Passivity of judgment and reason, which means that the man in this condition has closed the mind to all arguments, and statements upon which he has come to settled conclusions, and all effort to give him further truth and light is regarded as interference, and the person attempting it as ignorant, or intrusive. The believer in this stage of passivity lapses into a state of evil positiveness, and infallibility; from which nothing can release the "judgment," but the rude shock of seeing that he has been deceived, and possessed by evil spirits. To undermine the deception of a believer in this condition, almost means the re-laying of the very foundations of his spiritual life. Hence the few--called "fanatics" and "cranks" by the world--who have been saved out of this degree of the deception of the enemy.
As for the passivity of the reasoning powers, when such believers have taken words spoken to them supernaturally, as God's expressed will, they become law to them, so that they cannot be induced to reason over them. If they receive a "commandment" (supernaturally) about anything, they will not examine it, or reason or think upon that point, and they steadfastly determine to close themselves absolutely to any further light in this particular direction. This brings about, what may be described as, passivity of the conscience . The conscience becomes passive through non-use, when believers think that they are being guided by a higher law of being told to do this, or that, directly from God; that is, by direct guidance through voices, and texts.note 5
When believers sink into passivity of conscience, there is a manifestation of moral degradation in some, and in others stagnation, or retrogression in life or service. Instead of using their mind, or conscience in deciding what is good and evil, and right and wrong, they walk, as they believe, according to the "voice of God," which they make the deciding factor in all their decisions. When this takes place, they will not listen to their reason, or conscience, or the words of others, and having come to decision through the supposed direction of God, their minds become as a closed and sealed book on the matter in question.
Ceasing to use their true reasoning powers, they become open to all kinds of suggestions from evil spirits, and false "reasonings"; for example, in regard to the coming of Christ, some have falsely reasoned that because Christ is coming soon, they do not need to carry on their usual work, overlooking the words of the Lord on this very matter: "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath set over his household, to give them their food in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord, when he cometh, shall find so doing."note 6
Because of what he will gain through it, therefore, the devil will do anything to engender passivity in any form whatsoever, in spirit, or mind or body.
Passivity of the spirit is closely associated with passivity of mind, because there is a close relationship between mind and spirit; a wrong thought generally means a wrong spirit, and a wrong spirit a wrong thought.
The human "spirit" is often spoken of in the Scriptures as having activities, and is described as being in various conditions. It can be moved, or be inactive, it can be "loosed," bound, depressed, faint, free, and moved from three sources: God, the devil, or the man himself. It can be pure, or "filthy" (2 Cor. 7: 1, A.V.), or in a mixed condition, in the sense of being pure up to a degree, with other degrees of impurity to be dealt with.
By the cleansing power of the Blood of Christ (1 John 1: 9), and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the spirit is brought into union with Christ (1 Cor. 6: 17), and should actively dominate the man in full co-operation with the Holy Spirit. But passivity of spirit can be brought about by so many causes, that believers may be scarcely conscious of having any "spirit" at all, or else, through the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, which releases the human spirit into freedom and buoyancy, the man may become acutely conscious of the spirit life for a season, and afterwards sink into passivity of spirit, unknowingly. This, then, means absolute powerlessness in the warfare with the powers of darkness; for full liberty, and usage of the spirit in co-working with the indwelling Holy Spirit, is a supreme essential for personal victory, and wielding the authority of Christ over the powers of evil. (See example of Paul in Acts 13: 9, 10).
Passivity of spirit generally follows the Baptism of the Spirit, by the will and the mind becoming passive through lack of use; and the believer then wonders why he has lost the buoyant light and liberty of his joyous experience. It may come about through:
(1) Ignorance of the laws of the spirit,note 7 and how to keep in the freedom of the spirit.
(2) Wrong mental conclusions, or wrong thoughts.note 8 Mixing up feelings, such as physical, soulish and spiritual, not knowing which is which, i.e., (1) putting the spiritual down to soulish and physical, or (2) attributing to the spiritual that which is natural and physical.
