The Game You Must Win! - 1 Peter 5:8-10 - Nate Heitzig
Good morning, and welcome to Calvary Church. How are you guys doing this morning? How good does it feel to be in church with believers today?
You know, I think it's so funny. I just wanted to say this. I think there's some things in the pandemic that we ended up missing that we might have hated before the pandemic. For instance, traffic, I hated traffic before the pandemic.
And I remember when the first time I saw traffic after the pandemic how excited I was that there was traffic again. I think that one of those things-- also, one of the ways we know the pandemic is over was meet and greet. How good was it to stand up and shake hands and say hi to people?
I think meet and greet used to be one of those things people were like, oh my gosh, I got to shake somebody's hand I don't know, but now we're like, yes, how many hands can I touch in 5 seconds? It's almost like getting those free samples at Costco. I heard people say, you know the pandemic's over when they give away samples at Costco.
I think we should change that the pandemic's over when you can shake hands in church again. So welcome to church. So excited to be here. Turn in your Bibles to 1 Peter chapter 5. We're going to be verses 8 through 10 this morning for a message that I've titled The Game You Must Win.
Hey, do we have any people in here who love to play games? We've got any families who are game families? I find you either are a game family or you're not a game family. And there's not really any in betweens.
In my family, we love to play games and almost any kind of game. Honestly, if there's something where there's a winner and a loser, then I'm in. I love to play games.
And honestly, I just love to beat people. I love to win at games, whether it's board games, card games, video games, outdoor games, like cornhole, bocce ball, spikeball, sports games like soccer, baseball, and football. I'll honestly play anything as long as there's an opportunity for me to beat somebody else at it. Anyone else relate to this? Any super competitive people in the house?
Be honest. Someone is nudging. You're like, you're this person. Probably your wife is nudging you, and you're the husband. And you're this person, because let's be honest, what's the point of playing if you can't win or at least, what's the point of playing if you don't try to win?
In my family, that's because we're all super competitive. Actually, I should rephrase that, that's because I'm super competitive. I am an incredibly competitive person.
It doesn't matter what we're playing. It doesn't matter how unimportant it is, I'm competitive. It doesn't matter how uncompetitive it is, I'm competitive.
And if we're honest, dads bear the majority of the way in this. Now my wife is also incredibly competitive, but I found that dads are so competitive, especially at the sports their kids play. Have you noticed this? Have you gone to a little League Baseball game any time recently?
I know we haven't really had it, because of the pandemic, or going to a soccer game? It's like warfare out there, but not with the kids, with the dads yelling at each other across the field. It gets heated out there. Have you ever realized how competitive we are? And I'm guilty of this as well.
I remember when my son first started playing baseball, how excited I was to watch his first baseball game, even more so how excited I was and how much anticipation I had for him to win his first baseball game, because I remember how important that was to me. I remember when I won my first game how meaningful that was to win at something, to succeed at something, the confidence that that inspired. And I remember being in his first game and showing up to the field and looking around for the scoreboard to tell who won the game, to tell how many points were on the board. And I couldn't find one.
So I asked the coach. I said, hey coach, where's the scoreboard? And he said, well, in this league, we don't keep score. As a matter of fact, we not only don't keep score, we don't even record the number of outs, because we want each kid to get an opportunity to get on base. And we want each kid to get the opportunity to succeed.
So we just let a certain number of plays run. And then we call the inning. And in that moment in my head, I said, you don't keep score, but I do. And there might not be a scoreboard here, but I'm here. And I'll let all these kids know who's winning and who's losing at this game.
Now I didn't do that. I wasn't that dad yelling out of the kids that they're out. But I did after the game, when my son got in the car, I said, hey, congratulations, Seth, you won your first game, to which he replied, dad, we don't keep score. And I said your coach might not, but I do.
And after every single game, if you want to know who won or who lost, you can come in this car and ask me. And I'll tell you who won or who lost. I'll tell you how many points you scored. I'll tell you how many outs you got. If you don't ask me, I won't tell you, but if you want to know, ask me, and I'll let you know.
I don't care whether you win or lose. All I want you to do is try hard, but you have to know what you're trying for. And if you don't know what you're trying for, you can never succeed. Now, of course, our desire to succeed shouldn't ever cause us to be a bad sport. And, of course, we all know there's some games that you truly just play for fun, but we also know there's some games that you must win or at least you must try to win.
The Super Bowl is a game you must win. I guarantee you every player around on that field feels like they have to win that game. The Olympics are games you must win.
The World Series are games you must win. The NBA Finals are games you must win. Can you imagine how boring every one of those games would be if nobody cared about winning?
