We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one. – 1 John 5:19
Satan’s position toward man is one of antagonism, envy, and continual spiritual warfare. When God created Adam, Satan saw more than a new creature in the universe. He saw a rival. Although Adam was not created with the same level of angelic power and glory that he had, it was clear to Satan that God held him in a special place. Adam was created in God’s image. That is a claim that no other created being, including Satan could make. Moreover, God gave Adam dominion over what was once Satan’s.
Satan wants his kingdom back!
Not only was part of Satan’s former primordial kingdom on earth given to Adam, his descendants were destined to have all the things that Satan desired before he fell.
This was not a situation that Satan’s pride could bear. He desired to bring God’s new creation under his own control and thwart man’s destiny. If Satan could take what God gave Adam, AND get man to choose Satan over God – he would achieve a double victory – he’d thwart the Plan of God and get the worship he desired.
When the serpent convinced Eve (and ultimately Adam) into eating the forbidden fruit, Satan achieved more than just the failure of the First Dispensation; he actually used a legal technicality to usurp Adam’s position as the ruler of Earth (does this make Satan the archetype for all lawyers? It would explain a lot…).
When Adam fell, the world came under the authority of Satan. And as a result of Original Sin, we are born with his desire – to rebel against God; to be prideful, deceptive, and destructive.
Ruling the unruly
But even with this victory, Satan does not get what he wants. God gave man something that Satan does not have – free will. Although man is born with enmity toward God, he does not automatically turn to Satan as an alternative. Instead, man chooses to go his own way. In some cases, man may choose to worship Satan directly, but usually man emulates Satan’s rebellious nature by resisting all authority and doing his own will. So while the world lies under the SWAY of the devil, men still chose to do what they want in defiance to all authority. In short, Satan wanted worshipers, but instead got a bunch of unruly teenagers
Satan has legal authority over the earth and if he were able to rule it perfectly, it would go a long way towards showing his equality with God. But with individual humans possessing a nature as rebellious as his own, Satan cannot replicate God’s perfect rule in heaven. The only way to have perfect authority is for all the subjects under your dominion to have a common will or a common goal.
Although individual humans have their own wills, they have something in common with Satan in that their wills are in defiance to God. Satan uses this to his advantage in trying to create his kingdom on earth. Satan uses his evil influence to try to get men to unify behind their dark desires and completely extinguish God’s influence from the planet. Yet Satan has never been able to completely accomplish this because throughout history, there have always been a remnant of humanity who was willing to choose God.
Thwarted by the remnant
In Genesis 6, all of humanity was totally subdued by evil , but God found one faithful man through which he could salvage humanity in Noah. After the flood of Noah, man was again united and, committed to evil, and again God found a faithful man in Abraham through whom he could execute His plan . Israel was God’s chosen people who preserved His Word and will while Godless world empires rose and fell all around them. After the death and resurrection of Christ, the early church held up the light in darkness. Their existence kept the world from completely succumbing to corruption. Even today, Satan tempts men to get behind causes that attempt to place entire world under a single authority in defiance to God – be it fascism, communism, socialism, environmentalism, capitalism, theocracy, or any other man-centered form of authority. But the presence of the few who decide to choose God prevent this from happening.
A job too big for one man, er… devil
As we’ve seen in this post, Satan’s ambitions to grandeur did not end when he got the boot from heaven. He still wants to rule the universe and be worshiped. If you think that this is way too big of a job for a single being to carry out (especially one that does not have God’s transcendence and access to information) then you’re right! Satan has had a LOT of help. Satan’s co-conspirators consist of powerful beings like himself, as well as powerful and influential men on earth. Next week we will take a look at the first of Satan’s little helpers – Fallen Angels.
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