In sports, players and coaches on successful teams attribute some of that success to not taking any opponent lightly. Whether in corporate boardrooms or when planning military strategies, the same principle is adhered to. Knowing one’s opponents, the strengths and weaknesses, their characteristic patterns and styles of work are crucial to gaining victory. To not take these factors into consideration is to invite failure, and perhaps disaster. One thing we can be assured of; the enemy is studying us as well, intent on exploiting every weakness that could bring about our downfall.
The Christian is involved in a spiritual warfare (2 Cor. 10:4), and our enemy is out to steal, to kill, and to destroy (John 10:10). In the natural, if we knew of such an enemy, we would take every step to protect ourselves and those we hold dear, yet in the spiritual realm, how easy it is to overlook, to not recognize the style and pattern of how this enemy works. Earlier in his letter, Paul cautioned the Corinthian Church to not be ignorant of the devil’s sly ways (2:11, MSG). Webster defines being sly as “clever in concealing one’s aims or ends”; in other words, if we are not careful and able to discern what the enemy is about, we can be deceived and be made to believe that what seems like a right course of action only ended up leading us down the wrong path.
In the Scriptures, we find the perfect example; the story of Eve. Even before we’re given the account of her conversation with the serpent, we are told something about him; he “was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made” (Gen. 3:1). It was this subtlety, this uncomplimentary cunningness, that provoked Eve to believe the half-truths of the serpent over the sure Word of God, and so committed the first recorded sin. As Bible Commentator Matthew Henry noted, “There is not any thing by which the devil serves himself and his own interest more than by unsanctified subtlety.”
The child of God cannot be ignorant of how the devil works. We are confronted every day by choices: take the easy way out over doing what is right by the Word; overlook this/that because it is not so bad; do this/that, who will know?, and it continues. Yet in every decision that looks like the right one is the potential to fall into the devil’s trap; to sin against God. How well do you know the enemy of your soul? Do you know how he operates?
May God grant us the wisdom to be aware of the enemy’s schemes, and may He enable us to discern the way we should go when we arrive at the crossroads of our experiences.