Winning the Unseen War – Part Three – Know Thy Enemy

Enemy Number One – Sin

“Sin is crouching at your door.  Its desire is for you.  You must master it.” These were God’s words to Cain, but Cain failed to heed the warning.  As a result, Cain killed his brother, Able, because Able brought a better offering to God.  His out of control jealousy led to the sin of murder.  Sin is moral insanity, and it lives in you. Sin doesn’t pack its bag and move out when you get saved.  Oh no.  It’s in there, feet propped up on the coffee table just waiting for the right time to pounce.  Yes.  The monster inside.  We don’t like to think of ourselves as bad, but we are. By nature, we are selfish and sinful.  How do I know?  Look at any child.  You have to teach the child to tell the truth and to share. The natural state of a child is to lie and hoard all of the toys.  One of the first words a child learns to say is “mine.”  Sin is in us.  It’s in all of us.

Satan Arousing The Rebel Angels – William Blake, 1808

Enemy Number Two – Satan

When I first became a Christian, there were no warning signs or disclaimers attached.  No one said to me, “Watch out!  You have an enemy hell-bent on destroying your new life in Christ. Welcome to the family. Here’s a survival guide.”  There was no talk of the devil or demons or spiritual warfare.  If there was, I missed it.  Or perhaps I thought that now that I was a Christian, the battle was over. God’s people won.  I am saved.  Oh, the naivete!  Oh, if only someone had told me what the word of God says!  The truth that is so blatant in Peter’s letter – YOU HAVE AN ENEMY THAT PROWLS AROUND LIKE A LION.  HE WANTS TO DESTROY YOU.  He doesn’t want to make you cuss a little or be a bit bad.  He wants to destroy you. Lions eat people.  People die.  You don’t walk away with a bandage after tussling with a lion.  You are forever damaged or worse, dead.

The truth is you don’t hear about any of this in the church today.  Who talks about demons or demonic warfare?  No one.  Just because something isn’t popular doesn’t mean it ceases to exists.  Nineteenth-century poet, Charles Baudelaire mused, “The devil’s finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist.” Jesus was continually casting out demons and in the synagogues of all places.   It’s true that Jesus came to earth so that we, his followers, might have life and have it abundantly.   In the same sentence, Jesus warns us that the enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy.  Two antithetical plans for my life:  One of destruction; One of abundance.  For Christians who come to faith later in life as I did, it can be quite a shock to know that the Christian life is not necessarily the comfortable life. The offer of salvation is fantastic.  Accepting Jesus Christ as your Savoir, receiving forgiveness of sin, placed in a right relationship with God, and inheriting eternal life is the best gift to receive.  Knowing that God loves me and wants to have a relationship with me is fantastic news.  Who wouldn’t want to live in eternity with God?  Who would forgo this wonderful gift?  This good news changed my eternity, but it did not prepare me for the rest of my life on earth.   No one focuses on the first part of that sentence – the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy.  Both Peter and Jesus are talking to people that believe in and walk with God – not the unsaved, not the unbelievers.  People who believe and know that Jesus is the Son of God. 

Satan Exulting Over Eve – William Blake, 1795

The enemy uses many tools, strategies, and weapons to keep all people living in the natural realm. Sin, religion, self-righteousness, morality, pride, shame, and lust to name a few. The list is long and not always visible. The enemy is a master in deceit and subtlety. For the unsaved, the natural man, the enemy wants to keep that person from becoming saved and right with God. Humanity is born into the natural realm with the awareness that something is missing in life: an emptiness, a void, a longing that needs to be filled. The Bible says that God has set eternity in the human heart (soul) which is a longing for Him, an internal honing device. St. Augustine called it a God-shaped hole. The natural man, unknowingly, does a lot of things to try and fill that God-shaped hole with anything and everything to quiet this restlessness in his soul and to satisfy this longing. The enemy is skilled at keeping the natural man at pursuing all the wrong things to quail this longing and quiet the soul’s yearning. The only thing that can satisfy this eternal longing is a relationship with God. The British author and professor, C.S. Lewis said, “God cannot give us happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing.” The natural man must be born again. He must be spiritually born for this longing to stop. For the saved, the spiritual man, the devil wants to keep that person from being spiritual. People who walk in the spirit are strong and are a significant influence in the physical, natural world for God and His kingdom. The devil doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want people to get saved, and he doesn’t want the saved people to act saved. He wants us carnal. He wants us under his control. He wants us under the control of the fleshly appetite so he can keep us ineffective and weak. The church shrinks. Carnality shames the name of Jesus Christ. People look at weak Christians and say God’s not real. They’re no different from me. Carnal Christians are the devil’s best tool to strip Christianity of its power and effect in this world.

The Temptation and Fall of Eve – William Blake, 1808

So, if you’ve never heard this before, let me tell you now – You are in a battle.  Everyone you know is in a battle.  What’s unseen is more real than what you see with your eyes.  The spiritual world is real.  John Milton says it so plainly, and yet many of us have never considered, “Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth unseen, both when we sleep and when we awake.”  The battle is fierce, and it doesn’t end until you reach eternity. The world we live in is hostile.  C. S. Lewis wrote, “There is no neutral ground in the universe:  every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”  The sacred and the secular are more intertwined than we allow ourselves to recognize – in our churches and even in ourselves.  Nearly six hundred years ago, Thomas ἁ Kempis reminded us “The devil does not sleep, nor is the flesh yet dead; therefore, you must never cease your preparation for battle, because on the right and the left are enemies who never rest.”  

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