(2) Mistaken conceptions concerning "waiting for the Spirit" to descend. Here again we find expressions and theories misleading, and opening the door to Satanic deceptions. "If we want a Pentecostal manifestation of the Spirit, we must 'tarry' as did the disciples before Pentecost," we have said the one to the other, and we have seized upon the text in Luke 24: 49, and Acts 1: 4, and passed the word along. "Yes, we must 'tarry,'" until, compelled by the inroads of the adversary in "waiting meetings," we have had to search the Scriptures once more, to discover that the Old Testament word of "wait on the Lord" so often used in the Psalms, has been strained beyond the New Testament proportion of truth, and exaggerated into a "waiting on God" for the outpouring of the Spirit, which has even gone beyond the "ten days" which preceded Pentecost, into four months, and even four years, and which, to our knowledge, has ended in an influx of deceiving spirits which has rudely awakened some of the waiting souls. The Scriptural truth concerning waiting for the Spirit"note 8 may be summed up as follows:
It is true that at this time the Church is, as a whole, living experimentally on the wrong side of Pentecost, but in dealing with God individually for the reception of the Holy Spirit, this does not put the seekers back to the position of the disciples before the Holy Ghost had been given by the Ascended Lord. The Risen Lord poured forth the stream of the Spirit again and again after the day of Pentecost, but in each instance it was without "tarrying" as the disciples did at the first (see Acts. 4: 31). The Holy Spirit, Who proceeds from the Father through the Son to His people, is now among them, waiting to give Himself unceasingly to all who will appropriate, and receive Him (John 15: 26 ; Acts 2: 33, 38, 39). A " waiting for the Spirit" therefore is not in accord with the general tenor of the truth given in the Acts and the Epistles, which show rather the imperative call to the believer to put in his claim, not only to his identification with the Lord Jesus in His death, and union in life with Him in His resurrection, but also to the enduement for witnessing, which came to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost.
On the believer's side, we may say, however, that there is a waiting for God, whilst the Holy Spirit deals with, and prepares, the one who has put in his claim, until he is in the right attitude for the influx of the Holy Spirit into his spirit, but this is different from the "waiting for Him to come,"note 10 which has opened the door so frequently to Satanic manifestations from the unseen world. The Lord does take the believer at his word when he puts in his claim for his share of the Pentecostal gift, but the "manifestation of the Spirit"--the evidence of His indwelling and outworking-- may not be according to any pre-conceptions of the seeker.note 11
Why "waiting meetings"--that is, "waiting for the Spirit" until He descends in some manifested way--have been so profitable to deceiving spirits, is because they are not in accord with the written Word, where it is set forth that (1) The Holy Spirit is not to be prayed to, or asked to come, as He is the Gift of Another (see Luke 11: 13; John 14: 16). (2) The Holy Spirit is not to be "waited for," but to be taken, or received from the hand of the Risen Lord (John 20: 22; Eph. 5: 18); of Whom it is written, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire" (Matt. 3: 11). [This is] out of line with the truth of the Scriptures, therefore prayer to the Spirit, "trust in the Spirit," "obeying the Spirit," "expecting the Spirit" to descend, may all become prayer, trust, and obedience to evil spirits, when they counterfeit the working of God, as we shall see later on.
Other mistaken conceptions of spiritual truth, centre around phrases, such as these: "God can do everything. If I trust Him He must keep me"; not understanding that God works according to laws, and conditions, and that those who trust Him, should seek to know the conditions upon which He can work in response to their trust. "If I were wrong, God would not use me"; not understanding that if a man is right in his will, God will use him to the fullest extent possible, but this being "used" of God is no guarantee that any man is absolutely right in all that he says and does .
