"War on the Saints" by Jessie Penn-Lewis

CHAPTER 5: Deception and possession

Jessie Penn LewisTo be deceived by lying spirits does not mean that the believer is necessarily possessed by an evil spirit; and a person may be "possessed" without having been deceived. For instance, a believer may be misled in guidance, or be deceived by counterfeit visions and manifestations, without these deceptions leading on into possession; and where there is yielding to sin, either known or unknown, even by a believer, an evil spirit may take possession of the mind, or body, without there being any experience of deception (1 Cor. 5: 5).

The faculties may become severally held, or possessed, by evil-spirits, by (1) yielding to the sin of passivity--passivity is the sin of omission, for God does not give a faculty either for misuse, or non-use, or (2) yielding to sins of action, e.g., if the tongue lends itself to slander or foul language, it lends itself to sin; and becomes liable to possession. And so with the eyes, ears and other parts of the body; the lust of the eyes in seeing, and looking at vile things; the ears by wrong listening--eaves-dropping is lending the ears to the emissaries of Satan--or, on the other hand, evil spirits may take hold of the nerves of the ear, so that the person cannot hear what he should, yet is permitted to be alert enough in bearing all that he should not hear.


The needed degree of ground given to an evil spirit in order to possess, cannot be clearly defined, but that there is (1) sin without evil spirit possession; (2) sin which opens the door to possession; and (3) sin which is unmistakably the result of Satanic possession (John 13: 2) is beyond question. If the man, be he unbeliever or believer, sins so as to admit an evil spirit, the ground given may be deepened without measure. (1) the ground given admits the demon, (2) the "manifestation" of the evil spirit takes place, (3) then the misinterpretation of the manifestation again gives further ground, because he believes, and admits still more of the lies of the evil one.

It is possible, also, for deception and possession to come about, and pass away without the man being conscious of either. He may yield to sin which gives access to an evil spirit, and then take the position of death (Rom. 6: 6, 11) to the sin or its ground, when, unconsciously to himself, the possession passes away.

Multitudes of believers are "possessed" in various degrees but do not know it, as they attribute the "manifestations" to "natural" causes,note 1 or to "self" or "sin," and they put them down to these causes because they do not appear to bear the characteristics of demoniacal possession.

There is also a degree of deception by deceiving spirits, in connection with counterfeits of God and Divine things, which leads on to possession; and this too, depends upon the extent of the counterfeits which have been accepted by the believer. Through "possession" by accepting the counterfeit of the workings of the Holy Spirit, believers can, unknowingly, be brought to (1) put their trust in evil spirits, (2) rely on them, (3) surrender to them, (4) be guided by them, (5) pray to them,note 2 (6) listen to them, (7) obey them, (8) receive messages from them, (9) receive Scripture texts from them, (10) help them in their desires and working, (11) stand by them, and (12) work for them; believing they are in these attitudes towards God, and doing these things for God.note 3

In some cases, the counterfeit manifestations have been accepted with such reckless abandonment, that deception has quickly developed into possession in a most acute, yet subtle, and highly refined form; giving no apparent trace of the presence of evil, yet the peculiar double personality, characteristic of fully developed "demon possession," is easily recognizable to trained spiritual discernment; although it may be hidden under the of the most beautiful "angel of light" manifestation, with all the fascinating attraction of "glory light" upon the face,note 4 exquisite music in song, and a powerful effect in speech.


The dual personality of fully developed demon possession is generally only recognized when it takes the form of objectionable manifestations; such as when a distinct other-intelligence obscures the personality of the possessed one, and speaks through the vocal organs, in a distinctly separate or altered voice, expressing thoughts or words unintended, or only partially volitioned by the subject; the victim is compelled to act in ways contrary to his natural character, and the body is manipulated by a foreign power, and nerves and muscles are twisted in contortions, and convulsions, such as are described in the Scripture records (Luke 9: 39). A characteristic of the dual-personality of demon-possession also is that the manifestations are usually periodical, and the victim is comparatively natural, and normal, between what are described as "attacks," but which are really periods of manifestations of the intruding power.


Evidences are now available, proving that this dual-personality of possession in its fullest degree, has taken place in believers who are not disobedient to light, or yielding to any known sin;note 5 but who have become possessed through deception in their abandonment to supernatural power, which they believed to be of God; such cases having all the symptoms and manifestations described in the gospel records. The demon answering questions in his own voice, and speaking words of blasphemy against God through the person, whilst he is, in spirit, in peace and fellowship with God; thus evidencing (1) the Holy Spirit to be in the spirit, and (2) the demon, or demons, in the body, using the tongue, and throwing the body about at their will.note 6

This same "dual-personality," under entirely different manifestations , is easily recognizable by any who have the "discerning of spirits." At times the environment of the subject is more favourable than others for the spirit manifestations, and then they can be detected in both beautiful and objectionable forms.

The fact of the demon possession of Christians destroys the theory that only people in "heathen countries," or persons deep in sin, can be "possessed" by evil spirits. This unexamined, unproved theory in the minds of believers, serves the devil well as a cover for his workings to gain possession of the minds and bodies, of Christians in the present time. But the veil is being stripped off the eyes of the children of God by the hard path of experience; and the knowledge is dawning upon the awakened section of the Church that a believer baptized in the Holy Ghost, and indwelt by God in the inner shrine of the spirit can be deceived into admitting evil spirits into his being; and be possessed,note 7 in varying degrees, by demons, even whilst in the centre he is a sanctuary of the Spirit of God; God working in, and through his spirit, and the evil spirits in, or through, mind, or body, or both.


