A Handbook of Enemy Strategies

A Handbook of Enemy Strategies

Written by John Piper

A wartime mindset must include shrewd knowledge of enemy tactics: Ephesians 5:11, “Take no part in unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Christianity stands or falls with the reality of Satan and demons. Why? Because Jesus spent his whole ministry fighting them. If they are not real he is reduced to a comic figure.

What is Satan’s aim and his strategies?

He is the Father of lies. John 8:44
His nature is falsehood! He only speaks the truth in order to deceive.

Therefore, his chief enemy is truth – he opposes God’s word. Genesis 3:1-5

He casts doubt on God’s goodness. Genesis 3:1-5
He destroys the obedience of faith.

He hinders missions strategy. 1 Thess. 2:18
He opposes the truth reaching and converting people.

He distorts and prevents effective Gospel ministry. Acts 13:8-9

He avoids inner need by removing external trouble. 1 John 3:12

He uses the fear of death to hold men in bondage. Hebrews 2:15
The fear of death doesn’t lead them to God because it leads them to get as many kicks here as possible.

He causes people to stumble over bad Christian attitudes. 2 Tim. 2:24-26

He blinds the minds of unbelievers. 2 Cor. 4:4

He exploits a lack of understanding. Mt. 13:19

He suggests ways that don’t involve suffering. Mt. 16:23; Mt. 4:1-11

He imitates religious roles. 2 Cor. 11:14-15; Mt.13:28,30; Rev. 2:9

He misuses Scripture. Mt. 4:6

He imitates signs and wonders. 2 Thess. 2:9; Mk. 13:22

He offers exotic occult alternatives. Rev. 2:19-24

He attacks faith. 1 Thess. 3:5; 2 Cor. 11:3

He brings persecution. Rev. 2:9; 1 Pt. 5:8; Lk. 22:31

He brings sickness. Job 1:11; 2:5; Lk. 13:16.

He causes dissension over doctrine and causes rifts. Rom. 16:17-20

He tempts saints with sexual allurements. 1 Cor. 7:5; 1 Tim. 5:15

He takes advantage of unresolved anger. 2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 4:27

He promotes pride. 1 Tim. 3:6

We began with liar and end with pride. Connection: the truth is that God is God and we are not. It is humbling. The only way to rebel against the lowliness of creaturehood is to be a liar. Therefore humility under God is the great devil resistance (James 4:6-7).

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org


  1. SDG

    John Piper makes a very valid point for our time.

    If we took a straw poll of believers, I very much doubt if the aspect of our spiritual warfare would be at the forefront of thinking and living. We wonder why our relatives and friends and colleagues and neighbours are unconverted. It is not that the message of the gospel which we have needs brightening up in some way, but that Satan has blinded the eyes of unbelievers to the glory of the gospel of Christ (2 Cor 4:4). This can only be addressed by prayer, and why prayer is so very important in the life of the believer and the church.

    When I first read this excellent piece from JP, the question arose in my mind: ‘am I absent without leave’?

    If the Lords servants are engaged in conflict (Eph 6:12), then how can it be that my life is so easy?

    If Paul felt the heat of the conflict (2 Cor 10) why don’t I?

    If Paul commends the armour of God to the Lords people (Eph 6:10-20) because we wrestle against the present darkness and the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, why is it that I read very very little from Christians on this subject, and hear so little preached on this subject.

    What Paul writes seems surreal in this present time. Paul seems to be travelling a very narrow road where he cannot avoid being buffeted by these things.

    So was Paul paranoid and extreme, or am I living in denial, awol, and living for the comfort of myself and my own. The world that I inhabit seems to be much broader than Paul’s. I can avoid conflict and hardship…… but perhaps this is what the Lord Jesus described as the ‘easy way’. Matt 7:13

    I love Piper’s faithfulness.


  2. Don

    Thanks for your observations, SDG.

    I note your concern about our lives being “easy”. Could this be one of “the schemes of the devil”? (Eph 6:11) One suspects that there is nothing Satan loves more than for Christians to be lulled into believing that they are not in a spiritual battle.

