Myth #4

Myth #4: "Satan, as 'the god of this world' has control over everything on the earth, including human governments, natural disasters, and the weather."

Satan is spoken of in Scripture as being “the god of this world” by the apostle Paul (2 Cor. 4:4) and “the ruler of this world” by Jesus (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Based on these titles for Satan, many have assumed that Satan has total control over the earth. Although we have already considered enough scriptures to expose the error of this particular myth, it will do us well to study even further so that we can have a full understanding of just how limited Satan’s power really is. We must be cautious that our entire understanding of Satan is not built upon only four scriptures that refer to him as god, or ruler, of the world.

As we examine more of the Bible, we discover that not only did Jesus refer to Satan as “ruler of this world,” but He also referred to His heavenly Father as “Lord of heaven and earth” (Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21, emphasis added). Additionally, not only did the apostle Paul refer to Satan as “the god of this world,” but he, like Jesus, referred to God as “Lord of heaven and earth” (Acts 17:24, emphasis added). This proves to us that neither Jesus nor Paul would want us to think that Satan has complete control over the earth. Satan’s authority must be limited.

A very important distinction between these contrasting scriptures is to be found in the words world and earth. Although we often use these two words synonymously, in the original Greek the two are usually not the same. Once we understand how they differ, our understanding of God and Satan’s authority on the earth increases dramatically.

Jesus referred to God the Father as Lord of the earth. The word translated earth is the Greek word ge. It refers to the physical planet upon which we live, and from it the English word geography is derived.

Contrariwise, Jesus said that Satan is the ruler of this world. The Greek word for world here is kosmos, and it refers primarily to order or arrangement. It speaks of people rather than of the physical planet itself. That is why Christians often speak of Satan as the “god of this world’s system.”

Presently, God does not have complete control over the world, because He does not have complete control over all the people of the world. The reason for this is that He has given all people a choice regarding who will be their master, and many have chosen to give their allegiance to Satan. Humanity’s free will, of course, is a part of God’s plan.

Paul used a different word for world, the Greek word aion, when he wrote of the god of this world. Aion can and often is translated as age, that is, a marked period of time. Satan is the god of this present age.

What does all this mean? The earth is the physical planet upon which we live. The world speaks of the people who presently live upon the earth, and more specifically, those who are not serving Jesus. They are serving Satan, and are caught up in his perverted, sinful system. We, as Christians, are said to be “in the world” but not “of the world” (John 17:11,14). We live among the citizens of the kingdom of darkness, but we are actually in the kingdom of light, the kingdom of God.

So now we have our answer. To put it simply: God sovereignly controls the entire earth. Satan, by God’s permission, only has control of the “world’s system,” which is control over those who are citizens of his dark kingdom. For this reason, the apostle John wrote that the “whole world (not the whole earth) lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).

This is not to say that God has no authority over the world, or the world’s system, or the people of the world. He is, as Daniel stated, “ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes” (Dan. 4:25). He still can exalt or humble any person He desires. However, as supreme “ruler over the realm of mankind,” He has sovereignly permitted Satan to rule over the portion of mankind that is in rebellion against Him.