From such possessed believers there can proceed, at intervals, streams from the two sources of power; one from the Spirit of God in the centre, and the other from an evil spirit in the outer man; and with the two parallel results to those who come in contact with the two streams of power. In preaching, all the truth spoken by such a believer may be of God, and according to the Scriptures, correct and full of light--the spirit of the man right--whilst evil spirits working in mind or body, make use of the cover of the truth to insert their manifestations, so as to find acceptance with both speaker and hearers. That is to say, there may pour through a believer at one moment, a stream of truth from the Word, giving light and love and blessing to receptive ones among the listeners; and the next moment, a foreign spirit, hidden in mind or body, may send forth a streamlet through the soulish or physical part of the man, producing corresponding effects in soul or body among the listeners, who respond in their soulish or physical part to the Satanic stream, either by emotional or physical manifestations, or in nervous or muscular actions. One or the other of the "streams" of power from the Holy Spirit in his spirit, or from the deceiving spirit in mind or body, may predominate at different times, thus making the same man appear dual in character, with short intervals, at different periods of time. "See how he speaks! How he seeks to glorify God! How sane and reasonable he is! What a passion he has for souls!" may be said with truth of a worker, until some moments later some peculiar change is seen in him, and in the meeting. A strange element comes in, possibly only recognizable to some with keen spiritual vision, or else plainly obvious to all. Perhaps the speaker begins to pray quietly, and calmly, with a pure spirit, but suddenly the voice is raised, it sounds "hollow," or has a metallic tone;note 8 the tension of the meeting increases; an overwhelming, overmastering "power" falls upon it; and no one thinks of "resisting" what appears to be such a "manifestation of God!"


The majority of those present may have no idea of the mixture which has crept in. Some fall upon the ground unable to bear the strained emotion, or effect upon the mind; and some are thrown down by some supernatural power; others cry out in ecstasy; the speaker leaves the platform, passes by a young man, who becomes conscious of a feeling of intoxication upon him, which does not leave his senses for some time. Others laugh with the exuberance of the intoxicating joy. Some have had real spiritual help and blessing through the Word of God being expounded ere this climax came, and during the pure outflow of the Holy Spirit; consequently they accept these strange workings as from God, because in the first stage of the meeting, their needs have been truly met by Him; and they cannot discern the two separate "manifestations" coming through the same channel! If they doubt the latter part of the meeting, they fear they are untrue to their inner conviction that the earlier part was "of God." Others are conscious that the "manifestations" are contrary to their spiritual vision, and judgment; but on account of the blessing of the earlier part they stifle their doubts, and say "We cannot understand the 'physical' manifestations, but we must not expect to understand all that God does. We only know that the wonderful outpouring of truth and love and light at the beginning of the meeting was from God, and met our need. No one can mistake the sincerity, the pure motive of the speaker . . therefore, although I cannot understand, or say I 'like' the physical manifestations, yet--it must be all of God . . "


Briefly put, this is a glimpse into the mixed "manifestations" which have come upon the Church of God, since the Revival in Wales; for, almost without exception, in every land where revival has since broken forth, within a very brief period of time the counterfeit stream has mingled with the true; and almost without exception, true and false have been accepted together, because of the workers being ignorant of the possibility of concurrent streams; or else have been rejected together by those who could not detect the one from the other; or it has been believed that there was no "true" at all, because the majority of believers fail to understand that there can be mixed workings of the (1) Divine and Satanic, (2) Divine and human, (3) Satanic and human, (4) soul and spirit, (5) soul and body, (6) body and spirit; the three latter in the way of feelings and consciousness, and the three former in the way of source and power.

There must be more than one quantity to make a mixture; at least two. The devil mixes his lies with the truth, for he must use a truth to carry his lies. The believer must therefore discriminate, and judge all things. He must be able to see so much to be impure, and so much that he can accept. Satan is a "mixer." If in anything he finds ninety-nine percent pure, he tries to insert one percent of his poisonous stream, and this grows, if undetected, until the proportions are reversed. Where there is mixture acknowledged to be in meetings where supernatural manifestations take place, if believers are unable to discriminate, they should keep away from these "mixtures" until they are able to discern.

In accepting the counterfeits of Satan, the believer thinks, and believes, he is complying with Divine conditions in order to ascend to a higher life; whereas he complies with conditions for Satanic workings in his life, and thereby descends into a pit of deception and suffering, with his spirit and motive pure.

How evil spirits gain access to the believer, is the next question we need to consider; and here we give in column form, six concise lists of (1) how they deceive; (2) the ground given for deception; (3) where they enter; (4) the excuses the spirit makes to hide the ground, and keep the believer in ignorance of his presence and the ground he holds; (5) the effect on the man thus deceived; and (6) the symptoms of the possession.

See chart on page 102.