Could you imagine watching the NBA Finals of Chris Paul just ran up to each ref and gave him a hug and to all the players and every now and then just pause the time and said, hey, guys football everyone know this is just for fun? So everyone take it easy. Let's just have a good time. Could you imagine how boring those games would be if there wasn't healthy competition?
We're in this series now streaming, and we've been looking at popular TV shows to see if there's any spiritual truths that we as Christians can glean from them in their themes. And this week, we're looking at the Queen's Gambit, which if you've never heard of it or seen an episode is all about chess. And that sounds pretty unexciting, but I believe that chess is an incredibly exciting game.
Chess is a fascinating game, because each and every move from the very beginning, until the very last move is so important. As a matter of fact, I don't know that there's another game where each move has as much importance and weight as chess. The very first opening move, all the way until the very last move, each one of them have names, and strategy, and goals behind the moves.
It's a game where each move has a benefit or a consequence and a move that you made at the very beginning of the game can actually determine the outcome at the very end. And this weekend we're going to tie some spiritual correlations to this. And we're going to see that each and every one of us is engaged in a spiritual game of chess.
And this game, Christian, that you're locked in is a game that you cannot afford to lose. As a matter of fact, our eternal lives hang in the balance. And the outcome of this game, this is the game you must win, because in this game, your opponent, your adversary is the devil.
Let's look at our text, 1 Peter 5:8-10 as we learn about The Game You Must Win. Verse 8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world, but may the God of all grace who called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you."
The first point that we're going to see here in this game that you must win is that you need to know your adversary. Now anyone at the top of their field knows that if you want to be successful, if you want to win, if you want to succeed, the first thing you have to do is learn about your opponent. All the great coaches know this. All the great athletes know this.
You have to learn about your opponent. As a matter of fact, many teams and coaches, if they're good, will put far more time into the preparation for the game than they will in the game itself. You watch their tapes. You learn their moves.
You study their weaknesses. You want to know as much as you can about them so that when you get on the field of play, there's nothing they can throw at you that you're not prepared for. Oftentimes, the game is won or lost before the actual game ever begins.
One of the greatest coaches in history, Bob Knight, said this. "The key is not the will to win. Everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is so important."
And there's some incredible spiritual truths within this. It's not the will to win. Everybody has the will to win. Look, it's not the will to resist the devil.
Every Christian has the will to resist the devil. It's not the will to withstand temptation. No Christian wants to fall into temptation. It's not the will to win. It's the will to prepare to win that is important.
Verse 8 tells us exactly who our opponent is, and it tells us to be ready to prepare. Look at verse 8. Peter says, "Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary is the devil." Your adversary, the devil.
The NLT puts it this way. "Stay alert, stay alert. Be ready, prepare yourselves. Watch out for your great enemy, the devil."
So we need to understand who our opponent the devil is, who is our adversary, what makes him tick. What is his goal? Now, first of all, we have to point out that God didn't really create the devil as we know him today.
In fact, in the beginning, not only was Lucifer a high-ranking angel, but he was also one of exquisite beauty and of incredible wisdom. He seemed to be in a position of great power and influence, according to what is Ezekiel 28 tells us. Ezekiel 28 calls Satan "the guardian cherub."
Now you don't realize this or maybe you did, but in the angelic realm, there are different ranks of angels, kind of like in an army. There's different ranks of angels. There's different branches of angels, soldiers. That's what is happening to this angelic realm and cherubim in the angelic army.
And the ranking of angels are depicted in scripture as powerful and majestic angelic creatures who surround God's throne. They surround guardians, protectors of the throne. And they spend most of their days worshipping God, leading the angelic hosts in praise of God.
Interestingly, God sent cherubim, what Satan was, Lucifer was, to guard Eden after the expulsion of Adam and Eve. Genesis 3:24 says, "after he drove the man out, he placed on the East side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life."
So Satan is a high-ranking angel. He was a high-ranking angel. He was a cherub, the guardian cherub. He's also referred to in Ezekiel 28 as the model of perfection.
He was beautiful to behold. He was spectacular to behold. So what happened? What was Satan specific sin or sins?
Ezekiel 28, 15, and 17 tells us what led to Satan's fall. It says you were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, until iniquity was found in you. Your heart was lifted up, pride it was puffed up, because of your beauty.
Satan being this guardian cherub, this model of perfection, this high-ranking angel, at some point in this process deemed that the worship he was giving to God was worship that he himself deserved, because of his beauty, because of his rank, because of his role. Perhaps, he felt like, you know what, God sure will worship you, but I'm a pretty high-ranking angel. Maybe we can have some of the lower ranking angels worship me as well, because I'm pretty awesome.
I'm pretty good. I think I deserve some honor. I think I deserve some clout and some recognition. How quickly do we fall into the same trap, Christian, when we think after a little while, well, you know what, I'm pretty great?
