Victory in Conflict
In a previous chapter we have seen the way of deliverance from possession by
evil spirits. The great question here is, how to be victorious over the powers
of darkness as a whole. How to have authority, and victory over the wicked
spirits in place of their mastery over the believer; who, having learnt the
devices of the enemy, and the way of deliverance, is now deeply concerned that
others should be set free, and brought into the place of victory "over all the
power of the enemy." For this he must now understand that the degree of Christ's
"authority" the Spirit of God will energize him to exercise over the spirits of
evil, will be according to the degree of victory he has over them in the
personal conflict, which he must now settle down to face in the sphere of the
spiritual life into which he has emerged.
DEGREES OF DELIVERANCE AND VICTORY
The believer needs to have thorough knowledge and understanding of their ways
and works, and of the laws of the spirit, and how to keep in mastery of spirit
in all the vicissitudes of life. As there are (1) degrees of deception, and
degrees of possession and deliverance from possession; so there are (2) degrees
of victory over the devil; (3) degrees of temptation, and victory over
temptation. The power to co-operate with the Holy Spirit in the wielding of
Christ's authority will also be in degrees, and gained according to the
aggressive spiritual strength obtained by overcoming the devil in his various
workings; just as victory over sin deepens in its strength as the man overcomes
temptation to sin; and victory over the world (1 John 5: 4-5) is increasingly
known by faith in the Son of God. These degrees of overcoming power with the
consequent degree of reward, are to be clearly seen in the Lord's call to the
churches recorded in the Apocalypse. Degrees also of the future authority in the
reigning with Christ are indicated in His words in one parable, "Be thou ruler
over ten cities . . over five . ." (Luke 19: 17-19).
The believer delivered from deception and possession by the spirits of evil,
must now learn to walk in personal victory over the devil at every point, if he
is to have the fullest victory over the powers of darkness. For this, just as he
needs to know the Lord Christ in all the aspects of His Name and character, so
as to draw upon His power in living union with Him, so the believer must learn
to know the adversary in his various workings, as described in his names and
character, that he may be able to discern his presence, and all his wicked
spirits, wheresoever they may be, either in attacks upon himself, in others, or
working as "world-rulers" of the darkness in the world.
VICTORY OVER SATAN AS TEMPTER
Victory over the Devil as a Tempter, and all his temptations personally,
direct and indirect, must be learnt by the believer in experimental reality;
remembering that all "temptations" are not recognizable as temptations, nor are
they always visible, for half their power lies in their being hidden. A believer
thinks that he will be as conscious of the approach of temptation, as of a
person coming into the room, hence the children of God are only fighting a small
proportion of the devil's workings; that is, only what they are conscious
of as supernatural workings of evil.
Because their knowledge of the devil's character and methods of working is
limited and circumscribed, many true children of God only recognize "temptation"
when the nature of the thing presented is visibly evil, and according to
their limited knowledge of evil, so they do not recognize the Tempter and
his temptations when they come under the guise of natural or physical, or lawful
and apparent "good."
When the prince of darkness and his emissaries come as angels of light, they
clothe themselves in light, which, in their case, stands for evil. It is a
"light" which is really darkness. They come in the guise of good. Darkness is
opposed to light, ignorance is opposed to knowledge, falsehood is opposed to
truth. Darkness is a term applied to evil morality and moral darkness. The
believer may need to discern evil spirits in the realm of the supposed good.
That which comes to them as "light" may be darkness. The apparently "good" may
be really evil; the apparent "help" which they cling to may be really a
hindrance.note 1 For instance, a difficulty in work may arise out of accepting a
degree of weakness,note 2which is really the result of demon possession; so while
desiring strength the believer may fulfil conditions which make him weak. The
devil then tempts him because he is weak, and he succumbs.
There needs to be a choice between good and evil perpetually by every man,
and the priests of old were specially called to discern and teach the people the
difference between "the holy and the common," the "unclean and the clean" (Ezek.
40: 23). Yet is the Church of Christ to-day able thus to discern what is good,
and what is evil? Does she not continually fall into the snare of calling good
evil, and evil good? Because the thoughts of God's people are governed by
ignorance,note 3and limited knowledge, they call the works of God, of the devil; and
the works of the devil, of God, and they are not taught the need of learning to
discern the difference between the "unclean and the clean", nor how to decide
for themselves what is of God, or what is of the devil, although they are
unknowingly compelled to make a choice every moment of the day.
Neither do all believers know that they have a choice between good and good,
i.e., between the lesser and the greater good; and the devil often
entangles them here.
VARIOUS KINDS OF TEMPTATIONS
There are unseen temptations, and temptations in the unseen. Physical
temptations, soulish temptations, spiritual temptations; direct and indirect
temptations, as with Christ when He was directly tempted in the wilderness, or
indirectly through Peter. The believer must not only resist the devil when he
tempts visibly, or attacks consciously, but BY CONSTANT PRAYER HE MUST BRING TO
LIGHT HIS HIDDEN AND COVERED TEMPTATIONS, knowing that he is a "Tempter," and
therefore is always planning temptation for the believer. Those who thus, by
prayer, bring to light these hidden workings, are by experience, widening their
horizon in knowledge of his work as a Tempter, and becoming better able to co-
work with the Spirit of God in the deliverance of others from the power of the
enemy; for in order to be victorious over the powers of darkness, it is
essential to be able to recognize what they are doing. Paul, on one occasion,
did not say "circumstances," but "Satan hindered me" (1 Thess. 2: 18),
because he was able to recognize when circumstances, or the Holy Spirit (Acts
16: 6), or Satan, hindered or restrained him in his life and service.
There are degrees also in the results of temptation. After the wilderness
temptation, which settled vast and eternal issues, the devil left Christ, but he
returned to Him again and again with other degrees of temptation (John 12: 27;
Matt. 22: 15) both direct and indirect.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "TEMPTATION" AND "ATTACKS."
