When World War One broke out, the War Ministry in London, England, sent a coded message to one of the British outposts in the inaccessible areas of British-controlled Africa, saying, "War declared, arrest all enemy aliens in your district." The prompt reply came back, "Have arrested ten Germans, six Belgians, four Frenchmen, two Italians, three Austrians, and an American. Please advise immediately who we are at war with."
In our daily meditations over the next few days, we will look closely at Satan and the demonic forces against which the Church is waging war. To succeed in the fight against the darkness, we need to know who the enemy is and his schemes. In the book The Art of War, Sun Tzu said, "If you know your enemy and you know yourself, you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat. You will succumb in every battle if you know neither the enemy nor yourself." If that is true of earthly wars, even more so is it true of the spiritual fight in which every Christian is involved.
The Lord has not left us unequipped for this battle. He has given us all we need to take our place in the fight and be victorious against our foe. We Christians are called to wage war against Satan and his unseen demonic forces. If we are to fulfill the Great Commission to preach the Gospel to the world and make disciples of all nations, we will have opposition. Although there are different gifts and callings in the Body of Christ, we are all drawn into this cosmic conflict and called to be overcomers and victors with Christ. All Christians have received their call-up papers to come to the fight, for there are no civilians in this war. We all have our part to play in this battle.
4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).
We, the Church, are given spiritual weapons. The weapons we fight with are not guns and bombs of this world system. We cannot battle against unseen spiritual beings with weapons of the world. Our weapons have divine power to demolish strongholds or fortifications of the enemy. Paul the apostle wrote of believers in Christ advancing on entrenched enemy fortifications and setting free the prisoners—precious people loved by our God. The Church of God is on the attack! Empowered by our God, we are not deterred by the seemingly impregnable walls and the size and power of the enemy. The Lord will break down the fortifications of sin and every form of deception. Every knee shall bow to our God! Our opposition is the strongholds of the mind, and different philosophies of thought set up by our enemy by teachings we have received in our own country and family that have taken residence in our thought patterns. We were oblivious to the destructive capability against our souls when we received them.
Where are these strongholds? In 1970, cartoonist Walt Kelly famously made a poster with the slogan, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” If we are unaware of the battle in the area of our mind, we will find it difficult to stand against our enemy. Be careful of your thought life. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). Your heart, a picture of the central core of your inner life, your spirit, is guarded by your mind. Be careful of the images Satan would like to sow into the good soil of your heart. Take captive every thought that arises in opposition to the truth of God’s Word.
Does that mean we should never fight with guns and bullets against evil men that rise to destroy us? Should we only pray? If freedom-loving people had never resisted Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, demonic evil forces would have gained control over nations, taken away our religious freedoms, and sought to end the worship of God in every part of the world. The Church is called to intercessory prayer to overcome the spiritual forces that oppose the preaching of the Gospel to every creature. In any battle with an enemy, one should always seek to know his enemy. Knowing the enemy's plans and schemes will help us to overcome him. Keith Thomas