Satan's Work in Our World

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Satan's Work in Our World

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“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Now that we have seen that Satan is a real being with real powers, we need to understand how he uses his powers. We should also understand his intentions and overall goal.

We saw in the previous chapter that Satan led other angels astray in a misguided attempt to overthrow God’s authority. His vanity, pride and lust for power led him into war against the ruler of the universe.

Failing at that, Satan spitefully tried to thwart and disrupt God’s dealings with the human race, doing whatever he could to bring harm. And his evil work has been incessant.

Satan’s primary goal

The devil wasted no time before interfering. As we saw earlier, Genesis 3 describes Satan’s appearance on the scene shortly after God created Adam and Eve.

The first thing Satan tried to do was to destroy God’s relationship with the first human beings. He subtly asked Eve, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1 Genesis 3:1Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
American King James Version×
). He cleverly avoided mentioning all that God had given to her and Adam—every other plant, tree and kind of fruit in the garden. Instead he succeeded in getting her to concentrate on the fruit of the one tree from which God had forbidden them to eat.

He slyly began to deceive Eve. He introduced his first lie, telling her she would not die if she took of the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:4 Genesis 3:4And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die:
American King James Version×
). He followed with another falsehood, slandering God by accusing Him of holding Eve back by withholding valuable knowledge from her (Genesis 3:5 Genesis 3:5For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
American King James Version×
). She was seduced by his persuasiveness. She took of the fruit and then shared it with Adam.

Eve was deceived by Satan’s craftiness (2 Corinthians 11:3 2 Corinthians 11:3But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
American King James Version×
). Adam wasn’t deceived (1 Timothy 2:14 1 Timothy 2:14And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.
American King James Version×
). He simply followed along and joined his wife in disobeying God’s clear instructions. We see that pressure from others to go along even when we know a course of action is wrong has been with us for a long time.

This account helps us see that Satan’s primary goal is to thwart God’s plan to build a family relationship with mankind.

From the beginning God has had a magnificent plan for human beings—to extend to us His gift of eternal life. One of the Bible’s most familiar passages makes this plain: “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 John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
American King James Version×
).

God’s goal is to vastly expand His family. Right now that eternal family consists of two divine beings—God the Father and Jesus Christ, His Son (Luke 10:22 Luke 10:22All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knows who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
American King James Version×
). God’s goal for humanity—eternal life in His family—is the central focus of the entire creation: “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God” (Romans 8:19 Romans 8:19For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
American King James Version×
, New American Standard Bible).

This close family relationship is God’s fervent desire for humanity. Paul calls Jesus “the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29 Romans 8:29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
American King James Version×
). As the firstborn Son of God, He is the first of many children of God to be ultimately born in God’s family, and “Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers” (Hebrews 2:11 Hebrews 2:11For both he that sanctifies and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brothers,
American King James Version×
, NIV).

God promises us that “he who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son” (Revelation 21:7 Revelation 21:7He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
American King James Version×
). “I will be a Father to you,” He says, “and you shall be My sons and daughters” (2 Corinthians 6:18 2 Corinthians 6:18And will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, said the Lord Almighty.
American King James Version×
). God wants to give us immortality so we can live with Him forever. He wants to begin a close family relationship with us now (John 14:23 John 14:23Jesus answered and said to him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our stayed with him.
American King James Version×
). (For a deeper understanding of this truth, download or request our free booklet What Is Your Destiny? )

Satan, however, wants to thwart God’s plan in any way he can. He wants to prevent us from developing a close relationship with God. He wants to keep us from attaining our destiny as the very sons of God.

Satan’s great deception

As we noted earlier, Satan is a powerful, intelligent being who will stop at nothing to carry out his ends. As the master manipulator of mankind, he has many methods and tools at his disposal.