You know, I'm a pretty awesome person. I deserve some of the recognition and clout. You know what, I've been missing out on that. What those other people get, I can do better than them.
I deserve some of that praise. I deserve some of that glory. His heart was lifted up, because of his incredible beauty. Lucifer allowed his perfection to be the cause of his corruption.
He allowed his perfection, his status to be the cause of his corruption. It created iniquity in his heart. As his pride lifted up, it corrupted him.
Lucifer wasn't satisfied any longer with worshipping God. He wanted to be worshipped. And God's judgment came on him as a result of this corruption of his heart.
And so Lucifer, once a beautiful, powerful angel of God, lost his former exalted position in heaven. Jesus said, I beheld Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Lucifer became Satan when he fell to Earth.
Lucifer the name means star of the morning, that which he once was. Satan means accuser, that is who he is now. Now Satan, as we know him, is a fallen but very powerful spiritual being with a very well-organized network of demonic powers helping him accomplish his purpose.
And what is Satan's purpose? Well, the words of Jesus and John 10:10 tells us exactly what Satan's purpose is, and that is to steal, to kill, and to destroy. Let me ask you a question.
If Satan's purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy, who does he want to steal from? Who does he want to kill, and who does he want to destroy? You. The answer is you.
Every second of every day, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the only thing that Satan is pursuing and trying to do is to steal from you, to kill you, and to destroy you. He wants to steal your marriage. He wants to steal your children. He wants to steal your sobriety.
He wants to steal your joy. He wants to steal your future. He wants to destroy the plans that God has for your life. He wants to destroy what God is doing in your life.
He wants to kill you and mangle you so that at end of your life, you look so far from the picture that God had planned for you it is unrecognizable. He wants to kill you, destroy you, and steal from you. Verse 8 continues for us, and it adds on to that plan that Satan has for us.
It says, "the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour." He wants to steal, kill, destroy. Like a lion he wants to devour you.
Now I don't know about you, but when I hear about a lion going to and fro, my mind immediately goes to National Geographic. Anyone love watching those shows about predator versus prey? I can't get enough of them, whether it's Shark Week or Lions in the Wilderness or Crocodiles.
I love watching these predators stalk their prey. I don't know if that speaks something about me, but I love watching that whole process. I think it's so fascinating.
And I love those shows, because there's always that deep Australian accent. And you'll have these zebras hanging out in the field, and this lion will be in the tall grass. And this guy will go, the zebra has no idea the lion's stalking it. It's in the tall grass.
It kind of sounds like a golf game, like kind of one of those commentators, like you're waiting for a putt to be made, but it's actually a broken neck on a zebra. The zebra can't see that the lions getting in closer. Boom, and then all of a sudden the lion attacks.
I was watching this show with my daughter one day. And she was a young kid at the time. And she loves animals. She wants to be a veterinarian.
And she's watching this. She likes, look, it, the zebra, and there's a lion. And then the lion jumps out and gets the zebra. And my daughter says, dad, look at the zebra and the lion. They're playing together.
And I said, Cadence, I think the zebras losing. I don't think the zebra understands the rules of the game. As a matter of fact, I think the zebra would prefer to not play this game with the lion.
I was at the zoo with my son. And we have an incredible zoo in Albuquerque, don't we? It's one of the best zoos I think in the country. And it's such a great value. We were there.
And I always love-- my favorite big cat exhibit to see is the mountain lions, because you can get so much closer to them than the other animals. When we hear about mountain lions we think, oh, they're just smaller version of lions. They're not that scary until you get close to those suckers.
And you realize how big they are and how mean they are, how big those claws are. And you realize I'm never going to go hiking and in La Luz ever again, because I don't want to see one of those big lions. And they say, well, if you see one, just open up your coat.
And I'm like, why, so I can show them where the death spot is? Here, right here. Get it right there.
We're there looking at the lions. And lions do this incredible thing that I call the lion pace. And it's one of the most terrifying things ever, because they lock eyes with something. And they move back and forth, while never breaking eye contact.
I'm going to do it with Antonio, because I know it won't offend him if I do this, but they'll do the thing where they just look at you. And they just do this. And then every now and then, they just throw this in. They just lick their lips.
We're at the zoo, and this lion is doing this to my son. And my son ever so astute says, dad, I think he's hungry. And I was like, yes, Seth for you.
He wants to eat you. He's hungry. He's prowling. And He's going to and fro seeking whom he may devour.
Christian, Satan's got his eyes locked on you. Satan's doing the lion pace back and forth looking at you, licking his lips, because he's hungry, because he wants to destroy you, because he wants to eat you. Like that cute little zebra in National Geographic, with the Australian commentator, he wants to jump out of those tall weeds. He wants to snap your neck, and he wants to eat you up.
