Even though I've never been much of a card player, I do know the underlying strategy of any card game is deception or “bluffing.” Which is probably why I'm so terrible at them….my face gives me away every time.
I've also retained some trivial knowledge about card games, like all of the English idioms that originate from card playing and their meanings.
He put all his cards on the table; he was honest about his feelings and intentions.
I had an ace up my sleeve; I had a piece of information I kept secret until it became necessary to use it.
She held all the cards; she was in an advantageous position.
At the last moment, he played his trump card and won it all!
And there’s the one which got me thinking about this topic:
You showed your hand too soon; you revealed your true intentions and methods too soon.
It came about as I was walking from one room of the house to the other and thinking about a passion God placed on my heart. I was wondering to myself how the Lord may be wanting to use this in my life and for His glory when I was interrupted by, “You're ridiculous to think you'll do anything with this.”
The message came across so loud, clear, and abruptly, I knew it was an act of desperation. I couldn’t help but chuckle out loud and reply, “You showed your hand too soon.”
You see, this thought did not come from me, and it most certainly did not come from God. It came from someone who'd make a good card player because he only deals in deception, and his one weak tactic is bluffing.
Satan is referred to as the “father of lies.” John 8:44 goes on to tell us there is no truth in him, and that when he lies he speaks his native language because he is a liar. (NIV)
He will never “lay all his cards on the table.” One of his craftiest lies is to convince you he doesn’t even exist. If you deny his existence, what will you do with the harassing lies and negative thoughts entering your mind on a regular basis? You will accept them as truth, you will agree with them, and you will live them out.
So, first, you must understand and accept you have an enemy who is out to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). This gives you a fighting chance at combating his deception.
Next, is our “ace up the sleeve.” God’s word reveals to us Satan’s weak ploys and exposes his lack of creativity. The tactics he used from the beginning of time are the same tactics he uses today.
In Genesis 3:1, 4 and 5 you can read how the serpent plants doubt in Eve’s mind about what God says, the truth of His word, and His motives:
He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
Have you ever found yourself questioning God’s voice or His boundaries or His warnings against sin?
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Have you ever tried to manipulate God’s word to justify an action? Or question His good intentions toward you and for your life?
Satan also sought to twist God’s word when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Matthew 4:6
But, unlike Eve, Jesus could not be manipulated in this way and immediately wielded the truth of Scripture as his weapon:
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matthew 4:7
We “hold all the cards” when we keep our eyes on Jesus. However, if we fall into the first trap and allow our faith in God to waiver, it will be difficult for us to fight off temptation because we will be self-focused rather than God-focused.
The tempter works on us the same way he did Eve and Jesus:
He waits until we are isolated: Adam may have been nearby, but the serpent spoke to Eve alone, and Jesus had been alone in the wilderness for 40 days and 40 nights.
He uses the lusts of the flesh: Jesus was hungry after fasting for 40 days and 40 nights when Satan first approached him. Eve first noticed the fruit of the forbidden tree was good for food.
He uses the lusts of the eyes: Eve found the fruit pleasing to the eye, and Jesus was taken to the highest point of the temple and a high mountain in order for his eyes to be tempted by a larger vantage point.
He uses the lusts of power and importance: After taking Jesus to a high mountain and showing him all the kingdoms and their splendor, Satan said, “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9) And once again, Jesus did not succumb to these lusts and used Scripture to force Satan to flee. Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:10) But Eve’s story is not the same. Seeing the fruit was “also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” (Genesis 3:6) And we all know the rest of that story.
Are any of these tactics familiar to you? Have you fallen prey to them yourself? I know I have. My hope is that by discovering the lack of creativity of our enemy and his utter deceptiveness, you can despair less when faced with doubts and temptations and be more successful in “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
And now, because I do not want to give the enemy more attention than he deserves, I want to share with you the finale ... the very best part!
Jesus holds the trump card!
He is already victorious over Satan and all evil! He is the card suit that ranks above all the others! He has won it all!
Okay, enough of the card playing metaphors. Let’s look at what God has to say about this:
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Revelation 1:7-8)
Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed." (Revelation 5:5)
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:1-5)
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:1-5)
I could go on and on with examples from both the old testament and the new testament. The fact is, when we accept Jesus as our Savior and allow Him to be Lord of our life, we share in this victory with him. That is truth.
And what the enemy tries to convince you of? It's all a bluff. None of it's real, and none of it's true.
As the saying goes, desperate times call for desperate measures. And that is how our enemy works; he is a desperate being trying his same, old, tired, desperate measures. He's well aware of his future. Because of this, he becomes bold and careless.
So, when the enemy speaks an out-and-out lie to you, you must be on the right track. Just laugh and press on with Jesus and the calling He has on your life.