In a sense, his immediate goal—keeping mankind separate from God—is relatively easy. As human beings we are inclined to focus on our own needs and wants—and Satan has reinforced that to the point that selfishness is the primary motivator in human behavior. As Paul puts it, “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires” (Romans 8:5 Romans 8:5For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
American King James Version×
, NIV). Those whose minds are focused on themselves are, whether they realize it or not, “hostile to God” (Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Quoting from several Psalms, Paul summarizes the spiritual condition of most of humanity: “There is no one who is righteous, not even one; there is no one who has understanding, there is no one who seeks God. All have turned aside, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, there is not even one…Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery are in their paths, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:10-18 Romans 3:10-18 10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that does good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open sepulcher; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17 And the way of peace have they not known: 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

As a master of persuasion, Satan easily deceives mankind into focusing on anything but God. Through the theory of evolution, for example, he has convinced millions that God doesn’t exist. (For proof that God is real, download or request our free booklets Life’s Ultimate Question: Does God Exist? and Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe? )

Through hundreds of corrupt religions he has over the ages convinced billions of people to worship the sun, moon and stars, animals, nature, deceased ancestors, imaginary gods and goddesses, and a bewildering variety of other things—or nothing at all. Even among the many varieties of traditional Christianity, we find people divided and bickering over who and what God is, over His purpose for us, and over how He wants us to worship Him and how we should live. The devil has done an effective job of confusing people as to what the Bible really says.

Satan doesn’t care which of these groups people fall into. Whether they believe in no God at all, accept and worship a false god or are deceived into a false view of the true God and His plan for us, Satan still has them where he wants them—”alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:18 Ephesians 4:18Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
American King James Version×
).

Perhaps this helps us better understand what God means when He tells us that the devil “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
American King James Version×
). Paul explains that “the god of this age” has blinded those “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 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×
).

In one of His parables Jesus explains that, as soon as some people hear God’s truth, “the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12 Luke 8:12Those by the way side are they that hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
American King James Version×
). Satan will stop at nothing to keep people blinded to the fullness of God’s truth. The result, as Jesus explained, is that “the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it,” and “the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14 Matthew 7:13-14 13 Enter you in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few there be that find it.
American King James Version×
, NRSV).

Causes of humanity’s problems

When we understand the magnitude of Satan’s deception, we can better grasp the roots of so many of humanity’s problems. Collectively we have had thousands of years to experiment with governments, philosophies and ways of living, so why have we been unable to solve our problems? Why do so many difficulties persist year after year, century after century?

Human governments and other efforts have not succeeded because, in the final analysis, we simply do not know the right way to live. Solomon, king of ancient Israel, put it bluntly: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12 Proverbs 14:12There is a way which seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
American King James Version×
; Proverbs 16:25 Proverbs 16:25There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
American King James Version×
).

Through the prophet Jeremiah, God tells us that “it is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23 Jeremiah 10:23O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walks to direct his steps.
American King James Version×
). Regrettably, mankind has proved the truth of those words for generations. Under human rule, influenced by Satan’s attitude of getting all we can for ourselves, the world has never seen a time free of turmoil, war and suffering.

The world suffers from chronic, overwhelming problems because we have rejected God. Under God’s inspiration, Solomon’s father King David wrote: “The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is none who does good, no, not one” (Psalms 14:2-3 Psalms 14:2-3 2 The LORD looked down from heaven on the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. 3 They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that does good, no, not one.
American King James Version×
).

Jeremiah also noted that people are largely blinded by the deceit of their own evil motives and intents: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Man separated from God

The prophet Isaiah adds: “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perversity. No one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth… The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace” (Isaiah 59:1-8 Isaiah 59:1-8 1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. 3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue has muttered perverseness. 4 None calls for justice, nor any pleads for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. 5 They hatch cockatrice’ eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eats of their eggs dies, and that which is crushed breaks out into a viper. 6 Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands. 7 Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. 8 The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whoever goes therein shall not know peace.
American King James Version×
).

God’s ways are vastly different from man’s. He tells us: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways… For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9 Isaiah 55:8-9 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
American King James Version×
).

