MARK 7:20-23: “And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” (NKJV)
OBSERVATION: What is the answer to the war on terror? What will keep our families safe from harm? What will turn someone who has been radicalized into someone who honors the sanctity of all life? Is it more guns? Is it more boots on the ground? Is it a better economy? Is it the election of a certain candidate? Is it early education and free college for all so that we are enlightened? Will any of these win the war on terror?
Take a moment and consider these facts. Throughout the past 100 years we have faced similar outbreaks of terror and evil leaders that have tried to cast their evil net over the world. Time and time again we have pushed back, won temporary victories, only to meet this same evil once again. It is much like an unwieldy patch of crabgrass. We just get it controlled in one area, and then its’ seeds of destruction blow in from another. Is there any answer?
This is where the discussion can get a bit muddy and stirs up a lot of heated debate, even among Christians. I am not asking what needs to be done now to meet the threat of terrorism. There are decisive steps that individuals, police forces, and governments need to take in the wake of the current threat and violence. This is an entirely different subject and question and one that I will defer to those who have much more knowledge in this area. I am asking the question – What do we need to win the war on terror? Is there a way to put an end to terror?
This question has both a Yes and a No answer. Yes – terror can be defeated completely in the heart of the individual. No – terror will remain a part of the broken human condition until Jesus Christ returns. Why? – Because terror starts in the heart of man. These are the exact words of Jesus – “All these evil things come from within and defile a man.” Terror, murder, hatred, and bigotry come from within man – not from without. You can have all the guns in the world, all the educational systems, all the prosperity, everything you think is needed to address this issue – and they cannot change the heart of man. Only Jesus can change the heart of a man.
Can Jesus change the heart of a terrorist? How quickly we forget what the Bible teaches. As Christians we must always remember that Jesus died to seek and save the lost – even the terrorist!
- “Now Saul was consenting to his death. At that time a great persecution arose against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” (Acts 8:1-3 NKJV)
- “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” (Acts 9:1-6 NKJV)
Saul was a terrorist! Saul was filled with murder in his heart! If Saul had an automatic weapon he probably would have used it on Stephen instead of the stones that were hurled. And Saul was miraculously converted. Changed from within he became the great Apostle to the Gentiles – the Apostle Paul. He wrote over half of the New Testament that we read. His life, his teachings, are still impacting hearts today.
The only thing that can win the war on terror is a changed heart. The only message that can change a heart is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is answer for the world today. So, as believers, as we think about all the things others should do to win the war on terror, let us not forget the most important weapon we have – PRAYER! Let us get on our knees and do what Jesus taught us to do – pray for our enemies, pray for their salvation, pray that they might be awakened by His great light and find Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.
Who knows who the next Apostle Paul may be?
In Jesus Name!