"War on the Saints" by Jessie Penn-Lewis
CHAPTER 4. Passivity the chief basis of possession
That believers--true, fully surrendered children of God--can be deceived, and then up to the degree of deception, "possessed" by deceiving spirits, we have seen in the preceding chapters. The primary cause must now be made clear, and the conditions for deception and possession resulting therefrom; apart from the possession which is the outcome of yielding to sins of the flesh, or any sin which gives evil spirits a hold in the fallen nature.
It is first important to define the meaning of the word "possession": for it is generally thought to cover only cases of possession in the acute, and fully developed degree of the cases given in the gospel records. But even then it is overlooked that many degrees of possession are referred to in the gospels, such as the woman with the "spirit of infirmity"; the man who was apparently only deaf and dumb; the little girl with the demon which terribly vexed her; the boy who gnashed with his teeth, and was sometimes thrown on the fire, and the man with the legion, so wholly mastered by the powers of evil that he dwelt outside the abodes of men.
THE MEANING OF "POSSESSION" DEFINED
Such cases as these are known to-day, amongst even true believers in Europe, as well as in heathen China, but "possession" is much more wide-spread than is supposed, if the word "possession" is taken to mean just what it is, i.e., a hold of evil spirits on a man in any shade of degree; for an evil spirit "possesses" whatever spot he holds, even though it be in an infinitesimal degree, and from that one spot, as a spider finds his base ere he weaves his web, the intruder works to obtain further hold of the whole being.
Christians are as open to possession by evil spirits as other men, and become possessed because they have, in most cases, unwittingly fulfilled the conditions upon which evil spirits work, and, apart from the cause of willful sin, given ground to deceiving spirits, through (1) accepting their counterfeits of the Divine workings, and (2) cultivating passivity, and non-use of the faculties; and this through misconception of the spiritual laws which govern Christian life.
It is this matter of ground given which is the crucial point of all. All believers acknowledge known sin to be ground given to the enemy, and even unknown sin in the life, but they do not realize that every thought suggested to the mind by wicked spirits, and accepted, is ground given to them; and every faculty unused invites their attempted use of it.
The primary cause of deception and possession in surrendered believers may be condensed into one word, passivity; that is, a cessation of the active exercise of the will in control over spirit, soul and body, or either, as may be the case. It is, practically, a counterfeit of "surrender to God." The believer who "surrenders" his "members"--or faculties--to God, and ceases to use them himself, thereby falls into "passivity" which enables evil spirits to deceive, and possess any part of his being which has become passive.
The deception over passive surrender may be exampled thus: a believer surrenders his "arm" to God. He permits it to hang passive, waiting for "God to use it." He is asked, "why do you not use your arm?" and he replies "I have surrendered it to God. I must not use it now; God must use it." But will God lift the arm for the man? Nay, the man himself must lift it,note 1 and use it, seeking to understand intelligently God's mind in doing so.
THE WORD "PASSIVITY" DESCRIBES OPPOSITE CONDITION TO ACTIVITY
The word "passivity" simply describes the opposite condition to activity; and in the experience of the believer it means, briefly, (1) loss of self-control--in the sense of the person himself controlling each, or all of the departments of his personal being; and (2) loss of freewill--in the sense of the person himself exercising his will as the guiding principle of personal control, in harmony with the will of God.
All the danger of "passivity" in the surrendered believer, lies in the advantage taken of the passive condition by the powers of darkness. Apart from these evil forces, and their workings through the passive person, "passivity" is merely inactivity, or idleness. In normal inactivity, that is, when the evil spirits have not taken hold, the inactive person is always holding himself ready for activity; whereas in "passivity" which has given place to the powers of darkness, the passive person is unable to act by his own volition.
The chief condition, therefore, for the working of evil spirits in a human being, apart from sin, is passivity, in exact opposition to the condition which God requires from His children for His working in them. Granted the surrender of the will to God, with active choice to do His will as it may be revealed to him, God requires co-operation with His Spirit, and the full use of every faculty of the whole man. In brief, the powers of darkness aim at obtaining a passive slave, or captive to their will; whilst God desires a regenerated man, intelligently and actively willing, and choosing, and doing His will in liberation of spirit, soul and body from slavery.
The powers of darkness would make a man a machine, a tool, an automaton; the God of holiness and love desires to make him a free, intelligent sovereign in his own sphere--a thinking, rational, renewed creation created after His own image (Eph. 4: 24). Therefore God never says to any faculty of man, "Be thou idle."
God does not need, nor demand non-activity in the believer, for His working in, and through him; but evil spirits demand the utmost non-activity and passivity.
- God asks for intelligent action (Rom. 12: 1, "Your reasonable service,") in co-operation with Him.
- Satan demands passivity as a condition for his compulsory action, and in order to compulsorily subject men to his will and purpose.
- God requires the cessation of the evil actions of believers, primarily because they are sinful, and secondly because they hinder co-operation with His Spirit.
