Know Your Enemy!
Introduction: Toward the end of World War 2, with the Germans all but completely defeated, America’s great General George Patton made the statement, “We have defeated the wrong enemy.” Yes, as evil as Adolf Hitler was and as big a threat as Nazi Germany was to Europe, he believed that Soviet Russia posed an even bigger - and longer lasting - threat to the world. You see, if communism could spread, it would be the downfall of many of the great nations on earth and would be more devastating to the human race than just about anything history had ever seen.
You know what? The same could probably be said in many of our lives - we’re fighting the wrong enemy. Here’s one of the most clear truths of Scripture - the moment you enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, the moment you’re born again and bought with the blood of Jesus, THAT is the moment you enter into a war. And so many of us are fighting with other people, fighting external things when our enemy is bigger than any one person or circumstance.
This is what the apostle Paul understood and wanted the church in Ephesus - and US - to understand CLEARLY.
Ephesians 6:10–18 ESV
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
This morning, I’m going to make some guarantees. How? Guarantees?
The Bible is God’s Word - therefore, we can speak with AUTHORITY & CERTAINTY.
If we are going to survive the war, we’ve got to understand a few things.
I HAVE A VERY REAL ENEMY
Look again at what Paul says about our enemy. First of all, he says that our enemy is not a human enemy. People are not your enemy. That person that has hurt you, that person you’re at odds with, your husband, your wife, your child, co-worker, situation - WHATEVER IT MAY BE - they/it are not ULTIMATELY your enemy. It may feel like your husband is your enemy or your wife or your son or daughter…but Paul says that we have a greater enemy - Satan…the prince of the power of the air.
HE IS EVIL
Jesus said, in John 10:10, that Satan is a thief…he’s a thief that has come to steal, kill, and destroy. He’s leaving nothing but ruins and destruction in his wake. Peter says, in 1 Peter 5:8, that Satan is like a roaming lion looking for people to devour. HE IS EVIL. He hates God and he hates you. Plain and simple.
For whatever reason, though, we’ve kind of painted a picture of the devil as a little guy in a red suit with a pitchfork…or he’s sitting on your shoulder whispering little temptations into your ear.
When I was a kid, the big enemy that everyone knew was Sadaam Hussein. I can vividly remember living in Talledega at the time and one of the guys in our church who I looked up to more than just about anyone else was deployed to Iraq to fight in the Gulf War. My mom & dad tried explaining to me what was going on and that this Sadaam guy was very bad & evil…in my little mind - and I can remember it to this day - “evil bad guy” meant that he probably cheated at the card game “Go Fish.”
No. He’s the embodiment of evil.
HE IS POWERFUL
Here’s some bad news. No amount of will power I can muster up or positive thinking or strength in and of myself I think I may have can ever measure up or be powerful enough to stand up to the enemy. But, look at Paul’s description.
HE IS CUNNING
In Genesis 3, when we are first introduced to Satan, the Bible says that he was the craftiest of all the beasts that God had created. He’s cunning. He’s deceptive. The Bible says he is the father of lies. He fights dirty. Paul talks about “the evil day” and says that this is when Satan attacks. What is the evil day? It refers to the time of attack. First of all, it is an unspecified amount of time. What do I mean by that? You don’t know when Satan is going to attack. It also means that spiritual attack doesn’t have a set time of length.
Satan knows when to attack and where to attack. In his book, “The Invisible War” (available in the Media Library), Chip Ingram says,
The battles aren’t all the same. This conflict isn’t about a constant, invisible source that keeps coming at you consistently every day. There are specific opportunities when the enemy will try to deceive you, discourage you, or turn you away from your Commander-in-chief, the Lord Jesus. The lion prowls for vulnerable prey. There are times when you are on the top of your game, so the enemy waits. He watches your seasons and cycles, looking for the times when you are weak. When you are tired, when you’ve had a conflict with your spouse, when the economy drops and you suddenly see how much security you had placed in your retirement plan, when you’re in the ICU with one of your children and you wonder if he or she is going to make it - at any given moment of weakness, you can be tempted to think that God is not good. And, this is how the enemy attacks.
He is cunning. That’s who we’re dealing with. Like Patton, you might be fighting the wrong enemy. It’s not your spouse or your boss…it’s Satan. He’s evil, powerful, cunning.
EVERY AREA OF MY LIFE IS SUBJECT TO ATTACK
Again, he’s cunning…nothing is off limits. Look back through Ephesians and see how Paul builds up to this discussion of spiritual warfare. In fact, look at the first word of the passage we just read - “Finally.” Finally what? “Finally” implies that there’s been something before and now he’s ending with something else. Look back throughout the letter. In chapters 1 & 2, he explains our standing with Christ, our salvation and all of the spiritual blessings we have in Christ - Satan will attack you there…he will attack you with doubt, fear, God’s promises. In chapter 4, Paul talks about unity in the church - Satan will attack that won’t he? In chapter 4, he also talks about how, in Christ, we are to be putting off the old self and taking on the new life in Christ - he will attack your walk with Christ and tempt you to fall back into your old sinful flesh. In chapter 5, he talks about marriage…he’ll attack that, won’t he? How we’re supposed to live in love and humility and selflessness toward each other. Chapter 6 - parents/children & bondservants/masters - life lived under authority.
