The speaking of evil spirits may be described somewhat as follows:

(1) It is not like the vocal speaking of a human being, which must always be stronger than the speaking of spirits, because spirits have no force of breath; therefore if a man speaks aloud, he can always drown the speaking of evil spirits. On the same principle a man can also drown the voice of the Holy Spirit, because He is Spirit and His speaking is always in the spirit, or through conscience.

(2) It resembles more the "thinking" of a person, or the speaking in oneself, when the words are not uttered through the lips.note 27 When evil spirits are speaking to the inner ear, it seems like a ceaseless buzz of inner words, apparently belonging to the person himself yet not from his mind, nor the result of mental action, nor from his will, nor even expressing his own personal ideas or desires.

When this "buzz" of objectionable, or annoying, or irresponsible words are thus, in an indefinite way, claiming the inner attention of the man, and he has outer claims to deal with, he is liable to speak aloud with a strong voice, so as to overpower or dull the inner clamour, without being conscious that he is raising his voice, or why he is doing so.


Unknowingly the man is making an impression on his own mind, through his own ear, by using a loud voice; otherwise his dulled mind would not be able to take in, or retain what he is saying; or get the impression into his mind.

The believer may not be conscious of the inner "buzz" of the evil spirits' words, and not conscious that his voice is raised to express his own thoughts in audible speech, or know why he finds himself obliged to speak to get clear in his own thinking. Unconsciousness is a symptom of the depth of the evil spirit's possession, and unconsciousness of facts concerning himself, is as detrimental to the person, as attempts of strangers to enter a house would be to a householder who is oblivious to all sounds.

Consciousnessnote 28 of all things connected with the inner life and environment is as keenly needed by the believer, and should be cultivated by him, as consciousness of all exterior matters connected with the duties of life. Unconsciousness by men of how they themselves act and speak, think or appear, in oblivion to all that is patent to others,note 29 or, on the other hand, an "unconscious" self-consciousness, or ultra- consciousness of the actions of self, may all be results of the work of deceiving spirits.

Some symptoms of thus having listened to supernatural voices, may be described as:

(1) Difficulty in listening to others;
(2) Face "screwed up" in difficulty, of grasping what is said;
(3) A sense of dullness or heaviness in the ear or ears.

The distinction between deafness through the interference of evil spirits with the ears, and that which is the result of physical causes, depends upon whether the person has other symptoms of evil spirit possession, or whether he is in a normally "natural" condition.


There are other varied symptoms showing disturbance of the entire systemnote 30 of the man when dominated by evil spirits in possession. In affecting the muscles, hands and fingers or feet, the nerves are held, and these act without control of the mind or will, sometimes in convulsive action, or in twitches, and prostration, or else in the paradox of being muscularly weak and strong consecutively, and in rapid succession. There are many accidents through possession, which are called "the visitation of God," "slips of the hand," unaccountable "failures of the mind," which are left unexplained, but these "happenings" are not really "accidents"--they are the carrying out of the real designs of unseen spirit beings malignantly concerned in the world of men.

The insidious spirits have prepared for this manipulation, or interference with the person by their slow dulling of the mind; the weakening of the reasoning powers, which prevents him seeing the outcome of a certain step or action; the disuse of the judgment; the imperceptible loss of decision, and independent action of the will, so that it "snaps," so to speak, at a critical moment, with fatal results; for without this passivity of mind and will, the emissaries of Satan cannot have the full control of the body which they so keenly desire.

In affecting the body,note 31 the spirits of evil also interfere with all the functions at various times, and in various degrees, such as in eating and drinking, and the swallowing of food. The mastication of food, the saliva, the phlegm, the breath and breathing, physical weakness or strength, stiffness of limbs, heaviness, heat and cold, agreeable or disagreeable feelings, sleeplessness, dreams,note 32 restlessness at night, all can be irritated, produced or exaggerated by the presence and will of evil spirits.


How evil spirits can manipulate the body through the nervous system,note 33 we find clearly defined in the Scriptures; but we never find a single instance of the Holy Spirit working in the same way. Not once in the Acts of the Apostles do we find "twitchings," "writhing," convulsions, or other effects of supernatural power on the human frame, recorded as results of being filled with the Holy Spirit. But we do read that evil spirits can convulse the body, tear it, bruise it (Luke 9: 39), cause it to pine away (Mark 9: 18), or give it strength (Mark 5: 4); they can make the man cry out suddenly with a loud cry (Luke 9: 39), or make him dumb, gnash his teeth, roll on the ground, cast him into the fire to burn him, or water to drown him (Matt. 17: 15).

