A few years ago, I agreed to speak for two consecutive weekends at a church on the topic of how to fight the Enemy in spiritual warfare. At the time, a friend of mine was going through a difficult situation. I was seeing firsthand how the Enemy circles around the wounded. The leadership previously called to tell me that one of the services was on “Family Sunday” and children would be included in the service. “You can still cover the same topic—just keep it PG,” they requested.
I decided to share openly with these young families in an attempt to de-caricaturize Satan. We talked about how he loves the dark and the way he stokes our feelings of fear or anxiety at night. He doesn’t drip in blood and carry a pitchfork.
The Enemy doesn’t just live on porn sites and in faraway countries. We talked about conflict and how Satan is a third party present in every struggle. He actively tries to destroy me and all that’s true. I needed to learn to look for him and call him out when he was using me to further his agenda.
I told them I was tired of the teaching that said to put on your spiritual armor and get ready for when he comes at you. Instead, I wanted to play offense and not defense. I asked, why can’t we learn to punch him first?
I wasn’t sure how my message would be received. The biggest shock coming out of those weeks was the congregation’s response. Men and women came up to me and sent me messages asking how they could protect their families and themselves.
They brought up powerful questions about how to be aware of the Devil and effectively fight against him. People were hungry for straight talk about spiritual warfare and its implications for all of our marriages, families, children, and friendships.
Problems come at us every day in the form of broken relationships, disappointments at work, challenges with physical health, and spiritual attacks. Heaviness and grief can settle over small things as well as large losses. It can be tempting to think it will all be better when our circumstances change.
But the Bible tells us there will always be another battle. In 2 Samuel 21, David and his men were constantly confronted with yet “another battle,” and so too will we. Instead of fearing or attempting to avoid the battle, though, we need to be prepared for it and face it head-on. (Read >> There Will Always Be Another Battle)
Initially, it intimidated me to write down my stories and thoughts on this subject; I thought for sure it would be like waving a red flag in front of a bull. However, I once interviewed author Anne Lamott, and when I asked her what writing advice she had for me, she said to write something “you would be delighted to stumble upon.”
I couldn’t shake the sense that I would be delighted for someone to vulnerably share how sometimes the Enemy had won in their lives, but other times he had taken a black eye. What was the difference? What was the fallout? Could someone stop pretending and just be plainspoken about a topic we typically either exaggerate or avoid?
I began asking a single question before every date night with my husband, every meeting at work, every parenting challenge, and every difficult friendship conversation.
The answers to this question enabled me to draw up a spiritual-combat plan in each situation. The question: If I were the Enemy, what would I want to happen here?
I saw patterns in the answers, and the reassuring thing is that these patterns are old stories. This is a battle we’ve already won! He isn’t all that creative or clever; he’s been doing the same things over and over again. We can anticipate his moves and make choices to block his success. We don’t need to cower or shudder.
God is undefeated. He has never lost, He never will, and He wants us on His team! When I know the Enemy’s plan, what’s the next step? What does that look like? When I feel any number of hard or big feelings, how can I practically activate spiritual strength and not just hold ground, but take some of it back?