Passivity must not be confused with quietness, or the meek and quiet spirit," which, in the sight of God, is of great price. Quietness of spirit, of heart, of mind, of manner, voice and expression, may be co-existent with the most effective activity in the will of God (1 Thess. 4: 11, Gr. "Ambitious to be quiet.").
THE CLASS OF BELIEVERS WHO ARE OPEN TO PASSIVITY
The persons open to "passivity," of whom the evil spirits take advantage as ground for their activity, are those who become fully surrendered to God, and are brought into direct contact with the supernatural world by receiving the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. There are some who use the word "surrender," and think they are surrendered fully to carry out the will of God, but are only so in sentiment and purpose, for actually they walk by the reason and judgment of the natural man; although they submit all their plans to God, and because of this submittal sincerely believe they are carrying out His will. But those who are really "surrendered," give themselves up to implicitly obey, and carry out at all costs, what is revealed to them supernaturally as from God, and not what they themselves plan and reason out to be the will of God.
Believers who surrender their wills, and all they have and are to God, yet who WALK BY THE USE OF THEIR NATURAL MINDS, are not the ones who are open to the "passivity" which gives ground to evil spirits, although they may, and do, give ground to them in other ways. These we may call Class No. 1, as shown in the following table.
THREE CLASSES AMONG BELIEVERS
|I. Unsurrendered.||II. Surrendered, Deceived, Possessed.||III.
Surrendered but Undeceived,
Dispossessed and Victorious.
|These use the word "surrender," but do not really know it, and act it out in practice.||These seem more "foolish" than those in Class 1, but in reality are more advanced.||The mind is liberated, and all the faculties are operating.|
|Believers in this stage are more reasonable than those in No. 2, because their faculties have not been yielded into passivity.||In order to understand the actions of No. 2, it is needful to read them from their inner standpoint, for to them all that they do seems right.||These are open to light and all that is Divine, but they seek watchfully to close themselves to all that is Satanic.|
|These believers call those in the next class "cranks," "faddists," ..extremists," etc.|| These are open to both Divine and Satanic power;
Are liable to be "puffed up."
|No. 3 can read Nos. 1 and 2 intelligently.|
Class No. 1 are "surrendered" in will, but not surrendered in fact, in the sense of being ready to carry out "obedience to the Holy Ghost" at all costs. They consequently know little of conflict, and nothing of the devil, excepting as a tempter or accuser. They do not understand those who speak of the "onslaughts of Satan," for, they say, they are not "attacked" in this way. But the devil does not always attack when he can. He reserves his attack until it suits him. If the devil does not attack a man, it does not prove that he could not. Another class among believers--Class No. 2--are those who are surrendered in such a measure of abandonment that they are ready to obey the Spirit of God at all costs, with the result that they become open to a passivity which gives ground for the deception and possession of evil spirits.
These surrendered believers (Class No. 2) fall into passivity after the Baptism of the Holy Ghost,
- because of their determination to carry out their "surrender" at all costs;
- their relationship with the spiritual world, which opens to them supernatural communications, which they believe to be all of God;
- their "surrender" leading them to submit, subdue and make all things subservient to this supernatural plane.
The origin of the evil passivity which gives the evil spirits opportunity to deceive, and then possess, is generally a wrong interpretation of Scripture, or wrong thoughts or beliefs about Divine things. Some of these interpretations of Scripture, or wrong
The passivity may affect the whole man, in spirit, soul and body, when it has become very deep, and is of many years' standing. The progress is generally very gradual, and insidious in growth, and consequently the release from it is gradual and slow.
PASSIVITY OF THE WILL
There is a passivity of the will; the "will" being the helm, so to speak, of the ship. This originates from a wrong conception of what full surrender to God means. Thinking that a "surrendered will" to God means no use of the will at all, the believer ceases to (1) choose, (2) determine, and (3) act of his own volition. The serious effect of this, he is not allowed by the powers of darkness to discover, for at first the consequences are trivial, and scarcely noticeable. In fact, at first it appears to be most glorifying to God. The "strong-willed" person suddenly becomes passively yielding. He thinks that God is "will"-ing for him in circumstances, and through people, and so he becomes passively helpless in action. After a time no "choice" can be got from him in matters of daily life; no "decision," or initiative in matters demanding action; he is afraid to express a wish, much less a decision. Others must choose, act, lead, decide, while this one drifts as a cork upon the waters. Later on the powers of darkness begin to make capital out of this "surrendered" believer, and to work around him evil of various kinds, which entangle him through his passivity of will. He has now no power of will to protest, or resist. Obvious wrong in his environment, which this believer alone has a right to deal with, flourishes, and grows strong and blatant. The powers of darkness have slowly gained, both personally and in circumstances, upon the ground of passivity of the will, which at first was merely passive submission to environment, under the idea that God was "will"-ing for him in all things around him.
The text that such believers misinterpret is Phil. 2: 13, "It is God which worketh in you, both to will, and to work, for His good pleasure." The "passive" person reads it, ". . . God which worketh in me the willing, and the doing," i.e., "willeth instead of me."note 2 The first means God working in the soul up to the point of the action of the will, and the second assumes His actually "will"-ing instead of, and "working" instead of the believer. This wrong interpretation gives ground for not using the will, because of the conclusion "God wills instead of me"; thus bringing about passivity of will.
