In his letter to the people of Corinth, Paul seems to pluck a specific name for the devil out of thin air when he asks:

What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?

2 Corinthians 6:15 NIV

Where, we may wonder, does he get ‘Belial’ from? Is this the word in the Greek language for ‘the satan’? Now although it’s obviously a name that Paul expected his readers to be familiar with, the word is actually Hebrew in origin. While it appears only once in the gospels and epistles, here in Second Corinthians, it is mentioned 27 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, running the entire gamut from the Torah, through the historical books of Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, as well as Job, Psalms, Proverbs and the prophecy of Nahum.

However, most English translations, if they record it at all, do so only once in that letter to Corinth. The Hebrew name is hidden away under such abstract qualities as worthlessness or wickedness. This entirely erases the identity of Belial as a spirit and, in so doing, obscures its tactics and strategies. It’s impossible to see the pattern of abuse associated with it when evidence of its presence has been scrubbed right out of any story where it appears. One of its major tactics includes group mind control which makes it incredibly difficult to deal with, because so often that mind control means we are unable to even recognise its presence.

It’s easy to spot the pressure of Python, the forgetting of Ziz, the retaliation of Leviathan, the wasting of Rachab, the rejection of Azazel—but it’s surprisingly difficult to acknowledge the abuse of Belial. Blindness and denial are so rampant that it is no wonder Paul advised the Corinthians: ‘Come out… and be separate.’

This is in complete accord with God’s command regarding Belial: have nothing to do with it. In fact, His command in Deuteronomy 13:13 is that, if we find people worshipping or following Belial, we should destroy everything to do with them, and never again inhabit the place they lived.

How much more serious can God get than that?

Yet today, secular leaders take abuse more seriously than religious people do—and, even then, their actions are piecemeal and political.

To suggest, as many churches do, that an abused person should return to the abuser is entirely contrary to God’s revealed will. Such church leadership is abusive in its own right. The main reason it is possible for such a travesty of God’s commands to take place is because Belial has been cancelled throughout the Old Testament, so its single appearance in the New is without context. Paul’s admonition, ‘Come out… and be separate,’ therefore has no framework in which to be understood.

God hates abuse. He does not require us to put ourselves in harm’s way for any reason.

This is Grace Drops; I’m Anne Hamilton. May you know when to come out and be separate.

Thank you to Lorna Skinner of for the background music.

More on the spirit of Belial can be found in the new paperback, Dealing with Belial: Spirit of Armies and Abuse, Strategies for the Threshold #8.