    As you so rightly point out, “this can only be addressed by prayer, and why prayer is so very important in the life of the believer and the church”. (Eph 6:18)

  3. SDG

    Like you Don, I am so grateful for all the good things that the Lord has given to me. I rejoice in the love, happiness, peace and stability I enjoy in such abundance…… but then I read Paul’s words to the church at Colossae:

    I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of His body, that is the church…‘ Col. 1:24.

    I wonder what sufferings they were? For sure they were similar to those of the Lord Jesus. Spiritual opposition, opposition from unbelievers, persecution (Matt 5:11), discouragement. And Paul says he REJOICES in this suffering! There is a reward in an easy life, of course, but The Lord says there is GREAT REWARD in a life of suffering to be faithful to the Lord.

    For me, decisions used to be easy. What will I enjoy most? What will bring greatest happiness and satisfaction? But that is an empty and wasteful way to live. Now my eye is on the Lord’s glory,and I do find it helpful also to consider Paul’s life. Just because we can choose something,it doesn’t mean that we should. It is a deceit of the enemy of our souls that we should automatically take the easiest and best decision for self. We are not our own, we are bought with a price, therefore glorify God in our body…..1Cor6:20

  4. Don

    SDG WROTE: “Just because we can choose something, it doesn’t mean that we should.”

    I think this is a profound statement. The truth of which it speaks is something that is often missed in the contemporary pursuit of “freedom”.

    Indeed, we have tremendous freedom in Christ – and Paul spends considerable time in his letters speaking about this. But what is often missed is his conclusion on this subject. That:

    • it is better to forego this freedom if it offends (1Cor 8:13);
    • whilst a thing may be ‘lawful’, it may not be helpful (1Cor 10:23a);
    • whilst a thing may be ‘lawful’, it may not build up (1Cor 10:23b);
    • whilst a thing may be lawful’, it may lead to enslavement (1Cor 6:12b)

    For me the concluding line of a person’s freedom in Christ is the Apostles words in Galatians 5:13

    …you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.

    There is an irony in these words. It’s a freedom to serve, not to self-indulge.

    The following is certain criteria that can be applied to situations that are somewhat ambiguous in terms of ones behaviour and the exercise of Christian liberty. It is not healthy psychologically to be bound by an overly strict conscience. Nor is it healthy spiritually to have a conscience that is seared and insensitive to sin. Liberty in Christ is a glorious freedom. The following tests can aid our effective exercise of this liberty.

  5. 1. Can a Christian (_______) without sinning? Galatians 5:13. This is the most important of all my considerations. Is exercising my freedom in a certain area something that may cause me to sin?
  6. 2. Is there an “appearance of evil” in the situation, 1 Thessalonians 5:22?
  7. 3. Is it “of faith,” Romans 14:23?
  8. 4. Is it consistent with being “for the glory of God,” 1 Peter 4:11?
  9. 5. Does it cause a “weaker brother” to fall flat on his face, 1 Corinthians 8:13, Romans 14:3?
  10. 6. Might it possibly lead me to sinning, James 1:15?
  11. 7. Does it hinder me in my race as a Christian — is it an encumbrance (weight), Hebrews 12:1-3?
  12. 8. Does it do harm to my body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit,
  13. 1 Corinthians 3:17?
  14. 9. Is it in harmony with self-denial, Luke 9:23?
  15. 10. Does this activity consistently keep me from fellowship with the Body of Christ, Hebrews 10:25?
  16. 11. Would this behavior cause me to be ashamed before Him when He returns, 1 John 2:28?
  17. 12. Is it something that will create indebtedness? Romans 13:8?
  18. 13. Does it violate my conscience, Romans 14:22?
  19. Listen to Pastor Martin Pakula’s 24 July ’11 message on this subject –
    Sometimes love can lead to Vegetarianism

  20. SDG


    We have an absolute liberty to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves’ Mk12:31, because with our all consuming love for God, this is the greatest commandment and the sum of the entire Law of God Rom 13:10.

    Augustine was right to say ‘Love God and do as you like’, because to truly love God involves all the things you have listed above … God’s design and command is that we love our neighbour.

    The Enemy’s strategy at this point is to pervert our understanding of God’s love to us, and our love to God, to make us self centred, and neglectful of the duty we owe to others.
    If we are captivated by the love of God, we cannot behave like this. Self brought the first sin into the world, and it continues to ruin lives and particularly the relationship we ought to have with God.

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