"War on the Saints" by Jessie Penn-Lewis
CHAPTER 10: Victory in Conflict
WIn a previous chapter we have seen the way of deliverance from possession by evil spirits. The great question here is, how to be victorious over the powers of darkness as a whole. How to have authority, and victory over the wicked spirits in place of their mastery over the believer; who, having learnt the devices of the enemy, and the way of deliverance, is now deeply concerned that others should be set free, and brought into the place of victory "over all the power of the enemy."
For this he must now understand that the degree of Christ's "authority" the Spirit of God will energize him to exercise over the spirits of evil, will be according to the degree of victory he has over them in the personal conflict, which he must now settle down to face in the sphere of the spiritual life into which he has emerged.
DEGREES OF DELIVERANCE AND VICTORY
The believer needs to have thorough knowledge and understanding of their ways and works, and of the laws of the spirit, and how to keep in mastery of spirit in all the vicissitudes of life. As there are (1) degrees of deception, and degrees of possession and deliverance from possession; so there are (2) degrees of victory over the devil; (3) degrees of temptation, and victory over temptation. The power to co-operate with the Holy Spirit in the wielding of Christ's authority will also be in degrees, and gained according to the aggressive spiritual strength obtained by overcoming the devil in his various workings; just as victory over sin deepens in its strength as the man overcomes temptation to sin; and victory over the world (1 John 5: 4-5) is increasingly known by faith in the Son of God. These degrees of overcoming power with the consequent degree of reward, are to be clearly seen in the Lord's call to the churches recorded in the Apocalypse. Degrees also of the future authority in the reigning with Christ are indicated in His words in one parable, "Be thou ruler over ten cities . . over five . ." (Luke 19: 17-19).
The believer delivered from deception and possession by the spirits of evil, must now learn to walk in personal victory over the devil at every point, if he is to have the fullest victory over the powers of darkness. For this, just as he needs to know the Lord Christ in all the aspects of His Name and character, so as to draw upon His power in living union with Him, so the believer must learn to know the adversary in his various workings, as described in his names and character, that he may be able to discern his presence, and all his wicked spirits, wheresoever they may be, either in attacks upon himself, in others, or working as "world-rulers" of the darkness in the world.
VICTORY OVER SATAN AS TEMPTER
Victory over the Devil as a Tempter, and all his temptations personally, direct and indirect, must be learnt by the believer in experimental reality; remembering that all "temptations" are not recognizable as temptations, nor are they always visible, for half their power lies in their being hidden. A believer thinks that he will be as conscious of the approach of temptation, as of a person coming into the room, hence the children of God are only fighting a small proportion of the devil's workings; that is, only what they are conscious of as supernatural workings of evil.
Because their knowledge of the devil's character and methods of working is limited and circumscribed, many true children of God only recognize "temptation" when the nature of the thing presented is visibly evil, and according to their limited knowledge of evil, so they do not recognize the Tempter and his temptations when they come under the guise of natural or physical, or lawful and apparent "good."
When the prince of darkness and his emissaries come as angels of light, they clothe themselves in light, which, in their case, stands for evil. It is a "light" which is really darkness. They come in the guise of good. Darkness is opposed to light, ignorance is opposed to knowledge, falsehood is opposed to truth. Darkness is a term applied to evil morality and moral darkness. The believer may need to discern evil spirits in the realm of the supposed good. That which comes to them as "light" may be darkness. The apparently "good" may be really evil; the apparent "help" which they cling to may be really a hindrance.note 1 For instance, a difficulty in work may arise out of accepting a degree of weakness,note 2which is really the result of demon possession; so while desiring strength the believer may fulfil conditions which make him weak. The devil then tempts him because he is weak, and he succumbs.
There needs to be a choice between good and evil perpetually by every man, and the priests of old were specially called to discern and teach the people the difference between "the holy and the common," the "unclean and the clean" (Ezek. 40: 23). Yet is the Church of Christ to-day able thus to discern what is good, and what is evil? Does she not continually fall into the snare of calling good evil, and evil good? Because the thoughts of God's people are governed by ignorance,note 3and limited knowledge, they call the works of God, of the devil; and the works of the devil, of God, and they are not taught the need of learning to discern the difference between the "unclean and the clean", nor how to decide for themselves what is of God, or what is of the devil, although they are unknowingly compelled to make a choice every moment of the day.
Neither do all believers know that they have a choice between good and good, i.e., between the lesser and the greater good; and the devil often entangles them here.
VARIOUS KINDS OF TEMPTATIONS
There are unseen temptations, and temptations in the unseen. Physical temptations, soulish temptations, spiritual temptations; direct and indirect temptations, as with Christ when He was directly tempted in the wilderness, or indirectly through Peter. The believer must not only resist the devil when he tempts visibly, or attacks consciously, but BY CONSTANT PRAYER HE MUST BRING TO LIGHT HIS HIDDEN AND COVERED TEMPTATIONS, knowing that he is a "Tempter," and therefore is always planning temptation for the believer. Those who thus, by prayer, bring to light these hidden workings, are by experience, widening their horizon in knowledge of his work as a Tempter, and becoming better able to co- work with the Spirit of God in the deliverance of others from the power of the enemy; for in order to be victorious over the powers of darkness, it is essential to be able to recognize what they are doing. Paul, on one occasion, did not say "circumstances," but "Satan hindered me" (1 Thess. 2: 18), because he was able to recognize when circumstances, or the Holy Spirit (Acts 16: 6), or Satan, hindered or restrained him in his life and service.
There are degrees also in the results of temptation. After the wilderness temptation, which settled vast and eternal issues, the devil left Christ, but he returned to Him again and again with other degrees of temptation (John 12: 27; Matt. 22: 15) both direct and indirect.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "TEMPTATION" AND "ATTACKS."
