Last week we began our conversation on Spiritual Warfare by establishing the conflict that we are in and the battles that make up the “war.” This week we will talk about our enemy and his tactics.
In every war or fight there is more than one side. In our case there are two sides in this “spiritual” war, the side of good (God) and the side of evil (the devil and world). The Bible tells us that we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against demonic forces.
Ephesians 6:12 says,
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
For thousands of years generals and soldiers alike have known that in order to defeat their enemy they must know your enemy. If you go into a battle blind, with no knowledge of the army against you, you can expect to be defeated. But the better you know your enemy—the way he moves, the way he attacks, the kinds of weaponry he uses—the more you can be prepared to defeat him. The ancient Chinese warrior Sun Tzu taught his men to “know your enemy” before going into battle. He wrote,
You know your enemy and know yourself… you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
He also warned,
If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
It is good to know your enemy so you can know his tactics and be prepared to defeat his schemes. Like any good football coach studies the film and plays of the other team, we must too study and recognize the “plays” of the evil one. Satan is the ultimate enemy; he is a spiritual enemy and he has enlisted all kinds of spiritual allies and tactics. All of these are out to destroy you.
So… who is the enemy?
Now obviously we know and understand by now that the enemy is Satan. Paul tells us that we need to “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” The first thing he does is name the enemy.
Ever since he fell into sin, Satan has been the enemy of God and God’s people. He is not the only enemy, but the arch-enemy, the leader of all the others. Paul also says that our battle is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” So… through that we can determine that the enemy has many allies. Satan is not alone, but instead he has a vast army with him. These beings, whatever they are, vary in their rank and their power and their authority and their capability. We just need to know that the enemy is there, he is spiritual, he is many, and he is out to get us. Satan fights his battle through a myriad of soldiers.
I do think it is important for us to understand though that Satan is unlike God in that he is not omnipresent… he is not present everywhere. He is a created being who can be in only one place at one time, but like any general, he has soldiers to do his work for him. Satan is limited and restrained by God. He is neither all-powerful nor all-knowing. He can do nothing apart from Gods sovereign authority. While Satan can entice a person to sin, he cannot force him to do it. Unlike the omniscient God, Satan cannot know everything about the future or a persons thoughts.
Beelzebub (or the Greek form Beel’zebul) is the name given to Satan, and is found in the New Testament.
Matthew 10:25 says,
It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
Matthew 12:27 says,
And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges.
Mark 3:22 says,
And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.”
That name given to Satan in the New Testament translates to mean “the lord of flies,” or, as others think, “the lord of dung,” or “the dung-god.” I personally find the name “the lord of flies” interesting for several reasons.
- Flies are carriers of various diseases, some of which are deadly: Demons can cause various diseases or infirmities.
- Flies show up right before a rain or change in the weather: Demons appear to attack right at the point God is making a change.
- Flies distract us and harass us: Demons do the same.
- Flies infect open wounds: Demons look for weaknesses.
- Flies are attracted to that which is spoiled: Demons are attracted to the unclean spirit.
- Flies find the smallest of openings and enter into our houses: Demons also find the small opening to compromise us.
So, now that we have been acquainted to the enemy we must get to know his schemes. There are three things that we can expect from the devil, those things are: deception, temptation, and accusation.
Let’s think together below!
We have all been deceived before. In fact, just think about the last time you opened a bag of Funyuns only to discover that it is two thirds full of air! We’ve all been there! To deceive somebody means to make another person believe a lie or something that is not true. We can see that this is a scheme of the enemy from the very beginning. In the Garden of Eden Satan deceived Eve into believing that God’s Word was not true. In Genesis 3:1-6, the devil told her that she will not surely die. That verse says,
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
But… we know what God said in Geneses 2:17,
But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.
When the enemy sends deception your way, it is an attempt to deceive you into believing something that is not true, so you will fall into error. Satan knew Eve’s weakness and took advantage of her causing her to throw away all the perfection she had for a lie!
Temptation often follows deception. First the enemy told Eve, “You won’t surely die” then what did he do?
Genesis 3:4-6 says,
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
The enemy deceived and then tempted by making the fruit on the forbidden tree look good to Eve. Often times we allow ourselves to be tempted by first opening the door for ourselves to be deceived. The biggest deception is that God is holding something back from us… that leads us to succumb to the flesh and the desires of the world that are contradictory to the purposes of God.
Temptation is when we are enticed or encouraged to sin in one way or another. What tempts you may not tempt me… but it is temptation all the same.
In Matthew 4, Jesus was led out in the desert to be tempted by the devil. Jesus saw through Satan’s deception, and resisted the temptation by speaking God’s Word.
Psalm 119:11 says,
I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Think about baiting a hook. To a fish the bait (or worm) looks good… but what happens when they bite? They get the hook that leads to being devoured. When Satan tempts us he is offering us the bait that leads to the hook.
1 Peter 5:8 says,
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
John 10:10 says,
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
We see in Revelation 12:10 that the devil is known as the accuser of the brethren.
And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.
Do you ever feel like you can’t outrun your past?
The mistakes of our past have a way of becoming like ghosts that roam graveyards in scary movies… we may escape for a period of time but they always return to haunt us.
The Devil or accuser wants to be sure that our past is like our shadow… no matter how hard we try, it will always come back and will always be nearby. We all have certain experiences that trigger emotional responses that will bring us back to our past and we have no choice but to relive those memories. The things in our past while remembered do not have to determine our vision for the present and future… but Satan wants them to.
Author and Pastor Rick Warren wrote in his book “The Purpose Driven Life that,
We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.
1 Peter 1:6-7 says,
In this you greatly rejoice, though for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith — of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire — may be proven genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
Bil Keane once said,
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.
Our enemy is known to take a believer who has a past, and continue to rub it in their faces and beat them down with guilt and condemnation.
We must strive to know the enemy and his tactics in order that we may more effectively wage war against his armies. We need to know our enemy, but we have know our Savior far better.
Next week we will talk about our “Weapons of War.”