He was a terror to the devil...
By his mighty skill, he kept the law firm...
- Dallán Forgaill, Amra Choluimb Chille, Irish, 6th century
Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
- James 4.7
On occasion I’ve asked a men’s group to write down on a sheet of paper what they’d like to have written on their tombstone, or what memorable line they hope someone would pen in their obituary.
As you might imagine, it’s an interesting exercise.
How about this: “He was a terror to the devil”?
That’s how his contemporaries saw Colum Cille, the 6th-century founder of the great center of missions, scholarship, and piety on the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland. He was a terror to the devil.
How did Colum get that way?
He loved God and hated his own sin. He pored over the Word of God, giving special attention to the Law and the Gospels. He spent long hours praying and contemplating the unseen realm, so that Dallán described him as being wise about both the apostles and the angels. He studied the creation to discover the glory of God revealed there, and to praise and thank Him for it.
And he was a diligent student of Church history, knowing the debt he owed to the martyrs and theologians of the past.
Plus, he loved his contemporaries and students so much that he exercised great care not to be a cause of stumbling to any of them – a lesson he learned the hard way early in his preparation for ministry, when missteps of his own lead to disasaster and plunged him into disfavor with the Church.
He devoted his time to seeking the Lord, training others for discipleship and mission, and caring for the men God had entrusted to him on Iona. His time and life were filled with knowing, loving, and serving the Lord.
No wonder he terrorized the devil.
Colum was a great man by any measure. But his greatest attribute by far is that he struck terror in the devil, who feared that this man would be used of God to lift the blindness, expose the devilish folly, and re-sow the Gospel of the Kingdom into the weed-strewn fields of benighted Europe.
Turns out, he was right.
Colum was a terror to the devil, as his monastery on Iona became the flagship and forerunner of numerous other Irish monasteries which, together sent thousands of missionaries to re-evangelize the moribund churches of the continent and to lead multitudes of lost souls to the salvation of Jesus Christ. Whatever Colum put his hand to bore holy spiritual fruit in others. Another of his contemporaries described him as the ”spearcast” by which lies were slain.
Yes, Colum Cille was a terror to the father of lies, and an active agent in furthering the righteousness, peace, and joy of the Kingdom of God.
Would people say of us the same?
1. How do you know when it’s time to resist the devil? How should you resist him?
2. What can you do, day by day, to make yourself less vulnerable to the attacks of the father of lies?
Psalm 91.1-3 (Lauda Anima: Praise My Soul the King of Heaven)
All who dwell within God’s shelter in His shadow will reside.
He our Tow’r our Fortress ever, in Him we our trust confide.
From the trapper’s snares He saves us; safe from sickness we abide.
Resisting the devil
One of the most important ways of resisting the devil is to make sure you understand his wiles. Our book, Satan Bound, can give you insight to his ways, so that you can recognize his assaults, resist his inroads, and send him packing in the Name of Jesus. Order your copy by clicking here. It’s free!
The Celtic Revival
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T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Clancy and Márkus, p. 107.