Know Your Enemy
Vol: 25 Issue: 11 Thursday, August 11, 2016
One of the first and most important rules of warfare is to know your enemy. All military intelligence is geared to that singular purpose. The more you know about your enemy, the better equipped you are to fight him.
The surest way to lose a battle is to underestimate your enemy’s capabilities and strengths, and the surest way to win is to exploit his weaknesses.
Before a boxer goes into the ring, he spends hours and hours watching footage of his opponent in action, analyzing his every move for clues; does he drop his shoulder before throwing a jab?
Does he plant his feet first? Does he lean into a right cross? Hunch before throwing an uppercut?
In a military conflict, knowing where an enemy is strongest is just as important as knowing where he is weakest.
How he thinks, what his objectives are, how he uses the resources at his command, his ultimate goals; all these are of vital importance if one hopes to achieve victory.
To protect your own resources, you need to know who your threat is and how they are going to attack. The strategic challenge is to use that knowledge to force him to fight on your terms. This is Basic Warfare 101.
As Christians living in this world, we are warriors in a battle in which we are both the objective and the prize. Our enemy is the most powerful created being in the Universe.
While a created being, Satan’s power is secondary only to God’s.
“Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.”
“Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.”
“Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.” (Ezekiel 28:12b-15)
Why God, in His infinite foreknowledge, created His own adversary, is one of those things we will have to wait until we see Him and ask Him directly. But the nature of universe in which we live gives us some clues.
God created the universe according to certain immutable, measurable laws. For everything that exists, there is a corresponding opposite against which it can be measured.
God created light, the Bible says. (Genesis 1:3) Light is a created thing. Darkness is dependent on that created thing. Darkness cannot be measured independent of light.
Heat is something that must be created. Cold is the absence of heat. It cannot be measured independently.
Good is a creation of God. Evil is the absence of good. Like darkness and cold, it cannot be be measured independently.
There would be no benchmark against which to measure good without the existence of evil. And there would therefore be no choice.
God created the physical universe for reasons of His own, and set in motion the laws that govern it.
One of those laws is that without rebellion, there can be no order. Chaos is the absence of order. For the universe to operate, God had to also allow chaos.
His name was Lucifer. We know him as Satan.
Satan’s sin came in the form of five “I wills.” In those five I wills, we can identify the enemy’s goals and objectives.
“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.” (Isaiah 14:13-14)
Satan’s objective and ultimate goal is to be worshipped as God. As those created to worship God, we are therefore both the objective and the prize. We are territory and the battlefield is Planet Earth.
Now, to his relative strengths and weaknesses. God is omnipotent. Satan, while the most powerful created being in the universe, is still secondary to God.
God is infinite. Satan, as a created being, is finite. God is omnipresent; Satan can be in but one place at any given time. People often claim to be under Satanic attack. That is only partially true. Satan doesn’t have the time or capability to attack every believer.
The Bible only gives a handful of instances in which Satan himself gets directly involved in warfare; the Garden of Eden, the attack against Job, the indwelling of Judas Iscariot, and the indwelling of the antichrist.
In the main, he is but the general of a vast army of fallen angels who actually conduct the warfare at his direction. When the revealing angel was delayed in his mission to meet with Daniel, he was delayed by the “Prince of Persia” — not Satan himself. (Daniel 10:20)
God is omniscient. Satan, while brilliant, is of finite intelligence.
“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1st Corinthians 2:8)
God created man to have fellowship with Him. “Fellowship” is another word for “friendship”. Friendship involves choice. There is an old saying to the effect that we are born into a family, but we choose our friends.
Satan’s goal is to be worshipped as God; (“I will be like the Most High,”) but his weakness is pride.
Ezekiel tells us that Satan, in effect, fell in love with himself:
“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor… (Ezekiel 28:17a)
Paul warns Timothy of the dangers of pride, warning that in selecting bishops, he should ensure that the candidate is “not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride, he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” (1st Timothy 3:6)
Satan uses that pride against us to reduce our effectiveness as witnesses. We look down on the sins of others, while ignoring our own — particularly if ours are different. The New Testament speaks of the Pharisee who prayed loudly in the street:
“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. ” (Luke 18:11)
(It reminds me of the fat preacher who condemned those in his congregation who smoked for ‘defiling the Temple of the Holy Spirit’.)
It is our will that others believe as we believe, even when it isn’t germane to salvation. That is human pride, and Satan’s best weapon. We debate endlessly over minor points of doctrine, with the end goal not being the salvation of another, but rather to score a win in our column over the subject of the debate.
I’ve witnessed debates between believers over peripheral issues like the timing of the Rapture, or whether or not this sin or that would keep someone from heaven, but all either side was interested in was winning the debate. Satan sits on the sidelines and laughs.
Satan’s sin was “I will.” Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane was “not My will, by Thy will be done.”
What is God’s will?
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, NOT willing that ANY should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2nd Peter 3:9)
“Repentance” means to change one’s mind about sin.
The lost person instinctively recognizes that sin is part of his makeup. The enemy convinces him that his sin isn’t as bad as somebody else’s. Ask a lost person if they are going to heaven, and they will invariably say, “I think so. I try to be a good person.”
In their mind, they have a picture of someone else whose sins are worse. (Or a picture of a fat preacher condemning somebody else for smoking)
Changing one’s mind about sin involves the recognition that ALL sin comes short of the glory of God, and that ALL men are sinners. Recognizing that fact demonstrates God’s love for us, in that, “while we were YET sinners, He died for us.”
Our salvation depends on trusting that God made a way for ALL sinners to be reconciled to Him through Him — and not our own inherent goodness.
“Being confident of this very thing, that He WHICH HATH BEGUN A GOOD WORK IN YOU WILL PERFORM IT until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
Jesus says, “Trust Me,” and I will see you through this life and bring you into life eternal.
Satan says, “You aren’t worthy.”
Know your enemy. He surely knows you.
Featured Commentary: MegaPastors and MegaChurches ~ J.L. Robb