GOD DOES NOT WILL INSTEAD OF MAN
The truth to be emphasized is that God never "wills" instead of man, and whatever a man does, he is himself responsible for his actions.
The believer whose "will" has become passive, finds, after a time, the greatest difficulty in making decisions of any kind, and he looks outside, and all around him for something to help him to decide the smallest matters. When he has become conscious of his passive condition, he has a painful sense of being unable to meet some of the situations of ordinary life. If spoken to, he knows he cannot will to listen till a sentence is completed; if asked to judge a matter, he knows he cannot do it; if he is required to "remember" or use his imagination, he knows he is unable to, and becomes terrified at any proposed course of action where these demands may come upon him. The tactics of the enemy now may be to drive him into situations where these demands may be made, and thus torture or embarrass him before others.
Little does the believer know that in this condition be may, unknowingly, rely upon the assistance of evil spirits, who have brought about the passivity for this very object. The faculty unused lies dormant and dead in their grip, but if used it is an occasion for them to manifest themselves through it. They are too ready to "will" instead of the man, and they will put within his reach many "supernatural" props to help him in "decision," especially in the way of "texts" used apart from their context, and supernaturally given, which the believer, seeking so longingly to do the will of God, seizes upon, and firmly grasps as a drowning man a rope, blinded, by the apparently given Divine help, to the principle that Godnote 3 only works through the active volition of a man, and not for him in matters requiring his action.
PASSIVITY OF THE MIND
Passivity of the mind is engendered by a wrong conception of the place of the mind in the life of surrender to God, and obedience to Him in the Holy Spirit. Christ's call of fishermen is used as an excuse for passivity of brain, for some believers say, God has no need for the use of the brain, and can do without it! But the choice of Paul who had the greatest intellect of his age, shows that when God sought for a man through whom He could lay the foundations of the Church, He chose one with a mind capable of vast and intelligent thinking. The greater the brain power, the greater the use God can make of it, provided it is submissive to truth. The cause of passivity of mind, sometimes lies in the thought that the working of the brain is a hindrance to the development of the Divine life in the believer. But the truth is, that (1) the non-working of the brain hinders, (2) the evil working of the brain hinders, (3) but the normal and pure working of the brain is essential, and helpful for co-operation with God. This is dealt with fully in Chapter 6, where the various tactics of the powers of darkness are shown in their efforts to get the mind into a condition of passivity, and hence incapable of action to discern their wiles. The effects of passivity of the mind may be seen in inactivity, when there should be action; or else over activity beyond control, as if a suddenly released instrument broke forth into ungovernable action; hesitation, or rashness; indecision (as also from a passive will); unwatchfulness; lack of concentration; lack of judgment; bad memory.
Passivity does not change the nature of a faculty, but it hinders its normal operation. In the case of passivity hindering the memory, the person will be found looking outside himself for every possible "aid to memory," until he becomes a veritable slave to note book, and helps, which fail at a critical moment. With this is also passivity of the imagination, which places the imagination outside personal control, and at the mercy of evil spirits who flash to it what they please. One danger is to take these visions, and call them "imaginations." The passive state can be produced without crystal gazing,note 4 i.e., if a person gazes at any object for a prolonged period the natural vision is dulled, and the deceiving spirits can then present anything to the mind.
In pure inactivity of the mind, the mind can be used at the will of the person, but in evil passivity of the mind, the person is helpless, and he "can't think!" He feels as if his mind were bound, and held by an iron band, or by a weight or pressure on his head.
PASSIVITY OF JUDGMENT AND REASON
Passivity of judgment and reason, which means that the man in this condition has closed the mind to all arguments, and statements upon which he has come to settled conclusions, and all effort to give him further truth and light is regarded as interference, and the person attempting it as ignorant, or intrusive. The believer in this stage of passivity lapses into a state of evil positiveness, and infallibility; from which nothing can release the "judgment," but the rude shock of seeing that he has been deceived, and possessed by evil spirits. To undermine the deception of a believer in this condition, almost means the re-laying of the very foundations of his spiritual life. Hence the few--called "fanatics" and "cranks" by the world--who have been saved out of this degree of the deception of the enemy.
PASSIVITY OF THE CONSCIENCE
As for the passivity of the reasoning powers, when such believers have taken words spoken to them supernaturally, as God's expressed will, they become law to them, so that they cannot be induced to reason over them. If they receive a "commandment" (supernaturally) about anything, they will not examine it, or reason or think upon that point, and they steadfastly determine to close themselves absolutely to any further light in this particular direction. This brings about, what may be described as, passivity of the conscience . The conscience becomes passive through non-use, when believers think that they are being guided by a higher law of being told to do this, or that, directly from God; that is, by direct guidance through voices, and texts.note 5
When believers sink into passivity of conscience, there is a manifestation of moral degradation in some, and in others stagnation, or retrogression in life or service. Instead of using their mind, or conscience in deciding what is good and evil, and right and wrong, they walk, as they believe, according to the "voice of God," which they make the deciding factor in all their decisions. When this takes place, they will not listen to their reason, or conscience, or the words of others, and having come to decision through the supposed direction of God, their minds become as a closed and sealed book on the matter in question.
