Understanding Your Enemy (Entire Article)

By James Holland, Sr.

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No general who is going to lead an army into battle will do so without understanding his enemy. You must know how your enemy will respond to certain situations. To understand your enemy and how he will respond and operate is a must in war if you intend to win. As I endeavor to familiarize us with our enemy, don’t think for a moment that I agree with him. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many Christians have been told not to discuss Satan, his kingdom, his tactics, and his spiritual structures of demonic activities. For in doing so they would glorify him. If you are fascinated by the dark side and you dwell on it all the time and do not serve God, then this could happen. Yet, if you are going to be victorious, you had better understand who your enemy is and how he operates. If we don’t know who our enemy is, then we are not sure who to fight! It goes without saying; there is a spiritual invasion of demonic powers sweeping through our world today. In fact, many people invite Satan into their lives because they don’t know their enemy.


Jesus spent much of His earthly ministry delivering people from tormenting spirits. Jesus said to the church, “In my name you will lay hands on the sick and they shall recover, you shall cast out devils.” (Mark 16:16) There is a real Devil! Yet, most of Christianity doesn’t really believe that he exists. I remind you, it was a real devil that entered the garden and a real devil that tempted Jesus! It will be a real devil that is cast into the lake of fire! Satan is an accuser of the brethren! If we are always trying to accuse or dig up dirt on our brothers and sisters, then we are doing the devil’s work! We are never acting more like Satan than when we are trying to pull others down and exalt ourselves! Satan wants people to believe they are defeated. The Bible declares Satan to be a fallen angel, yet he has legions of fallen spirits organized into his army. John 10:10 gives the mandate of Satan, “He cometh to steal, destroy and kill.” Jesus believed Satan was real. Matthew 12:25 says, “every kingdom divided against itself shall not stand.” This verse reveals three important facts to us. (1) Satan has a kingdom, (2) His kingdom is unified, (3) He is come to destroy you emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Are these fallen spirits real? Jesus thought so. He spent twenty five percent of his earthly ministry casting evil spirits out of ordinary people, most of which kept the Ten Commandments; which means they were probably more moral than many professing Christ today!


Satan’s Characteristics


In the Bible, Satan is described as the adversary, the slanderer. He is known as the accuser of the brethren, the “angel of light,” as Beelzebub as deceiver, as the great dragon, as the Prince and power of the air, as the ruler of darkness, as the tempter, as the wicked one, and as a roaring lion. Before his fall, he is known as Lucifer. He possessed great musical ability, and he was adorned with beautiful stones! He was the perfection of wisdom and purity. Yet, through pride, he failed. Satan possesses intelligence. He also has a will and he possesses a memory. He certainly possesses pride and desire. He was in the Garden of Eden and he is in the world today, your world, and my world. He empowers false prophets and he resists God’s Word. He resists God’s people when they pray and when they worship. He resists God’s people when they fast. He blinds the carnal minds of men from the truth! He steals the word of God from the hearts of men. He is the author of sin. He releases fear, oppression, and depression. He is a destroyer. Satan is an unclean spirit! He promotes hate, jealousy, strife, and all manner of demented life styles. Before we talk about the different levels of his demonic organizations, let me endeavor to answer a question that is in the minds of many today.


Why Does Evil Exist?


What is evil? Where does it come from? The Bible is very clear about this and also provides a solution for the evil that is wide spread and entrenched in the world today. The Bible declares that evil is rebellion against God and God’s plan for man. Evil is self absorbed and uncaring of others. Evil takes and never gives. Yet, some argue that it’s God’s fault! They argue that since God created everything and evil exists, then God must be the author of evil? The Bible, however, paints a picture in which God, in the beginning, created perfect surroundings for Adam and Eve to live in. (Genesis 1:31). So, how did evil get into the picture? The Genesis account tells us that a cunning “serpent” introduced evil into God’s perfect creation.


Yet, Genesis 3:1 seems to say that God created the serpent too. So, doesn’t that prove, as some argue, that it’s God’s fault evil exists today? They argue that there may be some forces equal to or greater than God, that is beyond God’s control, or maybe, just maybe, God isn’t good after all?


