But counterfeits of God and Divine things are not the only "counterfeits" the angel of light has at his command. There are also counterfeits of the "human" and human things; such as the personation of others, and even of the believer himself. Others appear to be different from what they really are, jealous or angry, critical or unkind. "Self" is represented in another, in enlarged form, where there is really the very opposite manifestation of selflessness and love. Wrong motives appear to govern others where none exist; simple actions are coloured, and words made to mean and suggest what is not in the minds of the speakers; and sometimes seem to confirm the supposed wrong-doing of others.
Others of the opposite sex may also be personated to a believer in times of prayer or leisure, either in repulsive, or in beautiful form, with the object of arousing various dormant elements in the human frame, unknown to exist by the innocent believer; sometimes the reason for the personation is given "for prayer," or "fellowship" and "spirit-communion" in the things of God.
When their footing is in the body, the lying spirits' counterfeit representations of others, may be in the realm of the passions, and affections, seeking to rouse, or feed these in the possessed one; their faces, voices, "presence," being presented, as if they too were equally affected. This is accompanied with a counterfeit "love," or drawing to the other one, with a painful craving for their company, which almost masters the victim.
This subject of love, and its painful arousing, and communicating or counterfeiting by evil spirits, is one that touches multitudes of believers of all classes. Many are made to suffer poignant agonies of craving for love, with no specific person involved; others are wrought upon in their thoughts so as not to be able to hear the word love mentioned, without embarrassing manifestations of colour, wrought by evil spirits within the bodily frame; none of these manifestations being under the control of the will of the believer.
In counterfeiting the believer himself, the evil spirit gives him exaggerated views, almost visions, of his own personality; he is "wonderfully gifted," and is therefore "puffed up"; he is "miserably incapable," and so is in despair; he is "amazingly clever," and thus undertakes what he cannot do; he is "helpless," "hopeless," "too forward," or "too backward"--in brief, a countless number of pictures of himself, or others, are presented to the mind of the man when once the lying spirit has gained a footing in the imagination.
So subtle is the identity of the deceiving spirit with a believer's individuality, that others see, what may be described as a "spurious personality,"note 37 sometimes the person appears to be "full of self" when the inner man is deeply selfless; "full of pride" when the inner man is sincerely humble. In fact, the whole outer appearance of the man in manner, voice, actions, words, is often quite contrary to his true character, and he wonders why "others misunderstand," misjudge and criticize. Some believers, on the other hand, are quite unconscious of the manifestation of this spurious self, and go on happily satisfied with what they themselves know of their own inner motives, and heart life; oblivious of the very contrary manifestation which others behold, and pity or condemn. The spurious personality caused by evil spirits in possession, can also be in a beautiful form, in order to attract or mislead others in various ways, all unwittingly to the person, or to the victim. This is sometimes described as "unaccountable infatuation," but if it was recognized as the work of evil spirits, refused and resisted, the "infatuation" would pass away. It is so wholly apart from the action of the will in the persons concerned, that the work of evil spirits is clearly to be recognized, especially when the supposed "infatuation" follows supernatural experiences; and possession, through the accepting of counterfeits, has resulted.
Evil spirits can also counterfeit sin, by causing some apparent manifestation of the evil nature in the life, and matured believers should know whether such a manifestation really is sin from the old nature, or a manifestation from evil spirits. The purpose in the latter case is to get the believer to take what comes from them, as from himself, for whatever is accepted from evil spirits gives them entry and power. When a believer knows the Cross and his position of death to sin, and in will and practice rejects unflinchingly all known sin, and a "manifestation" of "sin" takes place, he should at once take a position of neutralitynote 38 to it, until he knows the source, for if he calls it sin from himself when it is not, he believes a lie as much as in any other way; and if he "confesses"note 39 as a sin what did not come from himself, he brings the power of the enemy upon him, to drive him into the sin which he has "confessed" as his own. Many believers are thus held down by supposed "besetting sins" which they believe are theirs, and which no "confessing to God" removes, but from which they would find liberty if they attributed them to their right cause. There is no danger of "minimizing sin" in the recognition of these facts, because in either case, the believer desires to be rid of the sin or sins, or he would not trouble about them.
Again the believer is so acutely conscious of a "self" which he hates and loathes, that he is never free from the dark shadow of self-condemnation, self- accusation or self-despair, which no appropriation of identification with Christ in death, destroys; or else there is a self-confidence which continually draws the man forward into situations from which he has to retire abashed and disappointed. A spurious personality encompasses the true inner man, which few are aware of as possible, but which is a sadly real thing among multitudes of the children of God.
