"War on the Saints" by Jessie Penn-Lewis
CHAPTER 6: Counterfeits of the Divine
In seeking to obtain full control of the believer, the first great effort of evil spirits is directed toward getting the man to accept their suggestions, and workings, as the speaking, working, or leading of God. Their initial device is to counterfeit a "Divine Presence," under cover of which they can mislead their victim as they will. The word counterfeit meaning the substitution of the false for the true.
The condition on the part of the believer, which gives the deceiving spirits their opportunity, and the basis of this counterfeit, is the mistaken location of God; either (1) in them (consciously); (2) or around them (consciously). When they pray they think of, or pray to God in themselves, or else to God around them, in the room, or atmosphere. They use their imagination, and try to "realize" His presence, and they desire to "feel" His presence in them, or upon them.note 1
THE LOCATION OF GOD BY BELIEVERS
This locating of God, in, or around the believer, usually comes about at the time of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost; for up to that time of crisis in his life, he lived more by the acceptance of facts declared in the Scriptures, as understood by his intelligence; but with the Baptism of the Spirit he becomes more conscious of the presence of God by the Spirit,note 2 and in the spirit, and so begins to locate the Person of God as in, around, or upon him. Then he turns inward, and begins to pray to God as within him, which in time, really results in prayer to evil spirits,note 3 if they succeed in gaining admittance under counterfeit.
The logical sequence of prayer to God as located within, can be pressed to absurdity, i.e., if the soul prays to God in himself, why not pray to God in another elsewhere? The limitation of God as a Person within, and all the possible dangers arising from this misconception of truth are obvious.
Some believers so live inwardly in communion, worship and vision, as to become spiritually introverted, and cramped and narrowed in their outlook; with the result that their spiritual capacity and mental powers become dwarfed and powerless.note 4 Others become victims to the "inner voice," and the introverted attitude of listening to it, which is the ultimate result of the location of God as a Person within, so that eventually the mind becomes fixed in the introverted condition with no out-going action at all.note 5
In fact, all turning inwards to a subjective location of God as indwelling, speaking, communing, and guiding, in a materialistic, or conscious sense, is open to gravest danger; for upon this thought and belief, sedulously cultivated by the powers of darkness, the most serious deceptions, and final out-workings of deceiving spirits have taken place.
THE ULTIMATE RESULT OF MISTAKEN LOCATION OF GOD
Upon this principle of the mistaken location of God; used by evil spirits as the ground work for manifestations to support and deepen this belief; has come about the delusions of believers during past ages, and of recent years, who assert themselves to be "Christ." On the same principle will come about the great deceptions at the end of the age, foretold by the Lord in Matthew 24: 24, of the "false Christs" and false prophets; and the "I am the Christ" of the leaders of groups of side-tracked believers; and the thousand others who have been sent to asylums, although they are not monomaniacs at all. The devil's richest harvest is from the effects of his counterfeits; and unwittingly, many sober and faithful teachers of "holiness" have aided him in his deceptions, through the using of language which gives a materialistic idea of spiritual things, and which is eagerly laid hold of by the natural mind.
Those who locate God personally, and wholly in themselves, make themselves, by their assertions, practically, "divine" persons. God is not wholly in any man.note 6 He dwells in those who receive Him, by His own Spirit communicated to them. "God is Spirit," and mind or body cannot hold communion with spirit. Sensuous feelings, or "conscious" physical enjoymentnote 7 of some supposed spiritual presence is not true communion of spirit with spirit, such as the Father seeks from those who worship Him (John 4: 24).
God is in heaven. Christ the Glorified Man is in heaven. The location of the God we worship is of supreme importance. If we think of our God as in us, and around us, for our worship, and for our "enjoyment" (?) we unwittingly open the door to the evil spirits in the atmosphere which surrounds us; instead of our penetrating in spirit through the lower heavens (see Heb. 4: 14; 9: 24; 10: 19, 20) to the throne of God, which is in the highest heaven, "above principality and power, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come" (Eph. 1: 21, A.V.).
THE TRUE LOCATION OF GOD
The Word of God is very clear on this point, and we need only ponder such passages as Heb. 1: 3; 2: 9; 4: 14-16; 9: 24; and many others, to see it. The God we worship, the Christ we love, is in heaven; and it is as we approach Him there, and by faith apprehend our union with Him in spirit there, we, too, are raised with Him and seated with Him, above the plane of the lower heavens where the powers of darkness reign, and seated with Him, see them under His feet (Eph. 1: 203; 2: 6).
The Lord's words recorded in the gospel of John, chapters 14, 15 and 16, give the truth very clearly concerning His indwelling in the believer. The "in Me" of being with Him, and in Him, in His heavenly position (John 14: 20), being the fact for the believer's faith, and apprehension; and the "I in you"--spoken to the company of disciples, and hence to the Body of Christ as a whole--following as a result in the individual life of the believer. The union with the Person in the glory, resulting in the inflow and outflow of His Spirit and life, through the believer on earth (see Phil. 1: 19). In other words, the "subjective" is the result of the "objective." The "object" of Christ in heaven, being the basis of faith for the subjective inflow of His life and power, by the Holy Spirit of God.
CHRIST AS A PERSON IN HEAVEN
The Lord said "If ye abide in Me (i.e., in the glory), and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will. . ." (John 15: 7). Christ abides in us by His Spirit, and through His words, but He Himself, as a Person, is in heaven, and it is only as we abide in Him there, that His Spirit, and His life, through His Word, can be manifested in us here.
