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A World Held Captive

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A World Held Captive

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Picture the world around you. Advances in science and technology have never been greater. Vast knowledge has brought awesome progress—while immorality and human degeneration have never been worse.

The world has reached the 21st century. My grandparents were born in the 19th century. Within that time—about 125 years—the world has changed beyond recognition. Mankind now stands on the threshold of annihilation by weapons of mass destruction, with the frightening specter of terrorism spanning the globe.

Why is this world in such terrible condition?—and what is the truth of God’s ultimate Plan for mankind? You can know. This Personal brings answers!

World conditions grow more ominous as the news of each day seems worse than the last. Events are spiraling toward a great crisis at the close of this age. But how did there come to be such appalling evils and awful suffering on a worldwide scale? Why have world leaders failed to improve the countries they govern and the world at large? What is wrong? Why has progress in knowledge, science and technology not delivered man from his problems? Why does civilization stand on the brink of catastrophe—even extinction!—without some kind of intervention and rescue?

Many know something is wrong—but do not know what. This includes the supposed experts. Few understand there is a supreme purpose God is working out. Fewer still know what this purpose is—and they do not understand the forces at work that have controlled civilization since man first appeared on Earth.

An Unseen Kidnapper

Most assume things are as they are because mankind has evolved to its present state. This thinking permeates modern education. But it is a false—entirely wrong—premise! Evolution is a fiction created by men who have been led to this theory by the one who seeks to blind all inhabitants of Earth to God’s awesome Plan.

Those who hold to the evolutionary theory are prevented—in fact, blocked—from seeing why conditions on Earth are as they are. Many statesmen, leaders and thinkers feel trapped by these conditions, the flow of world events, and being unable to do anything about them. Indeed, they are trapped. But why?

This is not God’s world! It is cut off from Him and held hostage by an unseen super kidnapper—who has convinced his captives he is a benefactor. All humanity has been deceived into believing the soothing words of this great captor, thinking themselves better off under his care and leadership. I speak of Satan the devil and his hijacking—6,000 years ago—of Adam and Eve and all mankind ever after! But the world has remained a willing captive ever since.

Everyone understands kidnapping. This crime often involves executives of large companies, whose release is obtained through paying a ransom. Hijackers work in the same way, except their crime usually involves seizing a plane, ship, train or bus full of victims.

Most hostages are captive until someone either performs a daring rescue or ransom is paid. Earth is now in a state of captivity, requiring supernatural deliverance—rescue—through ransom payment.

Here is modern man’s predicament: Imagine picking up a 20-chapter book and trying to understand it by starting with the last chapter. You would be lost, completely unable to understand the meaning of persons and events described. In the same way, none can understand events in today’s world because they do not have proper background of what happened in the previous chapters of mankind’s existence. It is the very first chapter of the story of humanity that is key to all “19 chapters” that follow.

Not God’s World

You may have supposed the governments of modern nations reflect God’s Way. This is almost everyone’s assumption. Yet, again, this is not God’s world. This is why Jesus foretold the coming of God’s world-ruling supergovernment to replace the confused, ineffective and inefficient governments of men. These governments are powerless to solve the world’s biggest problems.

How did the world come to be the way it is? For instance, why can’t governments get along—avoid war—find peace—reach agreement? Why such constant instability, scandal and division among leaders and seemingly endless revolutions and military coups? Why no shortage of demagogues, dictators and revolutionaries, who always promise to make things better, yet bring continual worsening of problems and conditions?

Most theologians, religionists and ministers blindly assume this world reflects God’s guidance—His way. They then conclude that if “all Christians would work together, in love and unity, to make this world safer and a better place, they could bring peace, happiness and prosperity to all nations.” This is a completely wrong view. Nowhere did Jesus say, “Go into all the world and strive to make it better by becoming part of it.” He did say, “Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel…” (Mark 16:15). Christ did not come to make this world better. He came to announce the coming of a better world, under His government!

Blind, deceived men think they can bring world peace through human effort. Ironically, this quest often involves supposed “Christian” nations striving to achieve peace through war. These see certain evil forces at work and feel compelled to “do something.” They assume Jesus would be an “activist,” seeking to “make the world a better place.”

Be honest! Haven’t you heard churches urge people to “get involved” or “take a stand” to improve some local, national or world problem?

Who Controls the World?

Satan the devil is called the “god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4), the “prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), and the “prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). The apostle John wrote that he “deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9).

