Concisely Stated Facts
I am largely indebted to Dr. Townsend for the following concise quotations.
It is now a general belief that “there is no personal devil (or demons): that the devil is only evil personified: that whatever devil there is, is in man himself,” but the Scripture recognizes Satan and demons as being personalities with all the characteristics of personality.
“That Bible writers themselves were either mistaken (about Satan and demons) or else they adapted their speech to the prevailing notions of the time when devils, witches, and ghosts, with all their kindred, were things of common belief.” If they were mistaken they were not inspired and if the Bible is not inspired in its account of Satan and evil spirits, it is not to be trusted in its revelations of God and good angels. Both stand or fall together. New Testament writers believed equally in the essence of both.
The present skepticism or unbelief in God because we can not see Him is unreasonable, as men believe in the air, gravitation, electricity, the brain, with memory, will and judgment, all of which they have never seen. How the process of digestion by which the same food is transmuted into brain power, muscle, blood, hair, teeth and bone, we can not see, but we believe in this unseen power and eat the food.
There are certain results produced by unseen agencies. Belief in these invisible agencies is as rational as belief in other powerful, invisible agencies.
The Bible describes, “Satan, who is said to have for associates, other invisible, spiritual, and wicked agents called demons or unclean spirits.”
“No one who reads the New Testament can doubt that its pages abound in representations showing that its writers intended to teach that invisible and malicious agencies exist; that they watch mankind with evil intent day and night, and always have done so since Adam, and particularly do so now, and will continue to do so until the end of time.”
“Demons, according to the teaching of the Bible, once belonged to the hierarchy of good angels, but through voluntary disobedience, forfeited their high estate, and became malicious and unclean spirits.” 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6.
“They are represented as having great power and are said to control the elements of nature.” Eph. 6:11-12.
“They are represented as taking up their abode sometimes in the air, Eph. 2:2, sometimes on the earth, John 14 :30, sometimes in the sea, Isa. 26:1 — sometimes in the bodies of men, Luke 22:3, sometimes in swine, Matt. 7:31-32, sometimes in the kings of the earth, 1 Samuel 16:14.”
Demons were endowed with exceptional power in Judea at the dawn of the Christian Era, and will be with increasing power until the end of the age: they took possession of human bodies and minds; they often worked in them great injury. Our Lord discerned them, spoke to them, and cast them out, so that men who had been raving maniacs were made sane and well the moment Christ spoke His word of healing.”
Demons recognized Christ and good men and were stirred to cry out in fear in their presence. They knew Paul. They said to the false exorcists, “Jesus we know and Paul we know, but who are ye, and leaped on them and overcame them.” Woe to the one who attempts exorcising in Jesus’ name without his character! If Christ were here today in person, or sufficiently in His followers, and should go through an asylum of the insane, there would doubtless be a great crying out by evil spirits who are doubtless tormenting the poor victims.
“Demoniacal distempers will continue to afflict mankind in one form or another, varying with the changing condition of human society, and during the last days of the Christian Era demons will be especially active and mischievous.
“They will lead men astray by means of false views of theology and by distorted ethics. Such crimes as suicide, murder and impurity under their instigation will be extolled into virtues. Men will be so far deceived by demons that they will practice iniquity and think they are doing God’s will. There will be preachers, who, while they do not deny the Scriptures, will be led to interpret them in a way to mean precisely what is not intended. And men and women will be strongly religious while utterly godless ;” e. g., an assignation housekeeper told the writer God was her chum. When the Spirit broke her heart with conviction, she saw which god was her chum! The loose unscriptural views about the sinlessness of divorce and remarriage at caprice, are demon inspired, though advocated by so-called high class magazines.
Thoughts On Demon Possession — Luke 2:1-26
Much teaching is given on demon possession, and much is given on the casting out of demons, in the New Testament. Jesus’ commission originally given to his disciples and never revoked, or altered, included power to cast out demons. Power to cast them out was pre-Pentecostal; before Pentecost the disciples rejoiced that the demons were subject to them in Christ’s name. Jesus cast out demons by the “finger of God.” No great degree of power is needed.
In casting out demons, the demons are to be addressed and commanded to come out. Jesus rebuked the foul spirit that possessed the boy.
Demons dread dispossession; it tortures them. They term it, “tormenting us before our time.” They work in the mind realm though they also seek to get possession of the body. They seek to blind the mind: “The god of this world has blinded the mind of them that believe not.” Unbelief is the point of their entrance. They never give their victim rest until he is driven to despair and ruin. Doubtless if many who are in asylums had understood how demons work and resisted them, they would have been saved from so dire a fate. Whom demons can not destroy they will annoy.
Anything for some little concession or place in the life! It is suggestive that Jesus, immediately following His teaching on the baptism of the Holy Ghost, warned how demons work, as though this crisis were a dangerous time favorable to their operation. Those who come into the realm of the supernatural may be deceived by Satan as an angel of light working to substitute foil the Holy Ghost’s work — to change sources from God to Satan — to substitute false preternaturalism for pure supernaturalism. Errors come in a time of low spiritual life or deception from a high state.
I am more and more convinced that demons are back of much that we call by other names. They produce the most baffling results, shoot from ambush, work all manner of havoc in the experiences of the children of God. These sappers and sharp shooters must be detected and routed in Jesus’ name, the name they dread above all names. Pardon and even holiness may be obtained, but the bewildering conflict goes on until its real cause is detected and victory claimed. What folly foil the Russians to deny the existence of secret batteries which were picking off hundreds of their men! It is equal folly for the church to deny the existence and the sapping type of the operations of the demons.
We are likely to attribute to perverseness of character, or disposition, what is, in reality, demon possession.
