This condition of passivity may come about by wrong interpretations of truth, even the truth of "death with Christ" as set forth in Romans 6 and Galatians2: 20, when it is carried beyond the true balance of the Word of God. God calls upon true believers to "reckon" themselves "dead indeed unto sin," and also to the evil self-life, even in a religious or "holiness" form; that is, the life which came from the first Adam, the old creation; but this does not mean a death to the human personality, for Paul said "Yet I live," although "Christ liveth in me!"note 16 There is a retention of the personal being, the ego, the will, the personality, which is to be dominated by the Spirit of God, as He energizes the man's individuality, held by him in "self-control" (Gal. 5: 23, m.).
In the light of the misconception of the truth of "death with Christ" as conceived to mean passivity, and suppression of the actions of the personality of the man, it is now easy to see why the apprehension of the truths connected with Romans 6: 6, and Galatians 2: 20, have been the prelude, in some cases, to supernatural manifestations of the powers of darkness. The believer through the misconception of these truths, actually fulfilling the primary conditions for the working of evil spirits; the very conditions understood by spiritist mediums to be necessary for obtaining the manifestations they desire. In such cases it may be said that truth is the devil's fulcrum for launching his lies.
So far as Romans 6 is understood to be a momentary declaration of an attitude to sin; and Galatians 2: 20 another declaration of an attitude to God; and 2 Cor. 4: 10- 12 and Phil. 3: 10 the out-working of the Spirit of God in bringing the believer into actual conformity to the death of Christ as he maintains his declared attitude; the powers of darkness are defeated; for the momentary declared attitude demands active volition, and active co-operation with the Risen Lord, and active acceptance of the path of the Cross. But when these truths are interpreted to mean (1) a loss of personality; (2) an absence of volition and self-control, and (3) the passive letting go of the "I myself" into a condition of machine-like, mechanical, automatic "obedience," with "deadness" and heaviness which the believer thinks is "mortification" or "the working of death" in him;note 17 it makes the truth of death with Christ a fulfilling of conditions for evil spirits to work, and an absence of conditions upon which God can alone work; so that "supernatural manifestations" taking place on the basis of passivity, can have no other source than the lying spirits, however beautiful and God-like they may be.
This counterfeit of spiritual "death" may take place in regard to spirit, soul or body. How the truth of death with Christ can be misconstrued, and made the occasion for evil spirits to obtain the ground of passivity, may be exampled in some of the following ways:--
1. Passivity caused by misconception of self-effacement: Under the conception of surrender of self to God, as meaning self-effacement, self-renunciation, and, practically, self-annihilation, the believer aimed at unconsciousness of (1) personality, (2) personal needs, (3) personal states, feelings, desires, external appearance, circumstances, discomforts, opinions of others, etc., so as to be "conscious" of God only moving, working, acting, through him. To this end he gave over his "self-consciousness" to "death," and prayed that he might have no consciousness of anything in the world, but the presence of God; then to carry out this absolute surrender of self to death, and this entire self-effacement, he consistently, in practice, "yields to death" every trace of the movement of "self" he becomes aware of, and sets his will steadily to renounce all consciousness of personal wishes, desires, tastes, needs, feelings, etc. All this appearing to be so "self-sacrificing" and "spiritual," but which results in an entire suppression of personality, and the giving of ground to evil spirits in a passivity of the whole being. This permits the powers of darkness to work, and bring about an "unconsciousness" which becomes in time a deadness and dullness of the sensibilities, and an inability to feel; not only for himself, but for others, so as not to know when they suffer, and when he himself causes suffering.
As this conception of self-effacement, and loss of self-consciousness is contrary to the believer's full use of the faculties, which the Spirit of God requires for co-operation with Him, evil spirits gain ground on the basis of this deception about "death." The misconception of what death means in practice, was really part of their "teachings," subtly suggested, and received by the man who was ignorant of the possibility of deception, over, what looked like, devoted, whole-hearted surrender to God. The "teachings of demons" can, therefore, be based on truth, under the guise of misconception, or misinterpretation of the truth, whilst the believer is honestly holding the truth itself.