"Abiding" means an attitude of trust, and dependence on a Person in heaven; but if the attitude is changed into a trust and dependence upon a Christ within, it is really a resting upon an inward experience, and a turning from the Christ in heaven, which actually blocks the avenue for the inflow of His life, and disassociates the believer from co-operation with Him by the Spirit. Any manifestation therefore of a "presence" within, cannot be a true "manifestation" from God, if it uncentres the believer from his right attitude toward the Christ in heaven.
There is a true knowledge of the presence of God, but it is in the spirit, when joined to Him Who is within the veil; a knowledge of spiritual union and fellowship with Him which lifts the believer, so to speak, out of himself to abide with Christ in God.
The counterfeit "presence" of Godnote 8 is nearly always manifested as love,note 9 to which the believer opens himself without hesitation, and finds it fill and satiate his innermost being, but the deceived one does not know that he has opened himself to evil spirits in the deepest need of his inner life.
COUNTERFEIT PRESENCE OF GOD
How the powers of darkness counterfeit the presence of God to those ignorant of his devices may be somewhat as follows. At some moment when the believer is yearning for the sense of God's presence, either alone, or in a meeting, and certain conditions are fulfilled,note 10 the subtle foe approaches, and wrapping the senses round with a soothing, lulling feeling--sometimes filling the room with light, or causing what is apparently a "breath from God" by a movement of the air--either whispers "This is the presence you have longed for," or leads the believer to infer that it is what he has desired.
Then, off his guard, and lulled into security that Satan is far away, some thoughts are suggested to the mind, accompanied by manifestations which appear to be Divine; a sweet voice speaks, or a vision is given, which is at once received as "Divine guidance," given in the "Divine presence," and hence beyond question as from God. If accepted as from God, when from the spirits of evil, the first ground is gained.
The man is now so sure that God has bidden him do this or that. He is filled with the thought that he has been highly favoured of God, and chosen for some high place in His Kingdom. The deeply hidden self-love is fed and strengthened by this, and he is able to endure all things by the power of this secret strength. He has been spoken to by God! He has been singled out for special favour! His support is now within upon his experience, rather than upon God Himself, and the written Word. Through this secret confidence that God has specially spoken to him, the man becomes unteachable and unyielding, with a positiveness trending on infallibility.note 11 He cannot listen to others now, for they have not had this "direct" revelation from God. He is in direct, special, personal communion with God, and to question any "direction" given to him, becomes the height of sin. Obey he must, even though the direction given is contrary to all enlightened judgment, and the action commanded opposed to the spirit of the Word of God. In brief, when the man at this stage believes he has a "command" from God, he will not use his reason, because he thinks it would be "carnal" to do so--"common-sense" is lack of faith, and therefore sin--and "conscience"note 12 for the time being, has ceased to speak.
Some of the suggestions made to the believer by deceiving spirits at this time, may be: (1) "You are a special instrument for God," working to feed self-love; (2) "You are more advanced than others" working to blind the soul to sober knowledge of itself; (3) "You are different from others," working to make him think he needs special dealing by God; (4) "You must take a separate path," a suggestion made to feed the independent spirit; (5) "You must give up your occupation, and live by faith," aiming at causing the believer to launch out on false guidance, which may result in the ruin of his home, and sometimes the work for God in which he is engaged.
All these suggestions are made to give the man a false conception of his spiritual state; for he is made to believe he is more advanced than he actually is, so that he may act beyond his measure of faith and knowledge (Rom. 12: 3), and consequently be more open to the deceptions of the beguiling foe.
Upon the basis of the supposed revelation of God, and the special manifestation of His presence, and the consequent full possession of the believer by Him, the lying spirits afterwards build their counterfeits.
THE COUNTERFEIT "PRESENCE" IS SENSUOUS
Counterfeits of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, are recognizable by the manifestations being given to the senses;note 13 i.e., in the physical realm; for the true indwelling of God is in the shrine of the spirit alone; and the soul vessel, or personality of the believer, is purely a vehicle for the expression of Christ, Who is enthroned within by His Spirit; whilst the body, quickened by the same Spirit, is governed by God from the central depths of the human spirit, through the self-control of the man;note 14 acting by his renewed will.
The counterfeit presence of God is given by deceiving spirits working upon the physical frame, or within the bodily frame, upon the senses. We have seen the beginning of this, and how the first ground is gained.note 15 It is deepened by these sense-manifestations being repeated, so gently, that the man goes on yielding to them, thinking this is truly "communion with God"--for believers too often look upon "communion with God" as a thing of sense, and not of spirit--and here he commences prayingnote 16 to evil spirits under the belief that he is praying to God. The self-control is not yet lost, but as the believer responds to, or gives himself up to these "conscious" manifestations, he does not know that his will-power is being slowly undermined.note 17 At last through these subtle, delicious experiences, the faith is established that God Himself is consciously in possession of the body, quickening it with felt thrills of life, or filling it with warmth and heat, or even with "agonies" which seem like fellowship with the sufferings of Christ,note 18 and travail for souls, or the experience of death with Christ in the consciousness of nails being driven into the bodily frame, etc. From this point the lying spirits can work as they will, and there is no limit as to what they may do to a believer deceived to this extent.
COUNTERFEIT MANIFESTATIONS OF DIVINE WORKINGS IN THE BODY
Counterfeit manifestations of the Divine life in various ways now follow quickly; movements in the body, pleasant thrills, touches, a glow as of fire in different parts of the body; or sensations of cold, or shakings, and tremblings; all accepted by the believer as from God, but showing what a full entry the deceiving spirit has obtained to the bodily frame; for there is a distinction between the manifestations of evil spirits "with"note 19 and "in" the body and mind of the believer; although when they are really inside, they can also make it appear as if they were outside, both in influence and action.