Taking the columns one by one we shall see how subtly the evil spirit works, first to deceive, and then to gain access to the mind or body, or both, of the believer. One principle governs the working of God, and the working of Satan in seeking access to a man. In the creation of a human being with a free will, God, Who is Sovereign Lord of the Universe, and of all angelic powers, has limited Himself in that He does not violate man's freedom in obtaining his allegiance; neither can Satan's evil spirits enter, and obtain possession of any part of the man apart from his consent, given either consciously, or unconsciously. Just as a man "wills" a good thing, and God makes it fact, so when the man "wills" an evil thing, evil spirits make it fact. Both God and Satan need the will of man for working in man.note 9

In the unregenerate man the will is enslaved to Satan, but in the man who has been regenerated, and delivered from the power of sin, the will is liberated to choose the things of God. In one who has thus been brought into fellowship with God, Satan can only gain ground by stratagem, or, in Bible terms, by "wiles"; for he knows he will never get from a believer deliberate consent to the entry, and control of evil spirits. The Deceiver can only hope to obtain that consent by guile: i.e., by feigning to be God Himself, or a messenger from Him. He knows, too, that such a believer is determined to obey God at all costs, and covets the knowledge of God above all else on earth. There is, therefore, no other way to deceive this one, but by counterfeiting God Himself, His presence and His workings; and under pretence of being God, to obtain the co-operation of the man's will in accepting further deceptions; so as eventually to lead to "possession" of some part of the believer's mind or body, and thus injure or hinder his usefulness to God, as well as that of others who will be affected by him.


The counterfeit of God in and with the believer, is the basis on which is built the whole after structure of possession through deception. Believers desire and expect God to be with, and in them. They expect God's presence with them, and this is counterfeited. They expect God to be in them as a Person, and evil spirits to counterfeit the three Persons of the Trinity.

In order to understand the counterfeiting methods of evil spirits, we must distinguish between the Presence and the Person of God. The "Presence" as giving forth an influence, and the Person manifested as Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. Crudely put, it may be described as the difference between God as Light, and having light from God. God as Love, and having love from God. The one is the Person Himself in His nature, and the other the outshining, or giving forth of what He is.

The thought with many is that the Person of Christ is in them, but in truth, Christ as a Person is in no man. He dwells in believers by His Spirit--the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8: 9), as they receive the "supply of the Spirit of Jesus" (Phil. 1: 19; Acts 16: 7 R.V.).

It is necessary also, to understand the teaching of the Scriptures on the Trinity, and the different attributes and work of each Person of the Trinity, to discern the counterfeiting work of the deceiver.

God the Father, as a Person, is in the highest heaven. His presence is manifested in men as the "Spirit of the Father." Christ the Son is in heaven as a Person, His presence in men is by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of the Father, and of the Son, is on earth in the Church, which is the Body of Christ; and manifests the Father or the Son, in, and to believers, as they are taught by Him to apprehend the Triune God. Hence Christ said "I will manifest Myself," to those who loved and obeyed Him; and later "We will come, and make our abode with him" (John 14: 23) i.e. , by the Holy Spirit to be given on the Day of Pentecost.


The Person of God is in heaven, but the presence is manifested on earth, in and with believers; through and by the Holy Spirit; in, and to the human spirit, as the organ of the Holy Spirit for the manifested presence of God.

The believer's misconceptions of the manner in which God can be in, and with him, and his ignorance that evil spirits can counterfeit God and divine things, form the ground upon which he can be deceived into accepting the counterfeit workings of evil spirits, and give them access into, and possession, and control of his inner being.

If God, Who is Spirit, can be in and with a man, evil spirits can also be in and with men, if they can obtain access by consent. Their aim and desire is possession and control. These are terms which are often used of God's work in believers, but which are not really Scriptural, in the meanings which are given to the words in the present day, i.e., God "possesses" a man in the sense of ownership, and then He asks for co-operation, not " control". The believer is to control himself, by co-operation in his spirit with the Spirit of God; but never does God "control" the man as a machine is controlled by another, or by some dynamic force.


We must also make a distinction between God and Divine things, i.e., all that is Divine is not God Himself, just as all that is Satanic is not Satan himself, and all that is human is not the man himself; Divine, Satanic and human things, being those which emanate from God, Satan, and man respectively.

These three sources must always be taken into account in everything, e.g., Guidance can be (1) divine, (2) satanic, or (3) human. Obedience may be rendered to (1) God, (2) Satan, or (3) men. Visions may have their source in (1) God, (2) evil spirits, or (3) the man himself. Dreams can come from (1) God, (2) evil spirits, or (3) the man's own condition. Writing in its source may be from (1) God, (2) evil spirits, or (3) the man's own thoughts. Counterfeits by evil spirits may therefore be (1) of God, and divine things, (2) of Satan and satanic things, or (3) the human and human things.

To obtain possession, and control of believers, who will not be attracted by sin, the deceiving spirits must first counterfeit the manifestation of the presence of God, so that under cover of this "presence" they can get their suggestions into the mind, and their counterfeits accepted without question. This is their first, and sometimes their long piece of labour. It is not always an easy task, especially when the soul has been well grounded in the Scriptures, and learnt to walk by faith upon the Word of God, nor is it easy when the mind is acute in usage, and well guarded in thought, and healthily occupied.


