How To Know Your Enemy

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The Reality of Spiritual Warfare

I recently came across the following story:

True story. A Christian leader — we’ll call him Steve –as traveling recently by plane. He noticed that the man sitting two seats over was thumbing through some little cards and moving his lips. The man looked professorial with his goatee and graying brown hair, and Steve placed him at fifty-something. Guessing the man was a fellow-believer, Steve leaned over to engage him in conversation. “Looks to me like you’re memorizing something,” he said. “No, actually I was praying,” the man said. Steve introduced himself. “I believe in prayer too,” he said. “Well, I have a specific assignment,” said the man with the goatee. “What’s that?” Steve asked. “I’m praying for the downfall of Christian pastors.” “I would certainly fit into that category,” Steve said. “Is my name on the list?” “Not on my list,” the man replied.1

We have an enemy who is not looking to bring down Christian pastors alone. He is looking for any Christian who has a spot of vulnerability in their lives (1 Peter 5:8). The only defense we have against our enemy, Satan, is to put on the whole armor of God.

The Provision of God

Put On

The first part of Ephesians 6:11 is a command to “put on”. In other words, you are to apply the armor that God has supplied to you. Armor is not effective just to possess it. It must be put on if the soldier is going to make the best use of it in battle.

The Whole Armor of God

The good news is that the armor that God supplies is full and complete. It includes both defensive armor and offensive weapons. So, when you put on the armor, you can be confident that you have everything you need to successful in battling the enemy!

The Ploy of Satan

The second part of Ephesians 6:11 tells you why you need to put on the armor of God. It is for the purpose of standing against the schemes of the devil. In other words, you need to know and understand how the devil works. The good news is that his schemes have not changed. So, we can learn something about him by looking at how he dealt with Adam and Eve int he Garden of Eden. As you consider the following, you need to note that his number one weapon is deception. With this in mind the following is a summary of His schemes:

  1. He disguises himself. The devil came to Eve in the Garden of Eden as a snake (Genesis 3:1). Paul confirms this in the New Testament when he taught that the devil transforms himself into an angle of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
  2. He questions the Word of God. his conversation with Eve began with a question that questioned the word of God (Genesis 3:1). It is important to note here that it is not wrong to bring questions to the Word of god. But, it is absolutely wrong to question the authority of God’s Word.
  3. He denies the Word of God. he convinced Eve that she would not die if she did eat of the fruit. In doing so, he outright denied the Word of God (Genesis 3:4).
  4. He substitutes his own lie for the Word of God. If Eve was not gong to die, then the devil had to give her an alternative. So, he substituted his own lie for God’s word. He deceived her into thinking that she would be like God (Genesis 3:5).

The Path of Deception

Now that you have an understanding of how the devil deceives people, you also must be aware of how this comes to be in your life. There are three words that you must remember, looking, lusting and living. Consider the following:

  1. Looking is the hook that grabs your attention. At first it might be a casual look, but in the casual look something catches your attention. It might be the attractiveness of another person, it might be the giga-bytes of the electronic device, it might be the style of the clothes, it might be the promise of a better future. The possibilities are endless. However, it is not the first casual look that is the problem. It is a repetition and continual look that brings about the problem.
  2. Lusting occurs when there is a repeated cycle of looking. The longer you look at something, the greater the probability of lust being developed. James wise in telling us, “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” 2 The desire that James speaks of is lust.
  3. Living Lusting puts a person on a path to living in the fulfillment of your lust.

Biblical Examples

The table below lists three examples from the Old Testament of this pattern of looking, lusting, and living. The scripture quotations may not explicitly illustrate each of the steps. It may be implied. However, if you read the full passage listed, you can see the same pattern developed through the record.

Person Bible Reference Looking Lusting Living
Eve Genesis 3:1-7 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise she took of its fruit and ate
Lot Genesis 13:1-14:16 while Lot settled among the cities of the valley and moved his tent as far as Sodom. Now the men of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the LORD. They also took Lot, the son of Abram’s brother, who was dwelling in Sodom
David 2 Samuel 11:1-27 that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. and she came to him, and he lay with her.

Helpful Resources


  1. Originally published in Common Ground, Vol. 10 no. 7. Downloaded from http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/s/spiritual_warfare.htm 
  2. James 1:15, (ESV).