"War on the Saints" by Jessie Penn-Lewis
CHAPTER 11: War upon the Powers of Darkness.
In the path to freedom from deception and possession, the believer discovers the need of MAKING WAR AGAINST THE POWERS OF DARKNESS, for the undeceiving and the dispossession which follows, reveals to him the depths of the wickedness of Satan and his hosts of wicked spirits.
The believer sees that he must
- make war against their possession of him;
- against all their works; and
- against their deception and possession of others, as well as the need of a perpetual daily fighting against all their onslaughts, which come upon him apart from his giving them ground.
The believer who is dispossessed is born into the war, and compelled to fight to maintain his freedom. Just as a child is born into the natural world, and must breathe to maintain life, so there is a birth into the warfare through the sufferings and pains of being undeceived, and delivered from the thraldom of Satan.
Through his aggressive warfare against the foe, the believer understands the systematic workings of the forces of Satan. Through the knowledge gained by reading the symptoms of deception and possession in his own case, he is now able to read them in others, and see their need of deliverance, and finds himself compelled to pray for them, and work toward that goal.
AGGRESSIVE AND DEFENSIVE WARFARE
In war, whether natural or supernatural, there are two principles governing the warfare, viz.: aggressive and defensive, i.e., the attacking force must be able to defend itself as well as to take the aggressive against the enemy.
Between the period of undeceiving and dispossessing, the believer learns to know his weak points, and vulnerable parts; and becomes able to recognize the methodical, planned and systematic attacks of the forces of the enemy upon those points. By these attacks, the knowledge of the active operations of the lying spirits, and of the need of unceasing warfare against them, is deepened in him. He knows that he must stand against them daily, or again be entrapped by their wiles, and fall a victim to their wicked devices; for he discovers that even the lesser attacks, which, before the time of his deception and possession, would be unfelt, quickly overwhelm him, and cause him to lose his equilibrium, or spiritual balance, immediately. He knows, therefore, by the lessons of his fight to freedom, that he must ever after be on his guard,note 1 and watch against the attacks of the subtle foe, whether they come through things around him, or directly--or indirectly--through others, the indirect onslaughts being often the most violent.
During the period of his undeceiving, the eyes of the believer also become open to the supernatural operations of the forces of evil; for just as God is seen by His workings (John 14: 10, 11), so the powers of darkness are to be recognized by their activities. Both the Divine and Satanic workings are invisible to the physical eye, but the effects are perceptible to him who has the power to read the signs. The one who has been dispossessed, can see how much that others attribute to God's sovereignty is nothing else but the results of the Satanic world-rulers' work. He sees that the primary cause of the apathy and deadness of the Church is Satanic, and that much which has been put down to sin, or the evil nature, is nothing but the work of evil spirits. Hence he must war against the false teaching, which settles down to accept Satanic workings in the world as the "operations of God." Through his own undeceiving his old thoughts about things connected with God, and with Satan, fall to the ground as untested theories, and he receives two blessings through his undeceiving; i.e. (1) a purified "theology," (2) and a true demonology.
SOME OF THE RESULTS OF THE UNDECEIVING
The undeceived and dis-possessed believer also becomes intensely practical. He finds that God is "practical." The devil is practical, and man must be practical to join with the One against the other. The believer sees that one of the ways in which the Son of God destroys the work of the devil, is through the instrumentality of prayer, and that he must now live a prayer-life, since prayer is the mightiest weapon against the foe.
Through his undeceiving, the undeceived believer has been made conscious of the actual force which the powers of darkness bring to bear upon and against his tripartite being, and thus learns that all the strength of his redeemed, renewed, and liberated powers--mental, spiritual and physical--must be set against them in order that he may keep at liberty. In the experience he has gone through, he has become more and more conscious of his own spirit, and the need of using it in strength, purity, and power against them. He has also discovered that in the perpetual war which the deceiving spirits wage against him, neither time, place, nor season, are exempt from their attacks. Therefore, wherever he is, whatever he does, whatever state he is in, he must wage equally persistent war upon them. If he finds himself in keen suffering and anguish, he knows that it is "the hour and power of darkness"; and learns by the suffering they cause that they are unmerciful, as well as evil; intensely evil; nothing but evil; aiming at nothing but evil, and with all the power they are able to wield, endeavouring to draw him into evil, doggedly, silently, persistently, wickedly, always at work; actuated by undying hatred and malice against the human race.note 2 Enemies they are, and will be. What they are they were, and what they were, they are still--evil, and evil only. Thus he learns and knows that he must resist them and, that the fight to keep his spirit strong, pure and buoyant for victory over them needs all the force of his being, in the power of God, to enable him to be victorious.
