War On The Saints
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. Revelation 12:7-9
Jessie Penn-Lewis in collaboration with the famous Welsh revivalist, Evan Roberts wrote a classic titled. In this book she has brought out some points about the serpent and his friends that are to be noted:
Truth of every kind makes free, while lies bind up in bonds. Ignorance also binds up, because it gives ground to Satan. Man’s ignorance is a primary and essential condition for deception by evil spirits. The ignorance of the people of God concerning the powers of darkness, has made it easy for the devil to carry out his work as deceiver. Unfallen man in his pure state was not perfect in knowledge. Eve was ignorant of “good and evil,” and her ignorance was a condition which lent itself to the deception of the serpent.
The devil’s great purpose, and for which he fights, is to keep the world in ignorance of himself, his ways, and his colleagues, and the Church is taking sides with him when siding with ignorance about him. Every man should keep an attitude of openness to all truth, and shun the false knowledge which has slain its tens of thousands, and kept the nations in the deception of the devil.
Through lack of knowledge, the majority of even the most spiritual people, do not carry out a full and perpetual war upon this army of wicked spirits; and many are shrinking from the subject, and the call to war against them, saying that if Christ is preached it is not necessary to give prominence to the existence of the devil, nor to enter into direct conflict with him, and his hosts. Yet large numbers of the children of God are becoming a prey to the enemy for lack of this very knowledge, and through the silence of teachers on this vital truth, the Church of Christ is passing on into the peril of the closing days of the age, unprepared to meet the onslaught of the foe. On account of this, and in view of the plainly given prophetic warnings in the Scriptures; the already manifest influx of the evil hosts of Satan among the children of God; and the many signs that we are actually in the “later times” referred to by the Apostle; all believers should welcome such knowledge about the powers of darkness, as will enable them to pass through the fiery trial of these days, without being ensnared by the foe.
Apart from such knowledge, when thinking he is “fighting for truth,” it is possible for a believer to fight for, defend, and protect evil spirits, and their works, believing he is thereby “defending” God, and His works; for if he thinks a thing Divine, he will protect and stand for it. It is possible for a man through ignorance to stand against God and to attack the very truth of God, and also defend the devil, and oppose God, unless he has knowledge.
Why the Church in the twentieth century has not recognized the existence, and workings, of evil supernatural forces, can only be attributed to its low condition of spiritual life and power. Even at the present time, when the existence of evil spirits is recognized by the heathen, it is generally looked upon by the missionary as “superstition” and ignorance; whereas the ignorance is often on the part of the missionary, who is blinded by the prince of the power of the air to the revelation given in the Scriptures, concerning the Satanic powers.
The “ignorance” on the part of the heathen is in their propitiatory attitude to evil spirits, because of their ignorance of the gospel message of a Deliverer and a Saviour sent to “proclaim release to the captives” (Luke 4: 18), and Who, when He was on earth, went about healing all who were “oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10: 38), and sent His messengers to open the eyes of the bound ones, that they might “turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26: 18).
The distinction between the workings of Satan as prince of demons, and his evil spirits, should specially be noted, so as to understand their methods at the present day; for to many the adversary is merely a tempter, whilst they little dream of his power as a deceiver (Rev. 12: 9), hinderer (1 Thess. 2: 18), murderer (John 8: 44), liar (John 8: 44), accuser (Rev. 12: 10), and a false angel of light; and still less of the hosts of spirits under his command, constantly besetting their path, bent upon deceiving, hindering, and prompting to sin. A vast host wholly given up to wickedness (Matt. 12: 43-45), delighting to do evil, to slay (Mark 5: 2-5), to deceive, to destroy (Mark 9: 20); and having access to men of every grade, prompting them to all kinds of wickedness, and satisfied only when success accompanies their wicked plans to ruin the children of men (Matt. 27: 3-5).
