The Art of Spiritual Warfare: Know Your Enemy and Know Yourself
Updated: Feb 19, 2021
Sun Tzu was an ancient Chinese military leader, strategist, and philosopher from the Zhou Dynasty who wrote “The Art of War.” Regarding military strategy, he wrote, “If you know your enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every single battle.”
There is wisdom for us in those words.
Spiritual warfare is real and not something Christian author Frank Peretti dreamed up (This Present Darkness, Piercing the Darkness, and more). We need to understand the enemy’s tactics, as well as understand who we are in Christ to become overcoming victors.
C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity said: “Enemy-occupied territory---that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.”
Jesus said, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
So, what should we know about our enemy, the devil?
Satan is a created being.
He was created by God as a heavenly angel with an exalted position as an archangel through which all the music of heaven flowed to God. But he desired the praise for himself and was cast from heaven to the earth after he rebelled against God.
“How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon, I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.” But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.” Isaiah 14:12-15
If the devil is a created being, then who has the most power and authority – Almighty God, the Creator of all things, or Satan?
Exactly. God does.
While the devil has some influence because God allows it, our God is the sovereign power of the universe.
There is no good in Satan.
1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” While lions are majestic and beautiful, they are not tame or docile. Lions are fully capable of stalking, killing, and devouring their prey.
The enemy of our souls doesn’t cut us slack in our vulnerable spots; instead, he seeks to take advantage of them.
The devil doesn’t play fair, ever.
When I was in college, I spent a summer in Washington, DC as a summer intern for a senator from Louisiana. While a magnificent opportunity, it was a time of great turmoil in the nation’s capital.
President Richard Nixon was plagued with calls for resignation following a political scandal in the early 1970s after a break-in by five men at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex. The administration attempted to cover up its involvement.
It was an exciting yet challenging time to be in Washington, DC.
I remember huddling around a radio in the senate offices of Senator J. Bennett Johnson with other staff members listening to the Supreme Court ruling that President Nixon was obligated to release the audio tapes recorded in his office to investigators. The tapes ultimately revealed the president’s personal cover-up attempts concerning the break-in.
As a young Christian, I had no idea of the spiritual components of this situation. Political intrigue is great on the movie screen, but in real life, it sucked.
What should have been the adventure of a lifetime in Washington, DC, was nothing short of a nightmare. I was ill-prepared for the spiritual battle. Indeed, I didn’t even recognize there was a spiritual battle at the time.
While rooming in a Capitol Hill brownstone with two strangers, and one's live-in boyfriend, I was displaced to the couch in our dreary basement apartment. All my insecurities came to the forefront that summer. My self-defense mechanisms rose up, and I began stress eating, gaining ten pounds in one summer. I felt invisible, confused and defeated, with no friends to help sort things out.
I believe the enemy had designs to take me out.
In a desperate moment one evening, I locked myself in the tiny, windowless basement bathroom and checked my options in the medicine cabinet. What could I take to end it all? As I held a bottle of pills in my hands, I felt the Spirit of God rise in me.
“No,” I said. “I will not do this. Ever.”
The enemy left. I felt his evil presence leave. Thoughts of suicide have never returned.
That summer was life-changing for me. I immediately made some decisions that altered the course of my life and began to recognize the impact spiritual forces can have on our day-to-day lives. I determined to draw closer to God, seek greater understanding of His Word, and commit myself to serving Him alone.
Always allow encounters with the enemy to drive you closer to God, not away from Him.
The enemy uses subtle tactics to ensnare us.
If we expect a red guy with a pitchfork and tail to show up at our door, we’ll be waiting a long time. The devil is quite good at camouflaging who he is and his true intent.
The Bible says he can appear as an “angel of light,” or whatever guise is effective in our frame of reference. I’ve never thought the snake disguise in the Garden of Eden was very clever, but it worked on Adam and Eve. I would have been running in the other direction!
The devil caused Eve to question God’s words, his motives and intent.
“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’?” Genesis 3:1
Beware, Satan will try to deceive us too. He especially delights in causing us to doubt the goodness of God.
Some of his favorite tactics include the following:
Fear and intimidation - “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Deception and lies - “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44
The devil loves to lie to us.
He will tell us we are not enough. He will fill our heads with noise about our lack of value, our failures, our unpleasant appearance, and our lack of intelligence or social skills. He will trash us at every opportunity. It is his nature to lie to us.
We must choose not to believe the enemy's lies, even when they have some basis in truth. We are flawed, but God knows that and sent Jesus to redeem us.
Repent and move on.
Our failures don't deem us unworthy. Our failures (sins) are the whole reason Jesus died on the cross.
Reject the enemy’s lies, and accept, affirm and declare what God says about you. Search out scriptures that speak to your specific identity battle. Out loud and often, confess God's truth over yourself:
I am made in the image of God.
I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.
I have the mind of Christ.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
I am the apple of his eye.
I am a child of the Most High God.
Satan is a very real spiritual enemy who desires to kill us, steal from us, and destroy us, but Christ came that we might have abundant life. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
Don't let the enemy steal your true identity.
Know your champion — Jesus!
“Lord, you are my true strength and my glory-song, my champion, my Savior!” Psalms 118:14 TPT
Only Jesus defines who you truly are.
For more info on how to repent, see prior post on "Repentance: The Healthy Process of Spiritual Potty Training" CLICK HERE
For more about “How to Overcome a Spirit of Suicide,” read Kris Vallotton’s post. CLICK HERE