Satan has effectively deceived the world throughout history by influencing human beings to cut themselves off from God’s guidance. He has led us into wanting to do things our own way, to rely on ourselves rather than God as the ultimate authority.

Paul describes the results of rejecting God: “Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit
and malice.

“They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:28-32 Romans 1:28-32 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Paul’s words ring as true in our day as ever before. Our news and entertainment media praise and condone degenerate, sinful lifestyles and practices while condemning people who support biblical standards as narrow-minded bigots out to impose their biases on others. Such twisted values are the inevitable result of a mind-set that rejects the knowledge and commandments of God. (To better understand the results of rejecting God’s teachings, be sure to download or request our free booklet Why Does God Allow Suffering? )

This is not God’s world

Although God is always in ultimate control, the Scriptures make it clear that He is not the reason for the world’s many chronic problems. As Jesus Christ said in John 18:36 John 18:36Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
American King James Version×
, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

God is not behind the misery that plagues our planet. Satan the devil is the true “ruler of this world” (John 12:31 John 12:31Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
American King James Version×
; John 14:30 John 14:30Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world comes, and has nothing in me.
American King James Version×
; John 16:11 John 16:11Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.
American King James Version×
). John tells us that “the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:19 1 John 5:19And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness.
American King James Version×
). Again, Satan is the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4 2 Corinthians 4:4In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine to them.
American King James Version×
).

Moreover, Satan’s demonic cohorts also exercise control in this world—even at times powerfully influencing human governments. In the book of Daniel, the righteous angel Gabriel tells Daniel that he had just been fighting, with the help of the archangel Michael, against a powerful spirit personality referred to as “the prince of Persia”—and that he would soon have to fight another he called “the prince of Greece” (Daniel 10:13-20 Daniel 10:13-20 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days: but, see, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I am come to make you understand what shall befall your people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days. 15 And when he had spoken such words to me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. 16 And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spoke, and said to him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned on me, and I have retained no strength. 17 For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. 18 Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, 19 And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace be to you, be strong, yes, be strong. And when he had spoken to me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for you have strengthened me. 20 Then said he, Know you why I come to you? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, see, the prince of Grecia shall come.
American King James Version×
).

Of course, these are but subordinates under the devil. In an attempt to lead Jesus astray in Matthew 4:8-9 Matthew 4:8-9 8 Again, the devil takes him up into an exceeding high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And said to him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.
American King James Version×
, Satan offered “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory”—as they were truly under his dominion (compare Luke 4:5-7 Luke 4:5-7 5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, showed to him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to him, All this power will I give you, and the glory of them: for that is delivered to me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. 7 If you therefore will worship me, all shall be yours.
American King James Version×
).

Although we cannot see Satan, his influence is powerful and pervasive. Paul understood this, reminding Christians that “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 2:2 Ephesians 2:2Wherein in time past you walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience:
American King James Version×
). The result of the devil’s influence is that, before conversion, our focus is on “gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts” (Ephesians 2:3 Ephesians 2:3Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
American King James Version×
, NIV).

Notice again that Paul calls Satan “the prince of the power of the air” as the spirit working in disobedient humanity. What does this mean? Evidently, Satan is responsible for a spiritual “broadcast” of sorts to which human minds are attuned. Just as the air around us is saturated with TV and radio signals that can be tuned in with electronic receivers, so it is also saturated with Satan’s spiritual broadcast of selfish and rebellious moods and attitudes to which our minds are receptive.

The devil thereby spiritually influences humanity to reject God and God’s law. Under this influence, “the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God’s law, for it is unable do so” (Romans 8:7 Romans 8:7Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
American King James Version×
, Holman Christian Standard Bible).

Separated from God, man chooses to go his own way with devastating results. Under Satan’s influence humanity has rejected God’s revelation and guidance and built societies and civilizations on wrong foundations. But it will not be that way forever. We’ll learn how things will change in the next two chapters of this booklet.