Deceptive Ruler of a World System
During his period of permitted existence the Devil has been allowed widespread influence over mankind. Jesus referred to Satan as “the ruler of the world.” (John 14:30) And at Revelation 12:9 he is said to be “misleading the entire inhabited earth.” Did you know that? Few people do. Why?
Because Satan “keeps transforming himself into an angel of light.” (2 Cor. 11:14) He is a master at deception. (Gen. 3:13; 1 Tim. 2:14) People should, therefore, not expect that the Devil would control the majority of mankind through outright Satan worship, involvement in occult practices or direct demon possession. Most persons are not inclined to such extremes. It is much more to Satan’s liking to hold sway in a subtle way over intelligent, capable persons who are highly respected. He does this in his role as “the god of this system of things,” which includes the world’s great political, commercial and religious systems. (2 Cor. 4:4) Note how this is so.
The Bible’s book of Revelation symbolizes the political element of this world system as “a wild beast . . . with ten horns and seven heads.” (Rev. 13:1) Where did it get its ruling authority? “The dragon [Satan the Devil] gave to the beast its power and its throne and great authority.” (Rev. 13:2; 12:9) Has not the human political system manifested Satan’s animalistic disposition? Though God prohibits the wanton taking of human life, the history of earth’s governments has been one of wholesale bloodshed to further nationalistic aims.
It is true that, on occasion, political leaders speak of God and make a pretense of prayer, asking God’s guidance on governmental affairs. But then they ignore his written Word, his righteous commandments, his clearly expressed will, and push ahead with their own selfish schemes. They have taught mankind that their destiny lies in their own hands rather than in God’s. It is no wonder that the Bible says that “expressions inspired by demons” are leading the political rulers of the earth into a final war against God.—Rev. 16:13, 14.
The Scriptures closely associate the commercial element with the political “kings of the earth.” (Rev. 18:9-19) Does not commerce, too, manifest the spirit of God’s chief adversary? Everywhere greed and dishonesty are apparent, so much so that a common motto today is Caveat emptor, that is, “Let the buyer beware.”
But are not the great traditional religions of the world different? Do they not constitute a mighty bulwark against any superhuman evil influence? On the contrary, the religious leaders of both Christendom and pagandom have intimately associated themselves with the political and commercial leaders. As “friendship with the world is enmity with God,” these systems of worship betray themselves to be false religions.—Jas. 4:4.
The Bible describes the world empire of false religion, called “Babylon the Great,” as a harlotrous woman “with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, whereas those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”—Rev. 17:2, 5.
Has not the human family swayed like a drunken man from the effects of this religiopolitical combine? Have not the world’s religions blessed the nations and prayed for the troops in their blood-spilling war efforts? And what about morals? It is clear that when the middle-class attitude on morals changes, so does that of many religious leaders. Ignoring the Word of God, hypocritical clergymen turn to the wisdom of the world and seek the plaudits and approval of men. No wonder that, instead of being described in God’s Word as a place of protection from the Devil, Babylon the Great is called “a dwelling place of demons.”—Rev. 18:2.
Thus, the Bible shows that Satan, as the ‘god of this entire system of things,’ maneuvers its parts to suit his purposes, creating an overall way of thinking or mental bent that permeates mankind in general. (2 Cor. 4:4) It is as the apostle Paul said: The Devil is “the ruler . . . of the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.” (Eph. 2:2, The Bible in Living English; The Emphasised Bible; Young’s) Even persons who would like to live according to right principles find themselves “locked” into the present system of things, pressured to go along with its corrupt thinking and activities. And many have suffered direct harassment from the supernatural, such as hearing “voices,” seeing frightening appearances, or being afflicted by objects flying about for no known reason.
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The Bible calls the Devil “the ruler of the world.” He maneuvers the great political, commercial and religious systems to suit his purpose.