"War on the Saints" by Jessie Penn-Lewis
CHAPTER 2. The Satanic confederacy of wicked spirits
A perspective view of the ages covered by the history in Bible records, shows that the rise and fall in spiritual power of the people of God, was marked by the recognition of the existence of the demoniacal hosts of evil. When the Church of God in the old and new dispensations was at the highest point of spiritual power, the leaders recognized, and drastically dealt with, the invisible forces of Satan; and when at the lowest they were ignored, or allowed to have free course among the people.
GOD LEGISLATING FOR DANGERS FROM EVIL SPIRITS
The reality of the existence of wicked spirits by whom Satan, their prince, carried out his work in the fallen world of men, cannot be more strongly proved, than by the fact that the statutes given by Jehovah to Moses in the fiery mount, embodied stringent measures for dealing with the attempts of evil spirit beings to find entry to the people of God. Moses was instructed by Jehovah to keep the camp of Israel free from their inroads, by the drastic penalty of death for all who had dealings with them. The very fact of Jehovah thus giving statutes in connection with such a subject, and the extreme penalty enforced for disobedience to His law, shows in itself (1) the existence of evil spirits, (2) their wickedness, (3) their ability to communicate with, and influence human beings, and (4) the necessity for uncompromising hostility to them, and their works. God would not legislate for dangers which had no real existence, nor would He command the extreme penalty of death, if the contact of the people with evil spirit beings of the unseen world, did not necessitate such drastic dealing.
The severity of the penalty obviously implies, also, that the leaders of Israel must have been given acute "discerning of spirits," so sure and so clear, that they could have no doubt in deciding cases brought before them.
Whilst Moses and Joshua lived, and enforced the strong measures decreed by God to keep His people free from the inroads of Satanic power, Israel remained in allegiance to God, at the highest point of its history; but when these leaders died, the nation sank into darkness, brought about by evil spirit powers, drawing the people into idolatry and sin; the condition of the nation in after years, rising and falling (see Judges 2: 19, 1 Kings 14: 224; compare 2 Chron. 33: 2-5, 34: 2-7) into (1) allegiance to God, or (2) idolatrous worship of idols, and all the sins resulting from the substitution of the worship of Satan--which idolatry really meant--in the place of Jehovah.
When the new dispensation opens with the advent of Christ, we find Him--the God-Man--recognising the existence of the Satanic powers of evil, and manifesting uncompromising hostility toward them, and their works--Moses in the Old Testament, Christ in the New. Moses, the man who knew God face to face. Christ, the Only Begotten Son of the Father, sent from God to the world of men. Each recognizing the existence of Satan and the evil spirit beings; each drastically dealing with them as entering and possessing men, and each waging war against them, as actively opposed to God.
Taking a perspective view, from the time of Christ on throughout the early history of the Church, up to the giving of the Apocalypse, and the death of the Apostle John, the manifested power of God wrought (in varying degrees) among His people, and the leaders recognized and dealt with the spirits of evil--a period corresponding to the Mosaic period in the old dispensation.
THE CHURCH IN THE MIDDLE AGES
Then the forces of darkness gained, and, with intermittent intervals and exceptions, the Church of Christ sank down under their power, until, in the darkest hour, which we call the Middle Ages, all the sins having their rise through the deceptive workings of the evil spirits of Satan, were as rife as in the time of Moses, when he wrote by the command of God, "There shall not be found with thee . . one that useth divination, or that practiseth augury, or an enchanter, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a consulter with a familiar spirit, or a wizard, or a necromancer" (Deut. 18: 10-11).
Now, at the close of the dispensation, and on the eve of the millennial age, the Church of Christ will again arise, and reach God's purposed power, only when the leaders recognize, as Moses did in the Old Testament Church, and Christ and His apostles did in the New, the existence of evil spirit powers of darkness, and take towards them and their works, the same uncompromising attitude of hostility, and aggressive warfare.
THE CHURCH OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
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).
If missionaries to the heathen recognized the existence of evil spirits, and that the darkness in heathen lands was caused by the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2: 2; 4: 18 ; 1 John 5: 19; 2 Cor. 4: 4), and proclaimed to the heathen the message of deliverance from the evil hosts, they know so well to be real, and malignant, foes; as well as remission of sin, and victory over sin through the atoning sacrifice of Calvary; a vast change would come over the mission field in a few brief years.
