The Opposite Game
“Let the weak say, ‘I am strong!’” (Joel 3:10) How’s that for a counterintuitive positive confession?
When I was a kid, I heard the old-timers fuss about whether we should claim that we are healed when we are obviously still sick. The fight broke out during “testimony service,” if I remember right, due to some good sister claiming she was healed when everybody knew she was not. Some called it “outright lyin’.” Others said, “No, we’re just speaking to the mountain, telling sickness where to go!” My eight-year-old espièglerie was just delighted by the shouting match. High church!
So, what is it? Is speaking faith a bad case of naïveté? If I say I’m strong when I’m obviously weak, am I just living in denial?
These are pressing questions, people, and we must think it through.
Truth is, the Bible is filled with this sort of upside-down, last-is-first, low-takes-you-high kind of kingdom talk. Everywhere you look, the Word of God is replacing our fear-driven, doubt-based speech with what God says about it. Jesus told us to pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Which means that we must say on earth what heaven says. Sometimes that means that we speak from a surreal place of cognitive dissonance where everything we are confessing appears to be wrong.
I remember once hearing a message by Bill Johnson where he talked about the fact that Satan’s lies actually reveal God’s truth. It’s really pretty simple: whatever the devil says, believe the opposite. Actually seems pretty reasonable, when you think about it, doesn’t it? The devil is a liar and the father of lies. Everything he says is a lie. Even when he speaks the truth, he twists it into a lie.
So, the devil says, “You are a failure.” Since he said it, it must be a lie. So, you reply: “I am successful!” The devil says, “You are just like your daddy!” You reply, “I am like my Heavenly Father!” The devil says, “You are going to die!” You say, “I will live and not die and declare the goodness of the Lord!”
I was thinking on all this for several days while working really hard to shift my speech patterns from doubt to faith. And it was tough because my reality was pretty bleak. So I had to make a decision: which reality will I declare? What I see, or what God said?
I often hear people say, “I’m just a realist!” And I get that. So am I. But the question is, whose reality are we realizing? And I mean “realizing” in the sense of “making it real.” Whose reality are we realizing? The reality of earth, what we see around us? Or the reality of heaven, what God has declared will come to pass? You want to talk about “keeping it real”—there is nothing more real than God’s reality. Whose reality will we realize?
In the middle of all this, while trying my best to radically bend my thought-life and speech into alignment with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, I heard the voice of the Lord just as I was waking up early one morning. You know that in-between state, almost awake but still asleep, sort of conscious but still dreaming, that place? That’s where I was when I heard the voice of the Lord say,
“Play the opposite game!”
“Play the opposite game!”
I came fully awake with those words ringing in my ears. Play the opposite game. What does that mean? And the Holy Spirit simply said, “Whatever Satan says, say the opposite.”
The devil is a liar. He targets the areas of our life where we are called and gifted, doing his best to sabotage our eternal destiny. He starts when we are children, focusing on the personality strengths and creative proclivities that indicate the direction of our destiny. The enemy then attacks exactly where he perceives potential. The kid who has a gift for speaking is labeled as “shy.” The kid who has an athletic gift is called “fat” and “slow.” The child gifted intellectually will hear, “He just doesn’t spell very well. He’s a bit slow.”
On and on it goes. Satan identifies the areas of gifting and puts the sniper’s red dot on our heart. And if we do not have people around us to counteract the lies, we will grow up believing them and be totally robbed of our destiny.
I remember once when a friend spoke a word in anger over me and described me as a “failed leader.” What he said was manifestly untrue, but for some reason, that word lodged in my heart like an arrow. It took me years to dig it out of my self-perception. In fact, it was the “opposite game” that did it. I started confessing the opposite every time I heard Satan echo his words. When I would hear, “You are just a failed leader!” I would declare, “I am a world-class leader! One of the best on the planet! No one can lead like I lead in my specific area of influence. God called me and gifted me. I am the best me there is! I will lead successfully as God defines success. I am an amazing leader!”
Of course, I am still growing into that word, but I refuse to be defined by a lie. I am learning to play The Opposite Game.
When you hear a fear-driven, doubt-based word; when you hear how inadequate you are; when you hear how God will not do for you what he’s done for others; when you hear how no one loves you, anyway; when you hear that you are poverty-stricken and don’t deserve blessing because you wasted your resources; when you hear that have sinned and God is finished with your sorry carcass; when you hear how no one likes you; whatever lie you hear, say the opposite!
Let the weak say, “I am strong!”
Play The Opposite Game.