Is God in control of the world?

Question:  “Is God in control of the world and if He is, why is the devil causing so much problems in the world?”

Bible Answers

We are told that God is in control of the world, but how can He be in control when Satan’s kingdom appears to be controling the world? The answer is that there are two kingdoms, one operating within the other.

The Bible teaches that God governs the universe, the earth, nations, and man.  That He is the ruler of all things and that He arranges human actions to fulfill His purpose. But we also read that Satan is the God of this world and his kingdom is over all mankind. We will examine these apparent opposing ideologies.

God’s control

The following is a few of the hundreds of verses clearly stating that God is in control.

God's control of the universe

He is the only Ruler, the King of kings, and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15).

His throne is in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all (Psalms 103:19).

Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, In heaven and in earth (Psalms 135:6).

He does according to His will … among the inhabitants of earth (Daniel 4:35).

God's control of nations

In the affairs of the world, and its rulers, the Lord puts down one leader and lifts up another (1 Samuel 16:1).

For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God (Romans 13:1).

He uses heathen nations to accomplish the disciplining of His disobedient people (Isaiah 5:26).

So far as it has suited His purposes, He has allowed nations to go their own way (Acts 14:16). While being disobedient and sinful, they serve God’s larger purpose.

God's control of human beings including evil individuals

The anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He gave them into the hands of plunderers (Judges 2:14).

I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. (Isaiah 13:11).

You are the judge of the whole earth (Psalm 94:2).

“Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand (Isaiah 14:24).

God's control of nature

Fire and hail, snow and clouds; Stormy wind, fulfilling His word (Psalm 148:8).

Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth (Exodus 9:23).

Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The Lord of hosts is His name (Jeremiah 31:35).


God's control of His creatures

He gives to the beast its food (Psalms 147:9).

Not a single sparrow falls to the ground apart from His will (Matthew 10:29).

And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah (Jonah 1:17).

Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah up onto the dry land (Jonah 2:10).

The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening (1 Kings 17:6).

God's control of all circumstances

If a calamity occurs in a city has not the Lord done it (Amos 3:6)?

The One forming light and creating darkness, Causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these (Isaiah 45:7).

But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18).

The Lord will remove from you all sickness; and He will not put on you any of the harmful diseases of Egypt (Deuteronomy 7:15).

But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith (Matthew 6:30)!

God's control of His people

casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and rescues them (Psalms 34:7).

Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord; and the Lord gave them into the hands of Midian seven years (Judges 6:1).

For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake (Philippians 1:28-29).

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

God's control of Satan

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord (Job 1:12). The Lord can put a restraint upon Satan as He chooses.

Satan’s control

If God has complete control over everything, then what does Satan have control over? Satan is the ruler, prince, and god over the current system of sinful opposition to God. He is the head of the rebellion against God.

The book of Job gives insight into the limits that God has placed on Satan. In Job 1:6-11 we see Satan before God, and God ask if Satan knows about Job. Satan says that Job only worships God because God has placed a protective hedge about him, but if God will remove the hedge, Job would curse God. God removed the hedge, but restricted how far Satan could proceed against Job.

This scripture clearly demonstrate that Satan could only do what God permitted him to do and that his authority is only what God allows.  Satan’s kingdom is primarily the kingdom of those who want to follow Satan and rebel against God.

Jesus referred to Satan as the ruler of this world (John 12:31), and Paul said he is the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) and the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). John said, the whole world is in the power of the evil one (1 John 5:19).

How is Satan the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4)?

God of this world indicates that Satan rules over the ideas, opinions, goals, hopes, and views of the majority of people in the world. He also promotes his ideologies and influence over the world’s philosophies, education, and commerce. Most of the thoughts, ideas, and false religions of the world are under his control.  For those who select Satan’s evil world rather than God, Satan is the god of their world.

What is the major power Satan has over the majority of the world?  His primary power is his endless lies and deceptions that he shoots into our mind.

What is the meaning of prince of the power of the air in Ephesians 2:2. It signifies that he rules over much of the world and its people.

While Satan does rule over much of the world, God is still in control and Satan can only do what God permits. For it is Satan who provides the alternative option to God’s kingdom, as it is God who tests our hearts (1 Thessalonians 2:4).

For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). Christians have been rescued form Satan’s kingdom, but are still subject to Satan’s attacks. Attacks that many Christians could repel in the power and authority of Jesus, but not knowing the Word, they do not know how to operate in its protection.  Rather, in ignorance, they open doors to Satan.

By his lies and deceptions, the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4). We can see from this verse that the god of this world blinds the mind of unbelievers so that they cannot understand the light of the gospel, turn, and receive Jesus as their Lord.  Prisoners of Satan can only be freed by Jesus.

I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God (Isaiah 45:5).

God works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:11-12). Yes, God is in control of the world.

Next Section - Why does God let Satan exist?

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