Playing Chess With The Devil
I have always been terrible at the game of chess. It's
not that I don't understand how the game is played--I perfectly
understand the rules and moves. The problem is my inability think
ahead. If I make a move on the board that seems to be prudent, three
moves later, it usually turns out to have been a fatal mistake.
When I play against a computer, I normally get beat
like a rented mule. The only way I've been able to win at the game is by
cheating. I have one program that allows me to turn one of my pawns into
an extra queen. Sadly, even with this unfair advantage, the devilish
program still finds a way to overcome the shortfall and checkmate me.
Chess is often depicted as a sport for wimps, but this
label is incorrect. A son once asked his dad why chess is not an Olympic
game. His father’s response was brief and to the point: "Chess is not a
noble sport. When you play chess, your object is to crush the opponent's
mind. In today's world, a man's mind is his most precious commodity.
Proving to your opponent that his most precious commodity is useless can
be devastating for him."
Satan: The Chess Master
It is anyone’s guess what Satan does for recreation in
his spare time, but I imagine he would be very good at chess. For
someone who spends most of his time devising strategies for ensnaring
humanity with various vices, he would likely be a formidable chess
One of the greatest mistakes we can make is to
underestimate Satan’s cunning. We tend to view him as a loser who ran
afoul of God and got fired from his job. Unfortunately, he found new
employment: the task of damning men's souls to hell.
The Bible certainly doesn't play down the devil's
abilities. We are warned that he is an enemy who wishes to destroy all
of us. In fact, 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, “Your enemy the Devil prowls around
like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
A wise person is someone who realizes it is impossible
to match wits with the devil. Just as I would have no chance of winning
a game of chess against the world's most powerful computer, Satan can
outmaneuver me with hardly any effort.
A good example of this can be
found in the waning days of World War II. As
was losing the war, many Germans realized Adolf Hitler was a mad man who
needed to be stopped by any means. At least 42 attempts were made to
take his life, and all failed in preposterously inconvenient ways.
Once you read some examples of these attempts, you
would have to conclude that some unseen agent was protecting Hitler from
An Iron Cross recipient at
was going to stab Hitler in front of 1,000 soldiers at an assembly.
Hitler had a cold that day and decided to go home early.
A bomb that was intended to blow up the Nazi leader in
mid-flight failed to go off because cold weather had hindered the
reaction of the chemicals in the bomb.
An infantry captain made plans to explode a bomb while
he demonstrated a new army winter overcoat to the German leader. The day
before the bombing was to take place, a British air raid destroyed the
One general tried to kill Hitler with a concealed bomb
that was to be detonated by acid. Unfortunately, Hitler left the
building before the acid could act.
A bomb finally did go off next to Hitler. The Fuehrer
was spared by a heavy desk that shielded him from the blast.
Historians actually joke that Hitler had “Satan's
luck.” The truth is, the devil's hand was as work, and the opposition
was pursuing an impossible quest. Perhaps if the Nazi leaders had prayed
for “God's luck,” they might have accomplished their goal and saved
millions of lives.
Most professional chess players have a series of
favorite ploys they like to use against their opponents. Satan has
several tricks he regularly uses against us. By being aware of them, we
can avoid his snares. Paul said, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of
us: for we are not ignorant of his devices" (2 Cor. 2:11).
Here are six of the strategies that Satan uses.
Because they all begin with letter "D," they should be easy to remember.
Divide - A standard
strategy is to divide the enemy force in order to make it easier to
conquer. Satan loves to create division so he can pick off the weak and
Doubt - The Bible
says, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." Once Satan can
persuade people to question God's Word and His goodness, forgiveness,
and love, he is ensured of victory.
Discourage - This
strategy involves getting us to focus on our problems rather than
entrusting God to provide a solution. It can also be someone else’s
problem that creates discouragement in our own lives.
Diversion - Not all
problems are equal. The enemy may come at us with an attack of lesser
importance to distract us from his main attack. He may also distract us
with good things. For example, parents may become too focused on their
careers, enabling their children fall into rebellion.
Defeat - The devil
is at his best when he causes people to feel so overwhelmed by failure
that they don't even try to resist his onslaught. If we’re not resisting
the devil, he will move in for the kill.
Delay - In the game
of life, Satan wins by default. We are all born in a lost state, so
unless we come to faith in Jesus Christ, we will perish. Because
procrastination doesn't require doing anything, this strategy is an easy
path for victory.
Ultimate Chess Master
The rivalry between God and Satan is often seen as a
battle between two equally skilled chess masters, playing against one
another to see whose plan will be victorious. This vision is totally
fictitious. There never was a real contest between God and Satan, and
there never will be.
God is in charge of everything that happens. His level
of control is so absolute, He sets the stage for everything that will
happen in the universe. How can Satan compete against a Being who knows
every move he is going to make ahead of time? God does more than just
rule the chess board. He controls both the white and the black pieces.
The devil is so hopelessly outwitted, God published in
the Bible many of Satan’s fatal mistakes far ahead of the time he made
them. There are still some blunders yet to come. The Holy Word predicts
that the devil will attempt to destroy the Jews and that he will make a
stand against Jesus at the Battle of Armageddon. Both will end in total
With God having proven himself unbeatable, one might
wonder why Satan keeps challenging Him. The devil's problem is that he
has such a depraved, arrogant mind, he is incapable of admitting defeat.
There is no limit to the foolishness of a heart that is in rebellion
against God. For this reason, Satan still thinks he has a chance to
vanquish the Almighty.
The only reason we have the impression that God is in
a fair contest with His adversary is the fact He grants His creation
free will. Our decision to accept or reject God has no reflection on
Him. We can make all the decisions we want, but in the end, they all fit
into God's perfect plan.
Game by Following God's Will
One of the clearest
indications of how vulnerable we are to Satan's willpower can be found
in the warning Jesus gave Peter in Luke 22:31: "Simon, Simon, Satan has
asked to sift you as wheat." At first, I thought this verse meant that
Satan had asked for dominion over Peter and Jesus rebuffed the request.
Jesus then said, "I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not
fail..." (Luke 22:31). But I didn't pay attention to the last part.
Jesus added "...And when you have turned
back, strengthen your brothers," which
means that God had allowed Satan to sift Peter.
Peter was the type of emotional person that made him
easy pickings for the devil. In the space of one night, he rebuked Jesus
when He told the disciple of His pending death, he turned to violence by
cutting off the ear of the High Priest's servant, and he denied the Lord
Peter met with failure because he was out of God's
will. He trusted in his own strength, and Satan made mincemeat of him.
When Peter realized his mistake and became totally dependent on God's
guidance for his life, he then became a victorious leader of the Church.
I have been whipped by the devil several times because
I failed to seek God's counsel on important issues. What has saved me
from complete disaster is the belief that Jesus is Lord of life. Giving
God credit didn't save me from having to seek His guidance on how to
untangle problems that I allowed to come my way.
We generally fail to take our daily matters to prayer
because we don't think it’s that important, we’re too lazy, or we just
don’t think God will answer us. Because we live in an evil world with an
enemy who drools at the thought of being able to destroy the lives of
Christians, we can't afford to not seek God's direction.
I will end with these words of
advice. Jesus Christ is our Eternal
King, and He is Invincible--the ultimate Checkmate Master of this chess
match of life in which we are engaged. If we put our trust in the Lord,
He will lead us to victory.
"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor. 15:57).