Spiritual Warfare 101: The Rules of Engagement

Published January 9, 2013 by Dawn

The laws that govern humanity are much like the laws of Hell. Of course, I am not speaking of the ethical laws that govern those of us with moral fiber. No, I am speaking of the laws which govern humanity when personal gain becomes the law of the land. I am speaking of the laws that govern a me-first society. I am speaking of the laws that drive the individual today, not to say the individual led by God, but the individual led by self or emotions or principalities, for these are truly the laws which govern the majority. And these laws are written by the Scribe of Hell, created for demons but lived out in the lives of those who forsake Christ for the sake of self.

In dissecting the following passage, I intend to prove this point without fault. The following is an excerpt from The History of the Peloponnesian War called The Melian Dialogue:

Athenians: We will use no fine phrases saying, for example, that we have a right to our empire because we defeated the Persians, or that we have come against you now because of the injuries you have done us. And we ask you not to imagine that you will influence us by saying that you have never done us any harm. You know as well as we do that the strong will do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept.

Melians: So you would not agree to our being neutral, friends instead of enemies, but allies of neither side?

Athenians: No, because it is not so much your hostility that injures us; rather, if we were on friendly terms with you, our subjects would regard that as a weakness in us, whereas your hatred is evidence of our power.

Melians: We trust that the gods will give us fortune as good as yours, because we are standing for what is right against what is wrong.

Athenians: Our opinion of the gods and our knowledge of men lead us to conclude that it is a general and necessary law of nature to rule wherever one can. This is not a law that we made ourselves, nor were we the first to act upon it when it was made. We found it already in existence, and we shall leave it to exist forever. We are merely acting in accordance with it, and we know that you or anybody else with the same power as ours would be acting in precisely the same way.

Thucydides wrote this as an analysis of the logic that the Athenians used in drawing the Melians into war and then utterly demolishing the entire population of them. Whether this conversation is real or conceived, this was the actual attitude of the Athenians in their quest to conquer the Greek islands. Tyranny is human trait, whether used judiciously or mercilessly, but we did not learn it on our own. It is, in fact, the process of domination used by demonic forces everyday in the battle between Satan and God’s treasure: His children.

As I read this today in a History class I was sitting through with one of my students, the spiritual reality was very evident to me. I immediately noticed truths of the battle between Satan and God’s people hidden in the lines of this fictitious, analytical dialogue.

In the second response of the Athenians, the very last part of the last sentence says, “your hatred is evidence of our power.”  How true this is! Our hatred of the enemy is evidence of His power to work in our lives. In order for us to nullify his work, we have to strip him of this power. I have pondered this for several hours and it is clear to me that Satan’s power in our lives comes from fleshly perspectives. He is successful in destroying things in our lives by tormenting our thought-life, tearing at our heart-strings, manipulating our emotions, and taunting us. So, how do we strip him of this power? We must take control. The only way we can control ourselves is by allowing fruits of the Spirit to grow in us, because self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. Now, looking at that line conversely, I can also see that Satan’s hatred of us is evidence of the power in us! That’s a truth that ignites me! He’s terrified of any of us advancing in our relationships and receiving the promises of God because he knows we have the potential to do some major damage to his kingdom. I have promised him that I will!

Notice that the Melians ask the Athenians of there is any way they can remain friends instead of enemies with there being neutrality between them. The Athenians refuse. Their response if revelatory. There is no friendship with Satan. There’s not even neutrality, where if you do nothing, he does nothing. There is nothing but war between he and us. We either lie down and take it, or we fight!

In their response, the Athenians say, “it is not so much your hostility that injures us …” Our anger will not affect Satan. Our anger sometimes even works to his advantage. Our actions, however, will weaken his authority on earth and tear his kingdom apart. If we respond in a godly way, in a Spirit of Love, Satan has no ground to stand on in our lives or the lives of those he would otherwise be using. Love disarms men and draws them close. Satan can’t compete with that, for love is exclusively an attribute of God, and a spiritual weapon at our disposal.

Lastly, notice the last part of the first Athenian line: “… the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept.” This is the secret to successful war with the enemy. He rages because he is terrified of the power within us. He knows that he is weak. But often we do not. We act as if he is powerful and we are weak. And of course we are, in our own strength. But “when I am weak, then I am strong.” God empowers believers and in our weakness, He is strong through us. We do not fight in our own strength, but in the power of God. Not with weapons that are weak, but with mighty weapons that tear down strongholds and cast down everything that is set up against the wisdom and knowledge of God. Victory is inevitable when we are warring in the spiritual with God on our side! “… and the weak accept what they have to accept.”

*Rex Warner (trans.), Thucydides, The Pelopponnesian War, Penguin Classics, 1954, 1980, pp.89-105 abridged

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2 comments on “Spiritual Warfare 101: The Rules of Engagement

  • Wow, Dawn! Gosh, I’ve just been pouring over these tonight. You are so anointed for this – this warfare, this writing, this ministry. Never, ever doubt that and never, ever despise small beginnings. Jesus entered into this world humbly and so we must enter into his world (our heavenly calling) the same way.

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