Some Further Devices of the Adversary
for Ensnaring Spirit-Filled Believers.

The Warfare With Satan and the Way of Victory
Jessie Penn-Lewis

Scriptures Referenced in This Chapter:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
1 Ki. 22:22 π Job 1:6 π Job 1:8 π Mt. 20:32 π Mt. 24:24; 2nd π Lk. 22:31 π Acts 5:3 π 2 Ths. 2:11-12 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π Rev. 2:24 π Rev. 13:13

The wiles of the devil which we considered in the last chapter are those which will meet every believer who enters the sphere of the Spirit, and they are wiles which cease to a great extent as he progresses in the knowledge of God, and learns to know his foe, but there are other wiles much more subtle, with which he plans to reach special souls who seem to him likely to be valuable instruments for him to use. Undoubtedly among the sons of men there are some with more natural spirit-capacity than others. The adversary carefully studies and watches each one so as to suit his tactics to the temperament, and weakness, of those he desires to overthrow. "Have you set your heart on My servant Job?" said Jehovah to the Adversary, when Satan entered the council chamber in heaven, after his walking up and down in the earth! ( Job 1:6 , 8 ) "Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you," also said the Lord Christ to Peter ere he had his terrible fall. ( Lk. 22:31; top ) Doubtless Satan had studies Peter well, and saw that his self-confident temperament would serve his purpose, but he could not touch him without the permission of the Lord.

We have referred to Spiritualism - or Spiritism as it should rightly be called - in a previous chapter, as one of the "deep things of Satan" ( Rev. 2:24 ) now ensnaring multitudes of those who would not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved, therefore God has permitted the working of error to reach them, so that they "believe a lie," and thus lay themselves open to the judgment of God. ( 2 Ths. 2:11-12 ) Yea, alas, they would not receive the truth, for the majority of these sols led into Satanic wiles have heard the Gospel in our Christian land, and in American, and on the Continent of Europe, but have made light of it, and gone their way to be entrapped in darkness as dense as the superstition of the Middle Ages. But the devil knows that Spiritism openly known as Spiritism will not readily reach the true children of God, so other "deep things of Satan" must be devised to "lead astray, if possible, even the elect." ( Mt. 24:24; top ) These are the main objects of his desire, for the multitudes are in his power, and give him little trouble to hold them. But souls like Job or Peter! Ah, the Christ can be wounded if the Adversary can but get at these, so all the ingenuity possessed by the Principalities and Powers of Satan must be set to work to devise devices to ensnare them.

And now the plan has been evolved in hell of counterfeiting the work of the Triune God in such a way that scarce a trace of the real source can be discovered. Did not the Lord forewarn His people when He said of the last days "there shall arise false Christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible even the elect." ( Mt. 24:24; top ) False Christs and false prophets have arisen ere now, but not so like the real Christ as to lead astray even the elect! There must be a closer counterfeit of Christ than those who in the past have falsely called themselves by His Name, for a counterfeit Christ who will lead astray the elect must be almost indistinguishable from the Lord Himself! And such is the case today. The Adversary has launched another plan. The deep things of Satan in Spiritism will reach the multitude, but he has produced a "New Revelation" for ensnaring children of God who are loyal to their Lord. Posing as a teacher of righteousness, and working in the name of the Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - numbers of consecrated Christians are being drawn into this wile of the devil. The following letter from a worker in the Lord's service will best expose one of the latest devices of the Adversary.

"I had been a Christian for many years, and knew experimentally conversion, consecration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit... I enjoyed much liberty in prayer, and in studying the Word of God, and was fully engaged in active work in the Master's service. The death of the one most dear to me had left a terrible blank in my life, and my thoughts were much occupied with the other life into which my loved one had entered. I had heard of Spiritism, Planchette and Seances, but was never interested in the subject, as I thought these things, for the most part, were delusive impostures, or else savouring of dealing with familiar spirits, which I saw to be forbidden in the Scripture.

