Luke 4:35 But Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be quiet and come out of him! ”
And throwing him down before them, the demon came out of him without hurting him at all.
(I was recently talking to an evil spirit in a lady we call June. I wish I would have studied this before I met that.)
I’m not sure there’s a word more weighty in the action of spiritual warfare than “rebuke.” Consider that when Jesus rebuked storms, they were stilled. When he rebuked fever, it left. And when he rebuked evil spirits, they fled.
We need to understand the word.
The word rebuke is epitimao. Epi is “on” and timao means “to honor, esteem, value.” It seems absurd that a demon or anything in opposition to Christ should be valued or esteemed, let alone honored. However, consider the similarity in the words “honor” and “recognize.” We recognize people for all sorts of accomplishments – we honor them. We also need to recognize our enemy. One concordance translates timao “to evaluate.” Recognizing, evaluating and understanding our enemy is part of preparing for battle. And it’s all built in the word epitimao; rebuke.
Have you ever wondered why David picked up 5 stones to slay Goliath? Some have thought he knew Goliath had brothers. Others believe David wanted a surplus in case he missed. I have wondered if he didn’t take extras because he knew victory over Goliath would put the Philistines to flight and David wanted ammo ready for the pursuit. Regardless, there is a common denominator among all of these possibilities: preparation. David was well-prepared for battle.
I’ve had two boys go through boot camp and I learned from them there’s a lot that goes into preparing for battle. Even now, one of those two is finishing his training in Arabic. Why? Because preparing for battle is more than just strength training and discipline development. It’s also about understanding your enemy.
Recognizing, evaluating and understanding your enemy. It’s the finality of preparation for battle. In fact, the “epi” of epitimao indicates extreme proximity. When we’re close to something (epi), we’re more apt to recognize it and evaluate it correctly (timao).
Hear this Sun Tzu proverb in The Art of War : “If you know yourself and you know your enemy, you need not fear a hundred battles.” Wow. My thought isn’t near as cool: Some say, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.” As a guy who was picked on quite a bit in his junior-high age, I know this to be of no less importance – know the fight in the other dog.
It makes some sense. How can one win a war without understanding how his enemy intends to do the same?
Even in medicine, most great advancements were not discovered through happenstance, but through a greater understanding of the pathology of disease. Scientists recognized, evaluated and then understood the pathologic physiology. Victory!
What’s the best way to evaluate your enemy? Study. Specifically, study the Bible. You might wonder, “Is there really a lot in there about my enemy? It seems that the Bible is more a love letter or an instruction book.”
Is not every true instruction toward virtue or goodness also a revelation of the enemy’s objective?
To the extent that the Bible is a guide to righteous living, so also is it a guide to our enemy’s plan.
Study the Word.
Remember, we don’t have to claim authority. We’ve been given it. If we’ll simply couple that by getting up close, recognizing and evaluating our enemy, maybe we’ll find ourselves more prepared for victory through the power of our rebuke.