In the last section, we spoke of watching in the sense of being aware of the Lord’s coming. But here we’re speaking of watching in the sense of guarding a treasure that we’ve received. Consider this warning again that the Lord issued concerning His coming as a thief:
Mat 24:43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
The Lord associates watching for His coming with watching our household to make sure it doesn’t get broken into by a thief. While the Lord does say that if we do not watch He will come upon us as a thief, Paul tells us that we who are in the day, who are awake and sober, will not be caught off guard. To us, He will not seem as a thief, and we won’t be surprised. Perhaps to the world it will seem that a thief has come and stolen us from it, as we will instantaneously be translated into His presence, no longer to be found on earth.
However, even those who watch are to be the goodman of the house, watching against the thief and not allowing our house to be broken up. If we are aware of the Lord’s coming, and He is not a thief to us, why do we need to guard against a thief? When I consider everything, the Lord said about thieves in the gospel, it was never anything good. Even though He’s coming “like a thief” I don’t believe that He is really a thief. Just as Paul said, He came in the “likeness of sinful flesh.” He was without sin. However, there are real thieves. Jesus said “I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them”.He also said:
Joh 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
When we believed, we received a treasure. And now we are stewards guarding and keeping that treasure. We are to guard so that no one breaks in and gets the treasure. We’re guarding against thieves. How can spiritual thieves rob a spiritual treasure? Jesus tells us three things about them:
They come before Him.
They enter the sheepfold by climbing up some other way, rather than by the Door (which is Christ Himself)
The sheep do not hear them.
Spiritual thieves and robbers work by speaking. What do they speak of? They speak of a way for the sheep to go, that is not through the door. They have climbed into the sheepfold through another way than Jesus Christ Himself, and now they are speaking to a mix of people. Some are sheep. Others are those that have followed them into the sheepfold by climbing in another way. Still others are there as genuine believers but not aware that something is amiss. (Or if they are aware they don’t trust their own judgement on the matter or for various reasons are still there). At any rate according to Jesus, these are thieves and robbers! But Jesus says “the sheep did not hear them.”
The thieves and Robbers have a message, and they’re trying to lead the sheep. As goodmen of the house we are to protect the house against the thief and the robbers and not allow it to be broken into. This means we have to guard our treasure by not listening to people who do not speak of Jesus. Perhaps they speak of themselves, and by doing so they stand between us and the Lord, coming before Him. Or perhaps they speak of some other method – the law, or philosophy, or mystical secret to spiritual success – either way, they’re drawing disciples after themselves. The enemy is using this to try to lead the sheep away from Christ.
On a more subtle level, perhaps a “robber” is speaking of Jesus – but the Jesus they speak of is not complete – some aspect of His work is undermined or not presented, or He is not the Jesus of the scriptures, or serving Him and walking with Him is not presented in the context of His finished work on the cross and His resurrection.
Our watching for the Lord’s coming, and our guarding of our treasure leads us to a place where we have to discern. This is another aspect of the believer’s call during the Lord’s approach.