"War on the Saints" by Jessie Penn-Lewis
CHAPTER 3. Deception by evil spirits in modern times
In the special onslaught of the deceiver, which will come upon the whole of the true Church of Christ at the close of the age, through the army of deceiving spirits, there are some more than others who are specially attacked by the powers of darkness, who need light upon his deceptive workings, so that they may pass through the trial of the Last Hour, and be counted worthy to escape that hour of greater trial, which is coming upon the earth (Luke 21: 346; Rev. 3: 10).
For among those who are members of the Body of Christ, there are degrees of growth, and therefore degrees of testing, permitted by God, Who provides a way of escape for him who knows his need, and, by watching unto prayer, takes heed lest he fall (1 Cor. 10: 12, 13). He is the Sovereign Lord of the Universe, and Satan is set his limit with every redeemed believer (see Job 1: 12; 2: 6; Luke 22: 31). Some of the members of Christ are yet in the stage of babyhood, and others do not even know the initial reception of the Holy Spirit. To such this book has not much to say, as they are among the weaker ones who need the "milk of the Word."
But there are others, who may be described as the advance guard of the Church of Christ, who have been baptized with the Holy Ghost, or who are seeking that Baptism; honest and earnest believers, who sigh and cry over the powerlessness of the true Church of Christ, and who grieve that her witness is so ineffective; that Spiritism and Christian Science, and other "isms," are sweeping thousands into their deceptive errors, little thinking, that, as they themselves go forward into the spiritual realm, the deceiver, who has misled others, has special wiles prepared for them, so that he might render ineffective their aggressive power against him. These are the ones who are in danger of the special deception of the counterfeit "Christs," and false prophets, and the dazzling lure of "signs and wonders," and "fire out of heaven," planned to meet their longing for the mighty interposition of God in the darkness settling upon the earth, but who do not recognize that such workings of the spirits of evil are possible, and so are unprepared to meet them.
These are the ones, also, who are recklessly ready to follow the Lord at any cost, and yet do not realize their unpreparedness for contest with the spiritual powers of the unseen world, as they press on into fuller spiritual things. Believers who are full of mental conceptions wrought into them in earlier years, which hinder the Spirit of God from preparing them for all they will meet as they press on to their coveted goal; conceptions which also hinder others from giving them, out of the Scriptures, much that they need to know of the spiritual world into which they are so blindly advancing. Conceptions which lull them into a false security, and give ground for, and even bring about, that very deception which enables the deceiver to find them an easy prey.
CAN "HONEST SOULS" BE DECEIVED?
One prevailing idea, which such believers have deeply embedded in their minds, is that "honest seekers after God" will not be allowed to be deceived. That this is one of Satan's lies, to lure such seekers into a false position of safety, is proved by the history of the Church during the past two thousand years, for every "wile of error" which has borne sad fruit throughout this period, first laid hold of devoted believers who were "honest souls." The errors among groups of such believers, some well known to the present generation, all began among "honest" children of God, baptized with the Holy Ghost; and all so sure that, knowing the side-tracking of others before them, they would never be caught by the wiles of Satan. Yet they, too, have been deceived by lying spirits, counterfeiting the workings of God in the higher ranges of the spiritual life.
Among such devoted believers, lying spirits have worked on their determination literally to obey the Scriptures, and by misuse of the letter of the written Word, have pushed them into phases of unbalanced truth, with resulting erroneous practices. Many who have suffered for their adherence to these "Biblical commands," firmly believe that they are martyrs suffering for Christ. The world calls these devoted ones "cranks," and "fanatics," yet they give evidence of highest devotion and love to the Person of the Lord, and could be delivered, if they but understood why the powers of darkness deceived them, and the way of freedom from their power.
The aftermath of the Revival in Wales, which was a true work of God, revealed numbers of "honest souls" swept off their feet by evil supernatural powers, which they were not able to discern from the true working of God. And later still than the Welsh Revival, there have been other "movements," with large numbers of earnest servants of God swept into deception, through the wiles of deceiving spirits counterfeiting the workings of God; all "honest souls," deceived by the subtle foe, and certain to be led on into still deeper deception, notwithstanding their honesty and earnestness, if they are not awakened to "return to soberness" and recovery out of the snare of the devil into which they have fallen (2 Tim. 2: 26).
