I came across some written discussion I had with an agnostic friend of mine, we had some fairly lengthy discussions, many of which contained some very valuable content. I have recorded my responses, and think it may be an interesting series to post on my blog, for the benefit of others – this is not quite what I typically would minister to people, but more along the lines of apologetics, yet it ranges through a series of of interesting questions (the gentleman I was writing to is nothing if not thoughtful – he’s also somewhat cantankerous and abrupt sometimes, thus my occasional sharpness). I will endeavor to leave these as little-edited as possible, I hope they will be beneficial to believers and serious inquirers into Christianity. Feel free to comment or share thoughts.
In this first discussion, my friend – I’ll call him ‘Stan’ has been attempting to convince me that the Christian worldview is, in general, destructive to society; in this case the he has found a website with a certain perspective, and is attempting to convince me of a two-fold perspective: 1) that my view of the power of the devil over the fallen world, is detrimental to society AND 2) that the AUTHORITY of God over man as laid out in scripture is unjust. The thought at the root of his argument is that man is the only authority over himself.
Well there are several points for discussion in your message here, many of which we can delve into with great depth.
The first thing I would point out on worldview: who is in control. Firstly, there is no indication from scripture that the devil is omnipotent, as God is; in fact the opposite is true. Everything we see in scripture points to the finite abilities and rule of the devil. Often people think of the devil as the ‘opposite of God,’ and or evil as ‘opposite of righteousness.’ While there is truth in the CONCEPT, it is in no way fully accurate.
In order for the devil to be the ‘opposite’ of God, he would have to have all the power and ability, all the strength, and wisdom and knowledge of God. This he does not; the devil’s opposition, or ‘opposite-ness’ is as finite as any other created being. Certainly as a ‘fallen angel’ more powerful than man, and a spirit being rather than a temporal one, but still he was made by God, as all things were and is not equal, and cannot therefore be truly opposite.
(I’ll discourse a grouping of verses in John 8 a little bit here:) Additionally it must be noted that the devil, himself, is ruled by sin. He does what sin bids him to do: John 8:34 Jesus says: Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. Later in the same chapter, referring to the devil Jesus said that he was a murderer ‘from the beginning,’ referring to the ‘lusts’ of the devil (John 8:44)) The devil simply obeys his ‘lusts,’ he is the subject of sin (certainly different than ‘lust of the flesh’ for as a spirit, the devil has no flesh but is, nevertheless, controlled in the spiritual lust of sin).
In the same verse mentioned above, Jesus calls the devil the ‘Father of lies.’ Whereas God speaks the truth (here is where opposites come into play), the devil speaks lies. This is important because Jesus also says (preceding His teaching on the devil, and in the same chapter in fact (the whole context is tied together)): ‘And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.‘ It holds true then, that if the truth sets us free, a lie will bind us.
The devil is just as enslaved to lies and to sins as are those in the world. Yet he ‘takes charge’ so to speak over the realm of sin. 1 John 5:18-19 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and THAT WICKED ONE TOUCHETH HIM NOT. 19 And we know that we are of God, and THE WHOLE WORLD LIETH IN WICKEDNESS.
A couple of the verses pointed out on your site where the devil, tempting Jesus, says that he will GIVE the kingdoms of the world to Him if only Jesus would bow to worship him. One way to see this is in this way: perceive Jesus as the mayor of a town, and the devil as the mafia boss of that town. The mayor has rightful authority, but does not dispute the POWER, or CONTROL of the mob boss over the town. Surely it would be a great temptation to Christ, knowing that He would one day be tortured to death, and spend three days in hell in order to vanquish the devil’s control; but that would be like the mayor cutting a deal with the mob boss, rather than eradicating his syndicate of crime.
We can view the ‘kingdom of darkness’ under the same parable. The devil is the ‘god of this age,’ yet not every crime which is committed in the town is at the direct command of the mob boss. Some are committed under his direct control, some are committed under indirect control, and others are completely set apart from his involvement, but all crimes are committed under the ‘realm’ of his power. This has to do with the true meaning of authority; but a lot of the concepts of authority as displayed in the bible are so set apart culturally from our thinking that we don’t generally grasp them. The Hebrew understanding of a ‘kingdom’ for example, was the authority of the king. Contrariwise, the Western concept of a kingdom is largely based on real estate (which is doubtless because of history, land battles, etc.).
[Here Stan suggest that in my view, because the devil is in ‘control’ in the world that he is more accesible than God; also reasserts the injustice of God’s authority over man – i.e. if the devil is more accessible than God, and God just sits up there, uninvolved why does God hold us to eternal account for sin?]
I would in no way say that I believe the devil is more accessible than God. Quite the contrary, in fact. Although I would say that you and I live in a state of existence wherein SIN is the natural order, and that righteousness comes only by superseding the natural order (which I also believe is only attained supernaturally through Christ).
One must bear in mind that we have a terribly tainted concept of God to begin with (again, no surprise because our natural, or common state is that of sin, or ‘anti-Godness’ we might even call it).
God is not only ‘Creator,’ but ‘Master,’ ‘Lord,’ ‘King,’ etc. The bible says that in Him we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). All the verses in the ‘God’ column on the site which started this conversation, speaks of God’s ULTIMATE RIGHT to have ownership, and ABSOLUTE CONTROL of ALL THINGS.
God’s original intent, when He created us was not to MAKE, and then sit back and watch what happens. He was to be involved in EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of our very thoughts, attitudes, intents, and actions. His praise was to continually be flowing from our lips, and our hearts, and He was to be at work in us and through us EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of the day. This is what ‘GOD’ means, the ABSOLUTE, COMPLETE, and ULTIMATE RULER.
Since He created us, and has the absolute right of authority in us, then how intensely arrogant is it for us to NOT include him in even our thoughts? There is an interesting verse which says: ‘The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.‘ (Psalm 10:4) Interesting that it says: ‘God is not in ALL his thoughts.’
Humans have created all kinds of devices to serve themselves, all manner of tools, and machines, and computers. These objects have no value WITHOUT a human user. If they had freewill and sought to serve only themselves, they would be self destructive. So it is with man, we have denied God, not only the Creator, but the Supreme Lord, Master and Ruler; thus we have also denied the purpose for which we were created and have become only self destructive (see Genesis 6:5).
God in His goodness and mercy chose not to simply destroy all His creation (though He would be fully justified in doing so, just as you would be justified in destroying your computer if it chose to cease its proper function), and continued attempts to bring us back into fellowship with Him, and service to Him THROUGH our fallen state.
I believe God is more accessible than your own arm (that’s what they meant when they said: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand:‘ it is HERE, readily available, easily accessible), yet our now natural tendency, being tainted by sin is to continue rejecting Him, which keeps us bound firmly in the domain of Satan.