He wants to steal from you. He wants to kill you. And he wants to destroy you.
How does he do this? Well, to accomplish his goals, Satan uses his two closest allies. That is the world and the flesh.
The world is the world system, which is hostile to God, that is living our own personal gratification, your will above everything else, this world system that is hostile towards God. 1 John 5:19 says, "we know that we are of God. And the whole world-- how much of the world-- the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one."
Ephesians 2:2 says "he, Satan, is the prince of the power of the air." The world is the first tool that Satan uses to steal, kill, and destroy unbelievers life. The flesh is the second.
The flesh is the powerful sinful nature that lives inside each and every one of us from the moment we're born that longs to be gratified, satisfied, to have our sensual appetites fulfilled. 1 John 2:16, speaking of the flesh, says, "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life is not of the Father, but of the world."
And in the same way all the temptation that we face falls into these three categories. And this is the flesh, number one, the eyes, the lust of the eyes. Some people fall in their personal lives and lose this battle with Satan in the fantasy life, in the thought life, in the things they see with a pornography addiction, with a greed in their heart, with selfishness in their eyes as they see what other people have, and they say, I want that.
I want that home. I want that car. I want that family. I want that spouse. I want those things.
Instagram is a huge contributing factor to the lust of the eyes in our generation, people seeing what other people have and being unsatisfied with what God has given them. The next is the lust of the flesh. This is the simple gratification of whatever desire hits you in that moment, which, by the way, the lust of the eyes usually turns into action. Very seldomly does it stop at the eyes.
Eventually, if we have Satan big enough of a foothold in our thought life in our eyes, it will lead to the lust of the flesh and the actions that we portray. Food, sleep, sex, pleasure, accumulations, possessions, this is the natural man in all his glory. I want what I want when I want it, and I'm going to take it for myself.
The last is the pride of life. For some, this is where Satan gets his foothold in their lives. And this clever strategy could be through the pursuit of knowledge. Maybe a high degree. Maybe the reason behind you wanting a high degree is to be better than other people or to puff yourself up, feel that you're important, perhaps morality, bettering one's self. Well, I'm a very righteous person. I'm a very holy person because of the good things I do.
Even the pride of being religious can keep you from Christ as it did the Pharisees. Well, I go to church. Not only do I go to church, I go to a Bible teaching church. Not only do I go to a Bible teaching church, I serve sometimes. And I tithe every now and then when I feel like it.
These are the prides of life. So number one, we need to know your adversary. Number two, we need to recognize that to win the game, you'll lose some pawns. Look at verse 9 with me.
Peter continues and he says, "resist him, steadfast in the faith-- this says play your game, keep pursuing keep trying, keep moving, play your game-- knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in all the world." Christian, to win this game with Satan, you're going to lose some pawns. In any game, including the game of chess, not only must your opponent and the moves that they have, but you also have to accept that there's going to be times in the game where you might be down. There's going to be moments in the battle when you might fail.
There's going to be moments when you're going to lose a match up or two. There's going to be moments when you're not in the lead, but you're fighting for the lead. There's going to be moments when it looks like you might lose. And, Christian, there's going to be moments in this life when you will suffer.
Be steadfast, stand firm, knowing that the suffering you're going to experience isn't isolated to you, but it's experienced by every other believer in the world. They've experienced it too. We'd like to think that once we become a Christian, we should never have to suffer or lose. We like to think that once we have Christ in our heart, it's going to be a yellow brick road from that point on, that somehow temptation and suffering should magically disappear.
As a matter of fact, this is what the prosperity gospel teaches. It says that God's goal for your life is that you would be healthy, wealthy, and wise. And our goal as Christians should be to bring heaven to Earth. And we should experience that here on Earth, which by the way, I hate a theology which is a study of God that excludes God himself.
If your theology excludes God himself, it's a bad theology. And when we have a theology that says that's God's goal for our life, but we look at Jesus and we find out that Jesus didn't have a great relationship with his family because they were jealous of him and his role, and we find out that Jesus wasn't rich, but he had nowhere to rest his head, and we find out that Jesus didn't experience happiness and joy his entire life, as a matter of fact, the Bible tells us that he was a man acquainted with grief, a man of sorrows, he didn't look great. He said that he had no former comeliness that we should esteem him.
The Bible talks about the pain that Jesus went through. Well, we should never have pain. We should never be sick. And yet, he was nailed to a tree and sweat, great drops of blood and experienced hunger. If our theology for ourselves excludes Jesus, something's got to change with our theology.
In this game, you're going to lose some pawns. Sadly, in the Christian life, temptation and suffering don't disappear when we accept Christ. We just become a bigger target for them.
