Dt. 18:9-12 π Mt. 7:17 π Mt. 12:19 π Mt. 13:23 π Mt. 13:25 π Mt. 13:29-30 π Mt. 13:38-39 π Lk. 11:21 π Jn. 8:32 π Jn. 8:41 π Jn. 8:44 π Acts 8:9 π Acts 10:34 π Acts 16:16 π Acts 26:5 π Rom. 2:11 π Rom. 3:19 π 2 Cor. 4:4 π Gal. 3:22 π Eph. 2:2 π Eph. 2:3 π Eph. 4:18 π Eph. 6:9 π Col. 1:9 π Col. 1:13; 2nd π Col. 3:11 π Col. 3:25 π 2 Ths. 2:7 π 2 Ths. 2:9; 2nd π 2 Ths. 2:10-12 π 2 Tim. 2:25-26 π 2 Tim. 3:1-5 π 2 Tim. 3:6-7 π Heb. 4:12 π 1 Pet. 1:17 π 1 Jn. 3:8 π 1 Jn. 3:9 π 1 Jn. 3:10 π 1 Jn. 5:19 π 1 Jn. 5:20
"The whole world lies under the sway of the evil one," declares the Apostle John ( 1 Jn. 5:19; top ), but it is of the supremest importance to the Prince of this world that those who dwell in his realm should not know it, therefore he exerts all his ingenuity to keep them unconscious of their condition.
To keep men ignorant of their position he blinds their minds! "The god of this world has blinded the minds [thoughts] of the unbelieving, that the light of the gospel...should not dawn upon them." ( 2 Cor. 4:4; top )
The Adversary dreads the light of God, for light reveals things as they are, both in the natural and spiritual world. "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free," said the Lord Jesus. ( Jn. 8:32 ) The truth about the love of God to men, of men as sinners needing a Saviour, and of God's gift of a perfect Saviour - able to save from sin, and deliver from the captivity of the devil - when really apprehended by the soul, must set free, and so the Adversary hides the truth from his captives. They are kept "darkened in their understanding," and are thus "alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them." ( Eph. 4:18; top )
That the truth must reach the understanding to be effectual in delivering the soul, is evident from the Lord's words that the good ground which received the seed was in the one "that hears the word and understands it." ( Mt. 13:23 ) Again the Apostle Paul prays for the Colossians that they may be given spiritual "understanding" ( Col. 1:9 ) and John says the Son of God "has given us an understanding, that we know Him who is true." ( 1 Jn. 5:20; top ) The Adversary therefore labours to keep the understanding darkened, blinding the mind with 1) wrong thoughts about God, 2) prejudices of all kinds, 3) philosophy of earth, 4) false reasoning concerning spiritual things, or else he occupies the thoughts with earthly things, earthly idols, or the cares and pleasures of this life.
It is important that we recognise the Adversary at the back of all these things, if we are to be effectual instruments in the hand of God for the translating of souls out of the power of darkness into the Kingdom of God's dear Son. (See Col. 1:13; top ) The Spirit of God alone can defeat the evil one, and destroy the veil which darkens men's minds. So the power of the Blood of Jesus must be claimed to act upon the Satanic force behind the darkened understanding, as we watch unto prayer for the words of truth to be given which will deliver the captive from his bonds.
The Adversary works in men without their knowledge. "You once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience." ( Eph. 2:2 ) The Scriptures always unveil the source, or causes of things which are seen! The Apostle writes that men who walk according to the thoughts of this world are controlled by the prince of this world, for he is the spirit working in them as they do the "desires of the flesh" and of their own thoughts. They are therefore "children of wrath" by nature and by action! ( Eph. 2:3; top ) But they do not know that the prince of the power of the air is working in them behind, and through the flesh, and their darkened mind - and thus the Adversary retains his hold. "Let them please themselves," he cries, "let them fulfill the desires of the flesh, and of their thoughts, and they will remain like myself a 'son of disobedience.'"