When evil spirits are really outside, and desirous of entry, they work by sudden suggestion, which is not the ordinary working of the mind, but suggestions which come from without; "flashes of memory," again not the ordinary working of the memory, but coming from without; touches and twitches of the nerves; feelings of draught and sensations of wind blowing on the circumference,Footnotes.html#six etc.
EFFECTS OF EVIL SPIRIT ENTRY TO THE BODILY FRAME
When the evil spirits are inside, the whole frame is affected, at times with the pleasant sensations referred to, but at others with pains in the head and body which have no physical cause, or else so working with the "natural" that the supernatural cannot easily be distinguished from it; such as accelerating the heartbeat so as to appear palpitation, and in other ways working with the physical causes, so that part has natural ground, and part is from the accentuating force of evil. Depression then ensues in proportion to the previous exhilaration; exhaustion and fatigue in reaction from the demand upon the nervous system in the hours of ecstasy; or else a sense of drainage of strength without any visible cause; grief and joy, heat and cold, laughter and tears, all succeed each other in rapid changes, and varied degrees--in brief, the emotional sensibilities seem to have full play.
The "senses" are aroused, and are in full mastery of the person, apart from the man's volition; or they may be apparently under control, so that the evil spirit's presence may be hidden from the knowledge of the believer, his workings being carefully measured to suit the victim he has studied so well; for he knows he must not go a shade too far, lest he awaken suspicion of the cause of the abnormal movements of the emotions, and of the sensitive parts of the bodily frame.
It can easily be seen that in time the health of the deceived one must be affected by this play upon mind and body; hence the "breakdown" that so often follows experiences of an abnormal kind, or else a snapping of the tension, by a sudden stoppage of all conscious feelings, and the apparent withdrawal of the "conscious presence of God;"note 20 followed by an entire change of tactics by the deceiving spirits in the body, who may now turn upon their victim with terrible accusations;note 21 and charges of having committed the "unpardonable sin," producing as acute anguish and real suffering, as he once experienced of the bliss of heaven.
COMPULSORY "CONFESSIONS" OF SIN
Here the evil spirits may push the man to "confessions" of all kinds, however public and painful, which he hopes may result in regaining the "experience" apparently lost; but all in vain. These confessions instigated by deceiving spirits may be recognized by their compulsory character. The man is forced to "confess" sin, and ofttimes sins which have no existence, but in the accusations of the enemy. As it does not dawn upon him that evil spirits will push a man to do what looks like the most meritorious thing, and which the Scriptures declare is the one condition for obtaining forgiveness, he yields to the drive upon him, simply to get relief. Herein lies the danger of widespread "confessions of sin" during times of Revival, when almost a "wave" of "confession" passes over a community, and the depths of sinful lives are exposed to the gaze of others; through this enabling the lying spirits to disseminate the very poison of the pit into the atmosphere, and into the minds of the listeners.
TRUE CONFESSION OF SIN
True confession of sin should come from deep convictionnote 22 and not compulsion, and should, be made only to God, if the sin is one only known by God; to man personally, and in private, when the sin is against man; and to the public only when the sin is against the public. "Confession" should never be made under the impulse of any compulsory emotion, but should be the deliberate act of the volition; choosing the right, and the putting things right, according to the will of God.
That Satan's kingdom gains by public "confessions" is evident by the devices of the enemy used to push men into them. Evil spirits drive a man into sin, and then compel that man publicly to confess the sin which they forced him to commit--contrary to his true character--in order to make the sin which they forced him into, a stigma upon him for the remainder of his life.
Ofttimes the "sins" confessed have their rise in the believer, from the insertion by wicked spirits, of feelings as consciously abhorrent and loathsome, as were the former "conscious" feelings of heavenly purity and love; when the man who experienced them, declared that he knew of no "sin to confess to God," or "no rising of an evil impulse" whatever; leading him to believe in the complete elimination of all sin from his being.
In short, the counterfeit manifestations of the Divine presence in the body, in agreeable and heavenly feelings, can be followed by counterfeit feelings of sinful things,note 23 wholly repugnant to the volition and central purity of the believer--who is as faithful to God now in his hatred to sin, as in the days when he reveled in the sense of purity given consciously to his bodily frame.
The deceiving spirit in possession of the body, may now reveal his malignity in attacks of apparent disease, or acute pain without physical cause, counterfeiting or producing (1) consumption, (2) fever, (3) nerve breakdown, and other illnesses, under which the lifenote 24 of the victim may be lost, unless the workings of the "murderers" acting under Satan are discerned, and dealt with by prayer against them, as well as the bodily frame cared for in the natural way.
Counterfeit guidance is one of the fruits of the possession of the body which the deceiver obtains through guile. Many believers think the "guidance" or "leading" of God, to be only by a voice saying "Do this," or "Do that;" or by a compulsory movement or impulse, apart from the action or volition of the man. They point to the expression used about the Lord, "the Spirit driveth Him into the wilderness"; but this was abnormal in the life of Christ, for the statement implies intense spirit conflict wherein the Holy Spirit departed from His ordinary guidance. We have a glimpse into a similar intense movement in the Spirit of the Lord Jesus, in John 11: 38, when "groaning with indignation in His spirit" He moved to the grave of Lazarus. In both instances He was moving forward to direct conflict with Satan--in the case of Lazarus, with Satan as the prince of death. The Gethsemane agony was of the same character.
But normally the Lord was guided, or led, in simple fellowship with the Father; deciding, acting, reasoning, thinking, as One who knew the will of God, and intelligently--speaking reverently--carried it out. The "voice" from heaven was rare, and, as the Lord Himself said, was for the sake of others, and not for Himself. He knew the Father's will, and with every faculty of His being as Man, He did it. (See John 12: 30, 5: 30, 6: 38).
