Embarking upon his earthly ministry, Christ is “led by the spirit into the desert, to be tempted by the devil” (Mt. 4:1).
Taking Jesus up “into a very high mountain,” the evil spirit shows him “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.” “All these I will give thee,” he promises, “if falling down thou shalt adore me” (Mt. 4:8-9).
Though we are taught that the devil “is a liar, and the father thereof” (Jn. 8:44), Christians sometimes seem to take him at his word.
If Satan offers Christ the kingdoms of the world, and Christ opts instead for a kingdom “not of this world” (Jn. 18:36), then perhaps it is fair to assume that the realm of politics has been wholly abandoned to the devil, and that Christians are to have nothing to do with its sordid affairs.
This view rests on the sort of half-truth under whose influence the devil loves to see us go astray.
The whole truth is, of course, that nothing belongs exclusively to Satan, or to any creature for that matter. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof: the world, and all they that dwell within” (Ps. 23:1). Since every creature depends radically on God for its existence and perfection, we cannot even belong to ourselves independently of our Creator and Redeemer.
Sin is the delusion that we can live without God. As the father and head of all sinners, the devil has supremacy in iniquity’s kingdom of confusion.
To the extent that human authorities seek to divorce the power they wield from its divine Giver, they are under the devil’s spell. Yet to abandon worldly affairs to the devil is to abandon our position in the spiritual combat for which Christ has commissioned us.
If we seek influence and glory for ourselves, we have already surrendered to the devil. If we seek to conquer the world for the glory of God, then we may hope to see the fulfillment of the Psalmist’s prophesy:
“And all kings of the earth shall adore him: all nations shall serve him” (Ps. 71:11).
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