Ceasing to use their true reasoning powers, they become open to all kinds of suggestions from evil spirits, and false "reasonings"; for example, in regard to the coming of Christ, some have falsely reasoned that because Christ is coming soon, they do not need to carry on their usual work, overlooking the words of the Lord on this very matter: "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath set over his household, to give them their food in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing."note 6
Because of what he will gain through it, therefore, the devil will do anything to engender passivity in any form whatsoever, in spirit, or mind or body.
PASSIVITY OF THE SPIRIT
Passivity of the spirit is closely associated with passivity of mind, because there is a close relationship between mind and spirit; a wrong thought generally means a wrong spirit, and a wrong spirit a wrong thought.
The human "spirit" is often spoken of in the Scriptures as having activities, and is described as being in various conditions. It can be moved, or be inactive, it can be "loosed," bound, depressed, faint, free, and moved from three sources: God, the devil, or the man himself. It can be pure, or "filthy" (2 Cor. 7: 1, A.V.), or in a mixed condition, in the sense of being pure up to a degree, with other degrees of impurity to be dealt with.
By the cleansing power of the Blood of Christ (1 John 1: 9), and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the spirit is brought into union with Christ (1 Cor. 6: 17), and should actively dominate the man in full co-operation with the Holy Spirit. But passivity of spirit can be brought about by so many causes, that believers may be scarcely conscious of having any "spirit" at all, or else, through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which releases the human spirit into freedom and buoyancy, the man may become acutely conscious of the spirit life for a season, and afterwards sink into passivity of spirit, unknowingly. This, then, means absolute powerlessness in the warfare with the powers of darkness; for full liberty, and usage of the spirit in co-working with the indwelling Holy Spirit, is a supreme essential for personal victory, and wielding the authority of Christ over the powers of evil. (See example of Paul in Acts 13: 9, 10).
CAUSES OF PASSIVITY OF SPIRIT
Passivity of spirit generally follows the Baptism of the Spirit, by the will and the mind becoming passive through lack of use; and the believer then wonders why he has lost the buoyant light and liberty of his joyous experience. It may come about through:
(1) Ignorance of the laws of the spirit,note 7 and how to keep in the freedom of the spirit.
(2) Wrong mental conclusions, or wrong thoughts.note 8 Mixing up feelings, such as physical, soulish and spiritual, not knowing which is which, i.e., (1) putting the spiritual down to soulish and physical, or (2) attributing to the spiritual that which is natural and physical.
(3) A drawing upon of the soulish life instead of the spirit, through lack of knowledge of the difference between them; also by quenching the spirit through ignoring the spiritual sense;note 9 for the mind should be able to read the sense of the spirit, as clearly as it does the sense of seeing, hearing, smelling, and all the senses of the body. There is a knowledge of the mind, and a knowledge in the spirit, hence a "sense" of the spirit,note 9 which we should learn to understand. It should be read, used, cultivated, and when there is a weight on the spirit of the believer, he should be able to recognize it, and know how to get rid of it.
(4) Drainage and exhaustion of the body or mind, by constant activity of the mind in excessive use. In short, the mind and body must be released from strain, before the spirit can be fully operative. (Compare experience of Elijah in 1 Kings 19: 4, 5, 8, 9).
Worry, or trouble over the past, or future, checks the free action of the spirit, by making the outer man and outer affairs dominant, instead of the inner man being at liberty for the will of God in the moment.
The result of all these causes is that the spirit becomes locked up,note 10 so to speak, so that it cannot act, or fight against the powers of darkness, either in their indirect attacks through environment, or in aggressive warfare against them. The rapidity with which a believer can sink into passivity, at any moment when the resisting attitude ceases, may be likened to the sinking of a stone in water.
PASSIVITY OF THE BODY
When passivity of body takes place, it practically means a cessation of consciousness, through the passivity affecting sight, hearing, smell, taste, feeling, etc. Assuming the person to be in normal health, he should be able to focus his eyes on any object he chooses, either for vision or work, and he should have the same control over all the other senses, as avenues of knowledge to his mind and spirit. But with all, or some of these senses in a passive condition, the consciousness becomes dulled or deadened. The believer is "unconscious,"note 11 of what he should be keenly alive to, and automatic in his actions. "Unconscious" habits, repulsive or peculiar, are manifested. It is easier for persons in this condition to see these things in others, than to know what is going on in themselves; whilst they may be hyper-conscious of external things touching their own personality.
When the passive condition brought about by evil spirits reaches its climax, passivity of other parts of the body may result, such as stiff fingers, lost elasticity of the frame in walking, lethargy, heaviness, stooping of the back and spine.note 12 The handshake is flabby, and passive; the eyes will not look straight into the eyes of others, but move from side to side; all indicating passivity, brought about by deepening interference of the powers of darkness with the whole man, resulting from the first passive condition of the will and mind, in which the man gave up (1) his self-control, and (2) use of his will.
