Though it often leads to a dispute when made the subject of conversation, the Bible is very clear about who is in charge of this world.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to Satan three times as “the ruler of this world.” (See John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11.)
John also made it clear in his first epistle when he wrote, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19).
Paul, in his second letter to the Corinthians, also acknowledged the power of the enemy in this world: “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them” (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4).
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul used a different term, referring to Satan as “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).
Later in that same letter, Paul expresses even more clearly the scope of Satan’s power and of the fallen angels who are in allegiance with him: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Lest there be any doubt as to who the above texts refer to, the Revelator makes it clear in Revelation 12:9: “So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
How did it come to be that Satan acquired the power to deceive the whole world and claim it as his dominion?
“Satan was determined to succeed in his temptation of the sinless Adam and Eve. And he could reach even this holy pair more successfully through the medium of appetite than in any other way. The fruit of the forbidden tree seemed pleasant to the eye and desirable to the taste. They ate and fell. They transgressed God’s just command and became sinners. Satan’s triumph was complete. He then had the vantage ground over the race. He flattered himself that, through his subtlety, he had thwarted the purpose of God in the creation of man.
“Satan made his exulting boasts to Christ and to loyal angels that he had succeeded in gaining a portion of the angels in heaven to unite with him in his daring rebellion; and now that he had succeeded in overcoming Adam and Eve, he claimed that their Eden home was his. He proudly boasted that the world which God had made was his dominion; that having conquered Adam, the monarch of the world, he had gained the race as his subjects, and should now possess Eden, making that his headquarters, and would there establish his throne and be monarch of the world.” Confrontation, 15, 16.
“Mighty issues for the world were at stake in the conflict between the Prince of light and the leader of the kingdom of darkness. After tempting man to sin, Satan claimed the earth as his, and styled himself the prince of this world. Having conformed to his own nature the father and mother of our race, he thought to establish here his empire. He declared that men had chosen him as their sovereign. Through his control of men, he held dominion over the world.” The Desire of Ages, 114, 115.
“When Satan was thrust out of heaven, he determined to make the earth his kingdom. When he tempted and overcame Adam and Eve, he thought that he had gained possession of this world; ‘because,’ said he, ‘they have chosen me as their ruler.’ He claimed that it was impossible that forgiveness should be granted to the sinner, and therefore the fallen race were his rightful subjects, and the world was his.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 69.
Although our first parents did indeed succumb to Satan’s specious argument that “You will not surely die” (Genesis 3:4), God, in His incredible mercy and love for the pinnacle of His creation, provided a remedy for the repentant. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
This fact should not be taken to mean that all will be saved. Many places in the Bible make it clear that all individuals have a role to play in their personal salvation. Ezekiel speaks directly against the assertion “once saved—always saved” in Ezekiel 18:24, when he wrote, “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die.”
The Revelator also made clear the importance of overcoming “the accuser of the brethren” in his efforts to ruin the souls of all mankind when he wrote, “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death’ ” (Revelation 12:10, 11).
So, the answer to the question “Who’s in charge” depends on you. Are you claiming the promises in God’s word and complying with the conditions on which those promises are based? Or are you loving your life to the death?
All Bible quotes NKJV unless otherwise noted.
John R. Pearson is the office manager and a board member of Steps to Life. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com.