The believer himself will know, from his past experience, most of the ways by which the deceiving spirits have hitherto gained advantage over him; and he will instinctively turn to the points of refusal which have been of the most service to him in his fight to freedom. The refusing in this way takes ground from them in many directions. The widest scope covered by the act and attitude of refusal, the more thoroughly is the believer separating himself, BY HIS CHOICE, from the deceiving spirits, who can only hold their ground by the consentnote 30of his will. By refusing all he once accepted from themnote 31he can become comparatively clear of ground to them, so far as his choice and attitude is concerned.
In the hour of conflict, when the forces of darkness are pressing upon the believer, the expression of his active refusal becomes an aggressive warfare upon them, as well as a defensive weapon. It is then as though the will at the centre of " Mansoul, " instead of sinking down in fear and despair when the enemy assaults the city, issues forth in aggressive resistance against the foe, by declaring its attitude against him. The battle turns upon the choice of the will in the citadel being maintained, in unshaken refusal to yield to, or admit any one of the attacking spirits of evil. The whole power of God, by the Holy Spirit, will be at the back of the active resistance of the man in his attitude of refusal to the enemy.
It is important to understand the effectiveness of this refusal of the will, on the part of the undeceived believer, as a barrier against the foe, because the outer man, in "feelings, " and nervous system, bears the scars long after his deliverance from the pit of deception into which he has been beguiled. When once the wall of the outer man has been broken into by supernatural forces of evil, it is not quickly rebuilt so that they cease to have any effect upon it in times of severe conflict. Believers who are emerging from deception and possession, should therefore know the power of an aggressive turning upon the enemy in the moment of his attacking them, with an active expression of their choice and will in regard to him. In such a way the aggressive becomes a defensive action. The believer in conflict may say with effect:
"I refuse all the authority of evil spirits over me: their right to me: their claims upon me: their power in me: their influence in or upon me . . ."note 32
The same weapon of refusing works in many phases of the conflict; for example, in speaking or writing, if the believer is conscious of difficulties, obstacles, or interference in what be is doing, he should at once refuse all ideas, thoughts, suggestions, visions (i.e., pictures to the mindnote 33 words, impressions, the spirits of evil may be seeking to insert, or press upon him, so that he may be able to co-operate with the Holy Spirit, and have a clarified mind for the carrying out of His will.
That is, the believer by his refusal, and resistance of all supernatural attempts to interfere with his outer man; is actively to resist the powers of darkness, whilst he seeks to co-work with the Holy Spirit within his spirit. At first this means much conflict, but as he maintains active resistance, and increasingly closes his whole being to the spirits of evil, and is on the alert to recognize, and refuse their workings, his union with the Risen Lord deepens, his spirit grows strong, his vision pure, his mental faculties clear to realize a perpetual victory over the foes who once had him in their power.note 34
Especially is he on guard against, what may be described as, the "double counterfeits" of the deceiving spirits. That is, the counterfeits by the enemy in connection with attacks upon himself. For example, the devil attacks him manifestly and visibly, so that he clearly knows it to be an onslaught of the spirit beings of evil. He prays, resists, gets through to victory in his will and spirit. Then comes a great "feeling" of peace, and rest, which may be as much an "attack" as the onslaught, but more subtle and liable to mislead the believer if he is not on guard. The enemy suddenly retreating and ceasing the furious attack, hopes to gain the advantage by the second which he failed to obtain in the first.
It is essential to understand how to "fight," so to speak, "in cold blood"; i.e., wholly apart from feelings of any kind; for the believer may "feel" it is "victory" when it is defeat, and vice versa. All dependence upon feeling, and acting from "impulse" must be put aside in this warfare. Before the man received the Baptism of the Spirit, he acted from principle in the natural realm, and he must now come back to that same position as a spiritual man. Some can only recognize "conflict" when they are conscious of it, so to speak; they fight spasmodically, or by accident, when forced to it by necessity; but now the "fight" must be permanent and part of the very life. There is a ceaseless recognition of the forces of darkness in "cold blood," because of knowledge of what they are, and a consequent "fight" from principle. A fight against the unseen foes when there is nothing to be seen of their presence, or workings, remembering that they do not always attack when they can,note 35i.e., if they were to attack on some occasions, they would lose by it, because it would reveal the character of the thing and the source.
The believer knows that the devil, as a Tempter, is always tempting, and therefore, he resists from principle. In brief, he who desires perpetual victory, must understand that it is a question of principle versus feeling,note 36and consciousness. It can only be intermittent victory if the warfare is governed by the latter rather than the former. For instance, when the enemy attacks the believer, he will find a strong, primary weapon of victory in declaring deliberately, his basic position toward sin and Satan, as standing on the Calvary ground of Rom. 6: 6-11. The man reckoning himself in the present moment "dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God," refuses to yield to sin and Satan, in any, or all of the points, or cause, or causes, of the attack or conflict.
