The Original Terrorist

The images are startling: bodies strewn on Parisian streets, blood stains on restaurant floors, a pregnant woman dangling from a second-story window. Reminded, yet again, that we live in a violent world. Every news program asks the same question of terrorism experts: “What can be done?” “What is the source of such evil?” “How long before we see more attacks?” “Will it ever end?”

Experts trace the source of violence to a violent ideologue. They point their fingers at radicalized Muslims. While their answers have merit, we’d make a mistake not to go even further. Here is what the Bible says about terrorism.

“Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world. That is why you need to put on God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the whole fight, you will still be standing. So stand strong, with the belt of truth tied around your waist and the protection of right living on your chest. On your feet wear the Good News of peace to help you stand strong. And also use the shield of faith with which you can stop all the burning arrows of the Evil One.” (Eph. 6:12–16 NCV)

The Bible presents a real and present foe of our faith. His name is Satan. Some call him the devil. Others call him Beelzebub, Belial, the obstructor, the tempter, the evil one, the accuser, the prince of demons, the ruler of this world, or the prince of the power of the air. Whatever name you choose, he is the enemy, and he is real.

If I were the devil, I’d blame terrorism on a broken political system. A disenchanted people group. The Wicked Witch of the West. I’d want you to feel attacked by an indefinable, nebulous force. After all, if you can’t diagnose the source of your ills, how can you treat them? If I were the devil, I’d keep my name out of it.

But God doesn’t let the devil get away with this and tells us his name. The Greek word for devil is diabolos, which shares a root with the verb diaballein, which means “to split.” The devil is a splitter, a divider, a wedge driver. He divided Adam and Eve from God in the garden and has every intent of doing the same to you. Blame all unrest on him. Don’t fault the plunging economy or raging suicide bomber for this bloodshed. They are simply tools in Satan’s tool kit.

He is not the cute and harmless character of the cartoons. He is not an imaginary, dark counterpart to the Easter Bunny. He is the invisible yet forceful fallen angel called Lucifer, who desired the high place only God could occupy. He rebelled and disobeyed and wants you and me to do the same. “The devil, your enemy, goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat” (1 Peter 5:8 NCV).

Want to read his rap sheet?

“Satan . . . incited David” (1 Chron. 21:1 NIV).

“Satan has asked . . . to sift you [Simon] like wheat” (Luke 22:31 TLB).

“The devil . . . persuaded Judas Iscariot . . . to turn against Jesus” (John 13:2 NCV).

“This woman . . . Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years” (Luke 13:16 NIV).

He has “blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. As a result, they don’t see the light of the Good News” (2 Cor. 4:4 GOD’S WORD).

“He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn’t obey God” (Eph. 2:2 CEV).

Satan incites, sifts, persuades, binds, blinds, and rules.

He has one objective: “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). Satan has never, ever spoken a word of truth. He lied to Eve in the garden. He lies to unbelievers by blinding their minds (II Cor. 4:4). He is a big, fat liar. “He has always hated the truth because there is no truth in him” (Jn. 8:44 NLT).

Every battle, ultimately, is a spiritual battle. Every conflict is a contest with Satan and his forces. Paul urged us to stand “against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). The Greek word he used for “wiles” is methodia, from which we get our English word “method”. Satan is not passive or fair. He is active and deceptive. He has designs and strategies. Consequently, we need a strategy as well. For that reason “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds” (2 Cor. 10:3–4).

Our world is in desperate need of a generation of Christians who will respond in faith to the fear of these days. If you have said “yes” to Christ, you have the presence of God within you. “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (I Jn. 4:4)

Pray. We cannot do battle with Satan on our own. He is a roaring lion, a fallen angel, an experienced fighter, and an equipped soldier. He is angry—angry because he knows that his time is short (Rev. 12:12) and that God’s victory is secure. He resents God’s goodness toward us and our worship of God. He is a skillful, powerful, ruthless foe who seeks to “work us woe. His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”[1] But there is wonderful news for the Christian: Christ reigns as our protector and provider. We are more than conquerors through him (Rom. 8:37).

Arm yourself with God’s Word. Load your pistol with Scriptures, and keep a finger on the trigger. And remember: “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

These are difficult, dark days. Yet, the throne of Christ is still occupied and the promise of Scripture still rings true. “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (I Jn. 4:4)[2]

© Max Lucado, November 2015

[1] Martin Luther, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” Lyrics Era: (October 1, 2010).

[2] This article was adapted from Glory Days by Max Lucado (Thomas Nelson, 2015) pp. 83-91