Summary: Satan cannot defeat us. His only hope is that we will give into our emotions and defeat ourselves. Sermons uses a sports' analogy to bring home this point.
Satan's only hope
• What enables us to have this peace? John 14:1, 21-26
• John 20:19, 21, 26 – “Peace be”
Sometimes sporting events are good analogies of spiritual principles. The Cincinnati Bengals’ loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round of the 2016 NFL playoffs is an example.
You had two teams that some believed were evenly matched. But in reality, Cincinnati was the superior team, except at the quarterback position. If you looked at their rosters, position by position and then the depth in those positions, Cincinnati – on paper – was the more talented team hands down.
When you listened to the analysts and play-by-play announcers, there was no doubt in their minds who was the better team. They talked about Cincinnati’s receivers, tight ends, running backs, etc. and the speed at those positions and the overall team depth. Cincinnati would win this game even with a backup quarterback.
Pittsburgh also knew Cincinnati was the better team and they had a plan.
Cincinnati had two players on defense who played with a great deal of “passion and aggressiveness.” Translation: their emotions would cause them to become reckless and make poor decisions at some point in the game.
One player was a young linebacker with a “fuse so short” he could burst into flames if, for example, he felt an opponent’s blocking was illegal and no flag is thrown.
Pittsburgh knew that.
The other player was a seasoned veteran who played cornerback. Before joining the team, his life was spiraling out of control because of poor off the field decisions.
Pittsburgh knew that too.
Throughout the game Pittsburgh’s offensive linemen and receivers blocked and pushed these two players – just a little past the whistle.
You could see them “jawing” [show visually with Jason] (raising their voices and probably cursing) at these players – just a little past the whistle.
Everyone knows that talking is part of the game and I’m sure Pittsburgh “jawed” at all of the Cincinnati players and vice versa. But you could tell by their reactions that, at some point, the two Cincinnati players got fed up with what was happening and starting yelling at the Pittsburgh players and even pushing them – just a little past the whistle.
They had studied these two players in the film room. Pittsburgh had identified their emotional buttons.
Whatever those buttons were Pittsburgh pushed them over and over again throughout the game. Why? They needed one of these players to become so focused on what was happening to him that he would forget about his job and the team’s game plan.
Pittsburgh used a strategy that, when executed properly, has predictable results: get into the opponent’s head and cause him to become so emotionally involved in what is happening to him that he self-destructs and hurts the team.
And it worked.
With less than 90 seconds to play and trailing 16-15, Pittsburgh starts deep in its own territory. After getting a first down, the culmination of all the “jawing” and pushing throughout the game pays off and changes the outcome of the contest.
Both the young linebacker and seasoned cornerback commit 15 yard personal fouls on the same play. The 30 yards in penalties moved Pittsburgh, with seconds to play, from the Cincinnati 47 yard line to the Cincinnati 17 yard line. Pittsburgh kicks a field goal as time expires and wins the game 18-16.
The less talented team had strategically overcome, not defeated, the more talented team.
The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t defeat the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Cincinnati Bengals lost the game because two players had self-destruct.
Satan, the enemy of the soul, works on the body of Christ in much the same way.
He knows that “on paper” he has no shot at victory. None. He knows that the life that lives in us is capable of, listen to me, never experiencing defeat. He has to convince us to ignore that life and defeat ourselves – to self-destruct – and too many of us are obliged to do so. This is Satan’s only hope.
What is the life in us that he has no power or authority to defeat? Genesis 1:26-28
Some of you may remember “The Flip Wilson Show.” One of the characters he played was Geraldine. When she got caught doing something wrong her response was “The devil made me do it.”
But the reality is this: Satan cannot make you do anything if you are a born again child of God. He needs you to hold his hand in agreement. This is Satan’s only hope. He needs your cooperation in order to make the reality he desires for you to become a reality in your life. And he does this by “jawing” at you every day, all day until you open the door to him.