The Spirit World
IN Colossians 1:16 we read that thrones, and dominions, and sovereignties, and authorities were created in the Son of God’s love. We may take these as the various forms of superior stations among God’s creatures, in heaven as well as on earth. They seem to differ in kind as well as in the order of their rank. It is by means of these terms that we are apprized of the so-called “angel world.” It will profit us to look at each separately to see what the Scriptures can tell us about them.
Once we see that celestial “angels” are merely messengers, we will want to know, Whose messengers are they? Who sends them? Of course, many, if not most, are messengers of God. In the writings of the Circumcision, we need not expect much light on celestial things, except as messengers from these regions come into contact with mankind. Yet even Peter gives us a fleeting glimpse of our Lord’s celestial glory, “messengers and authorities and powers being made subject to Him” (1 Peter 3:22). It is to Paul that we must look for the fullest revelation in this sphere. While John was caught away to the third earth, as detailed in the Unveiling, Paul visited the third heaven also, and he alone tells us of the heavenly side of our subject. It is striking that, at the present time, angels are not sent to us from heaven, but we meet spirit hosts in the heavens, where we belong. There is no basis whatever, in Paul’s epistles, for the idea that messengers of God are ministering to us. In contrast, Satan is called a messenger, and his human messengers are dispensers of righteousness (2 Cor.11:13-15) and splinters (2 Cor.12:7). Spirits which come into contact with men today are against us, not for us.
On earth, there are many thrones. In the Scriptures we read of the throne of David (Luke 1:32), the thrones on which the twelve apostles will rule Israel (Luke 22:30), and the thrones of the saints who will reign in the thousand years (Rev.20:4). In the future, Satan’s throne, which he will give to the wild beast, will also be down here (Rev.2:13; 13:2). In the new earth will be the throne of God and the Lambkin (Rev.22:1). In the celestial realms we read of twenty-four thrones (Rev.4:4). These are grouped around the throne of God, and doubtless are representative of all celestial rule, including that indicated by the lesser terms dominion, sovereignty and authority. So that, in the heavens, it seems that government is directed through twenty-four thrones, and through the single throne of Satan.
If we had our way, these would be called lordships, for the Greek word is just a form of this title of Christ. Perhaps masterdoms would be better yet, for that is what lord really means. It is difficult to distinguish between thrones and dominions, but everyone knows the difference between Christ’s office as King of Israel, and Lord of all. The complement of king is subject, of lord is slave. In Ephesians 6:8,9 we can see this relationship clearly if we remember that a master is one who has dominion. As a result, it is probable that this relationship obtains among the celestial hosts. It may seem strange to us to think of slavery in heaven, but how can there be masters if there are no slaves? How can there be “dominion” if there are none who are bound to obey?
In Luke 22:25 we read that “the kings of the gentiles exercise lordship over them” (AV). This has little meaning until we see that a lord is really a slave owner, and the point is that the kings not only rule over their subjects for their good, but treat them as slaves, as their own chattels for their own benefit. Christ is not only King of kings, but Lord of lords. Kings are His subjects. Masters are His slaves. He will be over every sovereignty and authority and power and dominion (Eph.1:21), for He created all (Col.1:16). The despising or repudiating of dominion will be a feature of the last days.
It is easier for us to understand the terrestrial than the celestial. Therefore, we will study the words archee and archoon as applied to things on earth before considering their application to the heavenly hosts. The word archee comes from a root denoting ORIGIN, hence is often used of time, and translated beginning. Sometimes the context alone decides whether it means beginning or sovereign. In Colossians 1:18 the Authorized Version reads, “Who is the beginning,” while the CONCORDANT VERSION has it, “Who is Sovereign,” because “Firstborn” denotes rank rather than precedence in time. The usual word for denoting this in English is chief. If idiom permitted it, we would rather speak of the chiefdoms in the heavens. Thus, in other combinations, the CONCORDANT VERSION renders it chief messenger (archangel), chief priest (high priest), Chief Shepherd (so, AV also), chief tribute collector, chief of the dining room (governor of the feast), chief of [the province of] Asia, city chiefs (rulers of the city). Besides this the element arch, chief, is hidden in such words as inaugurator (chief-leader; AV, Prince, captain, author), foreman (chief-artisan; AV, master-builder), ethnarch (nation-chief; AV, governor), centurion (hundred-chief), prefecture (on-chief; AV, province), patriarch (father-chief), tetrarch (four-chief), captain (thousand-chief; AV, captain, high captain, chief captain). This should show us that, when the Scriptures speak of chiefs in celestial regions or rather chiefdoms or sovereignties, it denotes those of superior rank, who are heads of the great mass of the heavenly hosts. In each case, one with this appellation is supreme within his own sphere.
