I recently saw a friend of mine at church who has been dealing with issues with her mom for years. Her mother had Alzheimer’s and was verbally abusive. Since she was the only one of her siblings in town, the majority of care taking fell on her shoulders. Things had recently escalated and her mother was hospitalized. As her brothers and sisters came from out of town, the fighting began. From the moment they arrived there was nothing but bickering and arguments.
Who is the enemy here? Her mom? Her brothers and sisters?
You find yourself after twenty years in a loveless marriage. What happened? Where did it go wrong? You borrow your husband’s laptop real quick one afternoon because you’re upstairs and your laptop is downstairs. As you click around to get to your email, a name pops up that you don’t recognize. ‘Who is this?” you wonder. You click the email thread. As you start to skim the inappropriate text you become nauseous. Alarms go off in your head, ‘STOP READING,’ they say, ‘ABORT, ABORT!’ Your body begins to go numb. You can no longer deny what you have suspected for months. ‘Well,’ you say to yourself, ‘it finally happened.’
Who is the enemy here? Your husband? The other woman?
I call middle school ‘middle earth.’ Middle-earth. J.R.R. Tolkien’s invented world centered on an epic story of the struggle between Good and Evil. Middle earth is the dark land that inhabits scary, grotesque creatures, where the main character and his companion journey together in the series, Lord Of The Rings. It is an eerie and sinister world. Danger looms around every corner, and you never quite know who is a friend or foe. Sounds like middle school, right?!
My daughter came home from middle school one day crying. Some kids were making fun of her about her shoes . . . SHOES . . . really?!! There are certain kids at her school that make middle school somewhat miserable. They are loud, obnoxious, rude, arrogant, and basically . . . . bullies.
Who is the enemy here? That kid at school? That kid’s parents?
The enemy is not our parents or our kids, even though they may make us mad. It is not the school bully. It’s not our husbands or wives. It’s not our coworker or our boss. It’s not the guy in the black SUV that cut you off on the way to work this morning.
Who is our enemy, then?
Human nature causes us to ignore the supernatural and to trust only what we see. When we are angry, we see the people who have hurt us. Too often, we fail to see the one behind the scenes pulling the strings.
There is only one true enemy. Satan is the enemy.
When preparing for battle, we must determine who the real enemy is.
A boxer wouldn’t start punching the referee when the starting bell rings. Just like a football player wouldn’t run off the field and tackle a spectator! That would be ridiculous! They know who they are up against. They know who the enemy is, and who it is not.
The enemy is ALWAYS Satan. If we acknowledge that and direct our anger and opposition toward him, then the rest of us might realize we are actually on the same team.
“The Scriptures command us to be gentle and kind to unbelievers, not because we are not at war, but because we’re not at war with them. . . . . The path to peace isn’t through bellicosity or surrender, but through fighting the right war. We rage against the Reptile, not against the prey.”
-Russell Moore, Onward; Engaging The Culture Without Losing The Gospel
In other words . . . . don’t put on the gloves until you know who you’re fighting!
Those that wrong us or cause us pain are not necessarily the enemy. When you separate the enemy from the person that you are in conflict with, you can begin to have compassion for them. You begin to see that there is more at play than meets the eye.
People that hurt us often have strongholds, and Satan is probably using them.
“and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.” 2 Timothy 2:26
Those of us who are old enough to remember the horrible events of 9/11 can never forget it. We were attacked and would never be the same. From that day on the threat to our country was no longer communism or nuclear weapons, or war, it was terrorism. And, no one was safe.
Satan is like a terrorist. He hides in the shadows and caves, and disguises himself. He is sneaky and hard to find, avoiding the light. He uses women and children and those who are the most vulnerable to hide behind.
As a result of the attack on the United States, the government created the Department of Homeland Security. I obviously don’t work for Homeland Security, but I would guess that their number one objective is to know who the enemy is.
Before any battle can be fought, a foe must be identified. Then, and only then, can a war be fought without attacking the wrong people.
The same is true when it comes to our enemy. Once we recognize that our enemy is Satan, we can stop fighting each other.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
It is Satan that is trying to destroy marriages, take our children, and rip families apart. It is Satan that is trying to take down ministries and churches. It is Satan that makes a mess of our relationships. And, it is Satan that is ultimately trying to destroy our faith.
Know who your enemy is.