"War on the Saints" by Jessie Penn-Lewis

Chapter One. A Biblical Survey of Satanic Deception

Jessie Penn LewisTruth of every kind makes free, while lies bind up in bonds. Ignorance also binds up, because it gives ground to Satan. Man's ignorance is a primary and essential condition for deception by evil spirits. The ignorance of the people of God concerning the powers of darkness, has made it easy for the devil to carry out his work as deceiver. Unfallen man in his pure state was not perfect in knowledge. Eve was ignorant of "good and evil," and her ignorance was a condition which lent itself to the deception of the serpent.

The devil's great purpose, and for which he fights, is to keep the world in ignorance of himself, his ways, and his colleagues, and the Church is taking sides with him when siding with ignorance about him. Every man should keep an attitude of openness to all truth, and shun the false knowledge which has slain its tens of thousands, and kept the nations in the deception of the devil.


To-day there is a special onslaught of deceiving spirits upon the Church of Christ, the fulfilment of the prophecy which the Holy Spirit expressly made known to the Church through the Apostle Paul, that a great deceptive onslaught would take place in the "later times." Since the utterance of the prophecy, more than eighteen hundred years have passed by, but the special manifestation of evil spirits in the deception of believers to-day, points unmistakably to the fact that we are at the close of the age.

The peril of the church at the close of this dispensation is foreshown to be especially from the supernatural realm, whence Satan would send forth an army of teaching spirits, to deceive all who would be open to teachings by spiritual revelation, and thus draw them away unwittingly from full allegiance to God.

Yet in face of this plain forecast of the peril in later times, we find the Church in almost entire ignorance of the workings of this army of evil spirits. The majority of believers too readily accept everything "supernatural" as of God, and supernatural experiences are indiscriminately accepted because all such experiences are thought to be Divine.

Through lack of knowledge, the majority of even the most spiritual people, do not carry out a full and perpetual war upon this army of wicked spirits; and many are shrinking from the subject, and the call to war against them, saying that if Christ is preached it is not necessary to give prominence to the existence of the devil, nor to enter into direct conflict with him, and his hosts. Yet large numbers of the children of God are becoming a prey to the enemy for lack of this very knowledge, and through the silence of teachers on this vital truth, the Church of Christ is passing on into the peril of the closing days of the age, unprepared to meet the onslaught of the foe. On account of this, and in view of the plainly given prophetic warnings in the Scriptures; the already manifest influx of the evil hosts of Satan among the children of God; and the many signs that we are actually in the "later times" referred to by the Apostle; all believers should welcome such knowledge about the powers of darkness, as will enable them to pass through the fiery trial of these days, without being ensnared by the foe.

Apart from such knowledge, when thinking he is "fighting for truth," it is possible for a believer to fight for, defend, and protect evil spirits, and their works, believing he is thereby "defending" God, and His works; for if he thinks a thing Divine, he will protect and stand for it. It is possible for a man through ignorance to stand against God and to attack the very truth of God, and also defend the devil, and oppose God, unless he has knowledge.


The Bible throws much light upon the Satanic powers, which cannot fail to be discerned by all who search the Scriptures with open minds, but these will not obtain as much knowledge of the subject from the sacred record, as will those who have understanding by experience, interpreted by the Holy Spirit, and shown to be in line with the truth of the Word of God. The believer may have a direct witness in his spirit to the truth of the Divine Word, but through experience he gets a personal witness to the inspiration of Scripture, to its testimony concerning the existence of supernatural beings, and their works, and the way they deceive, and mislead the children of men.


If all that the Bible contains on the subject of the supernatural powers of evil, could be exhaustively dealt with in this book, we should find that more knowledge is given of the workings of Satan, and his principalities and powers, than many have realized. From Genesis to Revelation the work of Satan as deceiver of the whole inhabited earth can be traced, until the climax is reached, and the full results of the deception in the Garden of Eden are unveiled in the Apocalypse. In Genesis we have the simple story of the garden, with the guileless pair unaware of danger from evil beings in the unseen world. We find recorded there Satan's first work as deceiver, and the subtle form of his method of deception. We see him working upon an innocent creature's highest and purest desires, and cloaking his own purpose of ruin, under the guise of seeking to lead a human being nearer to God. We see him using the God-ward desires of Eve to bring about captivity, and bondage to himself. We see him using "good" to bring about evil; suggesting evil to bring about supposed good. Caught with the bait of being "wise," and "like God," Eve is blinded to the principle involved in obedience to God, and is deceived (1 Tim. 2: 14, A.V.).

Goodness is, therefore, no guarantee of protection from deception. The keenest way in which the devil deceives the world, and the Church, is when he comes in the guise of somebody, or something, which apparently causes them to go God-ward and good-ward. He said to Eve, "ye shall be as gods," but he did not say, "and ye shall be like demons." Angels and men only knew evil when they fell into a state of evil. Satan did not tell Eve this, when he added "knowing good and evil." His true objective in deceiving Eve was to get her to disobey God, but his wile was, "ye shall be like God." Had she reasoned, she would have seen that the deceiver's suggestion exposed itself, for it crudely resolved itself into "disobey God" to be more like God!


