Many people use the phrase “know your enemy” for different professions. A football coach likes to study game film of the team he is about to face. He will learn who the best players are and what plays the other coach likes to call at certain times. By knowing his “enemy” he can form his own game plan.
Generals also have to know their enemy. They need to know what type of weapons the enemy has, what type of terrain they will be sending soldiers into, and what the will and demeanor of the other soldiers may be.
As Christians we know that we are involved in spiritual warfare, and it is good for us to know our enemy as well. The word satan means adversary, and Lucifer is the chief adversary. The Bible twice talks about him in connection with animals: as a snake and a lion.
The snake was literal; Lucifer entered into a serpent in the Garden of Eden to deceive Eve. He didn’t come out screaming about how much he hated her and God. He was subtle and crafty. Snakes today are no different. With the exception of the rattlesnake, serpents are quiet and give no warning of their approach. They are low to the ground, they blend in, and they are quiet.
The lion reference is figurative; Lions roar. They are big and we see them from far off. The Bible says that Satan roars around like a lion looking for someone to devour. There are many times that we are tempted by the enemy in a very blatant way. Peer pressure to do drugs, a sensual image on a magazine aisle, or violent thoughts. We recognize these as tactics of the enemy, and we need to be prepared to fight against them.
But we have to remember that he is also quiet and subtle when he needs to be. Whispering second thoughts into your mind to question your pastor, convincing you that your parents are lame, and slowly turning your heart away from the Bible.
We need to be ready to always stand guard against our enemy. We know how he works; we just need to be prepared for the battle.
One final thought. Let’s not give the devil too much credit. After all, as Romans 1:31 reminds us in this rhetorical question: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” The point of the question is not the answer “Satan.” The point is that God is for us, so it doesn’t matter who is against us.
With God on our side, we can not only know our enemy, but defeat him too.