Satan’s Gambit

In the world of chess, a gambit is a chess opening in which the first player risks or sacrifices material, usually a pawn, with the hope of achieving a resulting advantageous position. One article I found that contained a list of twenty opening gambits, including one colorfully named the Fried Liver Attack. Not included in the list was Satan’s Gambit.   Perhaps that’s because in the world of chess there isn’t an opening gambit with that name – at least I didn’t find one.

So what do I mean by Satan’s Gambit, and to what game does it apply? I’m glad you asked those questions – we’ll address them in reverse order.

Satan’s Gambit is not about a game, but about our Christian faith, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph 6;12), and Satan is the enemy’s CINC (Commande in Chief).  In the art of spiritual warfare, Satan’s opening gambit has always been to attack the authority of inspired Scripture, since the days of the New Testament church. The Apostle Paul specifically addressed ‘other gospels’ that had corrupted the pure Gospel of Christ.

The latest form of Satan’s Gambit would probably reside in the philosophy of the Emergent church, and the leaders of the ‘conversation’ whose passion for the uncertainty of scripture has been heard from their own lips and thoroughly documented, as have strong connections to the ‘contemplative prayer movement’ . As novel and appealing as their ideas might be, they lack a truly original thought.  The Emperor of Uncertainty has new clothes but he’s still running around naked.  Dr. John MacArthur had this to say in an insightful interview with Phil Johnson:

The bottom line, I think, in the movement is that it is a denial of the clarity of Scripture. It is a denial that we can know what the Bible really says. And as I said, it’s amorphous because there’s a mish-mash of approaches to this and a mish-mash of styles and things like that. But they have embraced this mystery as if it’s true spirituality. And so, it becomes celebration of mystery, a celebration of ignorance, a celebration that we can’t really know. I think it’s just another form of liberalism. I think it’s just another form of denying the clarity of Scripture. And I think there’s a motive behind it…it’s just another philosophy.

Post-modernism is another bad philosophy. Modernism was a bad philosophy. Post-modernism is another bad philosophy. But in both cases, they assault the Scripture. Modernism made reason, human reason, the king. Reason was supreme in modernism. Thomas Payne, The Age of Reason, The Enlightenment, all of those things, the Renaissance. Out of that came the worship of the human mind and the mind trumps God. Now mystery trumps the Bible. The human mind trumps the Bible in modernism, mystery trumps the Bible in post-modernism. It is at the foundation an unwillingness to accept the clear teaching of Scripture. (Online source) (Emphasis mine.)

However dangerous to the church the Emergent movement might be, there is a deceptive variant of Satan’s Gambit that is far more dangerous to the spiritual growth of the individual believer. Rather than openly doubting the authority of scripture, this version of the gambit is far more subtle. While seeming to allow for adherence to biblical doctrine, the variant assigns more importance to personal insights and feelings about scripture than the clear teaching of scripture itself. There is even an online university that advertises a book ‘Hearing God’s Voice – Guaranteed!’. The book teaches that the best way to hear God’s voice is through our ‘spontaneous thoughts, feelings and insights’. To test the validity of these ‘journaled’ spontaneous thoughts, they are given to three others who ‘discern’ whether or not it was God speaking.

I am not saying that God doesn’t ever speak, or isn’t involved in our thoughts and emotions. The test of their validity,however, should be the light of Scripture, not the ‘third party’ discernment described above. What we have here is a form of mysticism that teaches the gullible how to be false prophets to themselves! The authority and light of Scripture is supplanted by subjective internal feelings and experiences. Sound rather ridiculous? It should!

You might be asking “How do sincere believers fall for this kind of false teaching?”  Well, there are probably several ways, but I know of a perfect ‘training ground’ that the enemy uses to slide the gullible (usually believers young in their faith) right into it! I speak from experience because I’ve been there and back. What I am referring to is popular What Does this Verse Mean “to ME”? form of Bible study.

This highly subjective approach to scripture lets the individual interpret the text by what he/she ‘feels’  God is saying. When this is the accepted/preferred form of studying the Bible, all sorts of ‘wonderful insights’ are obtained and self-congratulation abounds, accompanied by considerable fawning over everyone else’s ‘insights’. I remember many such Bible studies in which no one was really growing in grace and discipleship, but we sure felt good about ourselves! Can you see the progression here?

  • Reading the Bible but spending more time discussing how one ‘feels’ about the text instead of inductive study to learn what it says in context and applying it.
  • Progressing to a deeper level of ‘hearing’ God’s voice and receiving ‘personal words’ of prophesy for one’s self and others, outside of scripture.
  • Doubting the very certainty of the truth of scripture and embracing forms of mysticism as the best or only way to really hear God.

While there may be other, smaller steps from innocent appearing Christian fellowship to complete apostasy, these three can almost always be observed in the process and all three attack the certainty and authority of scripture, almost invisibly at first, but sometimes resulting in embracing the heretical.

So there you have what I call Satan’s Gambit. Similar to a well played game of chess, there is an initial move that is not necessarily harmful, but that can escalate and end in disaster. Experienced chess players study various opening gambits and how to counter the advance of the enemy. How much more crucial it is for believers to be able to recognize the enemy of our souls and counter his subtle attacks!

3 responses to “Satan’s Gambit

  1. Amen,Brother!!
    Again, I am reminded of Hosea 4:6–‘my people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge.’
    In the case you have presented here, ‘my people are destroyed because of knowledge.’ But, it is a falsely called knowledge (1 Tim. 6:20).
    We are seeking to know the wrong things in the wrong way, and have left off taking God at His word. There has been a void of preaching the uncompromising word of God for a few decades now. Preachers read a verse for their ‘text’ and then talk about something. And the sheep are scattered.
    But, God is raising up those who look upon God’s flock with compassion and realize that they are sheep without a shepherd (Matt. 9:36; and they have a desire to do something about the lack.
    Sound the trumpet, Brother.


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