There is also a difference between the "temptations" and "attacks" of the Tempter, as may again be seen in the life of Christ. "Temptation" is a scheme or a plot, or compulsion on the part of the Tempter to cause another to do evil, whether consciously or unconsciously; but an attack is an onslaught on the person, either in life, character, or circumstances, e.g., the devil made an onslaught on the Lord through the villagers, when they sought to hurl Him over the brow of the hill (Luke 4: 29); when His family brought a charge of insanity against Him (Mark 3: 21); and when He was charged with demon possession by His enemies (John 10: 20; Matt. 12: 24).
Temptation, moreover, means suffering, as we see again in the life of Christ, for it is written, "He suffered being tempted" (Heb. 2: 18), and believers must not think they will reach a period when they will not feel the suffering of temptation, as this is a wrong conception, which gives ground to the enemy for tormenting and attacking them without cause.
PRAYER BRINGING HIDDEN TEMPTATIONS TO LIGHT
For perpetual victory, therefore, the believer must unceasingly be on guard against the Tempter, praying for his hidden temptations to be revealed. The degree of understanding his working will be determined by the degree of victory experienced, for "In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird." We have given in preceding chapters much knowledge needed by the believer, if he is to gain victory over every aspect of the Tempter's workings, but especially does he require power of discrimination between what is temptation from the Tempter working upon the uncrucified "old man"; tempting through the things of the world (1 John 2: 15, 16; 5: 4, 5); and temptation direct from the spirits of evil.
In temptation the crucial point is for the tempted one to know whether the temptation is the work of an evil spirit having gained access to him,note 4or from the evil nature. This alone can be discerned by the experimental knowledge of Romans 6 as the basis of the life. Temptation from the fallen nature should be dealt with on the foundation of "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6: 11), and practical obedience to the resulting command "Let not sin reign in your mortal body." In the hour of temptation to sin--to visible, known sin--the believer should take his stand on Romans 6: 6, as his deliberate position of faith, and in obedience to Romans 6: 11, declare his undeviating choice and attitude as death to sin, in death union with Christ. If this choice is the expression of his real will, and the temptation to sin does not cease, he should then deal with the spirits of evil, who may be seeking to awaken sinful desires (Jas. 1: 14), or to counterfeit them.note 5For they can counterfeit the old nature in evil desire, evil thoughts, evil words,note 6evil presentations, and many honest believers think they are battling with the workings of the old nature, when these things are given by evil spirits. But if the believer is not standing actively on Romans 6, the "counterfeits" are not necessary, for the old fallen creation is always open to be wrought upon by the powers of darkness.
VICTORY OVER SATAN AS ACCUSER
The difference between the accusation of the enemy and his temptations, is that the latter is an effort on his part to compel, or draw the man into sin; and the former is a charge of transgression. Temptation is an effort to cause the man to transgress the law, accusation is an effort to place the believer in the guilty position of having transgressed the law. Evil spirits want the man to be wrong, that they may accuse and punish him for being wrong. "Accusation" can be a counterfeit of conviction--the true conviction of the Spirit of God. It is important that the believer should know when the charge of transgression is made, whether it is a Divine conviction, or a Satanic accusation.
- The devil may accuse when the man is truly guilty;
- he may accuse when the man is not guilty, and cause him to think, and believe that he is guilty;
- he may endeavour to pass on his accusations as a conviction, and cause the man to think that it comes from the evil nature, when he is not guilty at all.
Evil spirits are able to infuse a sense of guilt. Sin itself comes from the evil nature within, but it is not forced into the personality from without, apart from the person.note 7How can the believer tell if evil spirits are at the back of involuntary sin? If the man is right with God, standing on Romans 6, with no deliberate yielding to known sin, then any manifestation of sin coming back again unaccountably, may be dealt with as from evil spirits.
The believer must therefore never accept an accusation--or a charge, supernaturally made, of having transgressed--unless he is fully convinced by intelligent knowledge and clear decision that he has done so; for if he accepts the charge when innocent, he will suffer as much as if he had really transgressed. He must also be on guard to refuse any compulsory drive to "confession"note 8of sin to others, which may be the forcing of the enemy to pass on his lying accusations.
BELIEVER SHOULD MAINTAIN NEUTRALITY TO ACCUSATIONS UNTIL SOURCE PROVED
The believer should maintain neutrality to accusations,note 9until he is sure of their real source, and if the man knows he is guilty, he should at once go to God on the ground of 1 John 1: 9, and refuse to be lashed by the devil, as he is not the judge of God's children, nor is he deputed as God's messenger to make the charge of wrong. The Holy Spirit alone is commissioned by God to convict of sin.
The steps in the working of evil spirits in their accusations and false charges, are these, when the believer accepts their accusations:--
(1) The believer thinks and believes he is guilty; (2) Evil spirits cause him to feel guilty; (3) They cause him, then, to appear guilty; (4) They cause him then to be actually guiltynote 10through believing their lies, it matters not whether he is guilty or not in the first instance.
Malicious spirits try to make the man feel guilty by their nagging accusations, so as to make him act, or appear guilty before others; at the same moment flashing, or suggesting to others the very things about which they are accusing him, without any cause.note 11 All such "feelings" should be investigated by the believer. Feeling wrong is not enough for a man to say he is wrong, or the Accuser to accuse him of being wrong. The man says he "feels" wrong. He should ask "Is the feeling right?" He may feel wrong, and be right; and "feel" right, and be wrong. Therefore he should investigate, and examine the question honestly, "Am I wrong?"
"FEELINGS" INJECTED BY EVIL SPIRITS
There are physical, soulish, and spiritual "feelings."note 12Evil spirits can inject feelings into either of these departments. Their aim is to move the man by "feelings" to substitute these for the action of his mind, so that the believer is governed by the deceiving spirits through his feelings. Also to substitute feelings for the consciencenote 13in its recognition of right and wrong. If believers "feel" they can do a thing, they do it, without asking whether it be right or wrong, if it is not visibly sinful. For victory over the deceitful enemy, it is essential that the children of God cease to be guided by "feelings" in their actions.
