A few weeks ago, a guy friend noticed that I had a chess set, and asked me if I wanted to play. He was in it for a simple game, but of course, for me, God used it as a depiction of what goes on in the spirit realm when we come up against Satan. The similarities were astounding. Here’s some of what I learned so far. Remember that I just recently began looking into chess. I have most of the foundational knowledge, but I am fully aware that I have only scratched the surface when it comes to strategies, techniques, plays.
1.) Chess is a game of strategy and tactics. When I first began playing chess, I erroneously believed it was like checkers. There is SOME strategy involved in checkers, but not nearly as much as compared to chess. Checkers to Chess is like Uno to Poker – like Candy Land to Monopoly. There is so much thinking involved. Every move must be made after much planning, deliberation, strategy, and tactic because you must remember that you always have an opponent who has plans for your downfall. As the bible says, do not be ignorant of your enemy’s devices. In chess, making a move without forethought can cause your soon or future demise. You must have a strategy or tactic to stay in the game for long and especially if you want to end up as the victor and not the victim.
Just ONE wrong move can free up the board for the enemy to come in and take out your special or protective pieces. Just one wrong move can make your king more susceptible to attack. It is important to begin the game knowing what your pawns and special pieces can do. It is important to know your opponents limitations and to use them to your advantage. You should know that unless a pawn is attacking another piece making one diagonal move, he can only move forward. So knowing that a pawn cannot move to its immediate right or left means your rook is able to stand beside a pawn and later capture it. In addition to knowing your enemies’ weaknesses, you need to be aware of your strengths. To know that a Queen can go in any direction as many places as she has room to go, is a huge advantage because if none of her own “team” is blocking her path, she can take on whoever she wants going forwards and backwards.
This is not a game to play just for fun. You play this game to win. There isn’t much laughing in this game. But you will see two people with knitted eyebrows and serious facial expressions planning their next move. Both people have to focus on winning. It is the same in spiritual warfare throughout our lives. While you will see me laughing and smiling often, my spirit man is no laughing matter. Hell is no laughing matter. Demonic forces are nothing to play about. Just one wrong move, just one hit of that drug, just one night of unprotected sex with that one-night stand, just one shoplifting of a blouse can set me up for a lifetime downhill. In chess, your opponent is watching intently and waiting and hoping for you to make what I call O.D.M. (one dumb move). He knows that without a dumb move, he can’t do much. And he doesn’t need a series of dumb moves. Just one may be all that is needed. You’ve heard of the person who’s FIRST time drinking resulted in a drunk-driving incident that kills a mother of three. You’ve heard of the woman who married the wrong person who killed her just a few months later. You’ve heard of the pastor who just touched ONE child which resulted in the lost of his respect in the community, family, marriage, ministry, career, etc. It doesn’t take much for Satan to gain the advantage over you. It only takes one wrong turn where no U-turns are allowed.
2.) Chess is a game which involves much sacrifice. A couple of weeks ago, I went to a mall to get something to eat in the food court. I was pleasantly surprised to find a chess club had decided to meet and play there in the food court. So I went up and asked them questions and they let me sit down and play as they taught me. I was stunned to see that my opponent seemed to be setting his pawns up to be taken by me. But he won because he was willing to sacrifice less important pieces in order to protect his most important piece – His King. He would send in a pawn to a place where I would immediately, without thought, capture it. And while I was focusing on getting as much as I could (capturing as many of his pieces as I could), he was just moving certain pieces of mine out of position so that he could get my king.
3.) Chess is a game where the war is best won in the center (the four squares in the very middle of the chess board). One of the top tips to winning chess is to fight for, and win, the center. Trying to control this area early brings the focus of the game where you are and gives you a chance to fight on your chosen ground. Reminds me of spiritual warfare. Satan may be appear to be setting up shop and traps around other areas of your life, but he is ultimately after your heart, mind, soul, and spirit. My dad told me last year that when Satan is attacking your finances, job, health, relationships, etc., he’s really just after your joy. He doesn’t care how he gets your heart’s joy, but he’s after that main thing. Don’t get distracted by trying to focus on other pieces in other areas of your life when Satan’s focal point is on what is inside of you. And the mind is where all spiritual wars are really fought. If he can get to your mind, he’s got you. If he can make you lose your mind or your heart or your soul, he automatically destroys every area of your life. A schizophrenic, a demonaic, a mentally retarded person will lack success in other areas of their life because their mind or soul is oppressed or not fully functioning properly. Most of their defeat began within and radiated outwards.
