Facing a Headless Foe - The Warrior's Journey®

Facing a Headless Foe

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

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“In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross.” (Colossians 2:15, NLT)

Back in the summer of 2018 it was reported that an Alabama man, Billy Forbus, had an unsuccessful battle with a headless rattlesnake.  Actually, Billy killed the snake. He blew its head off with a shotgun when the rattler invaded his garden. But a second battle took place an hour later. Billy threw the snake’s lifeless body into the back of his pickup and drove off to his brother-in-law’s house to show it off. Yet, when Billy reached back to remove the rattlesnake from his truck, he was shocked to find it moving! Its head was gone, but it was still writhing away in the bed of his pickup. One veterinarian explained that “snakes have spinal reflex arcs that they rely on more than brain simulation. Throughout the spinal cord, there are sites which control movement, so the spinal cord can function, to a degree, autonomously from the brain.”   

With his wife, Kerry video-recording the event, Billy used a grabbing tool to try and pick up the snake. The snake, however, refused to cooperate.  Then, using his “grabber,” Billy took it by the tail. Then the snake started to “strike.” At one point the rattlesnake – with no head, mouth, or fangs to harm anyone – lunged at Billy. That’s when Billy dropped the grabber out of fear and retreated from the battle. He contented himself with looking from a safe distance. 

Can you see the spiritual parallel here? The devil is repeatedly described as a snake (Genesis 3:1-15; Luke 10:19; 2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9-15; 20:2), because its forked tongue symbolizes lies and deceit – sins at which Satan excels. And he times his lies at moments of disappointment and tragedy, and uses the pain of these events to terrorize and confuse us. But we must be alert to his schemes.   

In Colossians 2:15 Paul tells us that Satan is not only a defeated foe. He’s a disarmed foe. Satan was “rendered powerless” through Jesus’ death on the cross (Hebrews 2:14). While He walked the earth, Jesus described Satan as a strong man who closely guards his house against robbers. But Jesus promised that He would bind this strong man, strip him of his armor, and plunder his prison house of its captives (Luke 11:20-22). Thousands of years earlier, God prophesied that this “Seed of the woman” – i.e. Jesus – would crush Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15).  Therefore, the foe we face is headless. He has no fangs or venom with which to harm us. His power lies only in deception. And though his deception is formidable, when we confront him with the truth of God’s word he will be crushed beneath our feet (Romans 16:20). 


  • If Satan’s lies are the source of our fears and pain, how should we respond? 
  • What weapon did Jesus use against Satan (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-14)? 
  • God commands us to resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7). 

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