The Mission of Our Enemy and the Mission of God
I’m concerned that many Christians don’t realize that they’re living in the middle of a spiritual war. I’m concerned that many of us are acting like it’s peacetime when, in reality, it’s wartime. We have the mentality of walking through life like a peaceful stroll in a park rather than understanding that we’re actually right in the middle of a battle zone.
Paul states in Ephesians 6:12 that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
In order to fight against our enemy, we have to understand the mission of our enemy. And in order to understand the mission of our enemy, we first have to understand the mission of God. This is because Satan’s mission is the mirror image—that is, the exact opposite—of God’s mission. Whatever God’s trying to do, you can bet that Satan’s trying to sabotage it. That’s what Satan does.
He’s kind of like someone playing defense in basketball. Wherever the player with the ball runs, that’s where the defender runs. If they player with the ball goes to the left, the defender goes to the left; if he goes to the right, the defender goes to the right. Just about everything the defender does is in response to that player with the ball.
And it works the same way spiritually. Satan’s mission is to hinder and sabotage and oppose God’s mission in every way he can. So let’s think about God’s mission.
God’s mission is to fix everything that’s broken with this world. He’s working to bring restoration and renewal and redemption to a world that’s been marred by the ugliness of human rebellion.
You see, God originally created the world to be good. In Genesis 1:31, the Bible says, “God saw everything that he had made and behold, it was very good.” Everything was good, beautiful, and perfect. But then human beings rebelled against God. They disobeyed God’s commands and rejected his authority. Interestingly, the Bible actually says they did this because they were instigated by Satan. So we see how Satan was opposing God’s mission from the very beginning.
And because of humanity’s sinful rebellion, this world became a really messed up place to live in. Sin entered the world along with suffering, dysfunctional relationships, violence, hatred, natural disasters, disease, and even death. This world went from being a place of pristine beauty to a place that’s been marred and twisted by sin. And that’s why we see so many examples of brokenness in our world today.
But God is in the process of making everything new.
He sent his Son Jesus into this world to start that process of renewing and redeeming and restoring everything to the way he originally intended for it to be. Of course, Satan actively opposed everything Jesus tried to do. The Bible records how he waited until Jesus was at his weakest moment, fasting from food in the desert, before approaching Jesus, and he tried to convince Jesus to deviate from what God the Father had told him to do. Satan even tried to entice Jesus to worship him instead! But Jesus wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t worship Satan or deviate in even the slightest way from his Father’s instructions.
And after living a perfectly sinless life, Jesus voluntarily died on the cross to take the punishment for our sins. He paid the debt that we owed, satisfying the justice and appeasing the wrath of God the Father. That’s what happened on the cross. The justice of God in punishing sin and the love of God in rescuing us from sin were both on display in unparalleled splendor.
After Jesus died on the cross, he resurrected from the dead. And Jesus’ resurrection is a picture of what can happen to us as we turn from our sin and put our trust in him to rescue us. When we do that—when we direct our hope towards him as our only hope of salvation—we become a new person. Our sins are forgiven, our heart is changed, and we can look forward to enjoying the fullness of God’s work of renewal in the future.
Because, one day, God’s going to complete the work of renewal he’s begun. The Bible describes it as “a new heaven and a new earth.” It’s going to be a place where everything that’s wrong with this world will be made right—the sin, the suffering, and even death itself will be completely done away with, and this world will be even better than what God had originally created. And the best part is that God himself will be personally present as the centerpiece of that new creation—because God and his people will have been reconciled.
But Satan doesn’t want any of that to happen. And so he’s made it his mission to oppose God’s work of renewal in every way possible. Just like a good basketball defender, Satan’s matching God’s every move and trying to hinder his work.
One thing Satan does this is try to prevent people from becoming Christians. 2 Corinthians 4:4 states that Satan “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel.” So Satan tries everything he can to prevent people from seeing the truth of the gospel and embracing Jesus. Of course, people’s own hearts many times hinder them from becoming Christians, but Satan adds an additional hindrance and blinds their minds.
In addition, Satan also oppresses people after they become Christians. He tries everything he can to hinder them and keep them from being effective for Jesus. And three of the most common ways he does this is by dividing believers, derailing believers, and discouraging believers.
Satan will try to divide believers by pitting them against each other and stirring up trouble in churches. In 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul talks about forgiving each other after a church conflict and then expresses the desire “that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” So that church conflict was at least in part inspired by Satan.
Second, Satan also likes to derail believers by enticing them to sin. He wants to get them off track spiritually and destroy their closeness to God by promoting them to rebel against God’s instructions. We saw that in the Garden of Eden, we saw that with Jesus, and we see it today.
Third, Satan tries to discourage believers. He makes them feel guilty for their sins even after they’ve repented. He tells them lies about God’s love and forgiveness. He causes them to feel depressed and worthless and down.
For Satan, it’s all about hindering Christian from being effective servants of God. He will try to divide, derail, and discourage Christians so that they won’t be able to do what God has called them to do—so they won’t be able to share the gospel or make disciples effectively.
Next week, we’ll talk about how we can fight against that.