India has won each of the six times it has clashed with Pakistan in One Day International World Cups. Their first victory against Pakistan in the World Cups came in Sydney 1992 and their most recent one came in Adelaide in 2015. Using these glorious games as a launch pad, we can learn lessons from the Bible on how to overcome temptation and live a victorious Christian life.
1. COME EARLY TO YOUR CREATOR: In the 1992 India-Pakistan World Cup clash in Sydney, 19-year old Sachin Tendulkar was the star performer. He fearlessly and aggressively batted against a good Pakistan bowling attack that included Wasim Akram and Imran Khan to make a solid fifty to help India post a competitive 216. He bowled 10 overs for just 37 runs when Pakistan chased. When Pakistan were cruising at 2-105, he removed the dangerous Aamer Sohail who was batting at 62. When India eventually won, young Sachin was the Man of the Match. Sachin gave his time of his youth to Cricket. If we want to win over sin, we must give the time of our youth, without delay, to our Creator. “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,” the Bible teaches (Eccl. 12:1). There are those who first want “enjoy the world” and then come to Jesus at the fag end of their lives. That’s being foolish. First of all, we do not know if we would live even a day longer. And the Scripture teaches, there is no salvation opportunity after death (Heb. 9:27). Secondly, when Jesus gives us joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Pet 1:8) why would we want to even postpone receiving that joy even by a second? When we come to Jesus, just as we are, as young as we are, in repentance and faith, He who shed His sinless blood for us on the Cross of Calvary, cleanses us from “all” sin – even those unprintable ones we have done. This the Bible teaches (I John 1:7-9).
2. COUNTER ATTACK SATAN FEARLESSLY: Let’s move over to Bangalore, the venue of the high-volatile India-Pakistan Quarter Final clash in the World Cup. India reached 287 runs while batting first, thanks to the fearless counter-attack by Ajay Jadeja who made a 25 ball 45. I recall watching this gripping game on the TV in the home of Dr. Dennis Muldoon, an Australian educationist-missionary in Allahabad Agricultural Insitute (now Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture Technology and Sciences). In the later half of the game, Venkatesh Prasad was told by Aamer Sohail that he would be hit for boundaries at will by him. This he told Prasad after hitting the bowler for an aggressive boundary. The charged up Prasad clean bowled Aamer Sohail in the very next ball. Pakistan never recovered from that blow in that game which was called the “final before the final”. The Bible teaches that when we “resist” the Devil he will “flee” from us! We have no reason to be afraid of him. He is already a defeated foe. We can resist him by advancing among the people he has control over – the unsaved – sharing the Gospel with them and winning them to the Lord! Andrew Murray said, “You are a soulwinner or a backslider!” You are either bringing someone to Jesus’ presence aggressively or you are going away from the Lord, with your love for Jesus growing cold. It was when he remained away from battle that King David fell into sin (2 Sam. 11:1-2). So, when we remain lazy, without taking the fight to the Devil and his army, we are sure to lose to temptation.
3. FORGE PARTNERSHIPS: In the 1992 Super Sixes World Cup Game between India and Pakistan at Old Trafford, Manchester, India batted first for the third time in a row when it came to World Cup Clashes between these two teams. Helped by a 40plus score by Tendulkar and 50plus score by Mohammed Azharuddin and Rahul Dravid India posted 227. Pakistan were all out for 180 in its reply which lasted only about 45 overs. There was not even a single partnership of over 50 runs in the Pakistani innings. But the Indian team had three partnerships that were worth atleast 50: between Dravid and Tendulkar, between Azharuddin and Dravid, and finally between Azharuddin and Robin Singh. This proved to be the key difference between the teams. Do you want to win over temptation? Find a Nathan-like friend in your life. When David fell into sin, Nathan narrated the “Mutton Biriyani” preparation story to David. David could have made “Human Biriyani” out of him for narrating that story. Yet, he had the humility to say, “I have sinned”. After that we never read of David falling into adultery again. Do you have a Nathan-like friend who asks you without much emotions questions like, “When was the last time you watched porn? Why aren’t you talking to this your friend for the past three weeks?” This way, you can handle temptations triumphantly.
