By Jessie Penn Lewis
The various ways in which ground is given for the deception and possession of evil spirits are briefly summarized. Communication is possible with the believer without ground being given, but evil spirits can never interfere with the faculties of brain or body, unless sufficient ground for possession has been obtained by them. Satan had power to communicate with Christ in the wilderness, for the Devil spoke to Him, and Christ replied, yet the Lord Himself said later on (John 14: 30) that although the prince of this world came to Him; he could find nothing in Him for his working.
The devil also communicated with Eve in a state of innocence. It is therefore no proof of ground, or sin in mind or life, that Satan is able to communicate with believers. But there is a certain class of "communication" which cannot be carried on without ground having been given. There is a difference, also, between "communication" and "communion"--communication is with the mind, as evil spirits suggest thoughts to it, but they have "communion" with the man through the senses, as these respond to "feelings" given by them to the senses. Delicious, lulling, exquisite sensations in the body, arising from spiritual causes, may always be attributed to deceiving spirits, for they feed the sensuous,note 1 and nothing that comes from God in purity does this; nor does He in any degree by His manifestations, minister to a self-indulgent, self-satisfied, sensuous condition of the mind, or body of His redeemed ones; but on the contrary, the operations of God in man, are directed to the elimination of all that feeds the senses, and the invigoration of spirit, soul and body, for the keenest activities of life.
The satiety of the senses, however, caused by evil spirits, sooner or later changes in manifestation, and the true character of the source stands revealed when irritable and disagreeable feelings take the place of the soothing influences hitherto given, to the horror of the one who had reveled in the exquisite "waves" of peace, thought to have come from God, and who is now convinced that he has lost God's presence and power.note 2 Where the disagreeable takes place now, may have been the place where an agreeable manifestation occurred in the past.
GROUND TO EVIL SPIRITS IN THE MIND
In the list of various ways by which ground is given to evil spirits, the first is by means of suggestions or thoughts admitted to the mind. Thoughts manifestly from Satan every believer rejects at once, when he becomes conscious of them; but thousands of "thoughts" come without any volition of the person, for few understand control of the mind, and how to "bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Cor. 10: 5). One of the symptoms of demon possession is absolute inability, even after volition, to change the course of thinking, or subject of thought, for the mind appears stiff and laborious in action. The man cannot let a specific thought go from his mind, even after he wills to.
The chief faculty open to the access of deceiving spirits is the mind, especially before the believer apprehends the need of a "renewed mind" (Eph. 4: 23), and realizes that his mind can be open to, and used by evil spirits, notwithstanding the Divine operation of God in the innermost shrine of his being. Also before he realizes what he has admitted as ground for evil spirits in his past life, for all the "thoughts" inserted by the god of this world blinding the mind (2 Cor. 4: 4; Ephes. 2: 2), form material for his later working; such as "thoughts" lodged there unconsciously, perhaps years before; mental conceptions admitted without examination; floating ideas which have drifted into the ground of the mind, the believer knows not whence; a sentence in a paper, a word dropped in his hearing; the flotsam and jetsam of the mental world, leaving unthought of effect upon him, colouring Scripture, and placing the mind almost at the mercy of any suggestion of evil spirits, under certain conditions, later on.
HOW TO DETECT EVIL SPIRITS' INTERFERENCE
WITH THE MIND
To detect the working of evil spirits upon the mind, let the believer note the way in which his "thoughts" come. If the mind is working easily, quietly, in normal action in the duty of the moment, and sudden "flashes," "suggestions," or apparent "thoughts" arise, not in sequence, or in orderly connection with the work he has in hand, then the enemy may be counterfeiting the operation of the person's own mind, and trying to insert his suggestions into it as if they were the outcome of the man's own thinking; for when he is in the process of thinking, the lying spirits seek to inject some thought, suggestion or feeling-- the first into the mind, and the last into the spirit.
The danger at this point is for the believer to be ensnared by the simultaneous working of his own mind, and the presentation to the mind of the evil spirit's "pictures" or visions, which he thinks come from his own "imagination";note 3 or very subtly refined suggestions which have no appearance of being supernatural, or even distinct from the person at all. Many think all that is "supernatural" is of necessity strikingly marvelous, and awesome, whereas the enemy's working is very ordinary--so ordinary that he is unrecognized, and the operations of the supernatural appear so "natural," that they are not looked upon as supernatural. The Scripture statement of "the whole world lying in the evil one" is so true, that his speakings and workings are accepted and followed and yielded to, as the "ordinary" things of life, and as the ordinary operations of the mental faculties. The kingdom of darkness is near and "natural" to all the world under the rule of the prince of darkness.
