There is also a permanent attitude toward the body, which may be described under the word "fasting," which is a necessary condition for continuous victory over evil spirits. Especially for the casting out of evil spirits, it is imperative that the believer has complete mastery over his body, able to discriminate between its legitimate demands, and the spirits of evil seeking to gain a footing behind its lawful needs, and to detect all the wiles seeking to rob him of victory over them.
In the casting out of evil spirits, the voice may be strong or weak, as it is governed by the circumstances of the occasion. If it is weak, the weakness may be caused by fear, ignorance, an immaturely developed spirit, or it may be the result of the strength of the opposing spirit. The Holy Spirit who energizes the man for the act of "casting out," is of necessity hindered in His operations by these factors in the believer.note 24 Especially is an undeveloped spirit a limitation, for this shows the non-use of the spirit in general conflict. The spirit grows strong in maintained resistance and conflict with the powers of darkness, and by obtaining complete mastery over soul and body, as did John the Baptist in the wilderness (Matt. 3: 4); for "every man that striveth for the mastery" (1 Cor. 9: 25) over himself, gains a capacity of spirit for the Holy Spirit's energizing, which can be obtained in no other way.
The special influx of the Holy Spirit which equips believers for co-operating with Him in wielding the authority of Christ over evil spirits, is dealt with in another chapternote 25 (Acts 13: 8, 9, 10). The Holy Spirit in the spirit of the believer, is the power at the back of the act of casting out, and the servant of God should watch keenly not to move to any aggressive step apart from Him. Paul endured for many days the attack of the evil spirit upon him through the woman possessed with a spirit of divination, but there was a moment when, "sore troubled," the Apostle turned upon it (Acts 16: 18), and, speaking direct to the spirit and not to the girl, commanded it to come out of her. The believer who can discern the sense of the spirit knows that moment, and co-working with the Spirit of God moving in his spirit, finds the power of the Name of Jesus over the demons of Satan, as effective to-day as in the time of the Apostles and the Early Fathers of the Church.note 26
The chief factor in the casting out, or commanding evil spirits to come out of a man, is FAITH IN THE POWER OF THE NAME OF JESUS. This faith is based on knowledge that evil spirits must obey the authority of Christ, exercised by Him through those who are united to Him. Any doubt on this point will render the commanding fruitless.
The casting out is always done by speaking directly to the spirit in possession, and in the Name of Christ, the believer saying:
"I charge thee in the Name of Jesus Christ to come
out. . . ." Acts 16: 18.
There is no danger of the evil spirit when cast out, entering into, or being transmitted to the one who has dealt with them, unless there is ground for their doing so, or consentnote 27 is obtained for their entry by trick of the enemy. Believers called upon to deal with evil spirits in others should deliberately declare their stand upon the Calvary basis of Romans 6: 6-11, ere they do so, as the only safe way of dealing with the basic ground of the old creation, which may give place to the enemy.
The casting out of an evil spirit from another may also be an occasion for the manifestation of one hidden unknowinglynote 28 in the believer who is dealing with the other possessed person. If this is so, when he finds an immediate manifestation of the enemy's workings in himself he is liable to attribute it to a transmission to himself, or an attack upon himself, of the expelled spirit.
Through this wrong interpretationnote 29 he now seeks deliverance from the supposed "transmission," and thereby gives new ground to the deceiving spirit, because he does not seek for the cause of the manifestation in his past life; that is, he deals with it as an "attack," instead of a symptom, and hence the cause, or ground, is left undealt with, and undiscovered.
Neither does the laying on of hands by a person unknowingly possessed, transmit evil spirits. If it appears so, it is but an occasion for an evil spirit already hidden in the person, to manifest itself, and then to suggest a wrong cause for the manifestation, so as to throw him off the track in the discovery of ground. In brief, if there are already deceiving spirits in possession, the conditions are favourable for their manifestation, for ALL MANIFESTATION OF EVIL SPIRITS IN A PERSON MEANS GROUNDnote 30 for their occupation, which should be dealt with at once. If a symptomatic manifestation is called an "attack" from outside, no deliverance will be known until the true cause is recognized.
It may be said at this point that whatever signification there may be in the "laying on of hands," the result should be spiritual, and in the spirit, not in physical sensations, or any conscious feelings in the Senses.note 31
Much of the knowledge needed for the "discerning of spirits" can be obtained by careful perusal of preceding chapters, but there is a gift of "discerning of spirits" referred to in 1 Corinthians 12, as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the members of the Body of Christ. Like all the Gifts of the Spirit, it needs the full co-operation of the believer for use, and becomes clearer and stronger as it is used. For this reason, it may appear so ordinary in its exercise, and so much like the using of a spirit sense faculty belonging to the man, that it escapes the attention of others. That is, it may not appear supernatural, nor operate in a miraculous way. Also like all the other gifts, it is not for show but for profit (5: 7), and it is only recognizable when it is in operation, and even then, may need a spiritual man to discern its presence and manifestation.
