Who rules the world, God or Satan?




I was just reading from your web site.  I do that from time to time.  It's a great site.  Thanks for doing it. Anyway I was reading your sermon on Satan.  You wrote:

            C.        Meanwhile, Satan continues to rule this world

                        1.         All sinners are under his dominion - Ephesians 2:1-2; Colossians 1:13

                        2.         He manipulates and controls the world’s kingdoms - Luke 4:5-7

The second point is what I want to ask about.  In light of what Nebuchadnezzar learned in Daniel 5:21, is it possible Satan was lying to Jesus in Luke 4: 5 -7?  In other words, that he couldn't deliver what he promised Jesus?  I would like to hear your thoughts on this.

Daniel 5:21 says: "Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses."

Luke 4:5-7 says: "Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours."

It is possible that Satan was lying. After all, lies are Satan's native language. "You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it" (John 8:44). However, an outright blatant lie would be an unlikely tacit in attempting to deceive the Son of God. Instead, I believe that what we after here is partial truth. What Satan said was basically correct, it is what he left unsaid that contains the lie.

The Bible is clear that sinners are in the kingdom of Satan. "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians 2:1-2). "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love" (Colossians 1:13). Yet Satan's rule in this world is not nearly as absolute as he implied it to be in his statement to Jesus. When Satan wanted to tempt Job, he had to get God's permission and God limited what Satan was allowed to do (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6).

Satan can play stunts with those who have given Satan control over their lives. He holds great sway over most of the world's population (Matthew 7:13-14). Yet, even Satan cannot stand in God's way (Matthew 16:18). When God wants something done, the righteous and sinners alike bow to the Lord's will whether they desire it or not. However, it doesn't mean that Satan doesn't struggle against God. There is an interesting comment made by an angel to Daniel. The angel was explaining why the answer to Daniel's prayer was taking so long. "Then he said to me, "Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia" (Daniel 10:12-13). In this passage and also in Daniel 12, "princes" appears to be a reference to angels. Michael, being a chief prince, is the archangel also mentioned in Jude 9 and Revelation 12:7. Satan and his followers battle, but ultimately they cannot succeed in stopping God's plans.

Sinners are in the hands of Satan and the kingdoms run by sinners are under Satan's sway. Jesus came to end Satan's domination of the world. Satan knew this and what he offered to Jesus was to give over his people and power without a fight, but on the condition that Jesus put himself under the authority of Satan. Satan tempted Jesus with the easy way out -- no struggling to turn the hearts of men, no dying on a cross -- but it included God surrendering to a being of His creation who had turned evil.

Satan's statement was basically correct: he had authority over men and their kingdoms. He even correctly stated that it was delegated authority, in that he said it was given to him (i.e. Satan didn't possess it by his own power). It was also true that Satan could give it to another. But it was a lie that he truly sought to give up his authority. He was making a bid for greater authority -- power over God. And he lost.

See also:

Questions and Answers regarding Satan
Questions and Answers regarding Authority