THE BELIEVER FINDS HE IS AT WAR WITH ALL HELL
In the discovery of the wickedness and hatred of the supernatural powers of evil against him, the believer learns he is not fighting against the intelligence of one supernatural being, but against principalities and powers, with vast resources at their command, and that IF HE STANDS VICTORIOUS AGAINST THEIR WILES, HE HAS CONQUERED, NOT ONLY ONE EVIL SPIRIT, BUT ALL HELL. He finds that the powers of darkness will not allow one single believer to be victor over them, until they as a whole (Ephes. 6: 12) have failed to conquer him. Hence their onslaught on him who elects to be victorious over them all, in vital union with the Victor Lord, Who put them to open shame through His death on the Cross of Calvary.note 3
The believer is called to triumph over all the powers of darkness, but to reach the goal he must put on the whole armour of God, and lay hold of Divine strength, truth, righteousness, peace, faith, the mighty sword of the Scriptures, watchfulness and prayer. This armour, and the weapons belonging to it, will enable him to "stand against all" the wiles of Satan. If he stands, all heaven sees it; if he is defeated, all hell knows it. If he triumphs, the hosts of darkness are not only conquered, but discouraged, and rendered less effective in their schemes. The believer who would overcome such a disciplined and pertinacious foe, will never dare put his armour by, or give himself to careless work, for he finds that the foe is as tenacious and desirous to conquer as he himself is. But he who fully knows the foe and the warfare, and its eternal issues, finds his joy in the joy of war against an enemy devastating the earth, and the joy of victory, as a foretaste of the future triumph with the Lord Christ over all His foes. (Heb. 10: 13; 1 Cor. 15: 25, 26).
It is essential to study the powers of darkness from the point of view of their depraved nature.note 4 To be conquered, or to lose a point, is torment to them, for the fallen nature, both of men and angels, rebels against confessing itself vanquished. In the days of Christ, to be driven out of their hiding places, commanded to go, and thus be deprived of rest, was to demons "torment" before their time (see Matt. 8:29). They are being thus tormented by any truth made known about them to-day. The truth concerning them and their workings, with its consequent liberation of men from their power, is disturbing their rest at the present time, and what happened when Christ was on earth, will happen again when the casting out of evil spirits will become a recognized part of all Christian and ministerial activity.note 5 The Gospels record how Satan and his minions objected to Christ's presence on earth, for He moved about as the Victor, and they were shown to be the vanquished ones.
THE USE OF CHRIST'S AUTHORITY OVER THE POWER OF THE ENEMY
The believer who has thus learnt, through fire, the real schemes and workings of the Satanic forces, and realizes that he must make war upon them for his own defense, as well as for the liberation of others, now discovers that Christ has given authority over "all the power of the enemy" (Luke 10: 19) to all who will lay hold of it, as part of the finished redemption of Calvary. That in union with Him He gives the believer power to wield His Name, and in His name to have authority to cast out demons. This was one effect of the enduement of power upon the believers of the early Church. Christ said, on the eve of His Cross, "Hitherto ye have asked nothing in My name. " But after Pentecost they wielded the Name, and found the Spirit of God witness to its authority. "Such as I have, I give unto thee. In the Name . . rise . ." said Peter. "I command thee in the Name of Jesus . . come out . . " said Paul to the evil spirit (Acts 16: 18). "In My Name shall they cast out demons . ." said Christ of His followers.note 6 "The spirits are subject to you . . " (Luke 10: 20) must be true of all who are in actual experience "one spirit" (1 Cor. 6: 17) with the Lord.
The authority of Christ is, therefore, open to the faith of all His children who are united to Him in spirit, even though they may not be wholly free, through ignorance, from the power of deceiving spirits in their outer man.
THE AUTHORITY OF CHRIST IS NOT INHERENT IN THE BELIEVER
This is reasonably so, because the authority of Christ as Conqueror over the evil hosts of Satan, is not inherent in the believer, but is laid hold of by him through the power of the Holy Spirit, and is borne witness to by Him only in response to faith. Should, however, a believer by faith thus command evil spirits to depart they will make the most of any occasion he may give them, after he has dared to assert the authority of their Victor's Name.
This is to be explained by the facts dealt with in earlier pages of this book, that it is possible for the believer who is fully joined to Christ in spirit, and in whose spirit the Holy Spirit dwells, to have foreign spirits located, unknowingly, in mind and body, who have obtained a footing by deception.note 7 The Holy Spirit does not give up His Place in a child of God who has received Him, because an intruder, against the man's real desire, and by guile, has gained admission. The entrance of a demon to a man, in any part of him, does not make him a demon, any more than the entrance of the Holy Spirit makes a man God. It is when the believer knows the truth, and will not take an attitude of refusal to the ground giving place to the enemy, and thereby clings to known sin and gives known ground to evil spirits, that his innermost life becomes seriously affected, just as known sin which the man will not part with, brings a cloud between him and God. God uses a man, so long as he is honestly true to known light, whilst glaring inconsistencies--unknown to himself--may stumble others.
DEGREES IN THE RESULTS OF USING THE AUTHORITY OF THE NAME
There are degrees in the manifestation of Christ's authority through the believer, over the spirits of evil, according to the degree of his personal victory described in our last chapter. Two believers may have faith to wield the authority of Christ, and have different results because of the difference in their knowledge of the workings of the powers of darkness, and hence a difference in their discernment, and consequent diagnosis of the case before them; that is, if one believer apprehends that he can cast out evil spirits by "commanding" only, and he does not know how the GROUND should be dealt with, he will not find the same results as the one who knows that the ground must be dealt with, before the evil spirits are really cast out.