That a highly organized monarchy of evil spirit-beings was in existence, is not made known in the story of the garden. Only a "serpent" is there; but the serpent is spoken to by God as an intelligent being, carrying out a deliberate purpose in the deception of the woman. The serpent-disguise of Satan is swept aside by Jehovah, as He makes known the decision of the Triune God in view of the catastrophe which had taken place. A "Seed" of the deceived woman, should eventually bruise the head of the supernatural being, who had used the form of the serpent to carry out his plan. Thenceforward the name of serpent is attached to him, the very name throughout the ages describing the climax action of his revolt against his Creator, in beguiling and deceiving the woman in Eden, and blasting the human race. Satan triumphed, but God overruled. The victim is made the vehicle for the advent of a Victor, who should ultimately destroy the works of the devil, and cleanse the heavens and the earth from every trace of his handiwork. The serpent is cursed, but, in effect, the beguiled victim is blest, for through her will come the "Seed" which will triumph over the devil and his seed; and through her will arise a new race through the promised Seed (Gen. 3: 15), which will be antagonistic to the serpent to the end of time, through the enmity implanted by God. Henceforth the story of the ages consists of the record of a war between these two seeds; the Seed of the woman--Christ and His redeemed--and the seed of the devil (See John 8: 44; 1 John 3: 10), right on to the furthermost point of the final committal of Satan to the lake of fire.

Henceforth it is also war by Satan upon the womanhood of the world, in malignant revenge for the verdict of the garden. War by the trampling down of women in all lands where the deceiver reigns. War upon women in Christian lands, by the continuance of his Eden method of misinterpreting the Word of God; insinuating into men's minds throughout all succeeding ages, that God pronounced a "curse" upon the woman, when in truth she was pardoned and blessed; and instigating men of the fallen race to carry out the supposed curse, which was in truth a curse upon the deceiver, and not the deceived one (Gen. 3: 14).

"I will put enmity between thee and the woman," said God, as well as between "thy seed and her seed," and this vindictive enmity of the hierarchy of evil to woman, and to believers, has not lessened in its intensity from that day.


When once we clearly apprehend the existence of an unseen host of evil spirit-beings, all actively engaged in deceiving and misleading men, Old Testament history will convey to us an open vision of their doings, hitherto hidden from our knowledge. We can trace their operations in relation to the servants of God throughout all history, and discern the work of Satan as deceiver penetrating everywhere. We shall see that David was deceived by Satan into numbering Israel, because he failed to recognize the suggestion to his mind as from a Satanic source (1 Chron. 21: 1). Job also was deceived, and the messengers that came to him, when he believed the report that the "fire" which had fallen from heaven was from God (Job. 1: 16); and that all the other calamities which befell him in the loss of wealth, home and children, came directly from the hand of God; whereas the early part of the book of Job clearly shows that Satan was the primary cause of all his troubles; as "prince of the power of the air" using the elements of nature, and the wickedness of men, to afflict the servant of God, in the hope that ultimately he could force Job into renouncing his faith in God, Who seemed to be unjustly punishing him without cause. That this was Satan's aim is suggested in the words of the wife of the patriarch, who became a tool for the Adversary, in urging the suffering man to "curse God and die," she, also, being deceived by the enemy into believing that God was the primary cause of all the trouble and the unmerited suffering which had come upon him.

In the history of Israel during the time of Moses, the veil is lifted more clearly from the Satanic powers, and we are shown the condition of the world as sunk in idolatry--which is said in the New Testament to be the direct work of Satan (1 Cor. 10: 20)--and actual dealing with evil spirits; the whole inhabited earth being thus in a state of deception, and held by the deceiver in his power. We also find numbers of God's own people, through contact with others under Satanic power, deceived into communicating with "familiar spirits," and into the using of "divination," and other kindred arts, inculcated by the powers of darkness, even though they knew the laws of God, and had seen His manifested judgments among them. (See Lev. 17: 7, R.V. margin "satyrs"; 19: 31; 20: 6, 27; Deut. 18: 10, 11).

In the book of Daniel, we find a still further stage of revelation reached concerning the hierarchy of evil powers, when in the tenth chapter we are shown the existence of the princes of Satan, actively opposing the messenger of God sent to Daniel to make His servant understand His counsels for His people. There are also other references to the workings of Satan, his princes, and the hosts of wicked spirits, carrying out his will, scattered throughout the Old Testament, but on the whole the veil is kept upon their doings, until the great hour arrives, when the "Seed" of the woman, who was to bruise the head of the serpent, is manifested on earth in human form (Gal. 4: 4).


