Evil spirits are normally viewed as "influences," and their effectiveness in the lives of people is undetected because they are not seen as real personalities that are totally and unreservedly evil. People discuss the issue of whether or not a Christian can be "possessed" by an evil or unclean spirit; all the while, these ambassadors of Satan are busy doing the thing they do best - deceiving men and women, both unsaved and believer alike.
PERSONALITY AND INTELLIGENCE
DEVILS HAVE REAL PERSONALITY AND INTELLIGENCE
THE LORD'S DIRECT COMMANDS TO THEM
Mark 1:23-25 "And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God. And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him."
THEIR REPLIES TO HIM
Mark 1:26 "And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him."
THEIR INTELLIGENT EXPRESSION OF DESIRE
Mat 8:31 "So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine."
THEIR ABILITY TO MAKE DECISIONS
Mat 12:43-44 "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished."
THEIR SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH
Mark 5:4 "Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him."
THEY ARE UNRELENTINGLY EVIL
IN ALL THEIR DESIRE AND ACTION
THEY ENJOY "VEXING" HUMANITY
Luke 6:18 "And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed."
Acts 5:16 "There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one."
THEY ARE CLASSIFIED AS "WICKED" WITH
ASCENDING DEGREES OF WICKEDNESS
Matthew 12:45 "Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation."
THEY HAVE THE ABILITY TO INHABIT THE HUMAN BODY
AS WELL AS THE BODIES OF ANIMALS TO DO EVIL
Mark 5:8 "For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit."
Mark 5:13 "And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea."
THEY ARE SOMETIMES CONNECTED WITH "INFIRMITIES"
Luke 8:2 "And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils,"
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong."
AFTER CALVARY, THEY CHANGED THEIR OPERATING STRATEGY
A word of explanation here. The disciples, after walking with Christ for the major part of His ministry, learned the working methods of devils by watching Christ cast them out and doing so themselves. Watching Him recognize their presence and deal with them authoritatively gave them and those who read the Scriptures an understanding of their working procedures. Knowing that believers were given victory over them at Calvary, they have taken to a different method of working. They now do their work in men deceitfully, rather than openly, appearing as false apostles, ministers of righteousness, and angels of light. They possess men and women and use them as TEACHERS!
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
Although there are cases today (most notably the unscriptural practice of being "slain in the spirit", or the "laughing revival") of these hideously evil beings reverting back to causing abnormal physical disturbances in the unsaved as well as in the deceived believer, the subtle beings now work more cautiously as teachers. They use those who could most convincingly carry their damnable teachings. Saved, born again believers who, rather than giving diligent heed to the command to study the Word of God, take isolated passages of Scripture, and twist them to say something they do not say. Case in point is the Pentecostal/Charismatic error of giving overwhelming attention to the book of Acts, without understanding it in the broad light of the remainder of the Bible. Ask them about the restoration of the Kingdom (Acts 1:6) and most don't have a clue. They are too busy seeking the "baptism of the Holy Ghost" (Which no one was ever commanded to seek) to wonder about why not one thing in the list given in Joel 2 happened in Acts 2 where Peter referred them to that chapter. Can saved people be deceived by devils?
What did Paul mean when he said: 1 Timothy 4:1 "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;"
Would people (Christians) listen to these "spirit" led teachers?
2 Timothy 4:3-4 "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
Did Paul assume something wrong? Was the above actually inspired by the Holy Ghost as part of inspired Scripture? Would there be teachers that to the human eye and mind seemed to be ministers of righteousness, yet would be teaching doctrines of devils? Could you be deceived?
HOW CAN ONE BE "INOCULATED" AGAINST DECEPTION?
1. Believe God wants you to know - He wants His people free!
John 8:32 "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."
John 16:13 "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come."
2. Be willing to do His will.
This means if God shows you truth, you must be willing to stand alone and act upon what He shows you in His word.
James 1:22 "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves."
John 7:17 "If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself."
3. Believe the Bible is the infallible word of God.
A book without proven error. (KJV)
1Thess. 2:13 "For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."
When you hear a preacher correct the Bible, put what he says in file thirteen. This is critical. If there is no single, final authority, (i.e. last court of appeal such as an infallible Bible, then YOU become the final authority.) If you have several versions, then "There is no king in Israel, and every man doeth that which is right in his own eyes." (Judges 17:6, 21:5). Your Bible study has been subtly sabotaged by the Devil. You are on a sea of subjectivism that can be easily manipulated by devils.
