Know Your Enemy

I was amused as I read the account of the Somali pirates who mistook a French naval flagship for a merchant vessel and tried to board it before realizing their mistake. The moral of the story is “know thine enemy.”

Sun Tzu (The Art of War) wrote, “If you know yourself but not your enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.” In addition the Chinese book of practical wisdom the Tao Te Ching offers this advice: “No calamity is greater than underestimating opponents.”

These bits of ancient Chinese wisdom are certainly appropriate for our nation as we face various enemies at home and abroad. They are also consistent with biblical wisdom for those who seek to have victory on the journey home. 2 Corinthians 2.11 says, “…lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” In 1 Peter 5.8 we read, “Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,”

I have on my shelf a book by Puritan writer, Thomas Brooks, entitled “Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices.” It’s a wonderful book written in the 1600s, but just as helpful today as it was then. The problem however, is this: Most of us know Satan is not just comic book schmuk in a funny red silk suit with a bad goatee, forked tail and horns. We know he is a very real and formidable opponent who is very skilled in his art of deception. For the most part we are alert and ready for the frontal assault from this formidable enemy. Many, however, are not knowledgeable about Satan’s allies.

He works with the assistance of the enemy within … the desires of our human nature referred to in the Bible as the “old nature” or “the works of the flesh”. He also uses the distractions of the enemy around … referred to in the Bible as “the world”. If we fail to properly “know our enemy” … to account for all three … we will fail as Christians in our battle against the forces of evil in this world of sin and darkness.

A good soldier hones his knowledge of the enemy and his tactics. He enters the field of battle with his senses on high alert and an acute awareness of the battlefield around him. He doesn’t get distracted … he doesn’t wonder why he must go into battle … he doesn’t relax his guard … he is keenly aware of his mission and he confidently faces the foe.

The key to his confidence is found in the source of his strength and in the body armor with which he is clothed: “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” (Eph. 6.10) and “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day.” (Eph 6.13)

Go forth then … win the day for His glory!

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