But the Holy Spirit is already at work, opening the eyes of the people of God, and many of the leaders in the Church are beginning to recognize the real existence of Satanic powers, and are seeking to know how to discern their workings, and how to deal with them in the power of God.
BELIEVERS MAY RECEIVE EQUIPMENT TO DEAL WITH SATANIC POWERS
The hour of need always brings the corresponding measure of power from God to meet that need. The Church of Christ must lay hold of the equipment of the apostolic period, for dealing with the influx of the evil spirit hosts among her members. That all believers may receive the equipment of the Holy Spirit, whereby the authority of Christ over the demon hosts of Satan is manifested, is proved not only by the instance of Philip the deacon in the Acts of the Apostles, but also by the writings of the "Fathers"note 1 in the early centuries of the Christian era, which show that the Christians of that time (1) recognized the existence of evil spirits, (2) that they influenced, deceived and possessed men, and (3) that Christ gave His followers authority over them through His Name. That this authority through the Name of Christ,note 2 wielded by the believer walking in living and vital union with Christ, is available for the servants of God at the close of the age, the Spirit of God is making known in many and divers ways. God gives an object lesson, through a native Christian like Pastor Hsi,note 3 in China, who acted upon the Word of God in simple faith, without the questioning caused by the mental difficulties of Western Christendom; or He awakens the Church in the West, as in the Revival in Wales, by an outpouring of the Spirit of God; which not only manifested the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the twentieth century, as in the days of Pentecost; but also unveiled the reality of Satanic powers in active opposition to God and His people, and the need among the Spirit-filled children of God, for equipment for dealing with them. Incidentally, too, the Revival in Wales threw light upon the Scripture records, showing that the highest points of God's manifested power among men, is invariably the occasion for concurrent manifestations of the working of Satan. It was so when the Son of God came forth from the wilderness conflict with the prince of darkness, and found the hidden demons in many lives aroused to malignant activity, so that from all parts of Palestine crowds of victims came to the Man, before whom the possessing spirits trembled in impotent rage.
The awakened part of the Church of to-day, has now no doubt of the real existence of the spirit beings of evil, and that there is an organized monarchy of supernatural powers, set up in opposition to Christ, and His kingdom, bent upon the eternal ruin of every member of the human race; and these believers know that God is calling them to seek the fullest equipment obtainable for withstanding, and resisting these enemies of Christ and His Church.
In order to understand the working of the deceiver-prince of this power of the air, and become acute to discern his tactics, and his methods of deceiving men, such believers should search the Scriptures thoroughly, to obtain a knowledge of his character, and how spirits of evil are able to possess, and use the bodies of men.
DISTINCTION BETWEEN SATAN AND EVIL SPIRITS
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).
SATAN'S CHALLENGE OF CHRIST IN THE WILDERNESS
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.
THE LORD'S ATTITUDE TO AND RECOGNITION OF SATAN
The Lord was always ready to meet the antagonist whom He had foiled in the wilderness, but who had only left Him "for a season" (Luke 4: 13). In Peter He quickly discerned Satan at work, and exposed him by one swift sentence, mentioning his name (Matt. 16: 23). In the Jews He stripped aside the mask of the hidden foe, and said, "Ye are of your father, the devil" (John 8: 44), and with keen-edged words spoke of him as the "murderer" and the "liar," prompting them to kill Him, and lying to them about Himself and His Father in heaven (John 8: 40-41).
On the lake in a storm, fast asleep, and awakened suddenly, He is alert to meet the foe, and stands with calm majesty to "rebuke" the storm, which the prince of the power of the air had roused against Him (Mark 4: 38, 39).
In brief, 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 difference between Satan's attitude to the Lord, and that of the spirits of evil, should also be noted. Satan, the prince, tempts Him, seeks to hinder Him, prompts the Pharisees to oppose Him, hides behind a disciple to divert Him, and finally takes hold of a disciple to betray Him, and then sways the multitude to put Him to death; but the spirits of evil bowed down before Him, beseeching Him to "let them alone," and not to command them to go into the abyss (Luke 8: 31).