With the advent of Christ, the veil which had hidden the active workings of the supernatural powers of evil, for centuries since the garden catastrophe, is still further removed, and their deception and power over man is clearly revealed, and the arch-deceiver himself appears in the wilderness conflict of the Lord, to challenge the "Seed of the woman," as it is not recorded that he appeared on earth since the time of the Fall. The wilderness of Judea, and the Garden of Eden, being parallel periods for the testing of the first and second Adam. In both periods Satan worked as Deceiver, in the second instance wholly failing to deceive, and beguile the One who had come as his Conqueror.

Traces of the characteristic work of Satan as deceiver can be discerned among the disciples of the Christ. He deceives Peter into speaking words of temptation to the Lord, suggesting His turning from the path of the Cross (Matt. 16: 22- 23), and later on takes hold of the same disciple in the Judgment Hall (Luke 22: 31), prompting him to the lie, "I know not the Man," with the very purpose of deception (Matt. 26: 74). Further traces of the work of the deceiver may be seen in the epistles of Paul, in his references to the "false apostles," "deceitful workers," and Satan's workings as an "angel of light," and "his ministers as ministers of righteousness" among the people of God (2 Cor. 11: 13-15). In the messages to the Churches, also, given by the ascended Lord to His servant John, false apostles are spoken of, and false teachings of many kinds. A "synagogue of Satan" (Rev. 2: 9), consisting of deceived ones, is mentioned, and "deep things of Satan" are described as existing in the Church (Rev. 2: 24).


Then the veil is lifted at last. The full revelation of the Satanic confederacy against God and His Christ, is given to the Apostle John. After the messages to the Churches, the world-wide work of the deceiver prince is fully disclosed to the Apostle, and he is bidden to write all that he is shown, that the Church of Christ might know the full meaning of the War with Satan in which the redeemed would be engaged, right on to the time when the Lord Jesus would be revealed from heaven, in judgment upon these vast, and terrible powers, full of cunning malignity, and hatred to His people, and as truly at work behind the world of men, from the days of the garden story to the end.

As we read the Apocalypse, it is important to remember that the organised forces of Satan described therein, were in existence at the time of the Fall of Eden, and only partially revealed to the people of God until the advent of the promised "Seed of the woman" Who was to bruise the serpent's head. When the fulness of time had come, God manifest in the flesh met the fallen arch-angel, and leader of the evil angelic host, in mortal combat at Calvary; and, putting them to open shame, shook off from Himself the vast masses of the hosts of darkness who gathered around the Cross, from the furthermost realms of the kingdom of Satan (Col. 2: 15).

The Scriptures teach us that God's unveilings of the truths concerning Himself, and all the things in the spiritual realm which we need to know, are always timed by Him to the strength of His people. The full revelation of the Satanic powers disclosed in the Apocalypse was not given to the Church in its infancy, for some forty years passed after the Lord's ascension ere the Book of the Revelation was written. Possibly it was necessary, that the Church of Christ should first fully apprehend the fundamental truths revealed to Paul, and the other Apostles, ere she could safely be shown the extent of the war with supernatural powers of evil upon which she had entered.


Whatever the reason of the delay, it is striking that it was the last of the Apostles who was chosen to transmit, at the very end of his life, the full war- message to the Church, which would serve as a foreshadowing of the campaign until its close.

In the Revelation given to John, the name and character of the deceiver is more clearly made known, with the strength of his forces, and the extent of the war, and its final issues. It is shown that in the invisible realm there is war between the forces of evil, and the forces of light. John says that "the dragon warred, and his angels . . , " the dragon being explicitly described as the "serpent" from his guise in Eden--"called the Devil and Satan," the deceiver of the whole inhabited earth. His worldwide work as deceiver is fully revealed, and the war in the earth realm caused by his deceiving of the nations, and the world-powers acting under his instigation and rule. The highly organised confederacy of principalities and powers, acknowledging the headship of Satan, is disclosed, and their "authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation," all deceived by the supernatural and invisible forces of evil, and making "war with the saints" (Rev. 13: 7).


War is the keyword of the Apocalypse; war on a scale undreamed of by mortal man; war between vast angelic powers of light and darkness; war by the dragon, and the deceived world-powers upon the saints; war by the same world-powers against the Lamb; war by the dragon upon the Church; war in many phases and forms, until the end when the Lamb overcomes, and they also overcome who are with Him, called and chosen and faithful (Rev. 17: 14).

The world is now drawing nearer to the "time of the end," characterized by the deception depicted in the Apocalypse as being world-wide; when there will be deception of nations, and individuals, on such a vast scale that the deceiver will practically have the whole earth under his control. Ere this climax is reached there will be preliminary stages of the deceiver's working, marked by the widespread deception of individuals, both within and without the Church, beyond the ordinary condition of deception in which the unregenerate world is lying.

To understand why the deceiver will be able to produce the world-wide deception depicted in the Apocalypse, which will permit the supernatural powers to carry out their will, and drive nations and men into active rebellion against God, we need clearly to grasp what the Scriptures say about unregenerate men in their normal condition, and the world in its fallen state.