The only instance in which archee is used of superior earthly powers is found in Luke 12:11, which reads, “they may be bringing you before synagogues and chiefs (AV, magistrates) and authorities.” Here we see two district grades of earthly rule. The synonym archoon is used of the chiefs (AV, rulers) in Israel (Matt.9:18,23; Luke 18:18;23:35; Acts 4:5, etc.) Nicodemus was such a chief (John 3:1). It is also used of the chief (AV, ruler) of the synagogue (Luke 8:41). It will also help us to note that Beezeboul is called the chief (AV, prince) of the demons (Matt.9:34;12:24; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15), Satan is chief (AV, prince) of the aerial jurisdiction (Eph.2:2), and Christ is Chief or Suzerain of the kings of the earth (Rev.1:5).
Such superior positions on earth are called chief in order to help us to apprehend what is meant when the Scriptures mention the celestial sovereignties. Usually, indeed, the earthly and heavenly dignitaries are both included in the term, as in Romans 8:38; 1 Corinthians 15:24; Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16; 2:10, 15. No sovereignties, no chiefs, captains, or princes, with all their might, whether on earth or in heaven, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom.8:38). All of these are connected with rule, and all will be gone when rule retires (1 Cor.15:24). Christ has ascended above all such, not only on earth, but in the heavens (Eph.1:21). The whole universe, in heaven and on earth, was created in the Son of God’s love, whether thrones or dominions or sovereignties (Colossians 1:16).
These are perhaps the lowest of the superior stations of intelligent creatures, in the heavens as well as on the earth. It is always a delegated right, dependent on a power above for its validity. The centurion whose boy was a paralytic was a sovereign archee over his men, but was himself authorized by a superior officer (Matt.8:9). In His humiliation Christ continually claimed authority of some kind. He had a right to pardon sins (Matt.9:6; Luke 5:24), over unclean spirits (Mark 1:27), to cure diseases, to cast out demons (Mark 3:15), but not over the times or the eras, which the Father placed in His own jurisdiction (Acts 1:7). He gave His disciples authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions and over the entire power which is of the enemy, such as unclean spirits (Mark 6:7) and to cure every disease and every debility (Matt.10:1).
Not His power, to do them was challenged, but His right. The chief priests and elders came to Him while teaching, saying, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gives you this authority?” (Matt.21:23; Mark 11:28; Luke 20:2). Instead of telling them that God had delegated Him to do these things, He shows them that they did not get their authority from Him, but from the populace, of whom they were afraid. It is a great pity that the Authorized Version so often translates this word by power. Power belongs to dunamis, which they usually translate power, but also ability, abundance, mighty deeds, meaning, might, etc., miracle, strength, violence, virtue, mighty, and wonderful works. A man may have an abundance of authority but very little power. They are very different thoughts. The word exousia, authority, has only five other English words to its credit in the Authorized Version. These are jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, and strength.
Earthly governmental authorities mentioned in the Scriptures include Herod, under whose jurisdiction our Lord lived (Luke 23:7), and Pilate, who claimed the right to crucify or release Him (John 19:10). Our Lord defined his position by saying, “You have no authority against Me in a single thing except it were given you from above.” Both Pilate and Herod were merely delegates of Caesar. We are expressly told to be subject to the superior authorities (Rom.13:1). In the future the conquerors of the end time will be given authority during the last two eons (Rev.2:26). The wild beast will be given power and authority by the dragon (Rev.13:2-7) over every tribe and people and language and nation.
Spirit authorities also have jurisdiction on the earth. The Slanderer said to our Lord, after showing Him all the kingdoms of the habitance, “To you shall I be giving all this authority and the glory of them, seeing that it has been given up to me, and to whomever I will I am giving it” (Luke 4:5,6). Paul was commissioned to turn the nations from the authority of Satan to God (Acts 26:18). Satan is probably also the chief of the aerial jurisdiction, the spirit now operating in the sons of Stubbornness (Eph.2:2) and the authority of darkness (Col.1:13), from which we are delivered.
From these terrestrial examples, we may get a grasp of the force of the phrase “the sovereignties and the authorities among the celestials” to whom God’s multifarious wisdom is now made known (Eph.3:10), and also “the spiritual forces of wickedness” which are thus designated (Eph.6:12), with whom we are at war.
SPECIAL SPIRITS IN THE HEAVENS
We are apt to consider an archangel the highest of the heavenly host. This may not be the case at all. To be the chief messenger of God, is indeed an honor, but it may not be nearly so high as the celestial thrones. In the great throne scene in the Unveiling the four animals are nearest the Lambkin, then come the enthroned elders, and outside of them are the myriads of messengers. They are not the highest of heaven’s hosts but the humblest.
MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL
Chief of all messengers is Michael. Yet he does not presume to argue with the Slanderer as an equal. He dares not bring against him a calumniating judgment (Jude 9), even though, later, he leads His subordinate messengers in battle against the dragon and his messengers, and will succeed in ejecting him thence.
But Michael is more than a messenger. He is a chief. Indeed, he is one of the head chiefs (Dan.10:13), called a great chief in Daniel 12:1. The most notable point in his position is that, though a celestial, his duties are chiefly connected with the earth, or rather, with the nation of Israel. From this, it is evident that there are spiritual chiefs, as well as human heads, for the nations of the earth. Not only do the nations oppose Israel, but their spirit heads oppose the spirits who are appointed to serve the holy people. The chief of the kingdom of Persia stood against a messenger twenty-one days until Michael came to his help (Dan.10:13), for there is no other spirit that held with him in this matter (Dan.10:21). Michael is the great chief who stands for the sons of Israel (Dan.12:1).
It is most fitting that the chief of God’s messengers should be the spirit chief of Israel also, for his messages to the earth must come through the chosen people. And he it is who will stand up once more against the spirit foes of the beloved nation in the time of the end (Dan.12:1). In the past he doubted the Slanderer and argued with him concerning the body of Moses, their great leader. In the future, he will lead his hosts of messengers against the messengers of the Slanderer and eject them from the heavens. The Slanderer had been accusing the saints of Israel before God, as he had done in the case of Job. After that, his office will be vacant. After a brief but terrific career on earth, a messenger, either Michael himself or one of his host, confines Satan to the abyss, so that he will deceive the nations no longer (Rev.20:1-3).
The most honored of all messengers in the work of bringing tidings, is Gabriel, whose name may be Englished into “Deity’s-might.” He is by far the best example we have of the position and occupation of celestial messengers. He is far below the celestial dignitaries who sit on thrones before the Supreme (Rev.4:4). His description of himself and his office is typical. “I am Gabriel who stand before God, and I was dispatched to speak to you and to bring you this evangel” (Luke 1:19). He it was who announced the birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:11-20). And he had the honor of bringing the most welcome of all messages, the birth of the Messiah (Luke 1:26-38). “The messenger Gabriel was dispatched from God.” Michael, the so-called archangel, might have envied him.
In the long past, he had been similarly honored, for he it was who appeared to Daniel and gave him the interpretation of a vision he had just seen (Dan.8:16-26). And he it was who was sent and flew swiftly to give Daniel the message concerning the so-called “seventy weeks” or heptads (Dan.9:20-27). His messages occupy far more of Holy Writ than those of any other messenger. Two large sections of Daniel and two long messages in Luke came through his lips.
The problem of Gabriel is too great a one to enlarge upon at this point. We are too much mastered by our traditions to view it dispassionately. The facts are: Gabriel is called a man (ish, Dan.9:21). This does not seem to be figurative. The seeming impossibility of this is neutralized by the fact that men, such as Enoch and Elijah, have left the earth. They did not die, so far as the record goes. Hence they must have superhuman might to exist in the heavens. The name Gabriel points to this. Elijah is mentioned in connection with the transformation of our Lord (Matt.17:3). It seems that he will be one of the two witnesses of the end time (Rev.11:3). Only one who is able to examine the Scriptures microscopically, and who has a tight rein on his own reasonings, is able to delve into such depths. The strange thing is that the “angel” Gabriel is called a man, and the man John the Baptist, is called an “angel.”
THE FISHY STORY OF RAPHAEL
Other “archangels” are taken from the vain writings of men. One merely needs to read the book of Tobias, and the part played by Raphael, to be disgusted with all such silly nonsense. Raphael is good at witchcraft. When Tobias was washing his feet in the Tigris, a fish tried to swallow him. But Raphael bade him grasp it by the fins and pull it out! Then they ate the fish but saved the heart, the gall, and the liver. Raphael explained to Tobias that the gall is good as a salve for the eyes, to cure cataracts! But the heart and liver should most interest us, for, the angel Raphael assures Tobias, if you put a bit of each on glowing coals, the fumes will drive away all kinds of evil spirits, so that they cannot do any harm! (I think that the smell would drive me away also)!
Then Tobias gets a chance to marry an heiress. The only drawback was that she had already married seven men, and they were all in the cemetery, having been killed by an evil spirit on the wedding night. But they had not used fish entrails to protect them. So Tobias smoked out the evil spirit and Raphael bound it in the desert in Egypt. He not only proved the efficacy of the heart and liver, but Tobias cured his father’s cataract with the gall.
