"The only way to DEFEAT your enemy is to first KNOW your enemy."
We may not always realize it, but every day we wake up to a war – one that’s been going since the day we were born and will continue until the day we die. It’s not a war fought with guns and other physical weapons; this war is much more deadly and there’s much more at stake…your soul!
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary THE DEVIL walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Adversary…devil…roaring lion…devour! YIKES!!!
I know this may not seem like the most pleasant topic for a Wednesday morning discussion around the water cooler, but it’s certainly a necessary one. You can’t defeat an enemy that you do not know. Logic says that the more I understand my enemy, the more my chances for victory increase.
So with that said, here’s the question for today: what is the devil’s goal? And how does he seek to accomplish that goal? What are his weapons? What tactics does he employ? What is he trying to achieve?
For the long term, that answer is easy...DESTRUCTION. He wants to destroy your life – both on this earth and in eternity to come. He wants to utterly ruin your existence and make you more miserable every single day – leading up to eternal misery in hell.
But how does he accomplish that? What are his short term goals? What is he throwing at you today to get you one step closer to that goal?
Is he trying to make us fall into immoral behavior? To lie, steal, cheat, and curse? Is that it? Or maybe he wants to get us all hooked on drugs, alcohol or pornography? Is that it? Or how about anger and hate? Maybe his goal is to ruin our relationships and get us all fighting with one another? Is that his strategy?
While there’s no doubt that the devil likes us to commit sin and behave immorally, that certainly isn’t his end goal. That’s just a step along the way. He’s got his eyes set much higher.
Falling into sin is bad; but it is easily fixable (see 1 John 1:9). If we lie, we confess and He forgives us. If we steal, we repent and return the item and He restores us. If we find ourselves addicted, we seek treatment (spiritual and physical) and God heals.
Immoral behavior doesn’t destroy us. It may slow us down for a little or it may sidetrack us for a season, but in the end, our God is much bigger than any sin – as St. Paul said “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” (Romans 5:20).
So if sin isn’t the devil’s goal, then what is?
Go to Matthew 4 – the account of Jesus being tempted in the wilderness after His baptism. It says:
“Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” Matthew 4:3
We usually look at this temptation and think of it only in terms of physical hunger – Jesus was hungry and the devil tempted Him to eat. But clearly the issue here is much greater than food. If this was about just getting Jesus to eat, then don’t you think the devil would have been better prepared? Maybe with an Egg McMuffin in one hand and box of Krispy Kreme donuts in the other?
Notice how the devil began his temptation, “IF You are the Son of God…” This wasn’t about food; this was about identity. He wasn’t just trying to get Jesus to eat; he was trying to get Jesus to question His relationship with the Father. Maybe you’ve heard something similar before:
“If God really was your Father, then why would He leave you like this?”
“If God really knew what was best, then why are you still suffering after you obeyed?”
“If God really loved you, then where is He now?”
You’ve heard it before haven’t you? I certainly have. Go all the way back to Adam and Eve and you’ll see that that was the same temptation that the devil threw at them. After God gave them everything they needed and told them that they can live forever with Him as long as they avoid eating from one tree, the tempter came and said:
"Has God INDEED said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)
In other words, did God REALLY mean that? Are you sure He’s got your best interest at heart? How do you know? What makes you so sure you can trust Him?
Getting you to commit a sin is a short term victory for the devil; but the solution there is very simple if we just turn to the LORD and repent. But for long term success, the devil knows that he needs to do more; he needs to get you to lose faith in God…to stop trusting in God’s Word and His commandments and His laws. That is exactly what he did to Adam and Eve and it worked like a charm. He got them to second guess God’s Law and that was it for them.
Devil wins, man loses.
Jesus, on the other hand, showed how this war is supposed to be fought. He responded to Satan’s attempt by reaffirming His allegiance to God’s Law.
“It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
Now that’s how you do it!
Trusting in God’s Law is the key to success in every area of life.
The one who trusts God’s Law will be blessed; the one who doesn’t will always struggle – not because God is mean and just wants us to obey for the sake of obeying, but rather because God is CORRECT! He knows the path of life and He is kind enough to share it with us in form of laws/commandments.
Just as a mother knows the danger of fire and therefore demonstrates her love by forbidding her children to play with matches. The rule isn’t given for the sake of having rules; the rule is given as a manifestation of her love. If the child trusts his mom, he will be safe. If he doesn’t, he’s in trouble.
King David says it this way in Psalm 1:2-3:
“Blessed is the man…[whose] delight is in the law of the Lord,And in His law he meditates day and night.He shall be like a treePlanted by the rivers of water,That brings forth its fruit in its season,Whose leaf also shall not wither;And whatever he does shall prosper.”
For discussion: have you ever doubted one of God’s commandments/laws and then later realized you were wrong?