Letting God Be the Sovereign of Our Lives
“The sovereignty of the world has passed into the possession of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.”—Rev. 11:15, An American Translation.
1, 2. Does it really matter so much who is the sovereign in our lives, and how can we illustrate the point?
DOES it really matter so much who it is that is the sovereign of our lives? Indeed it does! Certainly in any country where the ruler has absolute power, it does matter whether the people have a good sovereign or a bad sovereign.
2 By the title “sovereign” is meant a monarch or political ruler who has the supreme power and who ranks above all others in the land with respect to position, authority and executive ability. Such a monarch or ruler has sovereign powers. His rulership affects the lives of all his subjects, whether for good or for evil. A wise monarch of ancient times stated the matter in this way: “When the righteous become many, the people rejoice; but when anyone wicked bears rule, the people sigh.”—Prov. 29:2.
3. What two superpowerful political forces today seek to dominate the souls of all men on earth?
3 Today the times are very critical. We cannot escape the question about the sovereignty of our lives. On the surface of things, it appears that two great political forces are bitterly contending with each other for domination, for sovereignty, over the lives of all the people of the earth. Even those nations that claim to be politically neutral are obliged to put up strong defenses against being overrun by one or the other of these superpowerful political forces. Blocs of nations are lined up on each side in this unyielding contest for control of the souls of men. One side is for the regimentation, the complete regulation, of the people in their private and public affairs. Even religion, if at all permitted, is not free from domination and regulation by the politicians. The other side allows for a measure of liberty in the personal lives and pursuits of the citizens. Yet it claims full control over the lives of the people when the interests of the political state are in imminent danger and they need to be defended against violent aggression.
4. What contest is now coming to a head, greater than that between communism and democracy?
4 However, there is a contest of far greater magnitude than the foregoing political conflict, for rulership over the lives of all humans. The contest between international communism and capitalistic democracy is global. The greater contest involves the whole universe. It is between the two great moral forces, the one for good and the other for bad. This contest has been going on for now nearly six millenniums of human history. Shortly it will come to a head. The two contesting forces involve intelligent personages. So they are not two blind forces, like magnetism and gravity, that operate impersonally for good and for bad, without intelligent direction behind them. Accordingly, bad exists because personages do bad, and good exists because personages do good. There is a personal source for the operation of good. Likewise, there is a personal source for the operation of what is bad. Good laws issue from a good Intelligence; bad laws from a bad Intelligence.
5. To what are these two forces compared, and why so?
5 The two contesting forces are compared to light and darkness. The force for good is compared to light, since deeds of goodness are done in the light, the doer thereof not being ashamed or afraid. The force for bad is compared to darkness, as deeds of badness are done in the darkness, the doer thereof realizing that he is doing wrong and not wanting to be punished. When busy at bad deeds done in the dark so as to avoid detection, the doer thereof hates the light with its power of exposure. Just as a widely read and quoted writer said: “Men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. For he that practices vile things hates the light and does not come to the light, in order that his works may not be reproved. But he that does what is true comes to the light, in order that his works may be made manifest.”—John 3:19-21.
6. How are deeds associated with darkness and those associated with light set in contrast in Romans 13:12-14?
6 Further showing the contrast between the works associated with the darkness and those associated with the light, another noted writer of the first century C.E. said to persons who were committed to the doing of good: “The night is well along; the day has drawn near. Let us therefore put off the works belonging to darkness and let us put on the weapons of the light. As in the daytime let us walk decently, not in revelries and drunken bouts, not in illicit intercourse and loose conduct, not in strife and jealousy. . . . do not be planning ahead for the desires of the flesh.”—Rom. 13:12-14.
7. (a) The authority of what was it that prevailed on the night of Jesus’ betrayal? (b) Who was most interested in bringing about the great crime of Passover day of 33 C.E.?
