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With Whom Is the Church Fighting?

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 take a closer look at Satan and the demonic forces against which the Church is waging war. We need to know who the enemy is and his schemes if we are to succeed in the fight against him. In the book The Art of War, written by Sun Tzu, he 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. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle."[1] If that is true of earthly wars, even more so is it true of the spiritual fight in which every Christian is involved.

There are very real unseen enemies and a war in which we are engaged, whether we realize it or not. The Lord has not left us unequipped for this battle. He has given us all that we need to take our place in the fight and be victorious against our foe. As Christians, we 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.

3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 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. These weapons are not guns and bombs, and they are not weapons of the world. We cannot fight a spiritual war 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, saw the Christian as 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 at the seemingly impregnable walls and the size and power of the enemy. The fortifications of sin and deception will be broken down. Every knee shall bow to our God! We should not think that these strongholds of the mind, different philosophies of thought set up by our enemy in distant lands, are our only opposition. In our own country, in our own family, and even in our own minds, there are fortifications set up by teachings we have received. At the time we received them, we were oblivious to the destructive capability against our soul.

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 that 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 church's forward movement to preach 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

This meditation is a shortened version of the more in-depth study: Know Your Enemy.



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