This is not a treatise on demon-possession, although
reference will be made to the unhappy reality.
At one point we have said that, in the Fall, the
powers of evil entered into alliance with the soul of man
by his complicity with Satan. Then we have sought to show
how those powers of evil take full advantage of any undue
projecting of the soul in order that they may further the
interests of Satan's false kingdom. We have also, on the
other hand, also to make it clear that the innermost
reality of new birth and spiritual union with God is
something much deeper than the soul and all soul-sense.
It is this, for one thing, that we now wish to follow up
a little more closely.
First of all we must refer to that very real and
painful experience into which many—even of God's
children—pass by reason of physical and mental
injury. There is the 'nervous breakdown', and there is
neurasthenia; there is anaemia, and blood-pressure. Not
invariably, but more often than not, these maladies are
made an occasion for the enemy to make cruel assaults.
There is the terrific sense of—is it too strong to
say?—devilishness within. The most wicked
person alive could not be more wicked than such sufferers
feel and believe themselves to be at times. Not only do
they feel this, but at times they speak and act out of
harmony with a truly Christlike disposition. Then, with
one of these maladies at least, there is an extra factor;
it is that of secondary personality—the sense of
another presence as being in the immediate offing. We
need not enlarge upon this. Many, sadly enough, know all
about it; and if any who read this have no experience of
this kind or with such sufferers, let them thank God, but
not pass hasty judgment. Then what of that fact,
which it is not pleasant to mention, but has to be
recognized—the drive to self-destruction, which,
alas, has not always been overcome? We cannot
say with truth that these are conditions which lie
outside of the experience of true children of God. We
have known the most godly and saintly to suffer thus.
Well, in the first place, the soul is the soul and the
stark reality is that it has these possibilities,
capabilities, and tendencies bound up with it. At such
times, and in such conditions, when the helpfulness of
good health and a balanced physical system is no longer
present, we see what is possible to any mortal
under the same conditions. This is only a matter of the
degrees in which a basic fact is manifested. Much can be
done to relieve this condition and produce amiability and
a more happy frame by physical readjustment and renewal,
but good health with its attendant good demeanour never
was saintliness in its essential nature. A man is not
made really more Christlike in his nature by
being relieved of certain nervous and mental
aggravations, pressures, or sicknesses. Perhaps the
greatest value of such relief is that he loses the
melancholic beliefs about his spiritual state. But
what we may believe about ourselves under certain
conditions, and what is actually the truth, may still be
worlds apart. Satan has led many children of God to
extremes of despair, and even to self-injury, by the lie
that their own soul-life is the criterion; whereas, for
the child of God, Christ is the criterion. Be
the most self-assured, self-complacent, self-possessed,
self-composed person imaginable, and you are not
necessarily therefore a child of God. Be the most
pressed, harassed, tortured, devil-assailed person
possible, but this need not alter the fact that you are
a child of God.
Demon Domination and Demon
But before we go further with this there is another
aspect of the matter to note. There is a difference
between demon domination and demon possession.
This difference might be the salvation of many if they
recognize it in time. It is far from our thought or
intention to imply by anything that we have said that all
men by nature are demon-possessed. An alliance is not a
possession, and it need not be domination in the full
sense No two allied nations would agree to that. But we
are now going further than just alliance, while stopping
short of the possession. There are those who, because of
a strength of soul-life being on any of its
sides—reason, emotion or will—become deceived
and dominated by the evil spiritual forces. In time they
show signs of something extra to human wit and
perception. They develop an uncanny power of mind in
giving interpretations and explanations. These are often
unanswerable along ordinary lines of reasoning. But of
course, this acuteness of mind is always in support of
their own course, and it is so deeply and terrifically
set in their conviction of right that even their course
cuts right across the precise Word of God they either do
not see it or will not have it. Other symptoms also show
themselves, in looks, conduct and voice. Here is
domination. It is in the realm of the soul and although
it is on the high road to possession, it is still short
of that. This kind of thing can clear up without demons
being cast out, but it comes by much suffering and
Surely, this was the history of Judas Iscariot. He
will ever remain a mystery from some points of view, but
we do know that his was a progressive course. He first
allowed his own soul, or self-life, in avarice to govern
him. Then, having capitulated to it, the ever present
evil powers made their suggestion—to his gain!
