Six Basic Activities in our War Against Satan

By Brian Lowther

Ralph Winter once wrote about three kinds of essential effort in a real war:


1. Treat the wounded
2. Avoid bullets, bombs


3. Defeat the enemy

He used this analogy to explain the difference between healing (treat the wounded), prevention (dodging bullets) and eradication (defeating the enemy). “All of these are important,” he explained, “but the third is the most urgent and crucial. You can fumble the ball in treating the wounded and dodging bullets, but you can’t win the war without the offensive.”

Not long ago I realized that these three activities are the essential efforts in winning a battle, not a war. In a war, the list of necessary efforts expands to at least six.

Six Basic Activities in War

1. Recruiting—can’t fight a war without troops
2. Training

  • How to survive in battle (dodge bombs and bullets)
  • How to maintain order and morale in the midst of battle
  • How to do battle (shoot and bomb the enemy)

3. Medical Corps—every military must have trained medics attending to the needs of soldiers

4. Reconnaissance—the military leaders need to know the enemy’s composition and capabilities before any battle

5. Strategy—how, when and where to deploy the troops

6. Battle

While Winter’s initial list provides a helpful analogy to describe our battle against disease, I think this list provides a pattern to follow in our war against evil. I’ll flesh out the rough equivalents:

1. Recruiting—Evangelism

  • Not simply reconciling estranged human beings to God, but recruiting them into a war against the powers of evil and darkness; a war in which they can expect suffering, hardship and death

2. Training—Discipleship

  • How to dodge Satan’s flaming arrows (temptation, sickness, fear, etc)
  • How to maintain devotion to God and morale in the body of Christ in the midst of battle
  • How to fight the enemy, i.e., rather than teaching believers to passively resign themselves to the enemy’s attacks, this perspective would instill a posture of offensive resistance within every follower of Jesus

3. Medical Corps—care for the physical, spiritual, and emotional health of each member of the body, i.e., medical practitioners, pastoral counselors, healing ministries, member care, and the like

4. Reconnaissance—to quote Winter again, “We need to recognize and ponder more seriously the kind and degree of harm Satan is able to cause. We need to unmask the works of Satan.” This could be the result of the combined and cross-disciplinary efforts of theologians, missiologists, and scientific researchers

5. Strategy—how, when and where to plant new churches, new relief and development projects, or new public health initiatives

6. Battle—destroy the works of the devil 1Jn 3:8, i.e., address and attack the roots of the biggest human problems in the world: spiritual darkness, poverty, disease, illiteracy and political corruption.

The Kingdom is at war and is not merely recruiting in peacetime. In this perspective the distinction between evangelism and social action is highly artificial. But both evangelism and social concerns are misconceived if they are seen as a humanistic campaign for the betterment of the human race. They are essential features of a Kingdom at war where the very glory of God is at stake.
~Ralph D. Winter
Posted on May 4, 2012 and filed under First 30.