“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
The Art of War is an ancient Chinese armed forces exposition written by Sun Tzu, a high-ranking military general and strategist. I first read Sun Tzu’s book several years ago, and from the beginning words to the final ones, paragraph after paragraph jumped off the page at me. Despite not being a Christian book, I found nuggets of wisdom divulging not just how to be victorious in physical battles, but also in spiritual warfare. Though certainly not an inspired work, and not even fully compatible with Scripture, The Art of War can positively influence the Christian warrior. And the quote above can mean the difference between victory and defeat in a Christian’s spiritual life.
Indeed, the Bible is not silent about our enemy, the devil, nor does it stay quiet about who we are in Christ. Both are clearly portrayed from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22.
Though Scripture is more interested in telling us about God and His ways than the devil and his ways, throughout the Bible, it’s clear that God wants us to know our enemy, his ways, his tactics, his limits – and his fate. This is partly because knowing Satan and understanding his devious, unwinnable war provides a stark and glorious contrast to God and His gracious, victorious kingdom. It’s also so we won’t be deceived (James 1:6). So let’s go to the Word of God and study the enemy of our souls.
Know the Enemy
Ephesians 6:12 tells us that “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 is one of the most important things we need to know about our enemy. Our husband, our nosy neighbor, and the know-it-all moms in our MOPS groups are not the enemy. When we begin to understand who our enemy really is, we start to see that his powers are much more formidable than mere man. The expanse of his dominion is wider, the scale of his maliciousness deeper, and the force of his fight is fiercer than any man’s.
The Bible says that the enemy is deceitful, and that he’s a master of disguise. 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us that ”…Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.” It serves the devil’s purposes well to set up good works and obedient acts against the purposes of the One who created them for us.
Matthew Henry, a 17th century Welsh minister and Bible commentator, said of this verse, “Satan will allow his ministers to preach either the law or the gospel separately; but the law as established by faith in Christ’s righteousness and atonement, and the partaking of His Spirit, is the test of every false system.”
We also know from Scripture that Satan is a murderer, a liar, and is the father of all lies (John 8:44). He is the prompter and promoter of every kind of falsehood, and every temptation he brings is carried on the false whisper that evil is good, good is evil, and sin brings freedom. Satan is a thief, coming only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), and souls are but a sacrifice to his selfish purposes. He prowls like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour and destroy (1 Peter 5:8), and he stands to accuse us before God (Rev. 12:10).
But we know more about the devil than just his power and deceit. You see, the enemy has a chink in his armor: He can be forced to flee! When we submit to God, we have power to resist the devil…and he must flee from us (James 4:7). We also know the end of his story:
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven saying, ‘Now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down… And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony…” Revelation 12:10 & 11
Yes, the attempts of the enemy will prove unsuccessful against the bride of Christ, and fatal to his own interests! The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who purchased our souls with His own blood, will crush Satan underfoot (Genesis 3:15). God will pass judgment, and He will begin where sin started: With Satan.
But the enemy isn’t all we must know if we are to win the battle.
To truly know who we are, we have to start with who we were. Romans 5:10 tells us that we were once controlled by the enemy, becoming ourselves enemies of God. The Greek word in this verse describes a person “openly hostile, animated by deep-seated hatred.” To truly grasp who we are in Christ, we must first fully absorb the awful reality of who we were before Christ reached down in His grace to save us: We stood in condemnation before a holy God for the sins we committed against Him.
Yet, praise God, the truth of Romans 5 goes beyond us as enemies.
When we were dead in our transgressions, He made us alive together with Him, forgave us our transgressions, canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, and He nailed it to the cross (Col. 2:14)! Hallelujah! Do you want to know who you are, dear Sister? You are redeemed! You are sanctified and cleansed, and stand justified before God, radiantly robed in his righteousness.
As we look further into Scripture, we see an even clearer picture of ourselves. We are dearly beloved children of God (Eph 5:1) who were chosen before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him (Eph 1:4), and created to do good works (Eph 2:10). We are children of light and obedience (1Thes 5:5; Eph 5:8), shining our light before men in such a way that they see our good works and glorify our heavenly Father (Matt 5:15).
We are placed in this world, but we are not of this world (John 17:16), we don’t walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit (Rom 8:4; Gal 5:26), we have peace with God (Rom 5:1), and we are continually prayed for by Jesus Christ, the One who died for us (Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25). And finally, we have overcome, because greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world (1John 4:4).
But it’s not enough to simply know the enemy and know who we are in Christ.
“The art of war is of vital importance to the State,” Sun Tzu says. “It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.”
Know How to Fight
Ephesians chapter 6 gives us the how-to of Christian warfare.
“With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on alert with all perseverance and petition for the saints.”
That, ladies, is the art of war!
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us (Rom 8:31)? Amen.
In His name and for His glory,