Knowledge and discernment enables the believer to see where the Spirit of God would have him lay hold of the authority of Christ, and when to do so. For instance, authority over evil spirits to cast them out, is of no use in meeting their lies. Truth is the weapon of authority then. The truth of God, spoken with the authority of knowledge that it is the truth, will set the soul free.
KNOWLEDGE A FACTOR IN AUTHORITY
The degree of authority over evil spirits, then, depends not only upon personal victory, but also upon knowledge, and the believer who desires to know how to lay hold of the fullest authority over evil spirits for the sake of the deliverance of others, must set himself to understand their workings, as well as to be VICTORIOUS IN ALL, AND OVER ALL HE PASSES THROUGH. Let him note how much is said in the Scriptures about knowledge and understanding. The Apostle wrote to the Colossians about their being filled with "the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual understanding" (Col. 1: 9), and the Lord said "This is life eternal, to know Thee. . . " (John 17: 3); "If we walk in the light ... fellowship." To walk in the light is to know God, and knowing God, we in relative degree know the powers of darkness; for light makes manifest the works of darkness (see Eph. 5: 11-13). Those of full age in the spiritual life, have by reason o use, their "senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Heb. 5: 14, A.V.).
The believer must be willing for the price of the knowledge necessary for discernment, for he cannot take an attitude of resistance to a thing he believes is of God, or is good, or towards which he is neutral. He must KNOW whether a thing is of God or no, therefore the degree of knowledge he has about the workings of the spirits of evil determines the degree of his (1) discernment, (2) resistance, and (3) authority over them in wielding the Name of Christ, whether exercised in "casting out," commanding to leave a person, or dispersing them by the light of truth. The believer must know their wiles, schemes, methods and accusations, weights on the spirit and their causes, and when hindrances and obstacles are brought about by the enemy, so as to be able to discern all these things, and resist them.
EVIL SPIRITS SUBJECT TO THE BELIEVER JOINED TO THE LIVING CHRIST
Knowledge also affects faith. The believer must KNOW that it is God's will that evil spirits should be, not only potentially, but actually subject to him as one joined in vital union to the Holy One of God, Who was Victor over them all when He walked on earth, and gave His messengers authority over them through using His Name (Cf. Luke 10: 17 to 24).
Some of the expressions used in Scripture describing the attitude of the Church, and of individual members of Christ toward the powers of darkness, clearly show God's will and purpose for His people. Paul said that God would "bruise" Satan under the feet of His children (Rom. 16: 20); the principalities and powers were to be "wrestled against" (Ephes. 6: 12)note 8--surely not with a view to their triumph over the Christian; to be "resisted" by a steadfast attitude of faith (1 Peter 5: 8-9)--surely not by ignoring their presence and workings; "withstood" (Ephes. 6: 13), in their onslaughts-- surely not by ignorance of such attacks; "devices" recognized to be guarded against (2 Cor. 2: 10-11); and "cast out" with the word of command by the authority of the Name of Jesus (Mark 16: 17), as those who were compelled to go, when a believer identifies himself with their Conqueror, and acts in reliance upon the authority of His Name.note 9
Knowledge again affects the use of the will, in resistance to the enemy. How can the believer take an attitude of resistance to evil spirits in a meeting, unless he has knowledge whether the power in that meeting is Divine or Satanic? The senses also, when acute, are factors in knowledge. If they are dulled by possession, the knowledge necessary actually to read and discern the workings of the powers of darkness is hindered.
KNOWLEDGE GOVERNS PRAYER. Abraham was seeking knowledge as to the conditions upon which God could spare Sodom, when he reverently questioned the Lord about the doomed city. He wanted to know God's conditions, before he was able to pray for Sodom.
KNOWLEDGE NEEDED FOR EFFECTIVE PRAYER
It is essential that the believer understand the workings of the powers of darkness for effective prayer against them. Without knowledge they may be actively at work all around him, and he be unable to stop them by prayer BECAUSE HE IS UNCONSCIOUS OF THEIR PRESENCE, OR WHAT THEY ARE DOING. That this is true can be seen by the way the devil is working among God's people notwithstanding much prayer. They are not able to defeat him by prayer against his works, because they are unable to recognize them.
In the war upon the powers of darkness, prayer is the primary and mightiest weapon, both in (1) aggressive war upon them and their works; (2) in the deliverance of men from their power, and (3) against them as an hierarchy of powers opposed to Christ and His Church; for the believer should pray against them, not only for himself, but for the whole Church (Ephes. 6: 18), and for the whole world, which in due time will be absolutely freed from their presence and power.note 10
There is a systematic warfare of prayer possible against the kingdom of darkness, which would mean co-operation with the Spirit of God in the liberation of the Church, and hasten the ultimate binding of the great serpent, and casting him down to the pit. (Rev. 20: 1). A material "chain" could not bind a supernatural being, and it may be that "the great strong angel" typifies the mystical "Christ"; consisting of the Head and members--the "Man-Child" caught up to the Throne--when the members will have been liberated from the power of the enemy, and then commissioned to lay hold of the Deceiver to cast him into the abyss, and shut him up for the thousand years.
