THE GOD OF THIS WORLD
Text: II CORINTHIANS 4:3-6
- The Bible teaches that we are engaged in a spiritual battle.
- Our Lord said to Simon Peter, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat" (Luke 22:31).
- But then our Lord added, "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (22:32).
- The Lord was praying for Peter, and He is praying for you and me right now. Romans 8:34 says the Lord Jesus Christ is at the right hand of God interceding for us.
- Hebrews 7:25 says, "Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them."
- This spiritual battle is fierce. We must fight it on our knees.
- James 4:7 says, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
- We must remember that our battle is not with wicked sinners. We are fighting Satan and his demons. Ephesians 6:11 and 12 says, "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
- Our battle is not with flesh and blood, but with the devil and his demons (cf. Daniel 10:11-13).
- In our text this morning Satan is called "the god of this world" (II Cor. 4:4).
- There are powerful spiritual forces that are at war against the Gospel, and against churches that preach the Gospel.
- First Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
- We should know what the Bible teaches about our adversary.
- Worldly people, including unregenerate religious people, often deny the personality of Satan. To them, Satan is merely a symbol of evil.
- A recent survey revealed that 60% of Americans believe, "Satan is only a symbol of evil." Only 35% believe he is to be taken literally.
- Only 49% of so-called "evangelical Christians" believe Satan is real. It is amazing that people who profess to be saved can deny the literal teachings of Scripture. If Satan is not real, then who was our Lord talking to in Matthew 4?
- Matthew 4:1 says, "Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil."
- Matthew 4:3 says, "And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread."
- The tempter is Satan. He is also called "the tempter" in I Thessalonians 3:5.
- Matthew 4:5 says, "Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple." He is also referred to as the devil in verses 8 and 11. Jesus called him "Satan" in verse 10.
- His name Satan means "adversary." First Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."
- Satan is Beelzebub, the prince of evil spirits. He is the inveterate adversary of God and Christ. He incites apostasy from God and he entices men to sin.
- He entraps men by his wiles. Ephesians 6:11 says, "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles (trickery) of the devil."
- In II Corinthians 2:11, the apostle Paul says we should forgive others, "Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices."
- The Bible teaches that the worship of idols are under Satan's control. In fact the Bible repeatedly says that those who worship idols are worshipping devils (demons), though they may not realize it.
- By his demons, Satan is able to take possession of men and inflict them with diseases.
- Second Corinthians 4:4 says Satan is "the god of this world" and that he blinds the minds of "them which believe not," hindering them from understanding the glorious gospel of Christ.
- Satan not only hinders unsaved people from hearing the Gospel, he hinders Christians from proclaiming the Gospel. The apostle Paul wrote in I Thessalonians 2:18, "Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us."
- We know that pride led to Satan's downfall (cf. Isaiah 14:12-15; I Tim. 3:6).
- God hates pride. Therefore, when people are proud they are devilish (cf. Pro. 6:16, 17).
- Proverbs 16:18 says, "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."
- In addition to understanding Satan's personality, we should also consider his position. Second Corinthians 4:4 says Satan is "the god of this world."
- He is a formidable foe. Jude 9 says that when Michael the archangel, contended with the devil, he did not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke thee."
- Three times in the Gospel of John, our Lord referred to Satan as "the prince of this world" (12:31; 14:30; 16:11).
- In Ephesians 2:2, Satan is called "the prince of the power of the air."
- Ephesians 2:2 helps us to understand what is happening in the world around us. We live in a world that displays a spirit of hostility toward God.
- We should not be puzzled by this because Satan as "the prince of this world" and "the prince of the power of the air."
- This world is under the control of Satan. That is why the Bible says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2:15).
- James 4:4 says the friendship of the world is "enmity with God."
- Ephesians 2:2 says, "Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience."
- Satan has a program, just as God has a program, and these two programs are diametrically opposed.
- God's program is found in Mark 16:15, 16. "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." God's program is to proclaim the Gospel.
