Tactics: Introduction

Know Your Enemy.

Having now decided we really want the freedom God offers us through Jesus by the power of the Spirit, and having considered at least 13 great reasons to want it, let’s get into the details of how to attain it in your own life.

The freedom you’ve longed for, sometimes with passion and faith, sometimes from a distance as hopelessness and continued failure have made it seem less possible, is still attainable.  It is within your grasp.  It may have eluded you for years or even decades, but if you are reading this, then you are still searching, and God is pleased to reveal to you the path to righteousness.  Let Him feed your hunger for righteousness.

The primary barrier to freedom is ignorance.  Ignorance of the enemy, and of how he operates.

I know the devil gets thrown around in some churches for being the cause for everything from the dishwasher clogging up to some kid not getting put into the football game enough.  And that’s a shame, because our spiritual enemy–the devil and all his demons–are in fact the cause of the majority of the suffering in this world.

Eph 6:12
Because the struggle for us is not against blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world-powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evilness in the heavenly places. (NT Transline)

If you have struggled with sin, that is because we all have a sin nature, first and foremost.  But God has defeated sin on the cross, and our lives as Christians are meant to reflect the freedom God purchased for us.  Hear that truth again: God means for us to walk in freedom.  When we continue to struggle with sin, this is because our spiritual enemies hound us.  They do it directly, and they do it deviously.  They use immediate impulses, and they use systematic infestations that have infected the entire culture, and work to sustain the endless evil desires of billions of people.
People are the ones carrying this out, but they have help, even if they don’t know it.  A terrific line from the film The Usual Suspects expresses this better than I can:

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”                         -Verbal Kint

In the movie, this arch-criminal named Keizer Soze has become almost mythical, so that everyone fears him, just at the mention of his name, and yet no one really knows for sure if he even exists.  No one can prove it.  The police consider him a hobby, and devote little time to him.  Other criminals know the story, but treat it like a bedtime story.

But he is real.  The Bible is as clear as it can be that there exists a large number of spiritual personalities.  They don’t sleep, and they devote their entire existence to our destruction.  They hate us with a far greater passion than any human enemy, including al-Qaida.  (And where does that hatred come from…)

Therefore, before we examine the tactics the enemy uses against us (I prefer this term to ‘devil,’ partly because Satan is not omnipresent; he is not everywhere like God, and it is doubtful that he personally is the one going after you, so ‘enemy’ is a more accurate title), we first have to acknowledge that he exists.  If you deny the existence and power of your spiritual enemies, then you have already lost this battle.  If you are skeptical and unsure, that’s okay.  Keep reading and you’ll hopefully see how this enemy afflicts us.  Then go read your Bible.

That said, let’s look at how the enemy attacks us.  I will not be discussing responses to these attacks in this section very much, other than to quote a few verses that directly oppose the enemy’s tactic.  The main purpose here is just to become aware of the breadth of methods that he uses, and to consider which ones have operated in your life.  If you don’t know your enemy, you can’t fight him.  But quoting Bible verses out loud to yourself is a great first step in fighting.