“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Eph. 6:12 KJV
There’s nothing more obvious and basic when it comes to winning a war than that you need to fight your enemy to win, right? One time many years ago my pastor at the time called two people to the front of the sanctuary and asked them to stand one behind the other, with one person’s arms wrapped around the other person’s back so they were stuck together and looked like one person. Then he called two other people to stand facing them in the same manner. He then went on to use them to illustrate a vitally important lesson for fighting our battles.
“The devil wants you to think you’re fighting the person in front of you,” he essentially said, though I do not recall his exact words. “He doesn’t want you to recognize you’re actually in a battle with him [the devil].” He explained the devil wants to get the two people fighting each other rather than to recognize the devil stood behind them both and was using them both to engage them in war against one another. Why would the devil do this? Most obviously, the two people would fight each other and rip each other apart in their battle while the devil looked “innocently” – and heinously – on. But underlying this would be that the devil wanted to disguise himself so the people wouldn’t fight the spiritual war they faced and achieve victory over him in God’s strength. If the people fought each other, they would be distracted from God, from the spiritual war they faced, and from what they would need to do to secure victory in Christ. They would be engaged in the wrong war! They would be fighting in the physical, visible world in which they lived and fail to fight the deadly spiritual war in which they were engaged but could not visibly see.
Is there not a message in this for us all? Long ago, I thought the devil didn’t exist. How wrong I was! He had so disguised himself, and I was so naïve and ignorant, that I fought my battles in the physical world around me while letting the devil tear me up as he strived to fulfill his mission to kill, steal, and destroy (John 10:10). I am just as capable today of being deceived and fighting the people around me rather than recognizing, acknowledging, and fighting my real enemy the devil – if I’m not careful. Can you identify? The only way to win our battles against the devil is to repent and believe in Christ as Lord, live for Christ, put on and use God’s full armor (Ephesians 6:12-18), seek, hear, and obey the Lord continually, repent when we fall, listen for His directions in every battle, and remember victory comes only by God’s Spirit through His Word in His strength for His glory. The first step is to recognize the enemy and the battle we’re in!