There is also a difference between the "temptations" and "attacks" of the
Tempter, as may again be seen in the life of Christ. "Temptation" is a scheme or
a plot, or compulsion on the part of the Tempter to cause another to do evil,
whether consciously or unconsciously; but an attack is an onslaught on the
person, either in life, character, or circumstances, e.g., the devil made
an onslaught on the Lord through the villagers, when they sought to hurl Him
over the brow of the hill (Luke 4: 29); when His family brought a charge of
insanity against Him (Mark 3: 21); and when He was charged with demon possession
by His enemies (John 10: 20; Matt. 12: 24).
Temptation, moreover, means suffering, as we see again in the life of Christ,
for it is written, "He suffered being tempted" (Heb. 2: 18), and
believers must not think they will reach a period when they will not feel the
suffering of temptation, as this is a wrong conception, which gives ground to
the enemy for tormenting and attacking them without cause.
PRAYER BRINGING HIDDEN TEMPTATIONS TO LIGHT
For perpetual victory, therefore, the believer must unceasingly be on guard
against the Tempter, praying for his hidden temptations to be revealed. The
degree of understanding his working will be determined by the degree of victory
experienced, for "In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird." We have
given in preceding chapters much knowledge needed by the believer, if he is to
gain victory over every aspect of the Tempter's workings, but especially does he
require power of discrimination between what is temptation from the Tempter
working upon the uncrucified "old man"; tempting through the things of the world
(1 John 2: 15, 16; 5: 4, 5); and temptation direct from the spirits of evil.
In temptation the crucial point is for the tempted one to know whether the
temptation is the work of an evil spirit having gained access to him,note 4or from
the evil nature. This alone can be discerned by the experimental knowledge of
Romans 6 as the basis of the life. Temptation from the fallen nature should be
dealt with on the foundation of "Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6: 11), and practical
obedience to the resulting command "Let not sin reign in your mortal
body." In the hour of temptation to sin--to visible, known sin--the believer
should take his stand on Romans 6: 6, as his deliberate position of faith, and
in obedience to Romans 6: 11, declare his undeviating choice and attitude as
death to sin, in death union with Christ. If this choice is the expression of
his real will, and the temptation to sin does not cease, he should then deal
with the spirits of evil, who may be seeking to awaken sinful desires (Jas. 1:
14), or to counterfeit them.note 5For they can counterfeit the old nature in
evil desire, evil thoughts, evil words,note 6evil presentations, and many honest
believers think they are battling with the workings of the old nature, when
these things are given by evil spirits. But if the believer is not standing
actively on Romans 6, the "counterfeits" are not necessary, for the old fallen
creation is always open to be wrought upon by the powers of darkness.
VICTORY OVER SATAN AS ACCUSER
VICTORY OVER THE DEVIL AS AN ACCUSER: The difference between the accusation
of the enemy and his temptations, is that the latter is an effort on his part to
compel, or draw the man into sin; and the former is a charge of transgression.
Temptation is an effort to cause the man to transgress the law, accusation is an
effort to place the believer in the guilty position of having transgressed the
law. Evil spirits want the man to be wrong, that they may accuse and punish him
for being wrong. "Accusation" can be a counterfeit of conviction--the true
conviction of the Spirit of God. It is important that the believer should know
when the charge of transgression is made, whether it is a Divine conviction, or
a Satanic accusation.
(1) The devil may accuse when the man is truly guilty; (2) he may accuse when
the man is not guilty, and cause him to think, and believe that he is guilty;
(3) he may endeavour to pass on his accusations as a conviction, and cause the man to
think that it comes from the evil nature, when he is not guilty at all.
Evil spirits are able to infuse a sense of guilt. Sin itself comes from the
evil nature within, but it is not forced into the personality from
without, apart from the person.note 7How can the believer tell if evil
spirits are at the back of involuntary sin? If the man is right with God,
standing on Romans 6, with no deliberate yielding to known sin, then any
manifestation of sin coming back again unaccountably, may be dealt with as from
The believer must therefore never accept an accusation--or a charge,
supernaturally made, of having transgressed--unless he is fully convinced
by intelligent knowledge and clear decision that he has done so; for if he
accepts the charge when innocent, he will suffer as much as if he had really
transgressed. He must also be on guard to refuse any compulsory drive to
"confession"note 8of sin to others, which may be the forcing of the enemy to pass on
his lying accusations.
BELIEVER SHOULD MAINTAIN NEUTRALITY TO
ACCUSATIONS UNTIL SOURCE PROVED
The believer should maintain neutrality to accusations,note 9until he is sure of
their real source, and if the man knows he is guilty, he should at once go to
God on the ground of 1 John 1: 9, and refuse to be lashed by the devil, as he is
not the judge of God's children, nor is he deputed as God's messenger to make
the charge of wrong. The Holy Spirit alone is commissioned by God to convict of
The steps in the working of evil spirits in their accusations and false
charges, are these, when the believer accepts their accusations:--
(1) The believer thinks and believes he is guilty;
(2) Evil spirits cause him to feel guilty;
(3) They cause him, then, to appear guilty;
(4) They cause him then to be actually guiltynote 10through believing their
lies, it matters not whether he is guilty or not in the first instance.
Malicious spirits try to make the man feel guilty by their nagging
accusations, so as to make him act, or appear guilty before others; at the same
moment flashing, or suggesting to others the very things about which they are
accusing him, without any cause.note 11 All such "feelings" should be investigated by
the believer. Feeling wrong is not enough for a man to say he is wrong, or the
Accuser to accuse him of being wrong. The man says he "feels" wrong. He should
ask "Is the feeling right?" He may feel wrong, and be right; and "feel" right,
and be wrong. Therefore he should investigate, and examine the question
honestly, "Am I wrong?"
"FEELINGS" INJECTED BY EVIL SPIRITS
There are physical, soulish, and spiritual "feelings."note 12Evil spirits can
inject feelings into either of these departments. Their aim is to move the man
by "feelings" to substitute these for the action of his mind, so that the
believer is governed by the deceiving spirits through his feelings. Also to
substitute feelings for the consciencenote 13in its recognition of right and wrong.
