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Spiritual Warfare Part 3

Having a working knowledge of the enemy’s capabilities

The Bible provides several helpful descriptions regarding the enemy. I will consider three of them to have a proper view of who the enemy is and how he functions. The biblical writers have described the enemy as “the most cunning of all the animals in the garden,” as “liar and murderer from the beginning,” and as a “roaring lion.” The reader could consider other descriptions, but for my purpose these three should give us more than we need to develop our coherent strategy. Let’s consider each one at a time.

Our enemy is crafty

The first reference to the devil as an enemy took place in the book of Genesis. In Genesis 3:1 we read: “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made” (Genesis 1:1a). Moses used the word “serpent” as a metaphorical reference to the devil, which means "slanderer." When I say that the word serpent is a metaphor, I do not mean to diminish the significance of the event. On the contrary. The metaphor allows for a smooth narrative without taking away the forcefulness of the author’s intent, which is to show that Adam and Eve were not a match for the serpent.

The first description the Bible gives about the “serpent” is that he “was more crafty than any other beast of the field.” The words crafty has the connotation of someone who is “skillful in evil schemes or who is deceitful.” The implication of this definition was that by the time the serpent met with Adam and Eve, he was already an expert in developing evil schemes to rob them of their intimacy with God. The phrase “more crafty than all the beasts” means that not even Adam and Eve had enough discernment to withstand the enemy attack by themselves. They were caught off guard because they were not naturally inclined to think in evil terms and, as a result, they fell for the serpent's lies.

Another word Moses used to describe the serpent was “beast.” The serpent was more crafty than "all the other beasts," thus, the serpent was counted among the beasts. Incidentally, this is the same word that is used to describe the antichrist that will come upon the earth in the last days. The dictionary defines a beast as a “cruel, filthy” creature. Moses could not have used a more forceful and apt description of this enemy that seeks to deceive and to destroy believers in God.

Thus, the first thing we need to know about the devil, as we prepare our war strategy, is to accept that we cannot outsmart, outrun or outgun the serpent. Some might be deceived into thinking that because “they have the mind of Christ” that means they have the same authority and power that Jesus has. Well, let me shatter that illusion. Having the mind of Christ does not have anything to do with authority and power. It has to do with living our lives according to God’s purpose and design.

Our enemy is a murderer

The second description I want to discuss is the one Jesus used when he said that the devil is a “murderer from the beginning” and “he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). These two descriptions are very graphic and unambiguous. As a murderer, the devil does not have mercy and he gives no quarter. Christians must make their plans accordingly. Satan’s only goal is to kill and destroy. He has no redeeming value, and he is a blood thirsty assassin. As a result of that, we should take all the necessary precautions any time we may come in contact with him.

The phrase that he is a “liar and a father of lies” indicate that he does not have a conscience. The devil lies knowing that he is lying and fully aware that we know he is lying, but he does not care. Jesus accused the Pharisees of being sons of the devil because they were lying about who Jesus was, just like the devil was doing. Whenever people close their eyes to the truth or have become corrupted in their thinking, like the Pharisees had done, they are doing the devil’s work. Christians at all levels must be alert, at all times, to discern when they might be slipping into doing the devil’s work. In warfare, lying is done as a misdirection to create confusion. When Christians use philosophical or political definitions to describe the mission of the Church, they are using misdirection and have become, even if unaware, instruments of the devil.

For instance, when Christians use phrases like “social gospel” or “environmental justice,” they have already lost the war on developing a coherent strategy. For instance, it is not possible for the United States army to develop a coherent strategy for warfare while using Chinese language and imagery. Similarly, when Christians use extra-biblical language to describe the mission Jesus gave us, we have already surrendered our plans.

God is a God of justice. Divine justice is dependent on God’s impartiality and the moral qualities of his character. God’s justice does not need an adjective. Anything and everything that runs counter to God’s character and that shows leniency in favor of the wicked and prejudice against the innocent, is injustice. We don’t need to use euphemisms that only obscure the truth of God's word. When a person uses the euphemism of "racial justice," they pretend to inoculate themselves from their own prejudice. The game is played this way: if I claim to be for racial justice, you cannot call me a racist even if I express my views in racial hatred, because I cannot be a racist because I am on the right side of the issue. And the father of lies dances in hell when Christians fall for his divisive schemes. God is God and he does not need adjectives that only serve to create divisions in the Body of Christ.

The enemy is a roaring lion

The third description I want to consider regarding the devil is that he is a “roaring lion seeking who to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). One description of a roaring lion is that his roar can be heard for up five miles away. Its primary purpose is to instill fear. Fear has the tendency to paralyze and confuse the prey. A secondary description of a roaring lion is that when lions become old and have lost their teeth, they can no longer go hunting. In those instances, the old lions stay near the pride (herd) to guard the pride with his roar. The purpose of the roar, in these instances, is to scare any predators and drive them to where the younger lions are so they can be hunted and killed.

In either case, the roar of the lion has the purpose to produce fear and confusion. If we apply this meaning to Peter’s description, we could say that persecution is the devil's roar to bring fear and confusion to the church. The devil’s ultimate purpose is to create doubts and discouragement regarding our faith. Let me conclude this reflection with three observations.

First, as the most crafty of all the beats the Lord created, the devil’s primary purpose is to deceive by distorting the truth of God’s word. Second, as a murderer and a liar, the devil is incapable of compassion or mercy. His sole motivation is the total destruction of anyone, including those whom he find useful for a period of time. Third, as a roaring lion, the devil wants to produce fear so that we become discouraged and unable to accomplish the mission. But the roar is also the sign of a defeated foe, the old toothless lion who can no longer hunt. As Christians, we must stay “sober-minded and vigilant” to avoid responding to the enemy with fear or confusion. (NEXT: understanding the battlefield landscape).

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