PASSIVITY OF THE WHOLE MAN
At this stage every department of the whole being is affected. The man acts without using, or using fully, the mind, will, imagination, reason; that is, without thinking (volitionally), deciding, imagining, reasoning. The affections seem dormant, as well as all the faculties of mind and body. In some cases the bodily needs are also dormant, or else the man suppresses them, and deprives himself of food, sleep and bodily comfort at the dictation of the spirits in control; thus carrying out a "severity to the body" which is not of any real value against the indulgence of the flesh (Col. 2: 23). The animal part of the man may also be awakened, and whilst stoical in sensibilities and feeling, be gluttonous in the demand for supply of bodily needs; that is, the machinery of the bodily frame goes on working independently of the control of mind or will, for the body now dominates spirit and soul. Men may live in the (1) human spirit, (2) in the soul, or in the (3) body; for example, the glutton lives in, or after, the body; the student in mind, or soul, the spiritual man "in the spirit." "Spiritists"note 13 are not really "spiritual," or true men of spirit, for they live in the sense realm generally, and only have to do with "spirit" through their dealing with the evil spiritual forces, through understanding the laws for their workings, and fulfilling them.
THE SPIRIT SENSE LOST IN SENSATIONS OF THE BODY
When the believer is in any degree possessed by evil spirits, he is liable to live in the body, give way to the sensuous, and to be dominated by the physical realm. This can become the case through "spiritual" experiences felt in the physical frame, but which are not really spiritual, because not from the spirit. A sense of "fire" in the body, "glow," "thrills," and all exquisite bodily sensations from apparently "spiritual" causes, really feed the senses; and, unconsciously to themselves, whilst they have these experiences, believers live in the sense-realm, practically walking "after the flesh," though they call themselves "spiritual." For this reason "I keep under my body" (1 Cor. 9: 27), is practically impossible in demon-possession, even in its most refined, or weakest degree; because the sense-life is aroused in all kinds of ways, and the sensations of the body are forced upon the consciousness of the man. The spirit sense is practically lost in the acute realization of all the sensations in the bodily consciousness. A man, for example, in normal health, is oblivious of the physical action of breathing going on in his physical frame. In like manner, a believer under the domination of the spirit, ceases to register his bodily sensations, but the opposite is the case when evil spirits have gained a footing, and awakened the sense-life to abnormal action, either by beautiful experiences, or the contrary.note 14
The cultivation of this condition of passivity may be ignorantly, and sedulously, carried out for years by the surrendered believer, so that it deepens its hold upon him to an incredible extent; until, when it reaches its consummation, the man may become so under the bondage of it as to awaken to his state; and then he thinks that "natural causes" alone explain his condition, or else that in some unaccountable way, his acute sensitiveness to God, and Divine things, has become dulled beyond power of restoration or renewal.note 15 The physical feelings become deadened, or atrophied, and the affections seem petrified, and stoical. This is the time when deceiving spirits suggest that he has grieved God beyond repair, and a man goes through agonies of seeking the Presence he thinks he has grieved away.
The cultivation of passivity may come about from reliance upon the many helps, contrived, (unknowingly), by the person to counteract, or obviate the inconvenience of the passive state, such as the provision of, and dependence upon, outward helps to the eye for assisting the passive memory; utterance in speech to assist the "thinking" of the passive mind; and, what may be termed "crutches" of all kinds, known only to the individual; elaborately constructed, and multiplied to meet his different needs, but all keeping him from recognizing his true condition, even if he has the knowledge for doing so.
MANIFESTATIONS OF INFLUENCE OF EVIL SPIRITS CALLED NATURAL IDIOSYNCRASIES
But this truth about the working of evil spirits among believers, and the causes and symptoms of their power upon mind or body, has been so veiled in ignorance, that multitudes of children of God are held in bondage to their power without knowing it. The manifestations are generally taken as natural idiosyncrasies, or infirmities. The Lord's work is put on one side, or even never taken up, because the believer is "over strained," or else "without gifts" for doing it. He is "nervous," "timid," has no "gift of speech, " no "power of thought," where the service of God is concerned; but in the social sphere these "deficiencies" are forgotten, and the "timid" ones shine out at their best. It does not occur to them to ask why it is that only in God's service are they thus incapable? But it is only in respect to such a service that the hidden workings of Satan interfere.
THE SHOCK WHEN THE BELIEVER APPREHENDS THE TRUTH
The shock is great when the believer first apprehends the truth of deception and possession as possible in himself, but as the ultimate issue is realized, the joy of the one who sets himself to understand, and fight through to full deliverance, is more than words can tell. Light pours in upon the unsolved problems of years; both in the personal experience, and in the perplexities of environment; as well as on conditions in the Church and in the world.