Just at this time an earnest Christian friend came to stay with me, and told me that she had been staying at a country house where there had been the death of an idolized child, and the mother in her heart-brokenness had come in contact with one who knew the "New Revelation," and had assured her that she could hold constant communication with her loved one. The mother at first refused to listen, but after prayer, and close examination of some letters lent to her, purporting to come from one who had thus passed beyond the veil, she at last yielded to the suggestion, and soon received answers from her child that greatly comforted her. She carefully sifted these writings, and could find nothing in them contrary to Scripture - the Persons of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit being fully acknowledged, and the careful reading of the Bible, and constant prayer inculcated.

My friend offered to obtain these letters for my perusal, and after much prayer I finally accepted her offer. The lady sent the letters, saying what help and comfort they had afforded her in her own heavy bereavement. I read them with deepest interest. They told the story of what took place after death, and how the spirit was guided by guardian angels into Paradise and description was given of the life of blessedness there, and the keeping watch over the loved ones on earth, and helping them, was emphasized. Sin was by no means made light of, and the Lord Jesus was spoken of as a Saviour. The love of God the Father was beautifully described, and the work of the Holy Spirit brought out - but not His Personality! Most of the teaching dwelt upon the attributes of the Father and the Son, and a life of purity, holiness, selflessness, definitely enjoined. There seemed nothing untrue or questionable in a single sentence!

I now had occasional correspondence with the writer of these letters. Every question I asked was answered, apparently without a flaw or contradiction to anything I believed as a consecrated Christian. At last my correspondent told me she had shown one of my letters to her friend, and she had said 'if the writer chooses to try, she possesses unusual gifts, and could receive communication herself.' I then read a good deal of literature on the subject, and thought more, until one day I found that letters of the alphabet would form themselves before my eyes into words. I wrote these down consecutively, and I found that they became remarkable revelations. They were messages purporting to come from my dear one in Paradise...

I prayed all the time not to be led into error. I believed in the Blood of Christ, and I prayed under the shelter of the Blood, to which I now attribute the fact that I was not allowed to go on, but was brought to see my danger before actual 'Spiritism' had got hold of me.

At first in the revelations there was not a shade of anything to reveal dangers, until one day a message came about Satan, saying that he had repented, and that every soul or spirit created by God would eventually be saved. This disturbed me greatly, and the next few 'messages' were tinged with questionable suggestions. Just then a devoted servant of Christ came to stay with me, and when I had told her the whole story, she was used of God to save me. We studied carefully the Scriptures, and I saw that there was not one Word in Holy Writ to lead us to believe that those who had passed beyond the veil have communication with those left on earth, be they God's children or otherwise. There was only one explanation! The wicked spirits must personate the holy dead. This was a terrible shock to me. How could God allow my loved one - so truly a saint on earth - to be thus personated by the spirits of evil? Was it possible that the truelove of the one left behind had been used as a decoy? But then I saw I had been disobedient, and laid myself open to deception, and the real point of weakness was revealed. I had always looked on Satan as the incarnation of wickedness - always openly opposing Christ and His Cross. His power to fashion himself as an angel of light, able to work as a teacher of righteousness, and along counterfeit lines of Father, Son and Holy Ghost, had never dawned upon me, and this ignorance had laid me open to being misled.

From this time I got rid of the letters, and never wrote another word given me in the Satanic way. It was easy to do away with the tangible, but by no means easy to rule out the thoughts and suggestions of the Adversary. For a long time the 'writing' returned, and hard was the conflict to be true - but prayer brought me victory. My faithful friend also fought out the conflict with me, for as soon as I broke free, a great darkness fell upon me, and I who had never been tried with doubts or shaken in faith in God, lost all sense of God and grasp of spiritual verities. This was a proof of the danger I had been in, for if the 'New Revelation' had been of God, His light would have increased whilst I was being obedient to the Holy Spirit...