The Real Answer


A close study of the biblical account will clear these questions up and give the proper answer, whether one is willing to accept it or not. We see in scripture that God made everything good and without the presence of evil. Yet, in doing so, God created man with moral freedom, and a will to choose between good and evil. God gave man a free will. That is the framework for the existence of evil. What does free moral choice really mean? Some argue that since God is good, why didn’t He just create man undoubtedly good? He could have made us without the ability to choose. Yet, this would have defeated His reason for creating us in the first place. God made us with free moral choice so we could develop His attributes of character, and become like Him and have fellowship with Him. We were created for His pleasure. God’s plan was to create something special. His long term purpose was to create additional members of His divine family. To achieve this, the development of divine character was essential to His plan. Hence, the need to create human beings as free moral agents. His choice then, was to create us with freedom.


Without freedom we would never sin. Yet, without freedom we would never have the opportunity to choose our own future. We would not have love like God possesses. This is one of the most important of all the divine character traits of God. When God created man, He began the process of bringing forth children in His image (Genesis 1:26). We cannot force our own children to love us or do what’s right. We can teach them these virtues and hope, as they grow, that they will choose to follow them in spite of the negative evil influences they may encounter. When God embarked on His plan to create children for Himself, who would have to choose to return His love, He also knew the risk! He was aware that they could choose an alternate way of life. He knew that there was choice that existed between good and evil. This is why there were rules of a standard set even in the Garden. What is a standard’? “A standard is a pattern for guidance by which the excellence and correction of other things may be determined.” We must remember man was not the first created entity to which God gave such a choice. When only God existed, there was no evil (John 1:1). Long before the time of Adam, God created millions of spirit beings with the ability to choose. They are called angels. His intention was to produce beings who would accept His way and love Him forever. Yet, of course, one of them made the wrong choice. How else could Lucifer decide to lift himself up it he didn’t have the ability to choose to do so?


Origin of Evil


Ezekiel 28 begins with God addressing the “prince of Tyre,’ a human ruler of that ancient city along the Lebanese coast. Yet, starting in verse 11, the message shifts to the “King of Tyre” and it quickly becomes clear that no human being is meant here. The subject becomes the spiritual power behind the throne, the primary influence on the earthly ruler! This power is called a cherub, an angelic being (verse 14). God says, you were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you” (verse 15). This angel was part of God’s perfect creation. Yet, because he had freedom to choose, he had the capacity to choose evil.


We read that “iniquity” or “lawlessness,” was at some point found in him. His sin was the sin of pride. This was the first recorded instance of evil. Isaiah 14 includes a similar description when God addresses the “king of Babylon.” Yet, again the message switches to the spiritual power behind the throne. Starting in verse 12, Heylel (Lucifer in Latin) which means “Light Bringer,” was a vessel of the light of God’s truth. Yet, verse 13 shows he began to imagine evil in his heart. While we are not sure how long it took for this being to develop the way of evil in his heart, we do know it was all about self. Satan was the first “moral relativist.” He denied absolute good and evil as defined by God and chose to define good and evil for himself. He decided to make his own rules. Sound familiar? So God changed his name to “Satan,” meaning “adversary.”


God created this angelic being as the “seed of perfection, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty” (Ezekiel 28:12), but he developed pride in his beauty (verse 17). He corrupted his wisdom by getting caught up in his own self-importance. This was his choice. So, he turned himself into Satan. Verse 16 says that he became filled with violence within. He ascended into Heaven to exalt his throne (Isaiah 14:13). Revelation 12:23 speaks of this fallen angel as a dragon who influences a third of the stars (angels) (Revelation 1:20) with him. Satan induced one third of the created angelic beings to turn against God. The third of the angels who followed Satan chose to oppose God and to promote themselves above others. In doing so, they became demons, “evil spirits.” God did not put the evil in their minds; neither did He introduce evil to Lucifer. Lucifer was free to follow God’s way or consider the alternative. God never forced Satan to go his way. He permitted him to ponder and finally choose the way of evil. God drove Satan out of heaven. He fell to the earth like lightning (Luke 10:18).


The next we see of Satan is his appearance to Eve in the Garden of Eden as the serpent. Why was man exposed to evil? As I have already mentioned, God was creating His own children mortal human beings. They had to have free moral choice. So, the issue of evil once again had to be faced. The sooner the better, so God created two special trees in the Garden of Eden. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life represented an acceptance of God’s way. The other tree represented a rejection of God’s instruction and deciding between good and evil for oneself. It did not take long for the devil to present his alternate lifestyle of evil to Eve. The devil approached Eve by suggesting that God was not telling her the whole story and that both she and her husband could do better for themselves by adopting the other way of life. Adam and Eve made the fatal choice to follow Satan, so Satan became the ruler of this world (John 12:21) and the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). Thus God allowed our first parents to disobey Him. Yet, He would use this incident to help fulfill His plan to bring human beings into His divine family. The choice Adam and Eve made is why we still see so much suffering, violence, and killing in our world. Man is living in rebellion to God’s plan. Thus, Cain rose up and killed his brother Abel, setting a course that mankind would follow from that point forward. Our civilization has been wracked by war because someone wanted something or wanted to be someone greater than he was.


