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Prince of This World

by Tim O'Hearn

“In Latin America, more elections are decided by bullets than ballots.” This statement was made by the professor early in my Latin American History class, and seemed to be justified. Shortly before I took the class, Salvador Allende of Chile became the first Marxist elected in a free election in a liberal democracy. After three years in office he was ousted by a military coup under Augusto Pinochet and backed by the American CIA. Juan Peron was ousted from the presidency of Argentina by a military coup in 1945. In 1979, Nicaraguan Anastasio Somoza was ousted by the Sandinistas. These are but a few examples in Latin America. Many more such examples could be found in English history (Wars of the Roses) and elsewhere. Shakespere wrote, “uneasy is the head that wears a crown.”

Scripture is also full of forcible changes in government. The history of the northern tribes of Israel, as documented in 1 and 2 Kings, is full of changes in dynasty. One king would do something so bad that God would promise that his line would not last, and sure enough, shortly one of his descendants was killed by a servant or a soldier.

There is, however, a more important case of someone being deposed. Some people call the devil the king or prince of this world. Every time somebody says that, it seems that they are bowing down to the devil’s power, whether they agree or not. John the apostle would disagree with anyone who used that title today, because he says the prince has been deposed. The only question is when it happened.

One cannot argue that the devil no longer has power on earth. “Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Pet 5:8) Much of the sin that happens is a result of “the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” (1 Jn 2:16) It is an indirect result of the operation of the devil, who tempted Eve and Adam in the beginning. We make choices, sometimes bad ones, without direct influence of the devil. Just because the devil still operates in this world, though, does not mean that he still holds authority. After the English Civil War, Oliver Cromwell ruled England. Nevertheless, Charles II continued to have supporters and take action against the Protectorate of Cromwell. In the same way, the devil may have been deposed, but still maintains a certain amount of power.

But has he been deposed? By whom has he been deposed? By none other than the King of Kings. Even before his death, Jesus proclaimed the end of the reign of the “prince of this world.” John records three instances where Jesus predicted the eminent end of the devil’s reign.

In John 12, Jesus admits that his soul is troubled by what was soon to happen to him. He asks God to glorify his name, and God replies in a voice from heaven. Jesus tells those who heard it, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (Jn 12:31-32) He makes it clear that the crucifixion will be the point at which the devil will be deposed from being the prince of this world.

On the night he was betrayed, Jesus said, “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” (Jn 14:30) Later in the evening he says that he must go that the Comforter will come who will “reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment…Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.” (Jn 16:8, 11)

The prince of this world has been deposed. Let us not give him a title and authority to which he is no longer entitled.