Scriptures remind us that our spiritual battle between good and evil is real: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12) We are children of Light, we belong to Christ and this is why Darkness fights against us. And as we evangelize this struggle can escalate because Satan does not want people to get saved. He prowls around us like a roaring lion, seeking whom he will devour (1 Pet. 5:8), and he uses various tactics to bring us down and make us fail.
What are these tactics?
1) Our enemy prevents humility by promoting self-reliance. Pride can come to us in the form of “I can do it.”; as though we could manage all by ourselves. And especially when things get difficult, we tend to work harder instead of asking God for help. To avoid this trap, we should depend more on God, know that he will not fail us, and lean on Him in all things.
2) Our enemy prevents unity and love by creating division. Satan adores it when there is resentment, malice, suspicion and judgment among Christians. Even if we have unity at one point it’s not guaranteed forever. To avoid this, we need to synchronize with the Holy Spirit and adopt an attitude of intentional openness towards others, active listening, forgiveness, service, trust and flexibility.
3) Our enemy prevents our conversion by fostering contentment. It is easy to slip into a place of complacency thinking, “That’s good enough.” To improve and sanctify ourselves and better fulfill the mission of making disciples, we need to keep our eyes on what should change in our lives and in the life of the Church.
4) Our enemy makes us lose peace and joy by dragging us into exhaustion and burnout. God’s peace is a wonderful gift. What better scheme to steal it from us than to keep us super busy, eroding our devotion to God and time spent with friends and family? To fill the void we need to cultivate meaningful relationships and especially an intimate relationship with the One who is Joy and Peace. Sometimes we also need to slow down, say no to certain requests, and rest. Jesus puts it this way: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit”. (Jn. 15:5)
5) Our enemy prevents us from evangelizing by making us forget the true nature of the Church. If God wants everyone to be saved, our enemy wants everyone to be lost. What he hates most is our efforts to bring people to salvation. He will do everything to divert the Church from its primary task, given by Christ himself: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matt. 28:19) He will also try to hide from us the effective ways that missionary churches use to grow the Kingdom of God on earth. We can remember the words of Saint John Paul II, “missionary evangelization… is the primary service which the Church can render to every individual and to all humanity in the modern world.” Let’s allow ourselves to be inspired by what other Christian communities do to effectively reach people to Christ. We do our best… and he will do the rest.
6) Our enemy prevents our walk with God by portraiting Him as a liar and making us doubt His word. At the dawn of time, Adam and Eve allowed Satan to steal God’s blessings and destroy their fellowship with Him. They subjugated themselves, to their new master when they believed his lying suggestion that God did not mean what He said. (Gen. 3:1,4,6) Adam and Eve were banished from God’s presence in the Garden of Eden and were separated from Him. (Isa. 59:2) When we sin, we hurt God who loves us so much and we grow further away from Him. To stay and grow in God’s grace we must believe that whatever God says is true and full of living power. (Heb. 4:12) God means what He says and it is not left to us to doubt his promises or change what he has made clear in His word.
7) Our enemy prevents joy and progress in our personal lives and pastoral endeavours by causing discouragement. We are most likely to be discouraged when we think we are alone, that no one cares, and that nothing seems to work. We will also be discouraged when we fail morally. The truth is that there is always something good for which we can be thankful and that God’s forgiveness is always available. Let us focus on the good, take advantage of God’s mercy and recommit ourselves to the path of virtue and mission.
By knowing the tactics of the enemy we can protect ourselves from his insidious attacks and walk in victory. When we know what he is up to, we can prevent him from stopping us. No need to be afraid, on the contrary, we can be confident because the one who is within us is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 Jn. 4:4) Let us also remember the words of Jesus to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque: “Don’t be afraid, I will reign in spite of My enemies and all those who try to oppose Me.”
Text partly inspired by the article “The enemy’s top 5 Tactics” https://outreachmagazine.com/features/discipleship/47594-the-enemys-top-5-tactics-and-how-to-respond.html