Another question of grave importance arises just here. Why, after a Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the believer should be so specially open to the deceiver's workings, for the enemy must have ground to work upon, and with the Holy Spirit so manifestly in possession, how can "ground," be possible, or the believer be open to the deceiver's approach?
Possibly because in preceding years, through yielding to sin, an evil spirit may have obtained access to body or mind, and, hiding deeply in the structure of the man, never been detected, or dislodged. The manifestation of this evil spirit possibly being so apparently "natural," or so identified with the person's character, as to have had unhindered sway in his being; such as some peculiar idea in the mind being considered as part of the man's idiosyncrasy; some habit of body, as part of the upbringing of the man himself, therefore "put up with" by others, and looked upon by the believer as a lawful thing, or of trivial importance; or else this evil spirit had lodgment through some secret sin known only to the person, or through some disposition which gave him sway. [See also "Passivity," Chap. 4 and "obsession," Chap. 5].
In the Baptism of the Spirit, the sin will of necessity have been dealt with;note 5 that is, the "works of the devil," but the evil spirit manifested in the peculiar idiosyncrasy, is left undetected. The Baptism of the Spirit takes place, and the Holy Spirit fills the spirit of the man; the body and mind are "surrendered" to God, but hidden secretly in one, or both,note 6 is the evil spirit, or spirits, which obtained lodgment years before, but who now break forth into activity, and hide their "manifestations" under cover of the true workings of the Spirit of God, dwelling within the inner shrine of the spirit.
The result of this is, that for a time, the heart is filled with love; the spirit is full of light and joy; the tongue is loosed to witness, but ere long a "fanatical spirit" may be detected creeping in, or a subtle spirit of pride, or self-importance, and self-aggrandisement,note 7 concurrent with the other pure fruits of the Spirit, which are undeniably of God.
What the ground is upon which the deceiver works to carry out his schemes, and what these schemes are, and why in so many instances they succeed in ensnaring devoted believers, we shall deal with later on in this book. The fact to emphasize now, is, that "honest" and earnest believers can be deceived, and even "possessed" by deceiving spirits, so that for a period they go out of the main line into a bog of deception, or they are left deceived to the end, unless light for their deliverance reaches them.
In the light of the working of deceiving spirits, and their methods of deception, it is also becoming clear that close examination is needed of the twentieth century theories, conceptions, and expressions, concerning things in connection with God, and His way of working in man; for only the truth of God, apart from "views" of truth, will avail for protection, or warfare, in the conflict with wicked spirits in the heavenly sphere.
All that is in any degree the outcome of the mind of the "natural man" (1 Cor. 2: 14) will prove to be but weapons of straw in this great battle, and if we rely upon others' "views of truth," or upon our own human conceptions of truth, Satan will use these very things to deceive us, even building us up in these theories and views, so that under cover of them he may accomplish his purposes.
We cannot therefore, at this time, over-estimate the importance of believers having open minds to "examine all things" they have thought, and taught, in connection with the things of God, and the spiritual realm. All the "truths" they have held; all the phrases and expressions they have used in "holiness teachings"; and all the "teachings" they have absorbed through others. For any wrong interpretation of truth, any theories and phrases which are man- conceived, and which we may build upon wrongly, will have perilous consequences to ourselves, and to others, in the conflict which the Church, and the individual believer, is now passing through. Since in the "later times" evil spirits will come to them with deceptions in doctrinal form, believers must examine carefully what they accept as "doctrine," lest it should be from the emissaries of the deceiver.
The duty of this examination of spiritual things is strongly urged by the Apostle Paul, again and again. "He that is spiritual judgeth (margin, examineth, or, as in the Greek, investigates and decides), all things" (1 Cor. 2: 15). The "spiritual" believer is to use his "judgment," which is a renewed faculty if he is a "spiritual man," and this spiritual examination, or judging, is mentioned as operative in connection with "things of the Spirit of God" (1 Cor 2: 14), showing how God Himself honours the intelligent personality of the man He re-creates in Christ, by inviting the "judging" and "examining" of His own workings by His Spirit; so that even "the things of the Spirit" are not to be received as of Him, without being examined, and "spiritually discerned" as of God. When, therefore, it is said in connection with the supernatural, and abnormal manifestations of the present time, that it is not necessary, nor even according to the will of God, for believers to understand, or explain all the workings of God, it is out of accord with the Apostle's statement that, "he that is spiritual, judgeth all things," and consequently should reject all things which his spiritual judgment is unable to accept, until such a time as he is able to discern with clearness what are the things of God.
And not only is the believer to discern, or judge the things of the spirit--i.e., all things in the spiritual realm--but he is also to judge himself. For "if we discriminated ourselves"--the Greek word means a thorough investigation --we should not need the dealing of the Lord, to bring to light the things in ourselves which we have failed to discern by discrimination (1 Cor. 11: 31, m.).
"Brethren, be not children in mind, howbeit in malice be ye babes, but in MIND BE MEN" (Gr., of full, or mature age, 1 Cor. 14: 20), wrote the Apostle again to the Corinthians, as he explained to them the way of the working of the Spirit among them. The believer is in "mind" to be of "full age"; that is, able to examine, "bring to the proof" (Gr., to prove, demonstrate, examine, 2 Tim. 4: 2, R.V. m.), and "prove all things" (1 Thess. 5: 21). He is to abound in knowledge, and "all discernment," so as to "prove the things that differ," that he may be "sincere and void of offence" until the day of Christ (Phil. 1: 10, m.).