The Adversary seeks to snatch away the word of truth. "When anyone hears the word...and do not understand it, then the evil one comes and snatches it away..." ( Mt. 12:19; top ) The Adversary, or his minions, attend every preaching of the Word of truth, and when it does not enter the understanding it is easily snatched away - the thought is that of a bird snatching ravenously the seed fallen on the hard pathway. Once the smallest seed of the Word of truth enters the understanding it cannot be dislodged, and is sure to bring forth fruit in its season, unless it is choked by other things entering in. Alas, what multitudes hear the Word, and "understanding it not," pass on their way, still remaining in the realm of the evil one.
The Adversary keeps his subjects in a false peace. "The strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace [and] his goods are in peace." ( Lk. 11:21; top ) The context of this passage shows the strong man to be the devil, and here the Adversary is pictured as in full control of the darkened sinner, keeping him in peace, wholly unaware of his condition, and guarded carefully by the terrible one who is "fully armed" to meet every attempt to deliver the captive from his bonds. How the poor soul resents his peace being disturbed, and cries again, and again, "Let me alone," until at last the Strong One of Calvary conquers the strong man and sets the captive free!
But ofttimes at first the Adversary incites opposition to the truth. The Apostles knew the Satanic forces they were in conflict with, and so Paul wrote to Timothy concerning "them that oppose" counseling instruction with meekness, so that they might recover "out of the snare of the devil." ( 2 Tim. 2:25-26; top ) When the soul is roused enough to oppose, its deliverance is most likely near at hand, as it was with Saul of Tarsus! "Meekness," remember "meekness," oh! Servant of God - look not at the opposing man, but at the snare of the devil around him, and be gentle, forbearing and apt to teach, so that you may deliver him from the captivity of the evil one.
But the time comes when the "Stronger than he" - the Man of Calvary - lays hold of the captive soul, and he is delivered "out of the power of darkness, and translated...into the Kingdom of the Son." ( Col. 1:13; top ) What are the Adversary's fresh tactics now? The seed of the truth has entered the understanding of the captive, and he is set free to proclaim the truth to others, and take the prey from the mighty. But now the deceiver sets to work, and -
The Adversary counterfeits the true work of God. "While men slept, his enemy came, and sowed tares also among the wheat." The "tares are the sons of the evil one...the enemy that sowed them is the devil." ( Mt. 13:25 , 38-39 ) The true seed has taken root, and is growing and ripening for the heavenly garner. But the Adversary determines to nullify or destroy the witness of the delivered one, so he scatters among the growing wheat the tares, which the Lord plainly explains to be "the sons of the evil one." The attention of the world must be drawn to counterfeits, and the true living seed of God hidden, for the tares look like wheat until the time of fruit! And God looks on! "Let both grow together till the harvest," He cries, for the tares cannot be uprooted without danger to the growing wheat. ( Mt. 13:29-30; top ) And the Adversary also works on! The Lord's wheat, and the Adversary's tares, the true and the counterfeit, are always found side by side throughout the inhabited earth. The Christ and His foe each seeking possession of the children of men.
Ere we go further let us pause here, and face the fact that the Scriptures declare these things to be true concerning all men, be they high or low, rich or poor, cultured or ignorant. There is no trace given of neutral ground. "There is no distinction" of race ( Col. 3:11 ); "no respect of persons with God" ( Rom. 2:11 , also see Eph. 6:9 , Acts 10:34 , Col. 3:25 , 1 Pet. 1:17 ); no qualification of great or small sins. "The Scripture has confined all under sin" ( Gal. 3:22 ) "that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." ( Rom. 3:19 ) "He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning," writes the Apostle John in emphatic language. ( 1 Jn. 3:8 ) The divine life which comes from God, and is implanted in the child of God, does not sin, for the good tree bears good fruit. ( 1 Jn. 3:9 , Mt. 7:17; top ) The fallen life must also bring forth its own fruit of sin. Sin in greater or lesser degree it is true, but sin as God calls sin.
The Apostle furthermore declares that by their fruits "the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil." ( 1 Jn. 3:10; top ) The supreme test is fruit. Love to others, and righteousness of life is the fruit of the true life of God, and they who are begotten of God manifest the fruits, and do not, as in their former condition, practise sin as a habit, although they may yield to, and fall into sin even after they have become children of God.
