:10 fascinates me even though I know it’s one of several verses which has been used inappropriately by those promoting the “Prosperity Gospel.” So when I was reading and editing “’The Ten Commandments Project’ Can Impact Your Community,” I saw a connection I had never noticed before.
Here’s the main point: God uses the Ten Commandments and John 10:10 to lead us to life and life more abundantly. Sometimes He uses the Bible to tell us what not to do (Ten Commandments) and sometimes to tell us what to do (The Greatest Commandments, Matthew 22:36-40). Either way, He desires for us to have the life more abundantly through Him, because obedience prevents the natural and eternal consequences of breaking these commandments.
So when John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” and if we check it against the Ten Commandments, then we begin to see where disobedience creates unnecessary pain, discomfort, and undesired consequences.
Then the last half of the verse shares of the promise of Jesus who finally can bring us to peace with God despite our previous disobedience. The Great Shepherd wants to bring His lost sheep back to the fold and keep them safe within the confines of it. These laws are the boundaries or fence to protect us.
As I considered John 10:10, the thief came to mind first because of personal experience. In early 1993 I had everything I owned stolen from a dreary Drury Inn in Irving, Texas (now closed according to the Internet). We had a truck with a tow-behind trailer. We pulled in about 6:30 p.m. and before 8:15 p.m. it was stolen from the parking lot.
For full disclosure, I did still have the clothes on my back and the car I had driven there. I withdrew from the college I was going to attend and later, after reassembling the necessities stolen from my life, went elsewhere.
But even afterward while staying at Dad’s house, I would think “Where is my ________?” which would yield the craziest thought, “Oh yeah, that was taken too.” Yes, it was taken! Everything was stolen! Yet I did that again and again for several months.
So I know the power of thieves to steal, the consequences of the theft, and how what has been stolen will be remembered and rediscovered well beyond the event. I still cringe when I see that hotel chain.
But the Ten Commandments aren’t just what we use to see others or events as God might see them. Most importantly, they reflect how He looks at each of us too, because ultimately we all will be judged by God against His standards as individuals.
Know that God doesn’t do double standards. We each stand or fall on our own as individuals compared to them. If this makes you concerned, then you are wise since James 2:10 (ESV) says, “For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.”
In the Ten Commandments Project, they use a short-form of them as seen below. Kids are taught through a six-week program to memorize and gain insights about them related to the good news of Jesus. For the full version of the commandments, visit Deuteronomy 5 and Exodus 20.
- You shall have no other gods before me.
- You shall not make for yourself any graven images.
- You shall not use God’s Name in vain.
- Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.
- Honor your father and mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not tell lies.
- You shall not covet.
The obvious connections of John 10:10 and the thief to the Ten Commandments are numbers 6 (kill/murder) and 8 (steal). It was the word “destroy” which held my attention.
How do the other commandments show an end result of the thief killing, stealing, or destroying? These are brief, immediate thoughts, so you may find other ways we are harmed and lose some of our abundance in life via our disobedience.
Breaking Commandment 1: Destroys the opportunity to have an everlasting presence with God in heaven.
Breaking Commandment 2: Destroys our faith in God and His promises about who He is.
Breaking Commandment 3: Destroys the strength of our witness to others.
Breaking Commandment 4: Destroys a “day of rest and reflection” on the good God has done in the past and submitting to guidance for the future. This yields ingratitude which tires the mind, body, and soul. This then makes us less effective to live out Colossians 3:17-23.
Breaking Commandment 5: Destroys an important relationship while shortening your life.
Breaking Commandment 6: Destroys a life and affects all those that life may have affected or helped.
Breaking Commandment 7: Destroys a relationship bonded by God and the trust that it held while affecting all those who witnessed its beginning and any children which came from it.
Breaking Commandment 8: Destroys trust in people while harming them physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Breaking Commandment 9: Destroys hope by misdirecting choices we make, thus giving us a wrong end result. For instance, what if you believed the lie that there is more than one way to heaven besides repenting and seeking to follow Jesus? Why would the devil lie to you about God and His laws? Why would that be evil? The Father of Lies does this to steal your chance to repent and establish peace with God for a saving/restored relationship. Perhaps, at one time, your heart coveted an easier way or a way that was your own. The devil would love for you to think you’re going to heaven and steal it from you. Instead of eternal joy, which you would have anticipated based on the believed lie, you would get eternal punishment.
Breaking Commandment 10: Destroys peace and contentment.
When I consider, even briefly, how breaking each of these commands shows a less abundant and less joyful life, I thank God for His laws. More importantly, I thank God for His mercy through Jesus.
The surprising thing to me about these verses is how often I am stealing my life from myself. At times I have become the thief due to my willful disobedience. It’s been hard to learn that I’ve never regretted obeying God’s will, but I have regretted not obeying it quickly enough.
If you can see this in your life, then you too can praise God for the work of Jesus does. If you can see by God's commands and law where you have gone astray, then ask and seek Jesus. May God have continued mercy on those like us seeking Him and seeking to obey.