Edward I, known as "Longshanks" because of his great stature, was king of England from 1274 until 1307. The Scots did not take kindly to his desire to make Scotland subject to his rule. Edward defeated the Scots in 1296, but in 1297 a Scottish commoner by the name of William Wallace led a rebellion against England to win back Scotland's freedom.

Sound familiar? The epic film Braveheart told the story of Wallace's patriotic struggle to keep Scotland free. From the film, we learn the value of knowing the warfare strategies of one's enemy. At Stirling, hundreds of English archers lined up facing the Scottish ranks and, as was their predictable custom, let fly a storm of longbow arrows. The Scots simply raised their shields and formed a barrier-like covering over themselves to absorb the incoming arrows. The English always started with arrows, so the Scots were ready.

On another occasion, when the English charged the Scots on horseback, the commoners held their position until the horses, coming at full speed, were a mere ten feet from them. They then lifted up hundreds of long, thin saplings which lay hidden in the grass in front of them, the sharp points of which were driven deep into the chests of the galloping horses. They knew horses were coming, so they prepared weapons that would defeat horses. As the horses went down, the Scots dispatched their riders easily.

Finally, on the night before a battle, the Scots soaked the ground over which the English would be approaching with flammable oil and pitch. The next day, when the wide, straight lines of English troops began marching toward the Scots, the latter sent flaming arrows over the heads of the advancing English, setting afire a wide swath of the battlefield, cutting off the English from their reinforcements.

We don't know, of course, whether the Scots actually made the English look this outmaneuvered or not in real life. We do know that the English ultimately extended their rule over Scotland and executed William Wallace for his insurrection. But in the film, the way the Scottish took advantage of the predictable English warfare strategies was truly inspiring. (We like to see the underdog win, don't we?)

You've Joined an Army
You've heard the question asked by pacifists, "What if they gave a war and nobody came?" The same question could be asked about many in the church today. The church has been called to a spiritual battle, but it seems that not many have shown up for active duty.

Though our battle is spiritual, that is, unseen, it is no less real than any battle ever fought between nations on the battlefields of the world. In fact, there is biblical evidence to suggest that the real battles in the universe are first spiritual, then physical (Daniel 10). What is acted out between the nations of the world may simply be reflections of the struggles going on between Satan and his angelic forces and the heavenly hosts of God- struggles in which the destiny of the human race and planet earth hangs in the balance.

The apostle Paul says that we do not fight our spiritual battles as the world fights its physical battles (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). We fight a spiritual enemy, Satan, who has schemes and strategies that he employs against us (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11). Therefore, we must know our enemy and defend ourselves accordingly in order to gain and keep the victory.

Know Your Enemy
The Barna Research Group did extensive surveys in 2001 to determine the beliefs of various categories of Americans about Satan. They discovered that . . .

  • 58 percent of adults say that the Devil is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.
  • 45 percent of professing born-again Christians deny Satan's existence.
  • 68 percent of Catholics said the Devil was non-existent.
  • 60 percent of Protestant mainline denomination attendees denied the Devil exists.
  • 50 percent of Protestant non-mainline church attendees denied the Devil exists.