Deception Of Saints
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 2 Corinthians 11:3
Jessie Penn-Lewis in collaboration with the famous Welsh revivalist, Evan Roberts wrote a classic titled War on the Saints. In this book she has brought out some points about deception that are to be noted:
In seeking to obtain full control of the believer, the first great effort of evil spirits is directed toward getting the man to accept their suggestions, and workings, as the speaking, working, or leading of God. Their initial device is to counterfeit a “Divine Presence,” under cover of which they can mislead their victim as they will. The word counterfeit meaning the substitution of the false for the true.
The condition on the part of the believer, which gives the deceiving spirits their opportunity, and the basis of this counterfeit, is the mistaken location of God; either (1) in them (consciously); (2) or around them (consciously). When they pray they think of, or pray to God in themselves, or else to God around them, in the room, or atmosphere. They use their imagination, and try to “realize” His presence, and they desire to “feel” His presence in them, or upon them.
This locating of God, in, or around the believer, usually comes about at the time of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost; for up to that time of crisis in his life, he lived more by the acceptance of facts declared in the Scriptures, as understood by his intelligence; but with the Baptism of the Spirit he becomes more conscious of the presence of God by the Spirit and in the spirit, and so begins to locate the Person of God as in, around, or upon him. Then he turns inward, and begins to pray to God as within him, which in time, really results in prayer to evil spirits, if they succeed in gaining admittance under counterfeit.
The logical sequence of prayer to God as located within, can be pressed to absurdity, i.e., if the soul prays to God in himself, why not pray to God in another elsewhere? The limitation of God as a Person within, and all the possible dangers arising from this misconception of truth are obvious.
Some believers so live inwardly in communion, worship and vision, as to become spiritually introverted, and cramped and narrowed in their outlook; with the result that their spiritual capacity and mental powers become dwarfed and powerless. Others become victims to the “inner voice,” and the introverted attitude of listening to it, which is the ultimate result of the location of God as a Person within, so that eventually the mind becomes fixed in the introverted condition with no out-going action at all.
In fact, all turning inwards to a subjective location of God as indwelling, speaking, communing, and guiding, in a materialistic, or conscious sense, is open to gravest danger; for upon this thought and belief, sedulously cultivated by the powers of darkness, the most serious deceptions, and final out-workings of deceiving spirits have taken place.
Counterfeits of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are recognizable by the manifestations being given to the senses; i.e., in the physical realm; for the true indwelling of God is in the shrine of the spirit alone; and the soul vessel, or personality of the believer, is purely a vehicle for the expression of Christ, Who is enthroned within by His Spirit; whilst the body, quickened by the same Spirit, is governed by God from the central depths of the human spirit, through the self-control of the man acting by his renewed will.
The counterfeit presence of God is given by deceiving spirits working upon the physical frame, or within the bodily frame, upon the senses. We have seen the beginning of this, and how the first ground is gained It is deepened by these sense-manifestations being repeated, so gently, that the man goes on yielding to them, thinking this is truly “communion with God”–for believers too often look upon “communion with God” as a thing of sense, and not of spirit–and here he commences praying to evil spirits under the belief that he is praying to God. The self-control is not yet lost, but as the believer responds to, or gives himself up to these “conscious” manifestations, he does not know that his will-power is being slowly undermined. At last through these subtle, delicious experiences, the faith is established that God Himself is consciously in possession of the body, quickening it with felt thrills of life, or filling it with warmth and heat, or even with “agonies” which seem like fellowship with the sufferings of Christ, and travail for souls, or the experience of death with Christ in the consciousness of nails being driven into the bodily frame, etc. From this point the lying spirits can work as they will, and there is no limit as to what they may do to a believer deceived to this extent.
Counterfeit manifestations of the Divine life in various ways now follow quickly; movements in the body, pleasant thrills, touches, a glow as of fire in different parts of the body; or sensations of cold, or shakings, and tremblings; all accepted by the believer as from God, but showing what a full entry the deceiving spirit has obtained to the bodily frame; for there is a distinction between the manifestations of evil spirits “with” and “in” the body and mind of the believer; although when they are really inside, they can also make it appear as if they were outside, both in influence and action.
When evil spirits are really outside, and desirous of entry, they work by sudden suggestion, which is not the ordinary working of the mind, but suggestions which come from without; “flashes of memory,” again not the ordinary working of the memory, but coming from without; touches and twitches of the nerves; feelings of draught and sensations of wind blowing on the circumference etc.
