War On The Saints Home Page
by Jessie Penn-Lewis, with Evan Roberts
World Wide Web Edition (Based on Unabridged 1912 Edition)

Chapter 5

DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE PERSON AND THE
PRESENCE OF GOD

The counterfeit of God in and with the believer, is the basis on which is built the whole after structure of possession through deception. Believers desire and expect God to be with, and in them. They expect God's presence with them, and this is counterfeited. They expect God to be in them as a Person, and evil spirits to counterfeit the three Persons of the Trinity.

In order to understand the counterfeiting methods of evil spirits, we must distinguish between the Presence and the Person of God. The "Presence" as giving forth an influence, and the Person manifested as Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. Crudely put, it may be described as the difference between God as Light, and having light from God. God as Love, and having love from God. The one is the Person Himself in His nature, and the other the outshining, or giving forth of what He is.

The thought with many is that the Person of Christ is in them, but in truth, Christ as a Person is in no man. He dwells in believers by His Spirit--the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8: 9), as they receive the "supply of the Spirit of Jesus" (Phil. 1: 19; Acts 16: 7 R.V.).

It is necessary also, to understand the teaching of the Scriptures on the Trinity, and the different attributes and work of each Person of the Trinity, to discern the counterfeiting work of the deceiver.

God the Father, as a Person, is in the highest heaven. His presence is manifested in men as the "Spirit of the Father." Christ the Son is in heaven as a Person, His presence in men is by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of the Father, and of the Son, is on earth in the Church, which is the Body of Christ; and manifests the Father or the Son, in, and to believers, as they are taught by Him to apprehend the Triune God. Hence Christ said "I will manifest Myself," to those who loved and obeyed Him; and later "We will come, and make our abode with him" (John 14: 23) i.e. , by the Holy Spirit to be given on the Day of Pentecost.

THE PERSON OF GOD IN HEAVEN, HIS PRESENCE
ON EARTH BY HIS SPIRIT

The Person of God is in heaven, but the presence is manifested on earth, in and with believers; through and by the Holy Spirit; in, and to the human spirit, as the organ of the Holy Spirit for the manifested presence of God.

The believer's misconceptions of the manner in which God can be in, and with him, and his ignorance that evil spirits can counterfeit God and divine things, form the ground upon which he can be deceived into accepting the counterfeit workings of evil spirits, and give them access into, and possession, and control of his inner being.

If God, Who is Spirit, can be in and with a man, evil spirits can also be in and with men, if they can obtain access by consent. Their aim and desire is possession and control. These are terms which are often used of God's work in believers, but which are not really Scriptural, in the meanings which are given to the words in the present day, i.e., God "possesses" a man in the sense of ownership, and then He asks for co-operation, not " control". The believer is to control himself, by co-operation in his spirit with the Spirit of God; but never does God "control" the man as a machine is controlled by another, or by some dynamic force.

DISTINCTION BETWEEN GOD AND DIVINE THINGS

We must also make a distinction between God and Divine things, i.e., all that is Divine is not God Himself, just as all that is Satanic is not Satan himself, and all that is human is not the man himself; Divine, Satanic and human things, being those which emanate from God, Satan, and man respectively.

These three sources must always be taken into account in everything, e.g., Guidance can be (1) divine, (2) satanic, or (3) human. Obedience may be rendered to (1) God, (2) Satan, or (3) men. Visions may have their source in (1) God, (2) evil spirits, or (3) the man himself. Dreams can come from (1) God, (2) evil spirits, or (3) the man's own condition. Writing in its source may be from (1) God, (2) evil spirits, or (3) the man's own thoughts. Counterfeits by evil spirits may therefore be (1) of God, and divine things, (2) of Satan and satanic things, or (3) the human and human things.

To obtain possession, and control of believers, who will not be attracted by sin, the deceiving spirits must first counterfeit the manifestation of the presence of God, so that under cover of this "presence" they can get their suggestions into the mind, and their counterfeits accepted without question. This is their first, and sometimes their long piece of labour. It is not always an easy task, especially when the soul has been well grounded in the Scriptures, and learnt to walk by faith upon the Word of God, nor is it easy when the mind is acute in usage, and well guarded in thought, and healthily occupied.