As he seeks for light from God, the subtle inroads of the deceiving spirits into his life, slowly become clear to the open minded believer; and their many devices to deceive him stand revealed, as the searchlight of truth goes far back into the past, revealing the cause of unaccountable difficulties in experience and life, and many mysterious happenings which had been accepted as "the inscrutable will of God."
Passivity! How many have fallen into it, little knowing their state! Through the passivity of their faculties much time is lost in dependence upon the help of outward circumstances, and environment. In the lives of so many there is much "doing," with so little accomplished, many beginnings, and few endings. How familiar we are with the words "Yes, I can do that," and the impulse is moved, but by the time the need for action has come, the passive man has lost his momentary interest. This is the key to much of the lamented "apathy," and the dulled sympathy of Christians to really spiritual things, whilst they are keenly alive to the social, or worldly elements around them. The worldling can be stirred in acutest feeling for the sufferings of others, but many of the children of God have, unknowingly, opened themselves to a supernatural power which has dulled them in thought, and mind and sympathy. Ever craving for comfort and happiness and peace in spiritual things, they have sung themselves into a "passivity"--i.e., a passive state of "rest," "peace" and "joy"--which has given opportunity to the powers of darkness to lock them up in the prison of themselves, and thus make them almost incapable of acutely understanding the needs of a suffering world.
PASSIVITY OCCASIONED BY WRONG INTERPRETATIONS OF THE TRUTH OF "DEATH"
This condition of passivity may come about by wrong interpretations of truth, even the truth of "death with Christ" as set forth in Romans 6 and Galatians2: 20, when it is carried beyond the true balance of the Word of God. God calls upon true believers to "reckon" themselves "dead indeed unto sin," and also to the evil self-life, even in a religious or "holiness" form; that is, the life which came from the first Adam, the old creation; but this does not mean a death to the human personality, for Paul said "Yet I live," although "Christ liveth in me!"note 16 There is a retention of the personal being, the ego, the will, the personality, which is to be dominated by the Spirit of God, as He energizes the man's individuality, held by him in "self-control" (Gal. 5: 23, m.).
In the light of the misconception of the truth of "death with Christ" as conceived to mean passivity, and suppression of the actions of the personality of the man, it is now easy to see why the apprehension of the truths connected with Romans 6: 6, and Galatians 2: 20, have been the prelude, in some cases, to supernatural manifestations of the powers of darkness. The believer through the misconception of these truths, actually fulfilling the primary conditions for the working of evil spirits; the very conditions understood by spiritist mediums to be necessary for obtaining the manifestations they desire. In such cases it may be said that truth is the devil's fulcrum for launching his lies.
So far as Romans 6 is understood to be a momentary declaration of an attitude to sin; and Galatians 2: 20 another declaration of an attitude to God; and 2 Cor. 4: 10- 12 and Phil. 3: 10 the out-working of the Spirit of God in bringing the believer into actual conformity to the death of Christ as he maintains his declared attitude; the powers of darkness are defeated; for the momentary declared attitude demands active volition, and active co-operation with the Risen Lord, and active acceptance of the path of the Cross. But when these truths are interpreted to mean (1) a loss of personality; (2) an absence of volition and self-control, and (3) the passive letting go of the "I myself" into a condition of machine-like, mechanical, automatic "obedience," with "deadness" and heaviness which the believer thinks is "mortification" or "the working of death" in him;note 17 it makes the truth of death with Christ a fulfilling of conditions for evil spirits to work, and an absence of conditions upon which God can alone work; so that "supernatural manifestations" taking place on the basis of passivity, can have no other source than the lying spirits, however beautiful and God-like they may be.
This counterfeit of spiritual "death" may take place in regard to spirit, soul or body. How the truth of death with Christ can be misconstrued, and made the occasion for evil spirits to obtain the ground of passivity, may be exampled in some of the following ways:--
MISCONCEPTION OF SELF-EFFACEMENT
1. Passivity caused by misconception of self-effacement: Under the conception of surrender of self to God, as meaning self-effacement, self-renunciation, and, practically, self-annihilation, the believer aimed at unconsciousness of (1) personality, (2) personal needs, (3) personal states, feelings, desires, external appearance, circumstances, discomforts, opinions of others, etc., so as to be "conscious" of God only moving, working, acting, through him. To this end he gave over his "self-consciousness" to "death," and prayed that he might have no consciousness of anything in the world, but the presence of God; then to carry out this absolute surrender of self to death, and this entire self-effacement, he consistently, in practice, "yields to death" every trace of the movement of "self" he becomes aware of, and sets his will steadily to renounce all consciousness of personal wishes, desires, tastes, needs, feelings, etc. All this appearing to be so "self-sacrificing" and "spiritual," but which results in an entire suppression of personality, and the giving of ground to evil spirits in a passivity of the whole being. This permits the powers of darkness to work, and bring about an "unconsciousness" which becomes in time a deadness and dullness of the sensibilities, and an inability to feel; not only for himself, but for others, so as not to know when they suffer, and when he himself causes suffering.
