The Power of Increments
By the time the soldier was close enough to reach out and touch us, or kill us, it was too late. Infantry training for the U.S. Army taught me many things. Some of which had surprisingly far reaching applications. One of them is what I call the Power of Increments.
Learning how to look like a part of the natural outdoor landscape is what we were being taught that day. What we didn’t know was that a portion of the lesson included how to advance our position towards an enemy without being detected. While one instructor expounded on breaking up the outline of our bodies using real pieces of the outdoor environment, a well-seasoned Vietnam veteran, decked out to look like a bush was slowly working his way towards our group.
When he suddenly jumped to his feet to reveal himself, all of us jumped too—it was startling. But the interesting part was when yet another camouflaged soldier stood up a hundred yards away, revealing the position from which the veteran had begun. It was directly in front of us. This human bush had moved right up to us without anyone noticing. How could he cross 100 yards that are all visible without someone realizing, Hey, that bush is moving! As you’ve probably already guessed, he did it very slowly, inch by inch, or in very small increments.
“Gradualism…it can deceive and disarm an unsuspecting population, which is largely content and passive.”—Mark R. Levin, Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America
The human mind, unless trained to do so, does not recognize very small changes or exceedingly slow changes. It’s a tactic that our common enemy uses very well. Yes, I’m talking about the devil. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1st Peter 5:8
In 2nd Corinthians 2:11, Apostle Paul writes: “…so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes. (NLT)
So here’s the important question each one of us needs to ask ourselves: “Am I familiar with the devil’s schemes?”
Another lesson the army taught us was that in order to secure victory against our enemies we must study them carefully—learn their tactics and battle strategies. We as Christians must do the same. Don’t be deceived, Satan is real and powerful, shrewd and cunning. But God is much wiser and much more powerful. That’s why we need to depend on Christ always, and learn the lessons He teaches well.
“If you know your enemy and know yourself you need not fear a hundred battles.”—Sun Tzu
It is fairly easy for Satan to get us to compromise just an itty bitty bit. If we were able to see where that compromise, combined with many future compromises would eventually take us, he’d never be able to pull it off. We’d say, No way, Hosea. I’m not going there,” or I’m not going to do that. But a minuscule compromise seems to be so inconsequential! To our finite minds it is easy to rationalize a very small act of disobedience. So we capitulate, giving in to it. What we need is a spiritually trained mind, with an inner spiritual eye that has been exercised to detect the subtle dangers. Truth is the fortress we need, and Jesus is the Truth.
As an example, let’s say it’s time to put our feet up for a little relaxation. We pick up the remote control and click on the big screen TV. What are we going to watch today? Are we aware of what the audio and visual stimulus is doing inside us? …So imperceptibly slow, creating microscopic changes in our hearts and minds? There is the hardening of our hearts, or callousing effect towards violence. The suggestions of what is normal and acceptable behavior in our society: Illicit sex, belittling of the parental role in families, on and on it goes. It is natural human response and pride to think that we are not being affected by it whatsoever—that we are above all that, and it will have no effect upon us because we know the truth. If that is what we think, we don’t know the truth as well as we thought.
The Spirit of Christ, however, dwelling within believers, trains our minds to be on guard for, and notice, those hazards and little changes. Along with the subtle suggestions to our minds. Many times the suggestion is subliminal and on a subconscious level. We cannot give the devil a single millimeter. “The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty.” Proverbs 22:3 (NIV)
Perhaps one of the greatest eye-opening books that demonstrates Satan’s tactics is C.S. Lewis’ The Screw Tape Letters. He writes: “Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” There have been many other similar works as well.
What I call incrementalism is what one prominent preacher calls: gradualism. But no matter how many good writers and preachers we listen to, we must always begin with: God’s word. If that is, we are to ever grasp what we are up against, and learn to effectively win our battles.
Below are a series of questions for those of us who are fully committed to following Jesus, and to living a life that pleases God. If you can answer them, great! But we can always understand things a little better. The first step is to pray and ask God to help you understand more fully. The better we grow to know Christ, God’s nature, and His character, the better we will be able to detect what is not of God. Then, open your bible and look up scriptures that talk about the enemy.
- What is the devil’s end game?
- What motivates his evil works?
- What was his original sin and from what did such arrogance spring?
- If you wanted to deceive someone and get them to do something wrong, how would you go about fooling them into doing it?
- Besides what was discussed, what are some of Satan’s other tactics that he uses against God’s children?
- What can I do to be better prepared for Satan’s assault?
God bless you today and always as you continue growing to be more like Jesus. Never stop growing, never stop learning, and never give up! No matter how many times you fall, confess it and get back up! Hey, you’re looking good. ♥