"I have no sin," or "sin has been entirely removed"; not knowing how deeply the sinful life of Adam is ingrained in the fallen creation, and how the assumption that "sin" has been eliminated from the whole being, enables the enemy to keep the life of nature from being dealt with by the continual power of the Cross. "God, Who is Love, will not allow me to be deceived" is of itself a deception, based on ignorance of the depths of the Fall, and the misconception that God works irrespective of spiritual laws. "I do not believe it possible for a Christian to be deceived," is a shutting of the eyes to facts around us on every hand. "I have had too long an experience to need teaching" ; "I must be taught Of God direct, because it is written, 'Ye need not that any man teach you.' " is another misused passage of Scripture, which some believers interpret as meaning that they are to refuse all spiritual teaching through others. But that the Apostle's words, "Ye need not that any man teach you," did not preclude God teaching through anointed teachers, is shown in the inclusion of "teachers" in the list of gifted believers to the Church, for the "building up of the Body of Christ" through "that which every joint supplieth" (Eph. 4: 11-16). For God is sometimes able to teach His children more quickly by indirect means--that is, through others--than directly, because men are so slow in understanding the way of direct teaching by the Spirit of God.
Many other similar misconceptions of spiritual things by Christians of to- day, give opportunity to the deception of the enemy, because they cause believers to close their minds to (1) the statements of God's Word; (2) the facts of life; (3) and the help of others who could throw light upon the way (1 Pet. 1: 12).
Other dangers centre around the coining of phrases to describe some special experience, and words in familiar use amongst earnest children of God who attend Conventions; such as "possess," "control," "surrender," "let go," all containing truth in relation to God, but in the interpretation of them in the minds of many believers, liable to bring about conditions for the evil spirits of Satan to "possess" and "control" those who "surrender," and "let go" to the powers of the spiritual world, not knowing how to discern between the working of God and Satan.
Various preconceptions of the way God works, also give evil spirits their opportunity; such as, that when a believer is supernaturally compelled to act, it is a special evidence that God is guiding him, or that if God brings all things to our "remembrance" we need not use our memories at all.note 12
Other thoughts which are liable to bring about the passivenote 13 condition, which evil spirits need for their deceptive workings, may also be through the following misconceptions of truth:
To carry out in practice these various conceptions of truth, the believer quenches all personal action of mind, judgment, reason, will and activity, for the "Divine life to flow," through him, whereas God needs the fullest liberation of the faculties of the man, and his active and intelligent co-operation in will, for the working out of all these spiritual truths in experience.
The following table will show some other misinterpretations of truth, which need clarifying in the minds of many children of God:
|1.||"The Blood of Jesus cleanseth . ."||Cleanses moment by moment.||Leaves the man sinless.|
|2.||"It is not ye that speak . ."||The source is not from the believer.||note 14The man must not speak nor use his jaws, but be passive.|
|3.||"Ask and ye shall receive."||Ask according to God's Will and you will receive.||note 15Ask anything, and you will receive.|
|4.||"It is God that worketh in you to will and to do . ."||The man must "will" and must act. (page 74)||note 14God wills for you (or instead of you) and God works instead of you.|
|5.||"Ye need not that any man teach you."||You do not need any man to teach you, but you need Spirit-taught teachers given of God.||note 16I must not take teaching from any man, but "direct" from God . . .|
|6.||"He will guide you into all truth . ."||The Spirit of God will guide, but I must see how and when . .||note 16 guided me into all truth . . .|
|7.||"A people for His own possession . ."||God's ownership.||"Possessed" by God indwelling, moving and controlling a passive automation.|
|8.||"Meet for the Master's use . ."||God, in the man's spirit, using the mind, in the sense of giving light for the believer's intelligent co-operation.||"Used" by God as a passive tool, requiring blind submission.|
What, then, is the condition of safety from the deception of evil spirits? (1) Knowledge that they exist; (2) that they can deceive the most honest believers (Gal. 2: 11-16); (3) an understanding of the conditions and ground necessary for their working, so as to give them no place, and no opportunity of working; and, lastly, (4) intelligent knowledge of God, and how to co-operate with Him in the power of the Holy Spirit. To make these points clear will be our purpose in succeeding pages.