Tactical Analysis of the Battlefield
“Competence is my watchword. My two basic responsibilities will always be uppermost in my mind—accomplishment of my mission and the welfare of my soldiers. I will strive to remain technically and tactically proficient.” What I just read to you was a quote from the Army’s creed of the non-commissioned officer. It stands as a testimony of the officer’s awareness of the task before him and the willingness and competence to do it. To accomplish their mission, the officer must strive to remain technically and tactically proficient. They must persevere and apply diligence to acquire the tactical and technical knowledge in their assigned area, lest they fail their fellow soldiers.
Now, a similar call to proficiency is made in our epistle text this morning. As Christians, we are engaging in a warfare so tremendous and dire; that is a warfare not with physical enemies, but enemies of a spiritual nature--the devil, and his evil horde of angels. We can’t beat them on our own, but the Lord has beaten them with His might. The death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ has confirmed the final victory over Satan. And though the war is won, unfortunately, Satan will not go down without a fight. Though the war is won, there are many battles to be fought, for Satan is attempting to cut his losses by ensnaring as many believers into unbelief as he can. Considering this the Lord, with His word, enables us to be tactically and technically proficient. By His Word then let us examine our theme, a tactical analysis of the battlefield. In our analysis we will be observing three things: our power of our enemy, the power of our Commander, and the arsenal that our Commander equips us with.
First item of our analysis is our enemy. We need to see what we are up against. The apostle Paul describes our enemy in this manner, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” So, first of all these enemies are spiritual, unseen. They aren’t hulking red beasts with giant black horns as the video games, horror movies, and Halloween season describe them. These creatures rather go by unseen, but with much power. Yet unseen, they have all sorts of power and authority over the wickedness of the world. And led by their sinister leader, Satan employs his forces among the world as he acts as a puppet master, pulling the strings of wickedness. The Bible has many descriptions of how this puppet master works. Satan at the beginning deceived our first parents, Adam, and Eve. He then would go on to drive the gentile nations to wickedness and paganism. He would even tempt the Israelites to doubt and reject the Lord’s prophets time and time again. In the time of Jesus, Satan commanded his legions to possess many and blind many with the teachings of the pharisees. Satan’s guile and might would continue past the age of the Bible into church history. He and his evil hordes tried to twist the teachings of the early church, trying to diminish the importance of our savior Jesus. In the Middle Ages, they worked through the papacy to twist and darken the understanding of all, leading them to place their hope in works of their own rather than the grace of God alone.
All these atrocities were the schemes of war that Satan has employed. From them, we can gather from the past a good analysis of our enemy, but in real life often the style of warfare changes. We have just seen how the warfare was done in the past. Let’s take a more practical look into how these evil beasts operate now. What kind of schemes does the devil employ now? In the modern world, the spiritual dimension of life is often overlooked. We view our problems—and try to solve them—in purely human terms. That’s what Satan wants us to do. It would not be shocking if his strategy was to hide his power and simply use deceit, trying to get people to think and say, “God and Satan are not real,” “Religion is a crutch,” “We are simply animals.” Those three slogans, if you will, are extremes that the unbelievers of today say, but where does one have to begin before they start saying those things? Satan’s goal may be to get each one of us to separate our spiritual lives from our physical life. He loves to hear people say, “I believe what I see.” If Satan can get us to drop the spiritual for the purely physical and for what only makes sense, then he gains the upper hand. This is one device of Satan. There is also another sentiment that bears out a different scheme of Satan, “I believe what I feel.” In other words, all that matters in life is your emotional well-being. The highs and lows of life are what really have meaning. Emotional soundness is yet another ploy to separate the physical from the spiritual. For an example of its dangers: if the Gospel doesn’t make me feel good, then it doesn’t work. These current schemes are the current strings pulling the wickedness of this world, and all with the devil pulling them. Considering such power and schemes of wickedness, how does a mere human being stand on their own against this horrid foe? They don’t. They are weak and powerless by themselves, and the evil hordes will stop at nothing to destroy the crown of God’s creation, mankind. All these evil demons hate the Lord and everything He has made and done. They work in accordance with the devil, the father of lies and schemes. And just what are these schemes of the devil, and what are they capable of? His schemes trip up those without the truth of God. His accusations cut the heart to its demise. They strip of purpose, leaving men and women thinking “what’s the point?” They leave people in despair. They pierce and burn the conscience with flaming darts. The burning of these darts will slowly expand over the soul…
But be not afraid, my dear Christians! We have just analyzed the strength and schemes of the enemy, but we have yet to analyze the assets of our own starting with our foundation, our commander and ruler, the Lord our God. You are strong in the Lord and His might! The Lord possesses all power, and He has conquered this evil foe and his evil horde. Jesus Christ, our Savior from sin, death, and the devil; died to save the world and you from destruction, and His resurrection is proof that the war is won. His might has destroyed the devil. In the course leading up to this epic victory, Jesus said to Satan’s face “Away with you Satan, for it is written you shall worship the Lord your God and only Him you shall serve.” And Jesus practiced what He preached in that moment by serving the Lord God in completing the Law perfectly for us and dying to save us from the punishment our sins deserved. On calvary’s cross, Jesus crushed Satan’s head with His might. In the epic battle, our Champion, as the apostle John put it, has cast the dragon, Satan, into eternal destruction. We will never have to worry about falling prey to his lies and schemes anymore. As saints, purchased and won by the blood of our Savior Jesus, we can be strong in the Lord.