FAITHFULNESS TO LIGHT NOT SUFFICIENT SAFEGUARD AGAINST DECEPTION
The children of God need to know that to be true in motive, and faithful up to light, is not sufficient safeguard against deception; and that it is not safe for them to rely upon their "honesty of purpose" as guaranteeing protection from the enemy's wiles, instead of taking heed to the warnings of God's Word, and watching unto prayer.
Christians who are true and faithful, and honest, can be deceived by Satan, and his deceiving spirits, for the following reasons:--
(a) When a man becomes a child of God, by the regenerating power of the Spirit, giving him new life as he trusts in the atoning work of Christ, he does not at the same time receive fulness of knowledge, either of God, himself, or the devil.
(b) The mind which by nature is darkened (Eph. 4: 18), and under a veil created by Satan (2 Cor. 4: 4) is only renewed, and the veil destroyed, up to the extent that the light of truth penetrates it, and according to the measure in which the man is able to apprehend it.
(c) "Deception" has to do with the mind, and it means a wrong thought admitted to the mind, under the deception that it is truth. Since "deception" is based on ignorance, and not on the moral character; a Christian who is "true" and "faithful" up to the knowledge he has, must be open to deception in the sphere where he is ignorant of the "devices" of the devil (2 Cor. 2: 11), and what he is able to do. A "true" and "faithful" Christian is liable to be "deceived" by the devil because of his ignorance.
(d) The thought that God will protect a believer from being deceived if he is true and faithful, is in itself a "deception," because it throws a man off guard, and ignores the fact that there are conditions on the part of the believer which have to be fulfilled for God's working. God does not do anything instead of a man, but by the man's co-operation with Him; neither does He undertake to make up for a man's ignorance, when He has provided knowledge for him which will prevent him being deceived.
(e) Christ would not have warned His disciples "Take heed . . be not deceived" if there had been no danger of deception, or if God had undertaken to keep them from deception apart from their "taking heed," and their knowledge of such danger.
The knowledge that it is possible to be deceived, keeps the mind open to truth, and light from God; and is one of the primary conditions for the keeping power of God; whereas a closed mind to light and truth, is a certain guarantee of deception by Satan at his earliest opportunity.
THE BAPTISM OF THE HOLY GHOST
As we glance back over the history of the Church, and watch the rise of various "heresies" or delusions--as they have sometimes been called--we can trace the period of deception as beginning with some great spiritual crisis, such as that which, in later years, we have termed "the Baptism of the Holy Ghost"; a crisis in which the man is brought to give himself up in full abandonment to the Holy Spirit, and in so doing thus opens himself to the supernatural powers of the invisible world.
The reason for the peril of this crisis, is, that up to this time, the believer used his reasoning faculties in judging right and wrong, and obeyed, what he believed to be, the will of God, from principle; but now, in his abandonment to the Holy Spirit, he begins to obey an unseen Person, and to submit his faculties, and his reasoning powers in blind obedience to that which he believes is of God. What the Baptism of the Spirit means will be dealt with in a later chapter;note 1 at this point it is only necessary to say that it is a crisis in the life of a Christian, which none but those who have gone through it in experience, can fully under stand. It means that the Spirit of God becomes so real to the man, that his supreme object in life is henceforth implicit "obedience to the Holy Ghost." The will is surrendered to carry out the Will of God at all costs, and the whole being is made subject to the powers of the unseen world; the believer, of course, purposing that it shall only be to the power of God, not taking into account that there are other powers in the spiritual realm, and that all that is "supernatural" is not all of God; and not realizing that this absolute surrender of the whole being to invisible forces, without knowing how to discern between the contrary powers of God and Satan, must be of the gravest risk to the inexperienced believer.
The question whether this surrender to "obey the Spirit, " is one that is in accord with Scripture, should be examined in view of the way in which so many wholehearted believers have been misled, for it is strange that an attitude which is Scriptural should be so grievously the cause of danger, and often complete wreckage, to many devoted children of God.
IS THE PHRASE OBEYING "THE SPIRIT" SCRIPTURAL?