It is such drivel as this which is associated with the names of other angels. Raphael claimed to be only one of seven angels who stand before God. This spurious book of Enoch has much to say about them, and gives many names, such as Semjasa, Azazel, and Uriel, who is often taken, with Raphael and Gabriel and Michael, as one of “the four archangels.” In the Book of Jubilees Satan is called Mastema. This book gives only four presence angels, instead of seven. As usual, it confuses the demons with celestial messengers. Unless we have already been convinced of these false traditions, these spurious writings will not ring true. They have simply been forged to satisfy our craving for knowledge withheld from us by God. But they are always out of harmony with the inspired writing of Holy Scripture.
There is no scriptural basis for the book of Enoch. A passage in Matthew 27:9,10 is quoted from the prophet Jeremiah. No such words are to be found in the book bearing his name. This has created endless difficulties. But it was declared by Jeremiah, not written by him. So Enoch prophesied. He did not write a book. Why add to that which is written?
The ancient Jewish traditionists, and even modern commentators, make Azazel an evil spirit of the wilderness. This they get from Leviticus 16:8,10,10,26, where oz (which means goat) and azl (which means DEPARTURE) are combined into one word, usually spelled Azazel. Luther renders it so, in his version. The Authorized Version rightly translates it scapegoat. It was the “goat of departure,” in contrast with the goat that was sacrificed. Of such stuff are these angels made. This one is nothing but a goat!
“Lucifer” was also manufactured by translators. The Hebrew word ill is translated “howl” by them more than twenty-five times. Once only, for decorative effect, they rendered it “Lucifer” (Isa.14:12). It occurs with precisely the same letters in Zechariah 11:2; Ezekiel 21:12, where they have rendered it howl. Our word yell is practically the same in sound and significance. It is translated howl in verse 31 of this very chapter. So Lucifer is nothing more than a howl! The passage should read, Howl, son of the dawn! It refers to the king of Babylon.
The wings of the cherubim are often taken from them in order to manufacture an angel, notwithstanding the fact that they sometimes have two, sometimes four and at other times six pinions. The cherubim of Ezekiel and the animals of the Unveiling (Ezek.1:5-11; Rev.4:6-8) have not a trace of the celestial about them. They are of the earth entirely, for they are made up of the heads of animate creation down here, not in the heavens. The lion, the calf, the man, belong to earth, even if the vulture may border on the heavens. The Hebrew cherub, krub, has the literal meaning AS-MANY. This shows that they are representative of the animal creation on earth, including man. They never go about carrying messages, so are not angels.
The six-pinioned seraphim are seen only in Isaiah’s vision. Unlike Gabriel, they stand above the throne of the Divine Majesty. That they are not messengers or angels is manifest, for they do not offer themselves when Yahweh asks, “Whom shall I send?” It is Isaiah who is the angel in this case, not the seraphim. Indeed, they would not do. Their name means BURNING-UP. They take hot flagstones from the altar. Such a messenger would only consume sinful men.
THE ANCIENT SERPENT, THE SLANDERER AND SATAN
So far as we know, the first spirit which came into contact with humanity was “the ancient serpent, the Slanderer, and Satan.” These are his titles, not his name. They indicate his office, for he is the Shatan or Adversary, and the Slanderer of God throughout the eons of evil, a position of great dignity and power. The miserable caricatures which represent him as a “devil” with horns and hoofs and a forked tail are serious libels on his high place as the chief enemy of God and man. He is falsely charged with much filth which may be as abhorrent to him as to us. He is not the direct instigator of the evil things that come out of man’s decadent heart. He knows nothing of sex. He is not a demon, nor is he ever found working with demons in the Scriptures.
The views of most people concerning Satan are based on Milton’s fictions and Goethe’s poem, rather than the sacred volume. But Satan has not yet been hurled from heaven, as the author of Paradise Lost would have us believe. He has never been in “hell,” is not there now, and never will be. He is, indeed, himself a part of the imperceptible (hades), but he is never associated with the place of punishment, or fire, until after the thousand years. Meanwhile, his proper place is in heaven, until he is cast down to earth at the time of the end. Then he will be chained in the abyss during the millennium. The Slanderer sinned from the beginning (John 8:44). The attempt to see a symbol of Satan in the king of Tyre is simply an effort to justify our unbelief in the plain declaration of our Lord. To guard the subject God gives us all of Satan’s titles in the Apocalypse—the dragon, the serpent, the Slanderer, and Satan — and we are not warranted in adding to this list (Rev.20:2).
In these days, when Christendom has forsaken the testimony of God concerning the death state and accepts the doctrine of demons, it is of the utmost importance that we know what the Scriptures teach concerning these spirits. Practically no one seems to realize that they are deceiving spirits. Many who read these words will say in their hearts, “But we have the very best authority. We know what the spirits themselves say.” That may be true. Men of absolute integrity, who have been careful to confirm their words by ample and competent witnesses, may give an absolutely correct account of the utterances of demons. We do not question their testimony. But it is folly to believe what the demons say. The man of faith will think: “The Scriptures say they are deceiving spirits. Therefore, what they utter is sure to be false.”