As the believer thus declares his position in the hour of conflict and onslaught from the foe, he will often find himself obliged to wrestle in real combat with the invisible enemy. Standing on the finished work of Christ in death to sin, the spirit of the man becomes liberated for action, and energized to stand against the hierarchic hosts of Satan, the principalities and powers, the world-rulers of the darkness and the hosts of wicked spirits in the heavenly (or spiritual) sphere.
It is only possible to wrestle against the powers of darkness, by the spirit. It is a spiritual warfare, and can only be understood by the spiritual man, that is, a man who lives by and is governed by his spirit.note 37 Evil spirits attack, wrestle with, and resist the believer.note 38 Therefore he must fight them, wrestle with them, and resist them. This wrestling is not with soul or body, but with the spirit; for the lesser cannot wrestle with the higher. Body wrestles with body in the physical realm; in the intellectual, soul with soul; and in the spiritual, spirit with spirit. But the powers of darknessnote 39 attack the three- fold nature of man, and through body or soul seek to reach the spirit of man. If the fight is a mental one, the will should be used in decisive action, quietly and steadily. If it is a spirit fight, all the forces of the spirit should be brought to join the mind. If the spirit is pressed down and unable to resist,note 40 then there should be a steady mental fight when the mind, as it were, stretches out its hand to lift up the spirit.
The objective of evil spirits is to get the spirit down, and thus render the believer powerless to take the aggressive against them; or else they seek to push the spirit beyond its due poise and measure, into an effervescence which carries the believer beyond the control of his volition and mind, and hence off guard against the subtle foe; or incapable of exercising due balance of speech, action, thought, discrimination,note 41 so that under cover they may regain ground, or some advantage for themselves. A GREAT VICTORY MEANS GREAT DANGER, because when the believer is occupied with it, the devil is scheming how to rob him of it. The hour of victory therefore calls for soberness of mind, and watching unto prayer, for a little over-elation may mean its loss and a long sore fight back to full victory.
When the spirit triumphs in the wrestling and gains the victory, there breaks out, as it were, a stream from the spirit, of triumph and resistance against the invisible, but very real foe; but sometimes in the conflict the enemy succeeds in blocking the spirit through his attack on body or soul.
The spirit needs soul and body for expression, hence the enemy's attacks to close the spirit up,note 42 so as to render the man unable to act in resistance against him. When this takes place the believer thinks that he is "reserved," because he feels "shut up"; or he has "no voice to refuse"; in audible prayer the "words seem empty," he "feels no effect," it seems a "mockery," but in truth it is that the spirit is closing up through the wrestling enemy gripping, holding and binding it. The believer must now insist on EXPRESSING HIMSELF IN VOICE, until the spirit breaks through into liberty. This is "the word of testimony" which is said, in Rev. 12: 11, to be part of the overcoming power over the dragon. The wrestling believer stands on the (1) ground of the Blood of the Lamb, which includes all that the finished work of Calvary means in victory over sin and Satan; he (2) gives the word of his testimony in affirming his attitude to sin and Satan, and the sure, certain victory through Christ; and (3) he lives in the Calvary spirit, with his life surrendered to do the will of God, even unto death.
Closely bound up with the wrestling of the spirit is the necessity of prayer. Not so much the prayer of petition to a Father, as the prayer of one joined in Spirit with the Son of God, with the will fused with His,note 43 declaring to the enemy the authority of Christ over all their power (Ephes. 1: 20-23).
Sometimes the believer has to "wrestle" in order to pray; at other times to pray in order to wrestle. If he cannot "fight" he must pray, and if he cannot pray he must "fight. " For example, if the believer is conscious of a weightnote 44 on his spirit, he must get rid of the weight by refusing all the "causes" of the weight; for it is necessary to keep the spirit unburdened to fight, and to retain power of detection. The delicate spirit-sense becomes dull under "weights,"note 45 or pressure upon it, hence the enemy's ceaseless tactics to get "burdens" or pressure on the spirit, unrecognized as from the foe, or else recognized and allowed to remain.
The man may feel "bound up" and the cause be in others, i.e. (1) no open spirit or open mind in another to receive from the spirit and mind of the one who feels bound up; (2) no capacity in the other to receive any message of truth; (3) some thought in the mind of the other, checking the flow from the spirit.
If in the morning the believer finds a "weight" or heaviness on his spirit, and it is undealt with, he is sure to lose the position of victory through the day. In dealing with weight on the spirit, the moment it is recognized, the believer must at once act in spirit, and (1) stand (Eph. 6: 14); (2) withstand (Eph. 6: 13); and resist (Jas. 4:7) the powers of darkness. Each of these positions means spirit-action, for these words do not describe a "state," or an "attitude" (which is mainly an attitude of the will), or an act by soul or body.
To "stand" is a spirit-action repelling an aggressive move of the enemy; to "withstand" is to make an aggressive move against them; and to "resist" is actively to fight with the spirit, as a man "resists" with his body another who is physically attacking him.
The word "wiles" in the original means "methods," and bears in its varied forms, the thought of "craft," or artifice; to "work by method," to over-reach, to outwit, to go in pursuit; also the thought of system, or a way, or a method of doing things.
