We must be aware of the tactics and ploys of our opponents:
Hardly anyone will win a battle against an enemy that they know nothing about. The key to any successful military operation is to know your enemy. You want all the intel you can get on their aims and purposes, their numbers and military capability, their strategies and tactics, and their strengths and weaknesses.
This has been well-known for millennia. As the 5th century BC Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu put it in The Art of War: “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.”
This is true in the spiritual and cultural realms as well. If you decide to fully and faithfully serve Christ, you will come under attack, and you need to have the full armour of God on. And if you get involved in the culture wars, you also will need to know how your ideological and political enemies operate.
The Bible is full of military actions and imagery – mostly real in the Old Testament and mostly figurative in the New. Jesus for example said that before a king goes to war he must first assess the situation and count the cost (Luke 14:31-32). And Paul said that we should not be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).
The longer I have been a Christian, and the longer I have been involved in the culture wars, the more I see the truth of all this. Satan is the father of lies, and so much of the other side follows in his footsteps. They blatantly and routinely resort to subterfuge, deception, lies, falsehoods, deceit, and misinformation. They will utilise every trick in the book against you.
To see this for yourself, just try setting up an interactive website that proudly defends biblical Christianity and also engages in the culture wars. You will learn very quickly exactly what I am talking about. I get many hundreds of comments each year from the other side, and after a while you sure do learn to recognise the enemy’s strategies and how the other side operates.
Based on my own decades of experience in this, let me here briefly look at five common ploys – of many – used by the other side as they seek to wear you down, discourage you, confuse you, and try to get you to give up:
‘You are all alone’
This is a standard trick of the other side: they want to convince you that you are the only one who believes this way and cares about these things. They seek to plant doubts in your mind and seek to get you to give up. They pretend they are some massive majority and that you are just some solo freak.
The truth of course is exactly the opposite. There is indeed a silent majority who is on our side – although they do need to become much less silent! And the other side is indeed just a minority, made up of a very small number of very noisy activists who try to pretend they are everywhere since they are so loud and proud.
Ignore them and keep on doing what is right. As I just read moments ago in Acts 18:9-10: “And the Lord said to Paul one night in a vision, ‘Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent, for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people’.”
Lies, damned lies, and statistics
Since facts and truth mean so little to the other side, they resort to lies and mangled narratives on a regular basis. Indeed, they will throw anything and everything your way as gospel truth – no matter how blatantly false and misleading it is.
You get stuff like this all the time: ‘98 per cent of scientists believe….’ ‘Everyone knows this is false.’ ‘You are just a conspiracy theorist.’ ‘Science has proven this…’ And so on. And almost always there is no reference or back up source provided as they make their wild and unproven claims. We need to be on guard against this, and call their bluff when needed.
‘Answer me this’
Another very common way for trolls and opponents to overwhelm you is to just throw out a whole lot of nonsense disguised as facts and challenges. In this rhetorical technique they will throw a whole lot of claims and arguments your way, and then expect you to fully answer each one – and pronto.
You will get something like this: ‘Prove to me that God exists. There is no evidence for him. And the Bible is full of errors and contradictions. Jesus did not really die and rise again. And Christianity has caused all of our problems in the world…’
Simply trying to properly answer just one of these charges would require a small book. And entire libraries already exist with such books. But they are seeking to push an avalanche of objections and criticisms on you, knowing full well that this cannot be done justice in a short comment response. They are just trying to wear you down and overwhelm you.
‘I am a Christian but…’
I get this one all the time. Trolls and critics will come to my site pretending to be Christians when it is quite clear from what they are saying that they are no such thing. ‘I am a Christian but the Bible is full of mistakes and is not God’s word.’ ‘I am a Christian but I fully support abortion.’ ‘I am a Christian but there is nothing wrong with homosexuality.’ ‘I am a Christian but I believe all religions lead to God.’
When you hear folks denying basic Christian truths, avoid them like the plague. They just want to get you to abandon your basic Christian beliefs and become fake Christians or apostates like they are. Ignore them and don’t let them try to seduce you to the dark side.
‘You give Christianity a bad name’
Related to the above point, you will get folks coming to you all the time trying to put guilt trips on you. While often pretending to be Christians, they will claim that you give Christianity a bad reputation because of your beliefs and concerns.
They will claim that they and others would flock to Christianity if it were not for people like you. They want you to water everything down to make the faith acceptable. Um no, no matter how much you compromise, no matter how much you back-pedal, and no matter how much you try to offer a bland and nice version of Christianity, they will never be satisfied.
The truth is, they hate biblical Christianity, and will only support those who share their own views. They are the same sort of people Jesus warned about in John 3:19-21: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
There are plenty of other deceptive tactics and nasty ruses the other side will use to get you to question yourself, your beliefs, and your work for the Lord. Ignore them. We must not be unaware of Satan’s devices. We must know how the other side operates so we can successfully resist them.
And of course to say all this is not to say that we should refuse to listen to legitimate criticisms from real deal Christians. That is another matter altogether. Dealing with legit concerns from legit Christians – or others – has its place. But that is not what I have been referring to here.
As I say, lies and deception are a fundamental part of how the other side operates. It has always been that way. I finish with a quote from a woman who grew up in the Soviet Union. She discusses how ordinary people could see through the baloney of the ugly Communist system: “The rules are simple: they lie to us, we know they’re lying, they know we know they’re lying, but they keep lying to us, and we keep pretending to believe them” (Elena Gorokhova, A Mountain of Crumbs).
We too need to be aware of how our spiritual enemy – and his followers – operate.