Friday, May 26, 2006

Pre-emptive Strike

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.” (2 Cor. 10:4)

A pre-emptive strike, as you would imagine, is a military attack designed to prevent or reduce the impact of an anticipated attack from an enemy. In the eyes of those who value peace at any price, it is sometimes seen as provocative rather than preventative, and, granted, it is possible to act on impulse without justification. The key, of course, is having knowledge of your enemy’s purpose, past performance, and present capabilities. But when these have been fully ascertained, only a fool would sit back and wait to be attacked. Since I write “for the girls,” you have already suspected that I am not offering a justification of a particular method of military warfare, but using it merely as an illustration of what I see to be a Bible truth.

Are we to wait until the Enemy strikes before we engage? and when I say Enemy, I am referring to Satan. Some would say we are our own worst enemy, and the devil has more important fish to fry, but I notice that in his first recorded human contact, it was the woman that he approached, not the man. I realize there are those who see the devil behind every bush, but there are just a many (if not more) who are oblivious, even when he is breathing down the back of their necks. As to his purpose, it is clear: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet.5:8). Notice it does not say he is seeking a “what,” but a “whom” to devour. He prey is not the world or society; it is us (Luke 22:31). As to his past performance and his present capabilities, we have more than enough examples in the Bible. Therefore, if anyone is a candidate for a preemptive strike it is Satan. But how does one go about delivering a handicapping blow to such a fierce enemy?

In the case of the military, a preemptive strike can be either physical or non-physical. In other words, anything that can be done to reduce the impact of the enemy’s blows before they hit could be seen as offensive, and because of their timing, pre-emptive. For instance, I know Satan will attack my mind, therefore I must not mistake imagination that can quickly become a breeding ground for wickedness (Prov.6:18), for meditation, a window to the sweetness of the Lord (Psl.104:34). This is why the next verse in 2 Corinthians ten reads: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Likewise, if I am smart, I will not allow my body to become an easy target for the devil’s fiery darts by keeping it under control and “in subjection,” as Paul said (1Cor.9:27). I am also aware that my enemy is looking for any chance he can find to fill my heart with a spirit of deception (Acts 5:3), therefore I need to constantly focus my affections on the One who has said, “Son, give me thine heart” (Prov. 23:26).

If I were fighting flesh and blood, I could know that shunning “the place of temptation” would suffice, but since we are told that we “wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against…spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph.6:12), I must assume that my spiritual battles will more likely have to be fought in familiar, and seemingly safe, places. We are like the man in the book of Amos running from a lion, who flees to his house for safely, only to be bitten by a serpent when he wearily leans on the wall (Amos 5:19). For this reason, preemptive measures will always be appropriate in the Christian life. The enemy of our souls has set his sights on us, personally, and although we may consider ourselves to be inconsequential, the fact that he wants us gives us some indication of what is at stake.

The Enemy will strike, but his blows can be blunted in all cases, and evaded completely in some. It will require anticipatory action on our part—a preemptory strike, if you will, and only those who are serious about victory will rise to the occasion.

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