As Christ was a pattern or example for His followers, guidance or "leading" in its perfect and true form is shown in His life, and believers can only expect the co-working of the Holy Spirit when they walk after the pattern of their Example. Out of line with the Pattern they cease to have the working of the Holy Spirit, and become open to the deceptive counterfeit workings of evil spirits.
If the believer ceases to use mind, reason, will, and all his other faculties as a person, and depends upon voices, and impulses for guidancenote 25 in every detail of life, he will be "led" or guided by evil spirits, feigning to be God.
COUNTERFEIT "INWARD" DRAWINGS
At first, after the Baptism of the Spirit, the believer knows to a great extent the true guidance of the Spirit of God. He knows true inward constraint to act, and restraint from action in like manner; such as when to speak to another about his soul, when to rise and testify in a meeting, etc., but after a time he ceases to watch for this pure inward moving of the Spirit; often through ignorance of how to read the monitions of his spirit; and begins to wait for some other incentive or manifestation to guide him in action. This is the time for which the deceiving spirits have been watching. Because at this point the believer has ceased, unknown to himself, to co-operate with the inward spirit action; to use his volition, and to decide for himself,note 26 he is now watching for some other supernatural indication of the way to go, or the course to take. Hence he must have "guidance" somehow, some "text," some "indication," some "providential circumstance," etc., etc. This is the moment of opportunity for a deceiving spirit to gain his faith and confidence: and so some word or words are whispered softly, that are exactly in accordance with the inward drawing that he has had, but which he has not recognized as from another source than the Holy Spirit, Who acted by the deep inner constraining and restraining of the spirit .note 27 The soft whisper of the deceiving spirit is so delicate and gentle, that the believer listens to, and receives the words without question, and begins to obey this soft whisper, yielding more and more to it, without any thought of exercising mind, judgment, reason, or volition.
The "feelings" are now in the body, but the believer is unconscious that he is ceasing to act from his spirit, and by the pure unfettered action of his will and his mind, which, under the illumination of the Spirit, is always in accord with the spirit. This is a time of great danger if the believer fails to discriminate the source of his "drawing" feelings, and yields to them before finding out their source. He should examine his basic principle of decision, especially when it has to do with feeling, lest he should be led away by any feeling without being able to say where it comes from, or whether it is safe for him to go by it. He should know there are physical feelings, soulish feelings, and feelings in the spirit, either of which can be Divine or Satanic in their source, therefore reliance on "feelings"--feeling drawn, etc.--is a source of great mischief in the Christian life.
From this point deceiving spirits can increase their control, for the believer has begun the listening attitude,note 28 which can be developed acutely, until he is always watching for an "inner voice," or a voice in the ear, which is an exact counterfeit of the voice of God in the spirit; and thus the believer moves, and acts as a passive slave to "supernatural guidance."note 29
THE COUNTERFEIT VOICE OF GOD
Evil spirits are able to counterfeit the voice of God, because of the ignorance of believers that they can do so, and of the true principle of God's way of communication with His children. The Lord said: "My sheep know My voice . . " i.e., My way of speaking to My sheep. He did not say this voice was an audible voice; nor a voice giving directions which were to be obeyed apart from the intelligence of the believer, but, on the contrary, the word "know," indicates the use of the mind, for although there is knowledge in the spirit, it must reach the intelligence of the man, so that spirit and mind become of one accord.
The question whether God now speaks by his direct voice audibly to men, needs consideration at this point. A careful study of the epistles of Paul--which contain an exhaustive epitome of God's will for the Church, the Body of Christ, as the books of Moses contained God's will and laws for Israel--seems to make it clear that God, having "spoken to us in His Son," no longer speaks by His own direct voice to His people. Nor does it appear that since the coming of the Holy Spirit to guide the Church of Christ into all truth, does He frequently employ angels to speak, or to guide His children.
THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS
The angels are "sent forth to minister to the heirs of salvation" (Heb. 1: 14), but not to take the place of Christ or the Holy Spirit. The Apocalypse seems to show that this ministration of angels to the saints on earth, is a ministration of war in the spiritual realm, against the forces of Satan;note 30 but there is little indication given of ministry in any other way. After the first Advent, when there was great angelic activity over the wondrous event of the Father bringing the "Firstborn" of the new race (Rom. 8: 29) into the inhabited earth (Heb. 1: 6, R.V.); and again at the Advent of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost to begin His work of forming a Body like unto the Risen Head--and during the early years of the Church--the employment of angels in direct and visible communication with believers, seems to give way to the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The entire work of witnessing to Christ, and leading the Church into all truth, has been committed to the Holy Spirit. Therefore all intervention of "angels," or audible voices from the spiritual realm, purporting to be from God, may be taken as counterfeits of Satan, whose supreme object is to substitute the working of his own wicked spirits in the place of God. In any case, it is best and safest in these days of peril to keep in the path of faith and reliance upon the Holy Spirit of God, working through the word of God.
HOW TO DETECT THE SOURCE OF A VOICE
In order to detect which is the "voice of God," and which is the "voice of the devil," we need to understand that the Holy Spirit alone is charged to communicate the will of God to the believer, and that He works from within the spirit of the man enlightening the understanding (Eph. 1: 17-18), so as to bring him into intelligent co-working with the mind of God.
The purpose of the Holy Spirit is, briefly, the entire renewal of the redeemed one, in spirit, soul and body, He therefore directs all His working to the liberation of every faculty, and never in any way seeks to direct a man as a passive machine, even into good. He works in him to enable him to choose the good, and strengthens him to act, but never--even for "good"--dulls him, or renders him incapable of free action, otherwise He would nullify the very purpose of Christ's redemption on Calvary, and the purpose of His own coming.