If believers "feel" they can do a thing, they do it, without asking whether it
be right or wrong, if it is not visibly sinful. For victory over the deceitful
enemy, it is essential that the children of God cease to be guided by "feelings"
in their actions.
Again: If believers in any course of action "feel relief," they think
that sense of relief is a sign that they have been doing God's will. But a man
gets rest when his work is done, not only in the spiritual, but in ordinary
life. A "sense of relief" in any line of action, is no criterion that it is
in the will of God. The action must be judged by itself, and not merely by its
effects upon the doer of it. For instance, a believer says he "felt happy" after
doing such and such a thing, and that it was "a proof that he was doing the will
of God"; but peace and rest and relief are no proof at all of being in God's
will. Believers also think that if they do some action that the devil wants them to do, they will "feel
condemned" at once, but they overlook the fact that Satan can give pleasant
There are innumerable variations of feelings caused by evil spirits, from
countless attacks, and countless false suggestions, which call forth all the
spiritual discernment of the believer, and his understanding of spiritual
things, to recognize them.
NEED OF DISCERNING ACCUSATION FROM
The devil as a Tempter very quickly becomes the Accuser, even if he does not
succeed in getting the man to yield to his temptations. As we have seen,
deceiving spirits can cause apparent "sin" to be manifested to the consciousness
of a believer, and then lash and accuse the man for their own workings. They
counterfeit some sin, which may be called with sadness, "my besetting sin,"note 15 in
the believer's life; and as long as it is believed to be sin from the evil
nature, no "confessing" or seeking victory over it, will cause it to pass
away. They can also hide behind real sin.
A sense of guiltlessness does not necessarily lead to absolute happiness, for
even with the peace of conscious innocence there may be suffering, and the
suffering have its source in some sin which is not known.note 16 Walking by known
light, and measuring his guiltlessness by his knowledge of known sin, is very
dangerous to him who desires a fathomless peace, for it leads only to
superficial rest, which may be disturbed at any moment by the attacks of the
Accuser, who directs his darts to a joint in the armour of peace, hidden from
the believer's view.
For obtaining victory over the Deceiver's accusing spirits, spiritual
believers should, therefore, understand clearly whether any consciousness of
sin, is the result of real transgression, or is caused by evil spirits.note 17If
the believer accepts the consciousness of sin, as from himself, when it is not,
he at once leaves his position of death to sin, and reckons himself alive to it.
This explains why many who have truly known victory over sin by the "reckon" of
Romans 6: 11, surrender their basis, and lose the position of victory; because
the Accuser has counterfeited some manifestation of "self" or "sin," and then
accused the man of it, with the taunt that " Romans 6 does not work," and by
this device made him surrender his basis of victory, causing him to fall into
confusion, and condemnation, as into a pit of miry clay and darkness.
NEED OF UNFLINCHING WARFARE AGAINST SIN
On the other hand, if the believer in the slightest degree is tempted to
treat sin lightly, or attribute it to evil spirits when it is from himself, he
is equally on false ground, and lays himself open to the old fallen nature
regaining mastery over him with redoubled force. The warfare against Satan must
be accompanied with a vigorous, unflinching warfare against sin. Any known sin
must not be tolerated for a moment. Whether it be from the fallen nature, or
from evil spirits forcing it into the man, it MUST BE CAST OFF AND PUT AWAY; on
the basis of Rom. 6: 6 and 12.note 18
Two misconceptions which give great advantage to the watching enemy are the
thoughts in many believers' minds, that if a Christian commits sin he will at
once (1) know it himself, or (2) that God will tell him. They, therefore, expect
God to tell them when they are right or wrong, instead of seeking light and
knowledge according to John 3: 21.
Believers seeking victory over all the deceptions of the enemy, must take an
active part in dealing with sin. Based upon a wrong conception of "death" they
may have thought that God would remove sin out of their lives for them, with the
result that they have failed to actively co-work with Him in dealing with evil,
within and in their environment, in others and in the world.
For a life of perpetual victory over Satan as Accuser, it is very important
that the believer should understand, and detect any inconsistency between the
attitude of the will and the actions in his life. He should read himself
from his actions as well as from his will and motives. For instance, a
person is charged with doing a certain thing, which he at once denies, because
the action does not agree with his will-attitude, and therefore, he says,
it is impossible that he should have acted or spoken in the way stated. The
believer judges himself by his own inner standpoint of will and motives, and not
by his actions as well as his will. (1 Cor. 11: 31).
On the Godward side the cleansing power of the Blood of Christ is needed (1
John 1:7) continuously for those who seek to walk in the light, cleansing
themselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the
fear of God. (2 Cor. 7: 1).
The devil as an Accuser also works indirectly through others, inciting them
to make accusations which he wants the man to accept as true, and thus open the
door to him to make them true; or he accuses the believer to others by "visions"
or "revelations" about him, which causes them to misjudge him.note 19 In any case,
whatever may come to the believer from man or devil, LET HIM MAKE USE OF IT FOR
PRAYER, and by prayer turn all accusations into steps to victory.
VICTORY OVER SATAN AS A LIAR
VICTORY OVER THE DEVIL AS A LIAR (John 8: 44): "He was a murderer from the
beginning, and stood not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he
speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father
thereof." This does not mean that the enemy never tells the truth, but his truth
has the objective of getting the believer involved in evil; e.g., when
the spirit of divination spoke the truth, that Paul and Silas were the servants
of God, it was to suggest the lie that Paul and Silas derived their power from the same source as the girl under the evil
spirit's power. The devil and his wicked spirits will speak, or use, ninety-nine
parts of truth to float one lie, but Paul was not deceived by the witness of a
soothsaying prophetess acknowledging their divine authority. He discerned the
wicked spirit and its purpose, exposed it, and cast it out.
Even so must the believer be able to triumph over Satan as a liar, and be
able to recognize his lies, and those of lying spirits, in whatever form they
are presented to him. This he does by knowing the truth, and using the weapon of
VICTORY OVER FALSEHOOD BY TRUTH
There is no way of victory over falsehood but by truth. To have victory over
the devil as a liar, and over his lies, the believer must be determined always
to know the truth, and speak the truth about everything, in himself, in others,
and around him.
