Unveiling Satan's Strategy
UNVEILING SATAN’S STRATEGY
Satan’s Sniper Attacks
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I think the most terrifying experience I have ever been through was being engaged by a sniper. Depending on the skill of the sniper, you were at his mercy. He could take you out in the blink of an eye, and there was nothing you could do about it. If he had you in his sights, and he wanted it, you were dead. Here is a terrifying truth: the victim of a truly skilled sniper dies without ever knowing it. Alive one second; dead the next.
That’s not nearly as terrifying as this truth: Satan is a master sniper with the highest kill count in history. And, just like a sniper, he sets his sights on his victims without most of them ever knowing it. Don’t believe me? Here is what Paul had to say to Timothy about this:
“In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Timothy 2:25-26).
Did you see that? “At his will.”
What’s sobering to me is that Paul is talking about Christians in that passage. Some might say that he’s talking about the unsaved because the devil can’t touch God’s children. That’s not only false doctrine; it’s dangerous theology. Timothy is a letter addressed to a pastor, and he is clearly teaching the young man how to take care of the disciples of Christ in his care. It’s not talking about possession; that’s a subject I covered in a previous blog. People love to claim all kinds of things that amp up a crowd and get people to shout, fill up the offering plate, and send in their money. However, just because it sounds good doesn’t mean it’s true. Fools love to make claims of how they can beat up the devil like he’s nothing, never realizing that Satan is laughing at them whilst destroying their lives.
So how do you survive a sniper attack?
You have to anticipate potential attacks
You have to see what you can’t see.
You have to find an egress (escape route)
Anticipating Potential Attacks
There’s a misconception among people who have never been to war that snipers are just people with a single target. This is the Hollywood perception of a sniper:
Orders are received either face-to-face or through some secret communication
The sniper spends weeks scouting a location and practicing a shot
The sniper gets into position by pretending to be someone else, then stashes the fake clothes in a trash can before getting into position
The target arrives, has a good time doing whatever, and then the target is down and the sniper disappears into the crowd, perfectly concealing the weapon
That makes for good television, but it’s not exactly accurate. Snipers have many roles. Sometimes they get their mission and have little time to prepare. They’re taken to or they go to a location, and they stay there for hours, days, or weeks. Often times they don’t move for hours at a time. They may even use the bathroom on themselves if they have to. They go hungry and dehydrate. It’s not glamorous. Other times their missions are quick. They may have a single target or no particular target. They may have a no kill order; their job is to cause confusion, and their target might be equipment. A single shot from a sniper can cause an entire convoy of vehicles or a foot patrol to stop. Then there might be an explosion from behind that takes out part of the convoy or patrol. Then there’s something to the front, and the rest of the patrol or convoy is pinned down in what’s commonly known as a kill box.
The sniper’s job in that situation? Cause enough confusion for the others to attack with deadly precision. There may be more than one sniper, and they work in unison to trap their shared target. In that sense, the task of a sniper is to be the operator of a well laid snare. Hunters use this when they trap game. Lay the bait, disguising the wire, rope, or whatever contraption will be used to trap the animal that takes the bait. The only way to avoid these traps is to anticipate them.
Satan uses simple snares, really. The trap is to draw a person away from God. The bait is a person’s own lust. Most people walk into the trap willingly, some fully knowing they’re making a mistake. The full measure of the consequences, however, are rarely known until it’s too late for the victim. But by then, the sniper has already disappeared into the crowd.
To avoid this scenario, identify potential traps and avoid the routes you know are convenient for a sniper. We thought a lot about snipers before we drove down narrow streets in Iraq. Spiritual warfare should be approached equally with care.
Married people should not allow themselves to be alone for a long time around single people or people they may find attractive. You can’t avoid everything, and you can’t walk through life blindfolded, but you don’t put the murder weapon in the enemy’s hand and then hope for the best. You’re a fool if you think you’re not susceptible to sin. People don’t come out of the womb hoping to be adulterers, and only a few, sleazy people go into marriage knowing they won’t be faithful. Even if you trust yourself, you should not ignorantly trust the intentions of everyone else.