THE ANGELS' MINISTRATION OF WAR FOR THE SAINTS
How much prayer has to do with the setting in motion the hosts of light against the hosts of evil we do not fully know. There are many passages in the Scriptures which show that the unfallen angels have a ministration of warnote 11 for the saints on earth, which the latter have but faintly realized. In the Old Testament the heavenly company is shown round about Elisha as in battle array; and in the New Testament, in Revelation 12, Michael and his angels are seen warring against the Dragon and his angels, the Church on earth sharing in this war. The united forces of the angelic hosts, and the Church on earth, are manifestly joined against the Satanic hosts: the latter "fighting" by the "word of testimony" and faith in the precious Blood, not only as single individuals, but as an united company--"They overcame him . ."- -recognizing their union against a common foe.
The angels' ministration of war against the powers of darkness on behalf of the saints on earth, is strikingly revealed in Daniel 10, where Michael, the archangel, resists the interference of the Satanic "prince of Persia" and "prince of Grecia" with God's messenger, charged with an interview with Daniel. In the same way they fight against Satan and his angels as shown in Rev. 12. The Lord referred also to the "legion of angels" which He could call to His aid, to protect and deliver Him in the hour and the power of darkness (Matt. 26: 53), but He elected to fight the battle through alone, accepting no heavenly succour but that of the angel sent to strengthen Him in Gethsemane.
TRAINING IN THE WAR OF PRAYER
If a systematic warfare of prayer against the forces of darkness is possible to the believer, whereby God could hasten the deliverance of the Church of Christ, in preparation for the Lord's appearing, and its future destiny; such a warfare by prayer needs to be learnt as much as any other subject of knowledge in the world of men.
If we liken the war by prayer, systematically carried out against the forces of darkness, to a war in the natural sphere, those who would lead must be willing to be trained, and to take the same learner's attitude as a recruit in the natural sphere. Such believers need not only to understand the intelligent use of the weapon of prayer, but to obtain knowledge of the organized hosts of darkness, and how to exercise their spiritual vision so that "by reason of use" it becomes acute in discerning the operations of the enemy in the spiritual sphere. The believer must learn to observe, and learn by observation their methods in the war against the people of God.
The Church of God now needs "leaders" trained in the knowledge of the world- campaigns of the enemy; believers able to foresee his "wiles," and to guide the rank and file of the Church into the aggressive war against him. Leaders skilled in the knowledge of the armour, and the weapons of warfare provided in the Word of God, so as to detect any weak places in their use, especially in prayer as an intelligent, systematic, aggressive COUNTER-CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE STRATEGIC METHODS OF THE HIERARCHY OF SATAN, against the Church.
The believer who makes war upon Satan, must learn both the defensive and the aggressive sides of the warfare; for to take the aggressive against such a wily foe, without fully understanding how to maintain the defensive position, means that the enemy soon ends the aggressive prayer warfare, by such attacks upon the undefended places in his life or environment, as will quickly compel him to draw back in defense of his own position. For instance, the believer makes war upon the foe and presses out into the open with a bold testimony to the way the weapon of prayer drew some stronghold to the ground, but it is not long before the testimony is challenged by some onslaught upon his inner circle, or upon himself, and the eager warrior finds he has failed to guard by prayer his own domain.
THE DEFENSIVE WARFARE OF EPHES. 6.
The importance of the defensive aspect of the warfare against the powers of darkness, and of the standing power of the believer being made immoveable, is shown in Ephes 6, where seven verses are given to describe the armour and the defensive position, with one verse only embodying the aggressive war by prayer.note 12
The prayer-warrior fully armed must be alert in the defensive position, ready to stand against all the wiles of the devil,note 13 or the hosts of wicked spirits, whether they come as "powers," or with darkness, or in a rush of numbers upon him. He must know how to withstand in the "evil day" (5: 13) of the Satanic onslaughts, and "having overcome all" (A.V., m.), how to stand in the hour of victory, by discerning all their new attacks upon him in a change of tactics suited to the moment of triumph.note 14
To maintain his defensive position the believer needs to know what evil spirits can cause to be done to him, and about him, and be especially on guard lest he yields to their workings, thinking he is submitting to God. He must know that lying spirits can "burden" other Christians about him; give visions to them, and misinterpret things about him; cause these "burdened" ones to write about him to others, and suggest thoughts to others to his detriment;note 15 in brief, use every possible device to move him from his position of victory over them in his own personal life and environment. The greater his position of triumph--"having overcome them all" (Ephes. 6: 13, m.)--the keener the new schemes of the wily foe to dislodge the victorious one from his armour-encased position. If by any of these means they can get him to turn from the aggressive warfare upon them, or be disturbed by the apparent misjudgments of others, or beguiled into looking upon these things as a "cross" he must bear, he will have failed to discern the tactics of the wily foe.
But when the believer knows what evil spirits can do to him, and about him, he can distinguish their workings through others, and, standing steadily in his defensed position, he protects himself by aggressive warfare upon them as they work in these special ways, and does not settle down to accept all these things as "the will of God," but sets himself to extinguish them by a systematic and persistent counter-campaign of prayer.