If Satan is described in the Apocalypse as the deceiver of the whole earth, he has been so from the beginning. "The whole world lieth in the evil one" (1 John 5: 19), said the Apostle, to whom was given the Revelation, describing the world as already lying deep in darkness through the deception of the evil one, and blindly led by him through vast evil spirit hosts under his control.


The word "deceived" is, according to the Scripture, the description of every unregenerate human being, without distinction of persons, race, culture, or sex. "We also were . . . deceived" (Titus 3: 3), said Paul the Apostle, although in his "deceived" condition he was a religious man, walking according to the righteousness of the law, blameless (Phil. 3: 6).

Every unregenerate man first of all is deceived by his own deceitful heart (Jer. 17: 9; Isa. 44: 20), and deceived by sin (Heb. 3: 13); the god of this world adding the "blinding of the mind" lest the light of the gospel of Christ should dispel the darkness (2 Cor. 4: 4). And the deception of the evil one does not end when the regenerating life of God reaches the man, for the blinding of the mind is only removed just so far as the deceptive lies of Satan are dislodged by the light of truth.

Even though the heart is renewed, and the will has turned to God, yet the deeply ingrained disposition to self-deception, and the presence, in some measure, of the blinding power of the deceiver on the mind, betrays itself in many forms, as the following statements from Scripture show :--

  • The man is deceived if he is a hearer, and not a doer of the Word of God (Jas. 1: 22)
  • He is deceived if he says he has no sin (1 John 1: 8).
  • He is deceived when he thinks himself to be "something" when he is nothing (Gal. 6: 3).
  • He is deceived when he thinks himself to be wise with the wisdom of this world. (1 Cor. 3: 18).
  • He is deceived by seeming to be religious, when an unbridled tongue reveals his true condition (Jas. 1: 26).
  • He is deceived, if he thinks he will sow, and not reap what he sows (Gal. 6: 7).
  • He is deceived, if he thinks the unrighteous will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6: 9).
  • He is deceived , if he thinks that contact with sin will not have its effect (1 Cor. 15: 33) upon him.

Deceived! How the word repels, and how involuntarily every human being resents it as applied to himself, not knowing that the very repulsion is the work of the deceiver, for the purpose of keeping the deceived ones from knowing the truth, and being set free from deception. If men can be so easily deceived by the deception arising from their own fallen nature, how eagerly will the forces of Satan seek to add to it and not diminish it by one iota. How keenly will they work to keep men in bondage to the old creation, out of which will spring multitudinous forms of self-deception, enabling them the more readily to carry on their deceiving work. Their methods of deception are old and new, adapted to suit the nature, state, and circumstances of the victim. Instigated by hatred, malice, and bitter ill-will towards mankind and all goodness, the emissaries of Satan do not fail to execute their plans, with a perseverance worthy to be imitated by him who fain would reach his goal.


The arch-deceiver is not only the deceiver of the whole unregenerate world, but of the children of God also; with this difference, that in the deception he seeks to practise upon the saints, he changes his tactics, and works with acutest strategy, in wiles of error, and deception concerning the things of God (Matt. 24: 24; 2 Cor. 11: 3, 13, 14, 15).

The chief weapon which the deceiver-prince of darkness relies upon to keep the world in his power, is deception, and deception planned to beguile men at every stage of life; deception (1) of the unregenerate who are already deceived by sin; (2) deception suited to the carnal Christian; (3) and deception fitted to the spiritual believer, who has passed out of the preceding stages into a realm where he will be open to meet more subtle wiles. Let the deception be removed which holds the man in the earlier days of his unregenerate condition, and in the stage of the carnal Christian life; when he emerges into the heavenly places, described by Paul in the Epistle to the Ephesians, he will find himself in the very keenest workings of the wiles of the deceiver, where the deceiving spirits are actively at work attacking those who are united to the risen Lord.


In the Apocalypse, we have the full unveiling of the Satanic confederacy in widespread control of the whole earth, and the war upon the saints as a whole; but the work of the deceiver among the foremost saints of God is especially depicted in the Ephesian letter of the apostle Paul, where, in Ephesians 6: 10- 18, we have the veil drawn aside from the Satanic powers, showing their war upon the Church of God, and the individual believer's armour and weapons for conquering the foe. From this passage we learn that in the plane of the believer's highest experience of union with the Lord, and in the "high places" of the spiritual maturity of the Church, will the keenest and closest battle be fought with the deceiver and his hosts.

Hence as the Church of Christ draws near to the time of the end, and is, by the inworking power of the Holy Spirit, being matured for translation, the full force of the deceiver and his hosts of lying spirits will be directed upon the living members of the Body of Christ. A glimpse into this onslaught of deceiving spirits upon the people of God in the close of the age, is given in the Gospel of Matthew, where the Lord uses the word deceived in describing some of the special marks of the latter days. He said: "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My Name, saying, 'I am Christ:' and shall lead many astray" (Matt. 24: 4, 5, A.V. and R.V.); "and many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many" (Matt. 24: 11, A.V.). "There shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray [or "deceive" A.V.] if possible, even the elect" (Matt. 24: 24).