This distinction between Satan, the prince of the demons (Matt. 9: 34), and his legion of wicked spirits, is clearly recognized by Christ, and may be noted in many parts of the Gospels (Matt. 25: 41). We find Satan in person challenging the Lord in the wilderness temptation, and Christ answering him as a person, word for word, and thought for thought, until he retires, foiled by the keen recognition of his tactics, by the Son of God (Luke 4: 1-13).
We read of the Lord describing him as the “prince of the world” (John 14: 30); recognizing him as ruling over a kingdom (Matt. 12: 26); using imperative language to him as a person, saying; “Get thee hence”; while to the Jews He describes his character as “sinning from the beginning,” and being a “murderer,” and a “liar,” the “father of lies,” who “abode not in the truth” (John 8: 44) which once he held as a great archangel of God. He is called, also, “that wicked one” (1 John 3: 12, A.V.), the “Adversary,” and that “old serpent” (Rev. 12: 9).
In respect of his method of working, the Lord speaks of him as sowing “tares,” which are “sons of the evil one,” among the wheat–the “sons” of God (Matt. 13: 38, 39); thus revealing the Adversary as possessing the skill of a master mind, directing, with executive ability, his work as “prince of the world,” in the whole inhabited earth, and with power to place the men, who are called his “sons,” wherever he wills.
We read also, of Satan watching to snatch away the seed of the Word of God from all who hear it, this again indicating his executive power in the world- wide direction of his agents, whom the Lord describes as “fowls of the air”; in His own interpretation of the parable (Matt. 13: 3, 4, 13, 19; Mark 4: 3, 4, 14, 15; Luke 8: 5, 11, 12); plainly saying that He meant by these “fowls” the “evil one” (Gr. Poneros, Matt. 13: 19); “Satan” (Gr. Satana, Mark 4: 15); or “Devil” (Gr. Diabolus, Luke 8: 12); whom we know, from the general teaching of other parts of the Scriptures, does his work through the wicked spirits he has at his command; Satan himself not being omnipresent, although able to transpose himself with lightning velocity to any part of his world-wide dominions.
We find the Lord, right on from the wilderness victory, unveiling the powers of darkness, as He went forward in steady aggressive mastery over them. Behind what appeared “natural,” He sometimes discerned a supernatural power which demands His rebuke. He “rebuked” the fever in Peter’s wife’s mother (Luke 4: 39), just as He “rebuked” the evil spirits in other, and more manifest forms, whilst in other instances He simply healed the sufferer by a word.
The gospel record is full of reference to the workings of evil spirits, and shows that wherever the Lord moved, the emissaries of Satan sprang into active manifestation in the bodies, and minds, of those they indwelt; and that the ministry of Christ and His apostles was directed actively against them, so that again and again the record reads, “He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out demons” (Mark 1: 39); He “cast out many demons, and He suffered not the demons to speak, because they knew Him” (Mark 1: 34); “Unclean spirits, whensoever they beheld Him, fell down before Him, and cried, saying, Thou art the Son of God” (Mark 3: 11). Then came the sending out of the twelve chosen disciples, when the spirits of evil again are taken into account, for “He gave them authority over unclean spirits” (Mark 6: 7). Later He appointed seventy other messengers, and as they went forward in their work, they, too, found the demons subject to them through His Name (Luke 10: 17).
Christians who are true and faithful, and honest, can be deceived by Satan, and his deceiving spirits, for the following reasons:–
(a) When a man becomes a child of God, by the regenerating power of the Spirit, giving him new life as he trusts in the atoning work of Christ, he does not at the same time receive fulness of knowledge, either of God, himself, or the devil.
(b) The mind which by nature is darkened (Eph. 4: 18), and under a veil created by Satan (2 Cor. 4: 4) is only renewed, and the veil destroyed, up to the extent that the light of truth penetrates it, and according to the measure in which the man is able to apprehend it.
