The Soul, The Spirit and The Evil Spiritual Powers
This is not a treatise on demon-possession, although reference will be made to the unhappy reality.
At one point we have said that, in the Fall, the powers of evil entered into alliance with the soul of man by his complicity with satan. Then we have sought to show how those powers of evil take full advantage of any undue projecting of the soul in order that they may further the interests of satan's false kingdom. We have also, on the other hand, tried to make it clear that the innermost reality of new birth and spiritual union with God is something much deeper than the soul and all soul-sense. It is this, for one thing, that we now wish to follow up a little more closely.
First of all we must refer to that very real and painful experience into which many - even of God's children - pass by reason of physical or mental injury or mental illness. And there is the 'nervous breakdown.' Not invariably, but more often than not, these maladies are made an occasion for the enemy to make cruel assaults. There is the terrific sense of - it is too strong to say? - devilishness within. The most wicked person alive could not be more wicked than such sufferers feel and believe themselves to be at times. Not only do they feel this, but at times they speak and act out of harmony with a truly Christlike disposition. Then, with one of these maladies at least, there is an extra factor; it is that of secondary personality - the sense of another presence as being in the immediate offing. We need not enlarge upon this. Many, sadly enough, know all about it; and if any who read this have no experience of this kind or with such sufferers, let them thank God, but not pass hasty judgment. Then what of that fact, which it is not pleasant to mention, but has to be recognized - the drive to self-destruction, which, alas, has not always been overcome? We cannot say with truth that these are conditions which lie outside of the experience of true children of God. We have known the most godly and saintly to suffer thus.
Well, in the first place, the soul is the soul and the stark reality is that it has these possibilities, capabilities, and tendencies bound up with it. At such times, and in such conditions, when the helpfulness of good health and a balanced physical system is no longer present, we see what is possible to any mortal under the same conditions. This is only a matter of the degrees in which a basic fact is manifested. Much can be done to relieve this condition and produce amiability and a more happy frame by physical readjustment and renewal, but good health with its attendant good demeanor never was saintliness in its essential nature. A man is not made really more Christlike in his nature by being relieved of certain nervous and mental aggravations, pressures, or sicknesses. Perhaps the greatest value of such relief is that he loses the melancholic beliefs about his spiritual state. But what we may believe about ourselves under certain conditions, and what is actually the truth, may still be worlds apart. satan has led many children of God to extremes of despair, and even to self-injury, by the lie that their own soul-life is the criterion; whereas, for the child of God, Christ is the criterion. Be the most self-assured, self-complacent, self-possessed, self-composed person imaginable, and you are not necessarily therefore a child of God. Be the most pressed, harassed, tortured, devil-assailed person possible, but this need not alter the fact that you are a child of God.
Demon Domination and Demon Possession
But before we go further with this there is another aspect of the matter to note. There is a difference between demon domination and demon possession. This difference might be the salvation of many if they recognize it in time. It is far from our thought or intention to imply by anything that we have aid that all men by nature are demon-possessed. An alliance is not a possession, and it need not be domination in the full sense. No two allied nations would agree to that. But we are now going further than just alliance, while stopping short of the possession. There are those who, because of a strength of soul-life being on any of its sides - reason, emotion or will - become deceived and dominated by the evil spiritual forces. In time they show signs of something extra to human wit and perception. They develop an uncanny power of mind in giving interpretations and explanations. These are often unanswerable along ordinary lines of reasoning. But, of course, this acuteness of mind is always in support of their own course, and it is so deeply and terrifically set in their conviction of right that even their course cuts right across the precise Word of God they either do not see it or will not have it. Other symptoms also show themselves, in looks, conduct and voice. Here is domination. It is in the realm of the soul and although it is on the high road to possession, it is still short of that. This kind of thing can clear up without demons being cast out, but it comes by much suffering and humiliation.
Surely, this was the history of Judas Iscariot. He will ever remain a mystery from some points of view, but we do know that his was a progressive course. He first allowed his own soul, or self-life, in avarice to govern him. Then, having capitulated to it, the ever present evil powers made their suggestion - to his gain! Playing with fire, he became dominated by those forces and plotted. At length - the inevitable issue of such a course being pursued - "satan entered into Judas" (Luke 22:3). This is something more than soul. An evil spirit may be allied to a soul, but it can posses a spirit, like to like. This is "spiritual wickedness."
satan's supreme and final object is to capture for possession the whole man - spirit, soul and body. We know that the disembodied evil spirits revolt against their condition of 'nakedness' more than anything. Perhaps this was their penalty when they "kept not their first estate" (Judas 1:6). Hence came satan's eye upon man - God's creation - and hence his wish to sever man's spirit from God and posses it himself. But even before this he would use it.
(continued with # 28 - "The Key to Spiritualism")