Photo: This is me at a senior leadership spouse orientation tour at Mountain Home AFB in 2011. I was 6 months pregnant with my youngest son at the time.
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
“If you know the enemy and 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 battle.”
~ Sun Tzu, The Art of War
After graduating from the Academy, I served on active duty in the Air Force for several years before switching careers to motherhood. Actually, I didn’t really have an Air Force “career”. I just had a string of unrelated jobs that I accepted in order to be assigned at the same base with my active duty husband.
One of my more interesting job titles was the Wing Tactical Deception Officer. It was my job to help the operational squadrons practice deceiving our enemies. I was trained in ways to make military forces appear different than they actually were with the sole purpose of causing the enemy to respond in inappropriate and ineffective ways.
For too long, I have responded to life in inappropriate and ineffective ways because I failed to understand the nature of the struggle I was in and the schemes of my enemy. If I could pick a new duty title now, it would be Truth Detection Officer. Let’s expose the truth about the war we fight and the enemy who deceives us.
Life is a Battle, Not a Playground
How effective would the armed forces of our country be if they failed to acknowledge the battle they were engaged in? How many would be taken out or taken captive by the enemy if they had no idea who the enemy really was?
Many of us do not recognize the truth, but our lives on this earth are lived in a war zone, not a playground. It is so easy for us to become distracted by pleasure seeking and fail to realize we are in a fight for our lives. It is so common to be so busy struggling with other people that we misidentify our real enemy.
The essential first step to living an undefeated life is to acknowledge the battle of good versus evil we are all caught up in.
Friend or Foe?
Next, it is absolutely imperative to know exactly who your enemy is. Otherwise, you will be fighting the wrong battles and wondering why you always lose. Military personnel are trained to recognize friend from foe. Attacking the wrong target has devastating consquences.
If I asked you, “Who is your enemy?” what would you say? You may be thinking of a particular person or a certain situation like illness, financial hardship, or misfortune. But while certain people and situations can be difficult and painful, none of those are our true enemies.
Ephesians 6:12 tells us that the people in our lives are not the real problem. The powers of darkness that entangle both us and them are our true enemies. It’s not any person in your life or situation facing you that is tripping you up and causing your struggle. It is the very devil himself who prowls around looking for someone to chew up and spit out. He wants us to think our enemies are the people and situations around us so that we will waste our effort and energy resisting them instead of challenging him. He tries to get us to fight the wrong battle. If we are distracted by wrestling with each other, we won’t fight against our real foe.
When I feel that I am in conflict with another person, I remind myself, “I have an enemy and it’s not you.” I don’t say this out loud, of course! I don’t want to freak the other person out. But it does help me to re-cage my focus to where the real battle lies and not get caught up in the diversion.
Be Aware of His Schemes
But it’s not enough just to know who our enemy is. We must also be aware of what he’s up to. God warns us to be alert and to be aware of the devil’s schemes (1 Peter 5:8) If God tells us to know something, then it must be knowable. He doesn’t ask us to do the impossible. That’s God’s job.
The devil is a formidable enemy, but he is not very creative. God alone has unlimited creativity. The devil is the opposite of God’s character. God is a magnificent Creator of all that was, is, or ever will be. Satan, on the other hand, seeks to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). We ought to use his lack of creativity to our advantage. It makes it much easier to discern his tactics when he doesn’t change them very much. Our enemy usually continues to trip us up in the same ways over and over for as long as we allow his snares to work. The element of surprise is an effective tactic in military operations. If we are aware of how he operates, he loses that advantage.
Sun Tzu was an acclaimed military general, strategist, and philosopher who lived in China approximately 500 years before Christ. His writings are studied by military professionals even today. His tactics for overcoming an enemy sound very much like what our enemy tries to do to us.
“When the enemy is relaxed, make them toil. When full, starve them. When settled, make them move.”
“When strong, avoid them. If of high morale, depress them. Seem humble to fill them with conceit. If at ease, exhaust them. If united, separate them. Attack their weaknesses. Emerge to their surprise.”
“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong, and strike at what is weak.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Our enemy always strikes us where we are weak, unsuspecting, and undefended. That’s what enemies do. Being alert and ready makes it much harder for him to strike us effectively.
Father of Lies
This is what Jesus told us about our enemy, “He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44b).
This is also consistent with what enemies do.
“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when we are able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must appear inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
When we expose our enemy’s lies and replace them with God’s truth, he loses his power to devour us. We are no longer tangled up in the traps, snares, and nets our enemy has laid out for us. God’s truth sets us free to fight our battles well and bring glory to God. We will examine how to do this practically in a later post.
The Lord Fights for You
God has not left us alone to battle it out with our enemy. There are several places in Scripture where God says He will do the fighting for us (Ex 14:14, Deut 1:30, Nehemiah 4:20). He tells us the battle is His, not ours (2 Chron 20:15, 17). It’s not up to us to win. That’s God’s job.
“Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). The world we live in is the devil’s domain…for now. But don’t worry. His days are numbered. He knows it and that’s why he is frantic to cause as much trouble for God’s people as he can before his time is up.
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today.”
~ Exodus 14:13
The Battle is Already Won
If all this seems intimidating, know that his power over you is not as strong or as real as he would like you to believe. Jesus has already defeated him (Colossians 2:15). The devil boasts, but he cannot deliver. Our victory has already been secured for us through the work of Jesus. We just have to go claim what is rightfully ours. We hold the winning lottery ticket, but we still have to go claim our prize to actually get the riches that belong to us.
Life is not a nail-biter, wondering if God or Satan and his forces of darkness will be victorious. God’s already told us the ending. We already know it all works out in God’s favor. If we choose to align ourselves with the winning team, then we are victorious as well (Romans 8:37). Despite all his clamoring and drama, our enemy is a defeated foe.
Search Your Heart
Who or what have I labeled as my enemy?
Who is really my enemy?
What does my enemy want from me?
How can I make it more difficult for my enemy to harass and defeat me?
Am I trying to fight alone or am I depending on God to fight my battles for me?
Call to Action
- Recognize this life for what it really is. If you see it only as a playground, you have been deceived.
- Determine to be a good soldier. Listen to your Commander and resist your enemy.
- Ask God to help you discern what the enemy may be trying to get you to do. By God’s strength, do the opposite.
- Don’t let Satan get the upper hand. Decide right now that he can’t have you, your faith in God, your family, or anything else that is rightfully yours. Then run to God. He is your fortress. He is your protection.
- Identify the places in your life where you repeatedly get tripped up. Decide that with God’s help, you will no longer allow that scheme to be effective against you. Enough is enough.
Seek His Face
Lord, help me to be alert to my enemy so he doesn’t catch me off guard in a moment of weakness. Help me to be still and know that you fight for me (Ex 14:14). This battle is not mine. You have already secured the victory for me. You live within me and You are greater than any foe without. I look to You for rescue and salvation. You are my Rock, my Salvation, and my Fortress. I will not be shaken (Psalm 62:6) because you hold me. I trust you. Open my eyes to see how much greater you are than any that come against me. Remind me that people are never my real enemies. They are the ones you have called me to love and serve.
In the name of Jesus, My Victor, Amen.
Find Strength in the Song
“Fight Another Day” by Addison Road
“Will you walk away when the fire gets hot, or fight another day?”
To read other posts in this series, click the image below.