By Shawn McMullen
Imagine leading an army into battle against a powerful enemy—an enemy you could never overcome. Even as you face certain defeat, your deepest desire is to impede your opponent’s progress as forcefully as you can for as long as you can.
We’ve just described the purpose and work of Satan in the world. From the moment he set himself up against God and was cast out of Heaven the devil has been hard at work, relentlessly attempting to disrupt God’s plan for humankind. Although the resurrection dealt him a crushing blow from which he will never recover, Satan continues to oppose God’s plan with all his remaining strength.
He’s a formidable adversary. Known as “the tempter” (Matthew 4:3), “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44), “the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16), “your enemy” (1 Peter 5:8), the one who “leads the whole world astray” (Revelation 12:9), and “the accuser” (v. 10), Satan doesn’t play by the rules. He’s sneaky, underhanded, and ruthless. His millennia of experience make him a master of deception.
In his attempt to draw us away from God, he finds ways to conquer us before we realize we’ve been engaged in battle. The apostle Paul understood this and wrote, “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes” (Ephesians 6:11), adding, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (v. 12).
It bears repeating. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood. You have to give the devil credit for implementing an ingenious plan here. As he draws nearer and nearer to Judgment Day, intent on shipwrecking as many of God’s children as he can, he’s devised a scheme to make it appear as if we’re doing battle exclusively with the people around us, when all the while we’re unwittingly doing battle with him.
Whenever we fight with family, quarrel with a coworker, chastise a church member, or contend with our own conscience, Satan wants us to see only one dimension of the struggle—what takes place in the physical realm. He doesn’t want us to realize that as we face conflict in the physical realm, we are also struggling with the forces of darkness in the spiritual realm.
As long as we’re unaware that a spiritual battle rages behind every earthly battle we face, Satan’s forces have the upper hand in the struggle. Like guerilla soldiers they remain out of sight, attacking from behind cover.
But once we become aware of his tactics we can put on the full armor of God and be prepared to face every assault, knowing both our enemy and the direction from which he is attacking.
Paul summarized the end result of this battle plan in verse 13: “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”
And as you know, the last one standing, wins.