A Handbook of Enemy Strategies

Written by John Piper

A wartime mindset must include shrewd knowledge of enemy tactics: , “Take no part in unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Christianity stands or falls with the reality of Satan and demons. Why? Because Jesus spent his whole ministry fighting them. If they are not real he is reduced to a comic figure.

What is Satan’s aim and his strategies?

He is the Father of lies.
His nature is falsehood! He only speaks the truth in order to deceive.

Therefore, his chief enemy is truth – he opposes God’s word.

He casts doubt on God’s goodness.
He destroys the obedience of faith.

He hinders missions strategy.
He opposes the truth reaching and converting people.

He distorts and prevents effective Gospel ministry.

He avoids inner need by removing external trouble.

He uses the fear of death to hold men in bondage.
The fear of death doesn’t lead them to God because it leads them to get as many kicks here as possible.

He causes people to stumble over bad Christian attitudes.

He blinds the minds of unbelievers.

He exploits a lack of understanding.

He suggests ways that don’t involve suffering. ;

He imitates religious roles. ; Mt.13:28,30;

He misuses Scripture.

He imitates signs and wonders. ;

He offers exotic occult alternatives.

He attacks faith. ;

He brings persecution. ; ;

He brings sickness. ; .

He causes dissension over doctrine and causes rifts.

He tempts saints with sexual allurements. ;

He takes advantage of unresolved anger. ;

He promotes pride.

We began with liar and end with pride. Connection: the truth is that God is God and we are not. It is humbling. The only way to rebel against the lowliness of creaturehood is to be a liar. Therefore humility under God is the great devil resistance ().


By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

18 because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us.

But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him

12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.

15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, 25 correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path.

23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders,

22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

19 “‘I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first. 20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. 21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. 22 Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, 23 and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works. 24 But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.

For this reason, when I could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith, for fear that somehow the tempter had tempted you and our labor would be in vain.

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

“‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,

11 But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”

Job 2:5

But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.”

16 And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. 19 For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

15 For some have already strayed after Satan.

11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

27 and give no opportunity to the devil.

He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

5 thoughts on “A Handbook of Enemy Strategies”

  1. Don,
    John Piper makes a very valid point for our time.

    If we took a straw poll of believers, I very much doubt if the aspect of our spiritual warfare would be at the forefront of thinking and living. We wonder why our relatives and friends and colleagues and neighbours are unconverted. It is not that the message of the gospel which we have needs brightening up in some way, but that Satan has blinded the eyes of unbelievers to the glory of the gospel of Christ (2 Cor 4:4). This can only be addressed by prayer, and why prayer is so very important in the life of the believer and the church.

    When I first read this excellent piece from JP, the question arose in my mind: ‘am I absent without leave’?

    If the Lords servants are engaged in conflict (Eph 6:12), then how can it be that my life is so easy?

    If Paul felt the heat of the conflict (2 Cor 10) why don’t I?

    If Paul commends the armour of God to the Lords people (Eph 6:10-20) because we wrestle against the present darkness and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, why is it that I read very very little from Christians on this subject, and hear so little preached on this subject.

    What Paul writes seems surreal in this present time. Paul seems to be travelling a very narrow road where he cannot avoid being buffeted by these things.

    So was Paul paranoid and extreme, or am I living in denial, awol, and living for the comfort of myself and my own. The world that I inhabit seems to be much broader than Paul’s. I can avoid conflict and hardship…… but perhaps this is what the Lord Jesus described as the ‘easy way’. Matt 7:13

    I love Piper’s faithfulness.

    SDG

  2. Thanks for your observations, SDG.

    I note your concern about our lives being “easy”. Could this be one of “the schemes of the devil”? (Eph 6:11) One suspects that there is nothing Satan loves more than for Christians to be lulled into believing that they are not in a spiritual battle.

