Never Underestimate Your Opponent

The Monday feature of the Worldly Saints blog focuses on a story from the sports world – current or historic. The point is to recognize athletes who are using their sports and athletic abilities to further the kingdom of God or to show how some athletes or teams are wasting their days by not giving God the glory.

 

On Saturday, the Oklahoma Sooners played the Texas Longhorns. On paper, this should have been an easy victory for the Sooners. They entered the game ranked #10 in the country and had a record of 5-0. The Longhorns had a 1-4 record and were coming off one of the worst losses in recent history (a 50-7 defeat to TCU). The Sooners were favored, even though this is a rivalry game. The Sooners’ coach, Bob Stoops, had coached in this game 15 more times than Charlie Strong, the Longhorns’ head coach. The Cotton Bowl, where the game is played, had a majority of Sooner fans in the seats.

There were other reasons the Sooners should have won, but the fact is this: they lost. The Longhorns defeated the Sooners 24-17. The team that was supposed to lose didn’t lose; they won. And they even controlled most of the game. It was no fluke! And that is not “fun” for me to admit as a lifetime Sooner fan.

In my opinion, my Sooners bought into the lie that they could defeat their opponent. They overestimated their own ability and underestimated how much talent Texas possesses and how much they wanted to win the game. The Sooners allowed themselves to be deceived.

The lesson: never underestimate your opponent.

The Bible is filled with examples of defeats that should have never happened by “human prediction.” David should have not defeated Goliath. The 300 Israelites, led by Gideon, never should have never defeated 500,000 Midianites. The Israelites should have not been able to walk around Jericho and bring the walls down.

Our opponent, as Christians, we should never underestimate our opponent(s).

Our opponent is a deceiver. In Genesis 3, Satan entered the body of a snake and came to Eve in the garden and questioned the authenticity of God’s Word – “… He said to the woman, ‘Did God ACTUALLY SAY, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Gen 3:1). Later after she took of the fruit, she admitted she had been deceived (Gen 3:13). The serpent deceived her into thinking that eating from this tree – a sin in God’s sight – was not sin. The serpent was able to make Eve believe things were better than they really are, so she might do something she wouldn’t never otherwise done.

Wolf and KnifeHave you ever heard of this common way the Eskimos will catch a wolf trying to stalk their livestock? What the Eskimo can do is coat a knife blade with animal blood and then allow it to freeze. Then he will add another layer of blood, and another, until the blade is completely concealed by frozen blood.

Next, the Eskimo will place his knife in the ground with the blade up. When a wolf follows his sensitive nose to the source of the scene and discovers the bait, he licks it, tasting the fresh frozen blood. The wolf will lick faster and faster, lapping the blade until the keen edge is bare.

So great becomes the wolf’s craving for blood that the wolf will not notice the razor-sharp sting of the naked blade on his own tongue, nor does he recognize the instant at which his insatiable thirst is being satisfied by his own warm blood. His carnivorous appetite just craves more, until the dawn finds him dead in the snow! It is a fearful thing that people can be consumed by their own lusts and so easily deceived.

In James 1:14-15, we see an example of this form of deception: “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed (like a fish to a lure or an animal to a trap) by his own desire (The wolf smells blood. The man’s affections are changed from being upon God to his own evil tendencies). Then, desire when it has conceived (The wolf wants blood. When sin has become the person’s will.) gives birth to sin, (It invades the thoughts, words and actions. The wolf licks the blood); and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death (The wolf dies.).” The flesh deceives. It makes sin look innocent and harmless. These words from author and speaker Paul Tripp in his book Whiter Than Snow are right on:

“Sin lives in a costume; that’s why it’s so hard to recognize. The fact that sin looks so good is one of the things that make it so bad. In order for it to do its evil work, it must present itself as something that is anything but evil. Life in a fallen world is like attending the ultimate masquerade party. Impatient yelling wears the costume of a zeal for truth. Lust can masquerade as a love for beauty. Gossip does its evil work by living in the costume of concern and prayer. Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership. Fear of man gets dressed up as a servant heart. The pride of always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom. Evil simply doesn’t present itself as evil, which is part of its draw. You’ll never understand sin’s sleight of hand until you acknowledge that the DNA of sin is deception. Now, what this means personally is that as sinners we are all very committed and gifted self-swindlers. … We’re all too skilled at looking at our own wrong and seeing good.”[1]

Sin rarely seems like sin when we first see it. Not only will the flesh put a bloody knife out for you to enjoy, but it will disguise it to look like something else. It could even make sin look like obedience or just an action with little or no serious consequences. It makes the label seem harmless when it’s more dangerous than poison!

Our opponent is a deceiver; never underestimate him.

[1] Whiter Than Snow, pg. 32.

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