On the part of the soul beset with these constant presentations to his mind of his own personality, he only thinks he has a "vivid imagination," or still more that some of these things are visions of God, and that he is favoured of God, especially where the vision is of "great plans for God," or wide visions of what God is going to do! Always with the believer as the Centre, and special instrument of this service!
Many of the "plans" for "movements" which have gone even as far as print, in connection with Revival, have been of such a character; plans given by "revelation," and which have resulted in gaining but the few caught by them, and no others. Of such a character has been the aftermath of Revival, where men have left their regular calling, and followed a will-of-the-wisp revelation of "launching out on God," world-wide plans conceived, and dissipated in a few months. Such deceived believers become ultra-devotional, with an excess of zeal that blinds them to all things but the supernatural realm, and robs them of power to wisely meet the claims of other aspects of life. All this comes from an evil spirit's access to the mind, and imagination, through the deception of counterfeiting the presence of God.
Counterfeits of Satan himself also suit his purpose at times, when he desires to terrorize a man from actions, or prayer, adverse to his interests. There are occasions when Satan appears to fight against himself, only to cover deep schemes for obtaining fuller possession of a victim, or some greater advantage which he knows how to secure. Fear of the devil may always be regarded as from the devil, to enable him to carry out his plans of hindering the work of God. Of such a character may be the fearsome shrinking from hearing about him and his works, and the passive deadness of the mind in regard to all Scriptural truth concerning the forces of evil. Also the fear caused by reference to his name, given in order to frighten away believers from knowing the facts about him; whilst others who desire the truth may be given exaggerated impressions of his presence, and of "conflict.....clouds," "blocks," darkness, etc., until they lose the clearness of the light of God.
Especially is the work of the deceiver manifested in his efforts to make the children of God believe in his non-existence, and in the suggestion that it is only necessary to hear or know about God, as a protection from any form of the enemy's power. On the other hand, a deceived believer may be more deeply deceived, by seeing nothing but Satan's counterfeits everywhere.
Supernatural visions and manifestations are a fruitful source of revenue to deceiving spirits, and they have gained a strong footing somewhere in mind or body when these are given; especially when the believer relies upon, and quotes more from these experiences than the Word of God; for the aim of the wicked spirit is to displace the Word of God as the rock-ground of the life. It is true the Scriptures may be referred to and quoted, but often only as a warrant for the experiences, and to strengthen faith--not in God, but in His (apparent) manifestations. This secret drawing of faith from the bare Word of God to manifestations of God, as being more reliable, is a keenly subtle deception of the evil one, and it is easily recognized in a believer thus deceived.
When evil spirits are able to give visions, it is an evidence that they have already gained ground in the man, be he a Christian or an unbeliever. The "ground" being, not of necessity known sin, but a condition of passivity, i.e., non-action of the mind, imagination, and other faculties. This essential condition of passive non-actionnote 40 as the means of obtaining supernatural manifestations is well understood by spiritist mediums, clairvoyants, crystal gazers, and others, who know that the least action of the mind immediately breaks the clairvoyant state.note 41
Believers not knowing these main principles can unwittingly fulfil the conditions for evil spirits to work in the life, and ignorantly induce the passive state by wrong conceptions of the true things of God. e.g., They may (1) in seasons of prayer, sink into a passive mental condition which they think is waiting on God;note 42 (2) deliberately will the cessation of their mind action, in order to obtain some supernatural manifestation which they believe to be of God; (3) in daily life practise a passive attitude which they think is submission to the will of God; (4) endeavour to bring about a state of personal negation, in which they have no desires, needs, wishes, hopes, plans, which they think is full surrender to God, and their "will" lost in God.note 43
In brief, believers may unknowingly develop mediumistic conditions, of which deceiving spirits are not slow to take advantage. They are careful not to frighten the believer by doing anything which will open his eyes, but they keep within the range of what he will receive without question. They will personate the Lord Jesus in the special way which will appeal to the person, e.g., to some as "Bridegroom"note 44 to others as seated on a throne, and coming in great glory. They will also personate the dead to those who grieve after their loved ones, and as they have watched them during life, and know all about them, they will give ample "proofs" to confirm the deceived ones in their deception.
Visions may come from one of three sources. The Divine, from God; the human, such as hallucinations and illusions because of disease, and the Satanic, which are false. "Visions" given by evil spirits, also describe anything supernatural presented to and seen by the mind or imagination,note 45 from outside; such as terrible pictures of the "future"; flashing of texts as if they were lit up;note 46 "visions" of widespread "movements," all counterfeiting either the true vision of the Holy Spirit given to the "eye of the understanding," or the normal and healthy action of the imagination. The Church is thus often made a whirlpool of division through believers relying upon "texts" for guiding their decisions, instead of the principle of right and wrong set forth in God's word.