The special form of deception is said also to be in connection with spiritual, and not worldly, things; incidentally showing that the people of God, at the time of the end, will be expecting the coming of the Lord, and therefore be keenly awake to all movements from the supernatural world, in such a measure that deceiving spirits will be able to take advantage of it, and anticipate the Lord's appearing by "false Christs" and false signs and wonders; or mix their counterfeits with the true manifestations of the Spirit of God. The Lord says that men will be deceived (1) concerning Christ and His parousia--or Coming; (2) concerning prophecy--or teaching from the spiritual world through inspired messengers; and (3) concerning the giving of proofs of the "teachings" being truly of God, by "signs" and "wonders" so Godlike, and therefore so exact a counterfeit of the working of God, as to be indistinguishable from the true by those described as His "elect"; who will need to possess some other test than the judging by appearances of a "sign" being from God, if they are to be able to discern the false from the true.

The Apostle Paul's words to Timothy, containing the special prophecy given to him by the Holy Spirit for the Church of Christ in the last days of the dispensation, exactly coincide with the words of the Lord recorded by Matthew.

The two letters of Paul to Timothy are the last epistles that he wrote ere his departure to be with Christ. Both were written in prison, and Paul's prison was to him what Patmos was to John, when he was "in spirit" (Rev. 1: 10)note 1 shown things to come. Paul was giving his last directions to Timothy for the ordering of the Church of God, right on to the end of her time on earth; giving "rules to guide," not only Timothy, but all God's servants, "in dealing with God's household." In the midst of all these detailed instructions, his keen seer's vision looks on to the "later times"; and by express command of the Spirit of God, he depicts in a few brief sentences, the peril of the Church in those times, in the same way that the Spirit of God gave the prophets of the Old Testament some pregnant prophecy, only to be fully understood after the events had come to pass.

The Apostle said: "The Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons, through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, seared in their own conscience as with a hot iron . . " (1 Tim. 4: 1, 2, R.V. m.).


Paul's prophetic statement appears to be all that is foretold in specific words about the Church, and its history, at the close of the dispensation. The Lord spoke in general terms about the dangers which would encompass His people at the time of the end, and Paul wrote to the Thessalonians more fully about the apostasy, and the wicked deceptions of the Lawless one in the last days, but the passage in Timothy is the only one which explicitly shows the special cause of the peril of the Church in its closing days on earth, and how the wicked spirits of Satan would break in upon her members, and by deception beguile some away from their purity of faith in Christ.

The Holy Spirit, in the brief message given to Paul, describes the character and work of the evil spirits, recognizing (1) their existence, (2) their efforts directed towards believers, to deceive them, and by deception draw them away from the path of simple faith in Christ, and all that is included in the "faith once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 3).

That the character of the spirits is described in 1 Tim. 4: 1, and not the men they somtimes use in the work of deception, may be understood from the Greek original.note 2

The peril of the Church at the close of the age, is therefore from supernatural beings who are "hypocrites," who pretend to be what they are not, who give "teachings" which appear to make for greater holiness, by producing ascetic severity to the "flesh," but who themselves are wicked and unclean, and bring in to those they deceive the foulness of their own presence. Where they deceive they gain possession; and whilst the deceived believer thinks he is more "holy," and more "sanctified," and more delivered from the desires of the flesh, these hypocritical spirits defile the deceived one by their presence, and under cover of sanctity hold their ground, and hide their workings.


The peril concerns every child of God, and no spiritual believer dare say he is exempt from peril. The prophecy of the Holy Spirit declares, that (1) "some" shall fall away from the faith; (2) the reason for the fall will be a giving heed to deceiving spirits, i.e., the nature of their working being not known evil, but deception, which is a covered working. The essence of deception is that the operation is looked upon as sincere and pure. (3) The nature of the deception will be in doctrines of demons, i.e., the deception will be in a doctrinal sphere. (4) The way of deception will be that the "doctrines" are delivered with "hypocrisy," i.e. spoken as if true. (5) Two instances of the effect of these evil spirit doctrines are given: (a) the forbidding of marriage, and (b) abstaining from meats; both, said Paul "created by God," Therefore their teaching is marked by opposition to God, even in His work as Creator.


Demoniacal "doctrines" have been generally tabulated as either belonging to the Church of Rome, because of the two marked results of demon teaching mentioned by Paul, which characterise that Church; or later "cults" of the twentieth century, with their omission of the fact of sin, and the need of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, and a Divine Saviour. But there is a vast realm of doctrinal deception by deceiving spirits, penetrating, and interpenetrating Evangelical Christendom, by which evil spirits, in more or less degree, influence the lives even of Christian men, and bring them under their power; even spiritual Christians being thus affected on the plane described by the Apostle, where believers united to the Risen Christ meet "spiritual wickedness" in "heavenly places." For the Satanic forces described in Eph. 6: 12, are shown to be divided into (1) "Principalities"--force and dominion dealing with nations and governments; (2) "Powers"--having authority and power of action in all the spheres open to them; (3) " World- rulers"--governing the darkness, and blindness of the world at large; (4) "Wicked spirits" in the heavenly places--their forces being directed in, and upon the Church of Jesus Christ, in "wiles," "fiery darts," onslaughts, and every conceivable deception over "doctrines" which they are capable of planning.