When the evil spirits are inside, the whole frame is affected, at times with the pleasant sensations referred to, but at others with pains in the head and body which have no physical cause, or else so working with the “natural” that the supernatural cannot easily be distinguished from it; such as accelerating the heartbeat so as to appear palpitation, and in other ways working with the physical causes, so that part has natural ground, and part is from the accentuating force of evil. Depression then ensues in proportion to the previous exhilaration; exhaustion and fatigue in reaction from the demand upon the nervous system in the hours of ecstasy; or else a sense of drainage of strength without any visible cause; grief and joy, heat and cold, laughter and tears, all succeed each other in rapid changes, and varied degrees–in brief, the emotional sensibilities seem to have full play.
The “senses” are aroused, and are in full mastery of the person, apart from the man’s volition; or they may be apparently under control, so that the evil spirit’s presence may be hidden from the knowledge of the believer, his workings being carefully measured to suit the victim he has studied so well; for he knows he must not go a shade too far, lest he awaken suspicion of the cause of the abnormal movements of the emotions, and of the sensitive parts of the bodily frame.
It can easily be seen that in time the health of the deceived one must be affected by this play upon mind and body; hence the “breakdown” that so often follows experiences of an abnormal kind, or else a snapping of the tension, by a sudden stoppage of all conscious feelings, and the apparent withdrawal of the “conscious presence of God followed by an entire change of tactics by the deceiving spirits in the body, who may now turn upon their victim with terrible accusations; and charges of having committed the “unpardonable sin,” producing as acute anguish and real suffering, as he once experienced of the bliss of heaven.
Here the evil spirits may push the man to “confessions” of all kinds, however public and painful, which he hopes may result in regaining the “experience” apparently lost; but all in vain. These confessions instigated by deceiving spirits may be recognized by their compulsory character. The man is forced to “confess” sin, and ofttimes sins which have no existence, but in the accusations of the enemy. As it does not dawn upon him that evil spirits will push a man to do what looks like the most meritorious thing, and which the Scriptures declare is the one condition for obtaining forgiveness, he yields to the drive upon him, simply to get relief. Herein lies the danger of widespread “confessions of sin” during times of Revival, when almost a “wave” of “confession” passes over a community, and the depths of sinful lives are exposed to the gaze of others; through this enabling the lying spirits to disseminate the very poison of the pit into the atmosphere, and into the minds of the listeners.
True confession of sin should come from deep conviction and not compulsion, and should, be made only to God, if the sin is one only known by God; to man personally, and in private, when the sin is against man; and to the public only when the sin is against the public. “Confession” should never be made under the impulse of any compulsory emotion, but should be the deliberate act of the volition; choosing the right, and the putting things right, according to the will of God.
That Satan’s kingdom gains by public “confessions” is evident by the devices of the enemy used to push men into them. Evil spirits drive a man into sin, and then compel that man publicly to confess the sin which they forced him to commit–contrary to his true character–in order to make the sin which they forced him into, a stigma upon him for the remainder of his life.
Ofttimes the “sins” confessed have their rise in the believer, from the insertion by wicked spirits, of feelings as consciously abhorrent and loathsome, as were the former “conscious” feelings of heavenly purity and love; when the man who experienced them, declared that he knew of no “sin to confess to God,” or “no rising of an evil impulse” whatever; leading him to believe in the complete elimination of all sin from his being.
The chief faculty open to the access of deceiving spirits is the mind, especially before the believer apprehends the need of a “renewed mind” (Eph. 4: 23), and realizes that his mind can be open to, and used by evil spirits, notwithstanding the Divine operation of God in the innermost shrine of his being. Also before he realizes what he has admitted as ground for evil spirits in his past life, for all the “thoughts” inserted by the god of this world blinding the mind (2 Cor. 4: 4; Ephes. 2: 2), form material for his later working; such as “thoughts” lodged there unconsciously, perhaps years before; mental conceptions admitted without examination; floating ideas which have drifted into the ground of the mind, the believer knows not whence; a sentence in a paper, a word dropped in his hearing; the flotsam and jetsam of the mental world, leaving unthought of effect upon him, colouring Scripture, and placing the mind almost at the mercy of any suggestion of evil spirits, under certain conditions, later on.
To detect the working of evil spirits upon the mind, let the believer note the way in which his “thoughts” come. If the mind is working easily, quietly, in normal action in the duty of the moment, and sudden “flashes,” “suggestions,” or apparent “thoughts” arise, not in sequence, or in orderly connection with the work he has in hand, then the enemy may be counterfeiting the operation of the person’s own mind, and trying to insert his suggestions into it as if they were the outcome of the man’s own thinking; for when he is in the process of thinking, the lying spirits seek to inject some thought, suggestion or feeling– the first into the mind, and the last into the spirit.