But I have now passed through, and know once more the power of the Atonement, and the indwelling of the Personal Holy Spirit. I now know too the danger points of the 'New Revelation' which may be briefly summarized as follows:

  1. The beautiful life taught, of high-toned morality and selflessness, rests upon the human will.
  2. The communication of the supposed righteous dead, in time saps the true motive for, and need of prayer.
  3. The trend of the whole teaching is to do away with the Cross of Calvary, and the Atonement.
  4. There is no offence of the Cross, for everything unpleasant is to be eliminated from the thoughts, and the life."

This letter is quoted almost in full because it so clearly unveils the main principles of the tactics of Satan towards the children of God at this present time. There are several points in the story which it will be well to notice, for traces of these teachings of Satan may be found in many quarters, and their source may now be recognized. Note 1) The efforts of the Adversary to obtain communication with the believer. 2) The special lines of the teaching he uses. 3) The basis of attack and his method. 4) The apparent failure of prayer, Bible Reading and the shelter of the Blood to protect from the snare. 1) As regards the first point, under all the devices of the devil may be found hidden the supreme purpose of obtaining communication with the child of God, for once the wall is broken down and communication begun there is no limit as to the delusions into which the subtle foe can lead the soul. And the Prince of darkness cannot establish this communication without the soul's consent - whether obtained openly or by artifice! Nay it is a solemn truth that God cannot save a soul against its will. "What will you that I do unto you?" ( Mt. 20:32; top ) was always the Lord Christ's question to those He blessed. Man's freedom of will stands opposed to spiritual powers both good and evil. The Lord must bring to bear all the pleadings of His love to obtain the yielded will, and the devil must somehow obtain the citadel of the will ere he can really mislead the soul. Hence the fashioning of himself as an angel of light, to capture by deceit, what he knows he would not obtain were he to appear in his true colors.

Then 2) let us note how far the Adversary is able to use the truths of the Gospel to veil his "doctrines of demons." ( 1 Tim. 4:1 ) The omissions particularly reveal the crucial points which alone can defeat his power. In this case the omissions were a) the Personality of the Spirit, and b) the Atonement of Calvary - the very crux of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in which is centered the wisdom and power of God. It appears therefore that the Adversary does not fear the Holy Spirit when He is considered an influence, and not recognized as a Person, for it was the Personal Holy Spirit indwelling in Peter Who unveiled the tactics of the devil in Ananias in the days of Pentecost. ( Acts 5:3; top ) The finished work of Christ at Calvary is the omission which never varies in all the devices of hell, but the Prince of darkness seems to be venturing now to permit the Lord Jesus to be named as a Saviour, so long as the Cross - the cause and the way of obtaining salvation from sin - is ignored! And it appears that he is getting bolder still, and allowing the mention of the Blood of Christ, so long as the believer does not accept the Cross of Christ in its crucifying power.

Is it not time that the eyes of the children of God should be opened? Seducing spirits teaching doctrines of demons are using the names of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to lead astray if possible the elect! We may say with horror, how can these things be? It is easily explained! No fallen son of Adam can know God as Father, the Son as Saviour, and the Holy Spirit as Sanctifier, but through Calvary. If the lifting up of the Cross in its finished work of redemption is absent from the preaching, the only means whereby the energy of God works in delivering power is omitted - the preacher may preach on, using the names of the Triune God, and men will still be lost. Alas, the army of teaching-spirits sent forth from the pit are at work in the pulpit, and by their subtle and hidden suggestions to the preachers are nullifying or silencing the Gospel, for a man may preach ninety-nine parts of truth, but if the teaching-demons can insidiously insert one "doctrine" from hell it will counteract the whole. "Christ is in every man" and "humanity is Christ," whispers a seducing spirit, then let the Cross be spoken of as part of Gospel, but it is made void, for if men are not lost sinners they do not need the Cross, and so the one insidious lie counteracts the whole. Man did not fall, they say, and the image of God is still in him, needing but awakening and cultivating; or he only "needs to think aright," and all will be well, whispers another of the Adversary's emissaries.