It just makes you a bigger target of Satan. And it seems like the Christian life can be so aptly described by this idea, that every time I take one step forward, Satan seems to be there to push me two steps back. Every time I have a victory, Satan's there to bring a loss.
Every time I have a success, there's a failure. Every time I rise, I seem to fall. Every time I have a triumph, there's some temptation there to take my eyes off the prize.
In chess, there's a part of the game. It's one of my favorite parts. It's called the exchange.
The exchange is a series of closely related moves, typically sequential in which the two players who are playing each other capture each other's pieces in a back and forth motion. I take yours. You take mine. I take yours. You take mine, going up and down in the exchange.
Now this process continues until finally one of the players comes out with the upper hand and the advantage going forward. Now what's most important about the exchange, and this applies to the Christian life as well, is to stand firm, to stay steadfast in your game plan, in the strategy that you've come into the game with and to not allow yourself to be deterred or thrown off by what the other person is doing, by the pawns that you're losing. Tigran Petrosian, the chess grandmaster, speaking of the exchange said this, "the first main hardship in positional exchange sacrifices is purely psychological, because we give up a rook for a light piece."
Is there a better description of the Christian life, that in this battle with Satan, in this chess match with Satan, in this exchange with Satan so often it's psychological? So often we get sucked into Satan's game plan, because we allow our mental knowledge of who God is, and what his role is within our lives, and what our role as Christians is on his life to deter us. It's psychological.
We have these triumphs and we say, man, I'm feeling good. I finally got rid of this sin that I've been struggling with. My family is healthy. I have a new job.
I see the horizon. Things look good. Things are going my way. Things are just going up, and up, and up, and up. And then finally Satan comes in and knocks your legs out from under you, and you hit the ground.
Some tragedy happens. Something happens in your family. You lose that job. Your health goes out the door. A temptation comes.
A new sin comes, and it takes your breath away, knocks you out, and you begin to spiral. And you begin to question all those things that you were so sure of before. Well, maybe God's plans for me are not of good.
Maybe his plans for me are actually evil. Maybe God's doing this to me, everything's going wrong. Nothing's ever going to be better. And we begin to spiral, and spiral, and spiral.
It's psychological, and we've just fallen into Satan's game plan, instead of playing our game plan. Instead of staying steadfast, instead of standing firm, we allow the psychological effects of the exchange to bring us down, rising and falling, going up and down, losing and winning. When you think of David, two other names come to mind, David and Goliath, and David and Bathsheba.
One represents his greatest victory, the other his greatest defeat. One his greatest moment of faith, the other his greatest moment of failure. And times of greatest temptation often follow times of greatest triumph. And we see this throughout the entire Bible.
We need to remember, though, that the suffering we experience, this exchange is not isolated to you. Every Christian who has ever lived on Earth has experienced this. All the greats in the Bible, all your brothers and sisters sitting in the seats, all the people who come to church pretending they're perfect and don't experience this experience this.
The suffering is universal. Right after the Father said this is my beloved son, the devil was there to tempt him. The devil always opposes those who God approves.
Those who are obedient and are faithful to God become the biggest targets of Satan. And many times in our lives the most difficult trials come after the greatest triumphs. After Jesus had his mountaintop experience of being transfigured with Moses and Elijah, a demon-possessed person was waiting at the bottom of the hill.
David, right after slaying Goliath, was met with praises from the people and a big old spear from King Saul. Samson, after he destroyed 1,000 enemies, met a girl named Delilah. Peter, who boldly stood for Christ and even hacked the ear off of a soldier, only hours later was ashamed to even acknowledge he knew Jesus.
Christian, sometimes our successes, our wins, can cause us to feel invincible, and we can let our guard down. And then when Satan comes with the exchange and takes a piece, we're not ready for it. In the contest between Elijah and the 450 prophets of battle, God personally worked in a powerful and tangible way.
Elijah literally called down, fire from heaven. You're like, man, if I ever did that, I would never doubt God again. Yet, only a week later, Elijah was running scared for his life, depressed. And he even asked God to take his life.
No sooner had Israel been delivered from Egypt. Then Pharaoh came pursuing them with his army. No sooner had Paul had an abundance of revelations that he was hit with a thorn in the flesh by a messenger of Satan.
Look whether you're 15 or 50, you need to hear this. Whether you've been a Christian for three months or 30 years, this is for you, because the most intense suffering, the most intense temptation comes in the beginning and the end of the Christian life. In the beginning of your Christian life, because he wants to derail you from walking with God.
He wants to deter you from ever making an impact, from ever being used by him. And so he hits you in predictable ways with heavy duty temptations or suffering, offering you all the kingdoms of the world, so to speak, if you just leave Jesus, if you just leave the church. He causes you to doubt your salvation.
