Romans 6: 1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means!
A USA Today article caught my attention: Plan of Attack – How a College Football Coach Game-Plans[i]. The author shadowed an NCAA D1 football coach – Fordham’s Andrew Breiner. It was incredible to read about the detailed planning that goes into each day for an entire week leading up to game day. “Putting together a game plan is an elaborate exercise in the art — and science — of analyzing an opponent’s tendencies and patterns, and determining how best to exploit them….Throw out the stuff that won’t work, keep what should and then figure out what are (hopefully) the best plays to run in the upcoming game.[ii]”
You won’t find a successful team, at whatever level, that goes into a game, match or meet, without a game plan. Can you imagine a team practising all week for a game Saturday without ever discussing the game or planning? The team just gets together each day, plays around and goes home. For any serious athlete or coach, that is ridiculous. So why do we as Christians feel we can approach life without a game plan?
The Apostle Paul understood the necessity of a game plan, because he understood his opponent. Referring to the need to forgive others, he says: “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.” (2 Corinth. 2:11). Peter warned his readers to: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8). And we know Satan’s plan of attack is through sin. So here is a Game Plan to address your opponent Satan, and sin:
- Understand your Weakness: God revealed to me many years ago that in order to address sin in my life I had to identify it. The longer I live, and the more Christians I meet, no matter how “godly” or “righteous” they appear, it is obvious that each one struggles with some area of sin or destructive behavior. What is (or are) yours? Is it: lust (sexual purity); anger, jealousy, greed (love of money), idolatry (putting other things/people ahead of God); gossiping; anxiety/fear/worrying (lack of faith)?
- Put in Practical Measures: If your struggle is drugs or alcohol, why are you hanging out at clubs or parties where the temptation is too great? If it is sexual purity, having a computer in your room with the door closed is a really bad idea. Be practical.
- Get Help. God created a church which is intended to be a team, not lone rangers. James 5:16 tells us to confess our sins to each other and pray for each other. Find “trusted”, “mature” Christian friends and mentors. Where your challenges are severe (sexual, anger, anxiety/depression etc.), go out and get professional help (i.e. trained Christian counselling or perhaps even medical help).
- Understand your Opponent’s Weaknesses: We have to stop always playing defense as Christians. Good coaches understand that the best defense can be an explosive offense. Understand that Jesus has already won (John 16:33, Luke 10:18, Hebrews 2:14), and we are instructed to take spiritual authority (James 4:7, Ephesians 6:17)
- Use the Weapons You Have: We are told that the Word of God is “sharper than any two-edged sword” (Hebrews 4:12). It is no surprise that Jesus attacked Satan with scripture, until he had no choice left but to leave Jesus (Luke 4:1-13). You must have scripture at the ready to attack the lies that Satan (the Father of lies, John 8:44) will throw at you regarding your areas of weakness.
Be ready on game day with your game plan and together with Jesus you can start having victory in your Christian walk! “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31