Again: If believers in any course of action "feel relief," they think that sense of relief is a sign that they have been doing God's will. But a man gets rest when his work is done, not only in the spiritual, but in ordinary life. A "sense of relief" in any line of action, is no criterion that it is in the will of God. The action must be judged by itself, and not merely by its effects upon the doer of it. For instance, a believer says he "felt happy" after doing such and such a thing, and that it was "a proof that he was doing the will of God"; but peace and rest and relief are no proof at all of being in God's will. Believers also think that if they do some action that the devil wants them to do, they will "feel condemned" at once, but they overlook the fact that Satan can give pleasant feelings.note 14
There are innumerable variations of feelings caused by evil spirits, from countless attacks, and countless false suggestions, which call forth all the spiritual discernment of the believer, and his understanding of spiritual things, to recognize them.
NEED OF DISCERNING ACCUSATION FROM TRUE CONVICTION
The devil as a Tempter very quickly becomes the Accuser, even if he does not succeed in getting the man to yield to his temptations. As we have seen, deceiving spirits can cause apparent "sin" to be manifested to the consciousness of a believer, and then lash and accuse the man for their own workings. They counterfeit some sin, which may be called with sadness, "my besetting sin,"note 15 in the believer's life; and as long as it is believed to be sin from the evil nature, no "confessing" or seeking victory over it, will cause it to pass away. They can also hide behind real sin.
A sense of guiltlessness does not necessarily lead to absolute happiness, for even with the peace of conscious innocence there may be suffering, and the suffering have its source in some sin which is not known.note 16 Walking by known light, and measuring his guiltlessness by his knowledge of known sin, is very dangerous to him who desires a fathomless peace, for it leads only to superficial rest, which may be disturbed at any moment by the attacks of the Accuser, who directs his darts to a joint in the armour of peace, hidden from the believer's view.
For obtaining victory over the Deceiver's accusing spirits, spiritual believers should, therefore, understand clearly whether any consciousness of sin, is the result of real transgression, or is caused by evil spirits.note 17If the believer accepts the consciousness of sin, as from himself, when it is not, he at once leaves his position of death to sin, and reckons himself alive to it. This explains why many who have truly known victory over sin by the "reckon" of Romans 6: 11, surrender their basis, and lose the position of victory; because the Accuser has counterfeited some manifestation of "self" or "sin," and then accused the man of it, with the taunt that " Romans 6 does not work," and by this device made him surrender his basis of victory, causing him to fall into confusion, and condemnation, as into a pit of miry clay and darkness.
NEED OF UNFLINCHING WARFARE AGAINST SIN
On the other hand, if the believer in the slightest degree is tempted to treat sin lightly, or attribute it to evil spirits when it is from himself, he is equally on false ground, and lays himself open to the old fallen nature regaining mastery over him with redoubled force. The warfare against Satan must be accompanied with a vigorous, unflinching warfare against sin. Any known sin must not be tolerated for a moment. Whether it be from the fallen nature, or from evil spirits forcing it into the man, it MUST BE CAST OFF AND PUT AWAY; on the basis of Rom. 6: 6 and 12.note 18
Two misconceptions which give great advantage to the watching enemy are the thoughts in many believers' minds, that if a Christian commits sin he will at once (1) know it himself, or (2) that God will tell him. They, therefore, expect God to tell them when they are right or wrong, instead of seeking light and knowledge according to John 3: 21.
Believers seeking victory over all the deceptions of the enemy, must take an active part in dealing with sin. Based upon a wrong conception of "death" they may have thought that God would remove sin out of their lives for them, with the result that they have failed to actively co-work with Him in dealing with evil, within and in their environment, in others and in the world.
For a life of perpetual victory over Satan as Accuser, it is very important that the believer should understand, and detect any inconsistency between the attitude of the will and the actions in his life. He should read himself from his actions as well as from his will and motives. For instance, a person is charged with doing a certain thing, which he at once denies, because the action does not agree with his will-attitude, and therefore, he says, it is impossible that he should have acted or spoken in the way stated. The believer judges himself by his own inner standpoint of will and motives, and not by his actions as well as his will. (1 Cor. 11: 31).
On the Godward side the cleansing power of the Blood of Christ is needed (1 John 1:7) continuously for those who seek to walk in the light, cleansing themselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor. 7: 1).
The devil as an Accuser also works indirectly through others, inciting them to make accusations which he wants the man to accept as true, and thus open the door to him to make them true; or he accuses the believer to others by "visions" or "revelations" about him, which causes them to misjudge him.note 19 In any case, whatever may come to the believer from man or devil, LET HIM MAKE USE OF IT FOR PRAYER, and by prayer turn all accusations into steps to victory.
VICTORY OVER SATAN AS A LIAR
(John 8: 44): "He was a murderer from the beginning, and stood not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father thereof." This does not mean that the enemy never tells the truth, but his truth has the objective of getting the believer involved in evil; e.g., when the spirit of divination spoke the truth, that Paul and Silas were the servants of God, it was to suggest the lie that Paul and Silas derived their power from the same source as the girl under the evil spirit's power. The devil and his wicked spirits will speak, or use, ninety-nine parts of truth to float one lie, but Paul was not deceived by the witness of a soothsaying prophetess acknowledging their divine authority. He discerned the wicked spirit and its purpose, exposed it, and cast it out.
Even so must the believer be able to triumph over Satan as a liar, and be able to recognize his lies, and those of lying spirits, in whatever form they are presented to him. This he does by knowing the truth, and using the weapon of truth.