PRAYER AGAINST THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL
In the war upon the powers of darkness, prayer can be persistently and specifically directed against the works of the devil, as the believer moves about in his ordinary avocations, and sees their doings. It can be brief and ejaculatory, but it is effectual. It need only be "Lord, destroy that work of the devil!" or "May God open the eyes of that man to the deceptions of Satan around him!"
There is also prayer for others, directed specifically against evil spirits in them; but this first needs knowledge to discern the symptoms of their presence, and ability to distinguish between the man himself and the evil spirit or spirits. Any uncertainty here will weaken the force of prayer. If the prayer- warrior has a doubt about the source of certain characteristics in another, which cause the man to act as if he were two persons,note 16 one contradictory to the other, and one manifestly not his true character, he can pray that any evil spirit present may be exposed, so that the man himself will recognize it, or that the prayer-warrior may be sure of the source of certain things, that he may direct prayer upon the right cause.
One special mark of an evil spirit's presence in, or with, or operating upon, or through another, in every degree of possession, however slight, is antagonism to all truth in connection with the powers of darkness, especially that about evil spirits; the antagonism being unreasonable and unreasoning. For a man who is untouched by them, can calmly open his mind to knowledge about them, as easily as about the things of God. There is also resistance in such believers, in mind or spirit, to other aspects of truth; whether it be Scriptural truth as applied to themselves personally; or truth concerning facts in their spiritual experience, or about themselves or their actions, which the lying spirits do not wish them to know. Just as a special mark of the Presence of the Holy Spirit operating upon, or through another is an OPENNESS TO TRUTH; a desire and even a keen hunger for truth, irrespective of consequences, or feelings of pain.note 17 Believers of all degrees of spiritual life place themselves on the side of the God of Truth when they specifically declare, "I open myself to all truth," and by so doing they enable the Spirit of Truth to do His work.
It is important that the prayer-warrior should discriminate the working of evil spirits in possession of others, as IN, but not OF the person; so as not to be diverted from direct dealing with the enemy by blaming the one in whom they have obtained a footing for their manifestations.
HOW EVIL SPIRITS CAUSE BELIEVERS TO RESIST THE TRUTH THEY NEED
The believer seeking to help another under the possession of evil spirits, must be prepared for the deceiving spirits misusing to the captive one the very truth he himself desires, and needs for his deliverance, as well as misrepresenting to him the one seeking to help him to freedom. Sometimes the truth which is meant to, and does deliver the deceived one in spite of all that appears to the contrary, is used as a whip to beat him, by the lying spirits in possession.note 18 The poor captive has the actual sense of being lashed with rods as real as if the stripes fell on his body, and it appears as if the words of the other giving him the light he needs, and which he himself desires to have spoken to him, are as rods beating him. But if the deceived believer refuses to be moved by the pain of the lashing, lays hold of the truth told him, and at once TURNS IT INTO PRAYER and fight against the enemy, he grasps the weapon of victory. For example, if a man is told "the enemy is now deceiving you," and he at once replies "It is against my will. May God reveal all deceptions from Satan to me, and to the whole Church!" he at once lays hold of a weapon for victory.
All truth imparted to a deceived believer should inspire antagonism to the lying spirits of Satan, instead of causing despair or resistance to the truth, or attempted laboured explanations to prove other causes for such and such a manifestation.note 19 The believer who desires freedom should thankfully receive all light that will expose the enemy, saying, "How can I get the benefit of this as a weapon against the foe?"
But in the stress, and ofttimes confusion, of the dispossessing period,note 20 the deceived and possessed person unwittingly fights against his deliverance by covering and siding with the evil spirits who have deceived him. The will may be set, and declared to be for deliverance, yet when the truth is given, evil spirits manifest their presence in the circumference of the man, or wherever they may be located, by arousing feelings of rebellion against the very truth, or messenger of truth, which the man in his will has chosen to receive. In brief, they bring into play all the resources they have at their disposal. They pour a flood of confusing thoughts into the mind, with suggestions utterly foreign to the desires of the person, and sometimes raging feelings in the body,note 21 as if it were being wrenched with pain, the spine and nerves
appear to be racked with irritation, and the head as if it would burst with pressure--none of this arising from any physical cause. For the time being the messenger with truth for the deliverance of this captive believer, appears to have done far more harm than good to the victim of Satan; but if the truth has been given, and the prayer warrior stands unmoved by the outward storm, quietly resisting by prayer the evil spirits arousing it, sooner or later the captive emerges into freedom, and a greater degree of deliverance, if not full victory.
THE CASTING OUT OF EVIL SPIRITS
Prayer against evil spirits in others may have to be accompanied by the inaudible commanding of them to leave the person, or else in casting out the demon, or demons, directly and audibly. There are several conditions for doing this, which need careful and prayerful consideration, ere such a course is taken. The possessed person may first need (1) truth upon his condition, and the ground wherein the evil spirit has found lodgment. This requires knowledge and discernment on the part of the worker, and sometimes very exhaustive dealing with the possessed one; (2) the ground which has been discovered must be given up definitely and specifically by the victim,note 22 or the "casting out" may fail; (3) definite prayer to God for His will to be revealed concerning the whole matter, and how the Spirit of God would have it dealt with, is primarily necessary; (4.) the authority of Christ needs to be specifically taken by the one called upon to deal with the man, and (5) wrestling prayer which reaches "fasting" may be needed if the case is a very difficult one.note 23
The fasting which is of spiritual effect in such a case, means, that the one who is dealing with the possessed person, is brought into such a hand to hand conflict of spirit with the evil spirit, or spirits, in possession, that the sense of any bodily need ceases until the victory is won.
