Why the World is Such a Mess

Posted on January 6, 2020


By David Ettinger


A Terrible Place to Live
In 1970, Scottish band Marmalade hit big on the pop charts with a song called “Reflections of My Life.” Unlike the trite and empty melodious ditties offered today, the lyrics for “Reflections” were deep, contemplative, and thought-provoking. To me, the most contemplative lyrics were:

The world is
A bad place
A bad place
A terrible place to live

They were absolutely right: the world is a terrible place to live. There is no need to list the evidence for this; if you are an adult and have any semblance of that which is going on around you, you can well provide your own evidence.

The question is: Why is the world such a terrible place in which to live? A partial answer is: “Because the world is such a mess.” This begs the question: “Why is the world such a mess?”

Let’s investigate.

The “World”
The key lies in the Greek word for “world,” kosmos (English “cosmos”), which means both “world” and “an apt and harmonious arrangement or constitution, order, government.” The main word here is “order,” therefore, from a biblical perspective, we can translate the word kosmos as “an ordered world system.”

Though we know that God created the world (Genesis 1:1), we also know that because of sin, God has granted partial control of the world to Satan.

book of john

How do we know this? No less an authority than the Lord Jesus himself refers to Satan as the “prince of this world,” and He does so three times (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Of course, Jesus also tells us that because of His work on the cross, “the prince of this world now stands condemned” (John 16:11), meaning that though he can harass us, he has no authority over those who belong to Christ.

Those Under Satan’s Authority
But what of those who don’t belong to Christ? The apostle Paul writes: “As for you [believers], you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”

Here we see a similar designation for Satan, “the ruler of the kingdom of the air.” He is the one who is in charge of all who do not belong to the Lord Jesus (“those who are disobedient”). This does not mean that every unbeliever is a proclaimed follower of Satan. In fact, most of humanity regards Satan as but a figment of the imaginations of religious fanatics. Satan is just fine with this, for he knows the truth, that he is the one “who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” He is the one “pulling the strings,” the one running the world, the kosmos (with limits, of course, as God determines).

Paul had earlier written on this in 2 Corinthians 4:4: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” This verse goes a long way in explaining why those we share the Gospel with don’t understand, or accept, the truth we are sharing with them.


Another powerhouse apostle, John, explains Satan’s dual role of ruler of this world system and blinder of “unsaved” eyes: “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). It doesn’t matter that unbelievers don’t believe in Satan, they are nonetheless under his sway and jurisdiction. John further says of him: “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.” (1 John 3:8).

No Mystery
As you can see, there is no mystery as to why the world is in such a mess. The world is under the authority of Satan, who is described by Jesus as “a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). And it is Satan “who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” Those under Satan’s authority do what Satan does. Because of this, “The world is a bad place, a bad place, a terrible place to live.”

May we who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb be found faithful in sharing the glorious Gospel of salvation with a lost and dying kosmos!