The Scriptures clearly teach that the dead know nothing (Ecc.9:5). Demons say that the dead are alive and can communicate with the living. This has become the teaching of the church. It accounts for the great success of spiritism. Men who write books against spiritism, showing God’s stand against all such lawlessness, yet acknowledge that the dead are alive, are doing spiritism a great service. The right or wrong in such a matter is of small weight with most men. In fact, men of God have boasted that the dead have appeared to them, and have used such demonic deceptions as clear proof that the Scriptures must be understood to teach accordingly. Be honest with yourself, my dear reader. If some deceased friend should appear to you and say that the dead can communicate with the living, what would you do? Believe the deceptive demon or the Word of God?
THE SLANDERER AND DEMONS
The translation “devils” in our accepted versions, is most unfortunate, especially as they translate one of the titles of Satan, the Slanderer, as “devil” also. Satan is not connected with the demons in Scripture. He is always confused with them in other writings. Men have almost forgotten Beezeboul, the chief of the demons. Satan is not their chief. There is no indication that demons are celestial spirits. They are always associated with the earth. They are usually unclean. Satan is never presented so. There seems to be an immense distance between these two orders of spirits, as much almost, as between the aristocracy and the slums among men. Both are satans or adversaries. If Beezeboul casts out demons or Satan casts out his helpers, both will destroy themselves (Matt.12:26; Mark 3:23,26; Luke 11:18).
While these two orders of spirits are at the two extremes of the spirit world, their object is the same. They wish to draw away the allegiance of mankind from God to themselves. They desire the worship of mankind. Therefore, they may be confederate. Satan uses demons to accomplish his object. But I never found any evidence in Holy Writ that either of them is sex-conscious, or uses sex-sins to accomplish his purpose. Rather, I can well imagine Satan to be discouraged and disgusted by the sins which men commit because they are devitalized by the death process into which he lured them at the first. Where is there a plain passage of Scripture which teaches otherwise? Of course, there are innumerable stories, coming from the demons themselves, which teach the contrary, but we should not give heed to demons.
James, in his epistle, clinches the fact that demons have not the feelings of human beings when he speaks of the wisdom which is “terrestrial, soulish, demoniacal” (James 3:15). The Authorized Version renders soulish rather well in this passage by means of “sensual,” though this term is not broad enough to include all human sensations. This is here distinguished from that which belongs to demons. They are not sensual or possessed of the passions which pertain to the sexes.
Through the mistranslation devils, the demons have been confused with the devil, the usual rendering for Satan, as the Slanderer. We cannot say that demons are never messengers, or “angels,” for three of them will be used to mobilize the nations for the great battle of the end time, and this is somewhat like the duties of a messenger. But they are always to be distinguished from celestial messengers. Beezeboul, and not the “devil,” or Slanderer, is the chief of the demons (Matt.12:24). Our Lord was called Beezeboul because the demons obeyed Him (Matt.12:27; Mark 3:22; Luke 11:15,18,19). The people of our Lord’s time never confused the devil and the devils as we are forced to do through discordant translations. The word “devil” should have no place in any Bible, for the grotesque creatures it calls to mind are not like demons, and libel the dignitary, Satan.
POSSESSION, OR OBSESSION
The difference between the Slanderer (“the devil”) and the demons (“the devils”) is marked in the matter of obsession, or possession. With one exception, Satan is never said to enter into or come out of anyone. He entered into Judas, for Judas, of himself, would never have betrayed our Lord. But this was not at all like possession, for he entered for a brief period only, in order to accomplish a specific act (John 13:27). Demon possession is more permanent. It is the settled habit of demons to control human beings, but the Slanderer, as a rule, works through them. He first put it into the heart of Judas to betray his Lord (John 13:2), then, knowing that he was not equal to the actual act, entered himself. Who is willing to say that, under the same conditions, he would not do as Judas did?
In Scripture, demoniacs are afflicted with certain physical and mental derangements. They are distinguished from those who are ill, diseased, tormented, in their flesh. The cases recorded in the Scriptures are undoubtedly signs, and were set down because they give us a picture of Israel and the effect of the unclean spirit in that nation. At the same time, the Scriptures alone are reliable guides as to the character of demonism, for men are not capable of discriminating between that which is of the flesh and that which is the direct result of spirits.
