The real enemy rears his ugly head whenever there is a revival among God’s people, so it is fitting that we end our month of growing together for revival with this powerful piece by Muriel.
The Real Enemy
by Muriel Gregory
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
The Army has three main training centers: Fort Irwin, CA; Fort Polk, LA; and Hohenfels in Germany. Soldiers who come to these places receive combat training in a war-like environment (complete with blank ammunition, smoke grenades, artillery simulation, and other soldiers acting as the enemy). We were fortunate to have experienced the beauty of the desert in Fort Irwin (to this day, my favorite duty station) where my husband worked as part of the OPFOR (opposition forces). He was playing the enemy, mimicking their tactics and behaviors. You can be the strongest, smartest, and fittest person in your unit, but you will not win the war if you do not know your real enemy.
That same concept is true in our spiritual walk.
The Bible explicitly tells us that 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” (Ephesians 6:12). I will always remember a conversation I had many years ago with a wise mentor. I was venting to her about a recent “heated fellowship” I had with my husband. She quietly listened to me listing all the things he did wrong (‘cause you know I was entirely innocent…). She then smiled and said, “Muriel, your husband is not the enemy.”
And she was right…
In that particular instance, the real enemy was my flesh, sinful desires, and shortcomings.
Not correctly identifying what I battle against will forever create frustration and exhaustion since no progress can be seen.
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
The victory Jesus performed on the cross was much more than just the forgiveness of our sins. Whether we realize it or not, there is a battle raging in the heavenly places. By dying on the cross, Jesus not only defeated the rulers and authorities but was also placed above them (2 Peter 3:22). Basically, he now outranks them.
Who is our real enemy?
Who are those rulers and authorities?
The apostle Paul also mentions them in Ephesians when he talks about the “the cosmic powers, the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Who they are exactly is a whole Bible study in itself (There is a good series on this on the Bible project website that I will link at the end.), but what we need to know is how to defeat them.
If the devil came at us in a red suit with a pitchfork, we would easily identify him. His tactics are obvious. He majors in dirty war.
Since World War II, there has been one dominant military power in the world. No, it is not Canada… Since the USSR fell, no nation in the world can directly engage in combat with the US. This unilateral power scenario has changed the landscape of war. Dirty war is therefore needed to do battle. Instead of direct combat, we deal with false narratives and fake news. The weaponization of social media has given much control over the narrative we believe. Feeding our fears is a form of disinformation campaign.
Those are the tools of the devil. He will not come to you with a blatant, obvious lie but a half-truth, but instead he will activate your fears and play on your desires.
How to Combat Our Real Enemy
The only way to combat him is to be grounded in the truth (John 8:32). The truth is that Jesus came to set you free. The truth is that those spiritual forces of evil have been defeated, and they have no authority over us because we have been made heirs with Christ (Galatians 4:4-7).
There is a risen darkness in this world, but we have the tools to defeat it. We are fully equipped. Our job is to train daily (read and study the Bible), develop our spiritual awareness (through prayer), and surround ourselves with a winning team (our accountability partners, our spiritual communities).
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations; we fall to the level of our training.”
Read: Ephesians 6:10-18
Reflect: This passage may be familiar to many of you. Take your time. Read it slowly. What does it warn you about? How are you to respond?
Respond: How can you put on the full armor of God every day? What practical steps can you take?
Lord, I am thankful that you have fully equipped me to battle the rising darkness of this world. Give me the strength and discipline to train daily and increase my awareness so that I may know who the real enemy is. Amen.
Bible Project Series on Spiritual Beings