(c) “Deception” has to do with the mind, and it means a wrong thought admitted to the mind, under the deception that it is truth. Since “deception” is based on ignorance, and not on the moral character; a Christian who is “true” and “faithful” up to the knowledge he has, must be open to deception in the sphere where he is ignorant of the “devices” of the devil (2 Cor. 2: 11), and what he is able to do. A “true” and “faithful” Christian is liable to be “deceived” by the devil because of his ignorance.
(d) The thought that God will protect a believer from being deceived if he is true and faithful, is in itself a “deception,” because it throws a man off guard, and ignores the fact that there are conditions on the part of the believer which have to be fulfilled for God’s working. God does not do anything instead of a man, but by the man’s co-operation with Him; neither does He undertake to make up for a man’s ignorance, when He has provided knowledge for him which will prevent him being deceived.
(e) Christ would not have warned His disciples “Take heed . . be not deceived” if there had been no danger of deception, or if God had undertaken to keep them from deception apart from their “taking heed,” and their knowledge of such danger.
The knowledge that it is possible to be deceived, keeps the mind open to truth, and light from God; and is one of the primary conditions for the keeping power of God; whereas a closed mind to light and truth, is a certain guarantee of deception by Satan at his earliest opportunity.
If the believer cooperates intelligently and obediently with God, he will in due time become more a mature and spiritual Christian. He will enter into the experience of that great verse, “He whom the Son sets free, is free indeed,” which for most Christians is theology rather than an experienced reality. The casting out of demons is to be one of the signs that follow Christians in their ministry (Mark 16:17). But casting out of demons from whom? From the unregenerate only? Not so, but demons shall also be cast out of bound and deceived believers in order to set them free. Holding certain Biblical doctrines or glorying in his belief in the inerrancy of the Bible does not provide a refuge for the believer from the countless wiles of the enemy. All men are the objects of Satan’s devices, but after conversion his attempts to deceive and, if possible, to control him, increase.
Much of the spiritual activity of our age emanates from the bottomless pit. If Christians everywhere accurately understood what is happening spiritually, they would arm themselves for the final onslaught the enemy is preparing and thus escape the last great deception. It is time for more than isolated warriors to press the battle to the very gates and for a large body of believers to arise to meet the challenge of the deceiver openly.
The Baptism of the Spirit, however, so brings the Holy Spirit as a Person into the range of the believer’s consciousness, that for the time being, the other Persons of the Trinity, in heaven, may be eclipsed. The Holy Spirit becomes the centre and object of thought and worship, and is given a place which He Himself does not desire, and which it is not the purpose of the Father in heaven, that He should have, or occupy. “He shall not speak from Himself ” (John 16: 13), said the Lord before Calvary, as He told of His coming at Pentecost. He should act as Teacher (John 14: 26), but teaching the words of Another, not His own; He should bear witness to Another, not to Himself (John 15: 26); He should glorify Another, not Himself (John 16: 14); He should only speak what was given Him to speak by Another (John 16: 13); in brief, His entire work would be to lead souls into union with the Son, and knowledge of the Father in heaven whilst He Himself directed, and worked in the background.
But the opening of the spiritual world, which takes place through the filling of the Spirit; and the work of the Spirit, which now occupies the attention of the believer, is just the opportunity for the arch-deceiver to commence his wiles under a new form. If the man is untaught in the Scriptural statements of the work of the Triune God, to “obey the Spirit” is now his supreme purpose; and to counterfeit the guidance of the Spirit, and the Spirit Himself, is now the deceiver’s scheme; for he must somehow regain power over this servant of God, so as to render him useless for aggressive warfare against the forces of darkness, drive him back into the world, or in some way side-track him from active service for God.