From the counterfeit presence, comes the influence which causes the counterfeit to be accepted. Evil spirits must make something to imitate the presence of God, as their "presence" does not, and cannot be a counterfeit of it. The counterfeit presence is a work of theirs, made by them, but is not the manifestation of their own persons, e.g., they give sweet or soothing feelings, or feelings of peace, love, etc., with the whispered suggestion, adapted to the ideal of the victim, that these indicate the presence of God.

When a counterfeit presence, or influence, is accepted, then they go on to counterfeit a "Person," as one of the Persons of the Trinity, again adapted to the ideals or desires of the victim. If the believer is drawn to one more than another of the Persons of the Holy Trinity, the counterfeit will be of the One he is attached to most.note 10 The Father, to those who are drawn to Him; the Son to those who think of Him as "Bridegroom" and crave love; and the Holy Spirit to those who crave for power.

The counterfeit "Presence," as an influence, precedes the counterfeit of the "Person"note 11 of God, through which much ground is gained.

The period of danger is, as already shown in Chapter 3, at the time of seeking the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, when much has been said by others about manifestations of God to the consciousness, or some "coming upon" of the Spirit, felt by the senses. This is the opportunity for the watching spirits.

What believer is there that does not long for the "conscious" presence of God, and would not give up all to obtain it? How difficult it is to walk by "faith," when passing through the dark places of life! If the "conscious presence" is to be obtained by the Baptism of the Spirit, and there can be supernatural effects upon the senses, so that God is really felt to be at hand--then who would not be tempted to seek it? It looks to be an absolutely necessary equipment for service, and it appears from the Bible story of Pentecost, as if the believers then must have had this conscious presence, felt by them physically and actually.


Here lies the danger point which first opens the door to Satan. The working upon the senses in the religious realm, has long been Satan's special mode of deceiving men throughout the whole world, of which he is the god and prince. He knows how to soothe, and move, and work upon the senses in every possible way, and, in every form of religion ever known, deceiving unregenerate men with the form of godliness whilst denying the power. Among the truly converted, and even sanctified believers, the senses are still his way of approach. Let the soul admit a craving for beautiful emotions, happy feelings, overwhelming joy, and the conception that manifestations, or "signs," are necessary to prove the presence of God, especially in the Baptism of the Spirit, and the way is open for Satan's lying spirits to deceive.


The Lord said, on the eve of His Cross, concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit to the believer, "I will . . manifest Myself unto him" (John 14: 21), but He did not say how He would fulfil His promise. To the woman at the well He said "God is spirit," and "they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." The manifestation of Christ is, therefore, to the spirit,note 12 and not in the realm of the senses, or animal soul. Hence the craving for sense-manifestation opens the door to deceiving spirits to counterfeit the real presence of Christ; but the consent and co-operation of the will to their control must be obtained,note 13 and this they seek to get under the guise of an "angel of light"; as a messenger of God apparently clothed with light, not darkness, for light is the very nature and character of God.

The basis of this deception of the believer is his ignorance of the principles on which God works in man, and the true conditions for His manifested presence in the man's spirit; and his ignorance of the conditions upon which evil spirits work, in a passive surrendernote 14 of the will, mind and body to supernatural power. In his ignorance of the true working of God, the believer expects Him to move on the physical being, so that He is manifested to the senses, and to use his faculties apart from him, as a proof of His presence and "control," whereas God only moves in, and through the man himself by the active co-operation of his will--the will being the ego, or centre of the man. Neither does God use the faculties of the man apart from conjunction with the man, i.e., through his will. Not instead of the man, but with him (2 Cor. 6: 1).


The counterfeit presence is an influence from outside upon the believer; and can begin in some cases, not only at the time of the Baptism of the Spirit, but by a "practice" of the "Presence of God," if the believer means by that a sense consciousness of "God," who is to be known and recognized by the sense of the spirit, not the senses of the body. The true presence of God is not felt by the physical senses,note 15 but in the spirit, and the same is true of "feeling" the presence of evil spirits, or Satan. The spirit sense alone can discern the presence of God, or Satan; and the body only feels indirectly.

It is important clearly to recognize the distinction between the "obsession," or influence of the counterfeit presence; and the "possession," or access obtained, which follows the acceptance of the obsession, or influence from without.

The distinction and the characteristics may be briefly described as follows:--(1) Obsession: an influence from outside; a counterfeit presence of God as an influence upon the person, to which he opens himself in mind and body.

(2) Possession: the counterfeit of a person within (after obtaining a footing), generally as love.note 16 Absolute abandonment to this of the affections and will. Exquisite feelings in physical and soulish realm, with spirit untouched. The man thinks all is "spiritual," when it is really the sensuous life in a spiritual form.

The word obsession has been exaggerated in modern use, and symptoms, or manifestations truly belonging to possession, are frequently put down to it.


"Obsession" means an evil spirit, or spirits, hovering around, and influencing a man with the object of obtaining a footing in him, and gaining possession, in however small a degree. If these influences are yielded to, it must result in possession, e.g., if an evil spirit counterfeits the presence of God, and comes upon the man as an influence only, it may be described as obsession; but when a footing is gained in him, it is "possession,"note 17 because the obsessing spirits have gained access, and possess the ground they hold, up to the extent of the ground given.

