The Art of Spiritual Warfare

Posted: 06/28/2011 in Church, Philosophy

I was at Target yesterday wandering through the dollar spot aisle, and I found a book that caught my eye. It was The Art of War by Sun Tzu. This is a book that is 2400 years old, and it is still being used to influence armies today.

For those of you who know me, you might find it a little odd that this book would catch my eye, and it still doesn’t make much sense to me.  However, I began to browse through the pages and was startled by the truths found in this book not just in regards to military strategy, but in terms of spiritual warfare.  This book opened up my mind to the tools Satan uses to capture and defeat humanity in a way that I hadn’t been reminded of since I read The Screwtape Letters. 

Earlier yesterday, I was talking with a group of students about tools for overcoming sin, and the insight found in this book reminded me of them.

Well, this is a fairly short book, but I thought that I would highlight some quotes out of this book that  would be especially true in terms of spiritual warfare.  So the quotes are listed below, and if you want to read this book with a new set of eyes, engage with it through the lens of Satan’s strategies against you.  You might find it surprising.

“All warfare is based on deception.”

“If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him.  Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.”

“There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.”

“To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consisted in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

“He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.”

“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.
If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat.
If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

“He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.”

“There are not more than five musical notes (on the pentatonic scale),
yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.”
There are not more than five primary colors (blue, yellow, red, white, and black),
yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever be seen.
There are not more than five cardinal tastes (sour, acrid, salt, sweet, bitter),
yet combinations of them yield more flavors than can ever be tasted.”

“Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act. He sacrifices something, that the enemy may snatch at it.”

“Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected.”

“Knowing the place and time of the coming battle, we may concentrate from the greatest distances in order to fight.”

“Carefully compare the opposing army with your own, so that you may know where strength is superabundant and where it is deficient.”

“So in war, the way is to avoid what is strong and to strike at what is weak.”

“Now, a soldier’s spirit is keenest in the morning; by noonday it has begun to flag; and in the evening, his mind is bent only on returning to camp. A clever general, therefore, avoids an army when its spirit is keen, but attacks it when it is sluggish and inclined to return.”

“There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general: recklessness, cowardice, a hasty temper, shame, and worry and trouble.”

“He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.”

“Rapidity is the essence of war: take advantage of the enemy’s unreadiness, make your way by unexpected routes, and attack unguarded spots.”

“Forestall your opponent by seizing what he holds dear, and subtly contrive to time his arrival on the ground.”

“At first, exhibit the coyness of a maiden, until the enemy give you an opening; afterwards emulate the rapidity of a runing hare, and it will be too late for the enemy to oppose you.”


May you take this ancient wisdom and apply it to your heart. Be ready for the attacks of sin and on guard for when Satan strikes.  Have no fear, though, because we know that the ultimate victory belongs to God.


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