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  • Writer's pictureLynn Holzinger

Discerning the Enemy

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test

The spirits to see whether they are from God…

1 John 4:1

Nehemiah had a physical enemy that was trying to destroy him much like we have an enemy in the spiritual realm that is trying to destroy us. I think we can learn from Nehemiah how to deal with our enemy. Our enemy is Satan and his minions. First we must accept our enemy is as real as Nehemiah’s enemy was and his plans are to destroy us.

Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem the Arab, and the rest of Israel’s enemies had found out that the wall had been completed and just the gates still had to be built. So they sent word they wanted to meet with Nehemiah. But Nehemiah discerned that they wanted to harm him so he sent word back that he could not meet with them because he was in the middle of a great project. Four times they sent the same message and four times Nehemiah refused. The fifth time, Sanballat sent his servant along with an open letter that accused the people of plotting to rebel and make Nehemiah their king. Nehemiah held his ground and replied that none of it was true and he would not give in to intimidation. Later, Nehemiah went to meet with the prophet, Shemaiah who was confined to his home. But Nehemiah realized that what he said was not from the Lord, rather he had been hired by Sanballat and Tobiah to prophesy against Nehemiah and cause him to sin.

Why didn’t Nehemiah fall for either plan? He discerned his enemy’s tactics. How could he have known they wanted to harm him? It’s reasonable that they might seeing as they were the enemy, but Nehemiah 6:2 says, “I realized they were plotting to harm me,” This verse sounds like he knew with certainty. Only the Holy Spirit could reveal it to him. 1 Corinthians 12:10 tells us that He gives some the ability to discern whether a message is from the Spirit of God or from another spirit. Hebrews 5:14 tells us that by our constant use of God’s Word, we train ourselves to discern good from evil. So it’s important to know what the Bible says by constantly getting into it.

Nehemiah would have known God’s Word. He also understood the nature of the enemy. John 8:44 tells us Satan was a murderer from the beginning, that he always hated the truth because there is no truth in him. He is a liar and the father of lies. He uses many tactics just as we see them being used by Saballat and Tobiah with Nehemiah. They tried to get him to meet under false pretenses, they were persistent, they finally resorted to slander, they approached him at an opportune time (before the gates were finished), and they tried to intimidate Nehemiah and get him to compromise.

Prayer is another way we can discern what the enemy is up to. We can pray for wisdom as James 1:5-6 tells us: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of a sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.” Having wisdom will help us discern what the enemy is up to. When we listen, God may speak to us about a specific way to pray against a plan of the enemy…for us and for our prodigals.

I am not suggesting that we focus on the enemy. But just like it was to Nehemiah’s advantage to know what the enemy was planning, we sometimes need to be able to discern his plans and his tactics. Nehemiah was building a much needed wall and looking to God for his strength and provision, but when the enemy had an evil plan, God wanted him to know about it in advance so that he could respond rightly.

While I was praying for our prodigals today, I had a picture of them sitting in a prison in another country. They had been visiting and then captured and falsely accused of a crime. I saw a team going in on a mission to rescue them. Much like we hear about in the news. Whether they are a prisoner of war or captured on false charges, they are at the mercy of the system. We as a team, through our prayers, are on a mission to see our prodigals rescued from the enemy. There are thousands of them, but our mission is directed at 89 of them (the number in our group). More may be added at any time and we will not give up until we see them safely home in the arms of the Father. Just like a mission must be planned and things must be put into place before the rescue attempt takes place, so God is putting things into place that must happen first. Don’t grow weary. At the right time, the rescue will happen. Sometimes an attempt fails, but they don’t give up. They try again. A couple of times something happened in my son’s life that I thought might cause Him to see God. I was waiting in anticipation. But it wasn’t the right time. It was like a failed attempt kind of. So I keep praying, knowing another rescue attempt is in the works.

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