The effect of the deception on the believer is, in due time, an "unconsciousness" produced by evil spirits, which is hard to break. In his state of unconsciousness, he has no ability to discern, recognize, feel or know things around him, or in himself. He is "unconscious"note 18 of his actions, ways and manners, together with a hyper-self-consciousness which he is unconscious of, and which makes him easily hurt, but "unconscious" of his own hurting of others. He has practically become stoical, and unable to see the effect of his actions in putting others into suffering. He acts "unconsciously," without volitional thinking, reasoning, imagining, deciding, what be says and does. His actions are consequently mechanical and automatic. He is "unconscious" of sometimes being a channel for the transmission of words, thoughts, feelings which pass through him apart from the action of his will and his knowledge of the source.
"Unconsciousness" as the effect of demon-possession, becomes a formidable stumbling block in the way of deliverance, for the evil spirits may hold, hinder, attack, divert, suggest, impress, draw, or do any other equally offensive, and injurious thing, in or through the person, whilst he is "unconscious" of their workings.
2. Passivity caused by wrong acceptance of suffering. The believer consents to accept "suffering with Christ" in the "way of the Cross," and in fulfilment of this surrender to suffering, from this time on passively yields to suffering in whatever form it may come, believing that "suffering with Christ" means (a) reward, and (b) fruitfulness. He does not know that evil spirits can give counterfeit "suffering," and that he may accept suffering from them, believing it to be from the hand of God, and, by thus doing, give ground to them for possession. Possession interprets both sin in the life which cannot be got rid of, and suffering in the life which cannot be explained. By understanding the truth of possession, the first can be got rid of, and the latter explained. Suffering is a great weapon to control and compel a person into a certain course, and is a great weapon for evil spirits to control men, as by suffering they can drive a man to do what he would not do, apart from its compulsion.
Not knowing these things the believer may entirely misinterpret the suffering he goes through. Believers are often deceived over what they think to be "vicarious" suffering in themselves for others, or for the Church. They look upon themselves as martyrs, when they are really victims, not knowing that "suffering" is one of the chief symptoms of possession. By putting a man into suffering, the evil spirits ease themselves of their enmity, and hatred to man.
Suffering directly caused by evil spirits may be discriminated from the true fellowship of Christ's sufferings, by a complete absence of result, either in fruit, victory, or ripening in Spiritual growth. If carefully observed, it will be seen to be entirely purposeless. On the other hand, God does nothing without a definite object. He does not delight in causing suffering for the sake of suffering, but the devil does. Suffering caused by evil spirits is acute and fiendish in its character, and there is no inward witness of the Spirit which tells the suffering believer that it is from the hand of God. To a discriminating eye it can be as clearly diagnosed when from an evil spirit, as any physical pain can be discriminated from a mental one, by a skillful physician.
The suffering caused by evil spirits can be (1) spiritual, by causing acute suffering in the spirit, injecting "feelings" to the spirit, repugnant or poignant; (2) soulish, by acute darkness, confusion, chaos, horror in the mind; anguished, knife-like pain in the heart, or other innermost vital parts of the being; or (3) physical, in any part of the body.
The ground given for the evil spirits to produce counterfeit suffering in such an acute degree as this, may be traced back to the time when the believer, in his absolute surrender to God for the "way of the Cross," deliberately willed to accept suffering from Him. Then afterwards, in fulfilment of this surrender, he gave ground to the enemy, by accepting some specific suffering as from God, which really came from the spirits of evil , thus opening the door to them, by (1) the reception of their lie, (2) the admittance of their actual power manifested in the suffering--continuing still further to give more ground by believing their interpretation of the suffering--and (3) as "the will of God"; until the whole life became one prolonged "yielding to suffering," which seemed unreasonable, unaccountable in its origin, and purposeless in its results. God's character is thus often maligned to His children, and the deceiving spirits do their utmost to arouse rebellion against Him for what they themselves are doing.
3. Passivity caused by wrong ideas of humility and self-abasement. The believer consents in accepting "death," to let it be carried out in a "nothingness" and a "self-effacement" which gives him no place for proper and true self-estimation whatsoever (compare 2 Cor. 10: 12-18). If the believer accepts the self-depreciation, suggested to him and created by evil spirits, it brings an atmosphere of hopelessness and weakness about him, and he conveys to others a spirit of darkness and heaviness, sadness and grief. His spirit is easily crushed, wounded and depressed. He may attribute the cause to "sin," without being aware of any specific sin in his life; or may even look upon his "suffering" experience as "vicarious" suffering for the Church; whereas an abnormal sense of suffering is one of the chief symptoms of possession.
