Pastor Andrew’s civil war analogy in his message this past Sunday about the believer’s battle between Spirit and fallen flesh also reminded me of the strategies of chess. In chess each piece behaves uniquely…
Pawns edge forward slowly, typically one square at a time. If an opposing piece blocks their way they must wait, they cannot take it as other pieces take men; their captures are made on the diagonal — and by such move they may take down kings. Knights are the trickiest pieces of all; their move consists of one square on the horizontal plus one on the diagonal (or vice-versa). They also have the power to leap any other piece in their path. Rooks, (or ‘Castles’), slide on the board as far as a clear path permits. They move only on the horizontal or the vertical. Bishops, on the other hand, slide also but only on planes diagonal. The Queen has both powers and can slide on open spaces in any direction. The King also moves on any square but only one square at a time. He seldom goes to battle but moves mostly to evade entrapment, a “check.” When he can evade no more a “checkmate” is called, he is toppled on the board, his kingdom is conquered!
In our battle against the flesh temptations assail us in all these like forms: some creep up on us then by a sidestep leap at us, some do the dance of the Knight, trying to confuse us, other temptations slide straight toward us, from any angle, sometimes from far across the board.
A skilled chess player remains alert at all times. His eyes are watchful in all directions. He seeks also to anticipate his opponent, to see in advance any trap being set for him… and to thwart such far before they can be tripped.
The Christian must do the same.
“Be alert and of sober mind,” warns Peter (1 Pet. 5:8); “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication…. keep alert with all perseverance,” writes Paul (Eph. 6:18); “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” records Mark (Mark 14:38), and Matthew (Matt. 26:41).
Opposing pieces may be positioned on any square of the board… near or far. “The whole world lies in wickedness.,” John reminds us (1 John 5:19). Be wary, be wary of even your own heart. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” asks Jeremiah (Jer. 17:9). Guard it by staying in accountability with one another.
It’s a checkerboard out there… stay alert!