I was quietly flipping through Scripture and asking the Lord to take me somewhere I needed to go, and the question I felt He expressed to me was….who owns the world?
Who owns the world? Really? Yep….that was the question.
Two scriptures immediately came to my mind: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains; the world, and those who dwell in it.” (Psa 24:1, NASB)
And, right after it, “Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil…and he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” (Luke 4:1,5-7, NASB) Jesus’ response, of course, was to quote scripture stating “You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.” (Luke 4:8b, NASB) Jesus was silent regarding the devil’s claim that “this domain and its glory” was currently in his possession.
That silence, it seems to me, has grown into a huge doctrine regarding who-owns-what-and-how-he (the devil)-got-it. Is it possible that the devil’s statement to Jesus could be classified as one of the first verbalized “doctrines of demons”?
Hold on, now….I can hear the what?? shouting across the internet. Give me just a couple of minutes, as we explore some Scriptures together.
In this passage of Luke, the devil actually made eight statements/commands to which Jesus couldhave replied: 1) If You are the Son of God; 2) tell this stone to become bread; 3) I will give You all this domain and its glory; 4) It has been handed over to me; 5) I give it to whomever I wish; 6) if you worship before me, it shall all be Yours; 7) If You are the Son of God (for a second time); 8)throw Yourself down from here, for angels will protect you.
Eight provocations….three responses. Jesus also did not address “If You are the Son of God,” but certainly no one would say that His silence meant the devil had made an accurate statement by questioning His Divinity.
So I am inclined to wonder….does Jesus’ silence regarding “all this domain and its glory… has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish” really imply the accuracy of that statement? This is an important ground to walk on because the “who-owns-what” issue, it seems to me, is a perceived limitation in the minds of many believers as they sincerely seek and desire to partner with God’s plans.
In the past, I had been taught that this particular theology ends with Jesus “taking back the title deed to the earth,” through His Crucifixion and Ascension. But I have found that the assumption of pre-ownership enables the enemy to cast a shadow that is far larger…wider…and taller than reality dictates.
In Beni Johnson’s book “The Happy Intercessor,” she writes, “…for intercessors, it is extremely important to understand that God has already given us the ball. We are the offensive team… you don’t allow the enemy to bring distraction. You have to make a choice not to partner with fear. Fear has a way of coming up and biting you. Everything seems to be going great in your life and you are walking in peace. All of a sudden, there fear is, trying to envelope you…the devil has legal rights only if we agree with him. The tool he uses to get us is fear. He does not play fair with us. He will go right for our soft spots…we know this is a spirit fight. One of the things that we are pushing against is a worldly mindset. I think of a worldly mindset as a humanistic, self-focused, carnal mindset that is not set on the things of God.” *
The New American Standard Bible lists 14 references for the phrase “whole world.” Three of the four gospels document Jesus’ question, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” (Matt. 16:26, Mark 8:36, Luke 9:25) Two are found in Old Testament books, four are used in the context of the gospel being preached “in the whole world,” (Matt 24:14, 26:13; Mark 14:9, Rom 1:8), three are in Revelation (Rev. 3:10, 12:9, 16:14) and two are in I John (I John 2:2,5:19)
I John and Revelation speak in terms of sweeping, earth-wide connotation. Early in I John, he writes, “…and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (I John 2:2, NASB) The second time John uses the “whole world” statement is in contrasting those who walk in Light, and those who walk in darkness: “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (I John 5:19)
Although both the New American Standard and New International Version translate the end of that verse as “power of the evil one,” not every translation agrees. Both the New King James Version and the Holman Christian Standard Bible translate the last part of I John 5:19 as “under the sway of the evil one.” (italics added)
This is an important distinction worth noting, as the word “control” inherently implies ownership…as in, “I will give You all this domain and its glory, for it has been handed over to me.” (Luke 4:6) However, there is no true power in “sway,” for its primary thrust is in successful persuasion, only. With “sway,” the ability for an individual to choose is neither violated or denied…simply lured, seduced, misdirected.
And that is where I am hanging my hat. It is entirely consistent with Revelation 12:9, which states, “…the serpent of old who is called the devil and satan, who deceives the whole world…” (NASB) Jesus Himself said, “Whenever he (the devil) speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44, NASB)
The world, itself, is not deceived as to Who owns it. Neither was Paul. “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Rom. 8:20-21, NASB)
Because of Him. Big-H, God. And He subjected it in hope…that we who are “the children of God” will learn to walk free from the enemy’s shadow, ignoring his bogus claims just as Jesus did while He carried out the work of the Father.