We have already referred to the Lord's words to the Pharisees, but here we note again how they show that outward profession of religion, and the most exact obedience to ceremonial law may leave a soul unchanged in the source of its inner life. "You are of your father the devil" said the Lord to the Pharisees, who belonged to the strictest religious sect of their day, and claimed God to be their Father. ( Jn. 8:44 , Acts 26:5 , Jn. 8:41 ) How sharply the line is drawn! How the word of truth pierces to the very joints and marrow of the inner man, and lays bare the source of the life. (See Heb. 4:12; top ) We are the children of the one by whose life we live. Children of God if His life is imparted to us, or "children of the devil" if we live under his control, doing the desires of the flesh and of the mind - children of wrath, even as others.
Beyond all this the Prince of this world seeks to obtain entire possession of men as his special instruments, willing to intelligently fulfill his will, and carry out his plans, just as in the Kingdom of God there are some who are fully abandoned to God, to be possessed and filled by the Holy Spirit for the extension of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. The devil needs the voices and minds of men to reach other men, in the same way that the Spirit of God seeks to embody Himself in human beings to reach their fellows.
We have already noticed the unvarying proximity of the wheat and the tares, the true and the counterfeit, the working of God and the working of the devil side by side throughout the world, and we may expect towards the end of the age a greater manifestation of both in all directions. The devil will meet the supernatural workings of God with his "power and signs and lying wonders" ( 2 Ths. 2:9; top ), until the Antichrist is fully revealed, and the Church of Christ is taken to the Throne of the Ascended Lord.
The arch-fiend has studied the fallen race of Adam for many thousand years, and knows how to allure his subjects. They who are grossly flesh, he gives up to the desires of the flesh, "unclean spirits" often entering the bodies of men as in the days of old. But among the sons of men there are some with more spirit-capacity than others, and thes the Prince of darkness deludes in another way, for they are the ones specially open to his snares, and most likely to become his tools to work out his will. These souls would not be allured by the "flesh," nor would vain philosophy, and reasonings charm them. Beguiled, as the serpent beguiled Eve, by the fascination of the knowledge of good and evil, he draws them on into unlawful dealings with the spirit-world, until some are given "a spirit of divination" like the damsel at Thyatira ( Acts 16:16 ), or, like Simon the sorcerer, are led into "magical arts" as in the days of Peter and Paul. ( Acts 8:9; top )
Such are the workings of the Adversary today in spiritism, palmistry, crystal-gazing, and such like things. Men and women are again dealing with familiar spirits, and seeking on behalf of the living unto the dead. In the twentieth century, in the face of an open Bible and the light of the Gospel, professed Christian people are once more practising the "abominations" which caused the Lord to cast out the nations of Canaan before His people Israel. Abominations which Jehovah solemnly forbade Israel to touch, saying, "when you are come into the land...there shall not be found with you...one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord." ( Dt. 18:9-12; top )
In the face of these words Israel sinned against God in these things until He also had to cast them out as He had done the nations before them. And in Christendom again the arch-fiend is leading astray multitudes in England and America, as well as in Europe, into these very abominations.
But all is in fulfillment of the Apostle Paul's forecast of the latter days. As we have seen, even in his time, "the mystery of iniquity [lawlessness]" had begun to work ( 2 Ths. 2:7 ), and has gone on working down the centuries until now, when it seems that the prince of darkness is rapidly preparing the world for the revealing of the "Lawless One," even he "whose presence is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood." ( 2 Ths. 2:9 ) They who will be ensnared by these lying wonders will be the ones who "received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved," who "for this cause" were given up by God to "strong delusions" to believe a lie, and thus become open to judgment because they rejected His truth, and had pleasure in unrighteousness. ( 2 Ths. 2:10-12; top )
The grievous times are upon us. Men are "lovers of self, lovers of money...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form of godliness" whilst denying the power thereof. ( 2 Tim. 3:1-5 ) Of this character are they, writes the Apostle, who "creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins," women led away by their own desires, "always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." ( 2 Tim. 3:6-7; top ) Alas, how many are thus led away by a form of godliness, and know not the power thereof - souls loaded down with sins, yet unable to apprehend the power of the Gospel of Calvary.
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