The principle here is simple: Do your best to avoid a potential ambush. Don’t hang out in bars if you’re a recovering alcoholic. It’s incredible to me that a lab rat will keep going to the feeder bar regardless of how many times it gets zapped. We want our cheese, and we’re willing to take the shock in order to get it, but one day that shock is going to be a sniper’s bullet.
The mentality of a combat soldier is that snipers could be anywhere, at any time. In order to fight the battles of spiritual warfare, we must know that Satan’s snipers could and are everywhere, all the time.
Seeing the Unseen
Imagine a portion of a wall exploding next to you. Less than a second later, you hear the echo of a shot ringing out. On instinct you duck and then look for cover. Having no alternatives, you move behind the wall that just exploded, hoping that section is now between you and the enemy. Everyone, including you, is screaming “sniper” to alert anyone nearby to take cover and to let the sniper know that you’re aware of his presence.
Now comes the assessment. No wounded, full rations, and everyone is looking to you for a plan of engagement. You close your eyes, and everything slows down. You can hear the sound of your breathing, your heart beating. You feel the blood pumping through your temples like a drum. You have to figure out where the sniper is. You open your eyes and inspect the portion of the wall. The lower half of the exploded section is larger than the top, and the side closer to you is wider than the other.
Assessment: The sniper is above you, probably in the second story of a building across from you at a forty-five degree angle.
Problem: You still don’t know which window the sniper is shooting from, or if he’s still there. The solution is fairly simple. You have to signal to your troops to form two teams, one for over watch and one for flanking. That done, you visualize the area to try and understand the layout of the buildings, mentally going through scenarios of the best concealment and fastest egress routes.
What the soldier in this situation is doing is looking at the available information and then analyzing what can’t be seen. It’s similar to those of us engaged in spiritual warfare. We can see the results of attacks, but it’s not so easy to see where the attacks are coming from or anticipating the next ambush. It’s so easy to see drugs, pornography, scientific and philosophical slights on the Bible, immorality, and so on. It’s not so easy to see the subtle attacks that do far worse damage.
The Bible is clear that we are not fighting a carnal battle.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Powers (authority over mankind)
The rulers of the darkness of this world (ignorance of the divine; beings of darkness who hold sway)
Spiritual wickedness (evil purposes and desires)
Rulers make laws and decrees that pin God’s people down. These rulers are influenced by hidden powers that thrive on mankind being ignorant of true evil. The hidden powers have their desires fulfilled, and mankind is plunged further into darkness. What many fail to consider is that this is happening in plain sight. But why is Satan operating behind the scenes? Why not out in the open like he did with Adam and Eve in the garden in Eden?
I can’t say for sure, but somewhere along the way that world was hidden to mortal sight. Sure, people have had visions, and the Bible tells us that we have entertained angels without knowing it, but we’re not supposed to see everything. Satan is the prince of the power of the air according to Ephesians 2, and he’s blinded the minds of man according to 2 Corinthians 4. I don’t have all of the answers. I know that he lost the power of death according to Hebrews 2, and the book of Job shows us that God—not Satan—has set the boundaries.
But who can see these things? Only the spiritually discerned.
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
One of my favorite portions of Scripture is 2 Kings chapter 6. In that chapter, Elisha and his servant wake up and are surrounded by an army. The servant, Gehazi, is obviously afraid, but Elisha is quite calm. Why? Because his eyes were open to the spiritual realm. He prayed and asked God to open his servant’s eyes, and God did. Gehazi looked around and saw that the enemy army was surrounded by horses and chariots of fire.
I don’t know why there’s push back for this. People don’t like the fact that I suggest there are angelic beings watching over the affairs of men. Well, I’m actually not suggesting it at all. I’m saying it’s a fact according to Zechariah chapter one. Angelic princes war in the heavens. Not my suggestion. That’s Daniel chapter ten. There’s a war going on. Satan’s mighty men are working to influence the leaders of this world to remove God from every culture. They’re working behind the scenes, whispering in the ears of mankind to steer us toward our own fleshly desires. Not my opinion. Bible.
So what are the unseen hiding places of the sniper? They hide in the actors and musicians that become increasingly vulgar and antichrist. They hide in the laws that seek to silence Christians. They hide in the checkout counter at the supermarket. They hide in plain sight. Perhaps the most deadly sniper is the one hiding in the pulpit, the wolves in sheep’s clothing.