(3) A drawing upon of the soulish life instead of the spirit, through lack of knowledge of the difference between them; also by quenching the spirit through ignoring the spiritual sense;note 9 for the mind should be able to read the sense of the spirit, as clearly as it does the sense of seeing, hearing, smelling, and all the senses of the body. There is a knowledge of the mind, and a knowledge in the spirit, hence a "sense" of the spirit,note 9 which we should learn to understand. It should be read, used, cultivated, and when there is a weight on the spirit of the believer, he should be able to recognize it, and know how to get rid of it.
(4) Drainage and exhaustion of the body or mind, by constant activity of the mind in excessive use. In short, the mind and body must be released from strain, before the spirit can be fully operative. (Compare experience of Elijah in 1 Kings 19: 4, 5, 8, 9).
Worry, or trouble over the past, or future, checks the free action of the spirit, by making the outer man and outer affairs dominant, instead of the inner man being at liberty for the will of God in the moment.
The result of all these causes is that the spirit becomes locked up,note 10 so to speak, so that it cannot act, or fight against the powers of darkness, either in their indirect attacks through environment, or in aggressive warfare against them. The rapidity with which a believer can sink into passivity, at any moment when the resisting attitude ceases, may be likened to the sinking of a stone in water.
When passivity of body takes place, it practically means a cessation of consciousness, through the passivity affecting sight, hearing, smell, taste, feeling, etc. Assuming the person to be in normal health, he should be able to focus his eyes on any object he chooses, either for vision or work, and he should have the same control over all the other senses, as avenues of knowledge to his mind and spirit. But with all, or some of these senses in a passive condition, the consciousness becomes dulled or deadened. The believer is "unconscious,"note 11 of what he should be keenly alive to, and automatic in his actions. "Unconscious" habits, repulsive or peculiar, are manifested. It is easier for persons in this condition to see these things in others, than to know what is going on in themselves; whilst they may be hyper-conscious of external things touching their own personality.
When the passive condition brought about by evil spirits reaches its climax, passivity of other parts of the body may result, such as stiff fingers, lost elasticity of the frame in walking, lethargy, heaviness, stooping of the back and spine.note 12 The handshake is flabby, and passive; the eyes will not look straight into the eyes of others, but move from side to side; all indicating passivity, brought about by deepening interference of the powers of darkness with the whole man, resulting from the first passive condition of the will and mind, in which the man gave up (1) his self-control, and (2) use of his will.
At this stage every department of the whole being is affected. The man acts without using, or using fully, the mind, will, imagination, reason; that is, without thinking (volitionally), deciding, imagining, reasoning. The affections seem dormant, as well as all the faculties of mind and body. In some cases the bodily needs are also dormant, or else the man suppresses them, and deprives himself of food, sleep and bodily comfort at the dictation of the spirits in control; thus carrying out a "severity to the body" which is not of any real value against the indulgence of the flesh (Col. 2: 23). The animal part of the man may also be awakened, and whilst stoical in sensibilities and feeling, be gluttonous in the demand for supply of bodily needs; that is, the machinery of the bodily frame goes on working independently of the control of mind or will, for the body now dominates spirit and soul. Men may live in the (1) human spirit, (2) in the soul, or in the (3) body; for example, the glutton lives in, or after, the body; the student in mind, or soul, the spiritual man "in the spirit." "Spiritists"note 13 are not really "spiritual," or true men of spirit, for they live in the sense realm generally, and only have to do with "spirit" through their dealing with the evil spiritual forces, through understanding the laws for their workings, and fulfilling them.