It is just here that the ignorance of the believer about (1) the spiritual world now opened to him, (2) the workings of evil powers in that realm, and (3) the conditions upon which God works in and through him, gives the enemy his opportunity. It is the time of greatest peril for every believer, unless he is instructed and prepared, as the disciples were for three whole years by the Lord. The danger lies along the line of supernatural “guidance,” through not knowing the condition of co-operation with the Holy Spirit, and how to discern the will of God; and counterfeit manifestations, through not knowing the “discerning of spirits” necessary to detect the workings of the false angel of light, who is able to bring about counterfeit gifts of prophesy, tongues, healings, and other spiritual experiences, connected with the work of the Holy Ghost.
Those who have their eyes opened to the opposing forces of the spiritual realm, understand that very few believers can guarantee that they are obeying God, and God only, in direct supernatural guidance, because there are so many factors liable to intervene, such as the believer’s own mind, own spirit, own will, and the deceptive intrusion of the powers of darkness.
Since evil spirits can counterfeit God as Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, the believer needs also to know very clearly the principles upon which God works, so as to detect between the Divine and the Satanic workings. There is a “discernment” which is a spiritual gift, enabling the believer to discern “spirits,” but this also requires knowledge of “doctrine” (1 John 4: 1), so as to discern between doctrine which is of God, and doctrines, or teachings, of teaching spirits.
There is a detecting, by the gift of discerning of spirits, which spirit is at work; and a test of spirits, which is doctrinal. In the former a believer can tell by a spirit of discernment, that the lying spirits are at work in a meeting, or in a person, but he may not have the understanding needed for testing the “doctrines” set forth by a teacher. He needs knowledge in both cases; knowledge to read his spirit with assurance in the face of all contrary appearances, that the supernatural workings are “of God”; and knowledge to detect the subtlety of “teachings” bearing certain infallible indications that they emanate from the pit, while appearing to be from God.
In personal obedience to God, the believer can detect whether he is obeying God in some “command,” by judging its fruits, and by knowledge of the character of God, such as the truth that (1) God has always a purpose in His commands, and (2) He will give no command out of harmony with His character and Word. Other factors needed for clear knowledge are dealt with later on
To be deceived by lying spirits does not mean that the believer is necessarily possessed by an evil spirit; and a person may be “possessed” without having been deceived. For instance, a believer may be misled in guidance, or be deceived by counterfeit visions and manifestations, without these deceptions leading on into possession; and where there is yielding to sin, either known or unknown, even by a believer, an evil spirit may take possession of the mind, or body, without there being any experience of deception (1 Cor. 5: 5).
The faculties may become severally held, or possessed, by evil-spirits, by (1) yielding to the sin of passivity–passivity is the sin of omission, for God does not give a faculty either for misuse, or non-use, or (2) yielding to sins of action, e.g., if the tongue lends itself to slander or foul language, it lends itself to sin; and becomes liable to possession. And so with the eyes, ears and other parts of the body; the lust of the eyes in seeing, and looking at vile things; the ears by wrong listening–eaves-dropping is lending the ears to the emissaries of Satan–or, on the other hand, evil spirits may take hold of the nerves of the ear, so that the person cannot hear what he should, yet is permitted to be alert enough in bearing all that he should not hear.
The needed degree of ground given to an evil spirit in order to possess, cannot be clearly defined, but that there is (1) sin without evil spirit possession; (2) sin which opens the door to possession; and (3) sin which is unmistakably the result of Satanic possession (John 13: 2) is beyond question. If the man, be he unbeliever or believer, sins so as to admit an evil spirit, the ground given may be deepened without measure. (1) the ground given admits the demon, (2) the “manifestation” of the evil spirit takes place, (3) then the misinterpretation of the manifestation again gives further ground, because he believes, and admits still more of the lies of the evil one.
It is possible, also, for deception and possession to come about, and pass away without the man being conscious of either. He may yield to sin which gives access to an evil spirit, and then take the position of death (Rom. 6: 6, 11) to the sin or its ground, when, unconsciously to himself, the possession passes away.
Multitudes of believers are “possessed” in various degrees but do not know it, as they attribute the “manifestations” to “natural” causes, or to “self” or “sin,” and they put them down to these causes because they do not appear to bear the characteristics of demoniacal possession.