The meaning of the word obsession as given in the dictionary bears this out. It means "to besiege," and it is described as "persistent attack, especially of an evil spirit upon a person; and "the state of being molested from without, as opposed to 'possession' or control by an evil spirit from within." According to this description of obsession, it is evident that it is a very common form of attack by the powers of darkness upon the children of God; not to speak of the unregenerate who are already, according to the Scriptures (Eph. 2: 2), controlled from within, i.e., "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (A.v.).


Evil spirits "obsess," or persistently molest, and besiege the man, to gain possession. They obsess his mind with some dominating idea which destroys his peace, and clouds his life; or they counterfeit some Divine experience, which seems to come from God, and which the believer accepts without question. This is one dangerous form of obsession in the present day, when evil spirits seek to gain admittance to a believer by counterfeiting some exterior manifestation of God, such as a "Presence" filling the room, and felt by the physical senses; "waves" of "power" pouring upon, and through the physical being; or a feeling of wind, air, or a breathing upon the outer man, apparently from Divine sources. In brief, all exterior manifestations to the believer, coming from without upon the body, have the characteristics of "obsession," because they may come from deceiving spirits seeking access to mind or body.

The deliverance of persons under obsession of any kind, or degree, is by truth, such as:--

  1. Giving them knowledge how to detect what is of God or the devil, by understanding the principles distinguishing the working of the Holy Spirit, and evil spirits.
  2. Showing them that they should accept nothing from without either in suggestionsnote 18 to the mind, or influence of any kind coming upon the body; as God the Holy Spirit works from within the spirit of the man, illuminating and renewing his mind, and bringing the body under the believer's own control.
  3. Teaching them how to stand in Christ, and resist all besieging attacks of the powers of darkness.

For the deliverance of souls under the bondage of evil spirits in possession, i.e., when they have, after obsession, gained admittance in any degree; much knowledge of God and of spiritual things is needed.

It is generally thought that "casting out"note 19 the spirit or spirits, is the only method of dealing with them, but since the ground they obtained to gain entrance, and abide in, cannot be "cast out," it is obvious that although the "casting out" may avail in some cases, it is not the only means of deliverance.


Much depends upon the cause of the possession. In China, among the heathen, demons are cast out immediately after the simple prayer of faith by the Christians.note 20 In Germany, an evangelist of ripe experience, speaks of men delivered from demon-possession after one prayer, but others who were "weeks, months, years, before they got free," and this only after much wrestling in prayer by men of God, mighty in faith.

But for believers who have become possessed by evil spirits as a result of deception, the main principle of deliverance is them being undeceived . To deal with "possession" which is the fruit of deception, by commanding the spirits to depart, is to deal with the effect, rather than the cause; and to bring about only temporary, if any, relief, with the danger of the evil spirit returning quickly to his "house," i.e., the ground which gave him lodgment.

Believers who discover themselves to be possessed through deception, should therefore seek light upon the ground through which the evil spirits entered, and give it up. It is by ground given that they obtain access, and it is by ground removed that they depart.note 21 It is for this reason that emphasis is placed in this book upon the understanding of truth,note 22 rather than upon the aspect of the casting out of demons, as it is written for the deliverance of believers deceived and possessed through accepting counterfeits of the working of God.

Deceived and possessed believers should also be taught the fundamental principle of the attitude of the human will in relation to God,note 23 and Satan, and his deceiving spirits. The Scriptures are full of this truth. "If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know . ." (John 7: 17); "he that will, let him take . ." (Rev. 22: 17).

Let it be emphasized again: deceiving spirits are obliged to get the consent of the man's will ere they can enter,note 24 and as to how far they enter. This they do by counterfeit and deception. They can only obtain the believer's surrender to their power, by feigning to be God. In fact, obsession, and possession, in all cases, both of regenerate and unregenerate, is based upon deception and guile; for it is not until a man is very fully under the power of Satan that he willfully, and knowingly, yields himself up to him.

Deliverance, therefore, requires the active exercise of the will, which must, in reliance upon the strength of God, and in the face of all beguilements, and suffering, be kept steadily set against the powers of darkness,note 25 to nullify previous consent to their working.

Deceiving spirits also counterfeit God in His holiness, and in His righteousness. The effect in such a case is to make the believer afraid of God, and to shrink away from, and loathe all spiritual things. They try to terrorize those who are timid and fearful; to influence those who yearn for power; or to draw into their control those who are open to the attraction of love and happiness.


It may be said deliberately, that it is never safe in any case to feel God's presence with the physical senses,note 26 for it is almost beyond doubt a counterfeit "presence"--a subtle snare of the enemy to gain a footing in the man. This is one reason why some who have urged upon other believers their need of a "realization of God"--meaning a felt presence in the atmosphere, or within them--have, to their grief and dismay, lost the "realization" they themselves had, and sunk into darkness, and numbness of feeling.note 27 These believers not knowing this to be the direct result--either quickly or at some distant period--of all supernatural manifestations to the senses; the victim looking for the cause of the breakdown, or "deadness" to spiritual things, in "overstrain" or "sin," and not to the realization experience he rejoiced in.

The normal condition of the faculties for use, is plainly to be seen in all Bible records of men in direct communication with God. Paul in a "trance" (Acts 22: 18), had full possession of his faculties, and intelligent use of mind and tongue. Especially so is this recognizable in John on Patmos. His physical being was prostrate from the weakness of the natural man in the unveiled presence of the glorified Lord; but after the quickening touch of the Master, his full intelligence was in use, and his mind clearly at work, in power to grasp and retain all that was being said and shown to him (Rev. 1: 10-19).

