If you were around in the 1990’s, chances are good you played video games on Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo etc. During that era was a golden age of video games were many popular titles came into existence. Some of these included “fighting games” like Street Fighter 2, Mortal Kombat, Samurai Shodown, and Tekken to name a few. I am reminded of these fighting games when I think about repentance. I want to share this comparison with you.
In these classic fighting games, there is a “tournament mode” where you choose a character to try and challenge all the other characters to a duel. Your quest is then to fight and defeat all of the characters 1 on 1 until you advance to fight “the final boss”.
This is relatable to my own experience with repentance. When I first started reading the Bible, I would get dreams where I was attacked by demons pretty much every night. This experience is similar to a fighting video game. Every night I would be thrust into actual hand to hand combat – sometimes with weapons. One time I fought a demon that resembled Jim Carrey’s Riddler from Batman Forever. He was very flexible and his arms and legs stretched very far. Another time I fought a big burly creature that I would describe as a large lumberjack. Yet another time a demon fought me in a dream which resembled the X-Men Blob character. There are nights I will have a giant fight on my hands in the dream world. It seems I have no choice. The fight comes to me.
Back to the video game analogy. Some people can just pick up a controller and by some miracle they can beat the video game on their first attempt. In theory, this is possible! But is it likely? No. Similarly, sometimes a person gets saved and they beat every sin in their life on the first day. Glory to God, but is that likely? No. I would say this is rare. Most people have to practice and work to untangle the bondage of sin on their lives.
Now if you have ever played one of these fighting video games, you can just mash the buttons randomly and there is a chance you can defeat your opponent. Chalk up a win for effort. But most of the time, you are going to have to study to defeat the other fighters. You are going to need to practice blocking, jumping, and executing “the special moves”. This reminds me of fighting sin a lot. In real life, it may be easy for you to stop cursing and gossiping for example. Those might be cupcake contenders. But it gets harder and harder as you take on other challenging sins. I encourage you to not up in this scenario. Battle on.
Yet there are some that say “you don’t even have to play, you have already won”. Really? You have brothers and sisters in Christ out here mastering punching sin in the face like a karate master. And you think you can just win without putting the work in? Sure, with the infinite mercy of the Father, anything is possible. But I would much rather be putting in the work. It’s one thing to repent – but if you still get your azz kicked by sin daily – then surely there is work to do. Remember Luke 9:23 KJV?
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.Luke 9:23 KJV
We need to address “the final boss” sins. These are the biggest challenges. In my experience, some of these sins require a genius game plan to defeat. I think these could be the “strong man” Jesus talks about (Mark 3:27). They usually put up a hell of a fight for years. Christ gave us a hint about a game plan against them …
And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.Matthew 17:14-21 KJV
In Matthew 17:14-21 KJV, the disciples plainly ask Jesus why there was a devil (opponent) they couldn’t beat? Jesus said you needed the right game plan. You needed to attack that opponent with belief and prayer and fasting. As I sit here eating my slice of pizza thinking about a sin or two that I haven’t defeated yet, I am right now asking myself “do I need to be praying and fasting to get a victory over this one”?
I’ll give you a technique that helps me battle lust – which is no doubt a “final boss” sin of mine. I’ll go lay on my bed face down with my arms stretched out. That seems to break the will of that sin – at least sometimes. Try it! I don’t claim to have all my sins defeated. Sometimes, after I think I have the sin beat, it will come back and beat me. No matter, the battle rages on, I’m not going to give up.
This is what I’m saying. Get a game plan together. Seek victory against sin in your life! Dominate the simple sins. Study techniques against the stronger ones. Give your “final boss” sin a good fight – even if it takes years to get the victory. Even if you never do get the upper hand.
Fight for repentance!