MISCONCEPTION OF TRUTH PART OF "TEACHINGS" OF DECEIVING SPIRITS
As this conception of self-effacement, and loss of self-consciousness is contrary to the believer's full use of the faculties, which the Spirit of God requires for co-operation with Him, evil spirits gain ground on the basis of this deception about "death." The misconception of what death means in practice, was really part of their "teachings," subtly suggested, and received by the man who was ignorant of the possibility of deception, over, what looked like, devoted, whole-hearted surrender to God. The "teachings of demons" can, therefore, be based on truth, under the guise of misconception, or misinterpretation of the truth, whilst the believer is honestly holding the truth itself.
The effect of the deception on the believer is, in due time, an "unconsciousness" produced by evil spirits, which is hard to break. In his state of unconsciousness, he has no ability to discern, recognize, feel or know things around him, or in himself. He is "unconscious"note 18 of his actions, ways and manners, together with a hyper-self-consciousness which he is unconscious of, and which makes him easily hurt, but "unconscious" of his own hurting of others. He has practically become stoical, and unable to see the effect of his actions in putting others into suffering. He acts "unconsciously," without volitional thinking, reasoning, imagining, deciding, what be says and does. His actions are consequently mechanical and automatic. He is "unconscious" of sometimes being a channel for the transmission of words, thoughts, feelings which pass through him apart from the action of his will and his knowledge of the source.
"Unconsciousness" as the effect of demon-possession, becomes a formidable stumbling block in the way of deliverance, for the evil spirits may hold, hinder, attack, divert, suggest, impress, draw, or do any other equally offensive, and injurious thing, in or through the person, whilst he is "unconscious" of their workings.
PASSIVTY CAUSED BY WRONG ACCEPTANCE OF SUFFERING
2. Passivity caused by wrong acceptance of suffering. The believer consents to accept "suffering with Christ" in the "way of the Cross," and in fulfilment of this surrender to suffering, from this time on passively yields to suffering in whatever form it may come, believing that "suffering with Christ" means (a) reward, and (b) fruitfulness. He does not know that evil spirits can give counterfeit "suffering," and that he may accept suffering from them, believing it to be from the hand of God, and, by thus doing, give ground to them for possession. Possession interprets both sin in the life which cannot be got rid of, and suffering in the life which cannot be explained. By understanding the truth of possession, the first can be got rid of, and the latter explained. Suffering is a great weapon to control and compel a person into a certain course, and is a great weapon for evil spirits to control men, as by suffering they can drive a man to do what he would not do, apart from its compulsion.
Not knowing these things the believer may entirely misinterpret the suffering he goes through. Believers are often deceived over what they think to be "vicarious" suffering in themselves for others, or for the Church. They look upon themselves as martyrs, when they are really victims, not knowing that "suffering" is one of the chief symptoms of possession. By putting a man into suffering, the evil spirits ease themselves of their enmity, and hatred to man.
MARKS OF SUFFERING CAUSED BY EVIL SPIRITS
Suffering directly caused by evil spirits may be discriminated from the true fellowship of Christ's sufferings, by a complete absence of result, either in fruit, victory, or ripening in Spiritual growth. If carefully observed, it will be seen to be entirely purposeless. On the other hand, God does nothing without a definite object. He does not delight in causing suffering for the sake of suffering, but the devil does. Suffering caused by evil spirits is acute and fiendish in its character, and there is no inward witness of the Spirit which tells the suffering believer that it is from the hand of God. To a discriminating eye it can be as clearly diagnosed when from an evil spirit, as any physical pain can be discriminated from a mental one, by a skillful physician.
The suffering caused by evil spirits can be (1) spiritual, by causing acute suffering in the spirit, injecting "feelings" to the spirit, repugnant or poignant; (2) soulish, by acute darkness, confusion, chaos, horror in the mind; anguished, knife-like pain in the heart, or other innermost vital parts of the being; or (3) physical, in any part of the body.
The ground given for the evil spirits to produce counterfeit suffering in such an acute degree as this, may be traced back to the time when the believer, in his absolute surrender to God for the "way of the Cross," deliberately willed to accept suffering from Him. Then afterwards, in fulfilment of this surrender, he gave ground to the enemy, by accepting some specific suffering as from God, which really came from the spirits of evil , thus opening the door to them, by (1) the reception of their lie, (2) the admittance of their actual power manifested in the suffering--continuing still further to give more ground by believing their interpretation of the suffering--and (3) as "the will of God"; until the whole life became one prolonged "yielding to suffering," which seemed unreasonable, unaccountable in its origin, and purposeless in its results. God's character is thus often maligned to His children, and the deceiving spirits do their utmost to arouse rebellion against Him for what they themselves are doing.
PASSIVITY THROUGH WRONG IDEAS OF HUMILITY
3. Passivity caused by wrong ideas of humility and self-abasement. The believer consents in accepting "death," to let it be carried out in a "nothingness" and a "self-effacement" which gives him no place for proper and true self-estimation whatsoever (compare 2 Cor. 10: 12-18). If the believer accepts the self-depreciation, suggested to him and created by evil spirits, it brings an atmosphere of hopelessness and weakness about him, and he conveys to others a spirit of darkness and heaviness, sadness and grief. His spirit is easily crushed, wounded and depressed. He may attribute the cause to "sin," without being aware of any specific sin in his life; or may even look upon his "suffering" experience as "vicarious" suffering for the Church; whereas an abnormal sense of suffering is one of the chief symptoms of possession.