"The Holy Ghost, Whom God hath given to them that obey Him," is the principal phrase giving rise to the expression, "obey the Spirit." It was used by Peter before the Council at Jerusalem, but nowhere else in the Scriptures is the same thought given. The whole passage needs reading carefully to reach a clear conclusion. "We must obey GOD" (Acts 5: 29), Peter said to the Sanhedrin, for "we are witnesses . . and so is the Holy Ghost Whom God hath given to them that obey Him" (v. 32). Does the Apostle mean "obey the Spirit," or "obey GOD," according to the first words of the passage? The distinction is important, and the setting of the words can only be rightly understood by the teaching of other parts of Scripture, that the Triune GOD in Heaven is to be obeyed, through the power of the indwelling Spirit of God. For to place the Holy Ghost as the object of obedience, rather than God the Father, through the Son, by the Holy Spirit, creates the danger of leading the believer to rely upon, or obey, a "Spirit" in, or around him, rather than God on the throne in heaven, Who is to be obeyed by the child of God united to His Son; the Holy Spirit being the media, or means, through Whom God is worshipped, and obeyed.
THE TRUE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN THE BELIEVER
The Baptism of the Spirit, however, so brings the Holy Spirit as a Person into the range of the believer's consciousness, that for the time being, the other Persons of the Trinity, in heaven, may be eclipsed. The Holy Spirit becomes the centre and object of thought and worship, and is given a place which He Himself does not desire, and which it is not the purpose of the Father in heaven, that He should have, or occupy. "He shall not speak from Himself " (John 16: 13), said the Lord before Calvary, as He told of His coming at Pentecost. He should act as Teacher (John 14: 26), but teaching the words of Another, not His own; He should bear witness to Another, not to Himself (John 15: 26); He should glorify Another, not Himself (John 16: 14); He should only speak what was given Him to speak by Another (John 16: 13); in brief, His entire work would be to lead souls into union with the Son, and knowledge of the Father in heaven whilst He Himself directed, and worked in the background.
But the opening of the spiritual world, which takes place through the filling of the Spirit; and the work of the Spirit, which now occupies the attention of the believer, is just the opportunity for the arch-deceiver to commence his wiles under a new form. If the man is untaught in the Scriptural statements of the work of the Triune God, to "obey the Spirit" is now his supreme purpose; and to counterfeit the guidance of the Spirit, and the Spirit Himself, is now the deceiver's scheme; for he must somehow regain power over this servant of God, so as to render him useless for aggressive warfare against the forces of darkness, drive him back into the world, or in some way side-track him from active service for God.
THE PERIL OF THE TIME OF THE BAPTISM OF THE SPIRIT
It is just here that the ignorance of the believer about (1) the spiritual world now opened to him, (2) the workings of evil powers in that realm, and (3) the conditions upon which God works in and through him, gives the enemy his opportunity. It is the time of greatest peril for every believer, unless he is instructed and prepared, as the disciples were for three whole years by the Lord. The danger lies along the line of supernatural "guidance," through not knowing the condition of co-operation with the Holy Spirit, and how to discern the will of God; and counterfeit manifestations, through not knowing the "discerning of spirits" necessary to detect the workings of the false angel of light, who is able to bring about counterfeit gifts of prophesy, tongues, healings, and other spiritual experiences, connected with the work of the Holy Ghost.
Those who have their eyes opened to the opposing forces of the spiritual realm, understand that very few believers can guarantee that they are obeying God, and God only, in direct supernatural guidance, because there are so many factors liable to intervene, such as the believer's own mind, own spirit, own will, and the deceptive intrusion of the powers of darkness.
Since evil spirits can counterfeitnote 2 God as Father, Son, or Holy Spirit, the believer needs also to know very clearly the principles upon which God works, so as to detect between the Divine and the Satanic workings. There is a "discernment" which is a spiritual gift, enabling the believer to discern "spirits," but this also requires knowledge of "doctrine" (1 John 4: 1), so as to discern between doctrine which is of God, and doctrines, or teachings, of teaching spirits.
There is a detecting, by the gift of discerning of spirits,note 3 which spirit is at work; and a test of spirits, which is doctrinal. In the former a believer can tell by a spirit of discernment, that the lying spirits are at work in a meeting, or in a person, but he may not have the understanding needed for testing the "doctrines" set forth by a teacher. He needs knowledge in both cases; knowledge to read his spirit with assurance in the face of all contrary appearances, that the supernatural workings are "of God"; and knowledge to detect the subtlety of "teachings" bearing certain infallible indications that they emanate from the pit, while appearing to be from God.