When the believer is in any degree possessed by evil spirits, he is liable to live in the body, give way to the sensuous, and to be dominated by the physical realm. This can become the case through "spiritual" experiences felt in the physical frame, but which are not really spiritual, because not from the spirit. A sense of "fire" in the body, "glow," "thrills," and all exquisite bodily sensations from apparently "spiritual" causes, really feed the senses; and, unconsciously to themselves, whilst they have these experiences, believers live in the sense-realm, practically walking "after the flesh," though they call themselves "spiritual." For this reason "I keep under my body" (1 Cor. 9: 27), is practically impossible in demon-possession, even in its most refined, or weakest degree; because the sense-life is aroused in all kinds of ways, and the sensations of the body are forced upon the consciousness of the man. The spirit sense is practically lost in the acute realization of all the sensations in the bodily consciousness. A man, for example, in normal health, is oblivious of the physical action of breathing going on in his physical frame. In like manner, a believer under the domination of the spirit, ceases to register his bodily sensations, but the opposite is the case when evil spirits have gained a footing, and awakened the sense-life to abnormal action, either by beautiful experiences, or the contrary.note 14
The cultivation of this condition of passivity may be ignorantly, and sedulously, carried out for years by the surrendered believer, so that it deepens its hold upon him to an incredible extent; until, when it reaches its consummation, the man may become so under the bondage of it as to awaken to his state; and then he thinks that "natural causes" alone explain his condition, or else that in some unaccountable way, his acute sensitiveness to God, and Divine things, has become dulled beyond power of restoration or renewal.note 15 The physical feelings become deadened, or atrophied, and the affections seem petrified, and stoical. This is the time when deceiving spirits suggest that he has grieved God beyond repair, and a man goes through agonies of seeking the Presence he thinks he has grieved away.
The cultivation of passivity may come about from reliance upon the many helps, contrived, (unknowingly), by the person to counteract, or obviate the inconvenience of the passive state, such as the provision of, and dependence upon, outward helps to the eye for assisting the passive memory; utterance in speech to assist the "thinking" of the passive mind; and, what may be termed "crutches" of all kinds, known only to the individual; elaborately constructed, and multiplied to meet his different needs, but all keeping him from recognizing his true condition, even if he has the knowledge for doing so.
But this truth about the working of evil spirits among believers, and the causes and symptoms of their power upon mind or body, has been so veiled in ignorance, that multitudes of children of God are held in bondage to their power without knowing it. The manifestations are generally taken as natural idiosyncrasies, or infirmities. The Lord's work is put on one side, or even never taken up, because the believer is "over strained," or else "without gifts" for doing it. He is "nervous," "timid," has no "gift of speech, " no "power of thought," where the service of God is concerned; but in the social sphere these "deficiencies" are forgotten, and the "timid" ones shine out at their best. It does not occur to them to ask why it is that only in God's service are they thus incapable? But it is only in respect to such a service that the hidden workings of Satan interfere.
The shock is great when the believer first apprehends the truth of deception and possession as possible in himself, but as the ultimate issue is realized, the joy of the one who sets himself to understand, and fight through to full deliverance, is more than words can tell. Light pours in upon the unsolved problems of years; both in the personal experience, and in the perplexities of environment; as well as on conditions in the Church and in the world.
As he seeks for light from God, the subtle inroads of the deceiving spirits into his life, slowly become clear to the open minded believer; and their many devices to deceive him stand revealed, as the searchlight of truth goes far back into the past, revealing the cause of unaccountable difficulties in experience and life, and many mysterious happenings which had been accepted as "the inscrutable will of God."
Passivity! How many have fallen into it, little knowing their state! Through the passivity of their faculties much time is lost in dependence upon the help of outward circumstances, and environment. In the lives of so many there is much "doing," with so little accomplished, many beginnings, and few endings. How familiar we are with the words "Yes, I can do that," and the impulse is moved, but by the time the need for action has come, the passive man has lost his momentary interest. This is the key to much of the lamented "apathy," and the dulled sympathy of Christians to really spiritual things, whilst they are keenly alive to the social, or worldly elements around them. The worldling can be stirred in acutest feeling for the sufferings of others, but many of the children of God have, unknowingly, opened themselves to a supernatural power which has dulled them in thought, and mind and sympathy. Ever craving for comfort and happiness and peace in spiritual things, they have sung themselves into a "passivity"--i.e., a passive state of "rest," "peace" and "joy"--which has given opportunity to the powers of darkness to lock them up in the prison of themselves, and thus make them almost incapable of acutely understanding the needs of a suffering world.