THE TRUE FASTING FROM FOOD IN CONFLICT
The Lord's wilderness conflict throws light upon this, for it appears that it was not until after Satan had left Him, and the tension of the conflict was over, that His physical needs asserted themselves, and "He hungered" (Matt. 4: 2). True "fasting," therefore, appears to be not so much the result of a believer's choice and determination to fast from food, as the result of some spirit-burden, or conflict, which constrains him to fast because of the dominance of the spirit over his body, and no sense of physical need at all. But when the conflict is over and the spirit disengaged, the requirements of the body make themselves felt once more.
There is also a permanent attitude toward the body, which may be described under the word "fasting," which is a necessary condition for continuous victory over evil spirits. Especially for the casting out of evil spirits, it is imperative that the believer has complete mastery over his body, able to discriminate between its legitimate demands, and the spirits of evil seeking to gain a footing behind its lawful needs, and to detect all the wiles seeking to rob him of victory over them.
THE VOICE IN CASTING OUT
In the casting out of evil spirits, the voice may be strong or weak, as it is governed by the circumstances of the occasion. If it is weak, the weakness may be caused by fear, ignorance, an immaturely developed spirit, or it may be the result of the strength of the opposing spirit. The Holy Spirit who energizes the man for the act of "casting out," is of necessity hindered in His operations by these factors in the believer.note 24 Especially is an undeveloped spirit a limitation, for this shows the non-use of the spirit in general conflict. The spirit grows strong in maintained resistance and conflict with the powers of darkness, and by obtaining complete mastery over soul and body, as did John the Baptist in the wilderness (Matt. 3: 4); for "every man that striveth for the mastery" (1 Cor. 9: 25) over himself, gains a capacity of spirit for the Holy Spirit's energizing, which can be obtained in no other way.
The special influx of the Holy Spirit which equips believers for co-operating with Him in wielding the authority of Christ over evil spirits, is dealt with in another chapternote 25 (Acts 13: 8, 9, 10). The Holy Spirit in the spirit of the believer, is the power at the back of the act of casting out, and the servant of God should watch keenly not to move to any aggressive step apart from Him. Paul endured for many days the attack of the evil spirit upon him through the woman possessed with a spirit of divination, but there was a moment when, "sore troubled," the Apostle turned upon it (Acts 16: 18), and, speaking direct to the spirit and not to the girl, commanded it to come out of her. The believer who can discern the sense of the spirit knows that moment, and co-working with the Spirit of God moving in his spirit, finds the power of the Name of Jesus over the demons of Satan, as effective to-day as in the time of the Apostles and the Early Fathers of the Church.note 26
The chief factor in the casting out, or commanding evil spirits to come out of a man, is FAITH IN THE POWER OF THE NAME OF JESUS. This faith is based on knowledge that evil spirits must obey the authority of Christ, exercised by Him through those who are united to Him. Any doubt on this point will render the commanding fruitless.
The casting out is always done by speaking directly to the spirit in possession, and in the Name of Christ, the believer saying:"I charge thee in the Name of Jesus Christ to come out. . . ." Acts 16: 18.
CAN EVIL SPIRITS BE TRANSMITTED
There is no danger of the evil spirit when cast out, entering into, or being transmitted to the one who has dealt with them, unless there is ground for their doing so, or consentnote 27 is obtained for their entry by trick of the enemy. Believers called upon to deal with evil spirits in others should deliberately declare their stand upon the Calvary basis of Romans 6: 6-11, ere they do so, as the only safe way of dealing with the basic ground of the old creation, which may give place to the enemy.
The casting out of an evil spirit from another may also be an occasion for the manifestation of one hidden unknowinglynote 28 in the believer who is dealing with the other possessed person. If this is so, when he finds an immediate manifestation of the enemy's workings in himself he is liable to attribute it to a transmission to himself, or an attack upon himself, of the expelled spirit.
Through this wrong interpretationnote 29 he now seeks deliverance from the supposed "transmission," and thereby gives new ground to the deceiving spirit, because he does not seek for the cause of the manifestation in his past life; that is, he deals with it as an "attack," instead of a symptom, and hence the cause, or ground, is left undealt with, and undiscovered.
Neither does the laying on of hands by a person unknowingly possessed, transmit evil spirits. If it appears so, it is but an occasion for an evil spirit already hidden in the person, to manifest itself, and then to suggest a wrong cause for the manifestation, so as to throw him off the track in the discovery of ground. In brief, if there are already deceiving spirits in possession, the conditions are favourable for their manifestation, for ALL MANIFESTATION OF EVIL SPIRITS IN A PERSON MEANS GROUNDnote 30 for their occupation, which should be dealt with at once. If a symptomatic manifestation is called an "attack" from outside, no deliverance will be known until the true cause is recognized.