The "atonement is an insult to our intelligence" is the suggestion of yet another! Examined in the light of God, one deep purpose lies hidden in all the devices of the teaching demons - and it is to hide from fallen man his need of a Saviour, and the deliverance of the Cross, or to nullify or silence the preaching of the Cross, for the Adversary knows that every aspect of the Gospel may be preached, but if the word of the Cross is omitted, the hearers cannot know in actual experience the truths proclaimed, so the omission nullifies the whole.

But the "New Revelation" has been planned to ensnare those who really know the Gospel, and so the sacred names of the Triune God are used to cover the deepest subtleties of hell. It is all important for us to enquire what ground the Adversary had to work upon in the writer of the letter quoted. Here as always, he had to make use of something in the natural sphere, and in this case it was the lawful natural love between a mother and child. Alas, there are many true children of God who have been entrapped into communication with wicked spirits through this very cause. In times of bereavement the redeemed should take heed not to yield to over-much sorrow, lest they give occasion to the adversary. The Lord Christ bore our sorrows as well as our sins on the Cross of Calvary, so that by His stripes the one, as well as the other, should be healed. We may make His Cross of none effect, if we sorrow as others who have no hope, therefore the unrestrained yielding to sorrow can become sin, and even rebellion against God, or the indulgence of self in the way of self-pity.

The thoughts in a time of bereavement need especially the helmet of salvation, to keep them from straying into realms unwarranted by the word of God. "With Christ, which is very far better," is all we need to know concerning the condition of the loved ones who have passed beyond the veil. The wisdom of God is seen in His limitations for His children in this matter, for more knowledge of the condition of the blessed dead would distract the mind from the duties of life; and free communication with the departed would assuredly divert the believer from fellowship with the Lord, Who is to be to His redeemed the full and complete supply of all their needs, in every department of their being. If in His Providence the All-wise Lord takes away a loved one, it is that He may fill up to the full the blank in heart and life, and comfort with the comfort of God. He heals the broken heart with His own Presence, and not by permitting intercourse with the one beyond the veil, so as to make the bereaved one dependent for comfort or help or strength on something outside of the Saviour.

We need to notice too that it was by capturing the thoughts that the Adversary gained his footing, and that the thoughts were ensnared unwittingly. The communication began by the writer reading much upon the subject until her mind was fully absorbed in it, and then became concentrated upon it! But it must be remembered that the will had already yielded, and desired the revelations! Let the Lord's children take special heed to their thoughts at the present time, for the mind is manifestly the special object of attack by the powers of darkness. It is through the mind that the Adversary is ensnaring and deluding multitudes at the present time. There are laws of the mind which the arch-fiend well knows, and he is using them today, covered up, and dressed in the garb of religion. The wicked spirits seem swarming in the very atmosphere ready to influence and mislead souls without their knowledge. For instance a Christian girl sat alone at night watching by the bed of an invalid who could not bear the slightest sound in the room, not even the turning of the leaf of a book. The girl had a dear friend, and as she sat in the stillness her friend came to her mind, and it occurred to her to try and communicate with her in thought, whereupon it was not long before she found herself conscious of being beset with evil spirits in such a way that she afterwards feared to enter a room alone, or in the dark.

Then lastly let us notice the remarkable fact that in the letter quoted, the writer says that every step was prayed over, the Bible was read as usual, the soul believed in the Blood of Jesus, and even prayed under its shelter! How could it possibly be that all this did not avail to protect her from the snares of the Adversary? To the glory of the Lamb of Calvary we see that the soul was delivered eventually, though not immediately. The Blood did avail. A true messenger of God was sent to deliver the ensnared one. But prayer did not avail at the time, because undoubtedly the ensnared one had let her desires go to the attraction held out to her, whereas she should not only have prayed not to be led into error, but also not touched the letters, and examined the subject, until she was sure that the Lord Himself commanded her! In brief, she prayed to be kept whilst she touched the things she was uncertain about, and so the Lord permitted her to be entangled, to teach her the wiles of the devil, and be used for the deliverance of other souls!