Satan rebelled against God’s government prior to the re-creation of Earth (Gen. 1:1-3) and the creation of Adam and Eve. He led one-third of all angels into rebellion (II Pet. 2:4; Rev. 12:4). Isaiah 14:12-14 reveals he ruled the earth, and Ezekiel 28:15 shows he was a created being—a perfect archangel. He remains Earth’s ruler until Christ’s Second Coming. Christ qualified to replace him at His First Coming.

The devil was lying in wait for Adam and Eve. They were created on the sixth day, Friday, rested on the Sabbath, Saturday, and were seduced by Satan probably the next day, Sunday—at two days old. No two-day-old child knows how to discern right from wrong. This couple thought they were grown-up enough to make their own decisions. As with most children, they did not listen to their Parent, God. They believed Satan’s lie that they would not “surely die.” In so doing, they rejected the rule of God’s government in their lives.

If Adam had obeyed God’s instruction, he could have qualified to replace Satan and restore God’s government to Earth. He chose captivity instead.

In this historic Genesis account, Satan lied to Eve, who led Adam into sin with her. The devil’s deceit captured these adult children into belief that they no longer needed to listen to their Parent. Thrust from the garden, they were forced to fend for themselves. Let’s read: “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the Tree of Life, and eat, and live forever: therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the gardenHe drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the Tree of Life” (Gen. 3:22-24). The way of receiving and living by God’s Spirit was no longer accessible to men.

Mankind Cut Off from God

Mankind rejected God’s perfect law and rule—His government over all creation—as guides in their lives and were made captive to Satan and his way of sin. Because of sin, they no longer had access to God’s blessings, guidance, protection and gift of His Holy Spirit, which would have come by eating of the Tree of Life. This decision carried grave implications for all human beings who came after them. They could not access this Tree, thus causing humanity’s captivity to continue for 6,000 years.

The other tree—of the Knowledge of Good and Evil—has been guiding the thinking of men and nations ever since Adam’s fateful choice. Understand! All human beings are not complete in their present state! All knowledge that would enter human minds could only be physical and material. For his enormous sin of rejecting God and the Tree of Life, man was rejected by God and cast from the garden. Mankind was cast out with him—and taken captive!

The arch-kidnapper’s work was complete at that moment. The whole world ever after would be held hostage—taken captive—until the sacrifice of Jesus Christ would pay the enormous ransom necessary to free them!

Again, the Bible says, “Satan…deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). A staggering statement! But how can the devil deceive seven billion people? The Bible says “…he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (vs. 9). Notice “his angels.” These are demons—fallen angels. They assist Satan in his work of mass deception.

And if Satan has deceived the entire world, again, it cannot be God’s world. It must be one or the other! It becomes clear why the world is cut off from God. Deceived people practice lives filled with sin (Jer. 17:9; Isa. 59:1-2).

People do not want to be told they are deceived. No one enjoys hearing he is ignorant of God’s purpose. These statements wound human pride, but not as much as remaining in deception wounds correct understanding.

If one cannot accept Revelation 12:9, any hope of breaking free is lost! Such people have chosen to remain with their captor.

“The god of this world”

II Corinthians records, “…the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel…should shine unto them” (4:4).

The true gospel is about the soon-coming kingdom of God—God’s world-ruling government. No wonder Satan seeks to block people from understanding this marvelous truth, which includes when he will be banished from his position of enormous influence—from being super kidnapper.

My booklet Who Is the Devil? strips away the mystery, misconceptions, confusion, ignorance, superstition and myth shrouding the truth of Satan’s identity.

Jesus three times called Satan “the prince of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). All three show this “prince” will one day be judged. John 12:31 parallels the world’s judgment with Satan’s judgment because this world is his!

Let’s make this absolutely plain. Matthew 4 contains the account of Jesus’ confrontation with the devil after fasting 40 days. Satan repeatedly tempts Jesus by twisting Scripture (one of his favorite devices). At a point, it says, “The devil took Him up into an exceeding high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and said…All these things will I give You, if You will fall down and worship me” (vs. 8-9). In this stunning account, Jesus rebuked Satan and quoted Deuteronomy 6:13, saying, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” (Matt. 4:10).

The temptation ended and the devil departed.

