Overestimating the Enemy
“I’ve spent so much time making sure I don’t underestimate my opponents that I’ve forgotten it’s just as dangerous to overestimate them as well.”
Katniss did well to know her opponents’ strengths. It was smart not to underestimate them. However, she realized there was a danger in taking that too far.
Too much focus on your enemy’s strengths can overwhelm you. You can begin to feel that your enemy is invincible. Overestimating your enemy can lead you to feel depressed, to think that there’s no hope and to give up.
I think this is a temptation we all face in life no matter what our battle or who our enemy is. When we focus on our enemy, whether it’s a struggle we are facing or the spiritual forces behind that struggle, we automatically overestimate the power that enemy has…and then the temptation is to just give up.
This is what makes a bluff so powerful. Our enemy doesn’t have to actually be stronger than we are, so long as we think that he is. Think about a game of cards. People bluff in a card game to make their opponent think that their hand is so good it can’t be beat so that they fold, or give up, when really it’s not a great hand at all and is totally beatable.
Satan operates in much the same way. You see, Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy everything that God loves. The problem is he’s already been beat. Jesus has the victory. Jesus conquered sin and death. Jesus came to “bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God.” (Don’t you just love that passage?!) Satan can’t beat Jesus, but, when it comes to us, he can surely bluff. He makes us think that he is more powerful than he really is. He makes us think that any struggle we are facing is bigger than we are, and any stronghold or addiction in our life is a cell we can never break out of.
How do we safeguard against overestimating our enemy? We need to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Did you catch that? He is sitting at God’s right hand, right now! When we focus on Him, sitting at God’s right hand, we are reminded that through Him, we are “more than conquerors” and that “if God is for us, who can be against us?” We can begin to trust that “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”
Dear reader, do you know that “everyone born of God overcomes the world”? Why? Because “the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and He will give you victory!” You can believe it’s true because “greater is He that it is in you than he that is in the world?”
Resist the temptation to focus on your battles and your enemy. That will only lead you to feel overwhelmed and tempt you to give up. Set your mind instead upon the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. The victory is His!
Questions for Discussion:
- What struggles are you facing right now in your life?
- Do those struggles seem like battles you can’t win, prisons you can’t escape, enemies you can’t beat?
- I’ve said that Satan likes to bluff, to let you think that he is more powerful than he is (and/or that any struggle you are facing is more powerful/difficult than it is). How successful would you say he has been at this so far in your life?
- I heard it said that “what you behold you will become.” How would you apply that to this discussion?
- The Bible says “greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.” The real question is, is He in you? Have you asked Jesus to come and be Lord of your life?
- Have you ever won a “fight” you didn’t think you could win? What made the difference?
- Have you ever lost a “fight” and found out later that you could have won it…but you gave up because you didn’t think you had a chance? (Please note, a “fight” could be anything—it could have been a test you thought you couldn’t pass, etc. I’m not talking about physical fights here per se!)
- II Peter 1:3 says that “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him.” How do you think it would transform your life and the way you look at your problems if you could really believe this statement? Did you notice that the key in this verse is our knowledge of God, not our knowledge of our problems?
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