No, I’m not a money launderer. Or a drug lord. But I did hear an interesting article on NPR about both topics today.
Every week, Colombian drug cartels illegally funnel millions of dollars. But they can’t do it electronically. So how do they move loads of cash? To infiltrate the Colombian drug/money laundering world, two special agents from the DEA created a a fake offshore bank in the Caribbean–known as the RHM Trust Bank. They funneled funds, managed transactions and moved millions of dollars each week, all the while collecting information and understanding the complex world of drug trafficking. In the end, their work led to the arrest of 117 people, in this “Operation Dinero.” You can read and/or listen to the full story here.
Since this operation, drug cartels obviously know now they cannot trust offshore banks to handle their money. After all, it might be a government sting operation.
Addressing this concern, the interviewer asked one of the DEA agents, “Do you guys feel like you’re winning the money laundering battle? Or does it just a matter of setting them back a few years before they find some other way to do it?
The agent replied, “I think we’re winning today. A win doesn’t necessarily mean you stop it. You just change their methodology for doing it.”
This reminded me of the nature of spiritual warfare. The Bible tells us that Satan has a specific methodology for attacking us. Ephesians 6:11 says, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” The word “schemes” comes from the Greek “methodeia” from where we get the word “method.” Sometimes Satan can help plant self-talk and suggestions and channel the thoughts of our mind to either forgetting God’s love (“I’m so guilty and unworthy… I don’t deserve God’s love”) to forgetting His holiness (“I’m not as bad as so-and-so… I deserve this.”)
As difficult as life can be and as many seasons as our hearts can go through–depression, external hardship, relational trouble, finances, inner doubt and fear, our own impatience and selfishness–we can take heart if–in the long term–the nature of those trials is changing. Just as God can send us sun and frost to melt us or strengthen us, depending on what can potentially open us open to Him the most, so does the enemy adapts and changes his methodology toward us.
We’ve all experienced this. Sometimes we sense God has achieved a certain victory in us–whether it’s overcoming an certain addiction, deliverance from an unhealthy emotional state or situation, freedom from a bad relationship, achieving some family or monetary stability, no longer succumbing to this sin or that weakness–often times, it’s not long before we’re faced with some other trial and our spiritual mettle is again put to the test. Most of the times it is God using our circumstances to refine us.
While that can be frustrating and sometimes it seems like we’ve regressed or haven’t grown after all, we can take comfort in the fact that God is winning… When we have increased intimacy with and dependency on God, Satan’s forced to change his methodology. Sometimes he whispers doubt, sometimes guilt, sometimes shame. Sometimes he whispers temptation and “you deserve this” and “no one will know” and “Did God really say…?”
But when he changes his method of attack, let’s remember that that is a good thing. Let’s remember that God is winning and He is our victory.
And all Satan can do is change his method.