In sports, the term ‘sweep’ is used when one team wins every single game in a multi-game series thus defeating its opponent without any losses. A sweep is a sign of complete and utter domination.
Growing up in Southern Virginia, I really enjoyed playing basketball in the neighborhood. It was fiercely competitive and conveyed bragging rights to the winning team. Before beginning play, we would announce “best of 3” to make sure everyone was on the same page that the first team to win two games wins the series. We had some hard fought basketball games. I still remember the pressure of being tied one game each and battling back and forth for points to win that third and deciding game. Yes, a 2-1 series win was gratifying. However, that was nothing compared to a clean 2-0 sweep. Being on the winning side of that sweep was the epitome of joy for my teenage self. But, getting swept meant that humiliation from the competition.
The fact is that a clean sweep means that you maintained focus and skillfully outmaneuvered the competition game after game. You can often get lucky and beat someone in a single game. But, a clean sweep leaves no question.
As I think about marriage enrichment this week, the 'clean sweep' reminds me of the fierce commitment to sacrifice what is necessary to win your Christian marriage for Team Jesus (and not just once, but again and again). This week your challenge is to cast off anything that leaves room for the enemy to gain a victory.
In the Bible, Romans 13:14 encourages us to “make no provision for the flesh”. In other words, resolve yourselves as a couple to not give the Adversary any semblance of a win.
Scripture warns us that the Adversary prowls the earth like a lion looking for whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). As a result, your marriage and mine continually face off against Satan. Sometimes, we falter and give up a point here and there. Other times, we are strong and subdue our flesh and let God get the glory. The battles sometimes seem arduous and long and we cry “How long?” to the Lord. There are those marital moments when it seems like all of your well-intended efforts get used against you. We start to question if we really are hearing from God.
Just last weekend, my wife Dalia and I got into a little tiff. It wasn’t a major fight. But, a poor word choice here and an insensitive inflection there and before you know it there is marital tension. Satan wins a point.
The more I thought about it, the more I got ticked off because I just couldn’t understand what I had actually done wrong. So, in my annoyance, I just didn’t talk very much. I began isolating. Satan wins another point.
This demonstrates just how quickly Satan can grab a foothold in your marriage. Just like that, Satan gained two quick points on me and left me reeling a bit in my own self-pity.
Then, I remembered something that I told a group of couples just two weeks earlier. Imagine that you could see a physical form of Satan when he manifests in your marriage. How would I behave if every time I acted ungodly I would see Satan’s dark shadowy figure lurking in the corner of my eye? It would immediately raise my consciousness about the selfishness in my heart and tongue. It would convict me to stop inviting the Prince of Darkness into my home and marriage.
This is the wake-up call that I needed to reset my mind and marriage. I asked the Lord to search my heart and thanked him for the amazing wife who has sacrificed so much in life to bring my dreams to life. Team Jesus wins a point.
I re-engaged my wife and we spent the evening enjoying one another’s company. Team Jesus wins another point.
I’m thankful that this story concludes with Jesus getting the glory. Here, however, is the message. When we allow Satan to score points, we structurally damage the foundation of our marriage. When we succumb to his language, his temperament, and his actions, Satan learns how he can manipulate you to his advantage. He may not sweep you today. But, he is setting you up for sweeping destruction.
Instead, you must utterly destroy his ability to wreak havoc in your marriage. When you feel his impulses, immediately invoke Jesus’ name—which always causes the enemy to flee (James 4:7). When your spouse acts in a less than godly manner towards you, remember and rehearse in your head the their best qualities. When anyone seeks to sow discord between you and your spouse, remove them from your circle of influence.
Despite Satan’s punches here and there, your consistent actions to dispel his negative influence in your marriage makes room for the Fruit of the Spirit to flourish (Galatians 5:22). This is complete domination of the Adversary—a clean sweep for Team Jesus and the next level of thriving in your marriage.