As we dive into this series of being ready for the battle, there is a very important first step we must be aware of and that is to properly identify the enemy we will be battling against. It would be very harmful and detrimental for us to be prepared and ready to fight if all we had on our mind was the act of fighting itself because then anything or anyone who approaches us becomes a target.
We can see the harm that this results in by the damage to our relationships and/or the hurt our self-esteem sustains from these misguided attacks. We inappropriately classify the things people say and do as attacks against us as an individual, so we lash out and personalities clash or feelings get hurt and egos get bruised in the process. Sometimes we beat ourselves up because of failures or mistakes we may have made. We see ourselves as the enemy when we talk to ourselves internally with phrases such as ‘if only I had done this or that differently.
We need to properly identify the enemy and if it isn’t others and it isn’t ourself, then who is it? Well, according to the scripture we’re using as our base of operation, when we review it, we can readily see that our struggle is not against flesh and blood.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12 KJV)
What does it mean that our struggle is not against flesh and blood? It simply means that our true fight does not involve the physical. You see the physical realm is only a means to the end. It only exists to be manipulated by the spiritual realm. As Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said; “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
When we consider that we are made up of mind, body and spirit, nearly two thirds of this equation has nothing to do with our physical state (the mind is the link between the physical and the spiritual as indicated by the memories we develop but that’s all for another blog series). Therefore, it becomes evident that we are more spirit than we are physical. Hence, if our fight is not physical but rather spiritual, then who is the spiritual enemy? It must be a force outside of us.
To figure out what that force is, we must understand there are only two choices. Sure, some will try to say that there are more than two, some shades of grey as it were, but if you stop and think about it, most people will agree that there are only two main sources. Shades of grey, after all, are only representations of the proportions of white and black that have been mixed together and when placed on a scale, the grey either leans more towards the white or the black. So again, I say there are only two choices.
Some call one good and the other evil, or one light and the other darkness, positive energy and negative energy, or the one I prefer; God and the devil. In order to know which one we must battle, we can glean from scripture the character of both and decide from there. We are clearly told that we were created and are immensely loved by God as John 3:16 says and additional references indicate. Therefore, we must conclude God is not our enemy.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV)
“Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1-John 3:16 KJV)
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” (1-John 4:9 KJV)
“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” (Romans 5:5 KJV)
“Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39 KJV)
The only remaining logical choice then is that the devil is out to get us, so wouldn’t you expect scripture to say so? Well, it does:
“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 KJV)
But, is it enough to only identify the correct enemy? Can we now jump into the fray and hope for the best or should there be more to our identification process?
Not only should we identify the enemy, we must also study the enemy in order to know how to engage him in battle. A modern day boxer would be considered foolish to step into the ring without having first studied his opponent and to know if they have a strong left cross or right upper cut or if they are light on their feet. By knowing their strengths and their mode or method of fighting, the boxer can attempt to avoid the moves of their opponent and rather strike at their weaknesses instead. This is why it is important for us to study scripture, because within its pages are the clues we need to know about how nasty our enemy can be and how he tries to overcome us in the battle. Hence the reason scriptures indicate the following:
“Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2-Corinthians 2:11 KJV)
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1-John 2:15-17 KJV)
“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4:8-9 KJV) (Note – how could they be his to give away, unless he first had them in his possession?)
Now, since we have properly identified the correct enemy that we are to battle, where do we find him? Again, the answer lies in our base scripture when it says: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
This means the enemy is lurking within the influences of those in positions of power above us. In other words, he’s only an influencer of the flesh. He is out to manipulate others to accomplish his will in the spirit but it can only be carried out through means of the flesh. Hence, he uses his lies and deceit, his thirst for destruction and self worship to manipulate others in doing the same. He will specifically use those in positions above us to try to influence us as well. This is why we need the spiritual gift of discernment (see my blog entitled “Discerning of Spirits”) in order to tell when we are being attacked. The way the enemy attacks is not foreign to us, rather it is quite common and quite subtle. After all, if the devil came to us in traditional garb of horns, red suit and a pitchfork, we would recognize him and resist immediately. So instead he attacks like a navy seal and simply comes so close as to sometimes be indistinguishable between others and himself as he influences them in their words or actions against us. He attacks in the familiar the common and the routine but take heart since scripture tells us:
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1-Corinthians 10:13 KJV)
You see we can defeat him when we properly recognize him and trust that God will give us the proper leading and direction we need to do so.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 KJV)
Once we have identified the enemy and understood his fighting method and tactics the next step is to be sure we are fully ready to engage in the conflict. Being ready means that we must be properly equipped.