Time for a quick quiz. Who is the ruler of this world that Jesus was referring to in this section of scripture? A king or a queen? Perhaps Herod or the Caesar of Rome? If you answered any of these you would be wrong.
What if this event had happened today instead of two thousand odd years ago, who is the ruler of the world today? The United Nations? Maybe the US President as the leader of the world’s greatest superpower? Well, again if you answered this way you would still be wrong.
The fact is that this world is not controlled and ruled by any man. It is controlled and ruled from the spiritual realm and the ruler of this world is a spiritual being. So enough clues, who is the ruler of this world in the spiritual realm? OK just one more clue. The ruler of this world was the most beautiful person in the heavenly places and he walked in the presence of God Himself. So…got the answer now? Yes you’re right. The ruler of this world is Satan.
Who is Satan?
Did you get the right answer or did the last clue throw you a little? Well never mind if it did and you didn’t know the truth. Many people do not realise that Satan is indeed the ruler of this world.
This is what the Bible tells us about Satan in Ezekiel 28.
12 “You were the signet of perfection,
full of wisdom
and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone was your covering,
carnelian, topaz, and jasper,
chrysolite, beryl, and onyx,
sapphire, carbuncle, and emerald;
and wrought in gold were your settings
and your engravings.
On the day that you were created
they were prepared.
14 With an anointed guardian cherub I placed you;
you were on the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
Wow! Sounds pretty impressive doesn’t it! It sounds like he had it all…beauty, wisdom, power, precious things and even walked in the heavenly places of God Himself. But then we see the scripture continues on and takes a dark turn.
15 You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created,
till iniquity was found in you.
16 In the abundance of your trade
you were filled with violence, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
and the guardian cherub drove you out
from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
I exposed you before kings,
to feast their eyes on you.
18 By the multitude of your iniquities,
in the unrighteousness of your trade
you profaned your sanctuaries
Satan fell from the grace of God because of pride and he was found to be in the grip of sin. He was corrupt to the core and filled with all manner of wickedness. So he was cast out of heaven.
And the bad news for us is that he was cast out of heaven to the earth. We have had to put up with his deception, lies, temptations and evil throughout all history. It says above in verse 13 that Satan was in Eden. Indeed he was in Eden, but not as a helper of man, he was there as the serpent to deceive man and send man into the power of sin and death.
Satan Rules the World
When he was in the garden of Eden with Adam and Eve working his deception over mankind, it was for the purpose of power. He was seeking to gain the advantage over God’s creation. He wanted to sit as if he were God himself and rule everything. Look at what the prophet Isaiah says in chapter 14:12-15
12 “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
13 You said in your heart,
‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds,
I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the depths of the Pit.
Again it is pride that caused him to seek the throne of God. But it was pride that in the end will cast Satan down into the depths of the pit when the time comes.
How could Satan achieve his desire for rule and authority over man? By overthrowing the rule of God and having man subject to himself instead. And this happened in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve succumbed to his cunning deception and disobeyed the commandment of God not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. At that point they chose to ignore God and to listen to the lies of Satan and thus chose death and made Satan the ruler of this world.
And this deception continues on today. The apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter 2:18-19 about those who lead us astray,
18 For, uttering loud boasts of folly, they entice with licentious passions of the flesh men who have barely escaped from those who live in error.
19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved.
Notice the pattern of deception here. It is EXACTLY the same as Satan used to ensnare Adam and Eve and bring man under his own control. He enticed Eve saying the fruit of the tree would be good and that God didn’t want them to eat because then they would be like gods, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:1-7) Talk about sneaky and cunning! But that is how Satan works.
And we see also Peter said in verse 19, “…whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved.” When Satan overcame the sensibilities of Adam and Eve through his deception and they listened to him rather than being obedient to the command of God, Satan enslaved mankind to himself. He overcame man and we became his slaves and he became the ruler of this world.
The Extent of Satan’s Power
But in spite of his control over the world, we can take comfort because his control is not total. We see in the case of Job that Satan is permitted only to do so much and his control is limited to the boundaries set by God.
God is more than able to protect His people as He protected Job. The suffering of Job was to teach him and us also about righteousness which comes from God and not through anything we do. When we serve God He can and will protect us. In the book of Job we see that Satan wanted to tear Job down, but he could not for God had placed a hedge of protection around Job and all that he had (Job 1:10)
When Satan was given the authority to test Job, there were specific boundaries he was not permitted to cross. So even though Satan is the ruler of this world, the extent of his rule and power is limited.
The limits to his power are to attack those who choose to reject God. Today it is those who reject Jesus Christ also who are under the power of Satan. But God has left man with a free will to turn away from the evil of this world and come to know God through Jesus Christ. And when a man turns to God, he receives the protection of God as he learns how to walk with Christ and live a godly life.
Yes Satan has power over the world, but he has no power over God and the Lord Jesus Christ. When they speak, Satan runs for he cannot stand in their presence. Note the following scriptures.
In the verses under consideration today, which got me to here eventually, we see Jesus say these words.
30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me;
31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence.
Jesus makes it quite clear that Satan has no power over Him. But like Job, Satan was given the authority to carry out the actions that would lead to the death of Christ. Little did he know that he would be defeated and the way for man to fully come to God through Jesus Christ would be established.
And again in James 4:7-8 we see that Satan has no power over God.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
8 Draw near to God and he will draw near to you
When we resist Satan through our faith in Jesus Christ and drawing near to God, Satan will flee for he cannot stand in the presence of God.
So we see that while Satan has power over this world, he has no power over God. God can and does save and protect His people and He will keep them and none will be taken from His hand. So let us continue to strengthen our faith and our conviction in Christ Jesus to stand in His presence and take comfort knowing His protection is total.
(Photo sourced from stock.xchng taken by kslyesmith)