    As you so rightly point out, “this can only be addressed by prayer, and why prayer is so very important in the life of the believer and the church”. (Eph 6:18)

  3. Like you Don, I am so grateful for all the good things that the Lord has given to me. I rejoice in the love, happiness, peace and stability I enjoy in such abundance…… but then I read Paul’s words to the church at Colossae:

    I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is the church….

    I wonder what sufferings they were? For sure they were similar to those of the Lord Jesus. Spiritual opposition, opposition from unbelievers, persecution (Matt 5:11), discouragement. And Paul says he REJOICES in this suffering! There is a reward in an easy life, of course, but The Lord says there is GREAT REWARD in a life of suffering to be faithful to the Lord.

    For me, decisions used to be easy. What will I enjoy most? What will bring greatest happiness and satisfaction? But that is an empty and wasteful way to live. Now my eye is on the Lord’s glory,and I do find it helpful also to consider Paul’s life. Just because we can choose something,it doesn’t mean that we should. It is a deceit of the enemy of our souls that we should automatically take the easiest and best decision for self. We are not our own, we are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in our body…..1Cor6:20

  4. SDG WROTE: “Just because we can choose something, it doesn’t mean that we should.”

    I think this is a profound statement. The truth of which it speaks is something that is often missed in the contemporary pursuit of “freedom”.

    Indeed, we have tremendous freedom in Christ – and Paul spends considerable time in his letters speaking about this. But what is often missed is his conclusion on this subject. That:

    • it is better to forego this freedom if it offends ();
    • whilst a thing may be ‘lawful’, it may not be helpful (a);
    • whilst a thing may be ‘lawful’, it may not build up (b);
    • whilst a thing may be lawful’, it may lead to enslavement (b)

    For me the concluding line of a person’s freedom in Christ is the Apostles words in

    …you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

    There is an irony in these words. It’s a freedom to serve, not to self-indulge.

    The following is certain criteria that can be applied to situations that are somewhat ambiguous in terms of ones behaviour and the exercise of Christian liberty. It is not healthy psychologically to be bound by an overly strict conscience. Nor is it healthy spiritually to have a conscience that is seared and insensitive to sin. Liberty in Christ is a glorious freedom. The following tests can aid our effective exercise of this liberty.

  5. 1. Can a Christian (_______) without sinning? . This is the most important of all my considerations. Is exercising my freedom in a certain area something that may cause me to sin?
  6. 2. Is there an “appearance of evil” in the situation, ?
  7. 3. Is it “of faith,” ?
  8. 4. Is it consistent with being “for the glory of God,” ?
  9. 5. Does it cause a “weaker brother” to fall flat on his face, , ?
  10. 6. Might it possibly lead me to sinning, ?
  11. 7. Does it hinder me in my race as a Christian — is it an encumbrance (weight), ?
  12. 8. Does it do harm to my body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit,
  13. ?
  14. 9. Is it in harmony with self-denial, ?
  15. 10. Does this activity consistently keep me from fellowship with the Body of Christ, ?
  16. 11. Would this behavior cause me to be ashamed before Him when He returns, ?
  17. 12. Is it something that will create indebtedness? ?
  18. 13. Does it violate my conscience, ?
  19. Listen to Pastor Martin Pakula’s 24 July ’11 message on this subject –
    Sometimes love can lead to Vegetarianism

  20. Don,

    We have an absolute liberty to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’ Mk12:31, because with our all consuming love for God, this is the greatest commandment and the sum of the entire Law of God .

    Augustine was right to say ‘Love God and do as you like’, because to truly love God involves all the things you have listed above … God’s design and command is that we love our neighbour.

    The Enemy’s strategy at this point is to pervert our understanding of God’s love to us, and our love to God, to make us self centred, and neglectful of the duty we owe to others.
    If we are captivated by the love of God, we cannot behave like this. Self brought the first sin into the world, and it continues to ruin lives and particularly the relationship we ought to have with God.
    SDG

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