In the young, demonism seems to have a very general character. The youthful daughter of the Canaanitish woman was “evilly obsessed.” The case of the boy in Luke 9:38-42 is similar. “Suddenly he is crying out and it is tearing and convulsing him with froth.” It is the bodily reaction of a violent mental disturbance. And “he is departing with difficulty from him, crushing him.” The mental conflict is most acute at the crisis when the spirit leaves. In the Gadarene demoniac, this was far more advanced. He became actually insane, would not wear clothes, became non-social, and wanted to live in the wilderness. Physically, he possessed superhuman strength, hence he was not weakened by disease or by the injuries he inflicted on himself. His cure restored him to his fellows. Garmented and sane, He wished to be with Christ. Demons cannot bear the presence of our Saviour, or even of His believing saints.
The case where a demoniac became both deaf and mute (Matt.9:32; Luke 11:14) and even blind (Matt.12:22) do not seem to have been accompanied by violent physical disturbances. But the epileptic (Matt.17:14-18) seemed to have uncontrollable fits which would fling his body into fire and into water.
Let us note that the sex element is entirely lacking in every case. The physical phenomena were always of the nature which are due to mental aberration. They were not functional diseases or chronic illnesses. Only in confirmed cases were they constant. In most instances they were intermittent.
The phenomena of hypnotism, sometimes called “Mesmerism,” are very similar to “possession” or obsession, only the human spirit of another takes the place of the demon. Some experiences along this line, which I know to be absolutely reliable, may help us to understand more of the function of man’s spirit, and how it may be replaced by an outside spirit, which is what is meant by “possession.” At first, it was necessary for the hypnotist to tell his subject what to do. But, as he became more thoroughly dominated, the hypnotist needed merely to think, and the subject obeyed his mental commands. His soul was entirely subordinated. He would not only eat soap with relish, when told how good it tasted, but asked for more. Perhaps the strangest of all was the fact that he would do things utterly against his will and, to all appearances, while he was doing his utmost to prevent it. The case was as follows. It may help to solve some mysteries in demonism.
The incident occurred on a mountain where a large party was camping, without collusion or preparation, where no stage settings were possible. About thirty people were seated in a circle, and the subject was in the center. Taking an ordinary wooden box, once used for shipping groceries, the hypnotist placed it in the center of the circle and told a hypnotized boy to hold it down with all his might, because the box would surely jump about if he did not keep it on the ground. The boy leaned over the box and grasped it firmly in his hands. His muscles bulged with his efforts to keep the box stationary. All to no avail. The box suddenly hopped into the air, seemingly in spite of all he could do. He ran after it, and held it down again, but it kept on jumping about, until the company were so frightened that they begged to have the matter ended.
The explanation was exceedingly simple. The boy’s muscles were directed by two forces, one apparent and the other subconscious. Undoubtedly he did his best to hold down the box, even if he was in a trance. But beneath it all was the subtle suggestion of the hypnotist, that the box would jump. Therefore, he made the box move. It entirely escaped the terrified onlookers that the box, which seemed so full of life, never moved unless the boy was holding it down. All they saw was that he did his best to keep it quiet. The boy himself did not know what he was doing, so how could they? Many a spiritist scene may be explained on similar grounds, but, of course, the control is in the hands of evil spirits, not a human spirit.
Possession is immediately concerned with the spirit of a man. An alien, wicked spirit displaces his own and controls his body, thus indirectly affecting his sensations, or soul.
While the Authorized Version translates daimonia almost uniformly “devils,” yet in one case it gives us what may be considered as the most discordant of all renderings. In Acts 17:18 it appears as “gods.” The same word rendered both god and devil! Yet this strange variant gives us a clue to the truth about demons. The name comes from the root da, TEACH. The ancients did not deem demons “devils,” but gods, who were worthy of worship. The Athenians thought that Paul was announcing strange deities. He, on the other hand, says that the nations sacrifice to demons, not to God (1 Cor.10:20). He did not wish the saints to be participants with demons. This opens to us vast vistas of truth. The worship of the world is largely accorded to these spirits. The ancient pantheons held not mere idols of stone, but had a background of actual spirits, who were able to communicate with men through possession and mediums.
FASTING AND PRAYER
While the Lord was on the mountaintop in glory, some of His disciples were below, unable to heal an epileptic who often fell into fire or water. What a wonderful picture of the Pentecostal era! Israel was epileptic, often falling into sore affliction, but the kingdom testimony was a failure because of their lack of faith. This cannot be cured until the Lord Himself descends and puts a new spirit into the apostate nation. Of course, the church does not believe this. It can cure the epileptic. How? They will bring the kingdom to earth and expel the wicked spirits by prayer and fasting! It has even inserted this in its Bible. “This kind goeth not out save by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29) is not found in Vaticanus and Alexandrinus. It was added by a very late reviser of Sinaiticus, who has no weight. It is omitted from the Revised Version. It is not God’s Word. As the editor of the CONCORDANT VERSION felt that he was prejudiced against it, he retained it in his text. But no further editions will have it. None of the three most ancient manuscripts has the passage in Matthew 17:21.