This fact of tampering with the doubtful things explains too the apparent failure of the power of the Blood of Jesus to immediately protect her. The Lord's children need walk very carefully here. The appeal to the Blood of Jesus is not a "charm" to be used as dark and ignorant men use the sigh of the Cross, whilst they are in sin against the Crucified One. Neither the Cross, nor the Blood of the Lam is to be made a cover for sin. The Blood of Jesus only cleanses sin that we are willing to be severed from, for the Blood applied to us surely must separate from the sin by its very cleansing power. And the Blood of Jesus only avails to protect us from the devil whilst we do not touch anything that belongs to him. The Blood of the Lamb will not protect from the forces of hell, irrespective of the condition of the one who pleads it, otherwise it may be said that it ministers to sin, by covering the sinner without delivering him! The thought makes us recoil with horror, and with the cry, God forbid! We need to understand also that the Blood cleanses from sin, but the Cross speaks of the crucifixion of the sinner, and both are needed to entirely protect from the power of the devil. The appeal to the Spirit to apply the power of the Blood which is speaking in heaven, needs the sinner crucified on the Cross of Calvary as its correlative truth, otherwise the believer stands experimentally "in the flesh," whilst asking the Holy Spirit to protect the "flesh" by the Blood from the power of the Adversary! Nay, the sinner must be kept crucified on the Cross if he is to know the continual cleansing, and protecting power of the Blood from the forces of darkness around him.

Alas, alas, what deep things of Satan are being taught in these days, by the hosts of teaching-spirits sent forth to seduce from their allegiance to Christ the very children of God. And their name is legion, and their devices and subtleties legion also. We might take every manifestation and working of the Holy Spirit that we know and show the devil's counterfeit. And wherefore at this time? If we look back at the history of the past decade up to the time of the Awakening in Wales, we can see how the Prince of darkness was working insidiously among the people, undermining their faith in the Scriptures as the Word of God; silencing the preaching of the Cross to the utmost of his power, and drawing off great numbers into Theosophy - as a glorification of self; Christians Science - as mind-healing under the guise of religion; and Spiritism - as dealing with the spirists of evil in open and acknowledged power. Theosophy suited men who desired to be their own saviours; Christian Science met others who wanted freedom from all suffering and pain; and Spiritism reached those who had spirit-capacity, and were curious concerning the other world. At the same time the Church, consisting of all true believers, was to a great extent powerless. Divisions, worldliness, and carnal ease, on the whole marked her condition. The Holy Spirit was, it is true, working quietly, and many earnest souls were yearning for heaven-sent Revival, but there were no very marked manifestations of the Spirit in the Church for the devil to counterfeit, until the Divine Spirit broke forth in Wales in Pentecostal power. The Church throughout the world was more or less awakened, and many individual members began to emerge into the spirit-sphere of the heavenlies, and now all who know anything of the Spirit-filled life find themselves in a spiritual conflict with hosts of wickedness in high places, and are discovering that every manifestation of the Holy Spirit is being met by a counterfeit of the evil one. In fact the more "spiritual" a man is, the more open he is to the spirit-world - either of good or evil powers.