When believers understand these principles, the "voice of the devil" is recognizable, i.e., (1) when it comes from outside the man, or within the sphere of his circumference, and not from the central depth of his spirit, where the Holy Spirit abides; (2) when it is imperative and persistent, urging sudden action without time to reason, or intelligently weigh the issues; (3) when it is confusing and clamorous, so that the man is hindered from thinking; for the Holy Spirit desires the believer to be intelligent, as a responsible being with a choice, and will not confuse him so as to make him incapable of coming to a decision.
The speaking of evil spirits can also be a counterfeit of the apparent inner speaking of the man himself, as if he were himself "thinking," and yet with no concentrated action of the mind; e.g., a persistent and ceaseless "commentary" going on somewhere within, apart from volition or mind action, commenting on the man's own actions or the actions of others, such as "you are wrong," "you are never right ..... God has cast you off ….. you must not do that," etc., etc.
HOW TO DETECT THE SOURCE OF "TEXTS" SUPERNATURALLY SPOKEN
The "voice of the devil" as an angel of light is more difficult to detect, especially when it comes with wonderful strings of texts which makes it appear like the voice of the Holy Spirit. Voices from without, either as from God or angels, may be rejected, yet the believer may be deceived by "floods of texts" which he thinks are from God. In this case the detection needs more knowledge, i.e.,
(1) Does the believer rely upon these "texts" apart from the use of his mind or reason? This indicates passivity.
(2) Are these texts a prop to him? (a) undermining his reliance on God Himself; (b) weakening his power of decision, and (right) self- reliance.
(3) Do these texts influence him? and (a) make him elated and puffed up as "specially guided by God," or (b ) crush and condemn him, and throw him into despair and condemnation, instead of leading him to sober dealing with God Himself, over the course of his life, with a keen and increasing knowledge of right and wrong obtained from the written Word by the light of the Holy Spirit?
If these, and other such like results, are the fruit of the "texts" given, they may be rejected as from the Deceiver, or at least an attitude of neutrality taken to them, until further proof of their source is given.
The voice of the devil as distinguishable from the voice of God may also be known by its purpose and outcome. Obviously if God speaks direct to a man, that man must be infallibly correct in regard to the specific matter in question. e.g ., A believer may say he is "led" to ask another to a meeting. The one asked must accept, or else give the lie to the other's "leading." If the one who believed he was "led" still holds to that position, he considers the one who declined as deceived, or else puts the matter aside without consideration, not realizing that failure in guidance means that he has deceived himself, or else become deceived by deceiving spirits.
HOW EVIL SPIRITS ADAPT THEIR GUIDANCE TO THEIR VICTIM
Deceiving spirits carefully adapt their suggestions and leadings to the idiosyncrasies of the believer, so that they do not get found out; i.e., no "leading" will be suggested contrary to any strong truth of God firmly rooted in the mind, or contrary to any special bias of the mind. If the mind has a "practical" bent, no visibly foolish "leading" will be given; if the Scriptures are well-known, nothing contrary to Scripture will be said; if the believer feels strongly on any point, the "leadings" will be harmonized to suit that point; and, wherever possible, will be so adapted to previously true guidance from God, as to appear to be the continuance of that same guidance.
Here we see clearly the way of the enemy's working. The soul begins in God's will, but the purpose of the evil spirit is to draw it off into the carrying out of his will by counterfeiting the guidance of God. Satanic guidance alters the points of the life, and misdirects the energies of the man, and lessens his service value. To frustrate this artifice of the enemy, the believer should know that there are two distinct attitudes for guidance, which have serious results if their difference is not understood, i.e., (1) Trusting God to guide, and (2) trust that God is guiding.
The first means reliance upon God Himself, and the second is an assumption of being guided which can be taken advantage of by deceiving spirits. In the first, God does guide in response to definite trust in Him, and He guides through the spirit of the man who continues to co-operate with His Spirit; leaving every faculty free to act, and the will to choose intelligently the right step in the path before him.
In the second, when evil spirits take advantage of an assumption that God "is guiding," independently of momentarily watchful co-operation with the Holy Spirit, a slight compulsion may be noticed, slowly increasing in force, until presently the believer says "I was compelled" to do so-and-so, and "I was afraid to resist,"--the compulsion being taken as an evidence of the guiding of God, instead of recognized as contrary to God's principle of dealing with His children.
THE DECEIVED BELIEVER A SLAVE TO EVIL SPIRITS
If yielded to, and believed to be of God, the result is that the believer becomes a slave to a supernatural powernote 31 which destroys all freedom of volition and judgment. He begins to be afraid to act himself, lest he should not fulfil, what he believes to be, a minute obedience to the "will of God." He asks "permission"note 32 to do the most obviously simple duties of life, and fears to take a step without "permission." As soon as the deceiving spirits have obtained perfect control, and the believer is so passively automatic that he is incapable of realizing his condition, they do not need to work so much under cover. They insidiously commence to direct him to do the most absurd or foolish things, carefully working inside the range of his passive obedience to their will, so as to avoid the danger of awakening his reasoning powers. As a matter of "obedience," and not from any true conviction, or true principle, he is bidden to let his hair grow long, so as to be like Samson, a Nazarite; to go without his cap, to prove his willingness to obey in the smallest matters; he must wear faded clothes as a "test" of "no pride," or as a "crucifixion of self," or as a mark of "implicit obedience to God."
These things may seem trifles to others, who use their reasoning powers, but they have great issues in the purpose of the deceiving spirits, who, by these directions, aim at making the believer a passive, unthinking, or unreasoning medium, pliable to their will; in obedience to which--even in these trivial matters--their hold deepens upon him.
