Punch First Book

Defeating the Enemy Hell-Bent on Your Destruction. 

By Beth Guckenberger

In This Book, You Will: 

In this modern-day collection of our Enemy’s activities, learn to anticipate how Satan will attack and discern powerful techniques to preemptively fight against him. 

Through biblical examples and engaging stories, author Beth Guckenberger shares how we can be equipped and encouraged to battle Satan with wisdom and boldness.

If God is asking me to engage, He’ll strengthen me for the task.

Beth Guckenberger

BONUS! Punch First: 

A 21-Day COMBAT Guide to Playing Spiritual Offense

In this journal companion to Throw the First PunchDefeating the Enemy Hell-Bent on Your Destruction, Beth Guckenberger offers a 21-day guide to fighting the Devil through COMBAT.

  • Enter into the spiritual battle prepared: This guide will give you spiritual confidence and tools to detangle your thoughts and actions from an unbiblical strategy, and in truth, advance powerfully against the Enemy’s plans to disrupt your life.
  • Everything is spiritual: Get a clear, directed plan to uncover the Enemy’s tactics and partner with God to experience victory in spiritual warfare.
  • You can create a COMBAT plan: Learn about the COMBAT method and plan a preventative attack against Satan for the next battle.

Small Group Study Bundles Now Available!

Spiritual Warfare

Satan’s Tricks – How to Identify and Protect Against Them


One way Christians can fight against Satan’s tricks – is through spiritual warfare. By studying passages in both the Old and New Testaments, we can learn how to identify and protect against Satan’s tricks in everyday life.

Once when our family was vacationing in Key West, I decided to splurge on a shark excursion. Aboard the boat, I was delighted by the sea air and thrilled to see something up close that I had previously only seen on TV.

The crew poured ripped fish into the water and explained that the blood would draw the sharks near to the boat. Immediately, the sharks appeared behind the bow and feasted on the fish. We took pictures, fascinated to be near something so dangerous.

Satan deceives believers through false apostles (2 Cor. 11:13–15). His tricks can subtly lead believers down heretical paths that erode their faith in Christ.

At the time, we were living in Mexico, and my experience with dangerous animals was limited to the stray dogs in our neighborhood.

Satan’s Tricks to Mislead Christians

I would carry rocks in my hand when I went running and preemptively throw them when I felt threatened. It made me feel powerful to know I was sending the message don’t mess with me, dogs, even if they were already planning on letting me run by. 

Watching the sharks devour the bloody fish, a thought entered my mind. This must be what the Smith family feels like. We loved the Smiths, who I imagined felt just like those fish.

This is how the Enemy works. He is drawn to blood. When he sees a body breaking down, he doubles down and attacks the marriage or the mind. He doesn’t leave us alone when we are bleeding, off to attack something healthy. Instead, he sees a chance for possible total destruction. Injury— whether physical, relational, emotional, or spiritual—attracts him. 

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Ways Satan Distracts Christians from Spiritual Growth

While some Christians choose to ignore Satan, he never ignores us. If we’ll keep our eyes open for him, we’ll become more comfortable wading into the dark and turning on the light.

Satan uses many tricks—the same ones over and over again. In fact, by recognizing those 10 main tricks you can protect yourself against them

Satan uses the same tricks over and over and over again. There are no original stories. He uses sex, money, pride.

>> You may also like: 7 Ways We Fight Spiritually for our Kids

Ways Satan Divides Churches

Faith brings people together. So do rivalries, for that matter. We’re tribal by nature. One way Satan tries to pull us apart is by getting us to fight with one another.

He uses deceit, selfishness, and anxiety. We can read throughout both Testaments’ stories of everyday people who didn’t understand the deception they were under. The combination of their own weakness (within), the world (around), and the Devil (nearby) creates havoc and derails God’s plans for our lives.

If we’ll keep our eyes open for Satan, we’ll become more comfortable wading into the dark and turning on the light. He is counting on us being scared of the dark or being afraid that in some way another person’s pain is contagious, so we don’t linger.

I get most tired or discouraged when I think it’s up to me to save someone or something. I’ve made this rookie mistake more times than I want to recount.

I was certain if I didn’t do something, all would be lost. I now know better: there is only one shelter to rest under, and there is only one Savior who died on a cross. Anything I offer, I do so as His ambassador. He does the prompting, calling, empowering, rescuing, and saving. 

 Ways Satan Tempts Christians With Sin

Ways Satan Tempts Christians With Sin

Jesus forgives, directs, and comforts. He provides answers, He convicts. This is all His job. I can step into a role that isn’t mine far too easily, especially when someone willingly puts me there. But I won’t do it again; the consequences are grave.

Hard stories should draw us to Jesus, not to man. We are at our best when we continually reinforce this truth. I can want to give someone something or meet a need only God can, but doing so ends up making the story messier.

Whether I am frustrated with a chapter of a story I’m invested in or unhappy with the timing of something, I have no choice but to rest in the truth that He is sovereign. It’s the evidence of a powerful faith: trust Him and His timing. If He allowed it, He has a purpose for it.

If something or someone isn’t moving on our timetable, we can trust God, who has a better perspective; He is working on what we cannot see. The peace I crave sits on top of this truth: He is in control. 

Satan’s Tricks to Keep People In Bondage to Temptation

The Bible tells us that Satan prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He lurks waiting for an opportunity. Although God gave Satan limited power, Satan still has some influence over people (Job 1:12-19; 2:4; Rev. 20:2). Often it seems that some temptations come out of nowhere.

Witnessing the struggles of our friends the Smiths was the first time I remember being wary of putting on my spiritual armor and waiting for the Devil to attack, hoping the belt or the helmet was in place. Why did he get to go first?

What would a counterattack look like? What kind of repellent is out there, or what first punch could I throw that would scare the sharks away as my rock-throwing did for the dogs? 

We Can Fight Against His Deception

God has given us power as His kids and tools to be equipped in this fight. We have not been left alone.

Spiritual Warfare

How to Fight the Enemy in Spiritual Warfare

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.

Additional Reading >> 7 Ways We Fight Spiritually for Kids

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? 

How to fight the enemy in spiritual warfare

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? 

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