I know people can take this too far, but I believe it is crucial to remember that we have an enemy. Here’s why.
In our western, scientistic culture, we may not think much about the possibility of evil spirits in our day-to-day lives. Jesus knew better. He spoke about demons and even spoke directly to them.
After His resurrection, Jesus’ disciple Peter penned these words to the first century followers of Christ:
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” (1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV)
Why do Jesus and the New Testament writers include these accounts and admonitions?
Not because we’re supposed to be afraid of devils, but because God wants us to overcome them. The enemy knows this, and so one of his main strategies (largely effective in our culture, unfortunately) is to convince us he isn’t there when he is. Once we believe he isn’t a factor, then…
- We stop resisting him. Why resist something that isn’t there? Why lock the door when there is no thief? Why stand guard when there is no danger? Why duck when no one is shooting at you?
- We turn on others. Like an invisible bully, the enemy hits you in the face and then accuses someone else of causing your pain. Meanwhile, he’s doing the same thing to them, but blaming you.
- We grow angry with ourselves. Similar to #2, the enemy hits you and then accuses you of doing it. He tempts and then calls you weak-willed and dirty. He confuses and then calls you scatter-brained. He oppresses and then tells you that you have no faith and can never change.
- We draw back from God. With no enemy, who else but God are you to blame when big things go wrong in your life, when your prayers seem to go unanswered, and when breakthrough doesn’t come?
We can see some of these dynamics at play even as early as Adam and Eve’s encounter with the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Despite what he pretended, the serpent never wanted to give them anything, he only wanted to take from them. God had given them dominion over the earth, and the enemy wanted their authority for himself.
He seeks to do the same in your life today. He wants to take that which God has given you dominion over—beginning with your thoughts, followed by your actions, and then your whole self.
In short, the enemy wants to take from what is yours and make it his. God, on the other hand, wants to take from what is His and make it yours:
God created man and woman in His beautiful likeness and then freely gave them dominion over His earth and its creatures (Genesis 1:26-29). In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, the father freely gives to his younger son and tells the older, “Everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:11-31). On the cross, God the Son gives His life to and for us: “This is My body, given for you” (Luke 22:14-20). And at Pentecost, God pours out His Spirit abundantly on His children, that they might share Him with all the world (Acts 1:4-9, 2:1-41).
Why is it helpful to remember we have an enemy?
Because it reminds us of God’s true character and the great value of all He shares with us. Remembering we have an enemy also reminds us to be vigilant and humble, lest we forget how much we need God with us in this battle.
Question: How has your Christian community talked about the reality of the enemy? Has it felt helpful to you?
Make sure to check out the latest Becoming Whole Podcast for more in depth discussion on the above topic. The Father’s Response