“the Devil.” See commentary on Luke 4:2, and see Appendix 14, “Names of the Devil.”
“glory.” The word also has the meaning of “praise,” “honor” (Cp. Acts 12:23; 2 Cor. 6:8; 8:19, 23). The world praised the Adversary. We Christians praise God. If Jesus was looking for the praise of men, he could have had it then and there.
“it has been handed over to me.” Although it is commonly taught that “God is in [absolute] control,” that is not what the Bible says, nor is it what we see in the world around us. While it is true that God will have the ultimate victory, by His own decision and because He is love, He is not in complete control of the world we live in. What we see around us is that there is a universal war between Good and Evil, with many good things happening and many evil things happening. Indeed, there is so much evil in the world that the truth of 1 John 5:19 (ESV) is quite evident: “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.”
God gave Adam and Eve dominion over the earth, but they transferred it to the Devil, who now has dominion over the earth. In Genesis 1:26, God discussed making mankind and giving them dominion over the earth with his divine council (see commentary on Gen. 1:26). Then, in Genesis 1:28, God actually gave dominion over the earth to mankind. This showed God’s great love and grace for mankind. The nature of love is to be in a mutually respectful relationship in which mature parties each do the work they are supposed to do without being “micromanaged.” God so loved mankind that He gave them dominion over the earth, and evidence of that dominion is that God brought the animals He made to Adam so that he could give them names (Gen. 2:19).
The whole situation changed, however, when Adam and Eve sinned against God by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 3:6). When they followed the prompting of God’s arch-enemy the Devil and ate of the tree, they took on the crafty nature of the Devil, and also transferred dominion of the earth over to him. That is why the Devil told Jesus that the earth had been handed over to him and he could give it to anyone he wanted to (Matt. 4:9; Luke 4:6).
God had made the earth “very good” (Gen. 1:31), but once the Devil gained control over it, it became a very harsh and dangerous place. The ground was cursed and it took hard work to get food, the plants developed thorns (Gen. 3:17-19), and many animals became dangerous. Also, the earth became plagued with disease, death, famines, earthquakes, floods, and more. In short, after Adam and Eve sinned, the Devil gained a lot of control and the earth took on the nature of the Devil, an evil nature that it still has today. When the Devil gained control of the world, he became “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4), and the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31). The Devil and his demons roam the earth (Job 1:7, 2:2; 1 Pet. 5:8), and oppress people (Acts 10:38). Indeed, the Devil and his henchmen (both demons and demonic people) come to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), and the Devil holds the power of death (Heb. 2:14). Believers do not fight against God, instead, we are to take up the armor God provides us and wrestle against the Devil and spiritual evil (Eph. 6:10-13).
Even more evidence that the Devil is in control of the world and the cause of many of its ills is the fact that after the Battle of Armageddon the Devil will be imprisoned (Rev. 20:2), and the earth will return to being a “paradise.” Jesus will rule from Jerusalem and the world will be a safe place with an abundance of food and water. The scope of Scripture should make the battle between Good and Evil very clear: when God is in charge the earth is a paradise (thus the Garden of Eden and the paradise to come); when the Devil is in charge (as he is today) the world is dangerous and evil.
It is commonly believed that the Devil can only do what God allows him to do, but that is not true. The Devil is not an agent of God, nor is he doing God’s will; he is at war with God. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand, and God does not allow the Devil to do evil and then send Jesus Christ to destroy the works of the Devil (1 John 3:8). If the Devil could only do what God allowed him to, then we humans would be more powerful than the Devil, because we sin and go against the will of God on a daily basis and do not check with God first to see if we can sin. We don’t need God’s permission to lie, cheat, steal, rape, or murder, and neither does the Devil. We are not more free to sin than the Devil is; the Devil “has been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:8), indeed, he was the first sinner. It is God’s angel army and the righteousness and prayers of believers that limit the Devil, not God’s permission. In fact, if God could stop the evil on earth by just saying “No” to the Devil, then God is as responsible for the evil on earth in the same way that a mob boss is responsible when he orders a murder but does not actually commit the crime himself. The only way God could be “good” given the evil on earth is if the Devil has free will and does what he does because he has the authority and power to do it, and he is sinning, going against the will of God, when he is doing his evil acts.
Notice that here in Luke 4, Jesus Christ never challenged or denied the Devil’s claim that he had authority over the whole world. Jesus knew the Devil’s offer to rule the world as Satan’s second in command was a legitimate one, but he wanted no part of it. It is amazing in light of clear verses like this, and all the verses that say the Devil is in charge of the world, and all the evil in the world that is so contrary to the nature of God, that Christians insist that God is in control of what happens on earth. God is not in control now, as each person can see for himself just by willfully sinning. Today the earth is a war zone between good and evil, between God and the Devil, and between the followers of Christ and the followers of Darkness. The great victory of Good over Evil will come in the future, and at that time this “present evil age” (Gal. 1:4) will come to an end.
Also, the New Testament makes it clear that the Devil is the ruler of the world, which is why the world has the nature of the Devil and not the nature of God. It is because the Devil is the ruler of the world that “the world” hates followers of Christ, and neither Christ himself nor his followers are “of the world” (John 15:18-19; John 17:14, 16). Far from being in control in the world, “the world” and the Father are opposed to one another (1 John 2:16), and the world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19).
[For more on the Devil being the god of this age, see commentary on 2 Cor. 4:4. For more on the names of the Devil that describe his characteristics, see Appendix 14, “Names of the Devil.” For more on the warfare between God and His enemies, see commentary on 1 Sam. 1:3. For more on Adam and Eve getting the crafty nature of the Devil, see commentary on Romans 7:17. For more on the future Kingdom of Christ on earth that will not have the Devil present, see Appendix 3, “Christ’s Future Kingdom on Earth.” For more on the future restored earth being called “Paradise,” see commentary on Luke 23:43].
“and I can give it to anyone I want to.” The Devil made the point that he could give authority and glory in the world to anyone he wanted to, and Jesus did not refute that because it is true. The Devil would have been happy to make Jesus his “second in command” if Jesus had worshiped the Devil. Many people throughout history have agreed to worship the Devil (popularly called, “selling your soul to the Devil”) in return for money, fame, and power. The Devil keeps his part of the bargain, which is why so many evil and demonic people end up in powerful and notable positions in all sorts of fields, including government, education, music, art, sports, etc. Sadly, however, the people have committed the unforgivable sin and will not escape being thrown into the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
[For more on the unforgivable sin, see commentary on Matt. 12:31.]
Good and bad things happen in our lives. Does it make sense that no matter what happens in this world, good or bad, only good will result? This teaching addresses what the Scripture has to say about this common misconception.
Verses: Prov. 10:22; Rom. 8:28; 1 Cor. 13:6-7; 2 Cor. 12:8-9; Eph. 5:1; James 1:17
Teacher: John Schoenheit