The Enemy of Intentional Living

“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.”

— Sun Tzu, The Art of War

You have an enemy.

That’s not pleasant to think about. After all, most of us prefer to be liked, or at the very least, accepted. The word “enemy” is a strong term. It evokes emotions like anger and hatred. It makes us think about violence and evil.

Honestly, I don’t like to think about those things. It’s much easier for me to focus on being positive and intentional, things that I strive for constantly. It’s not a comfortable feeling to think that someone might hate me or be actively trying to destroy me.

But I need to think about it. I need to realize that I am under attack—not occasionally, but constantly.

So are you.

It doesn’t always feel like it though. I like to think that I live a pretty comfortable, safe life.  

Still, like most people, I take precautions. I lock my door at night. I’m cautious about leaving things in my car that can be seen. I put valuables in a safe when I travel.

Some people go to even more elaborate efforts to keep out their enemies. They install security systems, cameras, alarms. They have watchdogs or they hire security guards. Barbed wire, electric fencing, key cards or keyless entries, biometric identification—they’re all designed to protect against those who may want to intentionally harm us.

Is it possible to feel safe but not be safe?

Identify Your Enemy

Enemies come in all shapes and sizes. Some can be seen. Some can’t. Some enemies live with us in our home. They may even sleep in the same bed. And some may live within us.

Some enemies make themselves known, while others pretend to be our friend—otherwise known as a “frenemy.”

According to Paul Dobransky, M.D., the intentions of a true friend are demonstrated by concern, competence and constructiveness. Concern for your well-being is shown in the little things—reaching out, kind gestures and thoughtful considerations. Some people say they’re concerned for us when they’re just being nosy. Concern, however, is best demonstrated through words backed up with actions.

Competence comes from really knowing you, not just knowing about you. People who haven’t really shown interest in you, or worst of all, are willing to form their opinions of you primarily through the opinions of others, are not competent to give you feedback or advice.

When the first two are present—concern and competence, only then will that person’s words be constructive. Which means that, while his or her words may still be hurtful, they will be useful. They will be presented in a positive, encouraging way because they are motivated by genuine love. You won’t come away feeling shamed, belittled or diminished.

An enemy can be defined as an individual or group that actively opposes or threatens you, or something that harms or weakens you.


Anyone or anything that opposes you living with divine purpose is your enemy.

Anyone or anything that threatens your relationship with God is your enemy.

Anyone or anything that weakens your resolve to live with greater intention is your enemy.

Anyone or anything that erodes your faith in God and your hope for eternal life is your enemy.

If you don’t think that way you won’t take it seriously. You won’t fight.

Understand Your Enemy

If you have an enemy (and you do) then know this…you are engaged in a battle.

In fact, you have multiple enemies, and I’m going to address four in future blogs.

Each of them has unique characteristics and traits—and motivations. Some are well-meaning but dangerous nonetheless. Others are actively engaged in your destruction. And each requires a different battle plan. So understanding your enemy is critical to your success.

And, it’s critical to your ability to keep fighting.

Because you must fight, though not all your battles are alike. Some are mental, some are emotional, many are spiritual and some are even physical. The way you fight varies as well, which is why it’s so important to know who or what you’re battling.

Effectively Engage the Enemy

There are four ways to deal with an enemy:

1. Change your perspective

Sometimes your battle is within. You view others as your enemy when they aren’t. You might misconstrue something they say or do and assume the worst. Then, you begin viewing them negatively. You believe they’re out to get you. You react defensively.

But what if that person hadn’t intended to harm you at all?

What if it’s just your perception of them that’s causing you to believe they’re against you?

2. Do the unexpected

Then there are those who really do wish us to fail. They may be bitter or jealous. They may be insecure. They may be sceptics disguised as “realists” who constantly shoot holes in our hopes and dreams. Their negative comments or feedback can do serious damage if we let them. They expect you to react in a certain way when you’re provoked because it’s what they’d do. So don’t. Do the unexpected.

Be friendly even if they’re not. If they make fun of you, laugh along. If they slander you to others, shrug your shoulders and hold your head up high. Find ways to see and acknowledge the good in them, even if they never reciprocate. Don’t do it with the expectation that they’ll change. Do it because it’s right.

3. Prepare for battle

Some enemies require active warfare: enemies of faith, hope and eternal life. You are fighting a spiritual battle too, whether you think about that on a regular basis or not (Ephesians 6:10-17).

So don’t be naïve. Your spiritual enemies will overtake you quickly if you let them, much like the stealth of a large predatory cat on the hunt, right before it pounces. And yes, you are a tasty morsel.

You need to prepare.

You need to know when your enemy is going to attack, in what ways, and the best ways to defend yourself. That means you have to anticipate what your enemy is going to do. You have to know your enemy.

4. Accomplish your goal

If someone or something is trying to thwart you in accomplishing a goal, don’t get even. Get busy! When you let your enemy distract you from your goal, you’re losing the battle. Focus on what is in front of you that needs to be done. Then, do it with all your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

Know Yourself

What good does it do you to know your enemy if you don’t understand your own strengths and weaknesses? Your enemy does, guaranteed.

In any battle your enemy knows to attack you where you are weakest. Each of us struggles with something, some area in our lives that is difficult to overcome. Do you know what it is? Are you actively working to change that so that it can’t be used against you anymore?

Fear Not

It’s always best to deal with the enemy before your situation seems desperate.

But what if it’s too late?

What if the enemy has already penetrated your defenses?

What if you’ve already let the enemy in?

What if someone else has?

What if the defenses you have in place aren’t working against your enemy?

Does it even matter?

It does matter if you want to live with divine intention. It matters, because your enemies will thwart your efforts to be intentional every single time. They’ll distract you, discourage you and ultimately defeat you.

But I have great news. It’s never too late to start fighting, whether that fight is with yourself or others, and you have help. “…If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

God is always on your side and He’s a powerful ally. No matter how bad it seems, it’s not hopeless.

It’s never hopeless.

Don’t give up, even if it’s difficult! Know your enemies. Know the most effective ways to engage the enemy. Know yourself. Then, fight.


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