As the time for Satan’s casting out and binding draws nigh and his time is short he will marshal all the reserve force of demons to the attack of God’s children. Jesus said that at the time of the end the love of many would wax cold because iniquity should abound — demons animate the lawlessness which dampens love.
We have the following testimony in our own time: A minister felt a peculiar pressure on his mind and after much crying to God was relieved. It seemed it would kill him. In desperation he cried out, “Oh, God take it off, take it off.” A woman said about her house work there seemed to be some strange presence driving her to the most furious pace of work until she would be exhausted. Nervousness we call it, but how much like that case is the Bible account of the poor boy who was torn and driven by the foul spirit which possessed him into various abnormal acts until Jesus recognized his state and called the demon a foul spirit and commanded it to come out of him.
That the deeper Christian experience is one of special peril Jesus proves. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man he “goeth about seeking rest” and, being baffled in his search in this disembodied condition, he returns to the man from whom he went out with sevenfold strength over his former occupancy and succeeds in beating down his defense, and entering this cleansed man. Much of the abnormal recognized in humanity is the product of demon possession — the abnormal conditions they produce lead to abnormal thinking and this in turn to abnormal acting.
Admission of demon possession is justified by the example of the parent of the young boy who came to Jesus and told Him that this was the condition of the child: also the woman, who said her child was grievously vexed of the devil.
The next step is to apply to Christ to cast out the demon, with faith in his pity and power to deliver.
Satan offers the world to men: “It is mine (Jesus did not deny this) and to whomsoever I will I give it.” Satan prospers to doom. One under his spell said, “I made no attempt to resist the singular attraction which now possessed me for this man (Lucio) whom I had just met.” Satan is a mesmerist, a hypnotist. His subjects are infatuated, captivated, bewitched; Satan has cast a spell over them.
Satan has willing subjects: “If thou wilt fall down and worship me.” “I am glad that you yourself have decided that we are to be comrades, for I am proud, I may say very proud — and never stay in any man’s company when he expresses the lightest wish to be rid of me.”
Satan tempts men to buy fame with gold. He has the world corrupted by the money standard. All Satan gives leaves a dismal vacuity without God: a millionaire testifies that there are no happy multimillionaires: “I could not honestly say that I was happy. I knew I could have every possible enjoyment and amusement the world had to offer, I knew I was one of the most envied men, and yet I was conscious of a bitterness rather than a sweetness in the full cup of fortune. Many things I had imagined would give me intense satisfaction had fallen curiously flat.” Satan blinds men of means to the hundreds of starving wretches — men and women on the brink of suicide — because they have no hope of anything in this world or the next; he justifies selfishness, shuts out griefs and miseries. He leads to the restraint of all good impulses. He tells the well-off that the poor are to blame; unworthy, undeserving, etc. If they are going to be kind hearted to them Satan parts company. Wealth selfishly made and hoarded dries up the foundations of sympathy and benevolence, hardens the heart to the interests of all but self.
Satan exalts some men to worldly success to doom them. He casts others down — ruins them — so that from their bitterness they shall curse God and die.
Satan blinds the minds of men to truth, the no ill of God, to true values, to the final outcomes of a life spent in his service. May God turn on the light and show men with whom they are yoked up! Show Satan in all his diabolical hideousness! Show his designs on us! Whom men are obeying! if men could see, they would be terrified at their master. He mocks, scorns, and despises the victims he dupes. Satan covers his real identity: he is not what he seems.
Satan may give revival phenomena to divert from God. All revival phenomena are useful only in so far as they lead to Christlikeness.
Satan has the world at his feet: he has blinded the minds of them that believe not: he is the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience. Satan is a universal favorite — the most popular god the world ever knew — everything is coming his way; he dictates the policy of the world. He is especially busy as he knows the time is short and that his end is near.
Satan counterfeits all that God does, the INCARNATION, the RESURRECTION, AND MIRACLES OF HEALING. He will incarnate the man of sin, resurrect him, energize, give him power, and work miracles through him.
Satan employs music to intoxicate his victims, making them insensible to the realities of life. He employs art to seduce from virtue. Doctrines of demons are injected into song, literature, and sermon.
Satan plans many marriages. This fact is a sidelight on the many incompatibilities, affinities, and divorces resultant.
His impressions and leadings are agitating and impulsive, impelling to things our better judgment repudiates.
He leads the poor to envy and condemn the rich; and when they, through unexpected inheritance, are exalted to wealth, he leads them to ape the ways they so bitterly condemned.
He tempts to jealousy of our successful contemporaries and to acts calculated to ruin their success, and then embarrasses us by bringing them into our presence to face our faithlessness. He deceives by accepted ideas, opinions, public sentiment and opinion, which are generally mistaken. He tempts to questionable procedure to gain fame.
Satan does not doubt the existence and authority of Christ; and in this faith he is more consistent than men who deny His divinity and authority over their lives: “The devils believe and tremble.”
He constantly changes, to distract brainless folks of fashion, ease, and wealth. Money is the devil’s pass key. God terms it the great hindrance to His kingdom; Satan makes it the criterion of worldly success.
His program for the world is the Edenic knowledge without God. Satan’s spell, and the curse of God, is on the ungodly. Satan deludes by the spell of suggestive literature. literally leading millions to read their way to hell. He has all luxuries at hand to help lull the soul to sleep. He weakens the will, works in the mental realm. A sister said that Satan had so weakened her will that she was powerless to choose what she really desired, the will of God.
His program for the world is knowledge without Christ, Christless knowledge. Satan was the first higher (?) critic, all others are echoes of the devil. “Hath God said?” He was the first to question what God has said. In hell Satan’s remorse for what he might have been, had he not voluntarily left his high state, will be shared by his poor dupes, forever.