Know Your Three Spiritual Enemies: How to Tell Them Apart

Three Spiritual Enemies Similarities and Differences

The Bible teaches we have three spiritual enemies, the flesh, the world and Satan. Many people don’t understand the biblical distinctions between them. Let’s explore the implications of the similarities and differences between our three spiritual enemies.

We have friends who recently had twin boys. People are asking them, “Are they identical or fraternal?” As newborns all you can see is their outward appearance. If they’re fraternal, the differences are usually easier to detect. For our friends, it’s looking like identical because no one, not even mom, dad or siblings can tell them apart! What do you think?
identify twins - identify three spiritual enemies
Similarities and differences are fun when it comes to babies but important when it comes to our three spiritual enemies.

It’s common for people to blur the biblical distinctions between our three spiritual enemies. They do this by attributing qualities to one that belong to another. I’ve often heard people read a verse about “worldly desires” and apply it to Satan. If it says “worldly” it isn’t talking about Satan. There are similarities between our three spiritual enemies but when you look at them closely, they’re very different! And the differences matter.

You might be thinking, “Ah, come on, what’s the big deal? They’re all enemies, they’re all the same!” My answer is, I’m only the messenger. God led the authors of Scripture to write what they did. God chose to make distinctions. We need to pay attention to them. By doing so we can learn how to recognize and deal with each of them successfully.

2 Primary Similarities with our Three Spiritual Enemies

  1. They work to turn our hearts away from God. flesh Romans 8:7, world 2 Peter 2:20, Satan 2 Timothy 2:26
  2. They attack us with evil desires. flesh Galatians 5:16, world 1 John 2:16, Satan John 8:44

Since this is true, it’s understandable people might confuse them. Let’s look at the key differences.

2 Primary Differences Between our Three Spiritual Enemies

  1. Their method of attack is different.
    – The flesh attacks us internally with moods and desires Galatians 5:24.
    – The world attacks us externally with attractive things to love 1 John 2:15-16.
    – Satan’s attacks invade our minds with deceitful thoughts 2 Corinthians 11:3.
  2. Their tactics are different.
    -The flesh’s attacks are singular in focus with usually one specific attacking evil desire Galatians 5:19-21.
    -The world’s attacks are diverse, continually bombarding us with objects to love 1 John 2:16.
    -Satan’s attacks are complex with multiple attacking thoughts of six different types Ephesians 6:10-17.

Another difference is God gives us a different defense for each of our three spiritual enemies. In future posts we’ll dig deeper into these.

Think about the most common attacking bad desires you experience. Can you identify which enemy is attacking you? What does the Bible say about each enemy to help you with that? Please leave a comment or question below.