In this acute form the symptoms of demon possession and insanity are almost indistinguishable. The difference lies in the fact that in pure demon possession the mind is not impaired, although it may be passive, or suspended in action, but in insanity the evil spirit takes advantage of a physical condition, "Insane" people are more "sane" than sane people think they are, and there is more truth in what they say than is believed. What they "see" is not always delusion, but the actual doings of evil spirits.

It is necessary, therefore, to distinguish between

  1. Pure insanity,
  2. Pure "possession,"
  3. Insanity and possession.

Before declaring a person insane, from physical and natural causes, the physician should find out if there be any supernatural cause. Insanity may be caused by natural derangement,note 34 and by supernatural interferences of evil powers. True insanity can also be the result of possession, and be (humanly) irrecoverable.

In short, under the power of a lying spirit, the man loses control of his body, and is, for the time being, when the intruder manifests himself, irresponsible for his actions.

The spirits in possession of the body vary in character, and in manifestation, as much as when in possession of the mind, or spirit, in spiritual manifestations. Some are malignant, and some are milder in their actions, such as the "spirit of infirmity" or powerlessness described in Luke 13: 11, or the blind and dumb spirit in Matt. 12: 22. These Scriptures show there were cases of possession which looked like cases for healing, but the Lord's words and action proved that the woman who was bent for eighteen years, did not require healing, but deliverance.note 35 The bending of the back is one of the symptoms of demon possession, when the body is deeply affected.


Another manifestation of evil spirits may be described as prophetic ecstasy, or "inspiration." Such was manifested in the girl with a "spirit of divination," which Paul cast out (Acts 16: 16-18). The danger of this kind of spirit is that the manifestations are more like those of the Holy Spirit,note 36 than when in the nervous system, or bodily frame. To distinguish between the two in the Corinthian Church was the object of the Apostle writing the 12th and 14th chapters of the first Corinthians: "Concerning the 'inspired'. . . I would not have you ignorant," he wrote, as he proceeded to show them how to detect the difference between the manifestations of deceiving spirits in demoniacal 'inspiration' or ecstasy, and the true inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God in one believer being in harmony with the manifestation of His power in others, and the demoniacal spirit producing "schism" or "mutiny" of the members of Christ's Body one against the other. The Holy Spirit causing interdependence, and honour of His workings in the one and in the other; the demoniacal spirit causing lawlessness, and confusion. "Harmony" and "confusion" being respectively the hall-mark of the supernatural power being from God or Satan in the assembly of God's people.


The excuses of the evil spirit to cover the ground held opens again a wide field of consideration. Once the ground is taken, and the mind is dulled from its power of critical discrimination, the lying spirit is apt in suggesting "excuses"note 37 to the believer to cover his location, and the ground he holds. The list of varied explanations is given in Column 4. If the mind labours in action, "it is natural" or "it is heredity," he suggests. Where the whole nervous system is involved, "it is disease" or "it is purely physical." "It is fatigue," or it is "spiritual." There may be, and there generally is, some basis for the "excuse," for the deceivers are keenly clever in working along-side natural conditions, either in circumstances, temperament or disturbance of the bodily functions, i.e., the attack may be in the natural and physical realm, but not from it as the source. They like to have, and watch for, some physical or mental ailment to serve as the cover, or "excuse" for their manifestation.

They attack a person because they are in possession, but make him think and believe it to be an indirect attack, i.e., through another person. The blame is placed on the man himself or someone else, or on anything but the true cause, so that the intruder may not be discovered and expelled. It is therefore important that all "excuses" should be examined, i.e., the "reasons" for such and such an unexplainable manifestation. The causes should always be gone into, for by believing a wrong interpretationnote 38 of the manifestation, more ground is given to the lying spirits. The believer may be refusing ground on the one band, and giving new ground on the other, unless he examines all the suggestions which come to his mind concerning his condition.

The following tables show the stages of the advance in possession, and how wrong interpretation gives new ground:

(1) Ground followed by
(2) Possession, manifested by--
(3) for example, "Twitching of nerves"--then the evil spirits give
(4) Wrong interpretation of the cause of this twitching, which, if accepted by the believer, admits new lies from them, and gives more ground.

