If you could know what Satan’s next move in your life would be, you’d want to know. Right?

Knowing what your enemy is planning makes all the difference in the world. It certainly made a difference in the United States winning its independence,

On October 19, 1781, the British forces officially surrendered to the American forces at the Battle of Yorktown. It wasn’t known until much later, but there was a key factor that helped the Americans win—and this fact surprised everyone.

You’ve got to really dislike someone to make a woodcut of him hanging in effigy. From April 20, 1775.

The surprise came from a newspaper publisher named James Rivington. Rivington was an ardent loyalist and supporter of the British. The colonists and patriots hated him. And that wasn’t exactly good for the sale of his papers. Yet he stuck it out—publishing his rag that put down the rebels—and the patriots stuck it out in burning effigies of him.

In truth, Rivingtom was just the opposite. He was an ardent patriot. After the war, it came to light that he was one of Washington’s top spies. By publishing a pro-British newspaper, Rivington gained the trust of the enemy.

And Rivington gained more than their trust; he gained the codes to the British navy’s signal flags. In the days before nonstop text messaging and Twitter feeds, sailors raised the signal flags as a way to pass messages from ship to ship—or ship to shore.

Thanks to Rivington, Washington’s officers had the codes and knew exactly what the British were up to. The Americans could anticipate what the British were planning, and they were prepared.

Rivington’s actions during the war cost him dearly. He was not merely misunderstood by his fellow patriots; he was despised. He endured and we benefited. [Source: Journal of the American Revolution]

The key to victory for the Americans was the ability to read the flags and know their enemy’s plans. As followers of Christ, we can also know what our enemy is up to.

In the context of talking about the need to forgive one another, Paul wrote, “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11).

What are Satan’s schemes?

He seeks to keep us in harm’s way and/or keep us from being effective in our service in the kingdom of God. His strategy is to lead us to do anything—no matter how “small”—that is contrary to God’s Word.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings” (1 Pet. 5:8-9).

So how can you stay alert and be aware of Satan’s strategy? Read God’s Word and you’ll know what he is opposed to.  In 1 Corinthians 2:11, Paul tied the issue of forgiveness to avoiding entrapment by Satan. In other words, if we continue to harbor unforgiveness, we’ve fallen right into Satan’s strategy.

Keep your nose in God’s Word. As those serving in the Secret Service will tell us, the key to recognizing counterfeit money is studying the real thing. When you know the original inside and out, you can spot the fakes.

Part of the armor we wear in spiritual warfare is a sword, but not just any sword. “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).

  • Read it.
  • Study it.
  • Study it with others.
  • Meditate on it.
  • Memorize it.

The deeper you go, the more you’ll recognize the enemy’s flags.