Satan the liar, through his lying spirits, persistently pours lies on the
believer all day long; lies into his thoughts about himself, his feelings, his
condition, his environment; lies misinterpreting everything in himself, and
around him; about others with whom he is in contact; lies about the past and the
future; lies about God; and lies about himself, magnifying his power and his
authority. To have victory over this persistent stream of lies from the father
of lies,note 20the believer must fight (1) with the weapon of God's truth in the
written Word, and (2) truth about facts in himself, others and circumstances.
How persistently to "refuse" all lies from the Liar, and his emissaries, is
explained in other parts of this book. As the believer increasingly triumphs
over the devil as a liar, he grows better able to discern his lies, and equipped
to strip away the covering for others.
VICTORY OVER SATAN AS A COUNTERFEITER
VICTORY OVER THE DEVIL AS A COUNTERFEMR, OR FALSE "ANGEL OF LIGHT":
"Even Satan himself fashioneth himself into an angel of light," and his
"ministers" ("false apostles, deceitful workers," 2 Cor. 11: 13) also fashion
themselves as "ministers of righteousness" (2 Cor. 11: 14-15). This aspect of
victory over Satan runs on the same lines as the preceding ones; i.e., by
the knowledge of truth, enabling the believer to recognize the lies of Satan,
when he presents himself under the guise of light.
Light is the very nature of God Himself. To recognize darkness when clothed
in light-supernatural light--needs deep knowledge of the true light, and a power
to discern the innermost sources of things that in appearance look God-like and
beautiful. How the Adversary counterfeits the very light of God, so as to appear
as God, has been already set forth in Chapter 6. The main attitude for this
aspect of victory over the Adversary, is a settled position of neutrality to all
supernatural workings, until the believer knows what is of God. If any
experience is accepted without question, how can its Divine origin be
guaranteed? The basis of acceptance or rejection must be knowledge. The believer
must know, and he cannot know without examination, nor will he "examine" unless
he maintains the attitude of "Believe not every spirit" until he has "tested"
and proved what is of God.note 21
VICTORY OVER SATAN AS A HINDERER
VICTORY OVER THE DEVIL As HINDERER: "We would fain have come unto you . . .
but Satan hindered us" (1 Thess. 2: 18), wrote Paul, who was able to discern
between the hindering of Satan, and the restraining of the Holy Spirit of God
(Acts 16: 6). This again means knowledge, and power to discern Satan's workings
and Schemings, and the obstacles he places in the paths of the children of God;
obstacles which look so "natural," and so like "Providence," that numbers meekly bow their heads and allow the
Hinderer to prevail.
Power to discern comes (1) by knowledge that Satan can hinder; (2) by
observing the objective of the hindrances, and (3) close observation of his
methods along this line; e.g., is it God or Satan withholding money from
missioners preaching the Gospel of Calvary, and giving abundance to those who
preach error, and teachings which are the outcome of the spirit of anti-
Is it God or Satan hindering a believer by "circumstances," or, "sickness,"
from vital service important to the Church of God? Is it God or Satan urging a
family to remove their residence, without reasonable grounds, to another
neighbourhood, when it involves the removal of another member from a strategic
vantage ground of service to God, with no other worker to take his place? Is it
God or Satan leading Christians to put first their (1) health, (2) comfort, (3)
social position, in their decisions, rather than the needs and the exigencies of
the kingdom of God? Is it God or Satan who "hinders" service for God through
members of a family making objections; or troubles in business which give no
time for such service; or through property losses, etc.? Knowledge of the
Hinderer, means victory by prayer over his schemes, and workings. The believer
should therefore know his wiles.
VICTORY OVER SATAN AS MURDERER
VICTORY OVER THE DEVIL AS A MURDERER (John 8: 44): Satan as the prince of
death watches every occasion to take the life of the servants of God, if in any
wise he can get them to fulfil conditions which enable him to do so. (1) By
their willful insistence on going into danger without being sent of God; (2) by
trapping them into danger through visions, or supernatural guidance, drawing
them into actions which enable him to work behind the laws of nature for
destroying their lives. This is what Satan tried to do with Christ in the
wilderness temptation: "Throw Thyself down," he said; then quoting Scripture to
show that the Lord had Scriptural warrant for believing that angel hands would
bear Him up (Luke 4: 11), and not allow Him to fall. But the Son of God
recognized the Tempter and the Murderer. He knew that His life would end as a
Man, were He to give occasion to the malignant hate of Satan, by one step out of
God's will; and that the Deceiver would not propose anything, however apparently
innocent, or seemingly for God's glory, unless some great scheme for his own
ends was deeply hidden in his proposition.
Christ now holds the "keys of death and of Hades" (Rev. 1: 18), and "him that
hath the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb. 2: I4, R.V., m.), cannot
exercise his power WITHOUT PERMISSION, but when the children of God, knowingly
or unknowingly, fulfil the conditions which give Satan ground to attack their
physical lives, the Lord with "the keys of death" works according to law, and
does not save them, UNLESS BY THE WEAPON OF PRAYER they enable God to interpose,
and give them victory over the law of death, as well as the law of sin, through
"the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" (Rom. 8: 2).
"The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." Death is therefore an
enemy; to be recognized as an enemy; and to be resisted as an enemy. The
believer may lawfully "desire to depart and be with Christ" (Phil. 1: 23), but
never to desire death merely as an end of "trouble," or to allow the lawful
desire to be "with Christ," make him YIELD TO DEATH WHEN HE IS NEEDED FOR THE
SERVICE OF THE CHURCH OF GOD. "To abide in the flesh is needful for you," wrote
the Apostle to the Philippians, therefore "I know that I shall abide"
(Phil. 1: 24-25).
BELIEVERS SHOULD RESIST DEATH AS AN ENEMY
The will of the believer "will"-ing physical death, gives the Adversary power
of death over that one, and no believer should yield to a "desire to die" until
he knows beyond question that God has released him from further service to His
people. That a believer is "ready to die" is a very small matter; he must be
ready to live, until he is sure that his life work is finished. God does not
harvest His corn until it is ripe, and His redeemed children should be "garnered
as a shock of corn in its season."
