Martin Luther said that “The God of this world is riches, pleasure and pride.” Luther was wrong about that. Oh, I know that many people worship at the shrines of riches, pleasure and pride, but these things are only a screen that hides the real god who is being worshiped. How many people would worship the one who is behind the screen of attractive enticements? Who is that god? How does he get people to blindly worship him? Paul addresses this question in (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)….
“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”
This god is an active force. He is a being who does things like blinding the minds of people to prevent them from believing in God. There is no doubt that the god of this world is Satan. He is the archenemy of God and of man. But how is he the “god” of this world?
“And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world— he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.” (Revelation 12:9).
The word translated here as “world” is in the Greek, ainonos – eon or age. This has to do with the realm of ideals, opinions, goals, hopes and views that characterize people in any particular time. It is through these that this power – this god – rules. He controls the thinking, the hopes and desires of men and through these governs over them. By this means he controls the culture, philosophies, governments and education of every period of time. Those who buy into the controlling ideals thus presented are deceived.
We need to understand that Satan is not equal to God. He is a created being. He had a beginning. He is a god in the sense that he has power to deceive people and in the sense that he is worshiped by those whom he has deceived.
Satan gains his power or rule by deception, not by right. His “modus operandi” is to becloud the minds of people by lies, misrepresentation and false accusations. He misrepresented God to Eve in the garden of Eden and his MO has not changed since then.
John tells us extent of his rule…
“We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19
In character he is a murderer and a liar. Jesus referred to some people as being children of the devil. In that rebuke he reveals much about their “father.”
“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44).
He is behind disobedience to God. Paul describes the former state of the Ephesian Christians. By his lies and deception he fosters disobedience and rebellion against God.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— (Ephesians 2:1-2).
Christians are warned by Peter of his malevolent intent.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8).
Satan’s power is not unlimited. He can only do what God permits. The case of Job is interesting and instructive in this respect. When Satan challenged God to allow him to prove Job’s willingness to curse God he is permitted to test Job but only within the limits God had set. God said, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” (Job 1:12). When that test failed and Satan asked for another opportunity God granted it but again with a limitation. “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” (Job 2:6). He will test and trick believers, but they have submitted themselves to another ruler. He does not and cannot dominate believers as long as they remain faithful to their Lord. Paul was absolutely sure of that…
“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).
His rule is limited to unbelievers. He has no power over the children of God because God “…has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…” (Colossians 1:13). Unbelievers are caught in “the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:26). They are “in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), and “following the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).
But Satan is a defeated ruler. He and his realm (the world) came under judgment when Jesus was crucified.
“Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31).
His power over men was broken. His means of holding them lost its power. The only way for anyone to have Satan as their god is to willingly submit to his tyrannical rule over them. There is, of course always the danger to Christians that they fall victim to Satan’s designs.
“Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (2 Corinthians 2:10-11).
His trap doesn’t have to be some act of outrageous immorality. According to the apostle, it can be as simple as not forgiving someone.
Another of his traps is to convince us that the world – his domain of rule – has something to offer us that we can’t get elsewhere. He would have us believe we can have what the world offers without having to pay for it. But John warns…
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15-17).
According to the aged apostle, the world does not offer anything the Christian needs or should want. It is all destructive and it is all going to be destroyed along with its god. May the Lord hasten the day!