The difference between the Bible records of the revelations of God, and the conditions of the men to whom they were given; and the records of many of the supernatural manifestations to-day, lies in a principle which reveals the distinction, in striking contrast, between the pure Divine working, and the Satanic counterfeits of God: i.e., the contrasting principles of,

  1. The retention of the use of the will, and faculties;
  2. The loss of personal control through passivity.

We may take as example what is called "clairvoyance" and "clairaudience"; i.e., the power to see and the power to hear: the first meaning the seeing of supernatural things, and the second the hearing of supernatural words. There is a true seeing and hearing, and a false seeing and hearing of supernatural things; and they result either from a Divine gift, which is the true (Rev. 1: 10-12); or an evil passive state, which admits the counterfeit.


It is said that clairvoyance and clairaudience powers are "natural gifts," but they are really the result of an evil state, in which evil spirits are able to manifest their power and presence. Crystal gazingnote 28 is also merely a means of inducing this passive state, and so with all the various methods in vogue in the East and elsewhere, to bring about the manifestations and workings of supernatural powers. The principle is the same. The key to all these, and other Satanic workings in the human frame, is the need of the suspension of the mental activity; whereas in all Divine revelations, the mental faculties and powers are unchecked, and in full operation.

The people at the foot of Mount Sinai "saw God," yet they were not "passive." Vision--whether mental or physical--is really active and not passive, that is, separated from volition and personal action; and "visions" may be either physical, mental or spiritual.


In writing under the control of evil spirits the same principle is manifested, i.e., the suspension of volitional and mental action:--

  1. The person writes what he hears dictated audibly in a supernatural way.
  2. He writes what he sees presented to his mind supernaturally, sometimes with rapidity as if compelled.
  3. He writes automatically, as his hand is moved, without any mental, or volitional action.

In descriptive writing, or writing from what is supernaturally presented to the mind, the words may pass before the mental vision as clearly as if they were seen by the physical eye, sometimes in letters of fire, or light.note 29 The same may take place in public speaking, when the speaker may describe what is presented to the mental vision--that is, if his mind is in a passive state--thinking that all is "illumination by the Holy Spirit."

This may take place in some, in such a refined degree, that the man is deceived into thinking that it comes from a "brilliant mind," "gifts of imagination," "delicate power of poetic description," whilst none of it is the real product of his own mind; for it is not the outcome of thought , but the seizing of subtly presented "pictures" given at the moment when writing or speaking. It can be tested by its fruits; being (1) empty of tangible results, and sometimes (2) mischievous in suggestion; certain sentences intermingled with words of truth, being subversive of the pure gospel; whilst the whole has no spiritual substance at the back of the beautiful words, or any permanent result in the salvation of the unregenerate, or the building up of believers.


It is possible that this may be the hidden cause of the evanescent character of Missions carried out on a wide scale, which seem at the time to be fruitful, but which pass away like the morning cloud in a few brief weeks. The speakers gave the truths of the gospel, but may have preached from mental presentations, and not from the source of the spirit in co-operate action with the Holy Spirit. The powers of darkness have nothing to fear from words--even words of gospel truth--if there is no fructifying life in them from the source of the Spirit of God; and that there are spurious conversions on a wide scale permitted, if not brought about, by the spirits of evil, is now beyond question. It is easy for them to, apparently, let go their captives when it suits their plans to deceive the people of God, and there is much in the religious movements of to-day which absorbs the energy of Christians, and appears to extend the Kingdom of God, but leaves undisturbed the kingdom of the spirits of the air.

In automatic writing, and in the more refined presentations referred to, the mind is passive in greater or lesser degree; and the man writes, or speaks, not what comes from the normal action of the mind, but what he sees presented to him.

Ignorant of the existence of evil spirits, and their unceasing schemes to deceive every child of God; and equally ignorant of the danger of fulfilling the conditions for their working; a great number of believers do not know that in the ordinary circumstances of life they can be opening themselves to the deceptions of supernatural beings, who are keenly watching to gain admittance, and to use the servants of God, e.g., a public speaker who seeks to depend on "supernatural help," and does not keenly use his brain in alert spiritual "thinking," practically cultivates a passive condition which the enemy may make use of to the fullest degree; and thus unknowingly gain an influence in his life, which is manifested in unaccountable attacks of all kinds, with, apparently, no ground given by him in life or action.

The same may be true of an author, who in some way, unknown to himself, has become passive--or bluntly put, mediumistic --in some faculty, or part of his inner life, and thereby has opened himself to the supernatural "presentations" of evil spirits,note 30 for his speaking or writing, which he thinks is illumination from God.


In writing under Divine guidance, three factors are required:

  1. A spirit indwelt by, and moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1: 21).
  2. An alert and renewed mind, acute in active power of apprehension and intelligent thinking (See 1 Cor. 14: 20).
  3. A body under the complete control of the spirit and volition of the man (See 1 Cor. 9: 27).

