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Sunday, April 24, 2016

In the Power of the Evil One

The whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” says John the apostle.

That’s an intimidating thought, and there’s plenty of evidence to back it up. Today, just as in John’s day, there is not a single nation on earth that orders its politics and governance — let alone its popular culture — on principles consistent with the will of God and the character of Jesus Christ. Not one.

As a Christian, no matter who you are and where in the world you happen to live, you are in enemy territory.

The whole world lies in the power of the evil one. In some places it’s not quite as obvious as others, but I assure you it’s true. Oh, we can point to surveys that tell us that 67.3% of Canadians or an astounding 83% of Americans self-identify as Christians (as opposed to 10% of Syrians or 0.02% of Tibetans) and such statistics may even delude us into thinking that Satan’s real power and influence is “out there” somewhere. But no, John reminds us, it’s right here. The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

Such a view of things helps to explains why 22% of all North American pregnancies end in abortion (better than the 52% Russian termination rate but horrible compared to, say, Poland at 0.09%). It makes sense of the 6.8 million Americans convicted of crimes and caught in the web of the U.S. legal system. It explains the 7% of Americans that admit to having paid a bribe to one of its eight major public services in the past 12 months, which in turn may help account for the fact that only 19% of Americans trust their government.

Bear in mind these are just the things we can easily measure. If 6.8 million Americans have been convicted of crimes, it stands to reason that far, far more Americans have committed them. The clearance rate for murder is 62%, but for burglary and car theft it is barely 13%, meaning the conviction rate is merely the tiniest tip of the criminal iceberg. Again, 22% of North American pregnancies end in abortion, but only a tiny fraction of all sinful sexual encounters end in pregnancy. The whole world lies in the power of the evil one, but not everything he does is instantly obvious.

83% of Americans may self-identify as Christians but from the statistical evidence available it would be awfully hard to argue that 83% of Americans are living like civilized human beings, let alone Christians. If we are paying attention, it is hard not to see the hand of the god of this world around us everywhere we turn.

Here’s the good news: “Everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world”.

The same writer who tells us the whole world is in Satan’s power assures us that our faith has overcome that same corrupt world:
“Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
If Jesus is really the Son of God, what does it matter how much dominion Satan exercises elsewhere, or even all around us? So what if we live in enemy territory? We have overcome the world. We have stepped outside and above the existing order of things and belong to another order entirely. If Jesus is really the Son of God, every word he said is true and by extension every word of the Old Testament is true, which means Christians are the only ones who have a clue how the universe actually operates. If Jesus is really the Son of God, then he has gone to prepare a place for us just as he promised, and the worst Satan can throw at us is only for a brief, passing moment. If Jesus is really the Son of God, then when sin exerts its influence in my life, it is only because I have temporarily forgotten who I am, and that unlike those around me, I do not lie in the power of the evil one. Sin has no dominion over me.

That’s what it means to me today that I have overcome the world, and it’s only a tiny fraction of the real implications. We have yet to even begin to really apprehend what we entered into when we believed in the name of Jesus Christ.

I know you know this. But isn’t it great?

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