Know Thy Enemy: The Tactics of Satan

October 10, 2019 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement


Paul’s words, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood,” are well known among Christians, but do we truly live mindfully of spiritual warfare? It is far too easy to allow our sight and physical realities to command our attention. The call of Scripture, however, is to be battle ready for spiritual warfare. Through this multi-week series, we will consider what Scripture teaches about this spiritual struggle. This is part two. 

“Know thy enemy,” wrote military strategist Sun Tzu in the 5th century BC. In our spiritual wrestling with the “spiritual forces of evil” (Eph. 6:12), we would be wise to know our enemy. Last week we looked to Scripture for the origin of Satan. Revelation 12 speaks about a spiritual struggle in heaven between Satan, with his angels, against Michael, with his angels. Satan and his angels are defeated and “thrown down to the earth” (Rev. 12:9). Allegorical interpretations of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 have provided further insight into the origin of Satan, created as a beautiful angel, fallen from God’s grace due to his pride. 

While the specifics of Satan’s origin story are not clear in Scripture, his mission and tactics are clear. Returning to Revelation 12, we hear what Satan does. “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (12:17). In this metaphorical depiction of the spiritual warfare between God and Satan, the “dragon” has been identified as the devil (cf. v. 9). The “woman” represents Eve, Abraham, and the family of Israel, from whom Christ comes. Verse 17 identifies directly who the woman’s offspring are: “those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” This is the church of Jesus Christ. 

Satan’s mission is “to make war on” the church. He is furious with his defeat and God’s victory (at the cross; more on that next week). He desires to destroy God’s new creation, a redeemed people. His primary tactic is to attack the faith of Christians, to erode their trust, enjoyment, and confidence in the Lord. We see this played out in several ways in Scripture. 

  1. Satan accuses, seeking to undermine our confidence of forgiveness in Christ. See Zechariah 3:1-5.
  2. Satan deceives, seeking to cloud our vision of what is “good and acceptable and perfect.” See Genesis 3:1-6 and John 8:44.
  3. Satan tempts, seeking to displace God in our hearts with lesser pleasures. See 1 Thessalonians 3:5 and 1 Timothy 4:13-15.
  4. Satan afflicts with physical assaults, seeking to engulf our souls with despair of life. See Job 1 & 2 and 2 Corinthians 12:7.
  5. Satan watches for our weaknesses, seeking to gain an opportunity for further stumbling. See Luke 4:13 and Ephesians 4:26-27.
  6. Satan snatches God’s word, seeking to hinder our reception of grace. See Matthew 13:19. 

This is merely a sampling of what we find in Scripture. The reality is that Satan is a formidable foe, who seeks destroy your faith in Christ. As Peter warns, “Be sober minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). 

The Good News, however, is that Satan is already defeated. Christ’s victory is the sure hope of our strength against Satan. To this victory we look next week.




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