So then, we have analyzed the enemy’s battle plan. We have analyzed the competence and power of our Lord and master Jesus Christ. Now that we know the lay of the battlefield, it’s time for the analysis of our arsenal given by the Lord. As we stand forgiven, we must be vigilant, for though the devil and his forces have lost war there are still many battles to be fought. Remember, they are trying to cut their losses and rip us down to hell with them. They will stop at nothing to destroy us. Considering this, the Lord has given us His armor which is designed to fight back these forces. Let’s analyze each item of our armor one by one to see just how gracious our God is in protecting us from Satan. Item number 1 is the belt of truth. Satan has tripped up many people over the course of time with faulty understanding of the truth. Many in this world say along with Pontius Pilate “what is truth?” They follow the concept of moral relativity only to be knocked prone on their backs. They make up their own truths only to be left prone and defenseless before Satan’s wrath. The Lord, however, has given us the truth of His Word, enabling us to stand against the hordes of hell. With the absolute truth of God’s Word, we are able to stand firm against Satan and his lies. Item number 2 is the breastplate of righteousness. Satan tries to stab the heart and accuse all people of the evil they have done. He wants to stand before God and say about you, “look at this sinner! How can you possibly love them! Send them to hell with me.” To make Satan’s words meaningless, the Lord sent His Son Jesus to destroy the work of the devil. Jesus suffered and died to give us His righteousness, a breastplate of mighty chainmail. Satan cannot penetrate that. He can’t accuse us for we are righteous in Christ now. Item number 3 is the footwear of the readiness of the gospel of peace. Without it we are barefoot on rocky, unknown soil. No peace, just despair. What’s the point to life without God’s message of peace? Without it there’s no reason to move, lest we rip up our feet on rocky soil. We’re just sitting ducks without the Gospel. Jesus, however, has given us true peace, peace with God. This blessed message makes us at peace, ready to move forward, giving us the motivation to further God’s kingdom. Item number 4 is the shield of faith. We talked about the fiery darts of Satan and how they pierce and burn the soul. The accusations and schemes of Satan are thrown at us on a regular basis, but we have Spirit given faith. Our faith looks to Jesus Christ alone who did for all the world atone. Our saving faith in Christ then thwarts anything that Satan throws at us. No matter what, we are protected by this: Christ has won, and Satan has lost. Satan’s attacks are meaningless. Item number 5 is the helmet of salvation. Do you overthink things? Are you worried about this or that sin or how many times you’ve tripped up? Satan tries to get in your head. He wants you to think these things. God, however, gives to us the assurance of our Salvation and our future hope for when He comes to save us from this world and bring us to the next. This Salvation assurance stills the mind and calms the heart, protecting us from the concussive head blows of despair. All the items up to this point have been defensive in nature, protecting us from Satan’s schemes. Our next item is offensive. It cuts open the lies of Satan. It exposes immorality and false teaching. It cuts through the gloom and despair. It pushes back the enemy. It is the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The Holy Spirit uses this Word to bring life and destroy evil. It is our trusty offense. One little word of it will fell the devil.
The Lord has given us all these items, but our weapons analysis is not complete. At the end of our text, you will notice the apostle wrote, “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” In our weapons analysis the Lord also emphasizes the importance of communication. A soldier needs his gear, but he also needs good communication. Jesus our mediator gives us good communication with our Father in heaven with the ability of prayer. With it we can make request for strength and with it we can help our fellow soldiers by asking for their support as well.
So then, in our final analysis of the battlefield, God has made us ready for war, dear Christians and Soldiers of Christ. As we also go forward as the Lord’s ambassadors and soldiers, we fear not the current schemes of the devil, for the Lord leaves us with this: trust in me with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge me, and I will direct your path. With the Lord, we are made tactically and technically proficient and we have won the battle. The devil has lost, Christ has won, and we stand in the armor of grace knowing that the Lord is victorious: a fact that will remain the same from now into eternity. Amen.