Get this! At no point did Jesus say, “These kingdoms are NOT yours to give” or “Who do you think you are, offering Me what is already Mine (God’s)?” This is because Christ knew the kingdoms (the governments) of this world are the devil’s—they were Satan’s to give. So Jesus rejected the terms to receive them from the one who did have the authority to offer them.

Also understand this! The account describes the temptation of Christ. What the devil offered was designed to tempt Jesus. If both knew the kingdoms of this world were not the devil’s to give, then where was the temptation? Surely the devil would have known what Jesus knew. Of course, Christ, who was God on Earth, would have known the devil had authority to offer those kingdoms. The temptation had to carry weight.

For Christ to overcome the temptation there had to be a temptation! Ultimately, Christ succeeded where Adam had failed. He passed a very real test! He overcame the world, the devil, and His flesh, in overcoming sin and qualifying to pay the ransom price—His life—for man’s deliverance.

To remove all doubt, Luke’s account adds a key phrase that should hit like a sledgehammer: “All this power will I [the devil] give You [Christ], and the glory of them: for [it] is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it” (4:6). The kingdoms of this world were the devil’s to give or not give. God had “delivered” them to his control.

This world’s nations and governments, with all their “glory,” are still under control of the god of this world! Have you ever heard this? Yet it is the plain truth from your Bible! And it explains why the world cannot of itself break free of captivity.

Do not be confused! This does not mean God is disconnected from all activity on Earth. He is still absolutely in charge and in control of His Plan, which involves all human beings.

On trial for His life before Pontius Pilate, Jesus clarified the real source of Pilate’s authority over the trial’s outcome: “Then said Pilate…Speak You not unto me? Know You not that I have power to crucify You, and have power to release You? Jesus answered, You could have no power at all against Me, except it were given you from above…” (John 19:10-11). Pilate’s authority came from God.

God is working out events in a plan encompassing 7,000 years. He is allowing man to find out that his own ways, governments, values, religions, purposes—and wars in the name of peace—have not, do not, and never will, work. Other passages reveal God sets up and removes rulers—and governments only have power as He permits.

Satan’s Incredible Influence

Consider this vital passage, speaking of the devil: “…according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). This is amazing knowledge. The devil has power to use the “air” to broadcast, through his spirit, an attitude of disobedience! Sending moods, feelings and impulses, Satan “works” within minds. This “air power” gives him immense influence to send thoughts of confusion, deceit, anger, pride, hate, foolishness, vanity, jealousy, lust, greed, envy and more, into people’s thinking! In a sense, the devil owns the largest radio station on Earth and broadcasts 24 hours a day, reaching and deceiving all humanity!

The devil is usually dismissed as mythology, or reduced to a kind of human-boogeyman-spook with horns, pitchfork and a red suit—or just ignored—but this great fallen spirit is not only real, but very powerful.

The devil’s influence reaches every nation. But what of the individual who wishes to obey God? What does God tell him to do? “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith…” (I Pet. 5:8-9), and “…God resists the proud, but gives grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (Jms. 4:6-8).

The apostle Paul adds, “Neither give place to the devil” (Eph. 4:27). All who would humble themselves before God, to draw “near unto Him,” must not do this. When you give Satan “place” in your life, you give him room to maneuver and greater access to your mind. When Jesus resisted Satan, He told him to depart—and the devil did! Once begotten of God’s Spirit, you can do the same!

Satan Has Ministers

Jesus said He would build His Church, promising it could not be destroyed by anyone or anything (Matt. 16:18). But the devil has also built his churches. Let’s understand.

Hundreds of millions of people profess to be Christian, but come in every “shape, flavor, size and texture” of belief and practice. Over 2,000 denominations and groups exist in the United States alone, with more all the time. Confusion, division, competition and strife mark the world of “churchianity.”

Where did these churches get their beliefs? Why cannot they agree on what the Bible says? Many say, “They can’t all be wrong!” But since they all disagree, they cannot all be right! Many leaders and preachers think they are serving God and think they are teaching the truths of the Bible, but are NOT!

These manmade variations of pseudo-Christianity are all products of a world held captive by the arch-deceiver who has injected false Christianity into an unsuspecting world. The world believes it walks in freedom from God’s Law, thinking Jesus kept it for them, when they are actually free from contact with God. Their captor has made them comfortable with his easy, convenient, false “Christianity.”