The peril of the household of God is therefore not of a few, but all, for obviously none can "fall away from the faith" but those who are actually in the faith to begin with. The peril is from an army of teaching spirits poured forth by Satan upon all who would be open to "teachings" from the spiritual world, and through ignorance of such a danger, be unable to detect the wiles of the enemy.

The peril assails the Church from the supernatural world, and comes from supernatural spirit-beings who are persons (Mark 1: 25) with intelligent power of planning (Matt. 12: 44, 45), with strategy (Eph. 6: 11) the deception of those who "give heed" to them.

The peril is supernatural. And those who are in peril are the spiritual children of God; who are not to be beguiled by the world or the flesh, but who are open to all they can learn of "spiritual" things, with sincere longing to be more "spiritual" and more advanced in the knowledge of God. For deception by doctrines would not concern the world so much as the Church. Evil spirits would not urge spiritual Christians to open sin, such as murder, drink, gambling, etc., but would plan deception in the form of "teaching" and "doctrines," the believer not knowing that deception on "teaching" and "doctrines" gives admission to evil spirits to "possess" the deceived one, as much as through sin.


How the evil spirits as teachers get men to receive their teachings, may be summed up in three specific ways: (1) By giving their doctrines, or teachings, as spiritual revelations, to those who accept everything supernatural as Divine because [it is] supernatural--a certain class unaccustomed to the spiritual realm, accepting all that is "supernatural" as from God. This form of "teaching" is direct to the person; in "flashes" of light on a text, "revelations" by visions of Christ, or streams of texts apparently from the Holy Spirit.note 3 (2) By mixing their "teachings" with the man's own reasonings, so that he thinks he has come to his own conclusions. The teachings of the deceiving spirits in this form are so natural in appearance, that they seem to come from the man himself, as the fruit of his own mind, and reasoning. They counterfeit the working of the human brain, and inject thoughts and suggestions into the human mind;note 4 for they can directly communicate with the mind, apart from gaining possession (in any degree) of the mind or body.

Those who are thus deceived, believe that they have come to their own conclusions, by their own reasonings, ignorant that the deceiving spirits have incited them to "reason" without sufficient data, or on a wrong premise, and thus come to false conclusions. The teaching spirit has achieved his own end by putting a lie in the man's mind, through the instrumentality of a false reasoning.

(3) By the indirect means of deceived human teachers, supposed to be conveying undiluted Divine "truth," and implicitly believed because of a godly life and character, believers saying, "He is a good man, and a holy man, and I believe him." The life of the man is taken as a sufficient guarantee for his teaching, instead of judging the " teaching" by the Scriptures, apart from his personal character. This has its foundation in the prevalent idea that everything that Satan and his evil spirits do is manifestly evil, the truth not being realized that they work under cover of light (2 Cor. 11: 14), i.e., if they can get a "good man" to accept some idea from them, and pass it on as "truth," he is a better instrument for deceptive purposes than a bad man who would not be believed.


There is a difference between "false" teachers, and deceived ones. There are many deceived ones amongst the most devoted teachers to-day, because they do not recognize that an army of teaching spirits have come forth to deceive the people of God, and that the special peril of the spiritual section of the Church lies in the supernatural realm, from whence the deceiving spirits with "teachings" are whispering their lies to all who are "spiritual," i.e., open to spiritual things. The "teaching spirits" with "doctrines" will make special effort to deceive those who have to transmit "doctrine," and seek to mingle their "teachings" with truth, so as to get them accepted. Every believer must test all teachers to-day, for himself, by the Word of God, and their attitude to the atoning Cross of Christ, and other fundamental truths of the gospel, and not be misled into testing "teaching" by the character of the teacher. Good men can be deceived, and Satan needs good men to float his lies under the guise of truth.


How teaching spirits teach, we find described by Paul, for he says they speak lies in hypocrisy, that is, speak lies as if they were truth. And the effect of their working is said to "cauterize" (Gr.) the conscience, i.e. , if a believer accepts the teachings of evil spirits as Divine, because they come to him "supernaturally," and he obeys, and follows those "teachings," "conscience" is unused,note 5 so that it practically becomes dulled and passive--or seared--and a man does things under the influence of supernatural "revelation" which an actively awakened "conscience" would keenly rebuke and condemn. Such believers "give heed"' to these spirits, by (1) listening to them, and then by (2) obeying them; for they are deceived by accepting wrong thoughts about God's presence,note 6 and about Divine love, and unknowingly give themselves up to the power of lying spirits. Working in the line of "teaching," deceiving spirits will insert their "lies" spoken in hypocrisy, into "holiness" teaching, and deceive believers about sin, themselves, and all other truths connected with the spiritual life.