VICTORY OVER FALSEHOOD BY TRUTH
There is no way of victory over falsehood but by truth. To have victory over the devil as a liar, and over his lies, the believer must be determined always to know the truth, and speak the truth about everything, in himself, in others, and around him.
Satan the liar, through his lying spirits, persistently pours lies on the believer all day long; lies into his thoughts about himself, his feelings, his condition, his environment; lies misinterpreting everything in himself, and around him; about others with whom he is in contact; lies about the past and the future; lies about God; and lies about himself, magnifying his power and his authority. To have victory over this persistent stream of lies from the father of lies,note 20the believer must fight (1) with the weapon of God's truth in the written Word, and (2) truth about facts in himself, others and circumstances. How persistently to "refuse" all lies from the Liar, and his emissaries, is explained in other parts of this book. As the believer increasingly triumphs over the devil as a liar, he grows better able to discern his lies, and equipped to strip away the covering for others.
VICTORY OVER SATAN AS A COUNTERFEITER OR FALSE "ANGEL OF LIGHT"
"Even Satan himself fashioneth himself into an angel of light," and his "ministers" ("false apostles, deceitful workers," 2 Cor. 11: 13) also fashion themselves as "ministers of righteousness" (2 Cor. 11: 14-15). This aspect of victory over Satan runs on the same lines as the preceding ones; i.e., by the knowledge of truth, enabling the believer to recognize the lies of Satan, when he presents himself under the guise of light.
Light is the very nature of God Himself. To recognize darkness when clothed in light-supernatural light--needs deep knowledge of the true light, and a power to discern the innermost sources of things that in appearance look God-like and beautiful. How the Adversary counterfeits the very light of God, so as to appear as God, has been already set forth in Chapter 6. The main attitude for this aspect of victory over the Adversary, is a settled position of neutrality to all supernatural workings, until the believer knows what is of God. If any experience is accepted without question, how can its Divine origin be guaranteed? The basis of acceptance or rejection must be knowledge. The believer must know, and he cannot know without examination, nor will he "examine" unless he maintains the attitude of "Believe not every spirit" until he has "tested" and proved what is of God.note 21
VICTORY OVER SATAN AS A HINDERER
"We would fain have come unto you . . . but Satan hindered us" (1 Thess. 2: 18), wrote Paul, who was able to discern between the hindering of Satan, and the restraining of the Holy Spirit of God (Acts 16: 6). This again means knowledge, and power to discern Satan's workings and Schemings, and the obstacles he places in the paths of the children of God; obstacles which look so "natural," and so like "Providence," that numbers meekly bow their heads and allow the Hinderer to prevail.
Power to discern comes (1) by knowledge that Satan can hinder; (2) by observing the objective of the hindrances, and (3) close observation of his methods along this line; e.g., is it God or Satan withholding money from missioners preaching the Gospel of Calvary, and giving abundance to those who preach error, and teachings which are the outcome of the spirit of anti- Christ?
Is it God or Satan hindering a believer by "circumstances," or, "sickness," from vital service important to the Church of God? Is it God or Satan urging a family to remove their residence, without reasonable grounds, to another neighbourhood, when it involves the removal of another member from a strategic vantage ground of service to God, with no other worker to take his place? Is it God or Satan leading Christians to put first their (1) health, (2) comfort, (3) social position, in their decisions, rather than the needs and the exigencies of the kingdom of God? Is it God or Satan who "hinders" service for God through members of a family making objections; or troubles in business which give no time for such service; or through property losses, etc.? Knowledge of the Hinderer, means victory by prayer over his schemes, and workings. The believer should therefore know his wiles.
VICTORY OVER SATAN AS MURDERER
(John 8: 44): Satan as the prince of death watches every occasion to take the life of the servants of God, if in any wise he can get them to fulfil conditions which enable him to do so. (1) By their willful insistence on going into danger without being sent of God; (2) by trapping them into danger through visions, or supernatural guidance, drawing them into actions which enable him to work behind the laws of nature for destroying their lives. This is what Satan tried to do with Christ in the wilderness temptation: "Throw Thyself down," he said; then quoting Scripture to show that the Lord had Scriptural warrant for believing that angel hands would bear Him up (Luke 4: 11), and not allow Him to fall. But the Son of God recognized the Tempter and the Murderer. He knew that His life would end as a Man, were He to give occasion to the malignant hate of Satan, by one step out of God's will; and that the Deceiver would not propose anything, however apparently innocent, or seemingly for God's glory, unless some great scheme for his own ends was deeply hidden in his proposition.
Christ now holds the "keys of death and of Hades" (Rev. 1: 18), and "him that hath the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb. 2: I4, R.V., m.), cannot exercise his power WITHOUT PERMISSION, but when the children of God, knowingly or unknowingly, fulfil the conditions which give Satan ground to attack their physical lives, the Lord with "the keys of death" works according to law, and does not save them, UNLESS BY THE WEAPON OF PRAYER they enable God to interpose, and give them victory over the law of death, as well as the law of sin, through "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8: 2).
"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Death is therefore an enemy; to be recognized as an enemy; and to be resisted as an enemy. The believer may lawfully "desire to depart and be with Christ" (Phil. 1: 23), but never to desire death merely as an end of "trouble," or to allow the lawful desire to be "with Christ," make him YIELD TO DEATH WHEN HE IS NEEDED FOR THE SERVICE OF THE CHURCH OF GOD. "To abide in the flesh is needful for you," wrote the Apostle to the Philippians, therefore "I know that I shall abide" (Phil. 1: 245).
BELIEVERS SHOULD RESIST DEATH AS AN ENEMY
The will of the believer "will"-ing physical death, gives the Adversary power of death over that one, and no believer should yield to a "desire to die" until he knows beyond question that God has released him from further service to His people. That a believer is "ready to die" is a very small matter; he must be ready to live, until he is sure that his life work is finished. God does not harvest His corn until it is ripe, and His redeemed children should be "garnered as a shock of corn in its season."