This obscure contradiction in the Bible has led to hazy notions as to the character of demons. In one passage they seem sensual, in the other ascetic. Our Lord told his hearers, “John came neither eating nor drinking, and they are saying `He has a demon!' The Son of Mankind came eating and drinking, and they are saying `Lo! a gluttonous man and a tippler...'” (Matt.11:18,19). The contrast is most instructive. The demons are connected with an ascetic. They evidently do not lead to gluttony and physical excesses, according to the opinion of the people of that day. And this is the constant attitude of Scripture. Demoniacs are never driven to fleshly lusts, but are unnaturally severe on their flesh. They are often most violent in their treatment of the human body.
The teaching that some kinds of demons may be expelled by fasting and prayer is itself a doctrine of demons. A vigorous physical constitution and a strong will may successfully withstand them. They wish to break down the stamina of their victims, to make them passive and receptive. Nothing is a better preparation for this than fasting, especially abstinence from animal flesh, and an attitude of prayer or submission to the will of another. Toward God this attitude is correct, but toward His creatures, it is not. It is a sign of the times that, in Japan, there are evangelistic leaders who take this so seriously that some have starved themselves to death, thinking that this demonic doctrine was the Word of God, and utterly oblivious of the denunciation of asceticism by Paul in Colossians (2:20-23).
“Unclean spirit” seems to be another term for demon. Concerning those called “Legion” we read, “And all the demons entreat them,” and, a few lines further, “the unclean spirits coming out,...” This shows that we need not distinguish between them, except that all demons may not necessarily be unclean. So we read of one having the spirit of an unclean demon (Luke 4:33). These spirits were wicked (Matt.12:45). In what did their wickedness consist? The man among the tombs was a physical menace. We have a remarkable description of a demon’s desires when it comes out of a man. It passes through waterless places, seeking rest. It is an experience we can hardly understand, for they are not swayed by the passions of the flesh. That these spirits are demons is further evident by the frogs which issue out of the mouth of the false prophet (Rev.16:14). They are “unclean spirits ...for they are spirits of demons.” During the millennium Babylon becomes the jail of every unclean spirit. Satan will be bound in the abyss, but the unclean spirits in Babylon.
The word “unclean” never has the special sense of sexual impurity. This is evident from the fact that, in lists of sins such as we have in Galatians 5:19, both adultery and fornication, which cover the field of sex sins, must be used as well as uncleanness. There is not the slightest evidence in the Scriptures that unclean spirits have sex or even lawful desire, let alone unlawful lusts. Out of the heart of man come adulteries and prostitutions (Matt.15:19). I am well aware that much has been written, based on experience with demons, which seems to indicate that they are swayed by the same passions as men, but I have learned to distrust the testimony of fallible human beings like myself, and confide only in God’s written revelation. Demons are deceptive. Their words and actions are not worthy of a place beside the sacred scrolls.
We are too free in charging outside influences with responsibility for our delinquencies. It is true that Satan originally led the race astray, but as a result of this, we are directly affected by the world about us and by the flesh within. I find no intimation in the scriptures that satan or the demons are sex-conscious, or that they lead mankind into sins of that nature. There is sufficient cause for that in the flesh. The phrase “unclean spirit” has been misapplied. In no case in the Scriptures is the uncleanness between the sexes.
The name Magdalen is based on an unfounded accusation against Mary Magdalene, out of whom our Lord cast seven demons. No character in Scripture has been so unjustly maligned. There is absolutely no evidence that she had ever been an impure woman. On the contrary, the Jews associated asceticism, not sensuality, with demon possession. The probabilities are that she had an austere character, well suited to wait upon the One Who had released her from the power of the demons.
That which pertains to spirits cannot be understood by human beings. For instance, their affinity for water. When the unclean spirit comes out of man and passes through waterless places, it finds no rest (Matt.12:43; Luke 11:24). The instant that the legion of demons entered into the herd of hogs, they rushed down into the waters of the lake, even though they had especially asked not to be sent to the abyss (Luke 8:33), And why mention the abyss? That also seems to be water, for the word used of the shaft which leads to it is well — the same word which is used of Jacob’s well (John 4:11,12). The “smoke” which ascends out of the “pit” is really fumes which ascend out of the well (Rev.9:2). Finally, great Babylon will become like a millstone cast into the sea (Rev.18:21) and thus it will become the dwelling place of demons and a jail of every unclean spirit during the thousand years (Rev.18:2). Water seems to be the normal element of demons.