7 When the Founder of Christianity was betrayed by one of his own twelve apostles, the traitor Judas Iscariot, he said to the armed crowd that came under cover of night to seize him secretly: “This is your hour and the authority of darkness.” (Luke 22:53) The authority of darkness prevailed that tragic night, but it took human agents to carry out the works of darkness that led to the greatest crime in human history on the following afternoon, the Passover day of the year 33 C.E. Furthermore, there was someone higher and mightier who was more interested in the committing of that crime than the human perpetrators of it were. There was an unseen higher intelligence that was using his influence upon them to commit this crime. That superhuman intelligence was the one who took advantage of the opening and injected into the heart of Judas Iscariot the base idea of betraying his innocent Master. In no unmistakable terms the record says: “Satan entered into Judas, the one called Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve [apostles]; and he went off and talked with the chief priests and temple captains about the effective way to betray him to them.” (Luke 22:3, 4) When, at the Passover supper, Jesus Christ identified his betrayer by giving him a morsel of food, then, as the record tells us, “after the morsel . . . Satan entered into the latter. . . . Therefore, after he received the morsel, he went out immediately. And it was night.”—John 13:27-30.
8. How did Jesus identify the instigator of all the criminal activity, and did that one prove the winner?
8 After this, when Jesus was alone with the eleven faithful apostles, he pointed out the real instigator of all the criminal activity that was being carried on, by saying to them: “Look! Satan has demanded to have you men to sift you as wheat.” (Luke 22:31) As a result, these eleven apostles were scattered like sifted wheat for a time, even abandoning their Leader Jesus. But Satan the Devil did not win out, for these apostles came together again and worked together as a united band under the headship of their resurrected Leader. This included even the apostle Simon Peter, who denied Jesus three times that Passover night.—Luke 22:47-62; Matt. 26:31, 35; Mark 14:50-52.
THE WICKED SOVEREIGN
9. How did Jesus indicate that there was a superhuman intelligence behind the intent of the Jews to kill him?
9 There remains no room for doubt! Away back there in the first century of our Common Era there was a superhuman intelligence who was unseen to human eyes but who just as effectively directed the actions of his human agents in performing deeds of moral darkness. That one was Satan the Devil. Why, Jesus Christ even said to those of his fellow countrymen who were playing into the hands of that wicked one: “If you are Abraham’s children, do the works of Abraham. But now you are seeking to kill me, . . . Abraham did not do this. You do the works of your father. . . . 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, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie.”—John 8:39-44.
10. What did Jesus say about imagined “sacred service” to God, but what rule here applies?
10 To this day the natural, circumcised Jews are suffering the sad consequences from the works of darkness that were done within their nation nineteen hundred years ago. This illustrates what can happen to a whole nation that comes under the influence of that unseen superhuman intelligence, Satan the Devil. Jesus Christ called this Evil One “the ruler of this world,” and Jesus’ own nation yielded to that one as their “ruler,” their sovereign, instead of to the God whom they professed to worship at the temple of Jerusalem. Jesus Christ said to his faithful apostles: “The hour is coming when everyone that kills you will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God.” (John 12:31; 16:2) But not so! The misguided religionist who commits such evil is actually rendering service to God’s Adversary, Satan the Devil. The rule here applying is correctly stated in these words: “If you keep presenting yourselves to anyone as slaves to obey him, you are slaves of him because you obey him.”—Rom. 6:16.
11. Alerting us to the existence of other wicked rulers besides flesh-and-blood ones, what did Paul write about Christian wrestling?
11 It is time today for people to wake up to the fact that there are other world rulers besides the visible ones of blood and flesh on earth. Alerting us to that fact, the apostle Paul, who suffered at the hands of those who imagined that they were rendering a sacred service to God, said to his fellow believers in the pagan city of Ephesus, Asia Minor: “Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments [the Sovereignties, Jerusalem Bible], against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness [the Powers who originate the darkness in this world, Je], against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places [the spiritual army of evil in the heavens, Je].”—Eph. 6:11, 12.
12. Under whom are the “master-spirits of this dark world,” and what question does our being in this world make us ask ourselves?
