© 2020 Lee Venning / Harvest City Church

Watching sport is just something I do. Rugby, football, cricket, athletics… the list goes on. It may surprise some people as it’s not something I talk about a lot, but I am a consumer of sports. However, I rarely watch it live as I am often doing something at start of play. Instead, I usually watch recordings later (I even record highlights shows so I can spin past the adverts!).

Rugby Union is my favourite viewing, but there is so much down time I find myself constantly skipping the wait for the video ref to make a decision, all the scrums being reset and the analysis before, during and after the game. So a programme that lasts over 2 hours can be condensed into around an hour.

The problem with this is that I have to try to avoid the result before I watch as it spoils things somewhat. The reality is that WHOEVER WINS THE LIVE GAME WINS THE REPLAY! This happens without fail…

As Christians we need to remember this. The spiritual battle has already been played live and the Bible tells us that Christ has defeated the enemy. The result is a foregone conclusion.

He cancelled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross. (Colossians 2:14-15, NLT)

This means that the church — which is God’s only plan, lest anyone try to convince you otherwise — is really a replay of Christ’s victory. The result of the replay, remember, is always the same as the live event.

As a young man playing squash (my favourite sport) I hated losing — and still do! I would train, seek coaching and advice wherever I could in a bid to win. When life became very busy, with a young family and huge pressure at work, I couldn’t give the sport the time it needed and so found it increasingly hard to win. I could not see a way around the difficulties I was finding on court, and saw no way of winning against people I used to beat. My response was to stop playing. I quit because I couldn’t win!

The difference between this and our Christian walk is that although it may be difficult (in many and varied ways) we know the result already and the Bible gives us so much assurance that we can overcome and we can win. We just need to stick at it and God will absolutely come through at the final whistle of the match or snatch the winning point on the court.

In difficult times, when we cannot see the victory, we can start to doubt the Lord; particularly in times when we have opportunities to ruminate on what is happening. It is at these times we need to find solace and rejuvenation in the ‘Good Book’.

The coming of Christ and His victory on the cross changed everything for us.

Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19, KJV)

There are two Greek words here for ‘power’. The first is also translated as ‘authority’, and the second is the word dunamis/dynamin, or as we know it, dynamite. So the Bible tells us we have the power or authority to deal with all the enemy’s explosions that he may put in our path. He has no real power over us. We need to remember that ‘He who is within us is greater than he who in in the world’ (1 John 4:4).

The Bible tells us repeatedly that it is our place to conquer or subdue the enemy. In fact, it is our purpose in life as Christians. We should not fear Him (as 1 John 4:4 clearly tells us!).

I will build My church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18, NKJV)

The word ‘gates’ is a defensive word. The gates of a city in days past were a key to its defensive mechanisms, something that stopped enemies entering through the door. The gates were a place where people’s credentials could be checked and where the city elders would gather and talk over important matters. The gates of a city speak to its authority. The Bible is saying that the victory is won, the authority of the enemy and the defences of the enemy cannot stand up against those of us who call on the name of the Lord in prayer and worship. We need to make a stand on our faith in the Bible: the victory in the ‘Live Final’ was won by God!

‘Faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.’ (Romans 10:17, NLT)

‘The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. May the grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.’ (Romans 16:20, NLT)

You may feel puny (like I do when I watch rugby and know that I would probably expire if I tried to play) but it is we weak people that God is using to continue His judgement of the enemy. When we worship God, no matter the circumstances, we are judging Satan by proving him wrong again and again.

When I stopped playing squash I was deceived. I could have done things to change my circumstances, but I believed otherwise. Satan, of course, is the great deceiver. The Bible tells us that’s his main thing. There are more references to this than anything, look them up and see.

Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. (2 Corinthians 4:4, NLT)

If you feel that there is no hope for your child, that things are going backwards in your career, that this virus will never go away, that your finances will never improve, or any other negative feeling then remember: the same winner always wins in the replay.

Entering into this fullness is not something you figure out or achieve. It’s not a matter of being circumcised or keeping a long list of laws. No, you’re already in—insiders—not through some secretive initiation rite but rather through what Christ has already gone through for you, destroying the power of sin. If it’s an initiation ritual you’re after, you’ve already been through it by submitting to baptism. Going under the water was a burial of your old life; coming up out of it was a resurrection, God raising you from the dead as he did Christ. When you were stuck in your old sin-dead life, you were incapable of responding to God. God brought you alive—right along with Christ! Think of it! All sins forgiven, the slate wiped clean, that old arrest warrant cancelled and nailed to Christ’s cross. He stripped all the spiritual tyrants in the universe of their sham authority at the Cross and marched them naked through the streets. (2 Colossians 2:11-15, MSG)

Roll on the return of live sport so I can watch the recordings, and the reopening of the squash courts so that I can renew my desire to win. I have been training with my remote control and my running shoes! The victory is ours if we would only believe it and keep playing the game.

Foundations of Christian Doctrine, Kevin Conner
Basic Doctrine: Part 1, Ken Malmin