4.) Chess is a game where every move you make will be followed by a defensive or offensive move from your opponent. Be aware that every thing you do for God will evoke a negative response from the enemy. When you fast, expect a temptation (because you are weakest when you begin a fast and because Satan knows that fasting brings about great victory and blessings for the believer so he tries to sabotage fasts with great temptations). When you pray, expect a temporary setback (because Satan wants to fool you into thinking that prayer does not work). When you consecrate and choose to live holy, expect an attack (because Satan is mad that he just lost one sinner). In chess, you must take turns. In some other games like billiard/pool, you can take more than one turn before your opponent takes his next turn. But in chess, you must know that when you “attack” the enemy (even if it’s just defensively and not offensively), he will attack back. So plan ahead for that. Know that if you go on a 40 day fast, the enemy will be VERY angry and will retaliate. Pray without ceasing when you live for God because the enemy is planning his next attack on YOU since he knows that you are clearly his opponent. He doesn’t fight people who live for him because they’re on his team! So if you are on God’s side, you better expect an attack from Satan.
5.) Chess is also game about territory as the chess club taught me. This ties in with fighting in the center of the board as well. The people in the chess club were teaching me a game set up known as Giuoco’s Piano or mirror and that game taught me that my main focus was on the center four squares. They taught me that you have to remain mindful of protecting certain squares on the chessboard because it is the squares – and who is on or protecting those squares – that determines how close someone can get to your king. For example, you may make a wrong move because you weren’t deliberating. And while that wrong move may not have resulted in the immediate capture of that piece you just moved, it might result in you getting a piece out of the enemy’s way so that he can slide on in and get nearer the king. For example, bishops can only move diagonally. So if your king is in its diagonal path, it is wise to have a pawn or another piece in position that can get their bishop as it gets near your king. It is not wise to use that same protective pawn to capture another harmless pawn when that move will only free the board for your king to be in check. Every move that LOOKS like a good move could just be a plan for you to surrender your precious territory.
Satan will sometimes present opportunities that look like a good move only for you to find out later that that move only opened the door to demonic attack. An example is this. Let’s say a woman divorces her husband because he recently lost his job and also is no longer pleasing her in the bedroom. So Satan makes her think divorce is a good move. So then weeks later, she sees a handsome man who sweeps her off her feet and who is good in bed. So she moves him into her home. Let’s say that man then convinces the wife/mother to work a late shift from 4pm-11pm. So he is left alone to watch the children. Then he begins to molest her young daughter for the next ten years. You see, divorce SEEMED to be a good move on the front end. It got rid of an annoying and disappointing factor in her life. But it opened the door for a child molester to come and wreak havoc in her family which will scar her daughter for years to come if not her entire life. Maybe the husband was lacking in a couple of areas, but he would have kept his daughter safe for her entire childhood. Ask yourself what is wiser and more strategic. Moving and using a pawn that was protecting your King just to capture a worthless pawn right now just to lose your King one move later? Or keeping that pawn right there to protect the king? Watch what areas and territories in your life and spirit that you are letting Satan have access to.
In chess and in spiritual warfare, we must gain wisdom on what to move, where to, when, and why. The Holy Spirit will direct you. God will direct your paths if you consult with Him regarding major moves in your life. He’ll make sure to let you know which pathways you have left open for your foes that will make you vulnerable to their attack. There is so much more I have learned and am learning from chess as it relates to spiritual warfare and living a victorious Christian life, so stay tuned for any future posts about what chess can teach us about spiritual warfare!