12 Who today, in the last half of this twentieth century, will dispute that moral darkness—that is, the works and deeds of an evil kind—predominates over the earth? Deny it as many materialistic, worldly-wise people may, the fact remains, and the evidence is there to show, that there are “world rulers of this darkness,” or, as An American Translation renders the Greek Bible text, “the master-spirits of this dark world.” All this “spiritual army of evil in the [invisible] heavens” is under the sovereignty of Satan the Devil, “the wicked one.” (Eph. 6:16; Matt. 13:19) Let us all face this plain fact realistically. It means something very personal for us. What is that? Well, we are all of us, inescapably, “in the world.” (John 17:11) So we are feeling the effects of all the hard times through which the world of mankind has been passing, especially since the year 1914, and this makes us realize the bad situation in which we find ourselves. Hence, the question that none of us can sidestep is this: Inasmuch as Satan the Devil is the “ruler of this world,” where we find ourselves—is he for that reason the sovereign of our lives?
13. In what position does the world still lie with respect to the wicked one, and so what questions are advisable for us to ask ourselves?
13 This personal question deserves our serious and honest consideration. The state of affairs of the world today has not changed at all from what it was nineteen centuries ago when the last writer of the Bible said: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) So we can ask ourselves individually, Does that include me? Am I too lying under the power of the Devil, the wicked one, the sovereign of this world? It will not alter matters for us to take offense at such an inquiry and to say, ‘The question is too repulsive for me to consider, in fact, too insulting for me to take notice of, with dignity to myself.’ We certainly do not want to fool ourselves, do we? Yet we can do so. The Bible writer was foretelling the events of our own time when he described the abasing of the Wicked One and his spirit forces, saying:
14, 15. Whom is the Devil misleading, and when first will he be stopped from this?
14 “So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘ . . . Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.’”—Rev. 12:9-12.
15 That Arch-Deceiver does not have the good interest of anyone on earth at heart. He is still on the loose in the vicinity of our earth to which he has been hurled down. He will not be stopped from misleading the entire inhabited earth until after the steadily approaching “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. Then, first, he along with his demon angels will be “hurled . . . into the abyss . . . that he might not mislead the nations anymore until the thousand years [of the reign of Jesus Christ] were ended.” (Rev. 16:14, 16; 20:1-3) That time for removing Satan the Devil and his demons from the vicinity of our earth and isolating them in a distant abyss has not yet come, and the look of things on earth today demonstrates that it has not yet come. Hence, each one, without exception, is still exposed to being misled by the Devilish sovereign of the world. If we self-confidently claim that we are not being misled by the one in whose power the whole world is lying, then do we find ourselves wrestling with superhuman forces of wickedness in a successful way? Either we are being misled or we are wrestling; it is one or the other.
16. By making ourselves a part of this world we shall not be wrestling against whom, and why will efforts to reform the world not succeed?
16 So let all of those who stoutly insist that Satan the Devil is not the sovereign of their lives ask themselves in all honesty, Am I triumphantly wrestling against the “governments” in the Devil’s invisible superhuman organization, against the authorities therein, against “the cosmocrats of this darkness,” against “the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places”? (Eph. 6:12, The Bible in Living English; New World Translation) The misled world of mankind is not doing so, and, if we make ourselves a part of this world, then we are not doing so either, no matter how much we may be trying to reform this world politically, religiously, socially, materially. By trying to improve the Devil’s visible organization on earth people are merely trying to keep it going that much longer and to make it more attractive and tolerable. Such reform efforts will never bring in a millennium of peace, prosperity and happiness for all mankind. This world or human society under its present arrangements is not slated for global reform. It is slated for doom, and the “ruler of this world” cannot prevent this!
DETERMINING UPON THE ONE WHO IS OUR SOVEREIGN
17, 18. If the Devil is not our sovereign, then who is there left to be such, and what does this one say about his existence?