It is ofttimes the prince of death as a Murderer, working through the
ignorance of God's children, (1) as to his power, (2) the conditions by which
they give him power, and (3) the victory of prayer by which they resist his
power, who cuts off God's soldiers from the battlefield. It is Satan as a
Murderer, who gives "visions of glory," "longings to die," to workers of value
to the Church of God, so that they yield to death, even in days of active
service, and slowly fade away.
Believers who would have victory over Satan at every point, must resist his
attack on the body, as well as on the spirit and mind. They must seek knowledge
of God's laws for the body, so as to obey those laws, and give no occasion to
Satan to slay them. They should know the place of the body in the spiritual
life; (1) its prominence, and yet (2) its obscurity. Paul said, "I keep under my
body." They must understand that the more knowledge they have of the devices and
power of the Adversary, and of the fullness of the Calvary victory within their
reach for complete victory over him, the more he will plan to injure them. The
whole of his schemes against God's children may be summed up under three heads:
(1) To cause them to sin, as he tempted Christ in the wilderness; (2) To
slander them, as Christ was slandered by family and foes; (3) To slay
them, as Christ was slain at Calvary, when, by the direct permission of God,
the hour and power of darkness gathered around Him, and He by the hands of
wicked men was crucified and slain (Acts 2: 23).
As the believer gains victories over Satan, and his deceiving and lying
spirits, by thus recognizing, resisting and triumphing over them in their varied
workings, his strength of spirit to conquer them grows stronger; and he will
become more and more equipped to give the truth of the finished work of Calvary
as sufficient for victory over sin and Satan; in the power and authority of
Christ by the Holy Spirit; which will set others free from their power.
CONFLICT AND ATTACK
It will, of course, be clearly recognized that victory over Satan in these
aspects will not be without great onslaughts from him and sharp conflict, which
may well be called "the evil day" (Eph. 6: 13). In these attacks and conflicts
there are some points which need to be understood. First, that it is always
essential to know whether the attack and conflict are because of ground in
oneself or others. For one reason why believers get attacks, and do not get
through the conflict into victory, is because the cause of the attack and
conflict lies in themselves.
POSSIBLE FRESH GROUND
The believer must understand that although he has been delivered from the
deception and possession he fell into, yet in the succeeding life of aggressive
warfare against the powers of darkness, he may again give fresh ground to the
enemy through lack of knowledge, by accepting some lie from lying spirits, or by
taking their misinterpretations of experiences, conditions, etc. For it must
never be forgotten that wrong interpretation of any experience gives new ground
to them,note 22GROUND BEING ANYTHING IN A PERS0N WHEREBY EVIL SPIRITS GAIN. The
believer may attribute the attack and conflict to a wrong cause, i.e.,
(1) to an outside cause, or (2) to the maliciousness of the devil, or (3) to
"local" conflict; meaning the enemy's workings around him in his environment, or
When attacks and conflict come, lest he should give fresh ground to the
enemy, the believer must know why they come, and in prayer ask God for light. In
attacks, two or more may be in action simultaneously, therefore he should at
once set himself to understand, and watch and observe all the workings of the
enemy in the new conflict, or anything that will throw light on the situation,
and show him what to refuse, and how to pray.
POSSIBLE WRONG WEAPONS
When there is ground, or the cause of the conflict or attack is in the
believer himself, if he takes the attack pure conflict, i.e., as part of
warfare for the Church, he will fight with the wrong weapons, and not get
through to victory until the true cause is discovered, and the ground given up,
and refused. For what is thought to be an "attack" from outside, may be a
symptom, or manifestation of an evil spirit inside, who has regained a footing
unknown to the believer, or has remained in some hidden location, when thought
to have wholly gone. When the believer, therefore, finds himself in conflict, he
should at once question "Is there ground?" in the following three aspects of the
evil spirit's workings:--
(1) In attacks. Is there ground, or is it purely an attack?
(2) In conflict. Is there ground, or is it pure conflict?
(3) In communication, (i.e., suggestions, thoughts, whisperings of the
enemy). "Is there ground?" or is it purely from outside, as Satan communicated
with Eve ?
The believer should then declare his attitude in the three cases, as follows:
"I refuse all ground, and the cause or causes of it!"
The last word spoken, alters, ratifies, or nullifiesnote 23previous ones; for
instance, the believer may "refuse" in the present moment, what may be the
product through evil spirits' workings of something he asked for in the past. He
may say, "Although I asked for, believed in, and accepted such and such a thing
in the past, I now refuse it." His present refusal nullifies his previous
THE VALUE AND PURPOSE OF "REFUSING."
THE PRINCIPLE EMBODIED IN REFUSING: It is essential that believers should
understand the value of the act of refusal, and the expression of it. Briefly:
REFUSAL IS THE OPPOSITE OF ACCEPTANCE. Evil spirits have gained by the believer
giving them (1) ground, (2) right of way, (3) use of their faculties, etc., and
they lose when this is all withdrawn from them. What was given to the enemy by
misconception and ignorance, and given with the consent of the will,note 24stands as ground for them to work on and through; until, by the
same action of the will, the "giving" is revoked,note 25specifically and generally.
The will in the past was unknowingly put for evil, and it must now be put
unceasingly against it.
Once understood, the principle is very simple. The choice of the will gives:
the choice of the will withdraws or nullifies the previous giving. The value and
purpose of refusing stands the same toward God and toward Satan.note 26 The man gives
to God, or refuses to give. He takes from God, or refuses to take. He gives to
evil spirits--unknowingly or not--and he refuses to give. He finds he has given
to them unwittingly, and he nullifies it by an act of withdrawal and
THE RELATION OF FRESH GROUND GIVEN, TO THE
VICTORY IN CONFLICT
The relation to the aggressive warfare of freshly discovered "ground" given
to deceiving spirits, is, that every new ground, discovered as given to them,
and refused, means a renewed liberation of the spirit, with an access of
deepened enmity to the foe as his subtle deceptions are increasingly exposed,
and consequently more war upon Satan and his minions. It means more deliverance
from their power, and less footing for their possession, or ground in the
believer as he realizes that "symptoms," "effects," and "manifestations"
are not abstract "things," but revelations of active personal agencies against
whom he must war persistently.
