Game Planning for Victory

Game Planning for Victory

Wayne Jones

     I have never seen a football fan chanting “We’re number 2! We’re number 2!” Why? Because everyone wants to be the best; to win every contest; to always emerge victorious. Such should also be true for our daily struggle against the forces of evil.

     Satan has tried to overthrow God’s purposes since the beginning of time. Ever since the promise was made that Eve’s offspring would bruise Satan’s heel, that battle has raged. It is highlighted in several Biblical texts like Job 1 and 2 and Matthew 4 (the temptation in the wilderness). 

     This was especially true in the early days of the church. Paul talks about this very thing in 1 Thessalonians 2:18. Specifically, he states, “For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us.” In this context, what Satan hindered was the reuniting of brethren who had been separated by persecution. Paul was only able to spend a few weeks with these brethren at the time of their conversion (Acts 17:2). After his departure, he was concerned about their faithfulness and stability. Due to the hindrances of Satan, he could not return to check on them and this troubled him greatly troubled him.  Instead of succumbing to Satan’s discouragements, Paul found another way and defeated Satan’s purposes. 1 Thessalonians 3:6 verifies that Paul did learn of their condition and was refreshed by it. 

      Satan didn’t want Paul to know. He didn’t want Paul to find out. He didn’t want Paul’s mind to be put at ease. He didn’t want the faith of the Thessalonians to be shared knowledge. But his purposes were defeated. They were defeated by 5 principles contained in the first 5 verses of 1 Thessalonians 3. With these same 5 principles, we can defeat the purposes of Satan’s today. We can emerge victorious from every battle.

      First, Paul sacrificed his original plans (3:1-2a). Paul did not let his ego or pride get in the way. He wanted to go and see them face-to-face, but he was not so stubborn that he could not alter his agenda. We must never let our pride get in the way of spiritual victory. Sacrifice a necessary part of any spiritually successful game plan. 

     Second, Paul equipped others to handle Satan’s attacks (2b). Timothy was qualified to be Paul’s replacement or delegate. His empowerment came through his association and his salvation. He was Paul’s brother and God’s co-worker. Timothy was just as capable and qualified for this work. The lesson for us is simple – we need to train more people to do more work so that more can be accomplished. One way we can defeat Satan’s purposes is to train more soldiers in God’s army.

     Third, they had a defined mission (2c-3). Timothy was not sent on a survey mission or simply as a guest preacher. He was sent to “establish” and “encourage.” His work was to strengthen their spiritual condition and to give them reason to hope. Our mission and goals need to be clearly defined or else as we walk aimlessly, we will never be victorious.

     Fourth, they were aware of Satan’s modes of attack (4). Paul had warned that persecution might come, so they knew what to expect. Likewise, we should “not be ignorant of his devices “(2 Cor. 2:11), because his methods have been revealed (1 John 2:15).

     Fifth, they were motivated by love (5). Twice in this context, Paul reveals that he “could no longer endure” not knowing about them. His tender affection and genuine concern (i.e., love) motivated him just like it should motivate us.

     This list may not be exhaustive, but it is certainly a great place to start. When the battle gets intense this week, remember Paul’s game plan, and follow it carefully. God wants us to win and has granted us the knowledge and support necessary to do just that.