Patton. Napoleon. Caesar. Alexander. Great warriors are remembered not for the size of their armies, but for the use which they made of them. Their excellence stemmed not from their power, but from their strategies. It was their careful, studied knowledge of their enemies: their strengths and their weaknesses, which gave these men the edge that they needed to win. And the same holds true for us today.
One of the single most important keys to effective evangelism is an understanding of our enemy: who he is, how he operates and why. Without this knowledge, we cannot hope to gain ground. Perhaps, this is why God took such pains to tell us about our enemy in his Word. The Apostle Paul states in Ephesians 6:12 that:
“…our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
In short, our battle is not waged against a physical enemy, but a Spiritual one. That this presents a difficulty for corporal (bodily) beings is not to be questioned. It always has been (and probably always will be) easier to throw a punch, fire a pistol, or drop a bomb than it is to contend with an enemy which we cannot see. It shouldn’t be surprising then, that one of Satan’s primary strategies in the war for souls is to refocus our attentions on a more “concrete” adversary. And sometimes the “enemy” he chooses isn’t who we’d expect!
Jesus told us (in a somewhat different context) in Mark 3:25 that:
“If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
Knowing this, Satan’s first approach nearly every time is to entice Christians to fight each other, drawing their attention to issues concerning the lack of Sanctification (Christ-like behavior) in other believers, details of “minor” doctrines (those which may be important to an Orthodox view of Scripture, but which have no bearing upon Salvation), or administrative programs within the body (such as the organization of the Sunday School department or the music to be played during morning service). By disrupting the unity of the body, he shifts the focus of believers away from the ultimate goal of presenting God’s message of Salvation to the lost… and the battle is over before it has even begun.
For this cause, Paul tells Titus to warn the believers on Crete to:
“… avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and strife and disputes about the Law, for they are unprofitable and worthless.” (Titus 3:9)
Instead, we are to:
“[Fix] our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Only by understanding Satan’s strategy and endeavoring to preserve the unity of the body by keeping our focus on Christ will we ever be capable of accomplishing the mission He has given us!