4. GET ENERGY FROM THE SPIRIT: The 2003 World Cup Clash between India and Pakistan in Centurion Park, Johannesburg, is still remembered for the sensational six over back-ward point which Sachin Tendulkar hit of Pakistan fast bowler Shoiab Akthar enroute to his match-winning 98 while India chased a stiff 270-plus target for a win. Akthar’s furiously fast deliveries which come at the batsmen at over 150kmph was helped on its way by Sachin over the fence. Sachin did not use brute force to play this shot. He just caressed the ball and it went over the offside field for a memorable six. The speed of the ball was enough to take it over the boundary line! If it was a slower bowler, chances are that Sachin could have not hit this six! Want to win over temptation, yet feel often powerless to do it? Do you say, “The very thing I don’t want to do – watch porn, cross the line of intimacy with the opposite sex – I end up doing, again and again”? The answer to this problem is the Holy Spirit. The Scripture says, “Walk in the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature!” (Gal. 5:16). This means you and I can beat temptation using the power of the Holy Spirit. When we cooperate with the infinitely powerful and absolutely pure Holy Spirit we can live holy! The Holy Spirit gives us the enablement to hit temptations we face in the course of our walk with Christ for a huge six! Trying to beat temptations without the power of the Spirit is like trying to block a furious flowing river with a cobweb! It can’t be done!
5. THROW BIBLE BOMBS: India clashed with Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup semifinals in Mohali. Sachin was batting on 23 when Saeed Ajmal trapped him in front of the wicket with a viciously spinning delivery. As the Pakistanis appealed, the Umpire Ian Gould gave Sachin out. But Sachin sent that decision for referral under the Decision Review System. After the off-field umpire saw the Hawk-eye inspired slow motion replays and and that decision was over-turned. Sachin went on to make 85 and India went on to win the game by 29 runs. What saved Sachin at that point was a realization that there was a higher power than Ian Gould in that stadium. When we realize that there is a higher power we are accountable to, at the hour of temptation, we can overcome temptation. This higher power is the Most High. Our Maker. At the hour of temptation when we invoke His Word, that puts inside of us an incredible power to overcome temptation. Hiding of God’s Word inside of our hearts is the way to give temptations to sin, a hiding (beating/thrashing) (Psa 119:9-11). Jesus who never ever lost to temptation used this method (Matt. 4). When you are tempted, recall that there is a Law that is higher than the ones in operation at the place of temptation. For Joseph in Mrs. Portiphar’s presence, the law in operation was this: “come to bed with me!” But he invoked a higher law, the law of his Maker. He repeated what His Creator told Eve using slight modifications for his context: “How can I do this….?” (See Gen. 3:13 and compare it with Gen. 39). He was a winner over a tough temptation: the temptation to have sex with an attractive woman who was inviting him to do that! We too can win over temptation that way. When I am tempted to watch porn, I quote verses like Job 31:1, 2 Sam. 11:27, Matthew 5:28 and have enjoyed victory over that sin. When I am tempted to gossip I quote Nehemiah 6:1-4 and Matthew 12:36 and have celebrated victory over that sin.
6. RISE AGAIN IF YOU FAIL: In the India-Pakistan Group B clash in the World Cup 2015 in Adelaide, India scored 300 runs batting first. While chasing this stiff target, Ahmed Shehzad, calmly led Pakistan’s reply. At 102 for 2 in the 24rd Over, Pakistan were in a comfortable position. That’s when Umesh Yadav struck. He induced a slash from Shehzad and the ball sped to the point area like a bullet. Ravi Jadeja moved to his left to take the catch but the ball slipped from his hands. But he quickly recovered to catch the ball again before it fell to the ground. In the space of another 7 balls, Pakistan lost two more wickets and never really recovered after that to lose the game by over 70 odd runs. Did you trip and fall into sin? Don’t end your relationship with the Lord. Mend it. Come back to him. “For a good man may fall seven times and get back again, but the wicked will stumble around fall into misfortune,” so says the Word (Pro. 24:16, The Voice). Be like Peter who came back to Jesus in repentance following his sin of denying Jesus. Do not be like Judas who ended his life following his sin of betraying Jesus. Our sins – instead of becoming “fatal” sins can become “forgiven” sins when we come back to Jesus following a fall. But we must not use this gracious love of God that forgives us when we go back to him as a license to sin. Bible writers like Paul (Rom 6:1), John (I John 3:9), Jude (4), the writer to the Hebrews (10:26) and Luke (Acts 5:11) talk about the eternally-damning dangers of taking the grace of God for granted.
So, there you have it: 6 precious Bible lessons on victory over sin starting from 6 famous India victories over Pakistan in Cricket World Cups! Yes, we can hit sin for a six, practicing these biblical disciplines enabled by the power of the Spirit!
(Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Gen from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. This is an inter-church ministry to presentday people that is reader/viewer supported. Find out more at http://www.dukev.org or by liking http://www.facebook.com/dukebook or by subscribing to http://www.youtube.com/visitduke)