Knowing the Enemy

“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.”  (Eph. 6:12)

During this period preceding Halloween, our culture seems to be fascinated with movies depicting the devil and evil forces, yet seems oblivious to the existence of the devil and the impact of spiritual forces on our personal lives.  We tend to have little knowledge of the enemy of life, and the enemy of God and God’s will for us. 

I have a good friend who spent most of his Army career in defense intelligence serving in Vietnam, Cambodia and in the preparation of Desert Storm.  I have always been fascinated by his stories of how he and his teams were able to develop and provide important intelligence to his superiors that guided our strategies in these various theaters of war.

How ironic that we wouldn’t think of going to war without knowing our enemy and his plans, but yet we don’t even acknowledge that we have an enemy of life and one who is dedicated to defeating the purpose and desire that God has for each of us! 

All are tempted by the evil one — even Jesus in the desert at the beginning of his public ministry; even Peter and the apostles at Jesus’ passion; even Paul who said, “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep doing.” (Ro. 7:19)

I know that I have been tempted at one time or another by all of the capital sins of pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth.  Sometimes I have fallen to these sins.  Sometimes, through God’s grace and mercy, and the power of the Holy Spirit, I have resisted them.  Let me share one example.

As an attorney for an oil company, one of our responsibilities was to represent the company before state legislatures on legislation impacting our company’s operations.  As a result, we would develop and implement the lobbying strategies on the company position developed by our planning department for whatever particular legislation we were attempting to impact.

One of the employees in the planning department started to take it upon himself to critique our lobbying strategies to our management and anyone who would listen to him.  At first his criticism dealt only with one issue, and then it expanded to all issues.  He was becoming a real thorn in our side, and I found myself doing constant battle with him.

Then one day, I came across the above passage from Ephesians and I realized that my battle was not with him as a person, but with the pride that was at work in both of us.  I started to pray for him and that both of us could lay aside our pride and work in greater harmony.  After a few months, I noticed that his responses to our work were less critical.  I began to bring him more into the rationale of what we were doing and why we were doing it.  We eventually became friends instead of rival competitors.

“Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:27)

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