On (Spiritual) Asymmetric Warfare

Phyllis Nissila

Asymmetric warfare: noun, warfare in which opposing groups or nations have unequal military resources, and the weaker opponent uses unconventional weapons and tactics, (such) as terrorism, to exploit the vulnerabilities of the enemy. [1]

He knows he has to use it. Satan, that is. Asymmetrical warfare, that is.

Against the power of the blood of God’s own Son given as recompense for the evil of mankind to all those who so choose it by putting their faith in Jesus Christ and following Him, Satan has nothing comparable.

Not that he is interested in redeeming anyone. Quite the opposite, actually.

But he’s a brilliant tactician.

Our true enemy is not about to show up sporting horns, wearing red, and wielding a pitchfork, or anything as obvious. Rather, he deceives more as an “angel of light,” a subtle suggestion, a seductive experience. Satan, the Devil, Beelzebub is his own “fifth column,” with a little help from his fiends, snaking into high places intent on bringing them down.

For starters, he knows he has to keep the truth about Jesus’ sacrifice quiet, get rid of the record, the Bible—the “Believer’s Field Manual,” you might put it—in any way possible: hide it from the masses for a few centuries, say, or try to convince the many that only the few by virtue of gender or worldly position can understand it, teach it, and preach it.

If those tactics don’t work, he sets about to discredit The Book, mock it, add to it, and/or subtract from it. Or, perhaps most cunning of all, “modernize” it for a new century, replacing the Holy Spirit with the Spirit of the Age… a “new spiritual zeitgeist” for a supposed “new man”.

Because the truth is potent to save, heal, and deliver, Satan also knows he must try to dust up all kinds of counterfeit belief systems to fool the gullible, the guileless, and the guilt-ridden. Because if he can just convince non-Christian and Christian alike that grace is a sham, Jesus, mere man, and Hell, flim flam; if he just could accomplish all this, for starters, he’d be happier in his own misery.

Or so the Father of Lies would lie, to himself.

But by whatever method works, Satan is bent on killing, stealing, and destroying” (John 10:10) however he can.

What’s a believer to do?

We are advised to keep in mind some of Satan’s greatest (temptation) hits, if you will, his most effective “asymmetric warfare tactics.” For example, the ones he tried on Jesus:

  1. Appeal to the flesh:

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

  1. Appeal to presumption:

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

  1. Appeal to worldly ambitions:

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matthew 4:1-11, NIV)

But obviously, Satan picked the wrong candidate in the Son of God. And the power that trumped his own? The Word of God in the text spoken by the Word of God in the flesh.

The good news for battle-fatigued believers is that this same power to overcome temptation, by grace through faith at re-birth, is available to us today, too, if we employ it. And here’s an encouragement to go with: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

We still need to be aware of Satan’s ploys, his hidden spiritual landmines, and we are advised to keep our “weapons” ready for spiritual warfare*. Like Nehemiah re-building the wall around the Holy City, it’s best to keep a trowel in one hand and a sword in the other because although our arch enemy is defeated, he still prowls about looking for the vulnerable. And in the midst of the fray, it also helps to remember the believer’s battle cry: “Greater is he in us than he who is in the world” (1 John, 4:4).

*For a detailed description of our “spiritual armor,” see chapter Ephesians 6:10-18, in the “Believer’s Field Manual”.


[1] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Asymmetric+warfare

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On the Occasion of Robin Williams’ Death: Back From the Edge of Suicide (A “Toolbox” and a Miracle)

Introduction: The death by suicide of beloved comedian and film star, Robin Williams, prompted me to ask my dear friend “Bev” if she would consider guest-posting her own experience with depression and addiction that has come to a very different conclusion than Williams’. I believe her message of hope and recovery will encourage some who might find their way here, perhaps one or more even contemplating crucial decisions in their own lives just now. Continue reading

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Out of the Fire: On Leaving Roman Catholicism 7 (Yeast and Window Dressing)

Phyllis Nissila

I just finished listening to a “debate” between members of the current apologists of “Catholics and Evangelicals Together,” a movement spear-headed in the nineties as the next phase of the so-called, “Ecumenical Movement” [1].

One speaker was a convert to Catholicism from Protestantism, another, a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy, and a third, an Anglican/Evangelical. They each described themselves as “left-brainers” (linear/logical/analytical thinkers), and each sport quite a few letters after their names. Nevertheless—or perhaps because of—their study and training, they all praised the movement cited above as a good thing because it can unite Christians of disparate denominations by focusing on the essentials of a common faith while agreeing to disagree on non-essentials.

But, gentlemen of the debate, should you read this, it’s those non-essentials that can, like bad yeast, spoil the whole loaf. Continue reading

Posted in Commentaries, Contemplative/Mysticism, Ex-Roman Catholic/Catholicism, most recent posts, Out of the Fire: On Leaving Roman Catholicism | Tagged , , , , | 20 Comments

On Surviving Temporal and Spiritual “Birth Pangs”

Phyllis Nissila

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs (Jesus, Matthew 24:8, NASB).

clockThe Scripture passage above is a familiar one to those tracking so-called “end time” prophecies, also known as the “end of the Church age” and the “last days (not to be confused with the end of the world).” Many Christians believe we are in “those times” just now.

Even non-Christians wonder: where is all this mayhem leading? If it isn’t man-made political chaos in just about every corner of the globe engendering the sharp rise in numbers of really angry people with way too much high-power ordnance at their disposal, it’s environmental and cosmic dangers (both normal, engineered, and some would say paranormal), and a seeming complete absence of wise leadership in response to much of it.

Jesus foresaw these times, too, as referenced above, and compared them to “birth pangs,” a phenomenon any mother can relate to. Continue reading

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On Thieves in the Church

Phyllis Nissila


gold bullionAn Army veteran told this story:

When I arrived at the fort (to guard the gold) I was told there were no bullets for my weapon.

“WHAT?” I asked the CO, astonished.

“No need,” the commander replied. “The gold is gone. We let whoever wants to get in, get in. If they demonstrate evil intent, we simply lock the doors and then they’re ours.”

Brilliant, I thought, and I considered another one who “works the perimeter” of other kinds of repositories: “spiritual storehouses,” if you will. Continue reading

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On the God of the Dance and the Ballerina in Blue

Phyllis Nissila

I estimated that when the ballerina in blue performed with her dance group there was not a dry eye in the audience— or backstage, my niece added, during the time she waited in the wings with her own group for their turn, watching…
Continue reading

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Hope for A Hot Mess

Phyllis Nissila

flamesWe live in a hot mess.

We ARE a hot mess.

This is readily apparent when one reads the news, looks around, looks in the mirror…

But it really hit home recently when I began re-examining the “holiness” concept. Continue reading

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