SYMPTOMS OF INTERFERENCE WITH THE MIND
It is best to be suspicious of the abnormal in every shape and form. God does not interfere with the natural operations of the faculties. A sudden stoppage of thought, or sequence in the action of the mind, in thought or memory, as well as acute loss of the use of either, may indicate the interference of evil spirits. The spirits of evil, in possession of some faculty of the mind, can either hold it, or suddenly release it for action--this holding or releasing power explaining much that is unaccountable in suddenness of action, or "change of mind" which, like much else, is left in obscurity as "unexplainable." "I can" one moment, then "I cannot" the next, generally being put down to an "erratic temperament," or other causes. The believer, however, may be unable to act, because of the interruption, or interference of the enemy, but he really has the ability for action, if the faculties were free.
Others whose lives are spent in the bondage of a "spirit of infirmity," are only conscious of a sense of inability, they are always "too tired," and have "no spirit," "no energy" for the ordinary demands of life, yet with no disease, or reasonable physical ground for their chronic inertness and feebleness. A sudden inability to listen, described as "absent-mindedness" or "preoccupation," when the person is compelled to follow some "thought" suggested, or picture presented to the mind, or to follow the words of another, are all indications of the interference of evil spirits--the compulsions especially being a mark of their workings--when the person is in a normal condition of health, and the brain is not diseased.
For instance, in spiritual meetings, when people seem hardly able to listen to a vital truth, how many recognize the work of the prince of the power of the air taking away the Word (Matt. 13: 19), by the suggestion of other things, not appropriate to the moment, and by the mind being unable to follow the speaker's words, and to grasp and apprehend? Streams of "texts,"note 4 also, pouring through the mind, apart from concentration, and the volitional action of the mind, may overpower all that the speaker is saying, and "Carry away" the hearer into far away thoughts, and "day-dreams," which appear so beautiful and "divine," yet after the "meeting" is over, have no solid result in practical life. Any admittance of these sudden suggestions, or passing thoughts, means ground given to the enemy.
TWO WAYS THAT THE ENEMY PUTS THOUGHTS
INTO THE MIND
The Deceiver has two ways of putting thoughts into the mind: (1) By direct communication to the mind, and (2) indirect, by attacks on the spirit, causing undesirable feelings there, such as impatience through the attacks, which produce impatient thoughts in the mind, followed by impatient words. The believer has a sense of being hindered persistently by some unseen obstacle, for the evil spirit beings suggest a certain action to him, and then when he attempts it, he is hindered, causing in him a sense of irritation for which he cannot account. Nothing he does seems to "go right," and his life seems made up of "pin-prick" troubles, too much for him to bear, causing a sense of moroseness and discontent which grows upon him in spite of himself.
Feverish activity which accomplishes nothing is manifested occasionally, or else perpetual occupation which gives no moment of rest; difficulty with work in the day time; "dreams" at night,note 5 with no sense of rest or leisure at any time; suffering, confusion, difficulty of action, embarrassment, perplexity, all emanating directly, maliciously, and deliberately from evil spirits, unrecognized by the man.
Believers whose circumstances, and environment, should give them every cause for a glad and quiet mind, are harassed with terrible anxiety, and they are rarely free from troubled thoughts. The mind over-estimates everything, because the imagination and mental faculties are in bondage; ant-hills appear as mountains to them. Everything is exaggerated, so that they shrink from seeing others, as conversation is terribly difficult. They imagine they are only "thinking" in an ordinary sense, but it is not I "thinking" when a thing grips the mind, but when the mind grips the thing. Their "thinking" goes beyond the line of pure mental action.
CAUSES OF DEPRESSION APART FROM THE
Herein lies the real cause of depression as experienced by many believers, apart from purely physical conditions. The victim of depression and melancholia has admitted thoughts suggested by the deceiving spirits, until the mind is unable to shake them off, or else the enemy has obtained such a footing, that he holds the mental faculties in a grip of passivity, so that they cannot act. He feels as though they were in a vice, or weighted with some heavy pressure which obscures all light, and prevents him grasping the facts around him, or using his reason at all. The malignant powers of darkness ofttimes succeed in keeping those who have given them opportunity to get them into their grip under the most harassing clouds and shadows. They rejoice over their own wicked deeds, and love to bind their victims, and keep them in bondage.
This is truly the "oppression" of the enemy (Ps. 42: 9), and is the outcome of the earlier stages of the attacks of deceiving spirits upon the mind, which could have been quenched had they been dealt with at the beginning.