17 Because we cannot get out of this world but are bound to be in it, are we going to let Satan the Devil, the source of wickedness, take over as sovereign of our lives? If we do not desire to let this happen, then who is there left for us to choose as the sovereign of our lives? It is the One against whom Satan the Devil is the great Adversary. This One is the only living and true God. (Jer. 10:10) He is the One who the Holy Bible says bears the name Jehovah. (Ps. 83:18) He is not a mere abstract principle, not an impersonal, formless, fluid spirit that pervades all the universe and all the tangible things in it. He is a person, just as fully as Satan the Devil is a person. He uses language concerning himself that indicates that he has a body, the form of which, however, we cannot imagine. Unlike Satan the Devil, who is a self-made god, Jehovah is the original God, the God formed by no creatures in existence, the God who was alone before all creations. Rightly he says concerning himself, in contrast with the man-made gods of the nations:
18 “Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none. I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior.”—Isa. 43:10, 11.
19, 20. Why is Jehovah God the Source of all good, and like whom did He create the first man?
19 He is the intelligent personal Being that is the source of everything good. It is because He himself is all good. He is the One who created our earth and the heavens and all the things in them. It is He who put man upon the earth, making him like the One who is all good. The first book of the Holy Bible tells us: “God proceeded to create the man in his image, in God’s image he created him; male and female he created them. Further, God blessed them and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.’ . . .
20 “After that God saw everything he had made and, look! it was very good. And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a sixth day.”—Gen. 1:27-31.
21. God left creation in what condition, and did not reason himself into creating what?
21 When God saw that everything he had created was “very good,” he let it remain good and desisted from his creative works regarding our earth and man upon it. He did not say: ‘For everything there has to be its opposite. In contrast with what is “very good,” there has to be its opposite, what is bad. And so I must create what is bad. I am a good God, and so I must create my opposite, a wicked god. I must set an evil principle in operation. I must give mankind the motivation to do what is bad.’
22. What apostolic illustration is given to show that God cannot be the source of what is good and of what is morally bad?
22 No! God did not formulate such a wrong philosophy. He could not be the source of what is good and of what is bad, no more so than a spring can be the source of fresh water and of salt water at the same time. (Jas. 3:12) He cannot be light and darkness at the same time. The apostle Paul raised the pertinent question: “What fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14) To illustrate how the true God is all that is clear, bright, clean and enlightening, the apostle John wrote: “God is light and there is no darkness at all in union with him. If we make the statement: ‘We are having a sharing with him,’ and yet we go on walking in the darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. However, if we are walking in the light as he himself is in the light, we do have a sharing with one another.”—1 John 1:5-7.
23, 24. (a) How is God “the Father of the celestial lights”? (b) How, as on the first creative day, did God cause spiritual light to shine in apostolic times?
23 Jehovah is the God of enlightenment for the benefit of his creatures, whether in heaven or in earth. How significant it was that on the first day of God’s creative week, his command was: “Let light come to be”! Because he created light-bearing bodies in the heavens to give light to creatures upon the earth, he has been called “the Father of the celestial lights.” The natural light of day is one of the good things from him, as it is written: “Every good gift and every perfect present is from above, for it comes down from the Father of the celestial lights, and with him there is not a variation of the turning of the shadow.”—Gen. 1:3, 14-18; Jas. 1:17.
24 How eloquent regarding God’s power for enlightenment is the statement of the apostle Paul: “God is he who said: ‘Let the light shine out of darkness,’ and he has shone on our hearts to illuminate them with the glorious knowledge of God by the face of Christ”! (2 Cor. 4:6) In the face of this testimony, nobody can truthfully say that Jehovah, the God of the Bible, believes in the darkness of ignorance and of false teaching. With the Christian apostle John we must say that “God is light” and, as such, He is the greatest Enlightener in all existence. Christianity, the true kind and not that professed by the churches of Christendom, is the greatest enlightenment ever sent to humanity. Like light, it is life-giving, it is liberty-giving!
25. If we let this God of enlightenment be the Sovereign of our lives, how will our lives be brightened?
25 Is this God of enlightenment the spiritual Personage whom we desire to be the Sovereign of our lives? If we make him such, then our lives are bound to be brightened with the light of the truth, with the light that liberates us for free, intelligent movement and action in what is right, and with the light that shows us the path to everlasting life in harmony with the Sovereign of the universe.
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Judas Iscariot allowed Satan the Devil to become his sovereign, resulting in his betrayal of Jesus Christ