In personal obedience to God, the believer can detect whether he is obeying God in some "command," by judging its fruits, and by knowledge of the character of God, such as the truth that (1) God has always a purpose in His commands, and (2) He will give no command out of harmony with His character and Word. Other factors needed for clear knowledge are dealt with later on.note 4
WHY THE BAPTISM OF THE SPIRIT IS A SPECIAL TIME OF DANGER
Another question of grave importance arises just here. Why, after a Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the believer should be so specially open to the deceiver's workings, for the enemy must have ground to work upon, and with the Holy Spirit so manifestly in possession, how can "ground," be possible, or the believer be open to the deceiver's approach?
Possibly because in preceding years, through yielding to sin, an evil spirit may have obtained access to body or mind, and, hiding deeply in the structure of the man, never been detected, or dislodged. The manifestation of this evil spirit possibly being so apparently "natural," or so identified with the person's character, as to have had unhindered sway in his being; such as some peculiar idea in the mind being considered as part of the man's idiosyncrasy; some habit of body, as part of the upbringing of the man himself, therefore "put up with" by others, and looked upon by the believer as a lawful thing, or of trivial importance; or else this evil spirit had lodgment through some secret sin known only to the person, or through some disposition which gave him sway. [See also "Passivity," Chap. 4 and "obsession," Chap. 5].
In the Baptism of the Spirit, the sin will of necessity have been dealt with;note 5 that is, the "works of the devil," but the evil spirit manifested in the peculiar idiosyncrasy, is left undetected. The Baptism of the Spirit takes place, and the Holy Spirit fills the spirit of the man; the body and mind are "surrendered" to God, but hidden secretly in one, or both,note 6 is the evil spirit, or spirits, which obtained lodgment years before, but who now break forth into activity, and hide their "manifestations" under cover of the true workings of the Spirit of God, dwelling within the inner shrine of the spirit.
The result of this is, that for a time, the heart is filled with love; the spirit is full of light and joy; the tongue is loosed to witness, but ere long a "fanatical spirit" may be detected creeping in, or a subtle spirit of pride, or self-importance, and self-aggrandisement,note 7 concurrent with the other pure fruits of the Spirit, which are undeniably of God.
What the ground is upon which the deceiver works to carry out his schemes, and what these schemes are, and why in so many instances they succeed in ensnaring devoted believers, we shall deal with later on in this book. The fact to emphasize now, is, that "honest" and earnest believers can be deceived, and even "possessed" by deceiving spirits, so that for a period they go out of the main line into a bog of deception, or they are left deceived to the end, unless light for their deliverance reaches them.
THE NEED FOR EXAMINATiON OF THEORIES
In the light of the working of deceiving spirits, and their methods of deception, it is also becoming clear that close examination is needed of the twentieth century theories, conceptions, and expressions, concerning things in connection with God, and His way of working in man; for only the truth of God, apart from "views" of truth, will avail for protection, or warfare, in the conflict with wicked spirits in the heavenly sphere.
All that is in any degree the outcome of the mind of the "natural man" (1 Cor. 2: 14) will prove to be but weapons of straw in this great battle, and if we rely upon others' "views of truth," or upon our own human conceptions of truth, Satan will use these very things to deceive us, even building us up in these theories and views, so that under cover of them he may accomplish his purposes.
We cannot therefore, at this time, over-estimate the importance of believers having open minds to "examine all things" they have thought, and taught, in connection with the things of God, and the spiritual realm. All the "truths" they have held; all the phrases and expressions they have used in "holiness teachings"; and all the "teachings" they have absorbed through others. For any wrong interpretation of truth, any theories and phrases which are man- conceived, and which we may build upon wrongly, will have perilous consequences to ourselves, and to others, in the conflict which the Church, and the individual believer, is now passing through. Since in the "later times" evil spirits will come to them with deceptions in doctrinal form, believers must examine carefully what they accept as "doctrine," lest it should be from the emissaries of the deceiver.
