Twenty-Year Reflections

September 7, 2021

Twenty years ago this week, America lost its illusions. We thought we were impervious to enemy attacks on our soil. We thought the world was intimidated by us, and no one would dare. Then September 11 dawned, and our hearts and illusions were broken.

There were 2,977 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Fathers, mothers, children, sisters, brothers, friends. All innocent. All unprovoked. Many while they were serving others.

For older Americans 9/11 remains a vivid memory. Most Americans eight years of age or older can remember exactly where they were when they heard the news. We watched in horror as we learned that more than 3,000 people (including more than 400 police officers and firefighters) were killed and more than 10,000 others were wounded during the attacks on 9/11. It was the deadliest terrorist act in U.S. history and the most devastating foreign attack on American soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor.

And it fundamentally changed America. For a while people said that in the days and weeks afterward America truly became the United States. People came together and realized that we are better together than separate. But now, twenty years later, we’ve lost that realization. We’ve never been more divided. But we still need each other. We must remember that.

As we remember 9-11, the brave and the lost heroes, let it also be a time that we remember this:

There is evil in the world. Satan is the major influencer. We are not simply dealing with good vs. bad. We are dealing with real, true evil. The Bible uses the phrase “god of this world” (or “god of this age”), indicating that Satan is the major influence on the ideals, opinions, goals, hopes, and views of the majority of the world’s people. His influence surrounds the world’s philosophies, education, and economy. The false religions of the world are also controlled by him and are a direct result of his lies and deception.

The titles used for Satan by the biblical writers show us his capabilities. Paul calls him the "prince of the power of the air" in Ephesians 2:2. John calls him the "ruler of this world" in John 12:31. These phrases indicate the way he rules over the world and the people in it.

Of course he doesn’t totally rule the world. God is still sovereignly in control. But it does mean that God’s infinite wisdom allows Satan to operate in this world within the boundaries God has set for him. One of those boundaries is that he can only control unbelievers. Followers of Jesus are no longer under the rule of Satan (Colossians 1:13). Those who do not believe and follow are caught "in the snare of the devil" (2 Timothy 2:26), under the "power of the evil one" (1 John 5:19), and are in bondage to Satan (Ephesians 2:2). But though Satan does not control the believer he can influence through temptations, which can lead us to our own personal 9-11 when we give in to them. Our lives are then impacted in a very negative way, as well as those around us.

So, when the Bible says that Satan is the "god of this world," it is not saying that he has ultimate authority to do anything he wants. We have no need to fear or feel helpless. We just need to realize that Satan rules over the unbelieving world in a specific way. Remember, “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

People are influenced and coerced by Satan. He is devious and hurtful, hurting even the ones whom he convinces to follow him. They follow him so blindly they don’t see that their angry actions cause them to pay big prices. Even as I write this, the violence and rhetoric among Americans is extremely high. The Taliban is killing our soldiers and the Afghanistan people with abandon. We must remember who we are and Whose we are, and work and pray in that manner.

"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil." Ephesians 5:15-16