Young People Ask . . .
Does the Devil Really Run Things?
WOULD you let yourself starve to death? Poison yourself? Challenge someone to a duel from which neither of you could hope to survive?
“No,” you say, “I’m not crazy.”
What, then, do you think of a world economic and social system that lets good food rot while millions starve? Or what do you think of nations that pollute earth’s environment while arming themselves for nuclear war?
A decade ago the vogue was to blame “society” or “the establishment” for the world’s insane conduct. But the Bible points to an invisible “god of this system of things” called Satan, who “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers.” Could it be that someone, a devil, is really blinding mankind against their best interests? Or is such concept “an escape from human responsibility, a fallacious prop,” as Catholic priest Peter J. Riga once called belief in the Devil?—2 Corinthians 4:4.
In Newington, Connecticut, 14-year-old Bruce sat in his world-history class and pondered society’s self-destructive urge. A classmate showed him the Bible’s explanation. “My parents didn’t believe in a Devil,” Bruce recalls, “but how else could I explain a crazy world?”
How Do You Explain It?
“History would be beyond comprehension,” maintains Rumanian playwright Eugene Ionesco, “if we were to leave out the demonic element.” Expressing his view to a German newspaper, he reasons: “But if there is a demonic element this would lead us to conclude there must be a Divine Being, God, too. It is in this God that I would like to believe. We can expect nothing more from humans. If left to himself, man is without doubt headed for destruction. That is what I believe and what I fear.”—Welt am Sonntag, September 2, 1979.
Tom, a young college student, was thoroughly depressed by the obvious futility in world affairs. He quit work on his master’s degree in engineering and retreated to a cabin in Sequoia National Forest. “I distinctly remember thinking that belief in the Devil was unintelligent, a scare tactic like hellfire.” But then Tom began to read for himself what the Bible had to say about the Devil.
A Method in the Madness
The Bible clearly identifies Satan as a well-organized, intelligent person. At one time he was perfect, among the myriads of spirit creatures God created in heaven. (Job 38:7) But he made himself a rebel. Perhaps you have read in Genesis how he got Adam and Eve to part ways with God. His scheme? Get the whole world to follow his course. God told Satan that, while he would have followers, his scheme would eventually fail.—Genesis 3:15.
His followers can thus become “little satans”—like father, like son. As Jesus told scheming opposers in his day: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a manslayer when he began . . . He is a liar and the father of the lie.” (John 8:44) This explains the hypocrisy, the greed, the paranoia that you see in the adult world.
Would it surprise you, then, that the Devil would father some whopping lies to hide his real identity? In Egypt, Babylon, Persia and Greece he promoted the hellfire scare. The idea of a Devil with horns, tail and pitchfork for throwing people into the fire came from Pluto, a god of the underworld in classic mythology, and from Pan, a Greek god. The mythical concept sidetracks people from the Devil’s real purpose.
“As I studied the Bible,” related Tom after emerging from his cabin in the forest, “I soon realized that it clearly teaches the Devil’s existence. The Scriptural idea appealed to me—a very cunning, superintelligent spirit person making the world act insane. When I saw that neither hellfire nor Christendom’s mythical idea of a Devil with pitchfork, horns, tail, and so forth, was Biblical, then everything made sense.” But just how does the Bible reveal that Satan, whose name means “resister,” runs a world system that spurns God?
A Powerful Political Figure
The Devil offered all existing kingdoms to Jesus if he would do an act of worship before him. Jesus refused. But think of the power implied in such a political deal: “The Devil said to him: ‘I will give you all this authority and the glory of them, because it has been delivered to me, and to whomever I wish I give it.’”—Luke 4:6, 7.
Reading that in the Bible was an eye-opener to Janet. “Although I believed in God as I grew up, I never thought much about the Devil,” she admitted, “until I turned 24 and read a Bible study aid, The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life.* What impressed me in this Bible study aid was how powerful the Devil is. The clincher came when I read Daniel chapter 10.”
The book of Daniel calls rebel angels of Satan ‘princes.’ These princes are shown to have had authority over the historic world powers—Babylon, Persia, Greece, and so forth. The Bible chapter that impressed Janet gives you some insight into Satan’s invisible organization: “And now,” an angel named Gabriel says, “I shall go back to fight with the prince of Persia. . . . Look! also the prince of Greece is coming . . . and there is no one holding strongly with me in these things but Michael [another angel].” (Daniel 10:20, 21) Only Jehovah God can stop Satan and straighten out the mess Satan’s world system has created.
Ending the Madness
Would you be glad if God disposed of Satan and his system within your lifetime? The Bible specifies that ours is a time of “woe” (difficulties), “because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”—Revelation 12:12.
For the first time in history, in 1914, a world war began. Unprecedented woes resulted earth wide. Then came World War II and multinational wars in Korea, Vietnam, the Middle East and elsewhere. Leaders now fear a self-destructive third world war. Our age of world war is unique. The Bible mentions it in combination with social unrest (“lawlessness,” disobedience to parents, people not open to any agreement), and with food shortages and earthquakes. Jesus associated these events with ‘the sign of the conclusion of the system of things.’—Matthew 24:3, 7, 12, 34; 2 Timothy 3:1-3.
Philosopher-mathematician Bertrand Russell was an eyewitness to these sweeping changes since 1914. Although as an agnostic he believed in neither God nor the Devil, he remarked on mankind’s self-destructive bent since that year:
“Ever since 1914, everybody conscious of trends in the world has been deeply troubled by what has seemed like a fated and predetermined march toward ever greater disaster. Many serious people have come to feel that nothing can be done . . . They see the human race, like the hero of a Greek tragedy, driven on by angry gods and no longer the master of fate.”—New York Times Magazine, September 27, 1953.
What does this mean? That the Devil’s time is truly “short,” for Jesus added, “This generation [alive in 1914] will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” As one of “these things,” God will destroy Satan’s system. Thereafter God will use Jesus Christ to “bring to nothing” Satan himself.—Matthew 24:21, 34; Hebrews 2:14.
Sanity, at Last!
How should it make you feel to know that the Devil is truly running things as “the god of this system”? “It isn’t a frightening thought,” says Janet. “Just the opposite. It explains what’s happening these days.” In Bruce’s estimation, “It gives you a solid hope. You know God’s heavenly government, his Kingdom, will win.” Tom asks, “How else could you honestly expect the earth to become a Paradise?”—Psalm 37:9-11.
It became American comedian Flip Wilson’s successful comedy line, “The Devil made me do it.” But should you feel that we must blame Satan for our own mistakes? That would be foolish. Read for yourself the Bible’s explanation of world conditions—that is wise. Why not examine it further, soon?
Published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society.
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“Think More Deeply About Its Causes”
An editorial in The Wall Street Journal examined the problem of terrorism. “The modern, secular mind wants to blame society,” it noted. But its concluding words? “The first step in dealing with terrorism is to think more deeply about its causes. In this respect our ancestors were ahead of us. You are less close to the truth if you blame society than you are if you blame Satan.”—October 28, 1977.
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The horns, tail, cloven hooves and pitchfork come from ancient pagan gods