Is the Devil ruling the world?
This is a tricky question, though you did not mean it as a trick question. God did indeed defeat Satan at the cross, and yet Satan is still the god of this eon. How can this be?
I think the answer to this lies in the fact that, while Christ has won the victory and therefore all authority in heaven and on earth has been given unto Him (Matthew 28:18,) He has not yet taken upon Him His great power and reigned, as He will have done in Revelation 11:17. Therefore, we do not yet see all things put under Him, as Hebrews 2:8 says.
Matthew 28:18.And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.
Revelation 11:17. saying:“We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
The One who is and who was and who is to come,
Because You have taken Your great power and reigned.
Hebrews 2:8. “You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.
I suppose one could wonder about the reasons for this. I believe that, since the human race chose to side with Satan, as we see from Genesis 3, and did so of our own free will and under no compulsion, God has every right to leave us to suffer the consequences of this choice, made by our first parents, Adam and Eve. I would compare Satan to our chosen Senator or Representative in the heavenly court. Whether or not Adam and Eve realized it when they followed Satan’s word and rebelled, they were choosing him to represent them in heaven’s court. Since that time, Satan has great power to request things of God regarding this earth, and apparently God takes what he has to say into consideration and will sometimes grant it. One good example of this is found in the book of Job, where God, though with some limitations, grants much of what Satan asks in regard to Job.
So Satan does have great power over the earth, and much of the way things are on earth represent Satan’s way of ordering things and setting things up. In fact, God would have every right to wipe us out with Satan, if He chose to do so. It is only because of His love and grace that He has acted to free us from the bondage we have chosen and to bring us back to Himself. Yet having won the victory that makes His eventual control over the earth possible, He is under no obligation to immediately take this control. We know He has instead chosen to act toward the world in grace. During the time He is doing so, therefore, we remain under the control of Satan, our chosen leader.
As you know, the word “eon” refers to the flow of a thing. The eon in which we live in this time is the evil flow of things that Satan has set up as ruler over the governments of this world. The suffocating flow of corruption, oppression, and immorality that characterizes the world we live in flows from and has its source in the god of this eon. When Christ acts to bring in His kingdom, He will establish a new flow of things that will be characterized by justice, truth, and righteousness. This flow will be patterned after Him, and not after Satan. Yet until He does so, Satan remains the god of this flow of things.
Satan’s defeat has always been inevitable, since God is able from a pure power standpoint to defeat him at any time He wishes. Therefore, God’s concern is how He is going to defeat Satan. Not, that is, how He is going to find the power to defeat him, as we are concerned with when going to war. Rather, He is concerned with how He is going to defeat him in the best way possible, and in a way that is consistent with His Own character. In other words, God is not concerned with defeating Satan, but with defeating him in the right way. That is, a way that will show forth Himself in the best light, and prove the fallacy of Satan’s arguments to the fullest extent.
Moreover, God, in defeating Satan, will follow His own rules in doing so. God not only asks us to follow His rules, but that He follows them as well. He does not ask us to do things that He is not willing to do Himself. These rules He follows are things that God built into the creation when He made it. This makes sense, for He is a God of rule and order. Sadly, Satan takes advantage of these rules oftentimes by twisting them in order to get away with his rebellion. Ultimately, God will defeat him, but will do so in complete harmony with His own will and ways.
That said, it is also important to note what I said previously: that God is under no obligation to save this world from Satan at any time, since He gave our first parents authority over this world, and they chose to exclude Him from it. They should have done what Christ will do, and delivered up the government back to the God Who gave it to them. Instead, they offered it up to Satan, and excluded God from it. At that point, God had every right to destroy us along with Satan. Instead, He lovingly chose to save us and win this world back to Himself. On the cross, He paid the price for doing that. Therefore, He is able to take the world back at any time. Unlike the human governments we live under, however, He is not currently in charge of the world. Satan, our chosen ruler, is the supernatural power behind this world’s governments, and to blame God for current conditions is no more fair than it would be to blame a party that is not in power for the current administration. No, it is not their responsibility until they are in charge. God is not yet in charge. We have the ruler we chose. When God takes this world back, it will be a gracious act, not one He is obligated to do ever. He can wait as long as He likes to do it, and He is within His rights.
That said, He is not sitting around idle while He is waiting. Instead, He is showing forth the unsearchable riches of His grace.
Many people get very confused by the fact that God is not in charge of this world now. They assume He is, and then when Satan acts in Satan’s way, they assume this is God acting, and blame God for having all the characteristics of Satan! We can see this clearly in the book of Job, where every cruel act of Satan towards Job is taken by both him and his friends as being an act of God. The people of this world still tend to assign the acts of Satan to God, and God in their minds is an unholy amalgamation of the two, with Satan’s character often predominant. No wonder, then, that they do not get very excited about the prospect of serving God!
A very interesting question. Thanks for forwarding it my way.