The realm of this deceiver-prince is specifically mentioned by the Apostle Paul in his description of him as "prince of the power of the air" (Ephes. 2: 2), the aerial, or "heavenly places," being the special sphere of the activity of Satan, and his hierarchy of powers. The name Beelzebub, the prince of the demons, meaning the "god of flies," suggestively speaks of the aerial character of the powers of the air, as well as the word "darkness," describing their character, and their doings. The Lord's description of Satan's working through "fowls of the air" strikingly corresponds to these other statements, together with John's language about the "whole world lying in the evil one" (1 John 5: 19); the "air" being the place of the workings of these aerial spirits, the very atmosphere in which the whole human race moves, said to be "in the evil one."
EVIL SPIRITS IN THE GOSPEL RECORDS
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).
Were Jerusalem, Capernaum, Galilee, and all Syria, then filled with people who were "insane" and "epileptic"? Or was the truth of evil spirit possession of people a common fact? In any case it is evident from the gospel records, that the Son of God dealt with the powers of darkness as the active, primary cause of the sin, and suffering of this world, and that the aggressive part of His, and His disciples' ministry, was directed persistently against them. On the one hand He dealt with the deceiver of the world, and bound the "strong man," whilst on the other He taught the truth about God to the people, to destroy the lies which the prince of darkness had placed in their minds (2 Cor. 4: 4) about His Father and Himself.
We find, too, that the Lord clearly recognized the devil behind the opposition of the Pharisees (John 8: 44), and the "hour and power of darkness" (Luke 22: 53) behind His persecutors at Calvary. He said that His mission was to "proclaim liberty to the captives" (Luke 4: 18), and who the captor was He revealed on the eve of Calvary, when He said, "Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the prince of this world be cast out" (John 12: 31); and later on that this "prince" would once more come to Him, but would find nothing in Him as ground for his power (John 14: 30).
CHRIST ALWAYS DEALING WITH THE INVISIBLE ENEMIES
It is striking to find that the Lord did not attempt to convince the Pharisees of His claims as the Messiah, nor take the opportunity of winning the Jews, by yielding to their desires for an earthly king. His one work in this world was manifestly to conquer the Satanic prince of the world by the death of the Cross (Heb. 2: 14); to deliver his captives from his control, and to deal with the invisible hosts of the prince of darkness working at the back of mankind (See 1 John 3: 8).
The commission He gave to the twelve, and to the seventy, was exactly in line with His own. He sent them forth, and "gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to preach the gospel" (Matt. 10: 1); to "first bind the strong man" (Mark 3: 27), and then to take his goods; to deal with the invisible hosts of Satan first, and then "preach the gospel."
From all this we learn that there is one Satan, one devil, one prince of the demons, directing all the opposition to Christ and His people; but myriads of wicked spirits called "demons," lying spirits, deceiving spirits, foul spirits, unclean spirits, subjectively at work in men. Who they are, and whence their origin, none can positively say. That they are spirit beings who are evil is alone beyond all doubt; and all who are undeceived and dispossessed from Satanic deception, become witnesses, from their own experience, to their existence, and power. They know that things were done to them by spirit beings, and that those things were evil; therefore they recognize that there are spirit beings who do evil, and know that the symptoms, effects and manifestations of demoniacal possession have active, personal agencies behind them. From experience they know that they are hindered by spirit beings, and therefore know that these things are done by evil spirits who are hinderers. Therefore, reasoning from experimental facts, as well as the testimony of Scripture, they know that these evil spirits are murderers, tempters, liars, accusers, counterfeiters, enemies, haters, and wicked beyond all the power of man to know.
The names of these evil spirits describe their characters, for they are called "foul," "lying," "unclean," "evil," and "deceiving" spirits, as they are wholly given up to every manner of wickedness, and deception, and lying works.
CHARACTERISTICS OF EVIL SPIRITS
What the characteristics of these wicked spirits are, and how they are able to dwell in the bodies and minds of human beings, will be seen by a careful examination of the specific cases mentioned in the Gospels; as well as their power to interfere with, mislead, and deceive, even servants of God, from references to them in other portions of the Word of God.