But it's also at the end that the greatest attacks come, because if he can get you to fall on your last lap, he can discredit all the years of faithful running, all the years of faithful service. Just ask Ravi Zacharias, who after decades of faithful service, decades of being the greatest apologist in our modern history, a guy who brought so many to faith with his arguments for the scripture, on his last lap he fell, and he fell hard. And it discredited all the years of faithful service.
There are those in this race who do not finish well. We lower our guard. We put our spiritual lives in cruise control, but we don't realize that we don't have our seatbelts on. And Satan would love nothing more than a scrape your dead body off the pavement, because Satan won't stop when you're down.
Satan wants you dead. Satan won't stop when you look. He wants you to lust. And if we aren't daily making a conscious effort to do what God has called us to do, to be steadfast, to stand firm, knowing that the suffering we experienced is experienced by all believers, then we will naturally begin to do what Satan knows we shouldn't.
So what's the solution? How do we fight against Satan? Well, as we've all heard, the best defense is a good offense. I believe that instead of focusing on not doing the things you shouldn't-- some people spend so much time saying, I shouldn't do this, I shouldn't do this, I shouldn't do this.
Instead of focusing on what we shouldn't do, I believe that each and every day, we should get up and focus on doing the things that you should do. Do the things that you should do. Build a habit. Wake up every day and do the things God has called you into doing.
Build it so it becomes a hedge of protection around your life. And naturally, you're going to find yourself not doing the things that you shouldn't. It'll be like a top-performing athlete.
You spend so much time training, dieting, perfecting your craft, that when someone offers you a donut, a bad habit, you're like, no, no, no, bro, I'm good, because I want to keep myself in tip-top shape. I want to keep the good habits I've created so I can win the race.
It's so important for us to build those good habits. Just like the exchange, don't let the suffering or the loss throw you off of your game plan. Don't let the pieces Satan takes throw you off of your game plan. In order to win the game, you'll lose some pawns.
Play your game. Stay steadfast. Stand firm knowing the suffering, knowing the temptation, knowing the pain is universal.
Just ask Frank Reich in the 1993 Buffalo Bills. Somebody who doesn't know what I'm talking about is going to Google this and find out later. When difficulty tackles you on the field of life, don't sit on the sidelines thinking about how things should have gone. Pick up your ball and run the race, because it's not over until it's over.
And with Jesus Christ, Christian, there's always another do over. So turn your fear into faith, because God wants to turn your interruption into an opportunity. Stop looking at what happened and start looking at what's happening, because Jesus Christ wants to use your pain and your suffering as an opportunity to show himself strong on your behalf.
The most important thing to do when you fall is to get back up. Come on, Christians. We tell our kids this all the time growing up. Why do we forget it as adults?
When you fall down, get back up. After all, what is God's attitude towards us when we mess up? Is he out to get us?
Is he angry with us? If you love someone, set them free. If they don't return, hunt them down and kill them? Maybe for your psycho ex, but not God.
No. God's attitude towards you is like the shepherd with the lost sheep. He will search for you. He will find you, or as the Father in the Prodigal Son story, God misses you.
He yearns for a relationship with you. So in this game, you must win. You need to know your adversary. You need to recognize that to win the game, you'll lose some pawns. And finally, you need to play the end game.
Let's read verse 10. "But may the God of all grace who called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while." I want to pause there, because I really hate the word a while, because it doesn't give us an end.
It doesn't even say a little while, just as a while. How long's a while? It could be a day. It could be a week. It could be a month.
It could be a year. It could be the rest of your life, but guess what? In comparison to eternity in heaven, even a lifetime of suffering is just a while, until we get to experience joy. "After you have suffered a while, he will perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you."
Through the years, I found out so many of us think that God will forsake us, because, well, people have forsaken us. People have left us. Maybe your parents left you when you were a kid. Maybe they abandoned you.
Maybe your mom or your dad walked out on you. Perhaps you were a victim of your parents having a divorce, and that's left this hole in your heart, where you feel forsaken. Maybe your spouse has forsaken you. Maybe you're a victim of infidelity in your household and now you have this hole that you feel like you can't be loved.
Maybe you feel alone, sad, hopeless feeling that there's no future for you. You need to realize that although people might forsake you, although, people might let you down, God never will. He will never leave you.
He will never forsake you. He is with you. He loves you. He cares for you. He wants good things for your life. You do not serve and follow a God who is disinterested in your life.
This is not Bruce Almighty. God is not a big bully with a magnifying glass burning ants on the ant hill and we're the ants. No. That's not who our God is. He is compassionate, caring, concerned, and he wants to help you in your pain and suffering.
Cast all your cares upon him. Why? Because he cares for you. If we're honest, most of us would prefer to avoid the fight with our adversary, the devil.