Never change a verse of scripture just to back up something you believe. The words of the Lord are pure words (Psalm 12:6). Pay attention to detail. Words are important. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Recognize before God the inability of the human mind to discern the Scriptures. "The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God" (1Corinthians 2:14). Humble yourself and never lean on experience to understand the Bible, but rather test all experiences with the words of the living God. The Scriptures do not contradict, but they require diligent study. Yes, study!
4. Read and STUDY the word of God.
With a humble attitude, realizing that we cannot properly understand the word of God unless He teaches us.
1 Corinthians 2:14 "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned"
Matthew 11:25,26 "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight."
2 Timothy 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Let's dissect this verse."
Study? Approved? For what? Approval usually assumes some privilege or responsibility. Does the way we live and the attitude we have toward God's word have something to do with being "approved" for something in the future? For some responsibility in the millennial Kingdom? If we took "studying" seriously, not just casual "proof text" study, but scripture with scripture, taking all the verses into account, would He reveal the truth to us? The answers to these questions are an unqualified yes!
We should also be aware that we are only seeking God's approval. Never look for the approval of man. We despise ridicule, however, if we believe the book, as it is in truth - the word of God, we will face the disapproval of many, and even persecution.
Matthew 13:21 "Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended."
Ashamed? - You will bear shame at the Judgment Seat of Christ for failure in this area.
Rightly dividing the word of truth. Understanding the seeming contradictory scriptures through dividing the body of truth into its proper places. Scripture is "line upon line" "precept upon precept".
Isaiah 28:9-10 "Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:"
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO "RIGHTLY DIVIDE"?
May we give some examples?
Luke 4:18-21 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears."
Compare with the passage He quoted:
Isaiah 61:1-3 "The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;"
IF you have taken the time to read this far, you will realize that when Jesus quoted Isaiah 61, He did not finish the quotation. He stopped (in Luke) with the phrase "To preach the acceptable year of the Lord". He did not finish the quotation. What did He leave off? "The day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;". He made a clear "division" in the verse. Why? Because the last phrase speaks of the "day of vengeance" - the Great Tribulation spoken of in the book of Revelation. While there is much we can learn from this passage, our purpose is to introduce the student to the concept of "right divisions" in understanding the word of God.
Understanding the progression of revelation as Israel rejected her Messiah.
Mark 1:4 "John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins."
Acts 18:24-26 "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the Spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly."
Apollos was right, as far as he had learned, but Israel had rejected and murdered their Messiah. No longer was anyone baptizing for the remission of sins. Apollos needed to learn that God was doing things a bit differently. The message was no longer "repent and be baptized", but "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved." Failing to see this truth, in other words, failing to "rightly divide" the word of truth, will cause one to be teaching something that at one time was correct, but is no longer. The best illustration of that truth is the simple fact that after the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, God no longer requires animal sacrifice.
Devils are having a hey-day deceiving God's people through teaching that fails to seriously study the book God gave us - the King James Authorized Bible. If you reject that truth without any further question, you can be assured you will be deceived by doctrines of devils. The most prevalent of which is the so-called baptism of the Holy Ghost with the "initial evidence" of speaking in tongues. No where in the Scripture is anyone admonished to seek this false gift. If you insist on this without a thorough study of ALL the scriptures involved, you will find yourself on the receiving end of "another spirit", which Paul warned about in this verse:
2 Corinthians 11:4 "For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit..."
Remember in this scripture Paul is speaking by the Spirit of God to saved people in a carnal church. Their number one obsession was "speaking in tongues". They had received another spirit! The Holy Spirit would not impress the Apostle Paul to write an epistle correcting something that He, the Holy Spirit was the author of. If you seek another spirit, you will get one, for they are, with evident permission from Almighty God, deceiving multitudes today. Don't remain ignorant of these things. Would you humbly get on your knees before God and honestly ask Him this question: "God, have I been deceived?" I have done this, as humbly as I know how, pleading with God that He would not let me be led into falsehood by doctrines of devils. I have made reading through the Bible a high priority - cover to cover, over and over again. I believe it is the only way to avoid the deceptions that are blanketing our churches in these last days.