Know Your Enemy
By Anthony Casperson
About a year or so into the D&D campaign for which I was the DM, we added a new player. He wanted to pick a character class that meshed well with what the group already had. They already had two melee fighters/tanks and a wizardy type character, so he chose to be a bow-wielding ranger.
In 5th edition D&D, rangers gain a special ability called Favored Enemy. They get to choose a creature type and gain extra perks when dealing with such types of enemies. Wisely, the player asked me what types of enemies would be likely to be encountered because he didn’t want to waste that choice.
I told him that any creature type of enemy could appear, but the story mostly revolved around the big bad who was a human king that liked using humanoid assassins and robot-like constructs. The player then chose accordingly. And came to be quite capable in the fight against the party’s greatest foe.
While good can come from many different choices—and I might’ve thrown in more of the type of enemy that he would’ve chosen as his character’s Favored Enemy anyway—this player’s line of thinking is a good one. If you know the type of enemies you’ll encounter most often, you can direct your attention toward the best skills and tactics to defeat them.
It’s one of the best ways to prepare for the fight.
Over the next couple months, I’ve decided to write a blog series that finds its origin in Paul’s words about spiritual warfare found in Ephesians 6:10-20. We’ll look into equipping ourselves with the qualities listed in those verses. And expand beyond just those words to the Ephesians when it comes to each. For instance, next week we’ll look at truth. Then righteousness the next. You get the point.
But this week, it seemed best to start this introduction to the series with acknowledgement of what type of opponents are in mind when it comes to spiritual warfare. What type of enemy that we’ll come across the most often in this campaign of spiritual war. Essentially, who should we keep in mind as our Favored Enemy.
The problem, you see, is that far too often we followers of Jesus consider other people to be our enemy. Those who scoff at the bible, or hate the idea of God, or use everything in their power to diminish the spread of the gospel. And it’s easy to consider such people our opponents in this spiritual war. Especially since a visible enemy is the easiest one to direct our attention toward.
But the fact of the matter is that those unbelieving people are just as much images of God as we are—broken and marred in ways that we once were too, but still made in his image. How we treat other people reflects something of what we believe about the God they (fallen-ly) represent. And since God is no longer our enemy after we’ve come to Jesus, those who have yet to accept the sacrifice of Jesus—and bear his image—are not our real enemy either.
If we look at Ephesians 6:11-12, we’ll see that Paul reminds us that our war is against the schemes of the devil. We don’t fight against flesh and blood. Rather it’s against the spiritual powers that we fight. The sinful temptations that eat away at the image of God in humanity. The lies that call destructive worldviews, ideologies, and values as good. The slow creep of corruption that seeks to dominate culture.
Yes, sometimes the enemy uses other humans to propagate its spread, but those people are not the enemy. Rather, they are the prisoners of war that we should seek to free as we battle against our true foe. Those caught in the crossfire, but should never draw our weapon’s aim.
So, as we spend these months looking into spiritual warfare, let’s keep our real foe in mind. There is a best choice for our Favored Enemy in this spiritual battle. And it is not any human being.