Recognizing the Enemy

We have an enemy. The sooner we realize that the sooner we can move forward with on-target, effective prayer.

Our enemy is not our neighbor, not our mother-in-law, our boss, or even our spouse. In fact, our enemy is not a person at all. Scripture clearly identifies our enemy as Satan. The devil, the prince of this world, the accuser. He’s also called Beelzebul (derived from Baal-Zebub, lord of the fly). The enemy is described as a wolf, a roaring lion, and the great dragon (serpent of old). (Find the Scripture references here.)

He’s clever. Convincing. His subtle words often sound like our own thoughts. So how do we discern when we’re dealing with the enemy of our souls?

You may have heard this analogy many times, but I’ll share it again. When a banker learns to identify counterfeit money, she doesn’t study the counterfeit. She studies the real thing. She becomes so familiar with the look, feel, weight, even the smell of real U.S. currency that she can spot a fake a mile off.

In similar fashion, we learn to recognize our deceptive enemy. We study the truth of God, learning His ways, the weightiness of His presence, His character, even His voice. Our learning comes through the Word of God and through our time in prayer, both of which help us gain intimate knowledge of God, thereby easily recognizing the enemy so that we can resist him.

Do Not Fear the Enemy

Scripture gives ample attention to our enemy and yet we often live as if he does not exist. That’s a mistake.

While it’s important to acknowledge that we have an enemy, it’s even more important to acknowledge that in Christ, we are on the winning side. Scripture confirms that Satan is already thrown down. Through the work of the cross, he is already a defeated foe.

The enemy comes hard after God’s people because he hates anyone who follows Christ. I see it daily. Each time I have personally stepped deeper into ministry or made deliberate attempts to draw closer to God, the enemy has reared his ugly head. Without fail.

Sometimes I recognize him right away, but other times, his attempts are subtle and hard to discern. I’m grateful for the support of family and friends who often spot his wickedness before I do and call attention to his ways. Very often it’s in the instant I identify the source of trouble that the enemy flees.

By making a choice to deepen your prayer life, to seek God’s guidance on how to pray, you are intentionally drawing close to the Lord. I don’t want you surprised when the lion prowls around you, lifting his head to roar.

Decide now that you will not succumb to fear. Instead, raise your level of awareness and stand firm. As children of God, the enemy cannot destroy us when we exercise the power and authority that Christ has already bestowed upon His children.

How the Enemy Fights

Satan’s primary weapon is his mouth.

We all know how injurious words can be and so does our enemy. Sometimes he whispers. Sometimes he shouts. But he consistently uses words to . . .

  • deceive us from the truth,
  • distract us by causing conflict and strife with those around us,
  • make us doubt our identity in Christ,
  • discourage and confuse us

Take a minute to read Matthew 4:1-11 and the account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. That temptation came through Satan who used nothing more than words as a weapon. Also, pay attention to the way Christ resisted. He used the Word of God to fight back. (We’ll cover this point more in the coming weeks).

As we enter into this season of developing our prayer lives, I want you to be aware. The enemy will not like what you’re doing and may very well come after you with his favorite weapon: lies.

Please hear me. Do not be afraid. Do not let him dissuade you from walking in God’s ways. Please, do not let him win. Remember that Christ has already won. The Lord is on your side and battles for you. Your role is to recognize and resist the schemes of our accuser.

This enemy’s modus operandi is to tell us lies until we agree with him. He’s one to convince rather than inspire. He’s patient and persistent and will try to make us crack. When we resist, however, we win. One day, one battle, one assault at a time.

Examples of the Schemes of the Enemy . . .

With Your Spouse

When your spouse disagrees with you about something, that’s the perfect opportunity for the enemy of our souls to move in and magnify the strife. His aim is always division to try to keep us distracted from God’s ways. He wants us operating in the flesh, not in the Spirit. It’s the enemy who whispers, “your spouse thinks you’re stupid.”  He’s laying bricks for a wall of division in your marriage.

It’s a lie.

Don’t fall for it.

Your spouse does not think you’re stupid, but if the enemy can convince you that he does, he’s won a sizeable battle that will carry forward through every disagreement you have in the future.

With Your Best Friend

When she stands you up for yet another coffee date, it’s the enemy who whispers, “She’s not a true friend. She’s unreliable and can’t be trusted.” He’s fueling disunity in your friendship.

It’s a lie.

Don’t fall for it.

With Your Schedule

When you have flare-ups in your schedule and you feel like you’re behind on your to-do list, the enemy steps in and says, “You can miss Bible study this one time. What difference will it make?” He’s distracting you from learning more of God’s ways.

It’s a lie.

Don’t fall for it.

At Work

When your boss is quick to tell you everything you do wrong and very little about what you do right, it’s the enemy who whispers, “You’re awful at your job.” You start to lose sight of who you are in Christ and the strength and ability He provides.

It’s a lie.

Don’t fall for it.

With Fear and Anxiety

When you watch the news, it’s the enemy who whispers, “Be afraid. There’s no one to protect you.” Anxiety and fear begin to consume your mind. He’s deceiving you into taking your eyes off of your protector and Savior.

It’s a lie.

Don’t fall for it.

 

Here’s an incredible truth:

“When we believe a lie, we empower the liar.” ~ Bill Johnson

Since we don’t want to empower our enemy, we must keep our eyes firmly fixed on the truth.

James 4:7 promises that if we resist the enemy, he will flee.  That’s what I’m after – putting the enemy on his heels and causing him to run away.

We accomplish this by

  • acknowledging (“These thoughts don’t agree with the Lord,”)
  • recognizing (“Is that you, Satan?”), and then
  • deliberately ignoring him (“I will not believe your lies and will no longer listen”).

 

 

How to Battle the Enemy

The best way to battle a spiritual enemy is with spiritual weapons. Much of our discovery about prayer will pertain to spiritual weapons as identified in the Bible. Using them is called spiritual warfare and we’re going to touch on only the most basic concepts of this type of battle.

Please take a moment to read Ephesians 6:12-20 here.

The spiritual armor that the Apostle Paul describes in this passage is all invisible. It bears a strong resemblance to the armor of a Roman soldier, but each piece is unseen. The helmet of salvation is an unseen kind of helmet that protects our thought life through our trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. Our breastplate of righteousness offers protection of our heart through upright and moral living per the ways of the Lord. The shield of faith – in my opinion, this is the essential piece of armor. When we use it correctly, our other pieces of armor are rarely hit (I wrote more detail in Finding Joy in the Journey.) The sword of the Spirit is our only offensive weapon and is defined in Scripture as the Word of God.

I hope you are starting to get the picture and can now envision a belt of truth and feet shod with the readiness of the Gospel of peace. We are to put on the armor of God every day. To walk in it and use it as protection against the one who wishes to devour us and devastate our efforts to deepen our relationship with Jesus.

It boils down to this. When we walk with Christ, victory over the enemy is ours. He’s already given us all we need to gear up for battle. In His strength, we choose to ignore the whispers of the enemy. When the prince of this world comes after us to

  • discourage,
  • tell us we can’t,
  • divide our relationships,
  • fuel our fears, or
  • keep us in a state of confusion,

we say, “No. Not this time. I am a child of God and you have no effect on me.”

 

Congratulations. You’ve resisted. He will flee, and you’ve won a mighty battle. Now, persevere in recognizing and perceiving his ways. They have no power over you, my friend.

Be Strengthened Today, By His Word,

 

 

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