When these foolish and absurd actions are publicly visible, the lying spirits know that they have destroyed the testimony of the deceived man in the eyes of sober people; but there are vast numbers of devoted believers, known to the Church at large, who are not pushed to such "extremes" of exterior action; but who are equally misled, or in bondage to "supernatural" commands concerning matters of food, dress, manner, etc., which they think they have received from God. The spirit of judgment of others, and the secret self-esteem for their "consecration to God" which accompanies their "obedience," betrays the subtle workings of the enemy.
THE "PLANCHETTE" USE OF THE BELIEVER BY EVIL SPIRITS
As long as the believer thinks it is God who is directing him, so long the deceiving spirits are safe from exposure, and they can lead him on into more and more deception. When the man reaches a very high degree of Satanic deception, and possession, he finds himself unable to act unless the spirits in control allow him, so that he no longer even asks for "permission" to do this or that. In some cases they even establish communication with him from within his own bodily frame. If he desires to know whether he shall go here or there, he turns inward for guidance to the inner voice--supposed to be the "voice of God"--the answer "Yes," being by a movement of his head,note 33 caused by the spirit in possession, or "No" by no action at all; evil spirits making use of the body of the man in the same way as they reply to those who consult them through a "planchette" in other cases;note 34 showing their complete control over the nerves of the body and the whole being of the victim, who now believes that every supernatural movement in his body has signification since it may be originated by "God" in possession.
The possession by deceiving spirits at this stage is so great, that no arguments, reasonings, or outward considerations of any kind, influence the actions of the believer thus deceived; or turn him from obeying the "guidance," or "permission" of the inner voice, which he fully believes is of God. In truth should he endeavour to go against it in the smallest matter, the condemnation and suffering are so great, that he becomes terrified at any "disobedience," and would rather be condemned and misjudged by the whole world than go against it. His great horror is "disobeying the Holy Ghost," and the evil spirits deceiving him take every occasion to deepen this fear, so as to retain their hold upon him.
As the believer thus minutely obeys the spirit in control, he relies more and more upon supernatural help, for the moment he does something apart from it he is accused--apparently by the "Holy Spirit"--of "working apart from God."
It is at this stage that all the faculties fall into deepening passivity, as the man lets go entirely to the voice of guidance, and into a reliance upon the divine (?) speakings, which keep the brain in complete inaction.
Here also counterfeit manifestations in "miraculous gifts," prophecy, tongues, healings, visions, and supernatural experiences of every kind possible to the Satanic powers, may be given to the believer, with abundant "texts" and "proofs" to confirm their "Divine origin." He experiences a lightness of the body which makes it appear as if he were carried by invisible hands; he is lifted off his bed in what spiritists know as "levitation";note 35 he can sing and speak, and do what he has never been capable of doing before. Constant contact with spirit forces gives the man a "mystical" look, but all lines of strength, which come from strenuous conflict and self-mastery, go out of the face,note 36 for the sense-life is being fed and indulged in a spiritual way as much as by fleshly habits, yet these, such as smoking, etc., have for a time no power.
THE COUNTERFEIT PERSONATION OF OTHERS
But counterfeits of God and Divine things are not the only "counterfeits" the angel of light has at his command. There are also counterfeits of the "human" and human things; such as the personation of others, and even of the believer himself. Others appear to be different from what they really are, jealous or angry, critical or unkind. "Self" is represented in another, in enlarged form, where there is really the very opposite manifestation of selflessness and love. Wrong motives appear to govern others where none exist; simple actions are coloured, and words made to mean and suggest what is not in the minds of the speakers; and sometimes seem to confirm the supposed wrong-doing of others.
Others of the opposite sex may also be personated to a believer in times of prayer or leisure, either in repulsive, or in beautiful form, with the object of arousing various dormant elements in the human frame, unknown to exist by the innocent believer; sometimes the reason for the personation is given "for prayer," or "fellowship" and "spirit-communion" in the things of God.
When their footing is in the body, the lying spirits' counterfeit representations of others, may be in the realm of the passions, and affections, seeking to rouse, or feed these in the possessed one; their faces, voices, "presence," being presented, as if they too were equally affected. This is accompanied with a counterfeit "love," or drawing to the other one, with a painful craving for their company, which almost masters the victim.
This subject of love, and its painful arousing, and communicating or counterfeiting by evil spirits, is one that touches multitudes of believers of all classes. Many are made to suffer poignant agonies of craving for love, with no specific person involved; others are wrought upon in their thoughts so as not to be able to hear the word love mentioned, without embarrassing manifestations of colour, wrought by evil spirits within the bodily frame; none of these manifestations being under the control of the will of the believer.
THE COUNTERFEIT OF THE MAN HIMSELF
In counterfeiting the believer himself, the evil spirit gives him exaggerated views, almost visions, of his own personality; he is "wonderfully gifted," and is therefore "puffed up"; he is "miserably incapable," and so is in despair; he is "amazingly clever," and thus undertakes what he cannot do; he is "helpless," "hopeless," "too forward," or "too backward"--in brief, a countless number of pictures of himself, or others, are presented to the mind of the man when once the lying spirit has gained a footing in the imagination.
So subtle is the identity of the deceiving spirit with a believer's individuality, that others see, what may be described as a "spurious personality,"note 37 sometimes the person appears to be "full of self" when the inner man is deeply selfless; "full of pride" when the inner man is sincerely humble. In fact, the whole outer appearance of the man in manner, voice, actions, words, is often quite contrary to his true character, and he wonders why "others misunderstand," misjudge and criticize. Some believers, on the other hand, are quite unconscious of the manifestation of this spurious self, and go on happily satisfied with what they themselves know of their own inner motives, and heart life; oblivious of the very contrary manifestation which others behold, and pity or condemn. The spurious personality caused by evil spirits in possession, can also be in a beautiful form, in order to attract or mislead others in various ways, all unwittingly to the person, or to the victim. This is sometimes described as "unaccountable infatuation," but if it was recognized as the work of evil spirits, refused and resisted, the "infatuation" would pass away. It is so wholly apart from the action of the will in the persons concerned, that the work of evil spirits is clearly to be recognized, especially when the supposed "infatuation" follows supernatural experiences; and possession, through the accepting of counterfeits, has resulted.