Moreover all growth in experimental knowledge means increased protection
against the deceiving enemy. As new ground is revealed, and fresh truth about
the powers of darkness, and the way of victory over them, is understood, the
truth delivers from their deceptions, and hence protects the believer up to the
extent of his knowledge, from further deception; and he finds in experience that
directly the truth ceases to operate by the believer's active use of it, he is open to attack from the watching foe, who ceaselessly
plans against him. For example, let the believer who has been undeceived and
dispossessed cease to use the truth, of (1) the existence of evil spirits; (2)
their persistent watching to deceive him again; (3) the need of perpetual
resistance and fight against them; (4) the keeping of his spirit in purity and
strength in co-operation with the Spirit of God; and other truths parallel with
these--the knowledge of which he has gained through so much suffering--he will
sink down again into passivity,note 27and possibly deeper depths of deception. For
the Holy Spirit NEEDS THE BELIEVER'S USE OF TRUTH to work with in energizing and
strengthening him for conflict and victory, and does not guard him from the
enemy apart from his co-operation in watching and prayer.
PERSISTENT REFUSAL OF GROUND TO EVIL SPIRITS
The way to refuse,note 28and what to refuse, is of primary importance in the hour
of conflict. As we have seen, the believer needs to maintain an active attitude,
and, when necessary, expression of refusal continually and persistently, this
pre-supposing the man standing in faith upon the foundation of his
identification in death with Christ at Calvary.note 29
In the hour of conflict, lest there should have been new ground given to evil
spirits unknowingly, by accepting something from them, or believing some lie
they have d to the mind, the believer should refuse all the things whereby they
may have gained a new footing; the conflict, or attack, immediately passing away
or ceasing, directly the means by which the enemy has regained ground is dealt
The believer himself will know, from his past experience, most of the ways by
which the deceiving spirits have hitherto gained advantage over him; and he will
instinctively turn to the points of refusal which have been of the most service to him in his fight to freedom. The refusing in this way takes
ground from them in many directions. The widest scope covered by the act and
attitude of refusal, the more thoroughly is the believer separating himself, BY
HIS CHOICE, from the deceiving spirits, who can only hold their ground by the
consentnote 30of his will. By refusing all he once accepted from themnote 31he can become
comparatively clear of ground to them, so far as his choice and attitude is
REFUSAL AN AGGRESSIVE WEAPON IN CONFLICT
In the hour of conflict, when the forces of darkness are pressing upon the
believer, the expression of his active refusal becomes an aggressive warfare
upon them, as well as a defensive weapon. It is then as though the will at the
centre of " Mansoul, " instead of sinking down in fear and despair when the
enemy assaults the city, issues forth in aggressive resistance against the foe,
by declaring its attitude against him. The battle turns upon the choice of the
will in the citadel being maintained, in unshaken refusal to yield to, or admit
any one of the attacking spirits of evil. The whole power of God, by the Holy
Spirit, will be at the back of the active resistance of the man in his attitude
of refusal to the enemy.
It is important to understand the effectiveness of this refusal of the will,
on the part of the undeceived believer, as a barrier against the foe, because
the outer man, in "feelings, " and nervous system, bears the scars long after
his deliverance from the pit of deception into which he has been beguiled. When
once the wall of the outer man has been broken into by supernatural forces of
evil, it is not quickly rebuilt so that they cease to have any effect upon it in
times of severe conflict. Believers who are emerging from deception and
possession, should therefore know the power of an aggressive turning upon the
enemy in the moment of his attacking them, with an active expression of their choice and will in regard to him. In such a way
the aggressive becomes a defensive action. The believer in conflict may say with
"I refuse all the authority of evil spirits over me: their right to me: their
claims upon me: their power in me: their influence in or upon me . . ."note 32
The same weapon of refusing works in many phases of the conflict; for
example, in speaking or writing, if the believer is conscious of difficulties,
obstacles, or interference in what be is doing, he should at once refuse all
ideas, thoughts, suggestions, visions (i.e., pictures to the mindnote 33
words, impressions, the spirits of evil may be seeking to insert, or press upon
him, so that he may be able to co-operate with the Holy Spirit, and have a
clarified mind for the carrying out of His will.
That is, the believer by his refusal, and resistance of all supernatural
attempts to interfere with his outer man; is actively to resist the powers of
darkness, whilst he seeks to co-work with the Holy Spirit within his spirit. At
first this means much conflict, but as he maintains active resistance, and
increasingly closes his whole being to the spirits of evil, and is on the alert
to recognize, and refuse their workings, his union with the Risen Lord deepens,
his spirit grows strong, his vision pure, his mental faculties clear to realize
a perpetual victory over the foes who once had him in their power.note 34
Especially is he on guard against, what may be described as, the "double
counterfeits" of the deceiving spirits. That is, the counterfeits by the enemy
in connection with attacks upon himself. For example, the devil attacks him
manifestly and visibly, so that he clearly knows it to be an onslaught of the
spirit beings of evil. He prays, resists, gets through to victory in his will
and spirit. Then comes a great "feeling" of peace, and rest, which may be as
much an "attack" as the onslaught, but more subtle and liable to mislead the
believer if he is not on guard. The enemy suddenly retreating and ceasing the furious attack, hopes to gain the
advantage by the second which he failed to obtain in the first.
FIGHTING FROM PRINCIPLE
It is essential to understand how to "fight," so to speak, "in cold blood";
i.e., wholly apart from feelings of any kind; for the believer may
"feel" it is "victory" when it is defeat, and vice versa. All
dependence upon feeling, and acting from "impulse" must be put aside in this
warfare. Before the man received the Baptism of the Spirit, he acted from
principle in the natural realm, and he must now come back to that same position
as a spiritual man. Some can only recognize "conflict" when they are conscious
of it, so to speak; they fight spasmodically, or by accident, when forced to it
by necessity; but now the "fight" must be permanent and part of the very life.