The danger at this point is for the believer to be ensnared by the simultaneous working of his own mind, and the presentation to the mind of the evil spirit’s “pictures” or visions, which he thinks come from his own “imagination”; or very subtly refined suggestions which have no appearance of being supernatural, or even distinct from the person at all. Many think all that is “supernatural” is of necessity strikingly marvelous, and awesome, whereas the enemy’s working is very ordinary–so ordinary that he is unrecognized, and the operations of the supernatural appear so “natural,” that they are not looked upon as supernatural. The Scripture statement of “the whole world lying in the evil one” is so true, that his speakings and workings are accepted and followed and yielded to, as the “ordinary” things of life, and as the ordinary operations of the mental faculties. The kingdom of darkness is near and “natural” to all the world under the rule of the prince of darkness.
It is best to be suspicious of the abnormal in every shape and form. God does not interfere with the natural operations of the faculties. A sudden stoppage of thought, or sequence in the action of the mind, in thought or memory, as well as acute loss of the use of either, may indicate the interference of evil spirits. The spirits of evil, in possession of some faculty of the mind, can either hold it, or suddenly release it for action–this holding or releasing power explaining much that is unaccountable in suddenness of action, or “change of mind” which, like much else, is left in obscurity as “unexplainable.” “I can” one moment, then “I cannot” the next, generally being put down to an “erratic temperament,” or other causes. The believer, however, may be unable to act, because of the interruption, or interference of the enemy, but he really has the ability for action, if the faculties were free.
Others whose lives are spent in the bondage of a “spirit of infirmity,” are only conscious of a sense of inability, they are always “too tired,” and have “no spirit,” “no energy” for the ordinary demands of life, yet with no disease, or reasonable physical ground for their chronic inertness and feebleness. A sudden inability to listen, described as “absent-mindedness” or “preoccupation,” when the person is compelled to follow some “thought” suggested, or picture presented to the mind, or to follow the words of another, are all indications of the interference of evil spirits–the compulsions especially being a mark of their workings–when the person is in a normal condition of health, and the brain is not diseased.
For instance, in spiritual meetings, when people seem hardly able to listen to a vital truth, how many recognize the work of the prince of the power of the air taking away the Word (Matt. 13: 19), by the suggestion of other things, not appropriate to the moment, and by the mind being unable to follow the speaker’s words, and to grasp and apprehend? Streams of “texts,” also, pouring through the mind, apart from concentration, and the volitional action of the mind, may overpower all that the speaker is saying, and “Carry away” the hearer into far away thoughts, and “day-dreams,” which appear so beautiful and “divine,” yet after the “meeting” is over, have no solid result in practical life. Any admittance of these sudden suggestions, or passing thoughts, means ground given to the enemy.
The Deceiver has two ways of putting thoughts into the mind: (1) By direct communication to the mind, and (2) indirect, by attacks on the spirit, causing undesirable feelings there, such as impatience through the attacks, which produce impatient thoughts in the mind, followed by impatient words. The believer has a sense of being hindered persistently by some unseen obstacle, for the evil spirit beings suggest a certain action to him, and then when he attempts it, he is hindered, causing in him a sense of irritation for which he cannot account. Nothing he does seems to “go right,” and his life seems made up of “pin-prick” troubles, too much for him to bear, causing a sense of moroseness and discontent which grows upon him in spite of himself.
Feverish activity which accomplishes nothing is manifested occasionally, or else perpetual occupation which gives no moment of rest; difficulty with work in the day time; “dreams” at night, with no sense of rest or leisure at any time; suffering, confusion, difficulty of action, embarrassment, perplexity, all emanating directly, maliciously, and deliberately from evil spirits, unrecognized by the man.
Believers whose circumstances, and environment, should give them every cause for a glad and quiet mind, are harassed with terrible anxiety, and they are rarely free from troubled thoughts. The mind over-estimates everything, because the imagination and mental faculties are in bondage; ant-hills appear as mountains to them. Everything is exaggerated, so that they shrink from seeing others, as conversation is terribly difficult. They imagine they are only “thinking” in an ordinary sense, but it is not I “thinking” when a thing grips the mind, but when the mind grips the thing. Their “thinking” goes beyond the line of pure mental action.
That the enemy takes advantage of any mental feebleness, or overstrain, or disease, is, of course, to be recognized; but in persons of normal health, with no disease of the mind, inherited or induced, much of the “depression” may be attributed to the inroads of the enemy, through ground given unconsciously at some previous time. The cause of “brain-fag” too, needs to be examined in this light, lest many attribute to natural causes what may have been supernaturally brought about.
