“So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself,
you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.
If you only know yourself, but not your opponent, you may win or may lose.
If you know neither yourself nor your enemy, you will always endanger yourself.”
– Sun Tzu, The Art of War
The question is not whether you want to be in this war. Everyone is in it. That’s why we are told to Endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2.3), and …wage the good warfare (1 Timothy 1.18). He trains my hands for war (Psalm 144.1).
I. Knowing Your Enemy
Satan is a real enemy that virtually wars against us for domination. Yet spiritual warfare isn’t preached about or taught much anymore. Media has fictionalized the devil so much that a recent Barna© survey found that only 26% of American Christians believe he is a real spiritual being. We have depicted devils, demons, werewolves, vampires, witches and warlocks as friendly beings that even fall in love. Many dress their little children as demonic forces on what started as an occult ceremony and morphed into what Anton LaVey (author of the Satanic Bible) defined to as one of the top three Satan holidays (see http://raisinggodsrewards.blogspot.com/2009/10/can-you-serve-god-and-celebrate-satans.html).
We no longer live with any awareness of how dangerous Satan and his demonic angels are to our walk with Christ, let alone how he infiltrates our lives. Without this realization we are not equipped to withstand his surreptitious attacks.
How about you: Do you live with the realization that you have an enemy, an evil deceiving enemy that is lurking to steal from you, snatch God’s Word from your heart, trick you and entice you disguised as a messenger from heaven to follow lies? Are you aware you have an enemy who wants you to fall and fail and literally to sift you like wheat (Luke 22.31)? You need to respectfully be aware of his schemes and devices, and know what you need to do to guard yourself against the possibility of his attacks.
- He is powerful
Satan is our adversary, the chief of devils, who was striving to be as God and cast down from heaven into the earth with his demon followers… He fell as lightning from heaven. (Luke 10.18), He knows his ultimate end is to be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, to be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Rev. 12.9, Rev. 20.10). He is an enemy to God and goodness, a hater of truth. He is full of malice and revenge, and relentless in his attempts to destroy us because of God’s great love for us. He comes to steal from, kill and destroy all God loves during his short reign on earth (John 10.10).
The Devil had the power of death until Jesus, through His death and resurrection, destroyed the Devil and now has the keys of death and Hades (Hebrews 2.14, Revelation 1.18). Jesus triumphed over Satan and made an “open show” of His victory over him (Colossians 2.15); now Satan wants to make an “open show” of victory over you and take you down, so is now walking up and down, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5.8).
We first see him taking on the shape of a serpent deceiving Eve with the question of the ages: Hath God really said? (Genesis 3) When the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, Satan also came amongst them (Job 1.6-22). Satan moved David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Chronicles 21.1).
In the New Testament Satan is referred to as the evil one, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit the now rules in the children of disobedience.
The Word of God informs us that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (1 John 5.19). Satan tempted Jesus by offering, To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will (Luke 4.6). Jesus did not rebuke the devil for what he offered; rather Jesus Himself acknowledged that Satan is the ruler of this world (John 14.30, John 12.31, John 16.11) and the deceiver of the whole world (Revelation 12.9).
He is powerful enough to represent to the Lord all the kingdoms of the world and the glories of them in a moment of time. (Matthew 4.8, Luke 4.5) He was able to carry the body of Jesus through the air up to a pinnacle of the temple too (Matthew 4.5, Luke 4.9), and he was able to direct demons into a herd of swine and drive them into the waters (Matthew 8.31).
Satan is more powerful than we are. We need to equip ourselves to win his constant battle against us. We need to have a healthy respect for his power and know how to stand against him so we aren’t overcome, distracted, bound, stolen from, or destroyed. We cannot go into battle and think this enemy is going to lie down and surrender without a fight. Our battle with the devil is not a game; it is a struggle for eternal life or death. He wants nothing more than to kill you, physically, emotionally and spiritually. He wants to discredit your testimony thus your reflection of Who God is.
- His methods
A lack of knowledge about your enemy could lead you into a false sense of security—or to overestimate the capabilities of your enemy.
Avoiding having a false sense of security.
The devil has a great deal of influence in this world; in fact three times Jesus describes him as the ruler of this world (John 12.31, 14.30, 16.11). He is called the god of this age. He blinds the minds of believers (2 Corinthians 4.4). He is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2.2).