Evil spirits can also counterfeit sin, by causing some apparent manifestation of the evil nature in the life, and matured believers should know whether such a manifestation really is sin from the old nature, or a manifestation from evil spirits. The purpose in the latter case is to get the believer to take what comes from them, as from himself, for whatever is accepted from evil spirits gives them entry and power. When a believer knows the Cross and his position of death to sin, and in will and practice rejects unflinchingly all known sin, and a "manifestation" of "sin" takes place, he should at once take a position of neutralitynote 38 to it, until he knows the source, for if he calls it sin from himself when it is not, he believes a lie as much as in any other way; and if he "confesses"note 39 as a sin what did not come from himself, he brings the power of the enemy upon him, to drive him into the sin which he has "confessed" as his own. Many believers are thus held down by supposed "besetting sins" which they believe are theirs, and which no "confessing to God" removes, but from which they would find liberty if they attributed them to their right cause. There is no danger of "minimizing sin" in the recognition of these facts, because in either case, the believer desires to be rid of the sin or sins, or he would not trouble about them.
Again the believer is so acutely conscious of a "self" which he hates and loathes, that he is never free from the dark shadow of self-condemnation, self- accusation or self-despair, which no appropriation of identification with Christ in death, destroys; or else there is a self-confidence which continually draws the man forward into situations from which he has to retire abashed and disappointed. A spurious personality encompasses the true inner man, which few are aware of as possible, but which is a sadly real thing among multitudes of the children of God.
On the part of the soul beset with these constant presentations to his mind of his own personality, he only thinks he has a "vivid imagination," or still more that some of these things are visions of God, and that he is favoured of God, especially where the vision is of "great plans for God," or wide visions of what God is going to do! Always with the believer as the Centre, and special instrument of this service!
Many of the "plans" for "movements" which have gone even as far as print, in connection with Revival, have been of such a character; plans given by "revelation," and which have resulted in gaining but the few caught by them, and no others. Of such a character has been the aftermath of Revival, where men have left their regular calling, and followed a will-of-the-wisp revelation of "launching out on God," world-wide plans conceived, and dissipated in a few months. Such deceived believers become ultra-devotional, with an excess of zeal that blinds them to all things but the supernatural realm, and robs them of power to wisely meet the claims of other aspects of life. All this comes from an evil spirit's access to the mind, and imagination, through the deception of counterfeiting the presence of God.
COUNTERFEITS OF SATAN HIMSELF
Counterfeits of Satan himself also suit his purpose at times, when he desires to terrorize a man from actions, or prayer, adverse to his interests. There are occasions when Satan appears to fight against himself, only to cover deep schemes for obtaining fuller possession of a victim, or some greater advantage which he knows how to secure. Fear of the devil may always be regarded as from the devil, to enable him to carry out his plans of hindering the work of God. Of such a character may be the fearsome shrinking from hearing about him and his works, and the passive deadness of the mind in regard to all Scriptural truth concerning the forces of evil. Also the fear caused by reference to his name, given in order to frighten away believers from knowing the facts about him; whilst others who desire the truth may be given exaggerated impressions of his presence, and of "conflict.....clouds," "blocks," darkness, etc., until they lose the clearness of the light of God.
Especially is the work of the deceiver manifested in his efforts to make the children of God believe in his non-existence, and in the suggestion that it is only necessary to hear or know about God, as a protection from any form of the enemy's power. On the other hand, a deceived believer may be more deeply deceived, by seeing nothing but Satan's counterfeits everywhere.
Supernatural visions and manifestations are a fruitful source of revenue to deceiving spirits, and they have gained a strong footing somewhere in mind or body when these are given; especially when the believer relies upon, and quotes more from these experiences than the Word of God; for the aim of the wicked spirit is to displace the Word of God as the rock-ground of the life. It is true the Scriptures may be referred to and quoted, but often only as a warrant for the experiences, and to strengthen faith--not in God, but in His (apparent) manifestations. This secret drawing of faith from the bare Word of God to manifestations of God, as being more reliable, is a keenly subtle deception of the evil one, and it is easily recognized in a believer thus deceived.
When evil spirits are able to give visions, it is an evidence that they have already gained ground in the man, be he a Christian or an unbeliever. The "ground" being, not of necessity known sin, but a condition of passivity, i.e., non-action of the mind, imagination, and other faculties. This essential condition of passive non-actionnote 40 as the means of obtaining supernatural manifestations is well understood by spiritist mediums, clairvoyants, crystal gazers, and others, who know that the least action of the mind immediately breaks the clairvoyant state.note 41
Believers not knowing these main principles can unwittingly fulfil the conditions for evil spirits to work in the life, and ignorantly induce the passive state by wrong conceptions of the true things of God. e.g., They may (1) in seasons of prayer, sink into a passive mental condition which they think is waiting on God;note 42 (2) deliberately will the cessation of their mind action, in order to obtain some supernatural manifestation which they believe to be of God; (3) in daily life practise a passive attitude which they think is submission to the will of God; (4) endeavour to bring about a state of personal negation, in which they have no desires, needs, wishes, hopes, plans, which they think is full surrender to God, and their "will" lost in God.note 43
BELIEVERS CAN IGNORANTLY DEVELOP MEDIUMISTIC CONDITIONS
In brief, believers may unknowingly develop mediumistic conditions, of which deceiving spirits are not slow to take advantage. They are careful not to frighten the believer by doing anything which will open his eyes, but they keep within the range of what he will receive without question. They will personate the Lord Jesus in the special way which will appeal to the person, e.g., to some as "Bridegroom"note 44 to others as seated on a throne, and coming in great glory. They will also personate the dead to those who grieve after their loved ones, and as they have watched them during life, and know all about them, they will give ample "proofs" to confirm the deceived ones in their deception.
