|Volume 22 Number 10 October 2020||
The King or the Dictator
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). This simple statement, recorded by Moses, informs us of Who has authority over creation, Who cares for us and to Whom our allegiance should be. He created all things for us because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). It should come naturally to love God and to follow His will for our lives. Unfortunately, it does not.
While the Father has all authority and has given that authority to the Son (Matthew 28:18), people’s allegiance is all too often given to Satan, who is our adversary (1 Peter 5:8-9). He has always been a deceiver (Genesis 3:13; Revelation 12:9). Since he deals with sin, many have become hardened against the truth (Hebrews 3:13). Because of this, John correctly said, “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). Satan has no interest in our welfare; he is in rebellion to God, desiring the allegiance that rightly belongs to God for himself. He uses the tools of sin to entice people to follow him, and once people see what has happened to them, and then desire to let go of that lifestyle and its consequences, he works even harder to keep them in bondage to sin. Ultimately, he knows sin will destroy them.
In that Satan is completely in opposition to the will of God and seeks what rightly belongs to deity for himself, he acts like any dictator would. A dictator is one who rules in an absolute and oppressive way. Some synonyms are despot, oppressor and tyrant. While he cannot force anyone to follow him, through temptations and lies, he has garnered quite a following, as all have sinned (Romans 3:23). Is he, then, such a formidable opponent that there is no hope of overcoming him? No! While we should never underestimate his power, he cannot tempt us beyond our ability; God provides a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). He can be deposed, so to speak, when we let go of his influence to follow instead the will of the Father. The love of God in Christ should draw us to His will, the way of truth, the way of grace and mercy, the way to life. “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
Does this mean when we obey the Gospel and come to live in Christ, Satan is no longer a factor in our lives? Sadly, no. Satan may be deposed as dictator of sin over us, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to return to power in our lives. Every day should be a day of renewal in submission to Christ and living for Him; otherwise, we give the devil an opportunity to regain his position of power in our lives. When Peter spoke of the devil prowling about like a roaring lion, he used the present tense. This is a continual practice of Satan; he never gives up wanting to reclaim his power over us, to take back what has been lost, to cause us to forfeit what we have in Christ. He wants us to be lost, to be part of the eternal punishment he and his angels will suffer (Matthew 25:41). We must be ever vigilant not to lose what we have gained in Christ!
To overcome sin, we must look beyond the temptations the devil offers, look beyond the temporal pleasure they provide, the short-term gratification they offer and see what the end result will be. Yes, there are trials in life, but they exist because of the effects of sin in our world, the result of Satan at work in our lives. The question is who will receive our loyalty, the one true and living God and His Son Jesus Christ, or the pretender, the despot, who only wants us destroyed? Satan doesn’t care that we go through trials, as he is the author of evil. God is the One Who loves and helps us through life. We must look beyond today to eternity and ask ourselves where we want to be, with Satan or God, in eternal punishment or in eternal life. We have a true King who loves us; Satan is merely a dictator who, for his own wicked delight, wants to rob us of what God offers. Who will you choose? “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
Gary C. Hampton
Christians must be constantly on guard against Satan. He told God he had been busy going “to and fro on the earth,” which goes well with Peter’s description of a roaring lion (Job 1:7; 2:2; 1 Peter 5:8). Paul described the Christian response to this ongoing assault. He encouraged the Corinthian saints to be firm in matters of faith and not let false teachers shake their beliefs, as they had on the resurrection.
He also urged them to be men in the faith and courageously stand in God’s strength. Further, the apostle reminded them that all of a Christian’s actions should be based on love. Loving actions should end all strife (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).
The apostle to the Gentiles directed Christians in Corinth to carefully choose who they followed. He urged them to be subject to those who lovingly ministered to the needs of fellow Christians, especially singling out the family of Stephanas. They had been the first converts in Achaia.
Even Paul needed encouragement. He felt an emptiness because of his separation from the brethren in Corinth. Relief came with the arrival of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus. Their coming enabled him to write based upon firsthand knowledge so he could address some of their greatest needs. He wanted the Corinthians to receive them as those who had helped (1 Corinthians 16:15-18).
Remaining faithful is not automatic. We must hold the line like soldiers in battle yet be sure our actions are controlled by love. Each of us must seek out faithful workers to follow. Their destination is Heaven, which is where all God’s children long to go.