There is a ceaseless recognition of the forces of darkness in "cold blood,"
because of knowledge of what they are, and a consequent "fight" from principle.
A fight against the unseen foes when there is nothing to be seen of their
presence, or workings, remembering that they do not always attack when they
can,note 35i.e., if they were to attack on some occasions, they would lose by
it, because it would reveal the character of the thing and the source.
The believer knows that the devil, as a Tempter, is always tempting, and
therefore, he resists from principle. In brief, he who desires perpetual
victory, must understand that it is a question of principle versus feeling,note 36and
consciousness. It can only be intermittent victory if the warfare is governed by
the latter rather than the former. For instance, when the enemy attacks the
believer, he will find a strong, primary weapon of victory in declaring
deliberately, his basic position toward sin and Satan, as standing on the
Calvary ground of Rom. 6: 6-11. The man reckoning himself in the present moment
"dead indeed unto sin, and alive unto God," refuses to yield to sin and Satan, in any, or all of the points, or cause, or causes, of the
attack or conflict.
As the believer thus declares his position in the hour of conflict and
onslaught from the foe, he will often find himself obliged to wrestle in real
combat with the invisible enemy. Standing on the finished work of Christ in
death to sin, the spirit of the man becomes liberated for action, and energized
to stand against the hierarchic hosts of Satan, the principalities and powers,
the world-rulers of the darkness and the hosts of wicked spirits in the heavenly
(or spiritual) sphere.
WRESTLING AND WHAT IT MEANS
It is only possible to wrestle against the powers of darkness, by the spirit.
It is a spiritual warfare, and can only be understood by the spiritual
man, that is, a man who lives by and is governed by his spirit.note 37 Evil spirits
attack, wrestle with, and resist the believer.note 38 Therefore he must fight them,
wrestle with them, and resist them. This wrestling is not with soul or body, but
with the spirit; for the lesser cannot wrestle with the higher. Body wrestles
with body in the physical realm; in the intellectual, soul with soul; and in the
spiritual, spirit with spirit. But the powers of darknessnote 39 attack the three-
fold nature of man, and through body or soul seek to reach the spirit of man. If
the fight is a mental one, the will should be used in decisive action, quietly
and steadily. If it is a spirit fight, all the forces of the spirit should be
brought to join the mind. If the spirit is pressed down and unable to resist,note 40
then there should be a steady mental fight when the mind, as it were, stretches
out its hand to lift up the spirit.
The objective of evil spirits is to get the spirit down, and thus render the
believer powerless to take the aggressive against them; or else they seek to
push the spirit beyond its due poise and measure, into an effervescence which carries the
believer beyond the control of his volition and mind, and hence off guard
against the subtle foe; or incapable of exercising due balance of speech,
action, thought, discrimination,note 41 so that under cover they may regain ground,
or some advantage for themselves. A GREAT VICTORY MEANS GREAT DANGER, because
when the believer is occupied with it, the devil is scheming how to rob him of
it. The hour of victory therefore calls for soberness of mind, and watching unto
prayer, for a little over-elation may mean its loss and a long sore fight back
to full victory.
When the spirit triumphs in the wrestling and gains the victory, there breaks
out, as it were, a stream from the spirit, of triumph and resistance against the
invisible, but very real foe; but sometimes in the conflict the enemy succeeds
in blocking the spirit through his attack on body or soul.
The spirit needs soul and body for expression, hence the enemy's attacks to
close the spirit up,note 42 so as to render the man unable to act in resistance
against him. When this takes place the believer thinks that he is "reserved,"
because he feels "shut up"; or he has "no voice to refuse"; in audible prayer
the "words seem empty," he "feels no effect," it seems a "mockery," but in truth
it is that the spirit is closing up through the wrestling enemy gripping,
holding and binding it. The believer must now insist on EXPRESSING HIMSELF IN
VOICE, until the spirit breaks through into liberty. This is "the word of
testimony" which is said, in Rev. 12: 11, to be part of the overcoming power
over the dragon. The wrestling believer stands on the (1) ground of the Blood of
the Lamb, which includes all that the finished work of Calvary means in victory
over sin and Satan; he (2) gives the word of his testimony in affirming his
attitude to sin and Satan, and the sure, certain victory through Christ; and (3) he lives in the Calvary spirit, with his life surrendered to do the
will of God, even unto death.
PRAYER AND PERSONAL CONFLICT
Closely bound up with the wrestling of the spirit is the necessity of prayer.
Not so much the prayer of petition to a Father, as the prayer of one joined in
Spirit with the Son of God, with the will fused with His,note 43 declaring to the
enemy the authority of Christ over all their power (Ephes. 1: 20-23).
Sometimes the believer has to "wrestle" in order to pray; at other times to
pray in order to wrestle. If he cannot "fight" he must pray, and if he cannot
pray he must "fight. " For example, if the believer is conscious of a weightnote 44
on his spirit, he must get rid of the weight by refusing all the "causes" of the
weight; for it is necessary to keep the spirit unburdened to fight, and to
retain power of detection. The delicate spirit-sense becomes dull under
"weights,"note 45 or pressure upon it, hence the enemy's ceaseless tactics to get
"burdens" or pressure on the spirit, unrecognized as from the foe, or else
recognized and allowed to remain.
The man may feel "bound up" and the cause be in others, i.e. (1) no
open spirit or open mind in another to receive from the spirit and mind of the
one who feels bound up; (2) no capacity in the other to receive any message of
truth; (3) some thought in the mind of the other, checking the flow from the
If in the morning the believer finds a "weight" or heaviness on his spirit,
and it is undealt with, he is sure to lose the position of victory through the
day. In dealing with weight on the spirit, the moment it is recognized, the
believer must at once act in spirit, and (1) stand (Eph. 6: 14); (2) withstand
(Eph. 6: 13); and resist (Jas. 4:7) the powers of darkness. Each of these
positions means spirit-action, for these words do not describe a "state," or an
"attitude" (which is mainly an attitude of the will), or an act by soul or
To "stand" is a spirit-action repelling an aggressive move of the enemy; to
"withstand" is to make an aggressive move against them; and to "resist" is
actively to fight with the spirit, as a man "resists" with his body another who
is physically attacking him.