THE COUNTERFEIT OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD

From the counterfeit presence, comes the influence which causes the counterfeit to be accepted. Evil spirits must make something to imitate the presence of God, as their "presence" does not, and cannot be a counterfeit of it. The counterfeit presence is a work of theirs, made by them, but is not the manifestation of their own persons, e.g., they give sweet or soothing feelings, or feelings of peace, love, etc., with the whispered suggestion, adapted to the ideal of the victim, that these indicate the presence of God.

When a counterfeit presence, or influence, is accepted, then they go on to counterfeit a "Person," as one of the Persons of the Trinity, again adapted to the ideals or desires of the victim. If the believer is drawn to one more than another of the Persons of the Holy Trinity, the counterfeit will be of the One he is attached to most.note 10 The Father, to those who are drawn to Him; the Son to those who think of Him as "Bridegroom" and crave love; and the Holy Spirit to those who crave for power.

The counterfeit "Presence," as an influence, precedes the counterfeit of the "Person"note 11 of God, through which much ground is gained.

The period of danger is, as already shown in Chapter 3, at the time of seeking the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, when much has been said by others about manifestations of God to the consciousness, or some "coming upon" of the Spirit, felt by the senses. This is the opportunity for the watching spirits.

What believer is there that does not long for the "conscious" presence of God, and would not give up all to obtain it? How difficult it is to walk by "faith," when passing through the dark places of life! If the "conscious presence" is to be obtained by the Baptism of the Spirit, and there can be supernatural effects upon the senses, so that God is really felt to be at hand--then who would not be tempted to seek it? It looks to be an absolutely necessary equipment for service, and it appears from the Bible story of Pentecost, as if the believers then must have had this conscious presence, felt by them physically and actually.

SATAN'S WORKING UPON THE SENSES

Here lies the danger point which first opens the door to Satan. The working upon the senses in the religious realm, has long been Satan's special mode of deceiving men throughout the whole world, of which he is the god and prince. He knows how to soothe, and move, and work upon the senses in every possible way, and, in every form of religion ever known, deceiving unregenerate men with the form of godliness whilst denying the power. Among the truly converted, and even sanctified believers, the senses are still his way of approach. Let the soul admit a craving for beautiful emotions, happy feelings, overwhelming joy, and the conception that manifestations, or "signs," are necessary to prove the presence of God, especially in the Baptism of the Spirit, and the way is open for Satan's lying spirits to deceive.

THE TRUE MANIFESTATION OF CHRIST

The Lord said, on the eve of His Cross, concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit to the believer, "I will . . manifest Myself unto him" (John 14: 21), but He did not say how He would fulfil His promise. To the woman at the well He said "God is spirit," and "they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." The manifestation of Christ is, therefore, to the spirit,note 12 and not in the realm of the senses, or animal soul. Hence the craving for sense-manifestation opens the door to deceiving spirits to counterfeit the real presence of Christ; but the consent and co-operation of the will to their control must be obtained,note 13 and this they seek to get under the guise of an "angel of light"; as a messenger of God apparently clothed with light, not darkness, for light is the very nature and character of God.

The basis of this deception of the believer is his ignorance of the principles on which God works in man, and the true conditions for His manifested presence in the man's spirit; and his ignorance of the conditions upon which evil spirits work, in a passive surrendernote 14 of the will, mind and body to supernatural power. In his ignorance of the true working of God, the believer expects Him to move on the physical being, so that He is manifested to the senses, and to use his faculties apart from him, as a proof of His presence and "control," whereas God only moves in, and through the man himself by the active co-operation of his will--the will being the ego, or centre of the man. Neither does God use the faculties of the man apart from conjunction with the man, i.e., through his will. Not instead of the man, but with him (2 Cor. 6: 1).

