The Fiercest Enemy You Will Ever Face

Posted on March 2, 2020


By David Ettinger

Identifying the Enemy
No, it’s not Satan. Yes, Satan is your enemy and he would love to destroy you, but he is not your fiercest enemy.

“… refined in the fire …” (Revelation 3:18).

Why? Satan surely is a powerful being who wages war on Christians. His number one tool is temptation; manipulating circumstances to put the Christian in the most vulnerable position possible. However, Satan’s influence is limited by God; the devil can tempt, but he can’t make believers sin. The Christian is fortified and protected by the indwelling Holy Spirit; it is He who prevents Satan from gaining significant leverage in the believer’s life. Satan can throw the proverbial “kitchen sink” at you regarding temptation, but he can’t make you sin.

Instead, sin is something you do on your own. Whereas resistance to the devil will cause him to flee (James 4:7), sin is a permanent resident in your being. You can resist him, but he never goes away. He is a ferocious, persistent, and formidable opponent who never gives up. Sin is the fiercest enemy you will ever face.

Knowing the Enemy
The most insightful portion of Scripture regarding sin is Romans Chapter 7. In this chapter, the apostle Paul brilliantly scrutinizes the nature of sin in the believer.


A good place to start is verse 15: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” This is the essence of sin. That which we “want to do” is live a holy and pure life dedicated to God. That which we don’t want to do is the deeds that violate holiness and purity: among them sexual immorality; lying; cursing; acting in anger; hating; lusting; and gossiping. The Holy Spirit convicts us of the evil of such things, and when we do them, we know we are wrong.

So, what’s the problem? The problem is that though the Holy Spirit inhabits us, we, on our part, inhabit a fleshly, unspiritual body. Because of this “… I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature” (v. 18). So, within each one of us dwell both the Holy Spirit and the sin nature, or, as verse 17 puts it, “sin living in me.”

Sin living within the Christian wreaks havoc. Verse 19 echoes verse 15: “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” Is this you? Don’t you dare deny it; it was true for Paul, and it’s true for you and me.

Engaging the Enemy
Verse 21 highlights the conflict within you: “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” And yet, within that very verse is your hope … the wonderful truth that will propel you in your fight against sin. What is this hope? It is that “I want to do good.” In context, the word “good” is not speaking of acts of kindness or being a Good Samaritan. The “good” here refers to living a holy and righteous life, i.e., not sinning.

prayer hands

Unbelievers do not possess this capacity. Yes there are plenty of Good Samaritan unbelievers who do great things for humanity, but again, this is not what this verse is speaking of. “Good” in Romans 7 represents pleasing God. When you became a believer, you inherited the desire to want to please God. Unbelievers have no such desire. They also can’t understand your view of sin. You consider sexual relations as being sanctioned only between a married couple consisting of a man and a woman. Unbelievers see sex as being okay in any situation where all parties consent. You see lying as a violation against God; unbelievers see is as permissible if circumstances dictate its use. You revere God’s name; unbelievers profane God’s name.

Most importantly, however, is Paul’s teaching that you are not a “slave to sin” (v. 14). Actually, your body is a slave to sin, but in your mind you are “a slave to God’s law” (v. 25). Whereas sin is the rule for unbelievers, it is not the rule for you. You have both sin and God’s holiness living within you and may choose which one you follow.

Defeating the Enemy
One key to defeating sin is to acknowledge just how powerful it is. Paul wrote:

For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (vv. 22-24).

He wastes no time in replying: “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Yes, sin dwells within you, but you are not a slave of its dictates. You can fight back! You can say no! But you can’t do it alone.


How do you fight against and defeat this heinous enemy? You take God at His word and then you take action. When you are facing the hottest flames of temptation, you pray. You say, “God, sin is rising up within me and every fiber of my flesh wants to submit. But Father, you have freed me from the hold of this fierce enemy. I call upon the Holy Spirit to strengthen me and fight for me. Lord, help me to yield to the good that is within me, not the bad.”

That’s the start. If you can get away from where you are, go! If you are in bed and sinful thoughts are assaulting you, get up and vacuum the floor. Take whatever reasonable action you can, but keep on praying, praying, and praying until you have defeated sin’s offensive against you. Do this, and the Holy Spirit will give you a victory.

And when it happens the next time – and it will – do it all over again. Defeating the enemy of sin is the most difficult battle you will ever engage in, but victory can – and often will – be had!