The Expository Files


The Game of Life

1 Corinthians 6:9-11

The painting entitled the "Game of Life" represents a young man playing a game of chess with Satan, for his soul. The game stands ill for the young man. According to the intention of the painter the young man is hopelessly checkmated. Despair is written on the young man's face, while the devil laughs in glee. Murphy, the world's champion chess player, after studying the conditions for a few minutes, called for a chess board, and when he had arranged the men as given in the picture he remarked, "I will take the young man's place and set him free." In the same way, Jesus Christ can deliver his people in all their conflicts with the powers of evil. (F.N. Peloubet, Select Notes for the International Sunday School Lessons, 1920, p. 81)

All sinners are playing a losing game. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth saying, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor deviant sex practitioners, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor. 6:9, 10). Paul addressed Christians, warning them not to be deceived. How could a Christian be deceived into believing that they could continue in sin and still inherit the kingdom of God? The answer is that Satan is extremely deceitful and deceptive. Satan, a master chess player, sees several moves ahead. He cleverly sets his trap and the unsuspecting player even though he knows he has an opponent finds himself trapped, checkmate!

Jesus lovingly guides the Christian away from the pitfalls, also seeing several moves ahead. The Christian only sees one move at a time and doesn't realize the danger of one misstep. The Christian rationalizes that a single decision, a single step will certainly not have any eternal consequences. In spite of multiple examples of others in his own experience who lost their faith, he continues to play fast and loose. Jesus warns, "flee fornication." The deceived, move towards fornication thinking they will be able to stop just before the consummating act only to discover that they cannot stop.

The only way not to be deceived is to remember not only the danger but to remember who we are and what has happened to change us. After Paul's list of unrighteous lifestyles he adds, "Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God" (1 Cor. 6:11). The key here is the expression, "such were." It is past tense, not present. What they "were" was replaced with what they had become; washed, sanctified and justified. What they "were" and what they "had become" are not compatible, they cannot exist together. To go back to unrighteousness is to revert to their past, lost condition.

Jesus did not come to save the righteous. He came to seek and save the lost. We are the lost; the fornicators, the thieves, the covetous, etc. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). We should not be deceived into thinking that we can continue in unrighteousness. In the chess game of life let us yield control of the pieces of our life to the Lord and victory is assured.

By Karl Hennecke
From Expository Files 16.5; May 2009