"It is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles;" Sun Tzu, The Art of War.
We’ve spent many weeks learning about our own struggles and weaknesses; now we are going to spend a bit of time learning about our enemy because the catastrophic problem we seem to have, is that most of us do not even recognize that we are at war, much less recognize or understand who our real enemy is in that war. Churches have become so worried about being seeker friendly, pleasant, and prosperity driven that most are reluctant to talk about that messy matter of warfare going on around us. That struggle that just happens to be destroying our homes, our families, our minds, our bodies, our joy, our culture, our nation, and our souls. Sun Tzu also made another powerful deduction about war: "All warfare is based on deception." And this great enemy that we face has perfected that art because, as he and his army are literally torturing and slaughtering us, most of us live oblivious, from day-to-day, of his very presence and activity. Get this one massive Truth before we continue: everything that is happening around you and I everyday (politics, wars, social and moral trends, entertainment, educational systems) re purposeful, literal tools in the hands of our enemy. The Bible is the greatest love story ever told combined with the best war novel ever written. It tells the Story of God's very own Beloved being led astray from Him, and imprisoned, abused, and lied to about how much they are loved. It tells the Story of how God is willing to go through anything, give up anything, lose it all, and tear the entire Universe apart, literally to get His Beloved home safe with Him again.
To better understand our enemy, we are going to take a look at Satan’s part in this drama, which is our reality. We so often picture Satan as this hideous little imp that runs around causing mischief. Satan has been called, "Lucifer" in Scriptures (Hebrew "Heylel", meaning "Morning star.") Paul (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) says that even now, Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Satan was one of the most beautiful and powerful of all God's Creation. So beautiful and powerful, that he actually believed he might pull of a coup, a rebellion, against God Himself and rule. And so charismatic, so cunning, so selfish that he actually persuaded 1/3 of the countless angelic beings to follow him in this attempt. Isaiah 14:12-14; Revelation 12:4. And to put this into perspective, one angel of God killed 70,000 Israelites (2 Samuel 24), and 185,000 Assyrians (Isaiah 37)—Satan was of the most powerful of the angels, and had a third of these countless, powerful beings to follow him. This is one impressive, powerful, intelligent, influential army—(and they've had 6000 years to watch and learn about men). Do you ever stop and think, this is the power that plots to snare me and hurt me each day? When Satan learned that he could never have a chance to overthrow God Almighty, in bloodthirsty anger and hatred, he decided to hurt an unbeatable Foe in the only way he possibly could (in the most terrible way possible to our God): By going after the one's that God loves. By turning as much of His Own Creation against Him as possible. Satan's most prized trophies of war are those that will not even acknowledge their Creator exists; those that will not trust His Love and Character; those that will purposefully stand against Him in their own hatred and rebellion as Satan has. We so often want to blame God for our pains, or shake a fist at God for not accepting our sins, but this terrible enemy has literally turned all his wit and power against us, in an open, hateful effort to mislead us, depress us, corrupt us, steal our happiness, and turn us against God and one another. He wants to take as many people to hell with him as possible, in complete spite and hatred for us, yet, we usually will not even acknowledge him, much less fight back. God's Word repeatedly says to know and watch for Satan's plots: 2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 11:3.
Knowing what Satan is trying to do, what would we do if we were plotting to deceive mankind and turn them away from God? What kind of things would I cause and do in this world to further my goals? "If I were Satan, I'd..." make them feel ignorant, uneducated and old fashioned for thinking that God even exists—then they would have no barrier to stop them from embracing anything they may want to do. There'd be no consequences, and only one shot to do anything they want in this life. But every time something bad happens, I'd remind them that if there is a God, He must be unloving and selfish to allow such things to happen to me. I'd make it seem like a ridiculous infringement on their own freedoms and joy to live the laws of love that protect them. I'd make them believe modern psychology, and post-religious thinking has shown them a better way to live, then I'd use their selfish decisions to bring hurt, destruction, and guilt into every part of their lives. Then, if they folded and broke those principles that God gave them to live by, I'd make sure they looked like two-faced bigots to other nonbelievers. I'd make anyone who didn't choose to trust God's plan, think of Christians as self-righteous, unloving and judgmental just for choosing to follow God, even if they didn't treat me wrong. I'd make them think the Scriptures were untrustworthy, full of errors, outdated, hard to understand, too long to get through, open to our own interpretations, meaning something different to every generation, and they just couldn't be the same words written all those years ago, so don't take the time or trouble to read them yourself, just trust someone else to just tell you what you need to know about them. I'd make them think, "religion" is all about me, and what works for me, to make me happier in life, and that if God loves me so much, He will give me what I deserve in life, and I'll raise up leaders to tell them God is waiting to give them this blessed life they deserve so when it doesn't happen, they can be hurt and angry, then give up on God. I'd make them think prayer is useless when it doesn't produce what I prayed for, when I prayed for it, and I'd hide the fact that prayer is about getting close to Him and learning His will for my life. I'd make them think that praying for someone was just a token thing as a Christian, and it had no real power. I'd make sure they forgot that it literally cost the Blood of God’s Son to give them this open