Know Your Enemy. Defeat Your Enemy.

Mariela RosarioBy Mariela Rosario13 Minutes

Adapted from She Speaks Fire: Battling Shame, Reigniting Your Faith, and Claiming Your Purpose by Mariela Rosario


Too often we see satan as a distant foe instead of an enemy who is waging war on our souls. If we don’t know his true identity as God’s enemy and what he’s capable of, we won’t see ourselves in a battle with him. Any war strategist will tell you that the enemy who is most dangerous is the enemy you know nothing about.

Twenty-five hundred years ago there was a Chinese general and military strategist named Sun Tzu. In his book, The Art of War, he wrote, “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.”[i]

While the wisdom of man is not what we hang our hats on as believers, these words from a man of war bring great insight to the importance of knowing oneself (our identity) and knowing the enemy who is out to destroy you.

Jesus described our enemy in this way: “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44 esv).

The lie the enemy has been whispering in the ears of God’s children since the garden is the same lie that invites us to choose our own desires and our own will and to live off our own effort. He lied when he told Adam and Eve they would be better off going after what they wanted instead of living from what God had already provided. He lied when he enticed them to exercise their free will as though it would make them freer. The enemy lied then, and he still lies now.

When God removed the serpent from the garden after the fall, the serpent had access to see everything God intended for His creation but no right to possess any of it. And if he can’t have it, he’ll stop at nothing to make sure we can’t have it. He parades in front of us all that we could have, but he uses our shame to convince us that we can’t actually have it. He’s not offering anything he created on his own. He’s trying to resell God’s promises by making one small change to God’s invitation to us. He replaces God’s “because” with his “if” and we never see it coming.

He says, You will be if . . .

God says, You are because . . .

When we can recognize the difference between what God and satan are saying, we won’t settle for a knock-off promise because we already have the real thing. We won’t go to war with an enemy for an inheritance we already possess. We won’t believe the shaming lies of someone who lives outside of the truth.

Our first parents embraced the lies of the serpent because they didn’t recognize that he was trying to get them to live alongside him in his choice to rebel. Adam and Eve had intimate fellowship with God. They could see, hear, and experience His tangible presence in and about their lives. In Eden, they heard His audible voice, sensed His actual footsteps, and spent one-on-one time with Him. God was not distant with His children; He was up close and personal with them. Their relationship lacked nothing. The serpent had enjoyed some of the same benefits in the garden until he’d longed for more. This was why he believed he had a shot at convincing Adam and Eve to long for more.

When the enemy spoke, suddenly Eve began to hear a new voice telling her what she could have and she forgot what she already had. This new conversation promised her more than what she was already given. The invitation to a new possibility made her lose sight of what God had already guaranteed. So she traded the truth for a lie. It wasn’t that she didn’t want God’s truth, but maybe she didn’t know how to process both a lie and a truth in the same space. The garden at this point had been a safe place for her without any threat or concern. Why wouldn’t she believe this serpent was just as harmless as the worm Adam had just named? Lies are like that. They sneak up in the places we feel safe and protected and sucker punch us the same way the enemy’s lie did Eve.

We often get judgmental and blame Eve for selling out in the garden, but let me make two things clear. One, Adam was right there with her, and he didn’t know what to do with the truth and a lie in the same place any more than Eve did. Two, if we are honest, we have all been sucker punched by a lie and did not know how to respond. We’ve all felt safe in a place one moment and then deceived in the next. We like to think we’d respond differently, but the truth is we don’t know how we would have responded in the garden. We have no idea what we would have remembered and what we would have forgotten. It wasn’t that Eve didn’t know better; it was that she forgot the better. She forgot that it was God her Creator, not a serpent, whose voice she should heed.

When was the last time you forgot to remember the truth when faced with a lie?

Can you think back to a time when you forgot what you knew when everything you knew changed because of a lie?

What happened to you when you forgot the promise because the place of promise no longer felt safe?

Since the beginning of time, the enemy’s main shame tactic has been to amplify his half-truths to silence God’s full truth. And the reality is, if you don’t know the truth, the enemy has no problem feeding you his lies. This is why we must know the truth, remember the truth, and fight for the truth. It’s only the truth that will set us free (John 8:32).

Since the beginning of time, the enemy’s main shame tactic has been to amplify his half-truths to silence God’s full truth

I’ll never forget the day I found out the truth about what my daddy really believed about me. Even as I got older, I was still too terrified to communicate my emotional and personal needs out of fear of rejection or, even worse, silence. I don’t think my daddy knew how truly alone I felt when I sat in his silence. So, one day, out of desperation, I decided to try something new. If I couldn’t express my feelings verbally, maybe I could write them.

I wrote a letter that uncovered the parts of my heart I had learned to hide. I shared how scared I was that he was mad at me for not living up to the expectations he had set for me and the ones I had set for myself. In vulnerability I wrote down the countless times I had dropped the ball he didn’t even know I was carrying. As I wrote each word, part of the shame from what had remained unspoken all those years weakened. I conveyed how deeply afraid I was that I would make a mistake that would cause him to give up on me or regret his hand in my life. I poured out every part of my heart in that letter without reservation, and yet I wholeheartedly believed and expected my words to be met with more silence.

I was wrong.

My father wrote back in his perfect penmanship that naturally slanted as though he were purposely italicizing every word. He opened the letter with these words:


You are such a blessing to me, and I am so proud of the young lady you are. There are very few things that you could do to upset me . . . so eliminate that thought.

I’ll never forget those words because they set me free and overthrew the lies I had believed for so long. He poured out his love, approval, and affirmation over me, which began to dismantle the lie I had allowed to keep me hidden in shame. He reminded me of his immovable presence in my life and my unwavering position in his heart. His silence was not a reflection of something I had done wrong but a reflection of something he desperately wanted to get right yet didn’t know how.

I still can’t believe I had so vehemently believed a lie about my father that was shattered with just one honest letter. So many moments of shame and guilt played through my mind as I came to the full realization of how deeply rooted that lie was within me.

I wish I had learned sooner how to silence the lies instead of silencing the truth.

I wish I had given myself a chance to have an honest conversation with my dad instead of having so many lying conversations with the enemy.

I wish I would have responded the way Jesus did when He had an opportunity to have a truthful conversation.

[i] Sun Tzu, The Art of War, trans. Lionel Giles (Sweden: Wisehouse Classics, 2020), 14.

Adapted for She Speaks Fire. Copyright © 2024 by Mariela Rosario. Published by Thomas Nelson. Published February 13th, 2024, wherever books are sold.

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