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.”
Sun Tzu – The Art of War
Wise words. Yes? 2,500 years ago Sun Tzu wrote this classic book of military strategy based on Chinese warfare. Since then, Sun Tzu’s reflections have informed, at least in part, almost every military in the world.
Why? Well, wisdom is wisdom. And wisdom is proven to be wisdom when it stands the test of time. The Art of War has stood the test of time.
I, personally, can not be reminded enough that, “we live in a world at war.” In 2019 it is just easy to look at what appears to be natural cause and effect, pointing to people, or policies, that seem to make our world less than what God intends. For sure, they are the means, but we must remember there is something behind those means. There is an enemy who has come to kill, steal, and destroy. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6:12)
And, I find it easier to remember the Enemy is working out there somewhere, through powers and principalities, disrupting nations and people groups, than to remember the Enemy is also working on me and on you. And, I think that is part of the Enemy’s plan…to have us forget about him. He can plunder without us being aware.
I recently went to the Zoweh Ministries Allies Weekend in Rutherfordton, NC. Michael Thompson offered 4 categories, or strategies, the Enemy uses to get us off track, to keep our glory bound up. I love categories because I can remember them when it counts. They become like an interpretive grid. I want to take a few moments to share and interact with the 4 categories Michael presented to us:
The Enemy loves to distance us from the things in our hearts. See, there is something God put in each of our hearts, uniquely, that if allowed to access, we would experience more life to the full. We would radiate more of God’s glory, and, it would have a huge impact on the world around us. It is about your unique glory, the desires of your heart, the things that bring you true life, and being fully present in Christ.
So, when I take a personal inventory, I can see where the Enemy likes to use distance:
Time: In cooperation with the world, he would seek to have me so busy that I would conclude I have no time to do what really matters. The lie he presents is something like, “When you get caught up there, then you can pursue the things that bring you joy.”
Finances: Closely related, the lie suggests that to do something like go on retreat, go camping, go on a motorcycle trip, go on a fishing trip…anything that would connect to the things I love and create an environment more conducive to hearing God, would be a waste of money.
Relationships: Very much like time and money, the Enemy would love to convince me that I do not have the bandwidth or the energy to go deeper with another person. In effort to be efficient and not fall further behind, justification to keep relationships on the surface comes easily.
God: The three above describe what I would call “living with blinders on.” I can get so caught up in just getting through the day, relating with God becomes a religious function, rather than the source of my life and strength.
When I think about how the Enemy would use diminishment, I can also name a few places where I can see this strategy playing out:
Who wouldn’t say that all that I listed in distance above need not take us out? I know they are lies, but boy, they can seem like reality. Sometimes the Enemy will use that awareness to diminish, “See, you really lack power, focus, and priorities in what’s important. You are a failure.” Then, guilt and shame can set in.
Other ways would include where the Enemy is quick to use anything such as another person’s words or looks, our own thoughts, or his whisper, to condemn. Wherever something can be distorted to provide proof that we are missing the mark, the Enemy will seize the opportunity. These are the places we make agreements with false interpretations that begin to guide our life. Much damage is caused here.
When diminishment is left untreated, resentment settles in. Believing ourselves less than, we start to compare ourselves to others. This too is part of the Enemy’s plan. For example, we can start tearing others down to feel better about ourselves. We can start gossiping and slandering. We can separate ourselves from the people and places we need the most.. I see disdain as something that may look like it is directed outward, but is really directed inward and toward God. It further distances us from our True Selves, God, and others.
For sure, disqualification can be a consequence of distance, diminishment, and disdain, but it can also stand alone. And, I think it is intimately related to the agreements we make with the Enemy about who he says we are, rather than who God says we are.
It is easy to feel disqualified when we view ourselves as failures, unforgiven, hypocrites, less than, lacking, incompetent, overlooked, unimportant to God or others, or “not yet there”.
Living in disqualification will cause us not to take risks, bury the desires of our hearts, and shrink back from the unique and crucial glory God has given each of us.
Know Your Enemy
There are many strategies of the Enemy, but these 4 categories cover a lot of them. They are helpful for knowing our Enemy in ways that we can better enter the battle. If we know his strategy, we can play better offense. We can head him off at the pass, anticipate his moves, and not be caught by surprise near as often.