In writing or speaking under the control of evil spirits, a man is not truly "spiritual," for his spirit is not in use; what appears "spiritual" being the work of supernatural powers manifesting their spirit power on, and through, the passive mind of the man, apart from his spirit. But in writing under the guidance of God; since it is not given by dictation, as to an automaton, but by the movement of the Holy Spirit in the man's spirit; the man must be truly spiritual, the source being in the spirit, and not in the mind, as it is when men write the products of their own thoughts. The Scriptures bear the marks of their having been written in this way. "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (2 Pet. 1: 21). They spake from God," but as men they received and uttered, or wrote the truth given in the spirit, but transmitted through the full use of their divinely enlightened faculties.

Paul's writings all show the fulfillment of the three requirements mentioned; of his spirit being open to the movement of the Holy Spirit, his mind in full use, and his body an obedient instrument under the control of the spirit; his letters also revealing the capacity of the renewed mind for apprehending the deep things of God.


In Paul, too, we see the clear discrimination possessed by a spiritual man, able to recognize what came from God in his spirit, and what was the product of his own thought in the exercise of his judgment as a servant of God.note 31

The recordsnote 32 of most "supernatural revelations" today, almost entirely show (1) the absence of the requirements for true Divine manifestations; and (2) of having fulfilled the law for the workings of evil spirits; i.e. , the suspension of the use of the mental faculties, with the consequent emptiness, and sometimes childish folly, of the words said to have been "spoken by God," and the purposelessness of the "visions," and other manifestations.

Let the conditions necessary for evil spirits to work in the human frame be fulfilled, and then no experience of the past, no dignity of position, no intellectual training, or knowledge, will protect the believer from their counterfeit manifestations. Consequently, the deceiver will do anything and everything to engender passivity in the children of God, in any form whatsoever, either in spirit, soul or body; for he knows that sooner or later he will gain the ground then given. It can therefore be said unhesitatingly, that if the law for evil spirits to work is fulfilled, in the non-use of the mind and faculties, evil spirits will work and deceive the very elect of God.


It may be asked why evil spirits want the body, and why they so persistently work to gain access and possession?

  1. Because in it they find "rest" (Matt. 12: 43), and seem to find some relief for themselves in some way we do not know. But still more than this:
  2. Because the body is the outlet of the soul and spirit; and if they can control the exterior, they can thereby control the inner man at the centre by hindering his freedom of action man-ward, although they may not do so God-ward.

In the case of the believer, they do not destroy the life at the centre, but they can imprison it, so that the inner man, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, is unable to attack and destroy their kingdom and works. When the evil spirits gain possession of a believer's body and mind in any degree, all previous spiritual growth is practically of no service value. In the spiritual section of the Church of Christ, a great number of believers need light for liberation of their circumference. Their spiritual growth is checked and hindered by the dulling of their faculties, the clog of misconceptions and deceptions in their minds, or weakness and disease in their bodies. These conditions also checking the outflow of the Holy Spirit indwelling the spirit, so that the life of Jesus cannot be manifested through them, in the using of the mind for the transmission of truth, or in the strengthening and using of the body in active effective service.

Therefore, when the outer man becomes dispossessed, it does not bring the centre life into existence, but into freedom of operation. All this may be in various degrees, for all believers are not in the same degree of bondage. There are degrees of (1) inner spiritual growth; of (2) mixture in the life, of workings of God from the spirit, and evil spirits in the outer man; of (3) passivity of the man in spirit, soul and body, resulting in (4) degrees of "possession."

The moment ground is given, in any degree, to evil spirits, the faculties are dulled by them, or become passive through non-use. Their aim then is to substitute themselves for the person in all his actions, and so to gain entrance to him, over the rails, so to speak, of his passive faculties, will, etc., as to intertwine themselves in the innermost structure of his being, and thus to control him and use him for their own purposes; the man meanwhile believing that he is admitting Divine substitutions for himself--that is, God working, and acting instead of himself--and thus he is becoming "God-possessed."

Believers in such a degree of possession by deceiving spirits then have "supernatural power", and can, in a supernatural way, get from the spirits in control of them, and give forth from them as their transmitters, many supernatural workings, or manifestations such as:--

    The getting and transmitting of "Revelations." Chap. 6 The power of "Prophecy." The power of divination. See Chap. 7 The receiving and giving of impressions, supernaturally. Chap. 7 The getting of specific "guidance," supernaturally. See Chap. 6 The foretelling of events. The power of writing automatically, or otherwise. Page 115 The receiving and giving of information. The receiving of interpretations. The getting of visions. See Chap. 6

Such a possessed believer may also obtain power:--

    Of listening to spirit beings. See pages 125, 137, 169 Of concentration necessary for listening. Of getting knowledge, supernaturally. Of holding communication and communion supernaturally. Of translating, criticizing, correcting, judging. Of getting and giving suggestions. Of getting and giving messages. Of dealing with obstacles, supernaturally. Of receiving and giving "meanings" to facts and imaginations. Of giving supernatural meanings to natural facts; and natural meanings to supernatural facts. Of being led and controlled. See page 139

Many of these manifested workings of the evil spirits in possession of the believer, appear to be the working of the man himself; but of which actions he is incapable naturally; e.g., he may have no "natural" power of "translating, criticizing," etc. Yet the spirits in possession can give him power for so doing, thus creating a false personalitynote 33 in the eyes of others, who think him possessed of such and such "gifts" (naturally), and are disappointed when he will not use them; not knowing that he is unable to "manifest" or use such supposed "gifts," except at the will of the spirits in control of him.note 34 Also that when the deceived believer discovers such manifestations to be the fruit of possession, and refuses any longer to be the slave of the lying spirits of Satan, such "gifts" cease to exist. This is the time when the undeceived man is persecuted by the revengeful spirits of evil, through their suggestions to others that he has "lost his power," or "retrograded" in his spiritual life, when in truth he is being liberated from the effects of their wicked and fiendish workings.


