Time or Eternity? ™

The employment of Evil Spirits (Demons)

In EVIL SPIRITS, Luicfer, Principalities and powers on April 10, 2012 at 8:00 am

 Satan’s power and authority  over man in his fallen state is very plain.  Our Lord repeatedly calls him “the prince of this world.” “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” (John 12:31) “The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” (John 14: 30) “The prince of this world is judged.” (John 16:11) St. Paul speaks of him as “the god of this world.” (2 Cor. 4:4 ) ; and as“the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (Eph. 2:.2) Considering how deliberately our first parents cast off their allegiance to God at the bidding of Satan, and by so doing, virtually transferred it to him, we may suppose his acquired dominion to be exceedingly great: insomuch that when earth’s rightful Lord first came, in great humility, to make reconciliation for that iniquity of his creature, man, Satan, exhibiting all the kingdoms of the world, could utter that fearful boast, “All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me ; and to whomsoever I will, I give it.” (Luke 4:6)

His triumphant vaunt indeed was of short duration ; for He, whom he dared to tempt, speedily cast him out of his earthly possessions, and stripped him too, of a more terrible prerogative : for the Son of God became partaker of flesh and blood, “that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Heb. 2:14, 15.

Satan, possessed of a power that we cannot rightly estimate, and filled with a malignity the most direful and implacable, he is not a solitary individual waging alone the war of rebellion and ruin: he has hosts unnumbered at command, as we have already shown ; and doubtless he knows too well the value of order and subordination not to avail himself, as a skillful general, of his whole disposable force.

What, then, is his employment?

The answer may be found in any part of the Bible—we trace him by his operations, where he is not actually named; and we know that so far as it concerns us, all may be summed up in three words, Hostility to man. He sought to deface the work of creation, in its bright morning prime ; and to a sad extent he succeeded : the work of redemption was undertaken, through the tender mercies of God, to repair that deadly breach; and to resist it is the perpetual aim of Satan and his angels.  In either case he puts forth his subtle power, and never loses sight of the object. Foreknowledge he does not possess: that is the prerogative of Deity alone; but his calculations must be wonderfully accurate, considering that to the high angelic faculties of his nature, he adds the experience of some six thousand years of intimate concern in the affairs of men: and a perfect acquaintance with all knowledge and all mysteries, attainable by created intelligence. Before him are spread out all the phenomena of nature: the stars in their course, the ocean in its depths, the earth in all her hidden recesses, and all the complicated operations of her vast elemental laboratory, are visible to him.

Omnipresence is not his ; but motion quicker than our thoughts he can no doubt command ; and with an army of zealous followers, so well trained to execute his will, he may leave it in their hands to work out some deep laid schemes of his devising in one quarter, while he speeds to the uttermost parts of the earth to pursue the same employment, perhaps in a distinct form; perhaps so as to harmonize with, and to help forward the preceding mischief.

In order rightly to estimate the peril that we are in from this tremendous enemy, we must consider first, that all are sinners, condemned by the law of God; “that without shedding of blood there is no remission,” and that, therefore, each individual believer may and must say of Christ, He loved me, and gave himself for me. Christ will never overlook, or be indifferent to any soul for which he shed his precious blood: in their final salvation he sees the travail of his own soul, and is satisfied. Satan desires to have unbelievers that he may sift them as wheat; yet to judge by the language of many excellent people, it would seem as though they considered their own corrupt nature and evil tendencies as the only hindrance in the heavenly race.

This is a dangerous mistake: the Bible shows us in a most impressive manner how our adversary works upon that nature which he first prevailed to corrupt. David, full of ease and abundance, meditates on the extent and stability of his wide kingdom, and Satan takes advantage of it to suggest an act that he knew would be highly displeasing to the Lord, and probably bring a judgment on the nation. “Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.” (1 Chron.21:1) Even Joab, the most godless, unscrupulous man, and at the same time the most devoted subject and zealous patriot, saw the danger of this foolish act, and denounced it. But the Devil had possessed the king’s mind with a fancy in which he would not submit to be crossed, and the consequence was a destroying visitation on the land.  Job was pious and prosperous,— the enemy attributed his godliness to his gains, and obtained leave to try him by heavy losses, calamities, and bodily sufferings ; then stirred up his wife to counsel blasphemy and suicide, and failing of that, instigated his friends to tax him with hypocrisy, and to represent these afflictions as an evident judgment from God, sent to brand him in the sight of the world as a secret transgressor.

Satan first, by the divine permission, afflicts a child of God, and then works on the pride, the rashness, the folly of some friend to pour corrosive acids into the wound where the softest oil of Christian sympathy and love ought rather to trickle down. Satan tormented Job, by means of his three friends, whom he also exposed to the Lord’s severe displeasure by provoking them to such presumptuous sin ; while Job, whose real fault was blindness to the corruption of his nature, reaped a two-fold blessing, and a ten thousandfold spiritual blessing from what the Devil hoped to turn to his destruction. Judas was of a covetous man, and would have been a thief whenever he had opportunity ; but Satan marked him out for the deepest crime that it was possible for man to perpetrate once throughout all eternity. “Then entered Satan into Judas, surnamed Iscariot:” (Luke 22:3.) What an awful expression is that! the chief adversary of God and man became for a time incarnate to oppose, and by opposing to accomplish, the great object of the Lord in coming down to earth. He pervaded with his diabolical influence the mind and spirit of his willing victim, and led him on from the mere indulgence of avaricious thoughts to the terrible transgression for which no name can be found ; then left him to despair, to suicide, and to hell. Ananias and Sapphira were doubly covetous: of lucre and of fame; they wanted both to keep their money, and to obtain applause for sacrificing it to the public good. Of this Satan took advantage to fill their hearts with a lie, by which they might hope to accomplish the desired end. But it was to the Holy Ghost that the lie was told, and instantaneous death was the penalty of seeking either to deceive the Lord, or to make Him partner to their guilt.

These instances exhibit the manner of Satan’s working, where, but for what is revealed, we might suppose no such agency had existed. It was needful that Eve should be tempted from without, since the image of God yet remained within, and her heart, still holy and obedient, would not have suggested a departure from the path of His commandments. But the idea of numbering Israel—taking a census—in time of peace, and under every favourable circumstance, appears so natural that we probably should not search beyond the king’s desire to know the extent of Israel’s population, had not the Holy Spirit expressly told us who provoked him to it. In like manner Job’s calamities might be referred to the predatory habits of his Arab neighbours, to the sudden storms and blasts of the desert, and to the bodily effects often produced by excessive mental suffering ; while the erroneous view taken by his three friends was perfectly consistent with those frequently formed by ourselves, concerning others.  Judas might have been supposed to perpetrate his unparalleled crime under the impression that his Master would, as he had more than once before done, deliver himself by a miracle from the hands into which he was about to sell him: and Ananias with his wife, might have arranged their plan under the impulse of natural vanity, combined with love of money.  Yet in all these cases we are distinctly told that Satan himself was present to instigate and direct; and many a recollection of our own past lives, now perhaps painful and self-condemnatory, would wring our hearts with anguish and’ horror if we knew how far the great adversary was concerned in them, and to what extent the will of God was resisted, the cause of Christ injured, and the Holy Ghost grieved, while evil spirits looked on rejoicing.

We ” give place to the Devil” daily; and nothing more effectually helps him to lead us into this breach of a positive command, than our readiness to forget his continual presence, either personally or by his active ministers; and perhaps to leave out of sight the fact of his very existence.

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