It is ofttimes the prince of death as a Murderer, working through the ignorance of God's children, (1) as to his power, (2) the conditions by which they give him power, and (3) the victory of prayer by which they resist his power, who cuts off God's soldiers from the battlefield. It is Satan as a Murderer, who gives "visions of glory," "longings to die," to workers of value to the Church of God, so that they yield to death, even in days of active service, and slowly fade away.
Believers who would have victory over Satan at every point, must resist his attack on the body, as well as on the spirit and mind. They must seek knowledge of God's laws for the body, so as to obey those laws, and give no occasion to Satan to slay them. They should know the place of the body in the spiritual life; (1) its prominence, and yet (2) its obscurity. Paul said, "I keep under my body." They must understand that the more knowledge they have of the devices and power of the Adversary, and of the fullness of the Calvary victory within their reach for complete victory over him, the more he will plan to injure them. The whole of his schemes against God's children may be summed up under three heads: (1) To cause them to sin, as he tempted Christ in the wilderness; (2) To slander them, as Christ was slandered by family and foes; (3) To slay them, as Christ was slain at Calvary, when, by the direct permission of God, the hour and power of darkness gathered around Him, and He by the hands of wicked men was crucified and slain (Acts 2: 23).
As the believer gains victories over Satan, and his deceiving and lying spirits, by thus recognizing, resisting and triumphing over them in their varied workings, his strength of spirit to conquer them grows stronger; and he will become more and more equipped to give the truth of the finished work of Calvary as sufficient for victory over sin and Satan; in the power and authority of Christ by the Holy Spirit; which will set others free from their power.
CONFLICT AND ATTACK
It will, of course, be clearly recognized that victory over Satan in these aspects will not be without great onslaughts from him and sharp conflict, which may well be called "the evil day" (Eph. 6: 13). In these attacks and conflicts there are some points which need to be understood. First, that it is always essential to know whether the attack and conflict are because of ground in oneself or others. For one reason why believers get attacks, and do not get through the conflict into victory, is because the cause of the attack and conflict lies in themselves.
POSSIBLE FRESH GROUND
The believer must understand that although he has been delivered from the deception and possession he fell into, yet in the succeeding life of aggressive warfare against the powers of darkness, he may again give fresh ground to the enemy through lack of knowledge, by accepting some lie from lying spirits, or by taking their misinterpretations of experiences, conditions, etc. For it must never be forgotten that wrong interpretation of any experience gives new ground to them,note 22GROUND BEING ANYTHING IN A PERS0N WHEREBY EVIL SPIRITS GAIN. The believer may attribute the attack and conflict to a wrong cause, i.e., (1) to an outside cause, or (2) to the maliciousness of the devil, or (3) to "local" conflict; meaning the enemy's workings around him in his environment, or through others.
When attacks and conflict come, lest he should give fresh ground to the enemy, the believer must know why they come, and in prayer ask God for light. In attacks, two or more may be in action simultaneously, therefore he should at once set himself to understand, and watch and observe all the workings of the enemy in the new conflict, or anything that will throw light on the situation, and show him what to refuse, and how to pray.
POSSIBLE WRONG WEAPONS
When there is ground, or the cause of the conflict or attack is in the believer himself, if he takes the attack pure conflict, i.e., as part of warfare for the Church, he will fight with the wrong weapons, and not get through to victory until the true cause is discovered, and the ground given up, and refused. For what is thought to be an "attack" from outside, may be a symptom, or manifestation of an evil spirit inside, who has regained a footing unknown to the believer, or has remained in some hidden location, when thought to have wholly gone. When the believer, therefore, finds himself in conflict, he should at once question "Is there ground?" in the following three aspects of the evil spirit's workings:--
- In attacks. Is there ground, or is it purely an attack?
- In conflict. Is there ground, or is it pure conflict?
- In communication, (i.e., suggestions, thoughts, whisperings of the enemy). "Is there ground?" or is it purely from outside, as Satan communicated with Eve ?
The believer should then declare his attitude in the three cases, as follows: "I refuse all ground, and the cause or causes of it!"
The last word spoken, alters, ratifies, or nullifiesnote 23previous ones; for instance, the believer may "refuse" in the present moment, what may be the product through evil spirits' workings of something he asked for in the past. He may say, "Although I asked for, believed in, and accepted such and such a thing in the past, I now refuse it." His present refusal nullifies his previous acceptance.
THE VALUE AND PURPOSE OF "REFUSING."
It is essential that believers should understand the value of the act of refusal, and the expression of it. Briefly: REFUSAL IS THE OPPOSITE OF ACCEPTANCE. Evil spirits have gained by the believer giving them (1) ground, (2) right of way, (3) use of their faculties, etc., and they lose when this is all withdrawn from them. What was given to the enemy by misconception and ignorance, and given with the consent of the will,note 24stands as ground for them to work on and through; until, by the same action of the will, the "giving" is revoked,note 25specifically and generally. The will in the past was unknowingly put for evil, and it must now be put unceasingly against it.
Once understood, the principle is very simple. The choice of the will gives: the choice of the will withdraws or nullifies the previous giving. The value and purpose of refusing stands the same toward God and toward Satan.note 26 The man gives to God, or refuses to give. He takes from God, or refuses to take. He gives to evil spirits--unknowingly or not--and he refuses to give. He finds he has given to them unwittingly, and he nullifies it by an act of withdrawal and refusal.
THE RELATION OF FRESH GROUND GIVEN, TO THE VICTORY IN CONFLICT
The relation to the aggressive warfare of freshly discovered "ground" given to deceiving spirits, is, that every new ground, discovered as given to them, and refused, means a renewed liberation of the spirit, with an access of deepened enmity to the foe as his subtle deceptions are increasingly exposed, and consequently more war upon Satan and his minions. It means more deliverance from their power, and less footing for their possession, or ground in the believer as he realizes that "symptoms," "effects," and "manifestations" are not abstract "things," but revelations of active personal agencies against whom he must war persistently.
