Biblical Interpretation from Someone with no Training in Biblical Interpretation
Who’s in charge of this world? Ok, well since this is a Bible blog it stands to reason that the answer is that God is the ruler of earth and everything else for that matter. However, he has delegated a fair amount of power to the devil. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:12,
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
These forces are generally assumed to be Satan and his army. Satan is also referred to as “ruler of the kingdom of the air.” Paul writes,
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:1-2).
Jesus also ascribed the devil a place of leadership over the world when he taught in relation to his coming death on a cross, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out” (John 12:31). Actually, our Lord and Christ suggests that Satan even holds authority over humanity; for he exclaimed,
You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).
So despite what you may think of the celestial set-up, it appears that our enemy actually has some sway over our lives.
As the dark princely ruler of earth, the devil is kind of a jerk. But why shouldn’t he be? The Holy Spirit reminded me exactly what Satan has to look forward to in the end. You (and he) can read it in Revelation 20:14: “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.” Now, this is a really significant passage because of who goes into the lake of fire first: death. This means that the power of death is completely taken away –no more death. So, when the books are opened and the final judgments are cast, Satan will be entering into an eternal torment with no hope for the sweet release of death (since death went into the lake of fire first). What awaits him is a face worse than death –literally, since it is used to punish death as well. So why shouldn’t the devil mess things up as much as he can now? He’s got nothing good to look forward to. If I was in his shoes, I’d probably do whatever I felt like too.
This is also why Christians often have to go through such fiery trials and experience much loss. Consider this, Satan is –at best- a mid-manager in God’s universal plan and he has no chance for promotion. Meanwhile believers, though but insects crawling on the planet’s face, will be lifted up beyond the devil and will be kickin’ it with the Boss at the end of days; for we’re told at that time,
No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads (Revelation 22:3-4).
So not only is the devil upset that he awaits only eternal pain and awfulness, but he’s also jealous that us worms are getting promoted over him –and only for believing in Jesus no less. AND to make it worse (or better for us) God keeps stepping in on Satan’s operation on our behalf. Where the devil wants us to lack and suffer, the Lord brings us gain,
“I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields – and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29-30).
Even though the devil rules the world, when we call on God, he comes to our rescue,
Since ancient times no one has heard,
No ear has perceived,
No eye has seen any God besides you,
Who acts on behalf of those who wait for him (Isaiah 64:4).
And no matter what kind of awful plan our enemy can inflict on us, the Lord turns it for our own good: “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). So basically, Satan is in a no-win situation with no hope in his future and only suffering ahead of him. Therefore it should come as no surprise he’s as destructive as God allows him to be.
In the same way unbelievers are justified in their sins. You can carry signs, rally, shout, or complain all you want; but folks that don’t believe in God might as well live it up. The same end that the devil will face is their fate as well; for the Bible states, “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). It’s a fate worse than death. Jesus describes hell in Mark 9:47-48 as he teaches us to avoid it at all costs:
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where
“Their worm does not die,
And the fire is not quenched.”
And that’s just hell. After that comes the lake of fire. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. In fact, Paul was willing to sacrifice himself on behalf of all of the Jews if it were possible. He wrote,
For I wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises (Romans 9:3-4).
Hell sucks, so if someone is hell bound, how they live is their business; there’s no need to judge. Let them enjoy their time now. Even the angel who talked to John noted, “Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy” (Revelation 22:11).
For a believer though, this means that our utmost should be spent saving the world –not from sin, the Holy Spirit will take care of that. Jesus taught,
But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned (John 16:7-11).
Cleaning up the sin of the world is the Holy Spirit’s job, not yours. Rather, we should be directing people to Christ without prejudice or judgment. The Bible reminds us,
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son (John 3:14-18).
Those who are hell bound are already condemned –God doesn’t need your help in that realm. However, he has called us to our best to bring them to salvation; for Christ’s last words for us before he ascended gave us his great news and our great commission:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:18-20).
If you haven’t already come to Christ for your salvation, I implore you to do so. Nobody should have to needlessly suffer in hell or the lake of fire. If you want to change your final destination today, then read the following prayer out loud. God will hear you and change your path.
I don’t want to go to hell.
Thank you for giving me a chance to change my final resting place.
Forgive me of my sins and unbelief,
And heal my heart and life.
Guide me to your realm,
So when it’s all said and done that I might see your face.
From today forward, you are my God and my Lord.
Keep me and lead me.
In your name, Lord Jesus, I pray,