Scripture is generally used as the basis of these teachings, and is skilfully woven together like a spider's web, so that they are caught in the snare. Single texts are wrenched from their context, and their place in the perspective of truth; sentences are taken from their correlative sentences, or texts are aptly picked out from over a wide field, and so netted together as to appear to give a full revelation of the mind of God; but the intervening passages, giving historical setting, actions and circumstances connected with the speaking of the words, and other elements which give light on each separate text, are skilfully dropped out.

A wide net is thus made for the unwary, or the untaught in the principles of Scripture exegesis, and many a life is side-tracked, and troubled by this false using of the Word of God. Because the experience of ordinary Christians in regard to the devil is limited to knowing him as a tempter, or as an accuser, they have no conception of the depths of his wickedness, and of the wickedness of evil spirits, and are under the impression that they will not quote Scripture, whereas they will quote the whole Book if they can but deceive one soul.


The "teachings" of deceiving spirits now being promulgated by them, are too many in number to enumerate in a small compass. They are generally recognized only in "false religions," but the teaching spirits with their "doctrines," or religious ideas suggested to the minds of men are ceaselessly at work in every clime, seeking to play upon the religious instinct in men, and give a substitute for truth.

Therefore truth, alone, dispels the deceptive doctrines of the teaching spirits of Satan: the truth of God, not merely "views of truth." Truth concerning all the principles and laws of the God of Truth. "Doctrines of demons" simply consist of that which a man "thinks" and "believes" as the outcome of suggestions made to his mind by deceiving spirits. All "thought" and "belief" belongs to one of two realms--the realm of truth, or the realm of falsehood--each having its source in God or Satan. All truth comes from God, and all that is contrary to truth, from Satan. Even the "thoughts " that apparently originate in a man's own mind come from one of these two sources, for the mind itself is either darkened by Satan (2 Cor. 4: 4), and therefore fertile soil for his "teachings," or renewed by God (Ephes. 4: 23), and clarified from the veil of Satan, and made open to the reception and transmission of truth.


Since thought, or "belief," originates either from the God of Truth, or the father of lies (John 8: 44), there is but one basic principle for testing the source of all doctrines, or "thoughts" and "beliefs," held by believers, or unbelievers, i.e., the test of the revealed Word of God.

All "truth" is in harmony with the only channel of revealed truth in the world--the written Word of God. All "teachings" originating from deceiving spirits--

  • Weaken the authority of the Scriptures;
  • Distort the teaching in the Scriptures;
  • Add to the Scriptures the thoughts of men; or
  • Put the Scriptures entirely aside.

The ultimate object being to hide, distort, misuse, or put aside the revelation of God concerning the Cross of Calvary, where Satan was overthrown by the God-Man, and where freedom was obtained for all his captives.

The test of all "thought" and "belief" therefore is its harmony with the written Scriptures
in its full body of truth. The attitude to the Cross, and sin.

In the Christianised world, some doctrines of demons, tested by these two primary principles, may be mentioned as:

  • Christian Science:  no sin, no Saviour, no Cross.
  • Theosophy: no sin, no Saviour, no Cross.
  • Spiritism: no sin, no Saviour, no Cross.
  • New Theology: no sin, no Saviour, no Cross.

In the heathen world:

  • Mahommedanism
  • Confucianism
  • Buddhism, etc. - No Saviour, no Cross, a "moral" religion, with man his own Saviour.

Idolatry as the worship of demons:

  • No knowledge of a Saviour, or of his Calvary sacrifice, but true knowledge of the evil powers,
  • which they endeavour to propitiate, because they have proved them to be existent.

In the Christian Church: Countless "thoughts" and "beliefs," which are opposed to the truth of God, are injected into the minds of Christians by teaching spirits, rendering them ineffective in the warfare with sin and Satan, and subject to the power of evil spirits, although they are saved for eternity through their faith in Christ, and accept the authority of the Scriptures, and know the power of the Cross. All "thoughts" and "beliefs" should therefore be tested by the truth of God revealed in the Scripture, not merely by "texts" or portions of the Word, but by the principles of truth revealed in the Word. Since Satan will endorse his teachings by "signs and wonders" (Matt. 24: 24; 2 Thess. 2: 9; Rev. 13: 13), "fire from heaven", "power" and "signs," are no proof of "teaching" being of God; nor is a "beautiful life" to be the infallible test, for Satan's "ministers" can be "ministers of righteousness" (2 Cor. 11: 13- 15).


The culmination of the flood tide of these deceiving spirits sweeping upon the Church, is described by the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians, where he speaks of the manifestation of one, who will, eventually, have so deceived Christendom as to have gained an entrance into the very sanctuary of God; so that "he sitteth in the sanctuary of God, setting himself forth as God . . . " The "presence" of this one being a "Presence" like God, and yet "according to the working of Satan, with all power, and signs, and wonders, of falsehood, and with all deceit . ." (2 Thess. 2: 9, 10, R.V. See margin R.V.).