THE SPIRITUAL BELIEVER EXHORTED TO "JUDGE ALL THINGS"
The duty of this examination of spiritual things is strongly urged by the Apostle Paul, again and again. "He that is spiritual judgeth (margin, examineth, or, as in the Greek, investigates and decides), all things" (1 Cor. 2: 15). The "spiritual" believer is to use his "judgment," which is a renewed faculty if he is a "spiritual man," and this spiritual examination, or judging, is mentioned as operative in connection with "things of the Spirit of God" (1 Cor 2: 14), showing how God Himself honours the intelligent personality of the man He re-creates in Christ, by inviting the "judging" and "examining" of His own workings by His Spirit; so that even "the things of the Spirit" are not to be received as of Him, without being examined, and "spiritually discerned" as of God. When, therefore, it is said in connection with the supernatural, and abnormal manifestations of the present time, that it is not necessary, nor even according to the will of God, for believers to understand, or explain all the workings of God, it is out of accord with the Apostle's statement that, "he that is spiritual, judgeth all things," and consequently should reject all things which his spiritual judgment is unable to accept, until such a time as he is able to discern with clearness what are the things of God.
And not only is the believer to discern, or judge the things of the spirit--i.e., all things in the spiritual realm--but he is also to judge himself. For "if we discriminated ourselves"--the Greek word means a thorough investigation --we should not need the dealing of the Lord, to bring to light the things in ourselves which we have failed to discern by discrimination (1 Cor. 11: 31, m.).
"Brethren, be not children in mind, howbeit in malice be ye babes, but in MIND BE MEN" (Gr., of full, or mature age, 1 Cor. 14: 20), wrote the Apostle again to the Corinthians, as he explained to them the way of the working of the Spirit among them. The believer is in "mind" to be of "full age"; that is, able to examine, "bring to the proof" (Gr., to prove, demonstrate, examine, 2 Tim. 4: 2, R.V. m.), and "prove all things" (1 Thess. 5: 21). He is to abound in knowledge, and "all discernment," so as to "prove the things that differ," that he may be "sincere and void of offence" until the day of Christ (Phil. 1: 10, m.).
EXPRESSIONS, "VIEWS," DOCTRINES, NEED TO BE EXAMINED
In accordance with these directions of the Word of God, and in view of the critical time through which the Church of Christ is passing, every expression, "view," or theory, which we hold concerning things, should now be examined carefully, and brought to the proof, with open and honest desire to know the pure truth of God, as well as every statement that comes to our knowledge of the experience of others, which may throw light upon our own pathway. Every criticism--just or unjust--should be humbly received, and examined to discover its ground, apparent or real; and facts concerning spiritual verities from every section of the Church of God, should be analysed, independent of their pleasure, or pain, to us personally, either for our own enlightenment, or for our equipment in the service of God. For the knowledge of truth is the first essential for warfare with the lying spirits of Satan, and truth must be eagerly sought for, and faced with earnest and sincere desire to know it, and obey it in the light of God; truth concerning ourselves, discerned by unbiased discrimination; truth from the Scriptures, uncoloured, unstrained, unmutilated, undiluted; truth in facing facts of experience in all members of the Body of Christ, and not one section alone.
THE PLACE OF TRUTH IN DELIVERANCE
There is a fundamental principle involved in the freeing power of truth from the deceptions of the devil. Deliverance from believing lies must be by believing truth. Nothing can remove a lie but truth. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8: 32), is applicable to every aspect of truth, as well as the special truth referred to by the Lord when He spoke the pregnant words.
In the very first stage of the Christian life the sinner must know the truth of the gospel, if he is to be saved. Christ is the Saviour, but He saves through, and not apart from instruments or means. If the believer needs freedom, he must ask the Son of God for it. How does the Son set free? By the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit does it by the instrumentality of truth; or we may say, in brief, freedom is the gift of the Son, by the Holy Spirit working through truth.
There are three stages of apprehending truth :--
- Perception of truth by the understanding.
- Perception of truth for use, and personal application.
- Perception of truth for teaching, and passing on to others.
Truth apparently not grasped may lie in the mind, and in the hour of need suddenly emerge into experience, and thus by experience become clear to the mind in which it has been lying dormant. It is only by continual application, and assimilation of truth in experience, that it becomes clarified in the mind in order to teach others.
The great need of all believers is that they should eagerly seek truth for their progressive liberation from all Satan's lies; for knowledge and truth alone can give victory over Satan as deceiver and liar. If the hearers of truth should resist it, or rebel against it, truth can well be left to the care of the Holy Spirit of Truth. Even in the case of resistance to truth it has at least reached the mind, and at any time may fructify into experience.
There are three attitudes of mind in regard to knowledge, i.e.,
- Assumption of knowing a certain thing.
- Neutrality toward it, i.e., "I do not know."