There is also a degree of deception by deceiving spirits, in connection with counterfeits of God and Divine things, which leads on to possession; and this too, depends upon the extent of the counterfeits which have been accepted by the believer. Through “possession” by accepting the counterfeit of the workings of the Holy Spirit, believers can, unknowingly, be brought to (1) put their trust in evil spirits, (2) rely on them, (3) surrender to them, (4) be guided by them, (5) pray to them (6) listen to them, (7) obey them, (8) receive messages from them, (9) receive Scripture texts from them, (10) help them in their desires and working, (11) stand by them, and (12) work for them; believing they are in these attitudes towards God, and doing these things for God.
In some cases, the counterfeit manifestations have been accepted with such reckless abandonment, that deception has quickly developed into possession in a most acute, yet subtle, and highly refined form; giving no apparent trace of the presence of evil, yet the peculiar double personality, characteristic of fully developed “demon possession,” is easily recognizable to trained spiritual discernment; although it may be hidden under the of the most beautiful “angel of light” manifestation, with all the fascinating attraction of “glory light” upon the face, exquisite music in song, and a powerful effect in speech.
The dual personality of fully developed demon possession is generally only recognized when it takes the form of objectionable manifestations; such as when a distinct other-intelligence obscures the personality of the possessed one, and speaks through the vocal organs, in a distinctly separate or altered voice, expressing thoughts or words unintended, or only partially volitioned by the subject; the victim is compelled to act in ways contrary to his natural character, and the body is manipulated by a foreign power, and nerves and muscles are twisted in contortions, and convulsions, such as are described in the Scripture records (Luke 9: 39). A characteristic of the dual-personality of demon-possession also is that the manifestations are usually periodical, and the victim is comparatively natural, and normal, between what are described as “attacks,” but which are really periods of manifestations of the intruding power.
Evidences are now available, proving that this dual-personality of possession in its fullest degree, has taken place in believers who are not disobedient to light, or yielding to any known sin; but who have become possessed through deception in their abandonment to supernatural power, which they believed to be of God; such cases having all the symptoms and manifestations described in the gospel records. The demon answering questions in his own voice, and speaking words of blasphemy against God through the person, whilst he is, in spirit, in peace and fellowship with God; thus evidencing (1) the Holy Spirit to be in the spirit, and (2) the demon, or demons, in the body, using the tongue, and throwing the body about at their will.
This same “dual-personality,” under entirely different manifestations , is easily recognizable by any who have the “discerning of spirits.” At times the environment of the subject is more favourable than others for the spirit manifestations, and then they can be detected in both beautiful and objectionable forms.
The fact of the demon possession of Christians destroys the theory that only people in “heathen countries,” or persons deep in sin, can be “possessed” by evil spirits. This unexamined, unproved theory in the minds of believers, serves the devil well as a cover for his workings to gain possession of the minds and bodies, of Christians in the present time. But the veil is being stripped off the eyes of the children of God by the hard path of experience; and the knowledge is dawning upon the awakened section of the Church that a believer baptized in the Holy Ghost, and indwelt by God in the inner shrine of the spirit can be deceived into admitting evil spirits into his being; and be possessed, in varying degrees, by demons, even whilst in the centre he is a sanctuary of the Spirit of God; God working in, and through his spirit, and the evil spirits in, or through, mind, or body, or both.