That the enemy takes advantage of any mental feebleness, or overstrain, or disease, is, of course, to be recognized; but in persons of normal health, with no disease of the mind, inherited or induced, much of the "depression" may be attributed to the inroads of the enemy, through ground given unconsciously at some previous time. The cause of "brain-fag" too, needs to be examined in this light, lest many attribute to natural causes what may have been supernaturally brought about.
GROUND TO EVIL SPIRITS THROUGH MISCONCEPTIONS
Wrong conceptionsnote 6 of spiritual things give ground to evil spirits, and these conceptions the adversary skillfully cultivates ready for use on later occasions. Imaginations as to how God works in Revival power, and in "Pentecostal" measure, is specially a fruitful ground for evil spirits, i.e., a conception that God moves a meeting, and sways it as the wind sways the corn; and that God moves on the physical man, rather than from the centre of man's spirit only. These imaginations prepare the believer for Satan's deceptions in these very forms.
This entry of "thoughts" from any quarter comes from the deeper cause of a passivity of the mind which, as we have pointed out in Chapter 4, is the main object of the adversary to produce, ere he can succeed in his effort to obtain control of the believer's will. The Lord's words in Matthew 13: 23, that the good ground hearer is "he that heareth the word and understandeth it," show that the mind is the vehicle through which the truth of God reaches men to win their affections, and bring back the will into intelligent and loyal co-operation with God. In like manner the mind is the hindrance to Satan's carrying out his schemes to win back control of the believer. For the success of his plans, the enemy knows that the mind must be lulled into inactionnote 7 and disuse by some means or other, either by stratagem or attack. The arch-deceiver is well aware that any "teaching" of deceiving spirits accompanied by supernatural signs, may be received by the believer if his mind is lulled into passivity so that he does not question, or intelligently reason, what the teachings are, or what they involve in their ultimate issue.
PASSIVITY OF THE BODY AS RESULT OF PASSIVITY
OF THE MIND
Passivity of bodynote 8 is the next stage in the development of passivity of the whole being, and is the ultimate consequence of passivity of the mind, for the mind dulled by passivity takes away alert action from the physical frame. The "dreamy," passive mind is seen in a dreamy walk and a lethargy of action in every department of the human frame. All this is deepening ground for deceiving spirits. The faculties are unused, there is lack of mental control, a lack of reasoning power, a ceasing to use the judgment, followed eventually by a disinclination to use the will. The believer slowly loses power of decision,note 9 he becomes more and more tossed about by letting everything in his environment decide for him, and sometimes thinking and believing it is God choosing and deciding for him by "Providences"; he therefore does not choose or decide for himself, but passively drifts, and accepts the choice or decision made for him by "circumstances"; or else he is full of impulses, with no central poise of any kind.
But God does not choose instead of the man,note 10 otherwise he would become a machine; neither does he decide in his stead. He chooses an eternal inheritance for him, but even this choice of God for the man cannot be fulfilled apart from the believer's intelligent co-operation.
PASSIVE YIELDING TO ENVIRONMENT
Therefore the passive yielding to environment and what the man sometimes calls "Providence," really means letting evil spirits decide for him, for they are the world rulers of this darkness, and readily seize the opportunity of playing upon his passive will, and thus he is deceived by them and thinks that he is yielding to the will of God.
In this way good men have become victims of others' sin, fearing to "resist evil" lest they disobey the commands of God, not intelligently understanding that they therefore fail to co-operate with God in fighting against sin (Heb. 12: 4; 1 Tim. 5: 20), and conquering the spirit of the age in their environment. God has given man a will, and a deciding voice; and all the purpose of His working in man, is to restore that once enslaved will to its throne of intelligent volition, in the choosing of right instead of wrong, and God instead of Satan. But Satan's entire purpose is to drag back the will into captivity-- and thus the man himself--so that he becomes a passive, though unconscious slavenote 11 to the world-rulers of the darkness around him, and hence subject to Satan, the god of this world, ruling through his hierarchy of evil powers.
The actions of the believer thus re-captured by Satan, through his emissaries of evil spirits, are the outcome of the subtle and unknown control of the adversary and the actions again give more ground to the enemy. Words are spoken, and deeds are done, almost blindly, either by impulse, or in the confusion of sudden revulsion of feeling; and often without the man intelligently apprehending the consequences of words or deeds. Old habits which ceased to be manifested, show themselves again, and sins which were once conquered, re-assert their power.