And no, I haven’t gone too far. I firmly believe that demonic forces have put on the clothes and personas of ministers, and they are leading the church of God astray through their messages of humanism and the occult. False Christs rise up and lead people into apostasy, immorality, and death. Fewer and fewer so-called “ministers” open a Bible or encourage their congregations to even bother bringing the sacred text to their faux worship services. Many churches have become social gatherings, human institutions where Jesus is standing outside, knocking and asking to be let in.
These “ministers” are nothing more than snipers, obeying the orders given them. It is indeed sad to think that many of them are unaware that they’re holding rifles in their hands and aiming at their own people.
But how do you see the unseen? How do you know if something is an attack?
You can’t anticipate everything. Despite all of our planning, despite having intelligence to guide us through the areas we traveled, attacks still took place. There was no avoiding it. When I was in Iraq on my first tour there was a sniper who was gaining quite a reputation in Baghdad. It was unnerving to go into certain sectors because the attacks were ramping up, and there didn’t seem to be a way for us to avoid them.
Imagine the terror I felt when my patrol ended up on foot and pinned down one day. My team handled it fairly well, all things considered, but that day I had a crutch that made the situation worse. With me was someone who didn’t travel out in sector very much. Add to this the fact that he outranked me, and you can imagine the awkward moments that took place when he attempted to handle the situation. He attempted to act without knowledge, and he nearly got himself killed. That day, his rank didn’t matter. My experience gave him orders and he reluctantly obeyed. We got out of that situation without injury. Don’t ask me how; most of it is blurred from my mind and I’m fine with it staying that way. The point is, I recognized the type of attack we were under, and my actions followed my knowledge of the situation. It became instinct.
Yes, avoid the attacks if you can. Plan your route. Avoid known hazards and dangerous areas. But you will be attacked. Recognize it for what it is. Once you’re under fire, here are the steps you need to take:
Get down FIRST and THEN seek cover
Assess the situation
Based on your assessment, decide on:
Counter attack or
Never try to counter or defend yourself in the open. History has a long list of fools who thought they’d win the battle by charging toward the enemy in an open field or on a street. No. Get down. Once you’re down, move as quickly to cover as possible.
Spiritually, this could be as simple as literally lowering your eyes when you see something tempting. You could be in a conversation with someone when things go in a sinful direction. Stop talking, and remove yourself from the situation. There’s a million ways to approach this, but hopefully you get the idea. Eliminate yourself as a target as quickly as possible.
Once you’re relatively safe or covered, evaluate whether there has been any damage. Did you say or do anything you should not have done? Address that then and there. Don’t make it worse by hiding it because that’s a snare. Are the people you’re with going to continue down that path without your consent? Maybe you need to separate yourself from them if they won’t respect your wishes but definitely if they’re going in the direction of sin. Why? Sin always leads to death.
Your assessment will tell you whether or not you need to attack the aggressor or remove yourself from the situation. Understand, a threat to your family needs to be attacked in some situations. Someone trying to woo your spouse or hurt your children needs to be confronted. Someone spreading lies about you? You may be better off not confronting that person sometimes. You may be better off letting the truth come out on its own rather than falsely incriminating yourself by allowing anger to prevail. As the saying goes, a guilty dog will bark. Don’t bark if you’re not guilty.
There is nothing wrong with getting away from an attack when your life is in danger. In the military, we didn’t like to use the word retreat. That just means running away. We had tactical withdrawals. Why? It’s not a pride thing. It’s because you remove yourself fully from the attack, survive that battle, and regroup in order to win the war. It’s neither brave nor admirable to get killed because you don’t want to seem like a coward. It’s foolish and unnecessary to die that way. The war is more important than a single battle.
Thankfully, God’s angels are battling for us. They strengthen and comfort us, and they show us the way out of the sniper’s attacks. We have the Holy Spirit leading us. The Word of God lights our path and guides us through temptations.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
How do we escape? We must open the Scriptures, see the true layout of the battlefield, and find the way of escape. If we walk in the spirit, we eliminate the sniper’s ability to trap us. I didn’t say we eliminate his ability to shoot at us or get us into a trap. Remember, the devil takes us captive at his will. However, when we’re guided by the Spirit of God and the Word of God, we can see the way through the attacks and the way out of the traps. And of course, we can avoid many of the snares. We have an advantage over the enemy the rest of the world does not.