Visions may come from one of three sources. The Divine, from God; the human, such as hallucinations and illusions because of disease, and the Satanic, which are false. "Visions" given by evil spirits, also describe anything supernatural presented to and seen by the mind or imagination,note 45 from outside; such as terrible pictures of the "future"; flashing of texts as if they were lit up;note 46 "visions" of widespread "movements," all counterfeiting either the true vision of the Holy Spirit given to the "eye of the understanding," or the normal and healthy action of the imagination. The Church is thus often made a whirlpool of division through believers relying upon "texts" for guiding their decisions, instead of the principle of right and wrong set forth in God's word.
THE DETECTION OF VISIONS FROM GOD OR SATAN
Apart from the "visions" which are the result of disease, the detection of Divine from Satanic visions depends a great deal upon knowledge of the Word of God, and the fundamental principles of His working in His children. These may be briefly stated thus:--
(1) That no supernatural "vision" in any form, can be taken as of God, which requires a condition of mental non-action, note 47 or comes whilst the believer is in such a condition.
(2) That all the Holy Spirit's enlightening and illuminating vision is given when the mind is in full use, and every faculty awake to understand; i.e., the very opposite condition to that required by the working of evil spirits.
(3) That all which is of God, is in harmony with the laws of God's working as set forth in the Scriptures, e.g., "World-wide movements" by which multitudes are to be gathered in, are not in accord with the laws of the growth of the Church of Christ as shown in (1) the grain of wheat (John 12: 24.); (2) the law of the Cross of Christ (Isa. 53: 10); (3) the experience of Christ; (4) the experience of Paul (1 Cor. 4: 9-13); (5) the "little flock" of Luke 12: 32 ; (6) the foreshadowed end of the dispensation given in 1 Tim. 4: 1; 6: 20.
Many a believer has left his path of "grain of wheat multiplication," caught by a vision of "world-wide" sweeping in of souls, given by Satan, whose malignant hatred, and ceaseless antagonism is directed against the true seed of Jesus Christ , which in union with Him, will bruise the serpent's head. To delay the birth, (John 3: 3,5), and growth of the Holy Seed (Isa. 6: 10), is the devil's aim. To this end he will foster any widespread surface work of the believer, knowing it will not really touch his kingdom, nor hasten the full birth into the Throne-life of the conquering seed of Christ.
The safe path for believers at the close of the age is one of tenacious faith in the written Word as the sword of the Spirit, to cut the way through all the interferences and tactics of the forces of darkness, to the end.
All dreams also, as well as visions, can be classed, as to their source, under three heads: (1) Divine, (2) human, or (3) Satanic, each to be known, first by the condition of the person, and second by the principles distinguishing the working of God or Satan.
If the person is under any degree of possession, no dreams at night can be said with certainty to be either from natural causes or "Divine communication," but are simply night presentations of the same character as "visions" to the mind during the day, and are the counterfeits by evil spirits of these two causes.
Passivity of brain is an essential condition for the presentation to the mind of things by evil spirits. At night the brain is passive, and whilst activity of the mind in the daytime hinders, they have their occasion at night when the passivity is more pronounced in sleep.
Believers who are fighting possession, and the regaining the use of their mental faculties in normal action, can "refuse" these night presentations by evil spirits as definitely as they refuse their workings during the day, and in due time find their complete cessation.
Dreams arising from the natural condition of the person, and attributable to purely physical causes, may be recognized as natural (1) when there is no "possession," and (2) when such physical causes really exist, and are not used as a cover, by deceiving spirits, to hide their workings.
Apart from the condition of the person, the principle distinguishing Divine from Satanic in relation to dreams, is in the first instance, by their import and exceptional value (Gen. 37: 5-7; Matt. 1: 20, 2: 12), and in the latter, their "mystery," absurdity, emptiness, folly, etc. as well as by their effects on the person. In the first, the recipient is left normal, calm, quiet, reasonable, and with an open, clear mind. In the second, elated, or dazed, confused, and unreasonable.
The presentations of evil spirits at night is frequently the cause of morning "dullness" of mind, and heaviness of spirit. The sleep has not been refreshing because of their power, through the passivity of the mind during sleep, to influence the whole being. "Natural" sleep renews, and invigorates the faculties, and the whole system. Insomnia is,note 48 in a great degree, the work of evil spirits, adapting their workings to the over-wrought condition of the person, so as to hide their attacks under cover.
Believers who are open to the supernatural world should specially guard their nights by prayer, and by definite rejection of the first insidious workings of evil spirits along these lines.
How many say "The Lord woke me," and place their reliance upon "revelations" given in a state of half-consciousness, when mind and will are only partially alert to discern the issues of the "guidance" or "revelations" given to them. Let such believers watch the results of their obedience to night-revelations, and they will find many traces of the deceitful workings of the enemy. They will find, too, how their faith is often based upon a beautiful experience given in the early hours of the morning; or, vice versa, shaken by accusations, suggestions, attacks and conflict manifestly of the evil one, instead of an intelligent reliance upon God Himself in His changeless character of faithfulness and love to His own.
All workings of the enemy at night can be made to cease by their recognition as of him, and definitely refused in the Name of the Lord,note 49 revoking all ground unknowingly given for such workings, in the past.