Four sequences should be noted in this connection:

(1) Ground because of (a) ignorance, resulting in (b) deception;
(2) Followed by possession, because of ground;
(3) Manifestation because of possession;
(4) Danger of wrong interpretation of manifestation.

Deceiving spirits also persistently endeavour to keep the believer occupied with something else to fill up the mind, so that he may not discover his own need of deliverance. Workers are almost obsessed with the thought of "Revival," or the "need of others," whilst blind to their own condition. Devotion, singing, preaching, worship--all rightful things--may so possess the mind as to close it to all personal knowledge of the need of deliverance from the adversary's deception.

The effect on the believer of evil spirit possession, we have already dealt with, in the aspect of mental and bodily inertness. To this we add, general weakness of the whole man, spiritual, mental and physical. He becomes erratic in temperament, spasmodic in study, wavering in allegiance, and undecided in action; easily moved by (1) impulses, i.e., a sharp movement forward without volition; or (2) repulsion without reason, i.e., a sharp movement backward apart from volition.


The life becomes increasingly full of contradictions. The man seems strong and yet is weak, he is stoical and yet seeks love; he is spasmodic in his actions, erratic and dogmatic in his beliefs, and utterly illogical in his reasonings. All these symptoms may be visible or invisible, and manifested at different intervals, and in different degrees, concurrently or consecutively.

After a time the believer may become conscious of his condition, and then he has a painful shrinking lest these symptoms should be read by others, and thus cause attacks upon him. When they do become too manifest to be hidden or ignored, then he is often said to be suffering from a "nerve breakdown," for the symptoms coincide with all the characteristics of neurasthenia, and can only be distinguished from it by an examination into past spiritual experiences, and the discovery of the working of supernatural powers.

Should the apparent "neurasthenia" be really the possession of evil spirits, no prolonged rest or natural means will set the person free, although such means may give the body a renewing which will enable the victim to face the spiritual truth in due time.

This growing weakness of the circumference also weakens the spiritual life, by preventing its growth into vigorous manhood in Christ; for the inner spiritual man needs the outer man for expression, and development. But in possession through deceptionnote 39 the mind is too passive to act, and express the inner life--the expression of the face is passive and dull, the eyes are dreamy and slow. In brief, the outer man becomes a "prison," so to speak, of the spirit life at the centre within.

Another very manifest effect is that as time goes on, the man lives more in the body than in the soul and spirit, the lawful appetites reassert controlnote 40 and the spirit-life is more unrecognized and less followed,note 41 whilst variations and inconsistencies in life, in state, in actions, all show increasingly the marks of "possession."


A very little consideration of the characteristics of those drawn into abnormal supernatural experiences, will bear out this diagnosis. The invariable effect upon such believers is the weakening of the mental force, the reasoning and judging power; a weakening in moral force and will and ofttimes; a haunting sense of fear--fear of the future, fear of persons so that they cannot bear to hear them spoken of, or to speak to them; and a gradual general weakening of the physical frame. In time there comes an involuntary effect upon the nervous system, and there is impatience--manifestly "nervous" and not moral--and restlessness, and often an involuntary twitching action of the nerves.note 42

In the moral realm comes an attitude of infallibility, positive assertion and unteachableness, with loss of the real power of choice, and personal control of mind, speech, manner, and actions--for persons thus "possessed" cannot choose or act, because they shall not; and they have acutely a sense that they "don't know what to do," on account of the evil spirit's hold of them.note 43


The effect of evil spirit possession as listed in Column 6 has already been more or less indicated in the preceding columns, and it is only necessary to compare Column 4 and 6 for their further summing up.note 44

The subtilty of the deception has been that in multitudes of cases, all these "symptoms" are thought to be physically or morally the outcome of the individual personality, i.e., the "temperament" of the person, which must be borne with until released from the body of clay in the grave! "Self," they declare, is their trouble, which no acceptance of the Fulness of the Spirit, nor light upon identification with Christ, has altered. Wandering of mind in prayer, restlessness, talkativeness, or extreme reserve; and many other hindering troubles in the outer man remain, and are tolerated, or grieved over, without hope of change.

But how different the outlook, when much that troubles them is attributed to the true cause. "An enemy hath done this!" In many it is not "self" after all, but ground unwittingly given to deceiving spirits, who could be dislodged by the knowledge of the truth, and by refusal of ground.

Contents | Prior | Continue to Chapter 8