THE WILES OF THE DEVIL
The word "wiles" in the original means "methods," and bears in its varied
forms, the thought of "craft," or artifice; to "work by method," to over-reach,
to outwit, to go in pursuit; also the thought of system, or a way, or a method
of doing things.
Satan's war on the saints can be summed up in the one word "Wiles of the
devil." He does not work in the open but always behind cover.note 46 The methods of
the deceiving spirits are adapted to each one, with a skill and cunning gained
by years of experience. Generally the wiles are primarily directed against the
mind, or "thoughts," and apart from yielding to known sin, most of the workings
of Satan in a believer's life may be traced back to a wrong thought or belief,note 47
admitted into the mind, and not recognized to be from deceiving spirits,
e.g., if a believer only thinks and believes that all that Satan does is
manifestly bad, Satan has only to clothe himself with "good" to gain full
credence with that man. The war, therefore, is a war of deceit and counterfeit,
and only those can stand against all the wiles of the deceiver, who seek the
fullest truth from God, about God, Satan and themselves.
KNOWING THE WILES OF THE DEVIL
The Apostle said that the believer was to be able to stand against the wiles
of the devil, and that he was to put on the whole armour for doing this. How can
a man stand against a wile, if he does not know what the wile is? There is a
difference between temptation and wiles; between the principles, and working of
Satan and his emissaries, and their wiles; i.e., they themselves are tempters. Temptation is not a wile. A wile is the way they scheme to tempt.
Paul did not say that the believer must stand against "temptations" or lies, or
mention any other specific characteristic of evil spirits; but he must be "able
to stand" against their wiles. The spiritual man is to be on guard lest he is
caught by their wiles. If they can be detected, then their objective can be
frustrated and destroyed. The spiritual man needs the fullest concentration, and
sagacity of mind for reading quickly his spirit sense, and detecting the active
operations of the foe; he also requires alertness in using the message his
spirit conveys to him. A spiritual believer ought to be able to read the sense
of his spirit,note 48 with the same instinctive adroitness, as a person recognizes
the physical sense of cold, when he feels a draught, and immediately uses his
mental intelligence for actively protecting himself from it.note 49 So the spiritual
man needs to use his spirit sense in locating and dislodging the foe by
Again, an "objective" and a "wile" are quite distinct. The wile is a means
used by the foe to gain an objective. The evil spirits must use "wiles" to
carry out their objective. Their objective is possession, but their "wiles" will
be counterfeits. They are liars, but how can they succeed in getting their lies
into the mind of a man? They do not need wiles to make themselves liars, but
they need the wile to get the lie accepted by the believer.
The wiles of the devil and his emissaries are countless, and fitted to the
believer.note 50 If he is to be moved by suffering from any course of action
detrimental to their interests, they will play upon his sympathies by the
suffering they cause to one near and dear to him; or if he shrinks from
suffering in himself, they will work upon this to make him change his course. To
those who are naturally sympathetic, they will use the counterfeit of love;
those who can be attracted by intellectual things will be drawn from the
spiritual sphere by being driven to over study, or be given mental attractions
of many kinds. Whilst others, who are over sensitive and conscientious, may be constantly charged with
blame for apparently continuous failure. The lying spirits lash the person for
what they themselves do,note 51 but if the believer understands how to refuse all
blame from them, he can use their very doings as a weapon against them.
THE ARMOUR FOR THE CONFLICT
For this conflict with the powers of darkness the believer must learn
experimentally how to take and use the armour for the battle, described by the
apostle in Ephes. 6. The objective in Ephesians 6 is clearly not victory over
sin--this is assumed--but VICTORY OVER SATAN. The call is not to the world, but
to the Church. A call to stand in armour; to stand in the evil day; to stand
against the powers of darkness; to stand after accomplishing the work of
overthrowing them--"having overcome all," verse 13, A.V. m.--by the strength
given of God.
The armour in detail, as set forth in Ephes. 6 is provided that the child of
God should be "ABLE to stand" against the wiles of the devil; clearly showing
that a believer can be made able to conquer all the principalities and powers of
hell, if he fulfils the necessary conditions, and uses the armour provided for
It must be a REAL ARMOUR if it is provided for meeting a REAL FOE, and it
must demand a REAL KNOWLEDGE of it on the part of the believer; to whom the FACT
of the provision, the FACT of the foe, and the FACT of the fight, must be as
REAL FACTS as any other facts declared in the Scriptures. The armoured and non-
armoured believer may be briefly contrasted as follows:
|The armoured Christian.
||The non-armoured Christian
|Armoured with truth.
||Open to lies, through ignorance.
|Righteousness of life.
||Unrighteousness through ignorance.
|Making and keeping peace.
||Divisions and quarrels.
|Self-preservationnote 52and control.
|Faith as a shield.
||Doubt and unbelief.
|Scriptures in the hand.
||Relying on reason instead God's Word.
|Prayer without ceasing.
||Relying on work without prayer.
The believer who takes up the whole armour of God as a covering and
protection against the foe, must himself walk in victory over the enemy. He must
have (1) his spirit indwelt by the Holy Spirit, so that he is strengthened with
the might of God to stand unshaken; and be given continuously a "supply of the
Spirit of Jesus" to keep his spirit sweet and pure; (2) his mind renewed (Rom.
12: 2) so that he has his understanding filled with the light of truth (Eph. 1:
18) displacing Satan's lies, and destroying the veil with which Satan once held
it; the mind clarified so that he intelligently understands what the will of the
Lord is; (3) his body subservient to the Spirit (1 Cor. 9: 25), and obedient to
the will of God in life and service.
Contents | Return to Chapter 9 | Next