Some preach it! Some sing it! Some even pray it! But does the Bible teach it? Does the Bible teach, instruct or even imply that we should, could, or even should try to take back what the devil has stolen from us? I would like to suggest that, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t!
First of all, we might be able to accuse the devil of many things, but we cannot “biblically” accuse him of being a thief! Now! I know what you are thinking! You heard some preacher, some teacher, or somebody say this: “The Bible says (some say: ‘Jesus said’) in John 10:10 that the devil is a thief! And he only comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy!” Well, if you would look at that text carefully, you might note that Jesus didn’t specifically identify “the thief” as being the devil! That’s a conclusion that somebody came up with who didn’t study the context of the text carefully! If you read my post: The Thief of John 10:10, you would discover that Jesus was NOT referring to the devil at all as the thief in that text! But I did a topical study, using the New Naves Topical Bible, on Satan, demons, and the devil, and I discovered that there is not one single reference to the devil being called a thief in the Bible! In Revelation 12:10, he is called “the accuser of the brethren.” I Peter 5:8 describe him as “the adversary,” going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. John 8:44 says that he is “a liar” and “the father of lies!” John 12:31 says he is “the prince of this world.” Paul describes him in Ephesians 2:2 as “the prince of the power of the air” and “the spirit that works in the children of disobedience.” In Ephesians 6:12, he is “the ruler of the darkness of this world.” In Matthew 12:14, he is “the unclean spirit” and later on in 13:19 he is called “the wicked one.” These are just a few of the numerous scriptures that directly and indirectly refer to Satan or the devil. He is called many things in the Bible; but nowhere is he called a thief!
Secondly, contrary to the idea of the devil stealing something from us, we should note an interesting dialogue that went on between Jesus and the devil in the wilderness when Jesus was being tempted. The dialogue seems to suggest that rather than stealing from us, the devil has a different agenda altogether! Look at Matthew 4:8-10 and the parallel text in Luke 4:5-8. The devil offered to Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world in their glory (this included, position, power, and wealth; the very stuff some say the devil comes to steal) if he would just fall down and worship him! Now, it’s true that the devil is a liar! But it is interesting to note that Jesus did not dispute the devil’s claim that the world was his to offer! In fact, according to Luke, the devil said: “for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish” (Luke 4:6 NASB). And, if it had not been within the devil’s delegated power to make this offer to Jesus, it wouldn’t have been a temptation at all! Remember, in the references cited earlier, the Bible does describe him as “the god of this world.” My question is this: Why would the devil want to steal from us when he already has the kingdoms of the world to offer? Instead of thinking that the devil wants to steal from us, it is probably more feasible and biblically correct to think that the devil is more apt to offer us riches and material wealth in an attempt to lure us away from the Lord! The Bible does say that the love of money is the root of all evil. Jesus, in the parable of the sower, said that some seed fell among the thorns, which represented the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. The bottom line is the devil already has access to the riches and material wealth of the world without trying to steal them from us!
Now, I heard a preacher allude to the story of David at Ziglag in I Samuel 30, as a reference text to illustrate an instance of taking back what the devil stole. But in all exegetical fairness, we should remember that David’s stuff was not stolen by the devil, but by the Amalekites. The main point of the story is really not so much about David getting his wives, children and material goods back from the enemy as it is about the fact that if David had not been out of position and away from his home, leaving the city unprotected, none of that would have happened in the first place!
In conclusion, let me just say that many times, it very well might be that we suffer losses in our lives, not so much because it is the work of the devil, but rather because of our own faults, failures, and lack of wisdom. In fact, the reason we lose some stuff may be, not because the devil stole it from us, but rather because we gave it to him! The devil really is not so desperate to get “stuff” that he has to resort to stealing it from us! And if the devil was a thief, he really wouldn’t be after any of the material things! He would want to steal our joy, our peace and our faith more than any to the material possession we might have! Yes! We can accuse the devil of many things, but according to the Bible, we cannot accuse him of being a thief!