On (Spiritual) Asymmetric Warfare

Phyllis Nissila

Asymmetric warfare: noun, warfare in which opposing groups or nations have unequal military resources, and the weaker opponent uses unconventional weapons and tactics, (such) as terrorism, to exploit the vulnerabilities of the enemy. [1]

He knows he has to use it. Satan, that is. Asymmetrical warfare, that is.

Against the power of the blood of God’s own Son given as recompense for the evil of mankind to all those who so choose it by putting their faith in Jesus Christ and following Him, Satan has nothing comparable.

Not that he is interested in redeeming anyone. Quite the opposite, actually.

But he’s a brilliant tactician.

Our true enemy is not about to show up sporting horns, wearing red, and wielding a pitchfork, or anything as obvious. Rather, he deceives more as an “angel of light,” a subtle suggestion, a seductive experience. Satan, the Devil, Beelzebub is his own “fifth column,” with a little help from his fiends, snaking into high places intent on bringing them down.

For starters, he knows he has to keep the truth about Jesus’ sacrifice quiet, get rid of the record, the Bible—the “Believer’s Field Manual,” you might put it—in any way possible: hide it from the masses for a few centuries, say, or try to convince the many that only the few by virtue of gender or worldly position can understand it, teach it, and preach it.

If those tactics don’t work, he sets about to discredit The Book, mock it, add to it, and/or subtract from it. Or, perhaps most cunning of all, “modernize” it for a new century, replacing the Holy Spirit with the Spirit of the Age… a “new spiritual zeitgeist” for a supposed “new man”.

Because the truth is potent to save, heal, and deliver, Satan also knows he must try to dust up all kinds of counterfeit belief systems to fool the gullible, the guileless, and the guilt-ridden. Because if he can just convince non-Christian and Christian alike that grace is a sham, Jesus, mere man, and Hell, flim flam; if he just could accomplish all this, for starters, he’d be happier in his own misery.

Or so the Father of Lies would lie, to himself.

But by whatever method works, Satan is bent on killing, stealing, and destroying” (John 10:10) however he can.

What’s a believer to do?

We are advised to keep in mind some of Satan’s greatest (temptation) hits, if you will, his most effective “asymmetric warfare tactics.” For example, the ones he tried on Jesus:

  1. Appeal to the flesh:

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

  1. Appeal to presumption:

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

  1. Appeal to worldly ambitions:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:1-11, NIV)

But obviously, Satan picked the wrong candidate in the Son of God. And the power that trumped his own? The Word of God in the text spoken by the Word of God in the flesh.

The good news for battle-fatigued believers is that this same power to overcome temptation, by grace through faith at re-birth, is available to us today, too, if we employ it. And here’s an encouragement to go with: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

We still need to be aware of Satan’s ploys, his hidden spiritual landmines, and we are advised to keep our “weapons” ready for spiritual warfare*. Like Nehemiah re-building the wall around the Holy City, it’s best to keep a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other because although our arch enemy is defeated, he still prowls about looking for the vulnerable. And in the midst of the fray, it also helps to remember the believer’s battle cry: “Greater is he in us than he who is in the world” (1 John, 4:4).

*For a detailed description of our “spiritual armor,” see chapter Ephesians 6:10-18, in the “Believer’s Field Manual”.


[1] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Asymmetric+warfare

This entry was posted in Commentaries, Devotionals, devotionals and commentaries featuring technology, encouragement in hard times, end times spiritual survival, most recent posts, spiritual survival, survival tools and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to On (Spiritual) Asymmetric Warfare

  1. Carl Gordon says:

    p.s. posted this on my facebook page too. 🙂


  2. Carl Gordon says:

    “battle fatigued believers” like I’ve been from time to time enjoy reading posts like yours. Have received a ‘second wind’ and encouragement from the words pointing to the Word of God. Many thanks.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Very enlightening post … I especially like the reference to Nehemiah: “Like Nehemiah re-building the wall around the Holy City, it’s best to keep a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other because although our arch enemy is defeated, he still prowls about looking for the vulnerable.”
    Yes, the enemy seeks to devour BUT you brought glory to the infallible Word with your many Scriptural references … AMEN, AMEN, AMEN!!!


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