Moreover all growth in experimental knowledge means increased protection against the deceiving enemy. As new ground is revealed, and fresh truth about the powers of darkness, and the way of victory over them, is understood, the truth delivers from their deceptions, and hence protects the believer up to the extent of his knowledge, from further deception; and he finds in experience that directly the truth ceases to operate by the believer's active use of it, he is open to attack from the watching foe, who ceaselessly plans against him. For example, let the believer who has been undeceived and dispossessed cease to use the truth, of (1) the existence of evil spirits; (2) their persistent watching to deceive him again; (3) the need of perpetual resistance and fight against them; (4) the keeping of his spirit in purity and strength in co-operation with the Spirit of God; and other truths parallel with these--the knowledge of which he has gained through so much suffering--he will sink down again into passivity,note 27and possibly deeper depths of deception. For the Holy Spirit NEEDS THE BELIEVER'S USE OF TRUTH to work with in energizing and strengthening him for conflict and victory, and does not guard him from the enemy apart from his co-operation in watching and prayer.
PERSISTENT REFUSAL OF GROUND TO EVIL SPIRITS
The way to refuse,note 28and what to refuse, is of primary importance in the hour of conflict. As we have seen, the believer needs to maintain an active attitude, and, when necessary, expression of refusal continually and persistently, this pre-supposing the man standing in faith upon the foundation of his identification in death with Christ at Calvary.note 29
In the hour of conflict, lest there should have been new ground given to evil spirits unknowingly, by accepting something from them, or believing some lie they have d to the mind, the believer should refuse all the things whereby they may have gained a new footing; the conflict, or attack, immediately passing away or ceasing, directly the means by which the enemy has regained ground is dealt with.
The believer himself will know, from his past experience, most of the ways by which the deceiving spirits have hitherto gained advantage over him; and he will instinctively turn to the points of refusal which have been of the most service to him in his fight to freedom. The refusing in this way takes ground from them in many directions. The widest scope covered by the act and attitude of refusal, the more thoroughly is the believer separating himself, BY HIS CHOICE, from the deceiving spirits, who can only hold their ground by the consentnote 30of his will. By refusing all he once accepted from themnote 31he can become comparatively clear of ground to them, so far as his choice and attitude is concerned.
REFUSAL AN AGGRESSIVE WEAPON IN CONFLICT
In the hour of conflict, when the forces of darkness are pressing upon the believer, the expression of his active refusal becomes an aggressive warfare upon them, as well as a defensive weapon. It is then as though the will at the centre of " Mansoul, " instead of sinking down in fear and despair when the enemy assaults the city, issues forth in aggressive resistance against the foe, by declaring its attitude against him. The battle turns upon the choice of the will in the citadel being maintained, in unshaken refusal to yield to, or admit any one of the attacking spirits of evil. The whole power of God, by the Holy Spirit, will be at the back of the active resistance of the man in his attitude of refusal to the enemy.
It is important to understand the effectiveness of this refusal of the will, on the part of the undeceived believer, as a barrier against the foe, because the outer man, in "feelings, " and nervous system, bears the scars long after his deliverance from the pit of deception into which he has been beguiled. When once the wall of the outer man has been broken into by supernatural forces of evil, it is not quickly rebuilt so that they cease to have any effect upon it in times of severe conflict. Believers who are emerging from deception and possession, should therefore know the power of an aggressive turning upon the enemy in the moment of his attacking them, with an active expression of their choice and will in regard to him. In such a way the aggressive becomes a defensive action. The believer in conflict may say with effect:
"I refuse all the authority of evil spirits over me: their right to me: their claims upon me: their power in me: their influence in or upon me . . ."note 32
The same weapon of refusing works in many phases of the conflict; for example, in speaking or writing, if the believer is conscious of difficulties, obstacles, or interference in what be is doing, he should at once refuse all ideas, thoughts, suggestions, visions (i.e., pictures to the mindnote 33 words, impressions, the spirits of evil may be seeking to insert, or press upon him, so that he may be able to co-operate with the Holy Spirit, and have a clarified mind for the carrying out of His will.
That is, the believer by his refusal, and resistance of all supernatural attempts to interfere with his outer man; is actively to resist the powers of darkness, whilst he seeks to co-work with the Holy Spirit within his spirit. At first this means much conflict, but as he maintains active resistance, and increasingly closes his whole being to the spirits of evil, and is on the alert to recognize, and refuse their workings, his union with the Risen Lord deepens, his spirit grows strong, his vision pure, his mental faculties clear to realize a perpetual victory over the foes who once had him in their power.note 34
Especially is he on guard against, what may be described as, the "double counterfeits" of the deceiving spirits. That is, the counterfeits by the enemy in connection with attacks upon himself. For example, the devil attacks him manifestly and visibly, so that he clearly knows it to be an onslaught of the spirit beings of evil. He prays, resists, gets through to victory in his will and spirit. Then comes a great "feeling" of peace, and rest, which may be as much an "attack" as the onslaught, but more subtle and liable to mislead the believer if he is not on guard. The enemy suddenly retreating and ceasing the furious attack, hopes to gain the advantage by the second which he failed to obtain in the first.