- Certainty of real knowledge.
This is instanced in the life of Christ. Some said of Him, "He is a false prophet," with an assumption of knowledge; others said, "We do not know"- -taking a position of neutrality until they did know; but Peter said, "We know . . " and he had true knowledge.
THE SAFETY OF A NEUTRAL ATTITUDE TO ALL SUPERNATURAL MANIFESTATIONS
When believers first hear of the possibility of counterfeits of God, and Divine things, they almost invariably ask, "How are we to know which is which?" It is enough, first of all, for them to know that such counterfeits are possible; and then, as they mature, or seek light from God, they learn to know for themselves, as no human being can explain to them.
But they cry, "We do not know, and how can we know?" They should remain neutral to all supernatural workings until they do know. There is among many a wrong anxiety to know, as if knowledge alone would save them. They think that they must be either for, or against certain things, which they cannot decide are either from God, or from the devil; and want to know infallibly which is which, that they may declare their position: but believers can take the attitude of "for" or "against" without knowing whether the things they are in doubt about are Divine or Satanic; and maintain the wisdom and safety of the neutral position to the things themselves, until, by a means which cannot be fully described, they know what they have wanted to understand.
One effect of over-eagerness in desiring knowledge, is a feverish anxiety, and a restless impatience, worry and trouble, which causes a loss of moral poise and power. It is important in seeking one "blessing" not to destroy another. In seeking knowledge of spiritual things let not the believer lose patience, and calm quiet restfulness, and faith; let him watch himself, lest the enemy gain advantage, and rob him of moral power, whilst he is keen to get light and truth upon the way of victory over him.
MISTAKEN CONCEPTION ABOUT THE SHELTER OF THE BLOOD
Ere we pass on to deal with the ground for the working of deceiving spirits in believers, some misinterpretations of truth which are giving ground to the powers of darkness at this time, and which need examination to discover how far they are in accordance with Scripture, may briefly be referred to. (1) A mistaken conception concerning the "shelter of the Blood," claimed upon an assembly as a guarantee of absolute protection from the working of the powers of darkness.
The New Testament "proportion of truth" concerning the application of the Blood, by the Holy Spirit, may briefly be said to be as follows:--(1) The Blood of Jesus cleanses from sin, (a) "if we walk in the light," and ( b) "if we confess our sins" (1 John 1: 7, 9). (2) The Blood of Jesus gives access to the Holiest of all; because of the cleansing power from sin (Hebrews 10: 19). (3) The Blood of Jesus is the ground of victory over Satan, because of its cleansing from every confessed sin, and because at Calvary, Satan was conquered (Rev. 12: 11), but we do not read that any can be put "under the Blood" apart from their own volition, and individual condition before God; e.g., if the "shelter of the Blood" is claimed over an assembly of people, and one present is giving ground for Satan, the "claiming of the Blood" does not avail to prevent Satan working on the ground which he has a right to in that person.
In gatherings of people at all stages of spiritual knowledge and experience, the actual effect of claiming the power of the Blood can only be upon the atmosphere where the evil spirits are; and the Holy Spirit bears witness to it there with immediate cleansing effect, as exampled in Rev. 12: 11, where the warfare spoken of is in the "heavens," with a spiritual foe, working as an accuser.
A misconception, therefore, about the protecting power of the Blood, is serious; for those who are present in a meeting where Satan is working as well as God, may believe they are personally safe from Satan's workings, apart from their individual condition and dealing with God; whilst through the ground they have given--even unknowingly--to the adversary, they are open to his power.
MISTAKEN CONCEPTIONS CONCERNING "WAITING FOR THE SPIRIT"
(2) Mistaken conceptions concerning "waiting for the Spirit" to descend. Here again we find expressions and theories misleading, and opening the door to Satanic deceptions. "If we want a Pentecostal manifestation of the Spirit, we must 'tarry' as did the disciples before Pentecost," we have said the one to the other, and we have seized upon the text in Luke 24: 49, and Acts 1: 4, and passed the word along. "Yes, we must 'tarry,'" until, compelled by the inroads of the adversary in "waiting meetings," we have had to search the Scriptures once more, to discover that the Old Testament word of "wait on the Lord" so often used in the Psalms, has been strained beyond the New Testament proportion of truth, and exaggerated into a "waiting on God" for the outpouring of the Spirit, which has even gone beyond the "ten days" which preceded Pentecost, into four months, and even four years, and which, to our knowledge, has ended in an influx of deceiving spirits which has rudely awakened some of the waiting souls. The Scriptural truth concerning waiting for the Spirit"note 8 may be summed up as follows:
- The disciples waited ten days, but we have no indication that they "waited" in any passive state, but rather in simple prayer, and supplication, until the fulness of time had come for the fulfilment of the promise of the Father.
