I’ve been fascinated to read The Monuments Men, a book about a special forces team of American and British museum directors, curators, art historians, and others who risked their lives to preserve the finest art treasures in Europe in World War II.
As I read the book, one passage hit me:
Monuments Man S. Lane Faison Jr. once commented that Hitler “wrote a book called Mein Kampf. And if people had just read it carefully, every single thing that’s happened was already predicted… the whole Jewish situation is there in clear writing in ink.” The same is true for most of his other actions.
It shouldn’t have been hard to predict Hitler’s actions. Everything he did — the burning of books; the destruction of certain kinds of art; the arrest, detention, and annihilation of people groups; the destruction of cities — all of it should have been clear from reading Hitler’s book.
The same is true of our enemy.
In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul wrote that he’d acted “that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” Paul’s logic is remarkable: we know the way Satan thinks, but we’re often still outwitted by him despite this knowledge. Our problem isn’t a lack of information. Our problem is that we fall into Satan’s traps despite knowing what he’s doing.
Satan is a liar and a murderer (John 8:44). He’s honed his craft over millennia. He’s got a small bag of tricks that he uses over and over again. He adapts them for particular use to each of us as the opportunity arises.
- His primary weapon is lies. He gets us to believe lies about God. He presents sin to us as being more attractive than righteousness. He attacks and dulls our joy in God. He promises more than he can deliver.
- His primary agenda is death: to rob us of the life that’s found in God.
He’s not creative, but he’s very effective.
In Corinth, Paul knew that Satan’s agenda was to bring disunity to the church, and that forgiveness and reconciliation would disrupt his schemes.
We know our enemy’s plan. He’s lost the element of surprise, as long as we remember what Scripture’s told us.
And yet he remains, as Charles Simeon says, “the most formidable adversary that we have to contend with.”
Given that we know what to expect, we can take some actions to prepare.
First, let’s make sure we’re familiar with Satan’s schemes. Let’s make sure we really do know them. Learn how he works. Get to know his strategies. But this action isn’t enough.
We also need to stand guard. We know his agenda and where he will attack, so we know where to guard. But even this isn’t enough.
We also need help. We need the church, because we weren’t meant to resist Satan on our own. We also need the armor that God has provided for us (Ephesians 6:10-20), and help from our Savior who has defeated Satan.
We know our enemies plans, so let’s not be surprised when he follows them.