line to Heaven. I'd never let them know how their prayers released authority for the King's will to be enforced against us. I'd make them think they are constantly letting God down and that He stayed mad at their failures so often, that they may as well give up on ever pleasing Him so they should just go on with their failure life now and surely, they should know better than to ever try and be used by Him in this terrible state. I'd make the whole church spiritually lazy and happy, focused on the good life around them in this world—the life they stand to lose if they start acting too radical. Then I'd turn up the fight against them until it cost too much in their lazy, happy state to stay true. I’d use outside attacks to bring constant trouble for following Him, and inside troublemakers to cause division and strife over every issue that doesn't go their way until people walked. I'd make church just another place they can show their talent, and use their skills for recognition. I'd make sure they didn't feel like they had any real purpose or value so they could make up fake and empty reasons to live life, so they could hurt others without guilt, so they could feel hopeless. I'd make sure they take away all the wonder, the intimate worth, and the purpose of sexual intimacy so they could cheapen the act so much that it became worthless alone, then they would always need something more to be satisfied. Then they could lose the incredible joy and worth of another person saving their most priceless gift for them alone; they could lose the incredible gift of enjoying someone perfectly, masterfully designed to be with them physically, emotionally and mentally—to make them a complete person together. They could lose the ability to share love with others deeply without thinking it had to be a sexual love—with anyone of any gender—then they could doubt God's wisdom in designing them as the person and the gender they are, always trying to change, or live in guilt, rather than embracing who they were really created to be and enjoying life. I'd make sure they saw everything unpleasant that happened as a reason to doubt God's very existence, and even better, His heart. I'd make sure they didn't take too much time to consider the impossibility of all the intricate designs around them happening by accident. I'd use every media and institution available to tell their young ones how ridiculous God is from early on and then complain about others pushing their, "world view" on me if they tried to do the same. I'd complain that you are intolerant if you don't agree with my sin, and then teach you to boil with hate if you have to tolerate their faith. DO YOU THINK ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE HAPPENING, AND INCREASING IN UNSTOPPABLE RATES, BY CHANCE?! And all the time that Satan does these things in our lives, he is anxiously waiting for one slip, so that he can literally go to God and brag of how he has made us fail: Revelation 12:10. I want you to really think about something: to truly embrace a sin that you know is against our God, you are playing directly into the hands of this dark soul. You have brought the enemy pleasure and as you embrace his deceiving ways over Christ. He is literally mocking you behind your back, and reporting your failures to the King, loving the fact that our God has to punish you against His will, or worse, having to condemn you when He loves you so much.
Compare Satan, who literally lives to see us miserable and failing, so he can mock us and report us to God for punishment to this kind of love: a God who would humble Himself to become a small Baby and be raised by working-class nobodies. A God who would give up being God, to live as we live, feel what we feel, be tempted as we are tempted, so He can relate to our pains and misery. A God that would not only give up being God, but would be a worm under men's feet. Isaiah 53:4-9:
He would give Himself to be this brutalized and tortured, to pay for everything that Satan has accused you of as God because He could not bear to give the punishment you had to justly receive on you. He stepped down and took it all, and shut Satan's mouth, and He (Jesus) won the right to say, "Away with you Satan, they have already been punished, through Me!" A God that, instead of waiting for you to fail so He can punish you, waits in great anticipation to see you turn to Him for Salvation, then He runs to you in great joy: Zephaniah 3:17. (The Hebrew word for, "rejoice over you" is GIYL (gheel): it literally means to spin around violently under the influence of emotion, especially in rejoicing—in other words, to dance in abandonment.)
This text says that when we choose Him over Satan, He will literally dance over you with overwhelming joy; He will quiet your anxieties with His love; and He will sing over you in uncontrollable joy. WHAT A HUMBLE, LOVING, JOYFUL, BELOVED KING THAT AWAITS YOU! Is there any question who you want to serve? Is there any question where you want to spend eternity? There is no Neutral Zone in this War—too much has been violated, too much has been paid. We either love this King who has proven His Love for us by accepting this incredible selfless act, or we have already chosen Satan by thumbing our nose at the Death of our God on our behalf.
I am asking you to change the way you look at the world around us. Everything that happens in this world is a part of this epic struggle. We have to wake up to the reality of war, and understand this life is not just a random chance of events to be used for all the pleasure you can get. We have to realize that everyday, everywhere you go, the battle rages around you for your mind and heart. We have to step up and begin to fight back in prayer, in righteousness, in resistance, and in service. Christ stands before the Father on behalf of you every day as well, but it is not to accuse you like Satan. He is praying for you and speaking as your Defender, instead of railing on you in accusations. He has been our Warrior, who gave His life for us.
Now that we more blatantly see the tactics of Satan in everyday of our lives, it is time for us to go to war against him for our King's sake. Psalm 144:1-2. If you haven't given your life to Him as Savior, how can you still reject Him after realizing all He's done to defeat this powerful enemy who lives to see you fall? If you have accepted Him, don't live by accident another day—pick up your sword and live on purpose, recognizing the battle around you!
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