Any military force that does not invest in gathering intelligence about its potential and actual enemies is already weakened when called upon to fight. Matching capability with capability, knowing strengths and weaknesses and being ahead of potential surprise attacks puts you in the battle with a fighting chance of winning.
Akin to this is knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, each one improved upon by training and moral and ethical character development. In addition to this, our hearts must also be prepared for what’s coming and be resolved, come what may, to bravely face the enemy. Again, these things will enable us to stand and hopefully prevail.
These things are no less true in the spiritual war which is continually waged around us; I contend that all humans are in a spiritual battle, but that only those in Christ are able to be aware of it and have the weapons needed to fight back. Few, even of these, know their enemy well and what strength they have in them to stand effectively in the fight. The Christian, has, nonetheless, entered into the battle on the winning side – but, will they manage to do so without becoming a casualty.
“Stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”Ephesians 6:11-12
We humans have a common enemy; he comes by many names: Satan, the Devil, Beelzebub, the Accuser, the Serpent, among many others, or we can simply just call him the enemy! And he really is our enemy! The Bible has much to tell us about him and his tactics (plots, schemes, wiles, strategies):
“He [The Devil] was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”John 8:43-44
We can see here that he is a murderer, and that despite how attractive the things are, which he offers, things which appeal to our eyes, our flesh and our pride; they will always destroy us in the end – because all these things never deliver what they appear to offer! We can never really find true happiness and fulfilment through them. In the end they cause us to sleepwalk into death without so much as a fight.
“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”1 Peter 5:8
Again, the enemies entire purpose is your destruction. If he can achieve this without you even realising it, by means of stealth, deception and sabotage, then all the better. For the Christian, however, there is a way to fight back; the Christian has the right ‘spiritual’ weapons to fight with, including a manual (the Bible) to learn how to fight well from.
“Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to Stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against [spiritual] evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”Ephesians 6:10-12
A soldier learns to fight well and hopefully survive, by knowing themselves, their enemy and their weapons. The soldier trains hard, studies and prepares his/herself; the Christian must do likewise in order not to become a casualty of war. For the unbeliever, perhaps it’s time to seek the Lord and join the winning side so that you have a fighting chance of prevailing in the fight.