The power of discerning of spirits proceeds from the spirit of the believer, as the place from whence the Holy Spirit manifests His Presence and power, and develops in manifestation through the mind, as the man grows in knowledge and experience of spiritual things, and learns to watch and observe the ways of God, and the workings of the evil supernatural powers. Discernment is a "gift of the Spirit," but it is manifested as a fruit of watchfulness, and watchfulness is the fruit of keen alertness on the part of the believer. It needs great patience, great skill and great perseverance to become proficient in discrimination and discernment.note 32
The faith necessary for laying hold of, and exercising the authority of Christ over the spirits of evil cannot be MADE; and if there is any effort in its exercise the believer should know that there is something at fault which needs examination; and seek to understand the hindrances to the working of true faith. When a prayer-warrior finds it difficult to "believe," he should find out the cause; whether it is from the (1) opposition of the powers of darkness; or (2) the non-working of the Holy Spirit with him in respect to the matter in hand. (Cf. Mark 16: 20).
There is what may be described as an "evil" faith, that is, a compulsionnote 33 to "believe," which comes from evil spirits. The fact that the devil fights against the exercise of faith, is no proof of that "faith" being a true faith, or vice versa. It is true that the devil tries to quench true faith, and the believer may fight to keep it alive; but he must examine and know the nature of the faith that is in him. Is it of God in the spirit, or is it from the mind, or will, and based on a personal desire? In brief, is its origin from the man himself, or from God?
There are many aspects of the war by prayer against the powers of darkness, which space precludes dealing with fully, such as lessons from the act of Moses, lifting up his hands on the hill-top, which was an outward expression of a spiritual DEED. The result of his action was seen in the plain, when the forces of Israel triumphed. The cause of the victory was invisible. Something in the spiritual realm was accomplished by the outward, visible attitude of the man upon the hill, which was manifest to him and the men with him, when he let down his weary hands.
The powers of evil attacking Israel through Amalek are the same forces against the Church of Christ to-day. Moses could not have kept the assertion of faith in Jehovah as Victor, audibly expressed without intermission throughout the prolonged fight; and that no intermission in the act of faith was vital is to be seen in that the moment his hands went down, the enemy triumphed, and as they went up, Israel prevailed.
There are times in a prolonged fight with the hosts of Satan, when it is clear to the spiritual vision, that the enemy gains ground as the "word of testimony" flags, and that the forces of God conquer as the Lord's praying ones maintain the cry of victory. In hours such as these, some physical act expressing the maintenance of the attitude of victory, to relieve mind and body from overstrained tension, may be admissible, and uplifted hands, or stretched out hands, may instinctively come about in the "hill-top" conflict for the Church of Christ.
There are hours, too, when the battalion of wicked spirits stand back, and the prince of darkness himself stands against the believer, as in Zech. 3: 2. Then the words, "The Lord rebuke thee, 0 Satan," never fails.
When prayer, also, needs focussing upon some stronghold of the enemy, in patient, persistent prayer for a prolonged period; or a wrestling in spirit in a great crisis
battle against the forces of darkness, holding some position they have taken; there are many weapons available to the armour-clad believer as he stands in Christ, withstanding the hosts of wicked spirits in high places. Not only the lifted hands of Moses, and the rebuking words of Michael, but the holding the cursenote 34 of God upon the Prince of darkness, and all his hosts--that curse upon the great spirit-being, clothed in the guise of a serpent, which the Lord God pronounced upon him in the Eden tragedy of the Fall. That curse, which has never been revoked, and which Satan knows lies before him in its final climax in the lake of fire. The reminder of this curse is often an effective weapon against the foe.note 35
The believer who has been patiently and persistently labouring in prayer, and conflict with the enemy, for others, must hold himself ready for action, for God may use the one who has prayed to be the instrument of the deliverance of the one prayed for. It is essential to have action as well as prayer. Many think it is quite enough to pray, because God is omnipotent; but God needs men to pray who are ready also to act. Cornelius prayed, and then acted in sending for Peter (Acts 10: 7-8). Ananias had prayed about Paul, and then was sent to speak to him (Acts 9: 11). Moses prayed for the deliverance of Israel, but he himself was called to be a great factor in the answer to his prayers (Ex. 3: 10).
