so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs (2 Cor. 2:11).
The first Christians took seriously the spiritual realm. They knew that there was a war being waged for their hearts and knew that any successful battle strategy would have to involve knowing the enemy.
I’m reading through a set of books called The Christian in Complete Armour written by Puritan preacher William Gurnall in the 17th century. Gurnall seems well acquainted with spiritual warfare, much like most if not all the writers of scripture. Throughout the first volume he traces the designs of the enemy, Satan, and arms the saint with strategies to both flee and upend him.
Here is a brief excerpt which I read this morning, describing the saint’s need to cling to the promise of justification, and know it intimately, as one means of fortifying oneself against the wiles of the devil:
When Satan comes to take away your peace, if you do not understand the full significance of your justification in Christ you will be easily overcome. A saint without assurance of salvation is as unprotected as the rabbit that darts into a thicket to escape a fox, but is easily followed by the print of her own feet and the scent she leaves behind. In Christ you have a hiding place where the enemy dare not come: ‘the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs’ (Song of Sol. 2:14). While the devil may be in hot pursuit of your soul, the very scent of Christ’s blood, by which you are justified, is noxious to him and will stop him in his tracks. Run straight into this tower of the gospel covenant, and roll this truth on the head of Satan, as the woman cast the stone on the head of Abimelech: ‘To him…that…believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness’ (Rom. 4:5).
The blood of Christ is “noxious” to the devil, the enemy of your soul who “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Scripture’s mindfulness of Satan’s designs are never reduced to excuses for our sinfulness (as in, “the devil made me do it”) and therefore fatalism is never an option for the child of God. Rather, scriptures repeated warnings to be on guard, to be vigilant, to be of sober-mind, to put on the whole armor of God, only serve to heighten our responsibility to know who we are up against, and to Whom we can turn for help.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12).
May you and I learn well the tactics of our enemy, and know even more the blood of Christ, which sends him scampering for the hills.