In the counterfeit of the true elimination of "pride," and all the forms of sin arising from it, the counterfeit caused by possession may be recognized by (1) the believer obtruding his self-depreciation at moments most inopportune, with painful perplexity to those who hear it; (2) a shrinking back from service for God, with inability to recognize the interests of the kingdom of Christ; (3) a laborious effort to keep "I" out of sight, both in conversation and action, and yet which forces the "I" more into view in an objectionable form; (4) a deprecatory, apologizing manner, which gives opportunity to the "world-rulers of the darkness of this world," to instigate their subjects to crush, and put aside this "not I" person, in moments of strategic importance to the kingdom of God; (5) an atmosphere around such an one of weakness, darkness, sadness, grief, lack of hope, easily wounded touchiness--all of which may be the result of the believer "will"-ing, in some moment of "surrender to death," to accept an effacement of the true personality, which God requires as a vessel for the manifestation of the Spirit of Christ, in a life of fullest co-operation with the Spirit of God. The believer, by his wrong belief, and submission to evil spirits, suppressed into passivity a personality which could not, and was not meant to "die"; and by this passivity opened the door to the powers of darkness to gain ground for possession.
4. Passivity caused by a wrong thought about weakness. The believer consents to a perpetual condition of weakness, under a misconception of its being a necessary state for the manifestation of Divine life and strength. This is generally based upon Paul's words "When I am weak, then am I strong," the believer not apprehending that this was a statement made by the Apostle of a simple fact that when he was weak, he found God's strength sufficient for all His will; and that it is not an exhortation to God's children deliberately to will to be weak, and hence unfit for service in many ways, instead of saying "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." That the "will" to be weak, so as to have a claim on Christ's strength, is a wrong thought, can be seen practically in many lives, where "weakness" is passively accepted, with a burden and care to others, which is no evidence of such an attitude being in accordance with God's plan and provision. The "will" to be weak actually hinders God's strengthening, and by this subtle deception of the enemy in the minds of many, God is robbed of much active service for Him.
It does not mean that "passivity" in its full extent, means no "activity"; for once the man becomes passive in volition and mind, he is held by deceiving spirits without power to act, or is driven into Satanic activity; that is, uncontrollable activity of thought, restlessness of body, and wild, unbalanced action of all degrees. The actions are spasmodic and intermittent, the person sometimes dashing ahead, and at other times sluggish and slow; like a machine in a factory, with the wheels whirring aimlessly, because the switch of the centre control is out of hand of the master. The man cannot work, even when he sees so much to be done, and is feverish because he cannot do it. During the time of passivity he appeared to be content, but when he is driven into Satanic activity, he is restless, and out of accord with all things around him. When his environment should lead to a state of full content, yet something (may it not be "somebody"?) makes it impossible for him to be in harmony with his external circumstances, however pleasant they may be. He is conscious of a restlessness and activity which is painfully feverish; or of passivity and weight; of a doing of "work," and yet no work. All the manifestations of a demoniacal destruction of his peace.
The believer needing deliverance from the condition of passivity, must first seek to understand what should be his normal or right condition;note 19 and then test, or examine himself in the light of it, to discern if evil spirits have been interfering. To do this, let him recollect a moment in his life, which he would call his "best," either in spirit, soul and body, or in his whole being; and then let him look upon this as his normal condition, which he should expect as possible to be maintained, and never rest satisfied below it.
As the passivity has come about gradually, it can only end gradually, as it is detected, and destroyed. The full co-operation of the man is necessary for its removal, and is the cause of the long period needed for his deliverance. Deception and passivity can only be removed as the man understands, and co-operates by the use of his volition in the refusal of the ground, and the deception which came through it. This is also the reason why, in this aspect of "possession," evil spirits cannot be "cast out,"note 20 because the cause which gave them admittance is a factor in their expulsion.
An important point in deliverance from passivity is to keep perpetually in the mind, the standard of the normalnote 21 condition, and if at any time the believer drops below it to find out the cause, so as to have it removed. Whatever faculty, or part of the being, has been surrendered into passivity, and therefore lost for use, must be retaken by the active exercise of the will, and brought back into personal control. The "ground" given which caused any faculty to fall into bondage to the enemy, must be found out, and given up; and then refused persistently,note 22 in a steady resistance to the spirits of evil in their hold of it, remembering that the powers of darkness fight against the loss of any part of their kingdom in man, as much as any earthly government would fight to protect its own territory and subjects. The "Stronger than he" is the Conqueror, and strengthens the believer for the battle, and to recover all the spoil.