First, you’re going to have to let God show you who you really are. Everything. In every way. Your strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, all of it. Have you ever heard of a man named General George Armstrong Custer? How about an infamous battle named Little Bighorn? See, Custer gets almost no credit for his success in his war exploits. He’s known for foolishly leading his men to their deaths in a battle against Sitting Bull’s warriors. Custer didn’t make it to brigadier general based on his amazing tactical skills or military prowess. No, he was just a risk taker whose gambles got him through some victories, but his luck ran out. The truth is that Custer graduated dead last in his graduating class, and his behavior nearly got him expelled several times. He should not have been where he was, so maybe it wasn’t all on him. Regardless, if he had been honest with himself about who he was, things may have gone differently.
Many of us fall into traps and ruin ourselves because we’re not honest about who we are. That’s why we need an honest assessment, and that comes through the scriptures. God’s Word is like a mirror, one held up to our faces by the Holy Spirit. As we read about God’s righteousness, we see our own lack of righteousness. As we read about God’s holiness, we see how unclean we are. As we read about the mistakes of people throughout the Bible’s history, we see the same flaws in ourselves. This is the two-edged sword of truth that shows us who and what we really are.
Trust me, if my report comes back from my soldiers that we’re low on ammunition and water, we’re not settling in for a long fight if we don’t have to. We’re getting out of there and going to a resupply point as quickly as possible. Similarly, if I know that I have a problem with some sin, I’m not going to stand there and try to fight it toe to toe. Absolutely not. I’m getting out of there. Remember, the spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak.
Second, you’re going to have to let God lead you. You want to know what one of the most incredible sounds a soldier on the battlefield can hear is? The chopping of the air that the rotors of a helicopter makes or the distinctively crisp sound of a pilot’s voice over a radio transmission. Those sounds have nearly brought tears to my eyes because of the relief I felt knowing I had someone watching over me. Not only that, I had someone who could cover my movements and direct me to safety while suppressing the enemy. That’s the Lord. He is watching over the battlefield. He knows where the enemy is, where you are, and how to get you to safety. And, He can take out the enemy much more easily than you can.
Too many people travel out in a war zone without a plan and without someone watching over them. We didn’t always have air support, but we knew how to quickly call for it. Once we discovered how valuable it was, we didn’t hesitate. Too many Christians go to the Lord as a last result. They call on the Lord when it’s too late to recover themselves out of the snares of the devil. Listen to me: wounds from a battle never go away. They may heal, but those scars are permanent. I don’t care if they completely disappear; there is a mental, emotional, and spiritual scar associated with every wound received in combat. Some of those are unavoidable, but some happen as a result of foolish pride. They happen because someone wanted to stand his ground and fight an enemy he could not defeat. Many good men and women fell to an an enemy they underestimated in Iraq and Afghanistan.
If you want to survive and win the war, you need the over watch and guidance that only God can give you. You need his angels fighting for you because you are no match for the devils. You, we, I need the Holy Spirit to teach us who we are and who God is. We need His Word, and we need to seek Him early.
Satan has been setting traps for thousands of years. The Earth is his battleground, and he knows the terrain very well. He relishes the chance to ensnare God’s people and destroy their lives. He wants nothing more than to stagnate the Church of God and blind the lost to the way of salvation. He seeks the throne. He desires to rule, and he does not care how many millions he destroys in his war for supremacy. He is an enemy we cannot afford to underestimate. His snipers are in place, and they are dangerous.
However, we, the saints of the Most High God, have been given the intelligence report of the enemy. We know what’s in his arsenal, and we understand the likely places he has set snipers and ambushes. We are aware of his devices, and we have been given the armor of God to withstand his arrows of deception, lust, and pride. We are not alone in the battle, for we navigate the terrain in constant communication with our eternal air support. We are prepared, and we know what to do in case of an attack. Should we be trapped or ambushed, we know exactly what to do.
We will survive. We will win the war.