• Rev. Mark Tews

Knowing Satan’s Battle Plans

The ancient Chinese text known as Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” has been called one of the all-time greatest textbooks on military tactics. It was written around 500 BC and is still studied by many military organizations today. Satan also has certain battle tactics that he uses to try to hinder the work of God that we believers are called to do. The book of Nehemiah contains Satan's battle plan against the church meant to instill fear and stop the progress of the Kingdom of God on earth.

Nehemiah chapters four and six exposes six of the major tactics Satan uses: 1. ridicule(4:1–6), 2. threat of attack (4:7–9), 3. rumors and whispers(4:11–23), 4. distractions (6:1–4), 5. discouragement by slander and the threat to use government against believers (6:5–9), and 6. use of fear to entice sin (6:10–13). An example of number six is: You can’t pay for it, so steal it. And if you get in trouble, lie about it. The amazing thing is that none of these tactics worked against Nehemiah and the people of Jerusalem at the time. Today, we are going to look at just one of Satan’s tactics: number three, rumors and whispers.

“Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.’ Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, ‘Wherever you turn, they will attack us.’ Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, ‘Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.’ When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to our own work.” (Nehemiah 4:11–15).

Satan has a way of getting his words heard, like in this instance through the enemies of Jerusalem. These words had a profound effect on the people, striking them with fear. This fear is what Nehemiah squashed by exposing their enemy’s plan and thwarting it. Words can be like containers, filled with something either good or bad. They can be filled with lust, anger, or fear. But there is a huge difference between words filled with a healthy concern and those filled with fear. In Nehemiah's case, the words the people heard produced a great fear in them. We cannot prevent ourselves from hearing voices filled with fear, but we don't have to dwell on them. You can control whether or not to listen and take them to heart.

Satan begins to be victorious when his words of fear are repeated often. Notice in verse twelve when “the Jews who lived near [the enemy] came and told us ten times over.” Think about what you hear when you turn on the news – words filled with fear. In the world around us, words filled with fear are probably spoken ten times more often than words filled with faith. And each time they are repeated, they seem to speak louder. Words filled with fear and words filled with faith can both start as a whisper, but the volume control is inside your heart and mind. It is up to you which to turn louder and which to turn off.

Most importantly, don’t drop your guard. Satan also uses weak believers as his echo chamber to artificially amp up the volume of fear. Some believers choose to live nearer to the enemy spiritually through their thoughts, words, and actions. If someone walked up to you with horns on top of their head, you would not readily listen to things they had to say. But if someone walked up to you wearing a church choir robe, your defenses may not be raised at all; the shield of your faith would be hanging by your side instead of held up in front. Dropping your guard of faith like that allows the fiery darts of the enemy to have a far better chance of striking their target, which is your heart and mind. Always have the shield of faith at the ready position. Remember, even Jesus rebuked Peter once saying, "Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on things of God, but on the things of man." (Mark 8:33).

What was Nehemiah's response to the enemy’s attack? He rose, he spoke, and he acted. He didn’t just physically stand up, he spiritually rose to stand firm on the ground of his faith in God. We too, need to rise and stand firm in our faith against fear. When we do, we allow faith to rise in our hearts and minds. Nehemiah countered the words of fear with words of faith by speaking out loud. God has far more power than Satan could ever dream about. If you speak your faith in God to others, you stop Satan’s work of fear in its tracks. Finally, Nehemiah acted by stationing soldiers with weapons in exposed areas. He didn’t assign them to places of vulnerability, he placed them in areas of high visibility, in plain sight. Those soldiers let the enemy know that they were ready to fight and that there would be no easy victory. The enemy’s lies and whispers of fear were drowned out by the shouts of truth and faith!

Satan’s only real weapon is the art of lying to instill fear and entice you into sin. While he is skilled with this weapon, it only works if you believe in the fear. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7). If you are being pressured by Satan and find your heart and mind tuned into his radio station of fear, turn it off. Then tune into God’s Word and turn on His radio station of faith. Don’t be afraid of [Satan]. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” (Nehemiah 4:14).