Confirmation of the Lord's words recorded by Matthew, is found in the revelation given by Him to John, on Patmos, that at the close of the age, the main weapon used by the deceiver for obtaining power over the people of the earth, will be supernatural signs from heaven, when a counterfeit "lamb" will do "great signs," and even "make fire come down out of heaven" to deceive the dwellers on the earth, and thereby exercise such control over the whole world, that "no man shall be able to buy or sell, save he that hath the mark of the beast" (Rev. 13:11-17). Through this supernatural deception, the full purpose of the deceiving hierarchy of Satan, thus reaches its consummation, in the foretold world-wide authority.

Deception of the world with deepening darkness; deception of the Church through "teachings," and "manifestations," will reach the highest flood-tide climax at the close of the age.


It is striking to note that the Apostle who was chosen to transmit the Apocalypse to the Church, in preparation for the last days of the Church militant, should be the one to write to the Christians of his day: "Believe not every spirit" (1 John 4: 1-6), and earnestly warn his "children" that the "spirit of anti-Christ," and the "spirit of error" (deception) was already actively at work among them. Their attitude was to be "believe not"--i.e., to doubt every supernatural "teaching" and "teacher," until proved to be of God. They were to prove the "teachings," lest they came from a "spirit of error," and be part of the deceiver's campaign as "anti- Christ," i.e., against Christ.

If this attitude of neutrality and doubt toward supernatural teachings was needed in the days of the Apostle John--some fifty-seven years after Pentecost-- how much more is it needed in the "later times" foretold by the Lord, and by the apostle Paul. Times which were to be characterised by a clamour of voices of "prophets," that is--in the language of the twentieth century--"speakers" and "teachers" using the sacred Name of the Lord; and when "teachings" received supernaturally from the spiritual realm, would abound. "Teachings" accompanied with such wonderful proofs of their "divine" origin, as to perplex even the most faithful of the Lord's people, and even, for a time, to deceive some of them.


Daniel, in writing about this same "later time," said "Some of the teachers shall fall, to refine them, and to purify, and to make them white, even at the time of the end" (Dan. 11: 35, R.V. m.). Yes, the truth must be faced! The "elect" may be deceived, and, from Daniel's words, are apparently permitted to be deceived for a season, so that in the fire testing they may be "refined" (the word refers to the expulsion of dross by the smelting fire): "purified" (the removal of dross already expelled), and made "white" (the polishing and brightening of the metal after it has been freed from its impurities).note 7 Probably it is in connection with this solemn word, that one strange statement about the war at the close of the age is made, when it is said of the attack of the leopard-like beast, that "it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them" (Rev. 13: 7).

Daniel also speaks of the same prevailing of the enemy for a season: The horn "made war with the saints, and prevailed against them" (Dan. 7: 21). Daniel adds: "Until the Ancient of Days came . . and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom." It appears, therefore, that in the "time of the end," God will permit Satan to prevail for a season against His saints, even as he prevailed over Peter when he was handed over to him to be sifted (Luke 22: 31); as he apparently prevailed over the Son of God at Calvary, when "the hour and power of darkness" closed around Him at the Cross (Matt. 27: 38-46); and as he is shown to do over the "two witnesses" described in Rev. 11: 7, and in the last great manifestation of the dragon deceiver's triumph over the saints, and his power over the whole inhabited earth, in Revelation 13: 7-15.

All these instances have taken place at different periods of time in the history of Christ and His Church, and in the Apocalypse picture, the prevailing of the leopard-like beast may refer to the saints on the earth after the translation of the Church; but they show the principle that God's triumphs are ofttimes hidden in apparent defeat. The elect of God must therefore take heed, at all stages of the war with Satan as deceiver, not to be swayed, or moved by appearances; for the apparent triumph of supernatural powers which appear to be Divine, may prove to be Satanic; and appearances of outward defeat, which appear to be the devil's victory may prove to cover the triumph of God.


The enemy is a deceiver, and as a deceiver he will work and prevail in the later times. "Success" or "defeat" is no criterion of a work being of God or Satan. Calvary stands for ever as the revelation of God's way in working out His redemption purposes. Satan works for time, for he knows his time is short, but God works for eternity. Through death to life, through defeat to triumph, through suffering to joy, is God's way.

Knowledge of truth is the primary safeguard against deception. The "elect" must know, and they must learn to "prove" the "spirits" until they do know what is of God, and what is of Satan. The words of the Master, "Take heed, I have told you , " plainly implies that personal knowledge of danger is part of the Lord's way of guarding His own, and believers who blindly rely upon "the keeping power of God," without seeking to understand how to escape deception, when forewarned to "take heed" by the Lord, will surely find themselves entrapped by the subtle foe.note 8


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