Friday, March 27, 2009

The Importance of Understanding the Enemy’s Habits

In my little knowledge of military warfare strategy, understanding your enemy’s habits places you on a superior position of advantage. I had this on my mind when I decided to share this note. It is abundantly evident from the Bible that there is an evil spirit, who is permitted to exert an influence upon the hearts of men. This truth is referred to in the beginning of the gospel of Christ, where it said Jesus went up into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

He is often represented in the Scriptures as the father of the wicked. "The tares are the children of the wicked one (Matthew 13:38)." He is also represented as putting evil designs into the hearts of men. "And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel (1Chronicle 21:1)." "The devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him (John 13:2)." "Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart, to lie to the Holy Ghost? (Acts 5:3)" Wicked men are spoken of as being carried captive by him at his will. He is also represented as the adversary of the people of God, seeking to lead them into sin, and, if possible, to destroy them. "Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8)."

These, and numerous other passages, which might be quoted, fully establish the fearful truth, that we are continually beset by an evil spirit, who is seeking, by every means in his power, to injure and destroy our souls. When we have to contend with an enemy, it is very important that we should know his character. From the Scriptures, we learn several characteristics of the great enemy of our souls:

1. He is powerful. We must be mindful of this fact for he has other fallen spirits at his command. Our Saviour, Jesus speaks of the "fire prepared for the devil and his angels." He is called "prince of the world," "prince of darkness," and "the god of this world." All these titles denote the exercise of great power. He is also called destroyer; and is said to walk about, seeking whom he may devour. Indeed, so great was his power, and so mighty his work of ruin and destruction in this lost world, that it became necessary for the son of God to come into the world to destroy his works. "For this purpose was the Son of God manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8)." But, although he is powerful, yet his power is limited. This you see in the case of Job. No doubt, his malice would have destroyed that holy man at once. But he could do nothing against him till he was permitted; and then he could go no farther than the length of his chain. God reserved the life of his servant.

The apostle Jude speaks of the devils as being "reserved in chains, under darkness (Jude 1:6)." But the objection arises, "As God is almighty, why is Satan permitted to exercise any power at all?" To this objection the Bible furnishes satisfactory answers. It is to try the faith of his children. This was the case with Job. The devil had slandered that holy man, by accusing him of serving God from selfish motives. By suffering Satan to take away all he had, the Lord proved this accusation to be false; and Job came out of the furnace, greatly purified.

The apostle James says, "My brethren, count it all joy, when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience (James 1:2,3)." If the children of God were never tempted, they would never have an opportunity to prove the sincerity of their faith. But they have the blessed assurance, that God will not suffer them to be tempted above what they are able to bear, but will, with the temptation, also make a way to escape, that they may be able to bear it. Again; the devil is permitted to exercise his power, for the discovery of hypocrites and for the punishment of sinners. "These have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away (Luke 8:13)." "But, if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them that believe not (2 Corinthians 4:3)."

2. He has much knowledge. He knew the command of God to our first parents, and therefore tempted them to break it. When those that were possessed with devils were brought to Christ, they cried out, "We know thee, who thou art, the holy one of God (Mark 1:24, Luke 4:34)." He has also a knowledge of the Bible; for he quoted Scripture, in his temptation of our Saviour. And as he has great experience in the world, he must have a great knowledge of human nature, so to be able to suit his temptations to the peculiar constitutions of individuals.

3. He is wicked. "The devil sinneth from the beginning (1 John 3:8)." He is called the wicked one; or, by way of eminence, "The Wicked." He is altogether wicked. There is not one good quality in his character.

4. He is crafty, and full of deceit and treachery. He lays snares for the unwary. That he may readily deceive the people of God, he appears to them in the garb of religion. "Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)." In consequence of his cunning and craft, he is called the serpent. He is also represented as deceiving the nations. Hence we are cautioned against the wiles of the devil.

5. He is a liar. The first thing recorded of him is the lie which he told our first parents (Adam and Eve), to persuade them to disobey God. Hence our Saviour calls him a "liar from the beginning."

6. He is malicious. As Satan is the enemy of God, so he hates everything that is good. He is continually bent on mischief. If his power were not restrained, he would introduce general disorder, anarchy and confusion, into the government of God. He loves to ruin immortal souls; and he takes delight in vexing the people of God. Hence he is called Destroyer, Adversary, Accuser, Tormentor, and Murderer.

Now, since we are beset by an adversary of such knowledge and power, so sly and artful, so false, and so malicious, it is very necessary for us to be well acquainted with all his arts, that we maybe on our guard against them. The apostle Paul says, "For we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11)." O, that every Child of God could say so too, because God has given us the grace we need, in Christ Jesus!

Culled from: A Practical Directory for Young Christian Females - Harvey Newcombs 1803-1863