Apart from the "visions" which are the result of disease, the detection of Divine from Satanic visions depends a great deal upon knowledge of the Word of God, and the fundamental principles of His working in His children. These may be briefly stated thus:--
(1) That no supernatural "vision" in any form, can be taken as of God, which requires a condition of mental non-action, note 47 or comes whilst the believer is in such a condition.
(2) That all the Holy Spirit's enlightening and illuminating vision is given when the mind is in full use, and every faculty awake to understand; i.e., the very opposite condition to that required by the working of evil spirits.
(3) That all which is of God, is in harmony with the laws of God's working as set forth in the Scriptures, e.g., "World-wide movements" by which multitudes are to be gathered in, are not in accord with the laws of the growth of the Church of Christ as shown in (1) the grain of wheat (John 12: 24.); (2) the law of the Cross of Christ (Isa. 53: 10); (3) the experience of Christ; (4) the experience of Paul (1 Cor. 4: 9-13); (5) the "little flock" of Luke 12: 32 ; (6) the foreshadowed end of the dispensation given in 1 Tim. 4: 1-3; 6: 20.
Many a believer has left his path of "grain of wheat multiplication," caught by a vision of "world-wide" sweeping in of souls, given by Satan, whose malignant hatred, and ceaseless antagonism is directed against the true seed of Jesus Christ , which in union with Him, will bruise the serpent's head. To delay the birth, (John 3: 3,5), and growth of the Holy Seed (Isa. 6: 10), is the devil's aim. To this end he will foster any widespread surface work of the believer, knowing it will not really touch his kingdom, nor hasten the full birth into the Throne-life of the conquering seed of Christ.
The safe path for believers at the close of the age is one of tenacious faith in the written Word as the sword of the Spirit, to cut the way through all the interferences and tactics of the forces of darkness, to the end.
All dreams also, as well as visions, can be classed, as to their source, under three heads: (1) Divine, (2) human, or (3) Satanic, each to be known, first by the condition of the person, and second by the principles distinguishing the working of God or Satan.
If the person is under any degree of possession, no dreams at night can be said with certainty to be either from natural causes or "Divine communication," but are simply night presentations of the same character as "visions" to the mind during the day, and are the counterfeits by evil spirits of these two causes.
Passivity of brain is an essential condition for the presentation to the mind of things by evil spirits. At night the brain is passive, and whilst activity of the mind in the daytime hinders, they have their occasion at night when the passivity is more pronounced in sleep.
Believers who are fighting possession, and the regaining the use of their mental faculties in normal action, can "refuse" these night presentations by evil spirits as definitely as they refuse their workings during the day, and in due time find their complete cessation.
Dreams arising from the natural condition of the person, and attributable to purely physical causes, may be recognized as natural (1) when there is no "possession," and (2) when such physical causes really exist, and are not used as a cover, by deceiving spirits, to hide their workings.
Apart from the condition of the person, the principle distinguishing Divine from Satanic in relation to dreams, is in the first instance, by their import and exceptional value (Gen. 37: 5-7; Matt. 1: 20, 2: 12), and in the latter, their "mystery," absurdity, emptiness, folly, etc. as well as by their effects on the person. In the first, the recipient is left normal, calm, quiet, reasonable, and with an open, clear mind. In the second, elated, or dazed, confused, and unreasonable.
The presentations of evil spirits at night is frequently the cause of morning "dullness" of mind, and heaviness of spirit. The sleep has not been refreshing because of their power, through the passivity of the mind during sleep, to influence the whole being. "Natural" sleep renews, and invigorates the faculties, and the whole system. Insomnia is,note 48 in a great degree, the work of evil spirits, adapting their workings to the over-wrought condition of the person, so as to hide their attacks under cover.
Believers who are open to the supernatural world should specially guard their nights by prayer, and by definite rejection of the first insidious workings of evil spirits along these lines.
How many say "The Lord woke me," and place their reliance upon "revelations" given in a state of half-consciousness, when mind and will are only partially alert to discern the issues of the "guidance" or "revelations" given to them. Let such believers watch the results of their obedience to night-revelations, and they will find many traces of the deceitful workings of the enemy. They will find, too, how their faith is often based upon a beautiful experience given in the early hours of the morning; or, vice versa, shaken by accusations, suggestions, attacks and conflict manifestly of the evil one, instead of an intelligent reliance upon God Himself in His changeless character of faithfulness and love to His own.
All workings of the enemy at night can be made to cease by their recognition as of him, and definitely refused in the Name of the Lord,note 49 revoking all ground unknowingly given for such workings, in the past.