The first thing I realized (should I say remembered) has to do with the unregenerate and with Satan. Or maybe you could look at it in terms of spiritual warfare. The seed of the woman is at war with the seed of the serpent.
The nature of a Christian is fundamentally different than the nature of a non-Christian. We are salt, they are decay. We are light, they are darkness. We are life, they are death. We are children of God, they are the children of Satan. We are saints, they are sinners. We are sheep, they are goats. We are holy, they are vile. We are vessels for honor, they are vessels for common use and destined for destruction. We are servants of God and friends of Christ, they are children and slaves of Satan. We have passed from death to life, they have not. We have been delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the kingdom of the Son, but they remain in the power of darkness.
To be even more explicit, the unregenerate are controlled by Satan. He is the prince of the powers of the air, the prince of this world. He keeps the unregenerate as slaves to do his will. They are hostile to God, and remain in that state unless and until God graciously intervenes.
This is a point that Arminians and Calvinists alike agree on. Only heretical Pelagianism suggests that there is no real difference between the saved and the lost, and that a man can obey God aside from God’s grace.
Before we go too far, we have to remember that even the reprobate are made in the image of God, and that God gives some measure of common grace to all. He actively restrains sin, even in the unsaved, through common grace. He allows the image of God to shine through even in the unregenerate.
Fundamentally, though, we produce fruit according to our nature. The unregenerate will produce wicked fruit, due to a wicked nature, although that fruit won’t be absolutely as wicked as it could be. Some of it, through God’s common grace, will be good. But at the core, it is bad.
The fact that the unregenerate have fundamentally corrupt natures is bad enough, but it gets worse. There is a devil. Satan exists, and he rules over the unregenerate. He is their father, their king, their captor. They do his will.
Genesis 3:1 tells us “the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field”. Satan is crafty. His schemes are not at all obvious to us.
And Satan hates us. He is a roaring lion who wishes to devour us. He is a wolf that would love to dine on a sheep. He is the anti-Christ – against Christ. He is a dragon that makes war against us. He is our enemy.
So, to summarize: Satan wants to destroy us. He is deceptive, devious and subtle. And he rules over all non-Christians.
What should that tell us about the individual and collective acts of non-Christians? The institutions, philosophies, and cultures produced by them? It means they are satanic, corrupt, wicked, in rebellion against God, and calculated to seduce and destroy the saints.
There are occasional books and movies that pit the hero against a worldwide, powerful, multigenerational conspiracy. Sometimes it’s the Knights Templar and the Freemasons, or maybe it’s the Illuminati, or whatever. It makes for an interesting story.
We Christians are faced with a real conspiracy. Satan is seeking to devour and destroy us. He has been at work for thousands of years, and commands an army of billions. His conspiracy includes powers, principalities, and the rulers of darkness of this world. The goal is to dishonor Christ by destroying us. It’s foolish not to realize that the enemy of God, the serpent, will attack us both openly and covertly.