In the counterfeit of the true elimination of "pride," and all the forms of sin arising from it, the counterfeit caused by possession may be recognized by (1) the believer obtruding his self-depreciation at moments most inopportune, with painful perplexity to those who hear it; (2) a shrinking back from service for God, with inability to recognize the interests of the kingdom of Christ; (3) a laborious effort to keep "I" out of sight, both in conversation and action, and yet which forces the "I" more into view in an objectionable form; (4) a deprecatory, apologizing manner, which gives opportunity to the "world-rulers of the darkness of this world," to instigate their subjects to crush, and put aside this "not I" person, in moments of strategic importance to the kingdom of God; (5) an atmosphere around such an one of weakness, darkness, sadness, grief, lack of hope, easily wounded touchiness--all of which may be the result of the believer "will"-ing, in some moment of "surrender to death," to accept an effacement of the true personality, which God requires as a vessel for the manifestation of the Spirit of Christ, in a life of fullest co-operation with the Spirit of God. The believer, by his wrong belief, and submission to evil spirits, suppressed into passivity a personality which could not, and was not meant to "die"; and by this passivity opened the door to the powers of darkness to gain ground for possession.
PASSIVITY CAUSED BY WRONG THOUGHT ABOUT WEAKNESS
4. Passivity caused by a wrong thought about weakness. The believer consents to a perpetual condition of weakness, under a misconception of its being a necessary state for the manifestation of Divine life and strength. This is generally based upon Paul's words "When I am weak, then am I strong," the believer not apprehending that this was a statement made by the Apostle of a simple fact that when he was weak, he found God's strength sufficient for all His will; and that it is not an exhortation to God's children deliberately to will to be weak, and hence unfit for service in many ways, instead of saying "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." That the "will" to be weak, so as to have a claim on Christ's strength, is a wrong thought, can be seen practically in many lives, where "weakness" is passively accepted, with a burden and care to others, which is no evidence of such an attitude being in accordance with God's plan and provision. The "will" to be weak actually hinders God's strengthening, and by this subtle deception of the enemy in the minds of many, God is robbed of much active service for Him.
PASSIVITY WITH SATANIC ACTIVITY
It does not mean that "passivity" in its full extent, means no "activity"; for once the man becomes passive in volition and mind, he is held by deceiving spirits without power to act, or is driven into Satanic activity; that is, uncontrollable activity of thought, restlessness of body, and wild, unbalanced action of all degrees. The actions are spasmodic and intermittent, the person sometimes dashing ahead, and at other times sluggish and slow; like a machine in a factory, with the wheels whirring aimlessly, because the switch of the centre control is out of hand of the master. The man cannot work, even when he sees so much to be done, and is feverish because he cannot do it. During the time of passivity he appeared to be content, but when he is driven into Satanic activity, he is restless, and out of accord with all things around him. When his environment should lead to a state of full content, yet something (may it not be "somebody"?) makes it impossible for him to be in harmony with his external circumstances, however pleasant they may be. He is conscious of a restlessness and activity which is painfully feverish; or of passivity and weight; of a doing of "work," and yet no work. All the manifestations of a demoniacal destruction of his peace.
DELIVERANCE FROM PASSIVITY
The believer needing deliverance from the condition of passivity, must first seek to understand what should be his normal or right condition;note 19 and then test, or examine himself in the light of it, to discern if evil spirits have been interfering. To do this, let him recollect a moment in his life, which he would call his "best," either in spirit, soul and body, or in his whole being; and then let him look upon this as his normal condition, which he should expect as possible to be maintained, and never rest satisfied below it.
As the passivity has come about gradually, it can only end gradually, as it is detected, and destroyed. The full co-operation of the man is necessary for its removal, and is the cause of the long period needed for his deliverance. Deception and passivity can only be removed as the man understands, and co-operates by the use of his volition in the refusal of the ground, and the deception which came through it. This is also the reason why, in this aspect of "possession," evil spirits cannot be "cast out,"note 20 because the cause which gave them admittance is a factor in their expulsion.
An important point in deliverance from passivity is to keep perpetually in the mind, the standard of the normalnote 21 condition, and if at any time the believer drops below it to find out the cause, so as to have it removed. Whatever faculty, or part of the being, has been surrendered into passivity, and therefore lost for use, must be retaken by the active exercise of the will, and brought back into personal control. The "ground" given which caused any faculty to fall into bondage to the enemy, must be found out, and given up; and then refused persistently,note 22 in a steady resistance to the spirits of evil in their hold of it, remembering that the powers of darkness fight against the loss of any part of their kingdom in man, as much as any earthly government would fight to protect its own territory and subjects. The "Stronger than he" is the Conqueror, and strengthens the believer for the battle, and to recover all the spoil.