All of that is to say that there is no area of your life is “off limits.” REMEMBER - he’s evil, powerful & cunning. He’s going to hit you in every area and on every side.
So…that’s a pretty bleak picture, huh? Some of you probably come in here this morning limping. You’re beat down and tired from the fight…the struggle. You’re ready to throw in the towel. The enemy has been relentless…you’ve taken blow after blow.
What do I do? Is there hope?
IN CHRIST, WE ARE NOT FIGHTING FOR VICTORY - WE ARE FIGHTING FROM VICTORY.
I want that to sink in for you. Is Satan a powerful enemy? Yes. An evil enemy? A cunning enemy? Yes and Yes…but…he’s a DEFEATED ENEMY. In Colossians 2, Paul tells us that through the power of his death & resurrection, Jesus has “disarmed” or stripped Satan of His power!
This is why Paul COMMANDS - yes, COMMANDS:
Philippians 3:10 ESV
that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
Romans 8:10 ESV
But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Hear that, now, child of God! The SAME POWER (dunamis/dynamite) that raised Jesus from the dead DWELLS IN YOU! The same power that stripped Satan of his power dwells in YOU! Now, you may be saying, “Satan’s defeated?” Sure doesn’t feel like it…feels like I’M the defeated one! Listen to me…he’s not just going to roll over dead. He’s not giving up. He’s not going down without a fight - but he has & will go down. He was defeated 2,000 years ago on Easter morning.
We walk around living in defeat, though! The victory has been won! We have to claim it and live in it!
This is why Paul says, “be strong in the Lord & in the strength of HIS might.” You’re weak - HE is strong. You are powerless. He is powerful. You are only strong if you are in the - literally - power of his power. That’s power upon power…infinite…unbreakable...
Notice what Paul DOESN’T SAY - “WITH the strength of his might.” He says, “IN the strength of his might.”
I’m going to make you another guarantee…I can’t guarantee you when you’ll come under attack…or where…or for how long. But what I CAN and WILL guarantee you of is this - you WILL FALL…YOU WILL FAIL IF YOU DON’T ABIDE IN HIM - “apart from me you can do nothing” … If you aren’t “walking by the Spirit” or being “filled with the Spirit.”
A military command - “hold your ground!”
“Notice that our stance is not offensive at this point. We are standing on ground that we already have. Imagine, for example, an army that has taken a town. One of the first things it does is secure the strategic areas so that the enemy can’t retake the territory that has just been seized. It costs a lot in terms of strategy and lives to gain ground; no one wants to give up what he or she has gained. That’s the picture here in Ephesians. We must not give up what we have already gained through our relationship with Jesus.
So we are told to stand firm in the territory we have been given. It isn’t that someone is just trying to knock us down. Someone is trying to steal the inheritance we have been given - or at least the experiential benefits of that inheritance. When we stand firm, we are holding on to our position, the area we already possess.
Only in HIS strength can you//will you stand firm. Remember…he is a powerful foe. He is a deadly enemy. STAND FIRM - Satan wants your marriage. Ladies, Satan wants your attitude toward your husband. He wants your husband. He wants your kids…Men, do you really think Satan wants you to have a Christlike attitude and love toward your wife? Absolutely not. He wants you to get frustrated because your needs aren’t getting met and wants you to look for fulfillment elsewhere.
Students…EVERYONE - do you think Satan wants you growing in Christ? Do you think he wants you to experience the new life Jesus gives you? The freedom he gives us? Do you think Satan wants you putting off the old and putting on the new? NO! Don’t let him gain a foothold of the ground you’ve been given in Christ!
This is the word “withstand” or “resist.” In other words, don’t shrink in fear. Don’t cower under the pressure, turn tail, and run. A Roman soldier’s armor covered the front - not the back. You will fall. You will falter.
Where is our victory found? The ONLY place - Abiding in Christ. If you aren’t abiding you’re dying. If you’re not daily abiding in the power - the resurrection power - of King Jesus, you are leaving yourself completely vulnerable to the attack of the enemy. You’re powerless against him. Quit fighting to somehow gain a victory…it’s already been won!
You may be thinking, “But if Satan has been stripped, shamed, and subdued…if it’s done, why do we need to?”
Although Satan’s defeat is absolute, it must be acted upon - received by faith.
Think of it this way: Was Jesus’ death for sin absolute? Yes. He was “the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Is the whole world saved? No. Salvation is only good for those who appropriate it. If you don’t act on it, it won’t do you any good. “…he that believeth not is condemned already...” John 3:18). A man doesn’t go to hell because of his sins; those have been paid for. He goes to hell because he does not appropriate what has already been done.
Satan’s defeat is absolute, but you must act upon it. You must say, “I’m going to take my authority in the Lord Jesus. I appropriate it. I stand on it, and I come against Satan’s dark kingdom.”
Jesus - all authority has been given to me - GO! As the Father has sent me, so I send you! He has given US authority!