From such possessed believers there can proceed, at intervals, streams from the two sources of power; one from the Spirit of God in the centre, and the other from an evil spirit in the outer man; and with the two parallel results to those who come in contact with the two streams of power. In preaching, all the truth spoken by such a believer may be of God, and according to the Scriptures, correct and full of light–the spirit of the man right–whilst evil spirits working in mind or body, make use of the cover of the truth to insert their manifestations, so as to find acceptance with both speaker and hearers. That is to say, there may pour through a believer at one moment, a stream of truth from the Word, giving light and love and blessing to receptive ones among the listeners; and the next moment, a foreign spirit, hidden in mind or body, may send forth a streamlet through the soulish or physical part of the man, producing corresponding effects in soul or body among the listeners, who respond in their soulish or physical part to the Satanic stream, either by emotional or physical manifestations, or in nervous or muscular actions. One or the other of the “streams” of power from the Holy Spirit in his spirit, or from the deceiving spirit in mind or body, may predominate at different times, thus making the same man appear dual in character, with short intervals, at different periods of time. “See how he speaks! How he seeks to glorify God! How sane and reasonable he is! What a passion he has for souls!” may be said with truth of a worker, until some moments later some peculiar change is seen in him, and in the meeting. A strange element comes in, possibly only recognizable to some with keen spiritual vision, or else plainly obvious to all. Perhaps the speaker begins to pray quietly, and calmly, with a pure spirit, but suddenly the voice is raised, it sounds “hollow,” or has a metallic tone; the tension of the meeting increases; an overwhelming, overmastering “power” falls upon it; and no one thinks of “resisting” what appears to be such a “manifestation of God!”
The majority of those present may have no idea of the mixture which has crept in. Some fall upon the ground unable to bear the strained emotion, or effect upon the mind; and some are thrown down by some supernatural power; others cry out in ecstasy; the speaker leaves the platform, passes by a young man, who becomes conscious of a feeling of intoxication upon him, which does not leave his senses for some time. Others laugh with the exuberance of the intoxicating joy. Some have had real spiritual help and blessing through the Word of God being expounded ere this climax came, and during the pure outflow of the Holy Spirit; consequently they accept these strange workings as from God, because in the first stage of the meeting, their needs have been truly met by Him; and they cannot discern the two separate “manifestations” coming through the same channel! If they doubt the latter part of the meeting, they fear they are untrue to their inner conviction that the earlier part was “of God.” Others are conscious that the “manifestations” are contrary to their spiritual vision, and judgment; but on account of the blessing of the earlier part they stifle their doubts, and say “We cannot understand the ‘physical’ manifestations, but we must not expect to understand all that God does. We only know that the wonderful outpouring of truth and love and light at the beginning of the meeting was from God, and met our need. No one can mistake the sincerity, the pure motive of the speaker . . therefore, although I cannot understand, or say I ‘like’ the physical manifestations, yet–it must be all of God . . ”
One principle governs the working of God, and the working of Satan in seeking access to a man. In the creation of a human being with a free will, God, Who is Sovereign Lord of the Universe, and of all angelic powers, has limited Himself in that He does not violate man’s freedom in obtaining his allegiance; neither can Satan’s evil spirits enter, and obtain possession of any part of the man apart from his consent, given either consciously, or unconsciously. Just as a man “wills” a good thing, and God makes it fact, so when the man “wills” an evil thing, evil spirits make it fact. Both God and Satan need the will of man for working in man.
In the unregenerate man the will is enslaved to Satan, but in the man who has been regenerated, and delivered from the power of sin, the will is liberated to choose the things of God. In one who has thus been brought into fellowship with God, Satan can only gain ground by stratagem, or, in Bible terms, by “wiles”; for he knows he will never get from a believer deliberate consent to the entry, and control of evil spirits. The Deceiver can only hope to obtain that consent by guile: i.e., by feigning to be God Himself, or a messenger from Him. He knows, too, that such a believer is determined to obey God at all costs, and covets the knowledge of God above all else on earth. There is, therefore, no other way to deceive this one, but by counterfeiting God Himself, His presence and His workings; and under pretence of being God, to obtain the co-operation of the man’s will in accepting further deceptions; so as eventually to lead to “possession” of some part of the believer’s mind or body, and thus injure or hinder his usefulness to God, as well as that of others who will be affected by him.
Teaching material from War on the Saints by Jessie Penn-Lewis