Why Would God Allow This?


God’s intent was for His children to choose His way of love forever and never consider turning against Him. There has been an evil plan set in motion by Satan. In this present day, when people choose wrong, they will experience consequences. The ultimate consequence is spiritual death or separation from God if we are not born again. Ultimately, God will not continue to permit evil to persist in a universe He rules (Romans 6:23). In the Book of Revelation, we see the final undoing of Satan and his cohorts. Then war, or killing, or suffering will not be taught or tolerated and the Creator will guide all men, women and children into His way of life without Satan influencing them to reject! So, get it right! Stop blaming God for all the trouble in this world. We are still living in a world of rebellious people that would rather be influenced by Satan than God! That’s what this war is all about!


Identify Him!


There are two battle fronts for every Christian warrior. They are the self-inflicted and the Satanic-inflicted. Look first at the self-inflicted. These are problems brought on by our own negligence, indifference or disobedience! Such as not paying our bills, taking care of our health, or not doing proper maintenance on our homes or auto. Or maybe not being a good employee at our jobs. Many professing Christians are not practicing good Christian behavior and when questioned, they try to blame all the wrongs in their lives on Satan. While it is true that Satan will certainly use anything possible to defeat us, it is also true that through our negligence or indifference, we create a lot of battles that we shouldn’t have to fight. If this is not corrected, it will destroy our effectiveness for the kingdom of God and Satan will certainly be glad to take the credit for that. We need the spirit of discernment to fight properly. This gift will help us to understand whether the battle we are engaged in is one of our own making or if it is a satanic attack. Again, if you don’t really understand what is causing the problem, then you don’t know who to fight.


Satanic Problems


The devil will use anything or anyone he can to wage spiritual war against us. He will use people, such as family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and even strangers. He will use the job, the home, and the mechanical devices of our day, books, music, and the media! Anything! That’s not to say that all these outlets are automatically wrong. Some of them can be used properly to advance our walk with God. Even though Satan uses people and things, our real enemy is not people or things. Our real enemy is the spirits that influence us or them. Paul uses four descriptive words to make us understand exactly what and who we are fighting with. We also see here four levels of warfare. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rules of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”


  • Level 1: Principalities – meaning chief rulers or beings of the highest rank and order in the satanic kingdom. Every single nation in the world has a principality over it.


  • Level 2: Against powers – meaning those who derive power from and who execute the will of the chief rulers (principalities), such as supernatural influences in governments.


  • Level 3: Rulers of Darkness — meaning the spirit world rulers, or lords of the age, such as lust, depression, fear, perversions, anger, and spirits of pride.


  • Level 4: Spiritual Wickedness — meaning spirits sent by Satan. In Ephesians 2:2, Satan is referred to as the “prince and power of the air.” The enemy cannot set up a kingdom over an area unless man has first mapped it out and given it a name. Examples: Prince of Persia in Daniel 10:13, the Prince of Grecia in Daniel 10:20, and Paul’s beast at Ephesus in I Corinthians 15:32.


In Revelation 2:12-13, we read about “Satan’s seat,” where Satan dwelleth. This reveals to us that satanic influence and control only resides where men have given their will and authority to exercise. Satan did not do away with the angelic order of authority, but kept it and uses it where men give him control. In this manner, he has gained some measure of control of many world systems and governments. We must remember, however, the enemy’s domain is only territorial. He is not the ruler and controller the world!


Psalms 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s; and the fullness thereof.” We must know these things and then go forward expecting to release the captives of this generation through the power of the New Birth message. We need to put Satan and all of his cohorts on our most wanted list! We need to begin to charge instead retreat.




God give me the wisdom of the Word, also the gift of discernment so I may know and understand this foe that is coming against the children of light. Let me know everyday as I go forward you have given me the tools to win. In the Name of Jesus, I will win! Amen.


This article “Understanding Your Enemy” was excerpted from the book Winning the Spiritual War by Dr. James Holland, Sr. It may be used for study & research purposes only.

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