“The whole world,” according to Paul in Ephesians 2, is motivated by, driven by, captive of, that spirit being, the adversary who hates Jesus Christ with a passion that we cannot even begin to imagine. Because he hates Him and because we are part of His body, he hates us. But he tries to sell himself to us—himself and his way—as though it were really attractive, glamorous, beneficial, good, fulfilling, and rewarding.
In Genesis 3, from the very beginning, we find evidence of opposition to God. By following Satan's misdirection, Adam and Eve found themselves in opposition to God, and they attempted to hide from Him. However, a critical choice had been made. According to Romans 5, the same choice has been made by every one of us to join in opposition to God rather than submit to Him.
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian and the World (Part 2)
Man cannot "find" God; only God can initiate a calling. The world, including most of physical Israel, is consigned to unbelief until later in God's plan, yet most modern Israelites would say they know God or believe in Him. Romans 10:12-15 describes how God generally introduces people to Himself, though they may suppose they initiated contact with Him by "calling on the name of the Lord." Men must hear of Him through a preacher - and one whom God has sent, not one that is self-proclaimed.
Basic Doctrines: Faith Toward God
The very fact that we know these things—that we are of God, that Satan is the unseen ruler of this world, and that we know God and His Son Jesus Christ—is evidence that we have been given an understanding. This knowledge is not something we have determined on our own; the sovereign God has given it to us to fulfill His purpose in us. And in His sovereignty He has withheld it from others.
Other passages, in more specific areas of our profession, show the uniqueness of our calling to an even greater extent. For example, Paul writes in II Thessalonians 3:1-2, "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have [the] faith." From our own experiences we know his statement is true. Not everyone has faith. It is obvious that some believe and others do not. Even within the church we are at different stages of faith.
Acts 13:48 adds important ramifications to this subject of God's sovereignty, our calling, and faith: "Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." The implications of Luke's words are rather startling. Only those whom God appointed or predestined to eternal life believe the preaching of Paul and Barnabas! The rest, though they also hear the word of the Lord, persecute and expel them from the region. They do not believe what they hear, and it angers rather than converts them. We must conclude that God triggers something in the minds of those He calls, making the Lord's words agreeable, so they will believe what they are hearing.
This agrees perfectly with Ephesians 1:5—"[God] predestined us to adoption as sons by [through] Jesus Christ"—and Romans 8:29-30, which explicitly states the whole panorama of His purpose:
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
God has the whole process planned out, and He is so confident of His ability to accomplish it that He perceives it as already done! He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10).
John W. Ritenbaugh
The Sovereignty of God: Part Six
"Lies in wickedness" should be translated "lies [under the sway of] the wicked one," as the New King James has it. John makes an all-inclusive statement of Satan's position in terms of the earth. The wicked one, the Devil, holds authority over all operations of all cultural systems on earth. He is the king, he holds authority, over what the Bible calls "the world."
John W. Ritenbaugh
What I Believe About Conspiracy Theories
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing 1 John 5:19:
2 Thessalonians 3:2