It may be said at this point that whatever signification there may be in the "laying on of hands," the result should be spiritual, and in the spirit, not in physical sensations, or any conscious feelings in the Senses.note 31
THE GIFT OF DISCERNING OF SPIRITS
Much of the knowledge needed for the "discerning of spirits" can be obtained by careful perusal of preceding chapters, but there is a gift of "discerning of spirits" referred to in 1 Corinthians 12, as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the members of the Body of Christ. Like all the Gifts of the Spirit, it needs the full co-operation of the believer for use, and becomes clearer and stronger as it is used. For this reason, it may appear so ordinary in its exercise, and so much like the using of a spirit sense faculty belonging to the man, that it escapes the attention of others. That is, it may not appear supernatural, nor operate in a miraculous way. Also like all the other gifts, it is not for show but for profit (5: 7), and it is only recognizable when it is in operation, and even then, may need a spiritual man to discern its presence and manifestation.
The power of discerning of spirits proceeds from the spirit of the believer, as the place from whence the Holy Spirit manifests His Presence and power, and develops in manifestation through the mind, as the man grows in knowledge and experience of spiritual things, and learns to watch and observe the ways of God, and the workings of the evil supernatural powers. Discernment is a "gift of the Spirit," but it is manifested as a fruit of watchfulness, and watchfulness is the fruit of keen alertness on the part of the believer. It needs great patience, great skill and great perseverance to become proficient in discrimination and discernment.note 32
The faith necessary for laying hold of, and exercising the authority of Christ over the spirits of evil cannot be MADE; and if there is any effort in its exercise the believer should know that there is something at fault which needs examination; and seek to understand the hindrances to the working of true faith. When a prayer-warrior finds it difficult to "believe," he should find out the cause; whether it is from the (1) opposition of the powers of darkness; or (2) the non-working of the Holy Spirit with him in respect to the matter in hand. (Cf. Mark 16: 20).
There is what may be described as an "evil" faith, that is, a compulsionnote 33 to "believe," which comes from evil spirits. The fact that the devil fights against the exercise of faith, is no proof of that "faith" being a true faith, or vice versa. It is true that the devil tries to quench true faith, and the believer may fight to keep it alive; but he must examine and know the nature of the faith that is in him. Is it of God in the spirit, or is it from the mind, or will, and based on a personal desire? In brief, is its origin from the man himself, or from God?
OTHER ASPECTS OF THE PRAYER WARFARE
There are many aspects of the war by prayer against the powers of darkness, which space precludes dealing with fully, such as lessons from the act of Moses, lifting up his hands on the hill-top, which was an outward expression of a spiritual DEED. The result of his action was seen in the plain, when the forces of Israel triumphed. The cause of the victory was invisible. Something in the spiritual realm was accomplished by the outward, visible attitude of the man upon the hill, which was manifest to him and the men with him, when he let down his weary hands.
The powers of evil attacking Israel through Amalek are the same forces against the Church of Christ to-day. Moses could not have kept the assertion of faith in Jehovah as Victor, audibly expressed without intermission throughout the prolonged fight; and that no intermission in the act of faith was vital is to be seen in that the moment his hands went down, the enemy triumphed, and as they went up, Israel prevailed.
There are times in a prolonged fight with the hosts of Satan, when it is clear to the spiritual vision, that the enemy gains ground as the "word of testimony" flags, and that the forces of God conquer as the Lord's praying ones maintain the cry of victory. In hours such as these, some physical act expressing the maintenance of the attitude of victory, to relieve mind and body from overstrained tension, may be admissible, and uplifted hands, or stretched out hands, may instinctively come about in the "hill-top" conflict for the Church of Christ.
There are hours, too, when the battalion of wicked spirits stand back, and the prince of darkness himself stands against the believer, as in Zech. 3: 2. Then the words, "The Lord rebuke thee, 0 Satan," never fails.
When prayer, also, needs focussing upon some stronghold of the enemy, in patient, persistent prayer for a prolonged period; or a wrestling in spirit in a great crisis
battle against the forces of darkness, holding some position they have taken; there are many weapons available to the armour-clad believer as he stands in Christ, withstanding the hosts of wicked spirits in high places. Not only the lifted hands of Moses, and the rebuking words of Michael, but the holding the cursenote 34 of God upon the Prince of darkness, and all his hosts--that curse upon the great spirit-being, clothed in the guise of a serpent, which the Lord God pronounced upon him in the Eden tragedy of the Fall. That curse, which has never been revoked, and which Satan knows lies before him in its final climax in the lake of fire. The reminder of this curse is often an effective weapon against the foe.note 35
PRAYER AND ACTION
The believer who has been patiently and persistently labouring in prayer, and conflict with the enemy, for others, must hold himself ready for action, for God may use the one who has prayed to be the instrument of the deliverance of the one prayed for. It is essential to have action as well as prayer. Many think it is quite enough to pray, because God is omnipotent; but God needs men to pray who are ready also to act. Cornelius prayed, and then acted in sending for Peter (Acts 10: 7-8). Ananias had prayed about Paul, and then was sent to speak to him (Acts 9: 11). Moses prayed for the deliverance of Israel, but he himself was called to be a great factor in the answer to his prayers (Ex. 3: 10).