To get a grasp of the vast difference between Satan and the demons we need only contrast their contacts with our Lord. To meet Satan, our Lord fasted forty days. He made no such preparation to meet the demons. Satan came to Him in the wilderness. The demons were encountered in human bodies. Satan had authority to try Him and spoke to Him as an equal. Christ had authority to dispossess the demons, and they were afraid of Him. Our Lord allowed Satan’s claim to the kingdoms of the world, and not only listened to him, but answered him with dignity. He would not listen to demons and paid small attention to their petitions. At the close, He said, “Go, Satan, for it is written.” The demons he ejected without ceremony. It is fatal to confuse these two spirit realms in our dealings with them. Satan is not a superior demon, though of course, the demons are all shatans or adversaries.
While the demons have the office of adversary in common with Satan, they are not slanderers. It is most misleading to call both devils. It would not have been nearly so confusing to name them both adversaries. Satan slanders God. In Eden, he questioned His love, and he is continually seeking to misrepresent Him to His creatures. Demons do not do this. When they speak, they acknowledge the superiority of our Lord Jesus, and give Him His due. They fear His name, and have no illusions about their ability to cope with Him. If men only had the faith in Christ that they have, more demons would be cast out. The demons believe and tremble. The disciples disbelieve and fail.
Demons are exceedingly sensitive to faith and unbelief. I well remember going inadvertently into a room where a medium was seeking to get a message from a demon. I sat down and waited for some time, with the growing realization of an angry, antagonistic, but invisible presence. At last, the medium turned on me with horrible hatred burning in her eyes, and said, “Nothing can be done while he is in the room.” As I was interfering with the desires of those present, I left.
Our Lord did not wish the demons to speak. In His presence, they could not lie, for they know He is the Truth. How foolish it is to allow them to have their say! On one occasion the disciples could not cast out a demon, and the question was, “Why not?” They had authority, but they lacked faith. That is abundantly evident in practically every contact with demons of which we have any record. Even the most godly men not only allow the demons to talk, but they believe what they say, and thus refuse to believe what God has said, that is, that they are deceiving spirits. This is the key to spiritism, or spiritualism, as it is sometimes called. The advanced members of that cult have themselves come to realize how unreliable the spirits are. One of them said that it was evident that men had broken through into the spirit world on the spot where they have their insane asylum!
Spiritism is by no means confined to its advocates. The very ones who oppose it often unwittingly teach the very doctrines which the demons wish to promulgate. The Christian church as a whole has rejected God’s testimony concerning the death state and believes the lies of demons that they are alive. That which the apostle foretold has come to pass. The church, and some most earnest, sincere, and faithful men in it, have given heed to deceiving spirits. As a religion, Christianity teaches what has come from demons to an extent seldom recognized, because it is all supported by passages in the Bible which have been wrested from their context or are distorted to suit the doctrine which the demons disseminate.
MANKIND WILL BE ABOVE ANGELS
The marvelous vision which opens the throne section of the Unveiling gives us an instructive glimpse of the different orders of creation and their rank, just as a reception by an earthly monarch reveals the rank of those who attend, by according them places in keeping with their nobility. It reverses our ideas completely. The angels, whom we thought the nearest, stand outside. Mankind, whom we thought the furthest, is incorporated right into the throne itself. God is revealing Himself through His earthly creation. His Image is a Man. The animals, or cherubim, are centered in His throne. Israel shall rule the earth. We shall rule messengers, and the whole universe. We are nearer to Him than the twelve celestial monarchs, and these are far superior to the messengers. The future habitance is not subjected to messengers, but to men (Heb.2:5). The whole universe is subjected to Christ as the Head of the ecclesia (Eph.1:22,23).
The prevailing misconceptions have robbed Christ of one of His glories, for He fulfills the function of Messenger in an exalted sense. He is better than any celestial messenger, yet He has a message for His people when He comes again. He will announce to them the great fact of their deliverance, that their glorification is due. He will descend, with the voice of an archangel, like Michael’s, and the trumpet of God (1 Thess.4:16). Indignation, wrath, will be committed to messengers. But such good news could never be confided to them, even though it is their work. He delights in grace, and wishes to give out the good news Himself. For this purpose, He assumes the archangel’s voice. His shout of command will be obeyed by all the members of His body. Thus He excels Michael and becomes the most mighty of all messengers, the Chief of the chiefs.
The spirit world is not merely an object of academic interest to us. It is the field of our future efforts, the sphere in which we are to serve and glorify God. We shall have the unspeakable privilege of making known to these dignitaries and their subjects the surpassing love of God as revealed on earth through sin and the great Sinbearer, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. It is not merely ours externally, but the message of the cross and of reconciliation has been put into us, as it never can be implanted in creatures of a higher origin than ours. We are last. In God’s grace, that is our vast advantage. Only such are fitted to be a foil for His favor. And His love can only be properly displayed by making us first. First, not for ourselves, but for the sake of those who are now above us, who shall through us, see the face of Him Who desires to be All in them as He is All in us.
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