FIGHTING FROM PRINCIPLE
It is essential to understand how to "fight," so to speak, "in cold blood"; i.e., wholly apart from feelings of any kind; for the believer may "feel" it is "victory" when it is defeat, and vice versa. All dependence upon feeling, and acting from "impulse" must be put aside in this warfare. Before the man received the Baptism of the Spirit, he acted from principle in the natural realm, and he must now come back to that same position as a spiritual man. Some can only recognize "conflict" when they are conscious of it, so to speak; they fight spasmodically, or by accident, when forced to it by necessity; but now the "fight" must be permanent and part of the very life. There is a ceaseless recognition of the forces of darkness in "cold blood," because of knowledge of what they are, and a consequent "fight" from principle. A fight against the unseen foes when there is nothing to be seen of their presence, or workings, remembering that they do not always attack when they can,note 35i.e., if they were to attack on some occasions, they would lose by it, because it would reveal the character of the thing and the source.
The believer knows that the devil, as a Tempter, is always tempting, and therefore, he resists from principle. In brief, he who desires perpetual victory, must understand that it is a question of principle versus feeling,note 36and consciousness. It can only be intermittent victory if the warfare is governed by the latter rather than the former. For instance, when the enemy attacks the believer, he will find a strong, primary weapon of victory in declaring deliberately, his basic position toward sin and Satan, as standing on the Calvary ground of Rom. 6: 6-11. The man reckoning himself in the present moment "dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God," refuses to yield to sin and Satan, in any, or all of the points, or cause, or causes, of the attack or conflict.
As the believer thus declares his position in the hour of conflict and onslaught from the foe, he will often find himself obliged to wrestle in real combat with the invisible enemy. Standing on the finished work of Christ in death to sin, the spirit of the man becomes liberated for action, and energized to stand against the hierarchic hosts of Satan, the principalities and powers, the world-rulers of the darkness and the hosts of wicked spirits in the heavenly (or spiritual) sphere.
WRESTLING AND WHAT IT MEANS
It is only possible to wrestle against the powers of darkness, by the spirit. It is a spiritual warfare, and can only be understood by the spiritual man, that is, a man who lives by and is governed by his spirit.note 37 Evil spirits attack, wrestle with, and resist the believer.note 38 Therefore he must fight them, wrestle with them, and resist them. This wrestling is not with soul or body, but with the spirit; for the lesser cannot wrestle with the higher. Body wrestles with body in the physical realm; in the intellectual, soul with soul; and in the spiritual, spirit with spirit. But the powers of darknessnote 39 attack the three- fold nature of man, and through body or soul seek to reach the spirit of man. If the fight is a mental one, the will should be used in decisive action, quietly and steadily. If it is a spirit fight, all the forces of the spirit should be brought to join the mind. If the spirit is pressed down and unable to resist,note 40 then there should be a steady mental fight when the mind, as it were, stretches out its hand to lift up the spirit.
The objective of evil spirits is to get the spirit down, and thus render the believer powerless to take the aggressive against them; or else they seek to push the spirit beyond its due poise and measure, into an effervescence which carries the believer beyond the control of his volition and mind, and hence off guard against the subtle foe; or incapable of exercising due balance of speech, action, thought, discrimination,note 41 so that under cover they may regain ground, or some advantage for themselves. A GREAT VICTORY MEANS GREAT DANGER, because when the believer is occupied with it, the devil is scheming how to rob him of it. The hour of victory therefore calls for soberness of mind, and watching unto prayer, for a little over-elation may mean its loss and a long sore fight back to full victory.
When the spirit triumphs in the wrestling and gains the victory, there breaks out, as it were, a stream from the spirit, of triumph and resistance against the invisible, but very real foe; but sometimes in the conflict the enemy succeeds in blocking the spirit through his attack on body or soul.
The spirit needs soul and body for expression, hence the enemy's attacks to close the spirit up,note 42 so as to render the man unable to act in resistance against him. When this takes place the believer thinks that he is "reserved," because he feels "shut up"; or he has "no voice to refuse"; in audible prayer the "words seem empty," he "feels no effect," it seems a "mockery," but in truth it is that the spirit is closing up through the wrestling enemy gripping, holding and binding it. The believer must now insist on EXPRESSING HIMSELF IN VOICE, until the spirit breaks through into liberty. This is "the word of testimony" which is said, in Rev. 12: 11, to be part of the overcoming power over the dragon. The wrestling believer stands on the (1) ground of the Blood of the Lamb, which includes all that the finished work of Calvary means in victory over sin and Satan; he (2) gives the word of his testimony in affirming his attitude to sin and Satan, and the sure, certain victory through Christ; and (3) he lives in the Calvary spirit, with his life surrendered to do the will of God, even unto death.
PRAYER AND PERSONAL CONFLICT
Closely bound up with the wrestling of the spirit is the necessity of prayer. Not so much the prayer of petition to a Father, as the prayer of one joined in Spirit with the Son of God, with the will fused with His,note 43 declaring to the enemy the authority of Christ over all their power (Ephes. 1: 203).
Sometimes the believer has to "wrestle" in order to pray; at other times to pray in order to wrestle. If he cannot "fight" he must pray, and if he cannot pray he must "fight. " For example, if the believer is conscious of a weightnote 44 on his spirit, he must get rid of the weight by refusing all the "causes" of the weight; for it is necessary to keep the spirit unburdened to fight, and to retain power of detection. The delicate spirit-sense becomes dull under "weights,"note 45 or pressure upon it, hence the enemy's ceaseless tactics to get "burdens" or pressure on the spirit, unrecognized as from the foe, or else recognized and allowed to remain.
The man may feel "bound up" and the cause be in others, i.e. (1) no open spirit or open mind in another to receive from the spirit and mind of the one who feels bound up; (2) no capacity in the other to receive any message of truth; (3) some thought in the mind of the other, checking the flow from the spirit.
If in the morning the believer finds a "weight" or heaviness on his spirit, and it is undealt with, he is sure to lose the position of victory through the day. In dealing with weight on the spirit, the moment it is recognized, the believer must at once act in spirit, and (1) stand (Eph. 6: 14); (2) withstand (Eph. 6: 13); and resist (Jas. 4:7) the powers of darkness. Each of these positions means spirit-action, for these words do not describe a "state," or an "attitude" (which is mainly an attitude of the will), or an act by soul or body.