Evil spirits are generally looked upon as "influences," and not as intelligent beings, but their personality and entity, and difference in character as distinct intelligences, will be seen in the Lord's direct commands to them (Mark 1: 25; 5: 8; 3: 11, 12; 9: 25); their power of speech (Mark 3: 11); their replies to Him, couched in intelligent language (Matt. 8: 29); their sensibilities of fear (Luke 8: 31); their definite expression of desire (Matt. 8: 31); their need of a dwelling place of rest (Matt. 12: 43); their intelligent power of decision (Matt. 12: 44); their power of agreement with other spirits; their degrees of wickedness (Matt. 12: 45); their power of rage (Matt. 8: 28); their strength (Mark 5: 4); their ability to possess a human being, either as one (Mark 1: 26) or in a thousand (Mark 5: 9); their use of a human being as their medium for "divining," or foretelling the future (Acts 16: 16); or as a great miracle worker by their power (Acts 8: 11).
THE RAGE AND WICKEDNESS OF EVIL SPIRITS
When evil spirits act in a rage, they act as a combination of the maddest, and most wicked persons in existence, but all their evil is done with fullest intelligence, and purpose. They know what they do, they know it is evil, terribly evil, and they will to do it. They do it with rage, and with the full swing of malice, enmity and hatred. They act with fury and bestiality, like an enraged bull, as if they had no intelligence, and yet with fun intelligence they carry on their work, showing the wickedness of their wickedness. They act from an absolutely depraved nature, with diabolical fury, and with an undeviating perseverance. They act with determination, persistency, and with skilful methods, forcing themselves upon mankind, upon the Church, and still more upon the spiritual man.
VARIED MANIFESTATION OF EVIL SPIRITS THROUGH PERSONS
Their manifestations through the persons in whom they obtain footing, are varied in character, according to the degree and kind of ground they secure for possession. In one Biblical case the only manifestation of the evil spirit's presence was dumbness (Matt. 9: 32); the spirit possibly locating in the vocal organs; in another, the person held by the spirit was "deaf and dumb" (Mark 9: 25), and the symptoms included foaming at the mouth, grinding the teeth--all connected with the head--but the hold of the spirit was of such long standing (v. 21) that he could throw his victim down, and convulse the whole body (Mark 9: 202).
In other cases we find merely an "unclean spirit" in a man in a "synagogue," probably so hidden that none would know the man was thus possessed, until the spirit cried out with fear when he saw Christ, saying, "Art Thou come to destroy us?" (Mark 1: 24); or a "spirit of infirmity" (Luke 13: 11) in a woman of whom it might be said that she simply required "healing" of some disease, or that she was always tired, and only needed "rest," as some would say in the language of the twentieth century.
Again, we find a very advanced case in the man with the "legion," showing that the evil spirits' possession reached such a climax, as to make the person appear insane; for his own personality was so mastered by the malignant spirits in possession, as to cause him to lose all sense of decency, and self-control in the presence of others (Luke 8: 27). The unity of purpose in the spirits of evil to carry out the will of their prince, is especially shown in this case, as with one accord they besought to be allowed to enter the swine, and with one accord they rushed the whole herd into the sea.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF EVIL SPIRITS
That there are different kinds of spirits is evident from all the instances given in the gospel records. Their manifestation outside the gospel cases, may be seen in the story of the girl at Philippi, possessed by a "spirit of divination," and again in Simon the Sorcerer, who was so energized by Satanic power for the working of miracles, that he was considered to be "a great power of God" by the deceived people (Acts 8: 10).
Spiritists, to-day, are deceived, in so far as they really believe they are communicating with the spirits of the dead; for it is easy for spirits of evil to impersonate any of the dead, even the most devoted and saintly Christians. They have watched them (Acts 19: 15) all their lives, and can easily counterfeit their voices, or say anything about them, and their actions when on earth.
EVIL SPIRITS FORETELLING THROUGH MEDIUMS
In like manner as a "spirit of divination," deceiving spirits can use "palmists," and "fortune tellers," to deceive; for in their work of watching human beings, they inspire the mediums to foretell, not what they know about the future--for God alone has this knowledge--but things which they themselves intend to do; and if they can get the person, to whom these things are told, to co-operate with them, by accepting, or believing, their "fore-telling," they try eventually to bring them about; e.g., the medium says such and such a thing will happen, the person believes it, and by believing opens himself, or herself, to the evil spirit, to bring that thing to pass; or else admits the spirit, or gives free opportunity to one already in possession, to bring about the thing foretold. They cannot always succeed, and this is the reason why there is so much uncertainty about the response through mediums, because many things may hinder the workings of the evil spirit beings, particularly the prayers of friends, or intercessors in the Christian Church.