He is the tempter: he uses temptation to lead people to sin. He cannot cause people to sin, just tempt them. (When someone is tempted, he shouldn’t say that God is tempting him. God can’t be tempted by evil, and God doesn’t tempt anyone. Everyone is tempted by his own desires as they lure him away and trap him. Then desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin. When sin grows up, it gives birth to death. James 1.13-15 GW)
Satan appears as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11.14). Satan comes with all power and signs and lying wonders (2 Thessalonians 2.9). Messengers of Satan can buffet you (2 Corinthians 12.7). Satan can hinder you. (1Thessalonians 2.18) He opposes and exalts himself above God so that he can sit as God and show himself that he is God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). He oppresses with sickness and disease (Acts 10.38).
He snatches the Word of God that sown in hearts (Mark 4.15), so people can’t believe and be saved (Luke 8.12). He tries to get us to place him before God. (Luke 4.8) He wants us to compromise our convictions, be distracted or divided, because no one can serve two masters:… you cannot serve God and wealth (Matthew 6.24). Satan can bind people with disease (Luke 13.16, Luke 5.23). Satan can enter into people and fill their heart to go against God (Luke 22.3, Acts 5.3).
He is subtle. Because he has not been given power from above to take us by force, he is obligated to find opportunities to deceive us and catch us by guile. He lies in wait to deceive. We are reminded to be watchful so that Satan does not tempt us (1 Corinthians 7.5). Because he can get an advantage over us, we are cautioned not to be ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2.11). He can get an advantage over us. He has strategies against us (Ephesians 6.11).
Avoiding overestimating the Devil’s capabilities.
However strong demons might be, they were created by God and is under God’s authority (Luke 22.31; Job 4.6). They serve God’s purposes (see Judges 9.23). They tremble at the mention of Christ and His defeat at Calvary (Matthew 8.29, Mark 1.24, James 2.19). They have to obey Jesus (Matthew 8.32), and His disciples (Matthew 10.1-8, Romans 8.38). They are restrained by the Holy Spirit (2 Thessalonians 2.6; 1 John 4.4). They can’t separate believers from the love of God (Romans 8.38).
Satan cannot touch us, but has to get us to believe his lies and deception so we ourselves choose to disobey and distrust God to follow Satan and our own opinions instead, and wanting to rule our own lives as Satan did. The temptations Satan uses are always the same: There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man (1 Corinthians 10.13). The Devil uses the same snares all the time. They always work: (1) has God really denied you something? (2) You can be as God and make your own decisions. (3) Yield yourself to something that has the potential to bring you into bondage. These devices have worked before, they will work again. The bottom line is they don’t have to work on you. God has promised that we would not be tempted above what we are able to bear, and to him that overcomes God will give a crown of life (1 Corinthians 10.13, Revelation 2.10).
II. Knowing Yourself
- Your weaknesses
Satan exploits your weaknesses to tempt you to give in to sin (which is missing the mark, in other words, choosing your way over the way God knows you should take in order to live victoriously and without bondages). You cannot just know your enemy’s tactics: you need to know yourself and your areas of weakness against those attacks. If you know a burglar in your neighborhood is opening sliding doors with a crowbar, you will equip your sliding door to withstand that attack. Your own strengths, weaknesses and vulnerabilities contribute to the outcome of your battle.
Have you allowed Satan entry into your life?
Have you turned aside after Satan (1 Timothy 5.15)? You give Satan place or a foothold or opportunity in your life:
By sin: When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him] (Ephesians 4.26-27).
By pride: Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3.6-7).
By departing from sound faith and doctrine: Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils… (1 Timothy 4.1)
By choosing to believe a lie thus opening yourself up to deception (2 Thessalonians 2).
The same way as Eve was: by questioning whether the Word of God is really true (2 Corinthians 11.3).
The Devil has children as God does, children that resemble him. Does anything in your life resemble him?
- …whosoever does not righteousness isn’t of God, neither he that doesn’t love his brother (1 John 3.10).
- Those that love to lie (John 8.44), who speak evil of and slander their neighbors (1 John 3.10), whose hearts are full of pride (Job 41.34). They do the works of Satan: You are of yourfather the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do (John 8.44).
- We become his mouthpiece when we favor the things of men and not of God (Mark 8.33).
- Your strength and victory: power over Satan
Put on the whole armor of God.
