Knowing what we now do about the motivating forces of pride, self-will and self-interest, it’s not hard to see how Satan can easily manipulate our weaknesses to his advantage. He does this mainly by influencing people through the world system, which he has established with the help of man. What is this world system? It is a structuring of society—politics, the economy, arts and entertainment, education—in such a way as to provide an alternative to mankind’s innate God-created spiritual need.
Even if the devil were never involved, society would need to function in such a way that people could cooperate in an interactive system of some sort. So we shouldn’t think that participating in the world’s social order is somehow disgraceful in God’s eyes. Otherwise, we would have to retreat from society altogether. That doesn’t seem very practical, nor is it the real issue. Rather, where we place our hope is what’s truly important: do we try to find fulfillment mainly in what the world has to offer, or is our hope rooted in Christ and His kingdom?
It’s extremely helpful, though, to understand how Satan has tweaked society for the purpose of serving his deviant objectives. Let’s think for a moment about how he uses the world system to enslave people through the power of sin. Take, for instance, the sin of greed. It’s not too hard to see how financial systems throughout the world have been structured in such a way as to bring about enslavement to greed. Or how about our sexuality? Can you see how what is deceptively called “adult” entertainment (pornography), or even something seemingly so innocuous as fashion works toward enslaving people under ever more serious sin? The media is awash with titillating images designed to ensnare us for the purpose of boosting their ratings. Another massive pitfall is man’s desire for power—born out of his inherent sense of pride. Political and corporate systems have been developed and routinely manipulated by Satan to entrap people in power’s insatiable grip. And the list goes on.
As a matter of course, man without God is drawn into these powerful systems. And there we also find those who have worked their way into positions of advantage (power), aiding and abetting the enslavement of their fellow men. Yet though the conflicts and challenges we experience in life may seem on the surface to be with people themselves, ultimately our struggle is against Satan himself as he goes about manipulating us through the world system he has developed and refined. We dare not forget what Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:12: “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”