Satan's war on the saints can be summed up in the one word "Wiles of the devil." He does not work in the open but always behind cover.note 46 The methods of the deceiving spirits are adapted to each one, with a skill and cunning gained by years of experience. Generally the wiles are primarily directed against the mind, or "thoughts," and apart from yielding to known sin, most of the workings of Satan in a believer's life may be traced back to a wrong thought or belief,note 47 admitted into the mind, and not recognized to be from deceiving spirits, e.g., if a believer only thinks and believes that all that Satan does is manifestly bad, Satan has only to clothe himself with "good" to gain full credence with that man. The war, therefore, is a war of deceit and counterfeit, and only those can stand against all the wiles of the deceiver, who seek the fullest truth from God, about God, Satan and themselves.
The Apostle said that the believer was to be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, and that he was to put on the whole armour for doing this. How can a man stand against a wile, if he does not know what the wile is? There is a difference between temptation and wiles; between the principles, and working of Satan and his emissaries, and their wiles; i.e., they themselves are tempters. Temptation is not a wile. A wile is the way they scheme to tempt. Paul did not say that the believer must stand against "temptations" or lies, or mention any other specific characteristic of evil spirits; but he must be "able to stand" against their wiles. The spiritual man is to be on guard lest he is caught by their wiles. If they can be detected, then their objective can be frustrated and destroyed. The spiritual man needs the fullest concentration, and sagacity of mind for reading quickly his spirit sense, and detecting the active operations of the foe; he also requires alertness in using the message his spirit conveys to him. A spiritual believer ought to be able to read the sense of his spirit,note 48 with the same instinctive adroitness, as a person recognizes the physical sense of cold, when he feels a draught, and immediately uses his mental intelligence for actively protecting himself from it.note 49 So the spiritual man needs to use his spirit sense in locating and dislodging the foe by prayer.
Again, an "objective" and a "wile" are quite distinct. The wile is a means used by the foe to gain an objective. The evil spirits must use "wiles" to carry out their objective. Their objective is possession, but their "wiles" will be counterfeits. They are liars, but how can they succeed in getting their lies into the mind of a man? They do not need wiles to make themselves liars, but they need the wile to get the lie accepted by the believer.
The wiles of the devil and his emissaries are countless, and fitted to the believer.note 50 If he is to be moved by suffering from any course of action detrimental to their interests, they will play upon his sympathies by the suffering they cause to one near and dear to him; or if he shrinks from suffering in himself, they will work upon this to make him change his course. To those who are naturally sympathetic, they will use the counterfeit of love; those who can be attracted by intellectual things will be drawn from the spiritual sphere by being driven to over study, or be given mental attractions of many kinds. Whilst others, who are over sensitive and conscientious, may be constantly charged with blame for apparently continuous failure. The lying spirits lash the person for what they themselves do,note 51 but if the believer understands how to refuse all blame from them, he can use their very doings as a weapon against them.
For this conflict with the powers of darkness the believer must learn experimentally how to take and use the armour for the battle, described by the apostle in Ephes. 6. The objective in Ephesians 6 is clearly not victory over sin--this is assumed--but VICTORY OVER SATAN. The call is not to the world, but to the Church. A call to stand in armour; to stand in the evil day; to stand against the powers of darkness; to stand after accomplishing the work of overthrowing them--"having overcome all," verse 13, A.V. m.--by the strength given of God.
The armour in detail, as set forth in Ephes. 6 is provided that the child of God should be "ABLE to stand" against the wiles of the devil; clearly showing that a believer can be made able to conquer all the principalities and powers of hell, if he fulfils the necessary conditions, and uses the armour provided for him.
It must be a REAL ARMOUR if it is provided for meeting a REAL FOE, and it must demand a REAL KNOWLEDGE of it on the part of the believer; to whom the FACT of the provision, the FACT of the foe, and the FACT of the fight, must be as REAL FACTS as any other facts declared in the Scriptures. The armoured and non- armoured believer may be briefly contrasted as follows:
|The armoured Christian.||The non-armoured Christian|
|Armoured with truth.||Open to lies, through ignorance.|
|Righteousness of life.||Unrighteousness through ignorance.|
|Making and keeping peace.||Divisions and quarrels.|
|Self-preservationnote 52and control.||Reckless unwatchfulness.|
|Faith as a shield.||Doubt and unbelief.|
|Scriptures in the hand.||Relying on reason instead God's Word.|
|Prayer without ceasing.||Relying on work without prayer.|
The believer who takes up the whole armour of God as a covering and protection against the foe, must himself walk in victory over the enemy. He must have (1) his spirit indwelt by the Holy Spirit, so that he is strengthened with the might of God to stand unshaken; and be given continuously a "supply of the Spirit of Jesus" to keep his spirit sweet and pure; (2) his mind renewed (Rom. 12: 2) so that he has his understanding filled with the light of truth (Eph. 1: 18) displacing Satan's lies, and destroying the veil with which Satan once held it; the mind clarified so that he intelligently understands what the will of the Lord is; (3) his body subservient to the Spirit (1 Cor. 9: 25), and obedient to the will of God in life and service.