There is also a time for answered prayer (Luke 2: 26), and there are hinderers to answered prayer (Dan. 10: 13). Those who pray for the deliverance of others, must have patience to plod in prayer for many days. There is sometimes a wrong thought in expecting a "flow" of prayer, if it is truly in the spirit. Because believers find no easy flow they cease to persevere in prayer, whereas prayer, when OPPOSED TO THE ENEMY, often means a hewing out words in a real fight against the hinderers to prayer. Believers must not expect those who are deeply deceived, to be delivered in a few weeks; for it may take months and even years of prayer. Contact with those who are being prayed for may hasten their deliverance, for the reason that God can work more quickly when He can use others to help immature Christians, when they do not understand. Indirectly, we answer our own prayers when we go to the ones we are praying for,note 36 and give them the light they need.
Patience and perseverance are needed, because, as we have seen, believers needing deliverance hinder through ignorance, when they side with evil spirits in believing their suggestions, and excuses;note 37 even whilst they sincerely desire to be liberated from their power.
PRAYER AND PREACHING
The one who prays may be called upon to act by transmission of truth by preaching. If so, he will need to understand the place of prayer in his preaching. That he needs the prayers of others for effective utterance (Ephes. 6: 19); and that he must carry out the warfare himself experimentally when he is transmitting truth which affects the kingdom of Satan. If by prayer he deals with the powers of darkness before preaching, the flow through his spirit may be unhindered; but if evil spirits are hindering his message he may have to fight his words out with difficulty, because his spirit is at the same time resisting the obstacles in the spiritual realm. This may cause his voice to sound harsh because of the resistance in the atmosphere,note 38 the voice breaking through into clear tones when the resistance gives way. Whenever the spirit is thus engaged in conflict the outer man is affected and less calm in action or speech. Whilst the believer is actually preaching, deceiving spirits can endeavour to interfere with his delivery by a stream of "comments,"note 39 so to speak, charging him with their own workings, i.e., they will be whispering to him every cause but the true one for the condition of the meeting,note 40 pouring accusations into his mind whilst he is speaking, challenging the words coming out of his mouth. If he is speaking of the holiness of life necessary for the children of God, he is told how far he comes short of what he is preaching to others; the challenge being so persistent that the speaker may suddenly insert into his message depreciative words about himself, and through these words, suggested by evil spirits, and thought by the speaker to be his own, they pour a stream into the atmosphere of the meeting, which brings a dark cloud upon the people.note 41
PRAYER AS A DESTROYING WEAPON
Prayer fulfils some law which enables God to work, and makes it possible for Him to accomplish His purposes. If such a law does not exist, and God has no need of the prayers of His children, then asking is a waste of time, but in fact, prayer is the greatest conceivable weapon of destruction at the disposal of the believer, destroying obstacles to God's working, either from sin or the works of the devil.
Prayer is DESTRUCTIVE as well as constructive, but to this end it must be radical, piercing to the very source of things, destroying the cause, or causes of hindrances to the operations of God. Prayer needs to be specific and radical, first in the sphere of the personal, then out through the local to the universal. Activity in prayer should be in the order of (1) Personal prayer, covering personal needs; (2) Family prayer, covering family needs; (3) Local prayer, covering environment needs; (4) Universal prayer, covering the needs of the whole Church of Christ, and the whole world (1 Tim. 2: 1; Ephes. 6: 18).
If the prayer-warrior prays for the universal, without first having dealt with personal and local needs, the enemy will touch these smaller spheres, and thus by the force of personal and local attack, draw the believer down from the universal outlook. The order of prayer is therefore, first exhaustive prayer for all personal and local spheres, praying through these out to the wider range of the universal. Prayer not only exhaustive, but persistent. The believer needs for all this (1) strength to pray, (2) vision to pray, (3) knowledge of what to pray; for there is a sequence in prayer which needs to be understood intelligently, and a work of prayer, demanding as much training and equipment as is needed for preaching.
The trained prayer-warrior knows something of all the various aspects of prayer, such as:
- The prayer of asking (John 14: 13);
- the prayer of interceding (Rom. 8:26);
- "saying" (Matt. 21: 21; Mark 11: 235)
- and burden prayer, which may be a burden in the spirit or on the mind (Col. 2: 1; 4: 12).
He knows that burdens of prayer may be conscious, but that he must not expect a conscious burden for every prayer, nor wait till he "feels moved to pray." He knows that to see a need for prayer is sufficient call for prayer, and if he waits for "feeling" that he can pray when he has vision to pray it is sin. He understands, too, in the sphere of the universal, the oneness of the whole Body of Christ, and that in that sphere of union, he can say "Amen" to the prayers of the whole Church, so far as they are of the Holy Spirit, in the will of God.
All this but touches the fringe of the war by prayer which could be waged upon the forces of darkness, for the deliverance of God's people, which is the true objective of Revival.