Sun Tzu, a Chinese general from 544 BC, once said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”
As a military strategist, Sun Tzu speaks from experience and the victory that one will have if they understand their foe. I couldn’t help but realize how fitting this is when it comes to the topic of spiritual warfare.
Foremost, it’s imperative that we know who we are in Christ to take our stand against the enemy and his schemes. Our battle goes beyond the physical to the influences of the spiritual realm. As Paul mentions in the famous ‘armor of God’ passage, “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).
The stark reality is, you and I are at war. There is a battle for your soul that the enemy wants you to lose. It’s not a choice as to whether you can opt-out or sign up for an ‘easier assignment’ – the struggle against the enemy of your soul is ever-present because you exist here on this Earth. More importantly, you matter greatly enough in God’s eyes that he will do anything to deter you from this truth… even having you believe right now that spiritual warfare doesn’t exist or matter much in your daily life. I’m here to tell you that’s the furthest from the truth there is.
Have you been experiencing emotional bouts, unlike before? Are you currently facing a crisis with no way out? Do your circumstances seem overwhelming? Do you have a lack of hope regarding your future? Have your finances taken a hit? Are you suffering physically, emotionally, or relationally? Does your walk with God seem empty and dry? If you’ve answered yes to any one of these, you might very well be looking at repercussions of spiritual warfare in your life.
This is why you need to know who your enemy is and how you can strategically position yourselves to fight the good fight of faith. To be victorious over your circumstances. To be who God created you to be without the influences of the enemy that can so easily hinder you. To be overcomers through it all since Christ overcame all things.
In short, who is this enemy? Here’s a list to summarize his names and titles that speak of who he is…
- Satan – Meaning’ accuser’ or ‘adversary’ (Zechariah 3:1-2; Revelation 12:10)
- Devil – A slanderer, arch-enemy of man’s spiritual interest (Luke 8:12; John 13:2)
- Tempter (1 Thessalonians 3:5; 1 Timothy 3:6-7)
- Angel of light – ‘Deceiver’ (2 Corinthians 11:14)
- A roaring lion – ‘Devourer’ (1 Peter 5:8)
- Father of lies and a murderer (John 8:44; John 10:7-10)
- The god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)
- The ruler of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2)
- Serpent (Genesis 3:1,13; Revelation 12:9; 20:2-3)
As noted, our enemy has the worst traits we can imagine! His sole intent is to ‘kill, steal, and destroy us’ (John 10:10) as an attempt to gain the upper hand over God. If we do not realize these foundational biblical truths about our enemy, we will not be prepared to wage war effectively. Most Christians are ignorant of his sway over the world, and our adversary wants to keep it that way. Whether it is slander to deception, Satan will do anything at all costs to win the battle for your soul.
Yet he wasn’t always this way. As a guardian cherub who walked on the holy mount of God, he was magnificent in beauty. As a ‘light-bearer’, or Lucifer as his name, it is suggested that he would lead the heavenly creatures in worship to God. It wasn’t until he wanted to receive the worship for himself that pride entered his heart and “wickedness was found within him.” As a result, he was cast out of Heaven to the Earth, taking a ⅓ of the angels with him.
Think of the hatred he must have against God. Satan once adorned with splendor, now stripped with nothing. His abhorrence for God increased with all-consuming jealousy, rage, envy, and bitterness. Unadulterated wickedness and nefarious in every way. Then, at one point in time, he finds out a new creation was formed by God, his enemy – humanity. Man and woman who seem to be weaker in nature, but crowned with a degree of splendor that he never had since they are created in the image of their Creator. Imagine his intensified jealousy despising humanity’s place and prominence as they lovingly enjoy their relationship with God. This is the enemy of our soul.
While it is not possible to figure out exactly when Satan fell to the Earth, it’s important to know that HE IS HERE. He continues to wreak havoc on humanity through various means. His sole purpose is to fulfill his self-imposed mandate against God by accomplishing one main purpose:
To make sure people do not become Christ-followers.
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4)… and there are billions of people who currently do not know him! We have to pray that the light of the Gospel will shine through the layers of darkness that keep them from knowing the truth that will set them free.
While a person accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior is a battle won for the Kingdom of God, the war isn’t over. Far from it! In fact, there’s a greater degree of warfare that rages with the newfound freedom in Christ due to our God-given authority in accomplishing the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Every believer has a responsibility, and hopefully, a heartfelt desire to see the world know Christ and live for Christ. God wants us to bring godly, lasting change into this chaotic and callous world!
Therefore, Satan’s tactics for believers is quite simple:
To make sure you and I are ineffective & inefficient Christ-followers.
That’s it. Your adversary does not want you to realize the power that you have in Christ. Your authority comes from Christ, who overcame the Devil, disease, sin, and death. He has overcome the world! (John 16:33). <For more on authority in Christ, visit https://nathancherney.com/taking-authority/ >
Do you realize that because of the Holy Spirit within you, you can overcome the enemy who comes against you? (1 John 4:4). Yes, it’s true!
Sadly, we may not realize it and, therefore, access the keys given to us to overcome. How can the enemy of our soul hinder us from being effective and efficient ambassadors for Christ?
- He may bring up flaws to the surface to remind you of your weaknesses to discourage you
- He can cause you to dwell on hurtful words in the past that keep you paralyzed from moving forward
- He might try to convince you to focus on how much ‘you’re not doing’ rather than what you are doing right for God, keeping you in a constant place of striving
- He might whisper lies when you are vulnerable saying ‘no one likes you’ when you’re lonely
- He may suggest spending time on entertainment rather than reading the Bible
- He can initiate fear when you feel called to share the Gospel with someone
There are MANY ways Satan will try to stop us, which is why we need to understand who he is and how he works to be all who we are created to be for Christ. On top of this, we need to learn how to fight. As James 4:7 states, “… submit to God. Resist the Devil and he will flee from you.” Satan is not going to back down easily, and we have to do our part to resist. Once we submit to God and take ‘no’ for an answer to the enemy of our soul, he will HAVE to flee. Isn’t that what happened when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness? Jesus overcame our enemy and SO CAN WE.
If you are reading this, it’s not by accident – God wants you to be thoroughly equipped to be an overcomer in this life. You are meant to have victory! I will continue with more on spiritual warfare next time, but this week I encourage you to do a few things:
- Find verses on your identity in Christ. What does the Bible about who you are in Him?
- Read the story of Satan tempting Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11 and in Luke 4:1-13. How did Jesus overcome?
- In what ways is Satan tempting you to be an inefficient and ineffective Christ-follower? How do you plan to overcome his strategies against you?
May God give you exactly what you need this week to discern the wiles of the enemy and to be steadfast in coming to the Lord who has conquered all things, including Satan himself.
Have a blessed week!