Jesus won, and gives us His armor so we can win in Him. We are no match for this spiritual adversary. You are insufficient to fight the devil in your own flesh: you will lose. But Jesus is. We are to Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil (Ephesians 6.11). For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6.12).
Know the Word of God intimately.
When we are armed with the armor of God, we are strong and our goods are in peace (Luke 11.21). … you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one (1 John 2.14).
In order to overcome you, Satan needs to be stronger than you (get you to stand alone without the power and armor of God) and get you bound. Only then can he rob you of your armor, steal your goods (and peace) and destroy you (Luke 11.21).
We need to use the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6.17), So that [we] may know the truth, and that [we] may come to [our] senses and escape the snare of the Devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will (2 Timothy 2.25-26).
We need to study to know His Word and rightly handle it, especially in the face of false teachers appearing as angels of light (2 Timothy 2.15; 2 Peter 2.1; 2 Corinthians 11.14). We are warned to no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting (Ephesians 4.14). Satan perverts God’s Word to make people believe a lie.
Repentance and knowing the Truth will set you free. (John 8.32) We are …sanctified through the truth; His Word is truth,… (John 17.17) Through the Word of God we come to our senses and escape out of the snare of the devil… …God may grant that they will repent and come to know the Truth [that they will perceive and recognize and become accurately acquainted with and acknowledge it], And that they may come to their senses [and] escape out of the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him, [henceforth] to do His [God’s] will (2 Timothy 2.25-26).
The Word of God is the power that overcomes the devil. It is an active defense against the enemy’s attacks, and the power Jesus used when tempted in the Garden (Matthew 4.1-11).
Put Jesus as Lord of your life; obey Him.
When we are dead to Christ, we follow the course and fashion of this world following Satan, the prince of the power of the air. Without even realizing it, we were obedient and under the control of the demon spirit that works in the sons of disobedience (careless, rebellious and unbelieving, those who go against the purposes of God). AND YOU [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins, In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God] (Ephesians 2.1-2).
Jesus resisted the devil’s attack in the Garden by declaring, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. (Luke 22.42)
We need to be sober and vigilant because the devil, our adversary, walks about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5.8). Be aware, sober and vigilant to see how the enemy gets into your mind and heart and realize the spiritual powers and influences you can’t see but are in battle against. Resist him, steadfast in the faith (1 Peter 5.9). In order to guard yourself, we are told to Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4.7) We are not told to speak to demons, “cast them out,” “bind them,” tie them up, etc. Jesus answered the temptations of Satan with It is written… Withstand the devil through the power and authority of God’s Word, like Jesus did. We are told to watch and pray always that we enter not into temptation. He is like a roaring lion. He desires to sift us like wheat.
Walk in Truth.
There’s no way around it: only one can rule your heart: He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3.8, see also Galatians 1.4). He is darkness but once our sins are forgiven we are to turn from darkness to light and to walk as children of light (Acts 26.18, Ephesians 5.8, 1 Thessalonians 5.5).
Hold on to sound doctrine and what Jesus taught: …Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8.31-32). …you are looking for a way to kill me, because you have no room for my word (John 8.37). Truth is being denied as irrelevant today, twisted, and distorted, even among professing Christians. Like Pilate people are asking, What is truth? (John 18.38) None of this is new. All sin is the twisting of God’s Word and is as old as the Garden of Eden.
Resist the Enemy.
We resist by choosing God’s will, and not our own way or the ways of the world. The Devil fell because he was more interested in seeking HIS will than the will of God:
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit (Isaiah 14.12-15).
Resist according to Revelation 12:11: They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. They embraced the triumph of Christ by his death and resurrection. They spoke the truth in faith. They did not fear death. And they triumphed.
Pray because your life depends on it.
The New Testament highlights prayer as the pervasive accompaniment of every battle. “Take . . . the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:17–18).
Even Jesus fought against the devil on our behalf with the weapon of prayer. He said to Peter in Luke 22.31–32, Satan has asked to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. So Jesus illustrates for us the opposition of a specific satanic threat with prayer.
Jesus instructed us to make prayer a daily weapon for protection: Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6.13). We need to be delivered from the successful temptations of the evil one. Do you thwart the schemes of Satan with focused and determined prayer power?
III. You are equipped.
Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses (1 Timothy 6.12)
So you may say…
I have fought the good (worthy, honorable, and noble) fight, I have finished the race, I have kept (firmly held) the faith (2 Timothy 4.7).