Playing with fire, he became dominated by those
forces and plotted. At length—the inevitable issue
of such a course being pursued—"Satan entered
into Judas" (Luke 22:3). This is something more than
soul. An evil spirit may be allied to a soul,
but it can possess a spirit, like to like.* This
is "spiritual wickedness".
Of course evil spirits can inhabit bodies, as in the
case of the swine, but this is not in the same realm of
things as spiritual possession. The incarnation of Satan
in human life is something more than inhabiting a beast's
body, which has no spiritual basis.
Satan's supreme and final object is to capture for
possession the whole man—spirit, soul and
body. We know that the disembodied evil spirits
revolt against their condition of 'nakedness' more than
anything. Perhaps this was their penalty when they
"kept not their first estate" (Jude 1:6). Hence
came Satan's eye upon man—God's creation—and
hence his wish to sever man's spirit from God and possess
it himself. But even before this he would use it.
The Key to Spiritualism
And so we must point out that it is because man has a
spirit that he can have intercourse with fallen
spirits. We believe that this explains the whole
system of spiritism (spiritualism) and that the supposed
departed with whom spiritualists communicate are none
other than these "spiritual hosts"
impersonating the departed, whom they knew in
lifetime. Leaving the many phases of this thing in
its outworkings and issues at the end of the age, let us
note the terrible nemesis in wrecked minds and bodies;
haunted, driven, distraught, reason-bereft souls; crowded
asylums, prisons; suicides, moral and spiritual wrecks,
etc.; all because that which was given to man
specifically for union, communion and co-operation with
God, namely the spirit of man, has been used as the
medium and instrument for this demon invasion and control
of his life. The tremendous warnings and terrible
judgments associated with all kinds of
spiritism—necromancy, witches, "familiar
spirits", etc.—are because of the spirit
complicity, dalliance, consorting, with fallen spirits
whose purpose is always to capture men and women through
their spirits. This they will do even by adopting
the guise of an angel of light, and talking
religion. Strange, isn't it? that fifty years ago
men threw off the belief in the supernatural in the
Scriptures, and today they and their school so strongly
embrace spiritism. Surely this is the "working
of error" sent that they who received not the truth
for the love of it "should believe a lie:
that they all might be judged" (2 Thess 2:11,12).
It was the spiritual background of their life which
led to the destruction of the Egyptians, Cannanites,
etc., and this was spiritism in different forms. But it
was their being joined to demons that involved them.
The Deepest Reality in the
Child of God
Now, to return for a moment to the thing that is
deeper in the true child of God than all else. We have
devoted a whole book to this matter in
The Battle for Life,
but our present purpose would lack something vital if we
omitted the particular point. We must always seek to
realize that what has taken place in the new birth, that
is, the renewing of our spirit and the imparting to it of
eternal life, with the Holy Spirit and sonship, is far
deeper than all surrounding conditions and circumstances;
and far deeper than our physical or our soulical life.
Unless we hold on to that we have no ground of victory.
It is possible for a child of God to pass into great
soul-darkness, mental darkness, even to lose the reason
and have to go to a mental home; yes, and for things
worse than that in the outer life; and yet for the real
relationship with the Lord to be unbroken. These extreme
conditions may be no part of a Divine plan, but it is
true that a part of God's ways with His children in their
education is to cut off their sense-life at times. When
this happens they have nothing to prove that they are His
children: that is, nothing in all the realm of their own
human consciousness. What is left is God, His Word and
the fact that they have put their trust in Him. The real
battle of faith is joined here. Not what we are, but what
He is! Not what we feel, but His facts.
"He cannot fail, for He is God.
He cannot fail, He's pledged His word.
