Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How To Sucker Punch the Devil

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
-- James 4:7b

Satan and his angels are cunning, but they often appear more so because we, in the flesh, are dumb. The devil is sly, true. But he is also fairly predictable. If we have our Spiritual wits about us, we can disrupt him, to his own startling.

One maneuver we may find helpful in his rebuke is what is called in the boxing world "rope a dope." Muhammad Ali was a great practitioner of the rope-a-dope technique, which basically involves appearing to place oneself in a losing position that is actually a step toward the upper hand. Ali would lean against the ropes, suffering assorted blows from his opponents, tiring them out, which would put them in a precarious position when Ali was ready to bounce back up. Heavyweight titan George Foreman lost to Ali this way.

It is not recommended to open oneself to the infernal jabs of the devil. But when he comes to accuse, you can appear to do so by agreeing with him on the facts. (The "angel of light" is wont to mix his lies with a bit of truth because he knows/thinks this makes them seem more plausible to us.) He may appeal to our good grasp of theology, saying, "You are a terrible sinner and deserve eternal condemnation" -- which of course is true, and he and we both know it -- and pair it with "Who could ever love you? Do you think a holy God would love you?" Do you see how he moves from a fact to an accusation, an implicit denial of the gospel? (If he can't get us to doubt the gospel, he may also be trying to get us to deny the fact that we are sinners. Either way, whether we doubt the truth or accept a lie, he will be satisfied.)

Go rope a dope on the devil. First, agree with him on the facts. "Yes, you are right; I am a terrible sinner." He will not expect this feint and may mistake it for his advantage. While he is for an instant struck dumb, then, quickly crack him with the gospel. While he is reeling from your feigned submission -- which does you or the faith no harm, as agreeing to facts is not a sin -- he will be open for this crushing blow. The name of Christ proclaimed in gospel power is a haymaker. "One little word shall fell him."

Here is an example of this sucker punch in action:
When the devil throws our sins up to us and declares that we deserve death and hell, we ought to speak thus: "I admit that I deserve death and hell. What of it? Does this mean that I shall be sentenced to eternal damnation? By no means. For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction in my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there shall I be also."

-- Martin Luther, Letters of Spiritual Counsel
See what he did there?


Patrick Mitchell said...

Great great advice here. I have gotten wrapped up in trying to defend myself rather than just stating the obvious and then giving the knockout punch...thanks man.

Jason said...

I love Luther's counterpunch.