Damariscotta Baptist Church
Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

10/15/17 Sermon - The Whole World is Under Who's Control?

“The Whole World is Under Who’s Control?"

1 John 5:13-21


We have come to the end of 1 John. The author has been sending a message of warning to the new Christian believers in the churches. He realizes they are just starting out, a fledgling group of radicals, who have diverted from tradition, to form the “body of Christ,” and he has been giving them encouragement and instructions on what to do to keep strong in the midst of the challenges they face. Today’s Scripture begins with one of the reasons he wrote this message. He wants the listeners to know that if they are in the group of believers, they have eternal life. It’s like the author realizes that the society around these groups of new believers does not think, act or respond to circumstances the same way a believer does. And because the believers are in the minority they are bound to become discouraged and wonder and question their reason for being a believer in the first place.

It is like the author knows that humans often second guess themselves when they are not affirmed by the other humans around them. We need to hear the simple gospel even today, to be reminded that the salvation promised by God does not depend on me, or you, but depends on what Jesus has done for me and you. Because if eternal life depended on us, then on a good day, it may work, but on a bad day, we are doomed. The author is reminding us that regardless of what type of day we are having, we can trust that our salvation is secure, when we place our trust in Jesus.


The author continues to expand on this assurance. Our assurance isn’t for something we have to wait for once we are dead. As Christians, we can also have confidence in our prayers. We read that “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” Be careful how you interpret this sentence. What the author is stressing here is the purpose and the power in prayer. The purpose is that God wants us to talk with Him, share what’s on our hearts.

As a parent I can relate. Oh how wonderful it would be if my children would respond to my questions with what is on their hearts, instead of “Fine, Mom.” or “Can I have….. You fill in the blank.”


God also wants us to ask; we can ask anything… according to His will. It’s easy to ask for things according to “our will.” We see through a glass dimly and very often we are not looking at the “big picture.” We may mean well, but in order to pray according to God’s will our thoughts and minds need to be centered on God’s Word. We need to seek wisdom and discernment in all circumstances so that our will aligns with God’s will.


So why does God need me to be praying for His will?

I suspect He is quite able to do His will without my prayers.


Because God wants to do His will through us. According to 2 Corinthians 6:1, we are called “God’s co-workers.”

We are called to work with God, he wants us to care about the things He cares about and we can demonstrate that we do…. by praying for those things. It stands to reason that if we are praying for things that are already the will of God, we will receive the things of which we pray. I am all about talking with God and sharing what we want and discussing with Him why we see we need or want them. But what we are reading here, is that if we want assurance that our prayers will be answered, than when we pray, we may want to have done our homework.

Does our request line up with what God’s Word says? Does it line up with what God has planned for what is really needed in the situation? To tell you the truth, I don’t always understand what God’s will is in some situations. It cannot be God’s will for Alice Skiff to have a brain tumor, so praying for healing has to be within His will, but as far as I am concerned, God is taking a long time to heal that little girl. And although I would like to see Alice return to the way she was before they operated, does that mean that is God’s will.

I would hope so, but ultimately what I really want is for Alice to see God in her circumstance and rely on Him for everything. Now I have not doubt whatsoever that is in God’s will.


The author then goes on to suggest when we should and when we should not be praying for others. The scholars have differing opinions on what exactly these verses are addressing. The bottom line is that when we see someone sinning, we should pray. That should be the first thing we do, yet generally it is the last thing we do, if ever at all. And although the author suggests that it may not be worth praying for those who had committed “the sin that leads to death,” the author does not claim that we shouldn’t. For as we just read, when we pray the will of God we can be assured of God listening. And last time I checked, John 3:16, it is God’s desire that everyone come to him and receive salvation. The author continues to remind believers that if they are born of God, they will definitely sin, he has stated this before in this message, but because the Holy Spirit resides in we can be assured that we will not continue in that sin. 1 John 3:6

“No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.”


The author goes on to say that not only will anyone born of God continue sinning, they are also kept safe from the evil one, and the Greek verb here means that the evil one cannot lay hold or grasp the Christian. The author offers this assurance of not having evil ones clinging to us because in the next verse he reminds us that “the whole world is under the control of the evil one.”


This fall the ladies in the church have been reading the book, “This Present Darkness” by Frank Peretti. It is a realistic fiction story about the battles between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan. Peretti does an excellent job in demonstrating how prayer works against the kingdom of Satan. And how it is only through prayer that God’s angels are effective.

After reading this book one can begin to imagine what the author in 1 John has written as truth in this sentence.


“The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”


Think about that statement for a moment. Satan, with his angels, hold the whole world in his power. That is pretty amazing when you start to think about it.

Does this statement represent your world view?

Although I don’t believe we can truly comprehend what this means, we can begin to realize what we are really up against.

Not to be aware of it or

not to be shocked by it,

means you are vulnerable to it.


So what does this mean? Basically, it means that Satan gets to do what he wants to do here on earth, and the earth lies in the power of Satan, which makes the world an evil place, and we are living in an evil time.