He cannot fail, He'll see me through;
'Tis God with Whom I have to do".
It may please God to risk being misunderstood and, to
our way of thinking, seem to contradict Himself.
The education of 'sons' is important above all
in this one respect, that they are to represent the
reversing of the unbelief, and disobedience thereby,
which led to man's spirit-separation from God. That
spirit-union has to be established without the help of
the soul, so that the soul will once more be put back
into that place from which it so forbiddenly asserted
This is the forming of Christ fully in us—that
is, in our spirit.
Spiritual Service or Warfare
Having seen that the basis of all fellowship and
cooperation with God is spiritual, in and through the
born-again spirit, we must realize that this at once
defines the real nature of our service. The background of
all cosmic conditions is spiritual. Behind the things
seen are the things unseen. The things which do appear
are not the ultimate things.
"The whole world lieth in the evil one".
There is a spiritual hierachy which, before this world
was, revolted against the equality of the Son with the
Father in the Throne, and in spite of the hurling out of
heaven and the eternal doom which followed, has been in
active revolt and antagonism to that "eternal
purpose" right through the ages. A certain judicial
hold upon this earth and the race in Adam was gained by
Satan through the consent of that first Adam through whom
the purpose of God should have been realized on this
Thus we have Paul telling the members of the Body of
Christ—the last Adam—that their warfare
"is not against flesh and blood but against the
principalities, against the powers, against the
world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual
hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (lit.
heavenlies) (Eph 6:12).
What a lot is gathered up into that inclusive phrase
"this darkness"! How much is said about it in
the Scriptures! The need for having eyes opened is ever
basic to emancipation (see Acts 26:18). The cause of all
"this darkness" is said to be "spiritual
hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies". Literally
translated the words are "the spiritualities"
or "the spirituals", meaning spiritual
beings. "Wickedness" here does not just
mean merely inherent wickedness or evil, but malignance;
"In the heavenlies" simply means inhabiting
a realm beyond the earthly; not limited to earthly
geographical localities; moving in the realm surrounding
the earth and human habitation.
"World rulers" means that these malignant
spiritual hosts are directing and governing the world
wherever the government of Christ has not been
superimposed through His Body—the spiritual Church.
"Principalities and powers" (authorities)
represent order, rank, method, system. Satan is not
omnipresent, hence he must work through an organized
dividing of the world under these principalities and
authorities, and he himself goes "to and fro in the
earth", and has his seat "here and there"
(Job 2:2; Rev 2:13 etc.).
The Apostle declares that the explanation of
situations is to be looked for in the unseen, behind the
What looks like the natural has its rise too often in
the supernatural. Man is always trying to give a
natural explanation and therefore to put things right by
natural means. But when he comes up against a
situation in which interests of the Christ of God are
involved, he is floored and beaten. Such situations
have become the commonplaces—nay, more—the
overwhelming order of the day amongst 'Christian workers'
in these days, both abroad and at home. We have no
intention of dealing with the subject at length here, but
state the fact, and remind the Lord's people especially,
that in more realms than that of Divine activity,
"What is seen hath not been made out of things which
appear" (Heb 11:3); but that multitudes of the
things in daily life which are inimical to spiritual
interests must have their explanation from behind.
Let us emphasize that this spiritual union with God in
the super-cosmic significance of the Cross of Christ
means that our supreme effectiveness is in the
spiritual realm. We who are the Divine
"spirituals" are to be energized by the Holy
Spirit to take ascendancy in Christ over the Satanic
"spirituals", and thus know something more than
mere earthly dominion. Seated together with Him "in
the heavenlies" as to our spirit we are to
learn to reign in that greater "kingdom of the
heavens" of which the earthly millennial kingdom is
only an earthly counterpart.
Again, let us affirm that all the energies of God in
our spirit are toward a corporate spiritual union with
Christ, whereby the impact of His victory and sovereignty
shall be registered among and upon the
"principalities and powers", etc., and their
domination paralysed, and ultimately destroyed.