If we were asked and given an option to either fight and win or avoid the fight altogether, be left alone by Satan, I think, if we're honest, we'd all choose to just be left alone. I don't need to win. I just don't want to lose.
In fact, we would prefer to skip the suffering and loss and instead just experience the success and the triumphs. We'd prefer if the Lord would drive us in an air conditioned Escalade from cool water to green pasture. Lord, keep the AC up. Just avoid the valleys. Unless you're a Phoenix Suns fan, then you like the valley.
But God is with us in the valley. God is with us in the pain. God is with us in the suffering. And when we're in the suffering, guess what? He has his eye on the thermostat and his hand on the dial.
And he is watching you. He is waiting for you. And after a little while, he's going to come in. And he's going to bring that refresh.
He's going to bring that peace. And he's going to settle you. He's going to protect you. He's going to strengthen you.
Isaiah 43:2 says, "when you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned. The flames will not set you ablaze."
Hebrews 13:5-6 says, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you so that we may boldly say, the Lord is my helper. I will not fear. What can man do to me?"
Come on, somebody. This is the courage the next generation needs. This is the warriors of the Lord's army that the next generation needs, that says, I don't care what you throw at me.
I don't care what the world throws at me. I don't care what pain or suffering I experience. I don't care what culture cancels me, because I'm not part of this culture. I'm part of a heavenly culture. I don't care what the world brings.
I will not fear, because what can man do to me? My security is in heaven. I'm a child of God. We need to train our kids up to be warriors in this society with that kind of a courage, not with this fear that the world wants to impose.
Look, before the Avengers, the end game didn't refer to a superhero movie, but it referred to chess. This is my favorite part of my message, by the way. Maybe you don't care. You're like, OK, great. I don't care.
This is my favorite part of my message. The endgame in chess often occurs right after the exchange that we talked about before, where you're trading pieces with somebody back and forth. It happens after the quick flurry of the exchange, when one of the opponents finally gets the advantage, because they've strategically played the other opponent into falling into their end game, usually with a big sacrifice.
Perhaps, they sacrifice their queen. And the other opponent just can't resist taking that queen. So they take that queen, not realizing that taking that queen just played right into the other person's game. And now they're in trouble.
The player who has kept their cool, the player who has stuck to their strategy throughout the game finally gains control, even while losing pieces along the way. They'll force their enemy to make a mistake. And in this moment it becomes clear to the opponent that the outcome is inevitable.
Now in professional chess, when this happens, the player who is behind often takes the honorable approach and resigns, knowing that the cause is futile. They won't play it out to checkmate. They'll just resign, because they recognize they've lost.
They've been played into the endgame. Notice that it says in verse 10, "but the God of all grace who called us-- let me ask you a question. Who is it that perfect, establishes, strengthens, and settles? It's God.
Let me ask you this. Who is it that wins this game? Whose game is this, actually? Is it us versus Satan? No.
It's us and God versus Satan. This is where the plot shift happens in the game of chess, with our adversary, the devil. This is when we and he realizes it's not us versus Satan, like he's thought all along. It's us and God versus Satan.
This is the endgame, where Satan realizes that we're not alone, that every move that's been made from the beginning of time in the garden, when Adam and Eve bit that fruit, has all been made for his defeat. Even the moments where Satan thought that he was on top, even the moments when he exchanged and got those pieces in your life, it was all part of the grand master plan. And they were all made to put Satan into a corner. And in this moment, he realizes that he's lost.
Jose Capablanca, the author of Chess Fundamentals, wrote this. And I want you to hear these words. And I want you to think of them in relation to your spiritual game, your spiritual life.
He said, "to improve your game, you must study the end game before everything else. For whereas the Indians can be studied and mastered by themselves, the middle game and the opening game have to be studied in relation to the end game." Christian, what if you started looking at your sufferings, what if you started looking at the exchange and the pain in your life through the lens of the end game, through the lens of the final countdown, the final match, the final move?
Let me tell you something the devil doesn't want you to know, and that is that he was soundly defeated at the cross 2,000 years ago. Remember, when Jesus cried out the words, it is finished, to tetelestai? It is accomplished.
What was finished? What was accomplished? The work the Father gave him to do. Finished was Satan's death clutch on humanity. Prior to his crucifixion on the cross Jesus said, now is the judgment of this world. Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
Through his death, Jesus destroyed him that had the power of death. That is the devil. Colossians 2:14 says, "having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which were contrary to us, he took out of the way, nailing it to the cross."
Therefore, Christian, we are not fighting to obtain victory-- oh, man, the devil hates you hearing this, Christian. We're not fighting to obtain victory. No. We are resting in the victory that he has already obtained.
We don't fight for victory. Oh, Lord, give me victory in this. Oh, Lord, take away the suffering. Oh, Lord, take away the temptation.
