The Soul and Deception
The point is this. satan, as the deceiver, could not bring all that upon man from the outside. Man must first be constituted so that satan can find in him that which responds to his deception. There must be, for all that, something in man which is the organ to be used. The play of satan upon the soul of Adam drew that soul out as the ground procedure. It stretched itself beyond its legitimate measure, and satan impinged upon it. Thus an alliance came about between man's "psyche" (soul) and the powers of evil, "deceiving spirits." The object was gained - the ability to know good and evil - and God admitted this. "The man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil" (Genesis 3:22). But at what a cost! Knowledge in itself is not evil, although it would be well for man if he did not know some things. It is knowledge apart from God that has rendered man a prisoner, a slave, and has cost him that knowledge which is eternal life. "This is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Him Whom Thou didest send, Jesus Christ' (John 17:3). The cost was a "darkened understanding" (Ephesians 4:18). The Apostle Paul, who said that "it pleased God ... to reveal His Son in me" (Galatians 1:15, 16), also placed on record that that revelation was intended by the Lord to constitute him an instrument "to open their eyes, that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of satan unto God" (Acts 26:18). As to this, he further said: "God, that said, Light shall shine out of darkness ... shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Whenever God in Christ is revealed in the inner man, deception and satan's power are destroyed, and the man is set free. Against this inshining, satan works by every conceivable means, ranging from open assault to destroy the messengers, to beautiful substitutes for the truth. But let us return to the principle.
To extend and consolidate his work of deception, and to build his rival and false kingdom, the deceiver must have "ego" - soul or self-life. Herein lies the greatness of the peril of believers leaning toward their own self-life, for his occasion against God is greatest in their case. Herein, also, lies the explanation of many other things, as that called 'spiritualism' or 'spiritism' and dictatorship, etc.
Children of God who lean to the soul on any or all of its sides - reason (intellect), emotion (feelings) or will (volition) - will be a ready prey for deception. First of all, such people are already a contradiction of their essential nature as now - by new birth - spiritual. It becomes clear at the outset that they are locked up and a law unto themselves. Their way is the way, and they see no other. As to further light, they are largely unteachable; as to further experience, they are content; as to another course, they cannot conceive of it.
Christians who live in their own mind will often be found occupied with a question. They cannot live without a question or a problem. If one is shattered, they will soon have another. Thus they go ever around in a circle, and come back to their starting point, making no real spiritual progress. Like a horse in the ring, they are whipped and driven, and there is no expanse of life or vision. Or they lash others with their ideas and seek to subject other minds to their own. It may eventuate in some very weird, unsound and untrue conclusions. At length somewhere in this occult position - for it is nothing less - a deception will be found, and satan's hand will be seen.
The same thing is true with regard to Christians living on the emotional side of the soul. This side demands experiences, evidences, manifestations. Indeed the whole realm of sense-life governs here. If we intensify and project our emotional side sufficiently, we can have any experience that is possible. The whole body and mind can be involved. Vocal cods or solar plexus may be affected. There may be facial distortions, rigidity, 'second sight', visions, extra capabilities, prodigious strength, mirth, ecstasy, etc. All these, from simple beginnings, may come through the psychical or soul-life as extended and strained along the line of intense desire.
If this is true in these two directions, how true it is on the side of the will. A forceful, dominating, assertive soul, not under the government of the Holy Spirit, is a terrible menace to the interests of God. Decisions will be made, courses adopted, objectives secured, positions occupied, in the name of devotion to God, which will be Towers of Babel, Pyramids of Egypt, Ishmaels of Abram (not Abraham). There will be a good deal of remorse bound up with these achievements eventually, and a wish that they had never been. The result will be something false, and many may be involved in the tragedy.
If there is a combination of a strong soul-life with an acute and needle-like brain the supreme peril is that of grasping the deeper implications and meanings of Divine truth, so that it seems to be revelation. Thus, through the soul there is an imitation revelation, which is really only keen natural insight. Usually, when the soul is strong along one line, we shall find it strong in other directions, and so the craving for a sense of power will not be far away. This keen insight, this quick or acute grasp of things, will demand as its complement an opportunity to exhibit itself, and this in its outworking will be to bring others under its influence. The test of genuine revelation is as to whether the one concerned is manifestly well crucified to a desire for power, position, influence. Can that one be resisted, assailed, thwarted, rejected, without in some form seeking to come out even or on top? An element of personal domination or self-vindication will destroy the ministry and discredit the 'revelation' of such a one. Oh, the peril of getting hold of Divine truth in order to use it!
God has laid down every safeguard against this kind of thing in what is truly of Himself. Fellowship, relatedness, interdependence, in the Church which is His Body, are not only privileges or extra factors in a Christian life; they are basic laws for safeguarding Divine interests from the dangers of independence and personal dominance. This is why one who is in a doubtful position is called upon to "hear the church" (Mark 18:17). That means ultimately the surrendering of their own judgment and way to the spiritual judgment of a spiritual church. This in turn - provided the church is walking in the light - is coming under the headship of Christ as head over all things to the church, which is His body (Ephesians 1:22, 23). "Subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ" (Ephesians 5:21) is something which cuts the ground from under satan's feet. In keeping with this principle, the Holy Spirit never made an individual the sole overseer of a church. God will not have anyone lording it over His heritage. This opens up the whole subject of Divine order which would require too extensive a deviation for our present intention. But let us emphasize that the law of mutual subjection is but the outworking of that subjection of Christ to His Father which led to the complete nullification and discomfiture of satan in his own case. All of satan's temptations of Christ were intended to seduce Him by deception, even to quoting Scripture. If Christ had asserted Himself, instead of referring and deferring to the Father, satan would have triumphed. What a great deal there is in letting go to God!
(continued with # 19)