In accordance with these directions of the Word of God, and in view of the critical time through which the Church of Christ is passing, every expression, "view," or theory, which we hold concerning things, should now be examined carefully, and brought to the proof, with open and honest desire to know the pure truth of God, as well as every statement that comes to our knowledge of the experience of others, which may throw light upon our own pathway. Every criticism--just or unjust--should be humbly received, and examined to discover its ground, apparent or real; and facts concerning spiritual verities from every section of the Church of God, should be analysed, independent of their pleasure, or pain, to us personally, either for our own enlightenment, or for our equipment in the service of God. For the knowledge of truth is the first essential for warfare with the lying spirits of Satan, and truth must be eagerly sought for, and faced with earnest and sincere desire to know it, and obey it in the light of God; truth concerning ourselves, discerned by unbiased discrimination; truth from the Scriptures, uncoloured, unstrained, unmutilated, undiluted; truth in facing facts of experience in all members of the Body of Christ, and not one section alone.
There is a fundamental principle involved in the freeing power of truth from the deceptions of the devil. Deliverance from believing lies must be by believing truth. Nothing can remove a lie but truth. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8: 32), is applicable to every aspect of truth, as well as the special truth referred to by the Lord when He spoke the pregnant words.
In the very first stage of the Christian life the sinner must know the truth of the gospel, if he is to be saved. Christ is the Saviour, but He saves through, and not apart from instruments or means. If the believer needs freedom, he must ask the Son of God for it. How does the Son set free? By the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit does it by the instrumentality of truth; or we may say, in brief, freedom is the gift of the Son, by the Holy Spirit working through truth.
There are three stages of apprehending truth :--
Truth apparently not grasped may lie in the mind, and in the hour of need suddenly emerge into experience, and thus by experience become clear to the mind in which it has been lying dormant. It is only by continual application, and assimilation of truth in experience, that it becomes clarified in the mind in order to teach others.
The great need of all believers is that they should eagerly seek truth for their progressive liberation from all Satan's lies; for knowledge and truth alone can give victory over Satan as deceiver and liar. If the hearers of truth should resist it, or rebel against it, truth can well be left to the care of the Holy Spirit of Truth. Even in the case of resistance to truth it has at least reached the mind, and at any time may fructify into experience.
There are three attitudes of mind in regard to knowledge, i.e.,
This is instanced in the life of Christ. Some said of Him, "He is a false prophet," with an assumption of knowledge; others said, "We do not know"- -taking a position of neutrality until they did know; but Peter said, "We know . . " and he had true knowledge.
When believers first hear of the possibility of counterfeits of God, and Divine things, they almost invariably ask, "How are we to know which is which?" It is enough, first of all, for them to know that such counterfeits are possible; and then, as they mature, or seek light from God, they learn to know for themselves, as no human being can explain to them.
But they cry, "We do not know, and how can we know?" They should remain neutral to all supernatural workings until they do know. There is among many a wrong anxiety to know, as if knowledge alone would save them. They think that they must be either for, or against certain things, which they cannot decide are either from God, or from the devil; and want to know infallibly which is which, that they may declare their position: but believers can take the attitude of "for" or "against" without knowing whether the things they are in doubt about are Divine or Satanic; and maintain the wisdom and safety of the neutral position to the things themselves, until, by a means which cannot be fully described, they know what they have wanted to understand.
One effect of over-eagerness in desiring knowledge, is a feverish anxiety, and a restless impatience, worry and trouble, which causes a loss of moral poise and power. It is important in seeking one "blessing" not to destroy another. In seeking knowledge of spiritual things let not the believer lose patience, and calm quiet restfulness, and faith; let him watch himself, lest the enemy gain advantage, and rob him of moral power, whilst he is keen to get light and truth upon the way of victory over him.
Ere we pass on to deal with the ground for the working of deceiving spirits in believers, some misinterpretations of truth which are giving ground to the powers of darkness at this time, and which need examination to discover how far they are in accordance with Scripture, may briefly be referred to. (1) A mistaken conception concerning the "shelter of the Blood," claimed upon an assembly as a guarantee of absolute protection from the working of the powers of darkness.
The New Testament "proportion of truth" concerning the application of the Blood, by the Holy Spirit, may briefly be said to be as follows:--(1) The Blood of Jesus cleanses from sin, (a) "if we walk in the light," and ( b) "if we confess our sins" (1 John 1: 7, 9). (2) The Blood of Jesus gives access to the Holiest of all; because of the cleansing power from sin (Hebrews 10: 19). (3) The Blood of Jesus is the ground of victory over Satan, because of its cleansing from every confessed sin, and because at Calvary, Satan was conquered (Rev. 12: 11), but we do not read that any can be put "under the Blood" apart from their own volition, and individual condition before God; e.g., if the "shelter of the Blood" is claimed over an assembly of people, and one present is giving ground for Satan, the "claiming of the Blood" does not avail to prevent Satan working on the ground which he has a right to in that person.
In gatherings of people at all stages of spiritual knowledge and experience, the actual effect of claiming the power of the Blood can only be upon the atmosphere where the evil spirits are; and the Holy Spirit bears witness to it there with immediate cleansing effect, as exampled in Rev. 12: 11, where the warfare spoken of is in the "heavens," with a spiritual foe, working as an accuser.
A misconception, therefore, about the protecting power of the Blood, is serious; for those who are present in a meeting where Satan is working as well as God, may believe they are personally safe from Satan's workings, apart from their individual condition and dealing with God; whilst through the ground they have given--even unknowingly--to the adversary, they are open to his power.