- The command to wait, given by the Lord (Acts 1: 4) was not carried forward into the Christian dispensation after the Holy Ghost had come, for in no single instance, either in the Acts or in the Epistles, do the Apostles bid the disciples "tarry" for the gift of the Holy Spirit, but they use the word "receive" in every instance (Acts 19: 2).note 9
It is true that at this time the Church is, as a whole, living experimentally on the wrong side of Pentecost, but in dealing with God individually for the reception of the Holy Spirit, this does not put the seekers back to the position of the disciples before the Holy Ghost had been given by the Ascended Lord. The Risen Lord poured forth the stream of the Spirit again and again after the day of Pentecost, but in each instance it was without "tarrying" as the disciples did at the first (see Acts. 4: 31). The Holy Spirit, Who proceeds from the Father through the Son to His people, is now among them, waiting to give Himself unceasingly to all who will appropriate, and receive Him (John 15: 26 ; Acts 2: 33, 38, 39). A " waiting for the Spirit" therefore is not in accord with the general tenor of the truth given in the Acts and the Epistles, which show rather the imperative call to the believer to put in his claim, not only to his identification with the Lord Jesus in His death, and union in life with Him in His resurrection, but also to the enduement for witnessing, which came to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost.
On the believer's side, we may say, however, that there is a waiting for God, whilst the Holy Spirit deals with, and prepares, the one who has put in his claim, until he is in the right attitude for the influx of the Holy Spirit into his spirit, but this is different from the "waiting for Him to come,"note 10 which has opened the door so frequently to Satanic manifestations from the unseen world. The Lord does take the believer at his word when he puts in his claim for his share of the Pentecostal gift, but the "manifestation of the Spirit"--the evidence of His indwelling and outworking-- may not be according to any pre-conceptions of the seeker.note 11
WHY WAITING MEETINGS ARE PROFITABLE TO EVIL SPIRITS
Why "waiting meetings"--that is, "waiting for the Spirit" until He descends in some manifested way--have been so profitable to deceiving spirits, is because they are not in accord with the written Word, where it is set forth that (1) The Holy Spirit is not to be prayed to, or asked to come, as He is the Gift of Another (see Luke 11: 13; John 14: 16). (2) The Holy Spirit is not to be "waited for," but to be taken, or received from the hand of the Risen Lord (John 20: 22; Eph. 5: 18); of Whom it is written, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire" (Matt. 3: 11). [This is] out of line with the truth of the Scriptures, therefore prayer to the Spirit, "trust in the Spirit," "obeying the Spirit," "expecting the Spirit" to descend, may all become prayer, trust, and obedience to evil spirits, when they counterfeit the working of God, as we shall see later on.
Other mistaken conceptions of spiritual truth, centre around phrases, such as these: "God can do everything. If I trust Him He must keep me"; not understanding that God works according to laws, and conditions, and that those who trust Him, should seek to know the conditions upon which He can work in response to their trust. "If I were wrong, God would not use me"; not understanding that if a man is right in his will, God will use him to the fullest extent possible, but this being "used" of God is no guarantee that any man is absolutely right in all that he says and does .
"I have no sin," or "sin has been entirely removed"; not knowing how deeply the sinful life of Adam is ingrained in the fallen creation, and how the assumption that "sin" has been eliminated from the whole being, enables the enemy to keep the life of nature from being dealt with by the continual power of the Cross. "God, Who is Love, will not allow me to be deceived" is of itself a deception, based on ignorance of the depths of the Fall, and the misconception that God works irrespective of spiritual laws. "I do not believe it possible for a Christian to be deceived," is a shutting of the eyes to facts around us on every hand. "I have had too long an experience to need teaching" ; "I must be taught Of God direct, because it is written, 'Ye need not that any man teach you.' " is another misused passage of Scripture, which some believers interpret as meaning that they are to refuse all spiritual teaching through others. But that the Apostle's words, "Ye need not that any man teach you," did not preclude God teaching through anointed teachers, is shown in the inclusion of "teachers" in the list of gifted believers to the Church, for the "building up of the Body of Christ" through "that which every joint supplieth" (Eph. 4: 11-16). For God is sometimes able to teach His children more quickly by indirect means--that is, through others--than directly, because men are so slow in understanding the way of direct teaching by the Spirit of God.
