Fight the Good Fight

Aug 16, 2023 by Colleen C Orchanian

I once took a class on Spiritual Warfare with Dan Burke at the Avila Institute. He began the class by saying that we as students were very likely to face some spiritual battles during our time in the class. He was right about that as many students did face spiritual attacks during that time. What I have come to realize since then is that each of us as Christians is always facing some kind of spiritual attack. Why? Because the enemy of our souls does not want us to grow closer to God, to become holy, to be living saints in the world.

If we are going to fight the good fight, we need to know how the enemy attacks, both in general – meaning with everyone – and specifically with each of us as individuals.

In general, we know that the enemy attacks the family, personal relationships, the church, and the community. But in what way? What are the tactics that he uses to break down each of these areas? Here are eight of the tactics he uses and battle plans for responding to those tactics.

  1. Lies. We know that the devil is the father of lies. But God is Truth. So what are some of the lies suggested by the enemy? Lies about ourselves to break us down (“You’re a failure”). Lies about ourselves that puff us up (“You are so great! Don’t change a thing”). Lies about other people (“They think such-and-such about you” or “They don’t like you"). The enemy suggests lies about God (“You can’t trust Him. You can’t have a relationship with Him”). He suggests lies about our past or future, lies that keep us fixed on who we were or make us fear what might happen in the future. Sometimes the devil plants the lie in our mind and other times it comes through another person. The key to fighting this tactic is to recognize the lie and reject it in the name of Jesus Christ. Replace it with a truth that you know from Scripture.

  2. Fear. We fear what people will think. We fear bad things happening. We fear being found out as imperfect. We fear looking foolish or failing. We fear being rejected because of our faith. We fear the humiliation of our own failures. We fear death. We fear transforming our lives completely for God. There are many more fears that can control our lives, but Scripture tells us in 1 John 4:18 that perfect love casts out fear. So the response to this tactic is to grow our faith in God – to come to trust Him in all circumstances.

  3. Temptation. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that the devil prowls about looking for someone to devour. That someone is me. That someone is you. He tempts us with the memories of the pleasures of sins of the past. He tempts us by suggesting that a particular sin is not really much of a sin. He tempts us to hopelessness by suggesting that we are too weak to resist the sin so we should not even try. Our response to temptation is to pray immediately and to share our struggle with a trusted friend who can help. When we keep our temptations a secret, the devil uses that to drag us down even further.

  4. Distractions and diversions. When Peter was walking on the water, he did fine until he got distracted by the wind and the waves. He took his eyes off of Jesus. The enemy wants to distract us from God, from the activities that bring us closer to God. We might get distracted with TV or the internet when we should be in prayer. We might get distracted with activities at church when we should be focused on the needs of our family. We may get distracted during worship services and our prayer time. The remedy is always to return our focus to God. Don’t beat yourself up because of the distraction. Simply turn back to God.

  5. Confusion and darkness. Jesus is the light of the world, but the enemy wants us to remain in darkness. He does this through the media that promotes things that are counter to Biblical teachings. He might confuse us about Jesus, suggesting that he’s not God, but just a wise man. He tries to distort God’s holy word. We might get so confused and frustrated that we give up trying to understand God and what He desires for us and for our lives. The remedy to confusion and darkness is to study the Word – the Bible. St. Jerome once said, "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." Don’t just read the Bible; really study it. Get together with some friends and talk about how it applies to your own life.

  6. Division and conflict. That is so common in our world today, and so distressing. I said earlier that he wants to break down the family and that’s happened in our society. He wants to create conflict in churches, between the people or the various ministries, between a congregation and their pastor. He wants to destroy friendships so that we don’t have close connections with anyone – so there is nobody we can trust. Jesus knew this tactic and prayed for us on the night he was arrested. He said in John 17:23, “May they all be one so that the world will know that you sent me.” The remedy to division and conflict is to recognize the source of the conflict. It is not the person who annoys you but the enemy. We also need to grow in humility so that we can see another person as someone made in the image and likeness of God; someone loved completely by God; someone God is calling us to love.

  7. Physical attacks. These can happen to the technology around us or to our bodies. When it comes to technology, our computer might freeze while we’re working on a project. You’re on your way to a retreat and it starts pouring so you’re going to be late. Your car won’t start when it’s time to go to church. It could be an attack on our body like a specific pain that moves from one spot to another. Not all physical attacks come from the enemy, but some do. And he can use any physical challenge to cause distress. They slow us down and keep us from doing God’s will. If you are facing a physical attack, consider what you are doing (or planning to do) that the enemy wants to stop. Pray for God’s assistance. Look for another way. Don’t get overwhelmed by the change in plans.

  8. Emotional attacks. We are human and that means we have emotions. Our negative emotions can be managed or they can be exploited. Here’s an example. I was once on a motorcycle ride and another rider, a friend, passed me in a curve. I was angry, which was understandable. It’s a very dangerous thing to do. I knew I was angry and I consciously held on to that anger until the next stop so I could give him a piece of my mind. The enemy stokes the negative emotions. He wants us more angry, more hopeless, more bitter, more resentful, more critical, more suspicious. That’s not healthy and it’s not holy. So what’s the remedy? We begin by naming the emotion, praying for the grace to manage the emotion, and developing the opposite virtue: love for anger, humility for pride, and so on. Romans 12:18 tells us to always be at peace with one another. We can only do that if we have self-control.

Now you know 8 tactics of the devil in the spiritual battle. Our battle plan is to be aware when under attack, identify the tactic being used, and then respond and resist. We don’t have to succumb to his attacks. God is fighting this battle with us. The devil may be the prince of this world, but God is more powerful. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. Remember – God wins. We are his warriors and will win with him. So go and fight the good fight.

Questions for prayer:

  • Which tactics do you face most frequently? Which is the enemy's favorite with you? Why does that work?

  • How well do you identify and resist the tactics? What can you do to better fight the good fight?