Our Spiritual Opponent: The Adversary
Author: Kelly Packard
July 25, 2022
1 Peter 5:8 “Be
sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the
devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
A career as a basketball coach has yielded insight about the
scouting process that takes place prior to facing an opponent. One aspect of
scouting includes identifying the opponent’s weaknesses and developing a carefully
calculated strategy to exploit those weaknesses. It’s an intentional strategy.
Bluntly, the purpose of implementing the strategy during competition is to defeat
This scouting experience in the athletic arena has provided
a deeper understanding of the intent and strategy of our prowling spiritual opponent, the adversary. He doesn’t just stumble upon us. He is
actively prowling with an intentional strategy to exploit our weaknesses. His
goal is to devour.
One more important thing to note: he doesn’t play fair. He is an expert
deceiver. He masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). He is a
liar and the father of lies. When he lies, he speaks his native language (John
8:44). Crafty and clever. Appealing to our weaknesses in ways that seem safe,
pleasurable, satisfying, and even deserved. Not to be easily detected.
1 Peter 5:8 instructs us to be sober-minded and watchful. Since the adversary
is prowling with disguised intentions, there is immeasurable value in identifying
our personal weaknesses. If we lack an awareness of our
weaknesses, we are easy prey. Knowing our weaknesses gives us insight to areas
of possible attack.
Life has a way of revealing our weaknesses. Yet learning by
the road rash of life experience isn’t preferential. There is another
provision. God, through the Holy Spirit can reveal our weaknesses, including
the very thoughts and heart of a man (Psalms 139:2-23.) Inquire of the Spirit.
Bask in His Word. Ask Him to search your heart. Let Him conduct a spiritual
MRI. Listen in humility to what is revealed.
In athletics, game preparation before facing
an opponent is crucial. Otherwise, we spiral when it’s “game time.” When weaknesses
are identified prior to facing our opponent, there is time to strengthen those
areas with intentional practice. Our practice plan includes daily designated time
to address our weaknesses. Each drill includes a repetition aspect of the skill
that needs developed. We gain healthy confidence knowing and addressing our
What should be included in our spiritual “practice plan” to strengthen our revealed
weaknesses? Certainly, we don’t want to willingly put ourselves in the
adversary’s path. However, he is actively prowling, and we will find ourselves
in situations that require “practice and repetition” on our identified weaknesses.
Our flesh also creates situations for “practice and repetition.” with a healthy
appetite of its own. Be sober-minded and alert.
What exactly are we “practicing” in preparation for our
We “practice” allowing the Holy Spirit to reveal our
weaknesses. We “practice” using God’s provisions in Scripture to withstand the adversary’s
attacks. God’s Word is the “practice plan” and knowing His Word comes through
the “repetition” of daily exposure and application.
Ephesians chapter 6 highlights God’s provision of the “whole
armor of God” when we encounter the adversary. We are instructed to put on the
armor. The armor is multi-faceted designed for complete protection. For the
brevity of this blog, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, will
be the focus. To effectively use the sword, we must be familiar with the sword,
the Word, before the attack. We develop familiarity with the Word
by “practice and repetition.” Only then can we use our sword to pierce the
father of lies. Jesus gave us this example when tempted by the devil in the
wilderness (Matthew 4:1-11).
In athletics, there is confidence headed into “game time”
when you know the weaknesses the opponent is likely to attack. You feel
prepared. Likewise, there is a place for confidence in our battle with the
adversary. Our spiritual opponent is indeed formidable. We must not be
overconfident, yet we must not grant our enemy more power than he possesses.
The importance lies in where we place our confidence. If
it’s our own strength, it’s false confidence. At best, it yields inconsistent
results. At worst, we become devoured prey. Stay sober-minded and watchful, yet
fully confident in God’s authority. He who is in you is greater than he who is
in the world (1 John 4:4).