These are some of the "deep things of Satan" (Rev. 2: 24) mentioned by the Lord in His message to Thyatira, manifestly referring to far more subtle workings among the Christians of that time, than all that the Apostles had seen in the cases recorded in the gospels. "The mystery of lawlessness doth already work," wrote the Apostle Paul (2 Thess. 2: 7), showing that the deep laid schemes of deception through "doctrines" (1 Tim. 4: 1), foretold as reaching their full culmination in the last days, were already at work in the Church of God. Evil spirits are at work to-day, inside as well as outside the Church, and "spiritualism," in its meaning of dealing with evil spirits, may be found inside the Church, and among the most spiritual believers, apart from its true name. Christian men think they are free from spiritism because they have never been to a seance, not knowing that evil spirits attack, and deceive every human being, and they do not confine their working to the Church, or the world, but wherever they can find conditions fulfilled to enable them to manifest their power.
THE POWER OF EVIL SPIRITS OVER HUMAN BODIES
The control of the spirits over the bodies of those they possess is seen in the gospel cases. The man with the legion was not master over his own body or mind. The spirits would "seize him," "drive him" (Luke 8: 29), compel him to cut himself with stones (Mark 5: 5), strengthen him to burst every fetter and chain (v. 4), "cry out" aloud (v. 5), and fiercely attack others (Matt. 8: 28). The boy with the dumb spirit would be dashed to the ground (Luke 9: 42), and convulsed; the spirit forced him to cry out, and tore him, so that the body became bruised and sore (v. 39). Teeth, tongue, vocal organs, ears, eyes, nerves, muscles and breath, are seen to be affected and interfered with, by evil spirits in possession.note 4 Weakness and strength are both produced by their working, and men (Mark 1: 23), women (Luke 8: 2), boys (Mark 9: 17), and girls (Mark 7: 25), are equally open to their power.
That the Jews were familiar with the fact of evil spirit possession, is clear from their words, when they saw the Lord Christ cast out the blind and dumb spirit from a man (Matt. 12: 24). Also that there were men among them who knew some method of dealing with such cases (v. 27). "By whom do your sons cast them out?" said the Lord. That such dealing with evil spirits was not effective, may be gathered from some instances given, where it appears that alleviation of the sufferings from evil spirit possession, was the most that could be done; e.g. (1) the case of king Saul, who was soothed by the harp playing of David; (2) the sons of Sceva, who were professional exorcists, yet who recognized a power in the Name of Jesus which their exorcism did not possess. In both these cases the danger of attempted alleviation and exorcism, and the power of the evil spirits, is strikingly shown in contrast to the complete command manifested by Christ and His Apostles. David playing to Saul is suddenly aware of the javelin flung by the hand of the man he was seeking to soothe; and the sons of Sceva found the evil spirits upon them, and mastering them as they used the Name of Jesus, without the Divine co-working given to all who exercise personal faith in Him. Among the heathen, also, who know the venom of these wicked spirits, propitiation and soothing of their hate by obedience to them, is the most that they know.
THE EXORCISM OF EVIL SPIRITS CONTRASTED WITH CHRIST'S POWER OF WORD
How striking to contrast all this with the calm authority of Christ, who needed no adjuration, or methods of exorcism, and no prolonged preparation of Himself ere dealing with a spirit-possessed man. "He cast out the spirits by a word," "With authority and power He commandeth . . and they obey Him," was the wondering testimony of the awe-struck people; and the testimony, too, of the seventy sent forth by Him to use the authority of His Name, as they found the spirits subject to them, even as they were to their Lord (Luke 10: 170).