We have already referred to visions and revelations which the devil as an angel of light can give to those who seek them, or desire them from self motives; and voices of the evil one given to confuse, or lead the soul into actions which cause the enemies of the Lord blaspheme, whilst the victim thinks he is obeying the Lord. But there are other deep things of Satan as well as these, planned to beguile the most surrendered and spiritual of the children of God. Let the believer seek an "experience" without the Cross, and all that it means in continuous crucifixion of self, and the evil one will give him all that he desires. Let the seeker after "Pentecost" demand "signs" of the coming of the Spirit in outward physical manifestations, such as shakings, shoutings, laughter, prostration, etc., and look for these as evidences of the Holy Spirit's presence in power, more than simple faith in the Word of God, and the Adversary is able to fulfill his desire. Does the Lord send the Holy Spirit as fire - so can the devil, for it is written "He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men." ( Rev. 13:13 ) Let the children of God remember that the fire of God burns only upon the altar of Calvary, as the believer lies there in true identification with the Lord; and this holy fire abides only as the child of God consents to self-effacement and self-sacrifice in daily life. Does the Lord speak by men as His prophets? Yea, it is written that at a council in the spirit-world, one said, "I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all His prophets" ( 1 Ki. 22:22; top ) Alas, alas, it is terribly possible for a deceiving spirit - in brief, a "spirit of divination" - to enter and speak through children of God who have unwittingly given place to the devil in some subtle way.

There are other still more subtle wiles of the devil at this time pressing upon the children of God, suited to their different needs or idiosyncrasies, and it is now seen clearly that, in all the varied tactics of the enemy, the definite object is the getting control over the body of the believer. It has become an indisputable fact that evil spirits can enter the body of a true child of God, who unwittingly opens the door to the devil in ignorance of his devices. Briefly summarized the cause seems to be as follows: In sincerity and utter abandonment to God, believers seek a "Pentecost" - i.e., a fullness of the Spirit such as the disciples knew in the early Church; and as soon as the conditions of absolute surrender and implicit obedience are fulfilled, the Spirit of God comes upon them. For a little while the Spirit of God is obeyed in purity, but the wily enemy is watching. Others begin to think this particular believer a "wonderful" instrument; many thoughts enter his mind; his "experience gives him light beyond others"; God has chosen him as "a special vessel in His Church"; the "flesh must not be yielded to in others"; he "must have liberty to obey the Spirit"; and as any of these thoughts are yielded to, the enemy enters. The supernatural "manifestations" continue, but with a change of source! Soon there are signs of "another spirit" at work, in action, words, and spirit, opposite in character to those of the gentle Dove. Then comes, dogmatic, hard, resisting unteachableness, causing division, and all its sad sequents.

A clergyman writes, "In my case, I found any doubt, fear, agitation, want of love, self-exaltation - especially the feeling that God was going to do great things through me because I was so surrendered, and feeling that I was surrendered beyond others - brought false power and deception."

The continuance of supernatural manifestations with a change of source unperceived by the ensnared believer, is the most subtle of the latest workings of the enemy, and is the key to the strange and terrible inroad of spiritistic manifestations among many of the most spiritual and surrendered souls in the Church of God. At first, it may be in truth, a blessed revelation of the Holy Spirit to the soul who with unveiled face beholds the glory of the Lord, but 1) now comes the desire to retain a conscious experience, or 2) "self" enters with some subtle spiritual pride, or self-indulgence, 3) or some contact with a foreign spirit in another, 4) or innocent of danger the believer touches "animal magnetism," in some simple way, not knowing that it forms the element for the working of Satanic forces. In brief, in some way the body is touched by the enemy, and the life of the senses nourished, and strengthened by physical manifestations, which the ensnared soul thinks to be the continued working of the Divine Spirit, and he unwittingly is drawn on into delusion, which ofttimes ends in sin.

The preaching of the Cross is therefore the supreme need in this day of contact with the supernatural forces of the unseen world, for the Pentecostal fullness of the Holy Spirit, without the knowledge of the Cross, to keep the believer in deep and constant crucifixion with Christ, only opens the door to the deepest subtleties of hell. No supernatural manifestations can be relied upon as purely of God, unless the believer is a truly crucified follower of the Lamb, and deeper and deeper conformity to the death of Christ, is the only safe path for all who desire to press on in the fullest knowledge of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Chapter VII π Chapter IX
The Warfare With Satan and the Way of Victory

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