Jesus strongly warned what would happen after He was gone, that deception and conditions on Earth would become far worse in the period referred to as “the end of the world” (Matt. 24:3-7). The Greek there means “age,” not “world.” The world will not end—but this age under the devil’s rule will. Jesus said, “Many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (vs. 5). Mass confusion throughout the world’s churches proves this statement true!

False ministers challenged Paul’s authority in Corinth, and brought other doctrines and beliefs. He identified them for what they were and who they represented: “Such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (II Cor. 11:13-15).

Deception, confusion and disagreement are inseparable from the world and its supposed Christian churches. But most do not recognize false ministers because they appear to be true—ministers of light—just as the “god of this world” appears to be the true God. The devil is an effective counterfeiter! He counterfeits true ministers with false ones, true doctrines with false ones, and the true God with the false god—himself!

True Christians Come Out of This World!

The world is a condemned building. It is not God’s purpose to rebuild this world. It cannot be rebuilt, but must be replaced entirely. This is why Jesus said, “I will build My Church” (Matt. 16:18). God is calling a very few out of captivity and Satan’s world to train them for future rulership.

Revelation 20:11-12 shows that everyone will one day have access to the Tree of Life—at the general resurrection of the dead. A few are being called now—set free from Satan—and prepared for rulership as teachers in God’s kingdom. God instructs His people to come “out from among them, [to] be…separate…” (II Cor. 6:17).

John, in Revelation, described a final world-ruling system coming soon called “Babylon the Great” (17:5). God commands true Christians in Revelation, “Come out of her, My people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues” (18:4).

John also recorded Jesus’ words before His crucifixion, when He was praying about His disciples and true disciples who would come after them: “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through Your truth: Your word is truth” (John 17:16-17). The words of the Bible are true. They are “the truth.” Sanctify means “set apart for a holy use.”

True servants of God are set apart for God’s use. The churches of this world do not know the truth. They have been taken captive and taught a false brand of Christianity, not of the Bible!

Those determined to obey God must come out of this world! They must give up its ways and choose God’s ways! They must determine to break free of their captor through God’s help and the ransom payment of Christ’s sacrifice.

John stated bluntly, “The whole world lies in wickedness” (I John 5:19). This is not surprising since the whole world is deceived by its captor. Paul, equally blunt, referred to “this present evil world” (Gal. 1:4). Peter spoke of “the pollutions of the world” (II Pet. 2:20). No wonder John warns, “love not the world” (I John 2:15). And James says remain “unspotted from the world” (1:27). Using even stronger language, James adds, “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (4:4).

These are powerful warnings to Christians throughout all ages!

God’s Ultimate Plan

Jesus summarized the state of the world. He was speaking of the Father, “the world has not known You” (John 17:25), and that His servants “are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world” (15:19). Now read: “You [Christians] are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness” (I Thes. 5:5).

Satan and his demons are described as the “rulers of darkness” (Eph. 6:12). God’s children walk in the light of day, obeying Him through the power of the Holy Spirit, while the children of the god of this world walk in darkness and disobedience, under the influence of his spirit.

The implications of these verses are profound!

God the Father has a plan to rescue His kidnapped children. This is the purpose for which He sent His Son (John 3:16)—to pay the ransom for and to deliver His Family.

When Christ returns, Satan, as the deposed ruler over Earth, will be removed. No leader can replace a disqualified leader and permit him to remain as co-ruler. The disqualified leader would second-guess and undermine all that the new leader plans to change and implement. He would seek to influence the masses until he could overthrow the government and reinstall himself, without power-sharing. If human governments understand this, certainly God does. He knows Satan must be removed from his position of influence for God’s Master Plan to succeed.

Notice the first action that begins the true peace process for Earth’s inhabitants: “I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more…” (Rev. 20:1-3).

Events of colossal magnitude will soon shock the world—changing everything! Soon, Satan will be bound (imprisoned) and rendered unable to deceive the masses. The temptations of this world and human nature, caused by the devil, will disappear—though there will remain certain fleshly pulls all will have to overcome. Satan’s radio station will be closed! The world will no longer be held captive.

To learn more about all of this, read our crucial booklet A World in Captivity.

When Satan is bound, peace will arrive the world over. The saints will rule with Christ from Jerusalem—having restored God’s government on Earth, administered by the God Family. God’s “holy, just, perfect and spiritual” Law (Rom. 7:12, 14) will be enforced among all nations. Right knowledge, happiness, abundance, world peace—and deliverance—lie just ahead.

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