Wrong conceptions of spiritual things give ground to evil spirits, and these conceptions the adversary skillfully cultivates ready for use on later occasions. Imaginations as to how God works in Revival power, and in “Pentecostal” measure, is specially a fruitful ground for evil spirits, i.e., a conception that God moves a meeting, and sways it as the wind sways the corn; and that God moves on the physical man, rather than from the centre of man’s spirit only. These imaginations prepare the believer for Satan’s deceptions in these very forms.
The Scriptural ground for obtaining deliverance is the truth concerning Christ’s full victory at Calvary, through which believer CAN BE DELIVERED FROM THE POWER OF BOTH SIN AND SATAN, but in actual fact the victory won at Calvary can only be applied as there is conformity to Divine laws. As the deceptions of Satan are recognized, and the will of the person is set to reject them, he can, on the basis of the work of Christ at Calvary as set forth in Rom. 6: 6-13; Col. 2: 15; 1 John 3: 8, and other passages, claim his deliverance from these workings of the devil in deception and possession.
Just as there are various degrees of deception and possession, so there are degrees of deliverance according to the understanding of the believer, and his WILLINGNESS To FACE ALL THE TRUTH ABOUT HIMSELF, and all the ground given to the enemy.
In doing this the believer needs to have a steady grasp of his standing in Christ as identified with Him in His death on the Cross, and his union with Him in spirit in His place on the Throne (Ephes. 1: 19-23; 2: 6), and he must “hold fast” with steady faith-grip, the “Head” (Col. 2: 19) as the One who is, by His Spirit, giving him grace (Heb. 4: 16), and strength to recover the ground in mind and body which he has ignorantly yielded to the foe. For the man himself must ACT to get rid of passivity; he must revoke his CONSENT given to evil spirits to enter, and by his own volition insist that they retire from the place (Ephes. 4: 27) they have obtained by deceit. Since God will not act for him in regaining the normal condition of his outer man, nor exercise his choice for him, he must stand on the vantage ground of the Calvary victory of Christ, and claim his freedom.
Assuming, then, that the believer has discovered that he is a victim of the deceptions of deceiving spirits, what are the subjective steps in the path of freedom? Briefly, (1) acknowledgment of deception; (2) refusal of ground; (3) steadfast fight against all that possession means; (4) being on guard. against excuses; (5) the detection of all the effects of possession; and (6) a discerning of the result of these actions. For the believer must learn to read the signs of dis-possession, as well as the symptoms of possession, lest he be deceived again by the Adversary.
For deliverance from the power of sin and protection from deceiving spirits in their workings, it is important to have a clear apprehension of God’s purpose in redemption. God created man, with dominion over himself. This dominion was exercised by his act of will, even as it was by his Creator. But man fell, and, in his fall, yielded his will to the rule of Satan, who from that time by the agency of his evil spirits has ruled the world, through the enslaved will of fallen man. Christ the Second Adam came, and taking the place of man, chose obedience to the Father’s will, and never for one moment diverged from His perfect co-operation with that will. In the wilderness He refused to exercise the Divine power at the will of Satan, and in Gethsemane in suffering His will never wavered in the choice of the Father’s will. As Man He willed the will of God right through, becoming obedient even unto death, thus regaining for regenerated man, not only reconciliation with God, but liberty from Satan’s thraldom, and the restoration of man’s renewed and sanctified will to its place of free action, deliberately and intelligently exercised in harmony with the will of God.
Christ wrought out for man upon Calvary’s Cross salvation of spirit, soul, and body, from the dominion of sin and Satan; but that full salvation is wrought out in the believer through the central action of the will, as he deliberately chooses the will of God for each department of his tripartite nature.
The will of the man united to the will of God–and thus having the energizing power of God working with his volition–is to rule his (1) “own spirit” (see Prov. 25: 28; 1 Cor. 14: 32); (2) thoughts or mind (Col. 3: 2) inclusive of all the soul-powers; and (3) body (1 Cor. 9: 27), and when, by the appropriation of God’s freeing power from slavery to sin and Satan, the believer regains free action of his will so that he gladly and spontaneously wills the will of God, and as a renewed man re-takes dominion over spirit, soul and body, he reigns in life “through . . Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5: 17).
But the natural man does not reach this stage of renewal and liberation of his will, without first knowing the regeneration of his own human spirit. God is not in fallen man until the moment of his new birth (Ephes. 2: 12; 3: 16; John 3: 5-8). He must be “begotten of God;” the very fact of such a begetting being necessary, declares the non-existence of Divine life in him previously. After such a begetting, it is also necessary to understand that the regenerated man does not, as a rule, immediately become a spiritual man, i.e., a man wholly dominated by, and walking after the spirit.
Teaching material from War on the Saints by Jessie Penn-Lewis