Does the Devil Run the Show?
(The following was modified from a letter written by Pastor Powell to a person who inquired about a certain conspiracy theory and the unpardonable sin.)
Ephesians 1 tells us very clearly who controls the world and its history. That Person is the Mediator, Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God. Because everything that is named has been put under His feet, He is in control of all events and people and brings everything to pass for His own glory and for the good of the Church. His agenda is not our agenda, certainly, and that is often the reason for our distresses.
This truth was taught by all the reformers: Luther, Knox, Calvin, Melanchthon, Cranmer, etc. The rejection of this truth by the modern age that has led to all the conspiracy theories and all the theological box canyons we are in, in my view.
The Bible commands me to give thanks for all things. It tells me that all things work for my good and for the good of the Church. It tells me that God will bruise Satan under our feet, and that the kingdom, the power, and the glory are to be ascribed to God alone. The battle has been won in principle at the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and what is left is the mopping up action.
Of course, God will not take credit for what He does not do. If we are commanded to thank Him for everything, because all things are for our good, and if the kingdom, the power and the glory belong to Him, then He must be the cause of all things.
The unthankful heart is the source of all our troubles. If we can ascribe our troubles to the devil, then we can grumble and complain about them, and accuse others of being in league with the devil, and justify a great many ungodly attitudes on our part.
I think that Luther had the right idea. He thought we should mock the devil, make fun of the devil, and not take him seriously, because his head was bruised at the cross. Because of Christ's victory over sin and guilt, the devil has no power over the church or any believer; he only can do what we in unbelief allow him; and then only within the will and purpose of God.
Conspiracy theories abound, and they all lead the same way: to disillusionment, despair, fretting against God (Psalm 37: shows that the cure for fretting is faith in God's control over all things and the ultimate destruction of the ungodly).
Ps. 2 speaks of the vanity of men imagining vain things against God and the Messiah, and how God laughs at them and brings all their plans to nothing. It is true that man plots against God, and sometimes God allows their plans to develop to a point (just like the green bay tree of Ps. 37), but eventually they pass away and come to nothing.
Where are Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Napoleon? In hell, where their modern counterparts will be soon; where are the saints who were distressed by them? In heaven, where today's saints will be shortly. All things are for the church and for preparing God's people for heaven--nothing else changes.
This does not make Jesus Christ the author of evil, for He has His one plan and purpose in the events. God was not the cause of the jealousy and hatred that burned in the hearts of Joseph's brothers when they sold him into Egypt. But God turned their evil for good, for it was His purpose to send Joseph ahead of Jacob's family into Egypt to preserve their lives. It was no surprise to God when the seven years of famine came upon Egypt, for He was the cause of that, too (Gen. 50:19).
Neither was God the cause of the hatred of the Jews and the perfidy of the Romans that sent Jesus Christ to the Cross, but it is madness to say that the death of Christ was not designed by God for the good of mankind. Christ's enemies could only do what God had willed to be done. Acts 4:25-28 says that Ps. 2 was fulfilled when Herod and Pilate and the people did what God had purposed before should be done. But they did it by their own wickedness.
We must be careful concerning the unpardonable sin. It is true that it consists of attributing the work of Christ to the devil, but it is only committed if the person really knows that he is doing that. It is not the unpardonable sin if the person thinks that it really is the work of the devil (Paul, for instance, I Timothy 1:13ff). Only God knows who has done this. One of the problems with those who follow the conspiracy theories is that they become immersed in the work of the devil, and cannot see the work of God. God's work is in the midst of sin and misery, and if we only see the sin and misery, we will miss the work of God completely. Even Paul said, that when he would do good, evil was present with him. On this basis, some might think that even Paul was of the devil. If we say we have no sin, we are deceived, according to John, and worse, make Christ a liar.
Years ago, I rejected the idea that the devil was in control of the world because of Ephesians 1. Jesus now sits at the place of power and glory: the right hand of the Father. “Babylon is fallen,” is the theme of Revelation, and our message is to announce it over and over again. The humanists will not be able to build their “one world” or their “new world” or whatever they fancy.
They will fail for one reason and one reason alone: Psalm 2:6 God laughs at their efforts, and so should we, and bear witness against them and their emptiness.
May God bless you. Return to menu
Pastor C. W. Powell
Trinity Covenant Church
6050 Del Paz Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80918