Bible Question:

I am told that Satan is in control of this world, yet in John 12:31 Jesus tells us “. . . now the prince of this world will be driven out. ” (NIV) Does this not tell us that Satan is no longer in control, or is this only relevant to Christians declaring Jesus is Lord?

Bible Answer:

John 12:31 is only one of several passages in the Bible which tell us that Satan is in control of this world.

The War

The war between God and Satan has been raging since Satan sinned in heaven. When Jesus was born, the war between God and Satan entered a new phase. Satan knew better than the people of the world who Jesus was and so he motivated King Herod to kill all the babies under two years of age. But God rescued the infant Jesus by having Joseph move the little baby to Egypt. That was Satan’s first major attempt against Jesus.

The next major attempt that we know about occurred at the start of His ministry. Satan tried to motivate Jesus to sin when He was out in the wilderness for 40 days without food (MAtt. 4:2). Satan tempted Jesus three times. Each time he hoped Jesus would sin, but each time Jesus quoted scripture to him. Jesus never gave in to sin. If Satan had been able to motivate Jesus to sin, Satan would have won; Jesus would have become a sinner, and His death would have been meaningless. He would not have been a perfect person and would not have been able to forgive our sins. Jesus’ death would not have had any value.

Satan’s Lost Power

The scriptures tell us that Satan is in control of this world for a while. God is allowing Satan to have control. This truth can be found in many passages. Here are some of them.

. . . in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (NASB) Eph. 2:2

I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me . . (NASB) John 14:30

. . . in whose case 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. (NASB) 2 Cor. 4:4

We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (NASB) 1 John 5:19

Satan is called the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of this world, the god of this world, and then we are told that the world lies in his power. It is very clear who is being allowed to have control. But Satan does not have absolute power. It is only for a while.

Victory Over Death

When Jesus died on the cross, God was finally able to forgive our sins forever, and to rescue us from spiritual death (1 Cor. 15:54-57). But the wonderful truth is that Jesus rescued us from Satan’s control.

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil . . . (NASB) Heb. 2:14

Satan can blind the spiritual eyes of the world (2 Cor. 4:4) and prevent men and women from understanding the scriptures (Matt. 13:19). Satan used to control death, but not anymore. Men and women can now live forever with God. Without the death and resurrction of Jesus, every man and woman faced living forever in the Lake of Fire (Rev. 20:11-15). Now by believing or trusting in Jesus to forgive their sins, men and women can now be forgiven and live forever with God.


The verse you are asking about is the promise that some future day Satan will be cast out of this world.

Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself. But He was saying this to indicate the kind of death by which He was to die. (NASB) John 12:31-33

Jesus spoke of His own death when He said that He would be lifted up and as a result he would draw all men to Himself. Jesus was predicting His death on a Roman cross. That was the victory over Satan and as a result Satan will some day be cast into the Lake of Fire and live there forever (Rev. 20:10). Jesus has defeated Satan!