You can rest assured that the enemy, Satan and his demons, know you. They know your habits, your weaknesses, and your strengths. This is why Scripture teaches us to be vigilant at all times.
Being in ministry, I know first hand the price pastors and missionaries often have to pay to be effective. When they threaten the enemy’s domain the enemy strikes back fast and hard. Spiritual warfare is hard. It is real and sometimes deadly. Some succumb and give up or have their testimonies neutralized. But God is faithful when we, having done all, stand (Ephesians 6:13).
I won’t take the time now but I could share with you stories you might not even believe concerning the attacks that I have suffered over the years. Preaching the Gospel, being a Christian carries a price. So, we must know our enemies.
1. Gen. George Patton knew the importance of studying his enemies. He would read the books published by enemy commanders. This offered great advantage on the battlefield.
2. Sun Tsu said: 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.
Let’s spend the next few minutes looking a little closer at the three enemies that are always in wait for our attention and loyalty.
Our first enemy is the world. What is the world in the biblical sense? We are certainly not referring to the planet, but rather the world system.
I John 2:15-17 puts it this way; "Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever."
Scripture is clear about split loyalty. We cannot love God and mammon. We cannot serve two masters. We cannot love the world and have the love of God in us.
The world with its lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life become an idol if we put our spiritual focus there. It is so easy to succumb.
It is possible to be in the world but not of it. The world system is our enemy. It will absorb our loyalties and diminish our commitment to God and His Kingdom. Paul broaches this in I Cor. 5:9-10, when he instructs: "I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters; for then you would have to go out of the world."
The lure of the world is very tempting because we feel we must “keep up with the Joneses.” We must have three televisions and at least two cars, maybe even two homes. We, maybe unconsciously, buy into the idea that he who dies with the most toys wins but really the opposite is generally true.
This is not to say that things are bad or that financial success is evil. It is all about where we put our trust and loyalty. The world cannot and will not save us. Money cannot save us. Our station in life can be altered in a moment’s time.
Remember how the devil tempted Jesus: In Matthew 4:8-10, "Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to Him, "All these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me." Then Jesus said to him, "Begone, Satan! For it is written, `You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only."'
To overcome this enemy, we can go back to the basic spiritual principle found in Mathew 6:33. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you." And John further encourages us in 1 John 5:4, "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world our faith."
We will finish up next week in Part III when we will look at our enemies, the flesh and the devil.