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--
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
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:
|No Saviour, no Cross, a "moral" religion, with man his own Saviour.|
|2.||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