Paul has written the same thing to believers.

In Galatians 1:4

who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age,according to the will of our God and Father,”


Ephesians 5:16

making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.


Colossians 1:13

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,


When we become a Christian, we are delivered from this dominion, or from Satan’s authority and power.

Look at what Paul has written about Satan


2 Corinthians 4:4

the god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.


Did you catch what Paul called Satan?

The god of this age.

Which certainly lines up with the author’s stating that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.


Paul also writes in the beginning of Ephesians 2


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 of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.


So Satan is also called, “ruler of the kingdom of the air.” Upon reading these verses, it seems to me, that the atmosphere in which we live is permeated with by an evil power that seeks to control everything within its grasp. He has power to manipulate and shape the activities that occur here on earth, to do what he wants them to do, by using what Paul described as “those who are disobedient.” We also read “the god of this age, blinds the minds of unbelievers” so they are unable to see beyond what Satan wishes them to see.

So where the human will is most willing to disobey God, or not even look God’s way, Satan seizes the moment and keeps them focused on what he wants, which is evil.


There is even more evidence that what the author has stated here, that the world is under Satan’s control, because even Jesus calls the prince of the air, the “ruler of this world.” John 12:31

31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.


In John 14:30 Jesus says,


I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me, but he comes so that the world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

This is proof enough for me, that the world we live in today, has been and will continue to be, ruled by Satan, until Christ returns.

Let’s stop and try to put this into perspective. When Christians begin to understand the world from this perspective, which is quite different from how the majority of humanity views our society, Can you begin to see how radically different Christians would be from the people you live with and work with in America? When you wake up in the morning and listen to the news or check what is happening on the stock exchange, or with politics or education, the arts, entertainment or recreation, do you remember that it is the prince of this world, Satan, who is controlling these things?

We need to recognize this and then we need clear, discerning judgment to be able to live amongst it.

Some Christians may jump to the conclusion that because Jesus has conquered Satan, that there is no real danger, right? The New Testament does have verses that make it seem this is true,

 

John 12:31

31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.

John 16:11

and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned.

Hebrews 2:14

14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—

Or

Colossians 2:15

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross

All of these verses are true, however, it would be presumptuous for us to believe that since the battle has been won, that the war is over.

Something very decisive and deliberate happened when Jesus died, but even He prayed prior to His death,

John 17:15

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.

 

I believe God is quite aware of our circumstances. Jesus said in Matthew 10:16  “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

We should be aware of what we are up against and prepared to call on the power of the cross to spread the gospel. We need to realize that we are up against an evil that in some measure, controls all culture and society. And when things are going its way, not much happens. As long as one goes along with what is happening in the world, the ruler of the world is not going to be bothered.

It is when Christians begin offering compassion, joy, peace, long-suffering, the fruit of the Spirit, and the advancement of God’s kingdom, the prince of this world begins to send out his sentries. The evil ones that are good at blinding unbelievers so they cannot see the Light. The little devils that snatch the Word, Matthew 13:4, 19

As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.

Satan has helpers who deceive with signs and wonders,

Matthew 24:24

For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

 

2 Thessalonians 2:9

9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie,

Satan even uses people to hinder faith, do you remember when we read the book of Acts? In chapter 13 Paul was preaching to the Roman proconsul on the Island of Cyprus and the proconsul was eager to hear the Word and was about to believe, when along came a Jewish false prophet named Elymas, who resisted Paul and Barnabas and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But the Holy Spirit helped Paul to see what was really going on, up in the spiritual realm and Paul said in verses 10 & 11,

“You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord?11 Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”

Immediately mist and darkness came over him, and he groped about, seeking someone to lead him by the hand.

Satan is good at what he does and specifically focuses on messing up the plans of missionaries, check out 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18,

17 But, brothers and sisters, when we were orphaned by being separated from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18 For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way.

Satan makes a point to throw Christians into prison, Revelation 2:10

10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you,

The author of 1 John knew full well what the world was like. He had walked with Jesus and seen, first hand, how Jesus combated Satan.

He realized there was a conflict of kingdoms. And he wanted others to remember what is written in

Ephesians 6:12

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.

The author closes his writing with

We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

 

We are called to shine the light of Jesus in the midst of this darkness, and today we are reminded that the darkness exists in this world, because Satan is the ruler of this world.

Yet, we have a power in us that is greater than the world. The author told us this back in chapter 4, verse 4,

4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

He also offers us, at the end of this book, the best way to go about overcoming the world,

21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.

May Satan not blind us with a false understanding of idols. For idols are not just the obvious, visible idols, they can also be the worship of:

  • Yourself, by overindulging in food, drink, laziness, or too much concern about how you look or what you wear

  • Wealth

  • A hobby or pursuit

  • A friend of relative

Anything that takes up more of our time and energy than God, is an idol. So beware.

God’s Word today reminds us what we are up against.

Do not be afraid, but be aware. Go forth knowing that God is greater and when He lives in you, nothing is impossible.

Let’s pray.