Checkmate -- Applying Biblical Principles to Defeat the Enemy
Updated: Nov 20, 2018
Glued to the television, I watched the Magnificent Seven tumble their way to victory during the 1996 Olympics. The floor routines were my favorite due to the element of dance in them. Amongst the graceful routines was a spunky performance by the youngest gymnast, Dominique Moceanu. She thrilled the audience with a spicy number to “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” While she didn’t win a medal for the routine, her performance was memorable, lively, fun, energetic, and BOLD.
“…, but the Righteous are Bold as a Lion.” Proverbs 28:1 (NIV)
Bold – one of my favorite adjectives. Confident, courageous, daring, and valiant describe a bold person, action or idea. Proverbs 28:1 tells us that, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” (ESV) This doesn’t mean that the wicked can’t take bold actions and that the righteous can’t be fearful. Instead, righteousness builds boldness, while evil leads to fearfulness. Remember how bold (and a little reckless) Peter was when he lopped off the guard’s ear, but then fear took a foothold when he denied Jesus three times and that darn rooster crowed?
We will all have those rooster crowing moments. It’s part of the building of our righteous boldness.
I don’t know about you, but I love hearing stories of bold characters. Not just Biblical ones or historical ones, but especially modern day lions -- like Kayla Mueller. Not too many have heard of her and I encourage you to look up her legacy.
She was an American Humanitarian Aid Worker captured by ISIL in Syria. She was held captive for 18 months before her unconfirmed death from an air raid. During captivity, she was forced to marry a terrorist leader and was repeatedly raped and tortured. Fellow captives that survived the ordeal, tell stories of her strength and compassion for others. She passed up an escape attempt to give the other foreign women a better chance at freedom. She knew being an American would guarantee that the captors would hunt the group down. ISIL members attempted to use her as propaganda by claiming that she had abandoned her Christian faith in front of other male prisoners, but she denied it. Kayla Mueller is the definition of BOLD. 1
Fortunately not all of our paths will cross captivity and martyrdom to display our righteous boldness. But when faced with opposition, when staring the enemy in the eyes we must roll up our sleeves and stand firm in our faith. We must be BOLD, not in ourselves but in our Christ.
“Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men…” Proverbs 2:12 (NIV)
I met a man named Mr. Nash and during our short time together, he spoke of the importance of wisdom. His laugh lines were evidence of a life spent gaining knowledge. I’m sure he didn’t always seek the wisdom from God, but it seemed he had learned the lessons of leaving the path and he learned to let God help make his path straight.
Proverbs 2 talks a lot about the path of life, the path of the righteous, the straight path. Throughout the Bible, this holy path or road is spoke of. So how do we stay on the straight and narrow? We seek wisdom from the Lord. We accept His words, store up His commands, listening for the wisdom and then applying your heart to understand. We call out for insight and understanding and in turn the Lord gives wisdom. Then that understanding will guard you and discretion will protect you. Wisdom will save you from the paths to the spirits of the dead, the dark ones, the crooked paths. Proverbs 2:1-22 (NIV)
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances…” Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)
I watched a short video the other day about Pastor Bobby Bledsoe. He is a former drug addict and his heartbroken momma would pray continuously for her son during that time. She would pray that he would get too sick to go out and get high. Guess what? Her son would get too sick and it would prevent him that time, but he still continued to get high until one day he followed her to church. Not only did she continuously pray, but she prayed wisely and boldly.
Pray without ceasing means to have a continuous communication with God. That communication is two ways and we need to heed the advice of Matthew 6:7, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Instead take time to be still and listen.
“But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11 (ASV)
Put some distance between you and the person or thing that is kindling your disgraces. This is easier said than done of course, but remember you can always pray for and love someone from a distance. Sometimes you just need a temporary break. Sometimes God creates the distance for you. I have a friend that said if her abusive, ex-husband hadn’t overdosed she probably wouldn’t have had the courage to walk away herself. He’s removed questionable friends from my life without me really even noticing.