"'They' obey Him," said the people. "They"--the evil spirits whom the people knew to be real identities governed by Beelzebub, their prince (Matt. 12: 24- 27). The complete mastery of the Lord over the demons, compelled the leaders to find some way of explaining His authority over them, and so by that subtle influence of Satan--with which all who have had insight into his devices are familiar--they suddenly charge the Lord with having Satanic power Himself, by saying "He casteth out demons through Beelzebub, the prince of the demons," suggesting that Christ's authority over evil spirits was derived from their chief and prince.
The reference to the kingdom of Satan, and his kingship was left uncontradicted by the Lord, who simply declared the truth in the face of Satan's lie, that He cast out demons "by the finger of God," and that Satan's kingdom would soon fall were he to act against himself, and dislodge his emissaries from their place of retreat in human bodies, where alone they can achieve their greatest power, and do the greatest harm among men. That Satan does apparently fight against himself is true,note 5 but when he does so, it is with the purpose of covering some scheme for greater advantage to his kingdom.
THE AUTHORITY OVER EVIL SPIRITS BY THE APOSTLES AFTER PENTECOST
That the Apostles after Pentecost recognized and dealt with the denizens of the invisible world, is evident from the records of the Acts of the Apostles, and other references in the Epistles. The disciples were prepared for Pentecost, and the opening of the supernatural world through the coming of the Holy Spirit, by their three years' training by the Lord. They had watched Him deal with the wicked spirits of Satan, and had themselves learned to deal with them, too, so that the power of the Holy Spirit could safely be given at Pentecost to men who already knew the workings of the foe. We see how quickly Peter recognized Satan's work in Ananias (Acts 5: 3), and how "unclean spirits" came out at his presence, as they did with his Lord (Acts 5: 16). Philip, too, found the evil hosts subservient (Acts 8: 7) to the word of his testimony, as he proclaimed Christ to the people, and Paul knew, also, the power of the Name of the Risen Lord (Acts 19: 11) in dealing with the powers of evil.
It is therefore clear in Bible history that the manifestation of the power of God invariably meant aggressive dealing with the Satanic hosts; that the manifestation of the power of God at Pentecost, and through the Apostles, meant again an aggressive attitude to the powers of darkness; and, ergo, that the growth and maturity of the Church of Christ at the end of the dispensation, will mean the same recognition, and the same attitude toward the Satanic hosts of the prince of the power of the air; with the same co-witness of the Holy Spirit to the authority of the Name of Jesus, as in the early Church. In brief, that the Church of Christ will reach its high water mark, when it is able to recognize and deal with demon-possession; when it knows how to "bind the strong man" by prayer; "command" the spirits of evil in the Name of Christ, and deliver men and women from their power.
THE CHURCH IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY MUST RECOGNIZE THE POWERS OF DARKNESS
For this the Christian Church must recognize that the existence of deceiving, lying spirits, is as real in the twentieth century as in the time of Christ, and their attitude to the human race unchanged. That their one ceaseless aim is to deceive every human being. That they are given up to wickedness all day long, and night long, and that they are ceaselessly, and actively pouring a stream of wickedness into the world, and are satisfied only when they succeed in their wicked plans to deceive, and ruin men.
Yet the servants of God have been concerned only to destroy their works; and to deal with sin; not recognizing the need of using the power given by Christ, to resist by faith and prayer, and prayer and faith, this ever- flowing flood of Satanic power pouring in among men; so that men and women, young and old, and even Christian and non-Christian, become deceived and possessed through their guile, and because of ignorance about them, and their wiles.
These supernatural forces of Satan are the true hindrance to revival. The power of God which broke forth in Wales, with all the marks of the days of Pentecost, was checked and hindered from going on to its fullest purpose,note 6 by the same influx of evil spirits as met the Lord Christ on earth, and the Apostles of the early Church; with the difference that the inroad of the powers of darkness found the Christians of the twentieth century, with few exceptions, unable to recognize, and deal with them. Evil spirit possession has followed, and checked every similar revival throughout the centuries since Pentecost,note 6 and these things must now be understood, and dealt with, if the Church is to advance to maturity. Understood, not only in the degree of possession recorded in the gospels, but in the special forms of manifestations suited to the close of the dispensation, under the guise of the Holy Spirit, yet having some of the very characteristic marks in bodily symptoms, seen in the gospel records, when all who saw the manifestation knew that it was the work of the spirits of Satan.