There is also a time for answered prayer (Luke 2: 26), and there are hinderers to answered prayer (Dan. 10: 13). Those who pray for the deliverance of others, must have patience to plod in prayer for many days. There is sometimes a wrong thought in expecting a "flow" of prayer, if it is truly in the spirit. Because believers find no easy flow they cease to persevere in prayer, whereas prayer, when OPPOSED TO THE ENEMY, often means a hewing out words in a real fight against the hinderers to prayer. Believers must not expect those who are deeply deceived, to be delivered in a few weeks; for it may take months and even years of prayer. Contact with those who are being prayed for may hasten their deliverance, for the reason that God can work more quickly when He can use others to help immature Christians, when they do not understand. Indirectly, we answer our own prayers when we go to the ones we are praying for,note 36 and give them the light they need.
Patience and perseverance are needed, because, as we have seen, believers needing deliverance hinder through ignorance, when they side with evil spirits in believing their suggestions, and excuses;note 37 even whilst they sincerely desire to be liberated from their power.
The one who prays may be called upon to act by transmission of truth by preaching. If so, he will need to understand the place of prayer in his preaching. That he needs the prayers of others for effective utterance (Ephes. 6: 19); and that he must carry out the warfare himself experimentally when he is transmitting truth which affects the kingdom of Satan. If by prayer he deals with the powers of darkness before preaching, the flow through his spirit may be unhindered; but if evil spirits are hindering his message he may have to fight his words out with difficulty, because his spirit is at the same time resisting the obstacles in the spiritual realm. This may cause his voice to sound harsh because of the resistance in the atmosphere,note 38 the voice breaking through into clear tones when the resistance gives way. Whenever the spirit is thus engaged in conflict the outer man is affected and less calm in action or speech. Whilst the believer is actually preaching, deceiving spirits can endeavour to interfere with his delivery by a stream of "comments,"note 39 so to speak, charging him with their own workings, i.e., they will be whispering to him every cause but the true one for the condition of the meeting,note 40 pouring accusations into his mind whilst he is speaking, challenging the words coming out of his mouth. If he is speaking of the holiness of life necessary for the children of God, he is told how far he comes short of what he is preaching to others; the challenge being so persistent that the speaker may suddenly insert into his message depreciative words about himself, and through these words, suggested by evil spirits, and thought by the speaker to be his own, they pour a stream into the atmosphere of the meeting, which brings a dark cloud upon the people.note 41
Prayer fulfils some law which enables God to work, and makes it possible for Him to accomplish His purposes. If such a law does not exist, and God has no need of the prayers of His children, then asking is a waste of time, but in fact, prayer is the greatest conceivable weapon of destruction at the disposal of the believer, destroying obstacles to God's working, either from sin or the works of the devil.
Prayer is DESTRUCTIVE as well as constructive, but to this end it must be radical, piercing to the very source of things, destroying the cause, or causes of hindrances to the operations of God. Prayer needs to be specific and radical, first in the sphere of the personal, then out through the local to the universal. Activity in prayer should be in the order of (1) Personal prayer, covering personal needs; (2) Family prayer, covering family needs; (3) Local prayer, covering environment needs; (4) Universal prayer, covering the needs of the whole Church of Christ, and the whole world (1 Tim. 2: 1; Ephes. 6: 18).
If the prayer-warrior prays for the universal, without first having dealt with personal and local needs, the enemy will touch these smaller spheres, and thus by the force of personal and local attack, draw the believer down from the universal outlook. The order of prayer is therefore, first exhaustive prayer for all personal and local spheres, praying through these out to the wider range of the universal. Prayer not only exhaustive, but persistent. The believer needs for all this (1) strength to pray, (2) vision to pray, (3) knowledge of what to pray; for there is a sequence in prayer which needs to be understood intelligently, and a work of prayer, demanding as much training and equipment as is needed for preaching.
The trained prayer-warrior knows something of all the various aspects of prayer, such as: The prayer of asking (John 14: 13); the prayer of interceding (Rom. 8:26);
"saying" (Matt. 21: 21; Mark 11: 23-25) and burden prayer, which may be a burden in the spirit or on the mind (Col. 2: 1; 4: 12). He knows that burdens of prayer may be conscious, but that he must not expect a conscious burden for every prayer, nor wait till he "feels moved to pray." He knows that to see a need for prayer is sufficient call for prayer, and if he waits for "feeling" that he can pray when he has vision to pray it is sin. He understands, too, in the sphere of the universal, the oneness of the whole Body of Christ, and that in that sphere of union, he can say "Amen" to the prayers of the whole Church, so far as they are of the Holy Spirit, in the will of God.
All this but touches the fringe of the war by prayer which could be waged upon the forces of darkness, for the deliverance of God's people, which is the true objective of Revival.