Temptations come from things as well. Comparison has roots that can branch off into so many places we don’t need to go. Quit following the “friend” on social media that makes you feel less than. If spending is getting out of hand, put a block on your credit card or freeze it in ice like the movies. Box the video games up and put them in the attic for a sabbatical. Take a walk. Spend time with friends or family. Find something pure to fill the space.
“... for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.” James 1:13 (ESV)
The battle of the mind is the toughest. You must know when evil is speaking and when God is speaking. God will never tempt you. God may test you, but he will never tempt you to go against Him or His commands.
When you find your thoughts wandering off the straight path, dabbling in brooks of unrighteous waters -- tell the devil where to go and ask God “to take this.” Everyone has thoughts of an impure nature, anxious or worried thoughts, thoughts of comparison, and self-defeating thoughts.
The key is to recognize that these thoughts don’t come from our Lord. It took me a while to get on the winning side of the mental battle. When my mind tries to take a dip in the dark waters -- my checkmate is to simply say out loud, “God take this” and then I picture this glorious vision that only me and God have seen. Then I move.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.” 1 Peter 3:9
While watching the news one night, a story came on about an older lady that got down on her knees and prayed out loud for the man that was about to rape her. He had been on a sexual assault spree and broke into this lady’s home. He was so taken aback by her call to Jesus on his behalf, he didn’t touch the lady and turned himself into the police. I wish every story turned out this way.
Boy, do I have to work on this one. My prayer or blessing for the enemy that crosses my path or the path of my loved ones is often the same as a Southern woman saying “bless your heart.” All the while rolling my eyes and really thinking “burn baby burn.” God often has to tell me “whoa nelly, let’s take a minute to soften that heart of yours.”
Kind of like what Jesus had to do with the Sons of Thunder, John and James. They possessed a fervency of spirit, especially in the condemnations of apostates and deceivers. John would eventually earn the nickname, “Apostle of Love,” after Jesus worked on him over a lifetime.
“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
I think too many people read this popular, widely circulated verse and think it is an excuse to rest on your laurels. “God’s got this.” “I just need to wait.” “Someone else will take up this battle.” “All I need to do is pray.” Now pray you must and in some situations, that is all the fight you have left. A very powerful weapon it is.
What Moses was commanding here was by far the biggest battle call. When he commanded these words “be still,” the Children of Israel were staring at the Red Sea while the Egyptian Army closed in from behind. God’s people had to fight every internal instinct, every fear not to run to the right or left in attempt to escape an impending death. They had to become immovable in their faith and let God deliver them.
One night, I fought particularly hard to take back control. So hard, that time escaped me. The last thing I remember is staring up at the only light in the room, saying “I can’t. No more.” Then I fell to my knees and said, “Lord, please save me.” I laid my head down on that cold concrete floor and went to sleep. Later, my doctor said to me that psychosis renders the mind completely uncontrollable. I looked at him and said, “but I still knew to call my Deliverer and He woke me up.”
Remember that the fight may be ours, but the Victory is always His.
The Ultimate Showdown
Charlie Daniels Band, The Devil Went Down To Georgia
I came across this interview with the Charlie Daniels Band and realized how much the way he describes the lyrics below, accurately portrays the nature of Satan.
In this song, Satan himself pays a visit to Georgia and challenges a boy named Johnny to a fiddle duel: If Johnny can play the fiddle better than the devil, he gets a golden fiddle, but if he loses, the devil gets his soul. After a sinister performance by the devil, complete with histrionics like fire and demon backup singers, Johnny plays as if he was possessed, nailing a performance inspired by his roots in the Deep South and winning the golden fiddle when the devil concedes defeat.
It was Daniels who played the fiddle for both the Devil and Johnny, and it was also Daniels who dreamed up what they both would sound like. He explains, "The Devil's just blowing smoke. If you listen to that, there's just a bunch of noise. There's no melody to it, there's no nothing, it's just a bunch of noise. Just confusion and stuff. And of course Johnny's saying something: You can't beat the Devil without the Lord. I didn't have that in the song, but I should have."
Daniels has had people tell him they felt the Devil played a better piece, and to this he says, "If you dissect it and listen to it, that's the smoke and mirrors thing about the Devil. There's just nothing there. I mean, there's nothing. There's no music involved."