- The devil's program is to blind people's minds so they cannot understand the Gospel (II Co. 4:3, 4).
- Matthew 13:19 says, "When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart."
- The "wicked one" is the devil. He is busy hindering people from getting saved.
- I was driving in my car the other day and heard John Gambling interview a neurosurgeon named Dr. Eben Alexander, who recently wrote a book about his near death experience.
- After coming down with bacterial meningitis, Dr. Alexander fell into a coma for seven days and claims he went to heaven.
- I did not hear the entire interview, but from what I did hear, Mr. Gambling did not ask anything about salvation or Jesus Christ, etc.
- Furthermore, Dr. Alexander's description of heaven clearly contradicts the Bible. During the part of the interview I heard, neither he nor Mr. Gambling mentioned the Bible.
- Dr. Alexander said he floated above the clouds, and traveled on the wing of a butterfly with a young woman whom he later discovered was a biological sister he had never met, because he was adopted.
- Mr. Gambling asked him if hell was real, and Dr. Alexander said hell is not a literal place. He said that while in heaven he was taught the Hindu concept of reincarnation.
- But Dr. Alexander did not go to heaven, and no one sent from God would ever teach reincarnation. Dr. Alexander was deceived.
- Satan is a liar and a deceiver. Our Lord said to the Pharisees in John 8:44, Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
- Before his near death experience, Dr. Alexander was a nominal Christian. Like most scientists he was worldly-minded and had no time for God. He was not born again. He was not saved. Now he is very religious, but he is promoting a book full of unscriptural foolishness.
- He claims that when he went to heaven he was told, "You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever. You have nothing to fear. But God did not tell him that. Satan did!
- Satan has a program, just as God has a program, and these two programs are diametrically opposed. And any attempt to combine these two programs is bound to fail.
- Most Americans today are not Christians. They are humanists. The second Humanist Manifesto (1973) says, "No deity will save us; we must save ourselves." This is the message embraced by people today.
- The second Humanist Manifesto says, "Promises of immortal salvation or fear of eternal damnation are both illusory and harmful. They distract humans from present concerns, from self-actualization, and from rectifying social injustices...Science affirms that the human species is an emergence from natural evolutionary forces...There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body. Traditional religions are...obstacles to human progress."
- This message sounds very similar to the message of Dr. Alexander and others who have had near death experiences.
- This is Satan's message. This is his program. Revelation 12:9 says Satan deceiveth the whole world.
- We marvel at this and wonder how can Satan be so successful in blinding men's minds. Not just fools and drunkards and dope-heads, but brilliant educators and scientists and world leaders are deceived by Satan.
- Second Corinthians 11:14 says, "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."
- The next time you are in a big bookstore, take a look at the religious book section, and you will see that the majority of books are unscriptural. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light!
- It is a spiritual battle. Back in the 19th century, Hudson Taylor, of the China Inland Mission, wrote to Jonathan Goforth: "We understand North Honan is to be your field; we, as a mission, have tried for ten years to enter that province from the south, and have only just succeeded. It is one of the most anti-foreign provinces in China. . . . Brother, if you would enter that province, you must go forward on your knees."
Referring to II Corinthians 4:3 and 4, Herbert Lockyer wrote these words many years ago. He said Satan "resorts to all kinds of means to keep the souls of men in total darkness regarding the true nature of the glorious Gospel of Christ. The number of those who sit in darkness is colossal...We have lived to see the day of tremendous apathy regarding spiritual things. So-called Christian lands are becoming more pagan with the passing days...Worldliness has swamped our home and religious life. Definite Christian work was never so hard as it is in this carnal-minded age. Blindly the multitudes are rushing on to a lost eternity. Drunk with the wine of pleasure, they fail to realize what a rude awakening will be theirs when, in hell with a grinning Devil standing over them to mock at their moans, they will realize all too late that the door of mercy is fast closed" (Satanic Conflict of the Ages).
Pastor James J. Barker