To "stand" is a spirit-action repelling an aggressive move of the enemy; to "withstand" is to make an aggressive move against them; and to "resist" is actively to fight with the spirit, as a man "resists" with his body another who is physically attacking him.
THE WILES OF THE DEVIL
The word "wiles" in the original means "methods," and bears in its varied forms, the thought of "craft," or artifice; to "work by method," to over-reach, to outwit, to go in pursuit; also the thought of system, or a way, or a method of doing things.
Satan's war on the saints can be summed up in the one word "Wiles of the devil." He does not work in the open but always behind cover.note 46 The methods of the deceiving spirits are adapted to each one, with a skill and cunning gained by years of experience. Generally the wiles are primarily directed against the mind, or "thoughts," and apart from yielding to known sin, most of the workings of Satan in a believer's life may be traced back to a wrong thought or belief,note 47 admitted into the mind, and not recognized to be from deceiving spirits, e.g., if a believer only thinks and believes that all that Satan does is manifestly bad, Satan has only to clothe himself with "good" to gain full credence with that man. The war, therefore, is a war of deceit and counterfeit, and only those can stand against all the wiles of the deceiver, who seek the fullest truth from God, about God, Satan and themselves.
KNOWING THE WILES OF THE DEVIL
The Apostle said that the believer was to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, and that he was to put on the whole armour for doing this. How can a man stand against a wile, if he does not know what the wile is? There is a difference between temptation and wiles; between the principles, and working of Satan and his emissaries, and their wiles; i.e., they themselves are tempters. Temptation is not a wile. A wile is the way they scheme to tempt. Paul did not say that the believer must stand against "temptations" or lies, or mention any other specific characteristic of evil spirits; but he must be "able to stand" against their wiles. The spiritual man is to be on guard lest he is caught by their wiles. If they can be detected, then their objective can be frustrated and destroyed. The spiritual man needs the fullest concentration, and sagacity of mind for reading quickly his spirit sense, and detecting the active operations of the foe; he also requires alertness in using the message his spirit conveys to him. A spiritual believer ought to be able to read the sense of his spirit,note 48 with the same instinctive adroitness, as a person recognizes the physical sense of cold, when he feels a draught, and immediately uses his mental intelligence for actively protecting himself from it.note 49 So the spiritual man needs to use his spirit sense in locating and dislodging the foe by prayer.
Again, an "objective" and a "wile" are quite distinct. The wile is a means used by the foe to gain an objective. The evil spirits must use "wiles" to carry out their objective. Their objective is possession, but their "wiles" will be counterfeits. They are liars, but how can they succeed in getting their lies into the mind of a man? They do not need wiles to make themselves liars, but they need the wile to get the lie accepted by the believer.
The wiles of the devil and his emissaries are countless, and fitted to the believer.note 50 If he is to be moved by suffering from any course of action detrimental to their interests, they will play upon his sympathies by the suffering they cause to one near and dear to him; or if he shrinks from suffering in himself, they will work upon this to make him change his course. To those who are naturally sympathetic, they will use the counterfeit of love; those who can be attracted by intellectual things will be drawn from the spiritual sphere by being driven to over study, or be given mental attractions of many kinds. Whilst others, who are over sensitive and conscientious, may be constantly charged with blame for apparently continuous failure. The lying spirits lash the person for what they themselves do,note 51 but if the believer understands how to refuse all blame from them, he can use their very doings as a weapon against them.
THE ARMOUR FOR THE CONFLICT
For this conflict with the powers of darkness the believer must learn experimentally how to take and use the armour for the battle, described by the apostle in Ephes. 6. The objective in Ephesians 6 is clearly not victory over sin--this is assumed--but VICTORY OVER SATAN. The call is not to the world, but to the Church. A call to stand in armour; to stand in the evil day; to stand against the powers of darkness; to stand after accomplishing the work of overthrowing them--"having overcome all," verse 13, A.V. m.--by the strength given of God.
The armour in detail, as set forth in Ephes. 6 is provided that the child of God should be "ABLE to stand" against the wiles of the devil; clearly showing that a believer can be made able to conquer all the principalities and powers of hell, if he fulfils the necessary conditions, and uses the armour provided for him.
It must be a REAL ARMOUR if it is provided for meeting a REAL FOE, and it must demand a REAL KNOWLEDGE of it on the part of the believer; to whom the FACT of the provision, the FACT of the foe, and the FACT of the fight, must be as REAL FACTS as any other facts declared in the Scriptures. The armoured and non- armoured believer may be briefly contrasted as follows:
|The armoured Christian.||The non-armoured Christian|
|Armoured with truth.||Open to lies, through ignorance.|
|Righteousness of life.||Unrighteousness through ignorance.|
|Making and keeping peace.||Divisions and quarrels.|
|Self-preservationnote 52and control.||Reckless unwatchfulness.|
|Faith as a shield.||Doubt and unbelief.|
|Scriptures in the hand.||Relying on reason instead God's Word.|
|Prayer without ceasing.||Relying on work without prayer.|
The believer who takes up the whole armour of God as a covering and protection against the foe, must himself walk in victory over the enemy. He must have (1) his spirit indwelt by the Holy Spirit, so that he is strengthened with the might of God to stand unshaken; and be given continuously a "supply of the Spirit of Jesus" to keep his spirit sweet and pure; (2) his mind renewed (Rom. 12: 2) so that he has his understanding filled with the light of truth (Eph. 1: 18) displacing Satan's lies, and destroying the veil with which Satan once held it; the mind clarified so that he intelligently understands what the will of the Lord is; (3) his body subservient to the Spirit (1 Cor. 9: 25), and obedient to the will of God in life and service.