Many other similar misconceptions of spiritual things by Christians of to- day, give opportunity to the deception of the enemy, because they cause believers to close their minds to (1) the statements of God's Word; (2) the facts of life; (3) and the help of others who could throw light upon the way (1 Pet. 1: 12).
THE DANGERS OF COINED PHRASES TO EXPRESS SPIRITUAL TRUTHS
Other dangers centre around the coining of phrases to describe some special experience, and words in familiar use amongst earnest children of God who attend Conventions; such as "possess," "control," "surrender," "let go," all containing truth in relation to God, but in the interpretation of them in the minds of many believers, liable to bring about conditions for the evil spirits of Satan to "possess" and "control" those who "surrender," and "let go" to the powers of the spiritual world, not knowing how to discern between the working of God and Satan.
Various preconceptions of the way God works, also give evil spirits their opportunity; such as, that when a believer is supernaturally compelled to act, it is a special evidence that God is guiding him, or that if God brings all things to our "remembrance" we need not use our memories at all.note 12
Other thoughts which are liable to bring about the passivenote 13 condition, which evil spirits need for their deceptive workings, may also be through the following misconceptions of truth:
- "Christ lives in me," i.e., I do not live now at all;
- "Christ lives in me," i.e., I have lost my personality, because Christ is now personally in me, based on Gal. 2: 20.
- "God worketh in me," i.e., I need not work, only surrender and obey, based on Phil. 2: 13.
- "God wills instead of me," i.e., I must not use my will at all;
- "God is the only one to judge," i.e., I must not use my judgment.
- "I have the mind of Christ," I must not have any mind of my own, based on 1 Cor. 2: 16.
- "God speaks to me," so I must not "think" or "reason," only "obey" what He tells me to do.
- "I wait on God," and "I must not act until He moves me."
- "God reveals His will to me by visions," so I do not need to decide, and use my reason and conscience.
- "I am crucified with Christ," therefore "I am dead," and must "practice" death, which I conceive to be passivity of feeling, thinking, etc.
To carry out in practice these various conceptions of truth, the believer quenches all personal action of mind, judgment, reason, will and activity, for the "Divine life to flow," through him, whereas God needs the fullest liberation of the faculties of the man, and his active and intelligent co-operation in will, for the working out of all these spiritual truths in experience.
The following table will show some other misinterpretations of truth, which need clarifying in the minds of many children of God:
|TRUE INTERPRETATION||INCORRECT INTERPRETATION|
|"The Blood of Jesus cleanseth."||Cleanses moment by moment.||Leaves the man sinless.|
|"It is not ye that speak."||The source is not from the believer.||note 14The man must not speak nor use his jaws, but be passive.|
|"Ask and ye shall receive."||Ask according to God's Will and you will receive.||note 15Ask anything, and you will receive.|
|"It is God that worketh in you to will and to do."||The man must "will" and must act. (page 74)||note 14God wills for or instead of you; God works instead of you.|
|"Ye need not that any man teach you."||You do not need any man to teach you,
but you need Spirit-taught teachers given of God.
|note 16I must not take teaching from any man, but "direct" from God.|
|"He will guide you into all truth."||The Spirit of God will guide, but I must see how and when||note 16 guided me into all truth .|
|"A people for His own possession."||God's ownership.||"Possessed" by God indwelling,
moving and controlling a passive automation.
|"Meet for the Master's use."||God, in the man's spirit, using the mind, in the sense of
giving light for the believer's intelligent co-operation.
|"Used" by God as a passive tool, requiring blind submission.|
What, then, is the condition of safety from the deception of evil spirits? (1) Knowledge that they exist; (2) that they can deceive the most honest believers (Gal. 2: 11-16); (3) an understanding of the conditions and ground necessary for their working, so as to give them no place, and no opportunity of working; and, lastly, (4) intelligent knowledge of God, and how to co-operate with Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. To make these points clear will be our purpose in succeeding pages.