If a resident of Boston owns land in Montana that he/she has seen two times in the last twenty years, does that fact negate his/her title to the property? If other people have hunted, hiked and camped on the land in his/her absence, does that make the property theirs? What if he/she has rented the property to someone, and that person has farmed and/or lived on the land during that time? No, I think we can all agree that none of these circumstances change the fact that the person in Boston owns the land - that it is his/hers.
Even so, God's apparent absence from the world scene (the existence of all of the suffering, perverseness and evil extant in the world) leads many of us to conclude that this can't be God's world. Sure, many of us believe (or say we believe) that God created the world, and that technically everything in it belongs to Him; but we really don't believe that this is His world. For many of us, the presence of all of that suffering, death and wickedness indicates that God simply can't be in control - that someone else must be calling the shots (like Satan). For others, it is proof that there is no God!
For many Christians, Satan has usurped God's position and taken possession of this earth. Is that, however, an accurate representation of what has happened? Is Satan in charge here? Has he established his kingdom on this earth? More importantly, has God relinquished His title to the ownership of the earth, even temporarily? OR Has God allowed Satan to roam His earth and do the terrible things which he has done? Has God permitted mankind the space and freedom to choose to follow Satan's lead? OR Did God sign the title to earth over to humankind, and Satan has usurped ownership from us?
When Paul wrote that Satan is "the god of this world," did he mean that Satan has replaced God? Was Paul implying that Satan is the real deity of this present world? OR Was the apostle suggesting that Satan is the one whom the vast majority of humanity follows and worships?
Were the idols of the past real gods? Did the fact that people worshiped those idols and professed their devotion to them make them real? Was God still God when they were doing all of that?
Does the fact that Satan has deceived the whole world make it his world? If I were somehow able to convince most of the folks around me that I owned the Brooklyn Bridge, would that make it mine?
"When we say 'world,' we're really talking about this present age!" my friends will indignantly proclaim. I guess this puts Satan in the position of a squatter who will eventually be evicted by the true owner - GOD!
In the book of Exodus, we are told that God declared that "all the earth is mine." (Exodus 19:5) Speaking about all of the sacrifices which the Israelites had failed to offer, the psalmist wrote: "I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof." (Psalm 50:9-12) Notice that in both of these instances ownership is in the present tense.
And what about all of the "good" things that exist in this present world? What of the beautiful landscapes (mountains, valleys, beaches, etc.), the beautiful buildings, the beautiful art, literature and music? What about the love, mercy, goodness and efforts to help others? Is all of that derived from the "god of this world?"
Is God or Satan in control? Does God set up kings and kingdoms? OR Has Satan placed his minions in positions of authority? Was Satan within his rights to offer Jesus Christ all of the kingdoms of the earth? Is it possible that God has retained control over this earth, and that everyone and everything in it are functioning according to His plan? What do you think?