THE COUNTERFEIT PRESENCE IS AN INFLUENCE
UPON THE BELIEVER

The counterfeit presence is an influence from outside upon the believer; and can begin in some cases, not only at the time of the Baptism of the Spirit, but by a "practice" of the "Presence of God," if the believer means by that a sense consciousness of "God," who is to be known and recognized by the sense of the spirit, not the senses of the body. The true presence of God is not felt by the physical senses,note 15 but in the spirit, and the same is true of "feeling" the presence of evil spirits, or Satan. The spirit sense alone can discern the presence of God, or Satan; and the body only feels indirectly.

It is important clearly to recognize the distinction between the "obsession," or influence of the counterfeit presence; and the "possession," or access obtained, which follows the acceptance of the obsession, or influence from without.

The distinction and the characteristics may be briefly described as follows:--(1) Obsession: an influence from outside; a counterfeit presence of God as an influence upon the person, to which he opens himself in mind and body.

(2) Possession: the counterfeit of a person within (after obtaining a footing), generally as love.note 16 Absolute abandonment to this of the affections and will. Exquisite feelings in physical and soulish realm, with spirit untouched. The man thinks all is "spiritual," when it is really the sensuous life in a spiritual form.

The word obsession has been exaggerated in modern use, and symptoms, or manifestations truly belonging to possession, are frequently put down to it.

OBSESSION AND ITS CAUSE

"Obsession" means an evil spirit, or spirits, hovering around, and influencing a man with the object of obtaining a footing in him, and gaining possession, in however small a degree. If these influences are yielded to, it must result in possession, e.g., if an evil spirit counterfeits the presence of God, and comes upon the man as an influence only, it may be described as obsession; but when a footing is gained in him, it is "possession,"note 17 because the obsessing spirits have gained access, and possess the ground they hold, up to the extent of the ground given.

The meaning of the word obsession as given in the dictionary bears this out. It means "to besiege," and it is described as "persistent attack, especially of an evil spirit upon a person; and "the state of being molested from without, as opposed to 'possession' or control by an evil spirit from within." According to this description of obsession, it is evident that it is a very common form of attack by the powers of darkness upon the children of God; not to speak of the unregenerate who are already, according to the Scriptures (Eph. 2: 2), controlled from within, i.e., "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (A.v.).

EXTERIOR MANIFESTATIONS OF THE CHARACTER
OF OBSESSION

Evil spirits "obsess," or persistently molest, and besiege the man, to gain possession. They obsess his mind with some dominating idea which destroys his peace, and clouds his life; or they counterfeit some Divine experience, which seems to come from God, and which the believer accepts without question. This is one dangerous form of obsession in the present day, when evil spirits seek to gain admittance to a believer by counterfeiting some exterior manifestation of God, such as a "Presence" filling the room, and felt by the physical senses; "waves" of "power" pouring upon, and through the physical being; or a feeling of wind, air, or a breathing upon the outer man, apparently from Divine sources. In brief, all exterior manifestations to the believer, coming from without upon the body, have the characteristics of "obsession," because they may come from deceiving spirits seeking access to mind or body.

The deliverance of persons under obsession of any kind, or degree, is by truth, such as:--

  1. Giving them knowledge how to detect what is of God or the devil, by understanding the principles distinguishing the working of the Holy Spirit, and evil spirits.
  2. Showing them that they should accept nothing from without either in suggestionsnote 18 to the mind, or influence of any kind coming upon the body; as God the Holy Spirit works from within the spirit of the man, illuminating and renewing his mind, and bringing the body under the believer's own control.
  3. Teaching them how to stand in Christ, and resist all besieging attacks of the powers of darkness.

For the deliverance of souls under the bondage of evil spirits in possession, i.e., when they have, after obsession, gained admittance in any degree; much knowledge of God and of spiritual things is needed.

It is generally thought that "casting out"note 19 the spirit or spirits, is the only method of dealing with them, but since the ground they obtained to gain entrance, and abide in, cannot be "cast out," it is obvious that although the "casting out" may avail in some cases, it is not the only means of deliverance.

SOME WAYS OF DELIVERANCE FROM POSSESSION

Much depends upon the cause of the possession. In China, among the heathen, demons are cast out immediately after the simple prayer of faith by the Christians.note 20 In Germany, an evangelist of ripe experience, speaks of men delivered from demon-possession after one prayer, but others who were "weeks, months, years, before they got free," and this only after much wrestling in prayer by men of God, mighty in faith.