The following examples show how the deceiving spirits may substitute themselves, and their own working in the believer's life, through his misconceptions of spiritual truth.

1. Substitution in speaking. Text: "It is not ye that speak . . ." (Matt. 10: 20).note 35 Believers think that this means Divine substitution for their speaking. That God will speak through them. The man says, "I must not speak, God is to do so," and he "surrenders" his mouth to God to be His mouthpiece, bringing about passivity of the lips and vocal organs, which are abandoned for usage to the supernatural power which he thinks isGod.

Result: (a) The man himself does not speak; (b) God does not speak, because He makes no man an automaton; (c) evil spirits speak, as the condition of passivity is fulfilled for their doing so. The outcome is the substitution of evil spirits in possession and control of the believer, particularly in the form of supernatural "messages"note 36 which increasingly demand his passive obedience, and in due time bring about a mediumistic condition wholly unforeseen by him.

2. Substitution in memory. Text: "Shall bring all things to your remembrance" (John 14: 26). Believers think this means that they need not use the memory.note 37 God will bring all things to their mind. Result: ( a) the man himself does not use his memory; and (b) God does not use it, because He will not do so apart from the believer's co-action; (c) evil spirits use it, and substitute their workings in the place of the believer's volitional use of his memory.

3. Substitution of conscience. Text: "Shall hear a word behind thee saying, this is the way . . " (Isa. 30: 21). Believers look upon supernatural guidance in a voice or text directing them, as a higher form of guidancenote 38 than through conscience. The man then thinks that he does not need to reason or think, but simply "obey." He follows this so-called "higher guidance," which he substitutes for his conscience. Result: (a) he does not use his conscience; (b) God does not speak to him for automatic obedience; (c) evil spirits take the opportunity, and supernatural voices are substituted for the action of the conscience. The outcome is the substitution of evil spirit guidance in his life.

From this time the man is not influenced by what he feels or sees, or by what others say, and he closes himself to all questions, and will not reason. This substitution of supernatural guidance for the action of the consciencenote 39 explains the deterioration of the moral standard in persons with supernatural experiences, because they have really substituted the direction of evil spirits for their conscience. They are quite unconscious that their moral standard is lowered, but their conscience has become seared by deliberately ceasing to heed its voice; and by listening to the voices of the teaching spirits, in matters which should be decided by the conscience in respect to their being right or wrong, good or evil.

4. Substitution in decision.note 40 Text: "It is God that worketh in you to will . . . " The believer thinks this to mean that he is not to use his own will, for God is to will through him. Result: (a) the man himself does not exercise his will; (b) God does not either, or he would cease to be a free agent; (c) evil spirits seize upon the passive will, and either hold it in a paralyzed condition of inability to act, or else make it domineering and strong. The apparent "Divine substitution" of God's will in the place of the man's will, turns out to be a Satanic substitution, and thus the emissaries of Satan gain a hold of the very centre of the life; eventually making the believer a victim to indecision and weakness in will-action, or else energizing the will to a force of mastery, even over others, which is fraught with disastrous results.


In like manner, evil spirits will not only endeavour to substitute their own workings in a man's life in the place of God, on the ground of the believer's misconception of the true way of co-acting with God; but they will also seek to substitute their workings for all the mental faculties of the man, i.e., the mind, the reason, the memory, the imagination, the judgment. This is a counterfeit of self through substitution. The person thinks it is himself all the time.note 41

This substitution by evil spirits of themselves on the ground of the passive surrender to non-use of any part of the inner, or outer, life of the believer, is the basis of deep deception and possession among the most "surrendered" children of God; the deception and possession taking an entirely spiritual form at first, such as the man having an exaggerated sense of his importance in the Church, his "world-wide ministry," his lofty position of influence arising out of his "divine commission," his abnormal height of spirituality, and definite and almost unprecedented "experience," which makes him feel he has been placed far above other men. But a tremendous and inevitable fall awaits such an one. He ascends his pinnacle, pushed by the enemy, without any power whatsoever to control the inevitable descent, which must follow when he is undeceived, a crash being the result, shaking the things that can be shaken. Then he experiences awful darkness, and the effects of possession in its true results. The effect of demon possession in its fullest climax is darkness; nothing but darkness; darkness within, darkness without; intense darkness; darkness over the past; darkness enveloping the future. Darkness surrounding God and all His ways.

Here many sink under the horror that they have committed the "unpardonable sin." Some, however, discover that their bitter experience may be turned into light for the Church in its fight with sin and Satan, and as those who have been in the camp of the enemy and heard all his secrets, they become a terror to the forces of evil on their emergence to liberty, with the result that they are assailed with intensified malignity on account of their knowledge of the foe.

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