As believers, we are in a war. A war against the devils to reach out to the people that know not Jesus Christ as Savior and God yet. It is not about fighting the devils because we have already won through Jesus. (see Christian Warfare and the Devil's Strategies)
Since it is a war, we need to learn about warfare. Why not we just learn from the Bible and need not bother with writings of man? Yes, that is true. That is why I write Christian Warfare and the Devil's Strategies first. But reading the great writing of man enables me to compare and learn more about the Bible and in this case, warfare. It can be a bridge to lead a discussion of Sun Zi's Art of War to the Bible. It helps me to be a better believer and to reach out to others.
The Essence of Sun Zi's Art of War.
For details on Sun Zi's Art of War and its application to business and management, please see Sun Zi Art of War (Sun Tzu) in One Minute and the subsequent posts. The essences are:
- Know the 5 key factors and the 7 assessment measures. Make an assessment of one readiness. Plan and develop oneself to be ready at all times. See point 5 to base measurements on real data.
- Know your enemy and know yourself then victory is without danger. (Sun Zi 3:6,10:5a 知彼知己，胜乃不殆；) and
- Knowing Heaven and Earth ensure victory is complete 10:5b 知天知地，胜乃可全. Knowing Heaven means knowing the seasonal trends of the time and Knowing Earth means understanding the characteristics of the terrain. Riding the trends of time and terrain and of personalities will amplify your efforts multifold to ensure victory. Such trends or tendencies also apply to people. Sun Zi teaches us the quick temper can be irritated so that he made mistake, and even the good men can be slandered so that he is busy in protecting his reputation rather than fighting the war.
- Best Warfare is Victory without a war. That is achieved by building yourself up to such that no one dares to take you on. (Sun Zi 3:1 是故百战百胜，非善之善也；不战而屈人之兵，善之善者也。)
- Warfare is mainly Deception ( Sun Zi 1:6 兵者，诡道也。7:3 故兵以诈立，以利动，以分和为变者也。5v5 凡战者，以正合，以奇胜) Deception is about creating surprises - doing what the enemy does not expect so that he is caught without any defense.
- Preparation and Planning from real data. Collect intelligence (Sun Zi 13) of the true intentions of people and be not fooled by the external behavior and events designed to deceive us.
- Be wise, agile, flexible, watchful, in Mastering the Variation and exploiting the Advantages. There is no one rule for all situations. (Sun Zi 8)
In the earlier post on Christian Warfare and the Devil's Strategies, Jesus tells that the devil is the liar and killer. Devil's basic method is deception. Sun Zi also gave us a long list of deceptive methods. In Luke 14:31-32 (Count the Costs), Jesus tell us to plan on real data (not on wishes) and decide accordingly. Jesus did not teach us not to plan but just 'not to worry' as quite a few believers are confused (Mat 6:34). We are to be wise as the serpent and harmless as doves as we are being sent into the midst of wolves (Mat 10:16).
Learning from Sun Zi
- The five factors are The Way of God (Bible), the Will of God, the Theater of Operations (our family, office, social space), the capability of our leaders (or maturity), and discipline of laws. The measurements are for us to know and increase the value. We must know the Bible in greater depth, to grow in maturity and capability in Christ, to know the will of God for the present time and the positioning in the places of our operations, to be sure that we adhere to the disciplines for development (e.g. quiet time, services etc), the strength of our community, the training for our community, and the encouragements and rewards.
- Best is to Win without a War.
How can we do that? That is by walking in the light, abiding in Christ, yielding to the Holy Spirit! This is basic of Christian relationship - staying close to Jesus. With Jesus close to us, the devil will keep his distance from us.
- Know the Enemy and Know Oneself.
The enemy is a liar and uses deception. I should put on the armor of truth (SeeVictorious Life - The Armor of God). Read the Bible well and know our identity, inheritance, authority, etc in Christ. We learn to doubt the devil's doubt and overcome the deception with truth and faith in God. (May want to read Bible Study 1 John Chapter 5 Identity & Overcoming Power)
- Propensities of the Situations and Our Personalities.
The devil understands our personalities and our propensities and will make use of the various situations to attack or tempt us. Many famous men of God committed sins when they were successful. Elijah at his height of success in defeating the false prophets of Baals ran for his life and hid in a cave when he heard the queen was going after him. The devil will exploit our propensities to get us to sin willingly and then accuse and condemn us. Consider how to a cat to eat pepper. Cats like to clean itself. So just spray pepper on its fur and it will happily lick up the pepper to clean itself.
- Deception - Overcome it with Truth, Honesty, Communication, and Transparency.
Deception is afraid of light and openness. Devil is good at sowing misunderstanding, gossiping lies about your loved ones and friends. Communicate honestly, openly and transparently are means to resolve the misunderstanding.
- Preparation and Planning.
Face up to the realities of life. Call a sin a sin and not to give excuses. Bring the issues to God to get wisdom to solve them. Use the brain, the creativity that God has given us. Plan well and execute well. Apply the wisdom of the following rule 5 below.
- Planning begins with seeking the Lord first. Asking for guidance and adopting His values and thinking. It is God first then plan and not we plan first and ask God to endorse our plan. (Prov 3:5-6) Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths
- Be Wise - Apply the Right things to the Right Situations. Be flexible, agile and watchful.
Don't put God into a mold and expect God to work in the same way as before. Jesus healed in many diverse ways. Be able to see the working of God in your situation. Enrich our lives with the Knowledge of the Bible, God, and others who the Holy Spirit may have a large reservoir of knowledge to remind us from. Holy Spirit can give us fresh words John 16:13-15 to give us the right word for the situation.
There is a strategy that is missed out in Sun Zi's Art of War. Sun Zi did mention to take good care of your men and to pursue the interests of the people and country and not yourself. Sun Zi is not able to know the overcoming power of love. A great way to overcome deception of the devil over people is for us to use love so that the people can see the light - the light of the gospel of Christ. Love is not easy but love is the 'more than conqueror' power - converting the enemy(not the devil, the people who are against us because of deception) into friends. See The Meaning of "More than Conquerors".
Lim Liat (c) updated 30 May 2013, updated 11 Apr 2018 on Propensities.