But for believers who have become possessed by evil spirits as a result of deception, the main principle of deliverance is them being undeceived . To deal with "possession" which is the fruit of deception, by commanding the spirits to depart, is to deal with the effect, rather than the cause; and to bring about only temporary, if any, relief, with the danger of the evil spirit returning quickly to his "house," i.e., the ground which gave him lodgment.

Believers who discover themselves to be possessed through deception, should therefore seek light upon the ground through which the evil spirits entered, and give it up. It is by ground given that they obtain access, and it is by ground removed that they depart.note 21 It is for this reason that emphasis is placed in this book upon the understanding of truth,note 22 rather than upon the aspect of the casting out of demons, as it is written for the deliverance of believers deceived and possessed through accepting counterfeits of the working of God.

Deceived and possessed believers should also be taught the fundamental principle of the attitude of the human will in relation to God,note 23 and Satan, and his deceiving spirits. The Scriptures are full of this truth. "If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know . ." (John 7: 17); "he that will, let him take . ." (Rev. 22: 17).

Let it be emphasized again: deceiving spirits are obliged to get the consent of the man's will ere they can enter,note 24 and as to how far they enter. This they do by counterfeit and deception. They can only obtain the believer's surrender to their power, by feigning to be God. In fact, obsession, and possession, in all cases, both of regenerate and unregenerate, is based upon deception and guile; for it is not until a man is very fully under the power of Satan that he willfully, and knowingly, yields himself up to him.

Deliverance, therefore, requires the active exercise of the will, which must, in reliance upon the strength of God, and in the face of all beguilements, and suffering, be kept steadily set against the powers of darkness,note 25 to nullify previous consent to their working.

Deceiving spirits also counterfeit God in His holiness, and in His righteousness. The effect in such a case is to make the believer afraid of God, and to shrink away from, and loathe all spiritual things. They try to terrorize those who are timid and fearful; to influence those who yearn for power; or to draw into their control those who are open to the attraction of love and happiness.

PHYSICAL SENSES SHOULD NOT FEEL GOD'S PRESENCE

It may be said deliberately, that it is never safe in any case to feel God's presence with the physical senses,note 26 for it is almost beyond doubt a counterfeit "presence"--a subtle snare of the enemy to gain a footing in the man. This is one reason why some who have urged upon other believers their need of a "realization of God"--meaning a felt presence in the atmosphere, or within them--have, to their grief and dismay, lost the "realization" they themselves had, and sunk into darkness, and numbness of feeling.note 27 These believers not knowing this to be the direct result--either quickly or at some distant period--of all supernatural manifestations to the senses; the victim looking for the cause of the breakdown, or "deadness" to spiritual things, in "overstrain" or "sin," and not to the realization experience he rejoiced in.

The normal condition of the faculties for use, is plainly to be seen in all Bible records of men in direct communication with God. Paul in a "trance" (Acts 22: 18), had full possession of his faculties, and intelligent use of mind and tongue. Especially so is this recognizable in John on Patmos. His physical being was prostrate from the weakness of the natural man in the unveiled presence of the glorified Lord; but after the quickening touch of the Master, his full intelligence was in use, and his mind clearly at work, in power to grasp and retain all that was being said and shown to him (Rev. 1: 10-19).

The difference between the Bible records of the revelations of God, and the conditions of the men to whom they were given; and the records of many of the supernatural manifestations to-day, lies in a principle which reveals the distinction, in striking contrast, between the pure Divine working, and the Satanic counterfeits of God: i.e., the contrasting principles of,

  1. The retention of the use of the will, and faculties;
  2. The loss of personal control through passivity.

We may take as example what is called "clairvoyance" and "clairaudience"; i.e., the power to see and the power to hear: the first meaning the seeing of supernatural things, and the second the hearing of supernatural words. There is a true seeing and hearing, and a false seeing and hearing of supernatural things; and they result either from a Divine gift, which is the true (Rev. 1: 10-12); or an evil passive state, which admits the counterfeit.



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