The word “valor” means great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle.
Are we in actual combat with an enemy? Yes!
Jesus says that we live in a dangerous place.
We are in a battle.
In multiple places in the book of John, Jesus calls Satan the ruler of this world. I Peter 5: 8-9 says that we have an adversary, the devil, who is seeking to destroy us, and Ephesians 6:10-13 says that we are in a battle against spiritual forces for evil, and armor is required for victory.
I Peter 5 and James 4 say that we must submit to God, resist the devil, and stand firm in the faith. Knowing that they were in a dangerous environment, Jesus prayed that God would keep His disciples from the evil one (John 17:15-17).
Know your enemy.
Part of gaining victory in combat is knowing your enemy. Matthew 10:16 tells us that we are sheep in the midst of wolves; we have to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves to recognize and defeat the wolves all around us and seeking to close in. Wolves look for opportunities to kill sheep; that is our environment today. We need to be able to understand and judge a situation quickly and use this understanding to our advantage.
Know your enemy’s tactics.
Part of knowing your enemy is understanding the enemy’s tactics. What does our enemy do? He deceives; he lies; he disguises himself; he imitates and counterfeits; he steals, kills and destroys; he tempts, afflicts and oppresses; he accuses; he blinds; he hinders; and he twists the Word of God.
When you are in combat, you not only have to know your enemy, but you must also know your own strengths and weaknesses.
- Men of valor, What is your strength? Jesus. (Exodus 15:2; Joshua 1:5-7; Judges 6:12; Psalms 18:2 & 32:7)
- Men of valor, what is your weakness? Your flesh (Matthew 26:41). In fact, our fleshly desires are weapons of the enemy (Galatians 5:17; Romans 8:5-7).
1 John 2:15-16 tells us that our fleshly desires come in three types: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. When Jesus was tempted by the devil, it was in these three areas (Luke 4:3-11). Satan used the same tactics against Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis 3 we read that the devil claimed the fruit was good for food (lust of the flesh), was a delight to the eyes (lust of the eyes) and was desirable to make them wise (the boastful pride of life).
If the enemy used these tactics on Jesus and Adam and Eve, he will use them on us. He knows our weaknesses; expect him to shoot fiery arrows into the center of the weakest part of our armor at the worst possible moments.
What fleshly desires is the enemy trying to leverage against you? Is it sex, money, power, or influence? Know yourself.
In his book, The Art of War, Sun Tzu wrote: “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will be defeated in every battle.”
Stay in the fight!
But how to fight back? Jesus says we fight the devil by focusing and keeping our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2). Remember what happened to Peter when he was walking on the water? He took his eyes off Jesus, and he began to sink.
Remember that the things of this world will pass away, but the things of Heaven are eternal. Let’s focus on the things above (Colossians 3:1-2) where the Messiah, having already won the victory over sin, is seated.
Soldiers must have endurance. Sometimes the battles last a long time, but Hebrews 12:1 says to run with endurance the race set before us. We are in a dangerous world—an enemy is trying to destroy us. Jesus calls us to be brave and courageous; to be wise and resist the devil’s temptations; and to fight with endurance for a lifetime. That’s a man of valor.