No. We fight from victory. Lord, I thank you that you've already won. I thank you that the devil is defeated. And I'm not under his weight, or his chains, or his bondage.
I thank you that there is victory in your name. And I thank you that you won't give me more than I can handle. And until then, I can trust in your name and give you praise still.
To tetelestai, it is finished. Now I want to share with you something that blows my mind. Maybe it won't blow yours.
Maybe you've heard everything, but this blew my mind the first time I discovered this. To tetelestai, in the Greek-- and this is why Greek is so important-- is a perfect tense verb. Now that might not mean anything to you, but what that means in the Greek is that when Jesus said it is finished, he wasn't saying this one task is finished now in this moment. He was saying it is finished. It always has been finished from the beginning of time.
It has been finished, and it always will be finished until the end of days. To tetelestai, it is finished. This is the end game that God planned from the beginning of the battle in the garden until now.
He even prophesied of it to Satan's face. And he didn't realize what was happening. In Genesis 3:15, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers. He will crush your head. And you will strike his heel."
The second Adam and Eve bit into that fruit, God began arranging the pieces and put into place his end game. And let me tell you something, Christian, Jesus has been studying his end game above everything else. And while Satan has gotten caught up in the exchange in trading pieces with you, he missed the most important move of all.
When Jesus cried out tetelestai, why Satan thought it was checkmate, he thought he had won, but it wasn't his winning. It was just the final exchange move by Jesus Christ exchanging himself, the most powerful piece on the chessboard, so that you and I, the pawns, could become co-heirs with Christ. So that you and I could become royalty.
And in that moment, Satan thinking he had won was actually himself put into checkmate. This is where his head would be crushed. And we must never lose sight of one vital truth. This, Christian, is not our battle. This is the Lord's battle.
This is his chess game versus Satan. And guess what? Satan's just been outplayed. It's not us versus the power of hell. It's not our personal war.
We're simply individual soldiers in a vast army who are to obey the directions given to us by the captain of our salvation. But remember, the simple truth as we close. I said before the end chess, when you're put into the end game and you realize you're going to lose, a gentleman, a professional will resign. They won't carry the game out.
You need to know Satan is not a gentleman. just because he's lost and he knows he's lost doesn't mean he's going to resign. No. He's going to take as many pieces as he can until his head is finally crushed once and for all and Jesus Christ returns.
He wants to bring as much suffering as he can. He wants to deter you and pull you away from the victory that you have in Jesus Christ. Satan will always seek to drive you away from the very thing where your victory is found. That is the cross.
The Holy Spirit will always draw you to it. Sure, the devil will say you're not worthy to approach God, not after what you've done, but your response to Satan should be, my access to God's throne has nothing to do with you, or me, or what I've done, and everything to do with what he's done and what he is doing through his son Jesus Christ. Remember, Jesus said to Peter, Satan has been asking for you, but I have prayed for you.
Our defense against the accusations of the devil is the interceding son of God, 1 John 2:1, "my little children these things I write to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone's sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous."
Romans 8:33, "who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen. It is God who justifies. It is he. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus who died more than that who is raised to life is that the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."
Christian, don't let a liar and a loser, at that, keep you from the victory of the cross and keep you from repenting for your sin and experiencing the work of forgiveness. I'll close by mentioning, before I talked about a lion in the Discovery Channel, National Geographic, and my son.
Satan is walking back and forth. You need to know that. He's licking his lips. He wants to kill you.
He is on the prowl, but guess what? So is God. There's another verse that talks about something going to and fro. It says the eyes of the Lord are going to and fro looking for those who he can show himself strong on their behalf, those whose heart is as loyal.
So, church, if Satan is a lion, God's the zookeeper. If Satan is the big, bad ugly and dominant Rex from Jurassic World, God's the bigger, badder, Mosasaurus who's going to jump out of that water and swallow him whole. If Satan's big, God's bigger.
And you say, Nate, I can't do it. You're right. That's the point. You can't. You get it.
If it's you versus Satan, you don't stand a chance. But if it's you and God versus Satan, he doesn't stand a chance. And you know what? I'd rather have Satan's opposition and God's approval than Satan's approval and God's opposition any day.
Christian, the victory is yours. Step out those doors, and stand in the victory of the cross, trusting that Christ is fighting your battles. And he's got his eyes on the thermostat and his hand on the dial. And he cares for you.
Lord, we thank you for your truth. We thank you for your word and the way that it changes us. Lord, help us to actualize this in our lives. Help us to know our adversary the devil.
Help us recognize that life has suffering. That's part of life. Satan wants to attack us, but, Lord, the battle's already won. And we're going to play our end game.
We're going to stand in the victory that you have brought. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And just a reminder, you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.chruch/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.