|Testing The Spirits - Destiner Press Topics|
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God..." (1 John 4:1)"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12)
"But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)
"Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)
"Deliver us from evil." (Matthew 6:13, may also translate as, "the evil one")
Testing The Spirits
What does it mean to test the spirits? How does one make a judgment in this matter? What is involved in struggling with principalities? How does one resist the Devil and in what manner does he flee? You may think this is obvious but in reality you may have no idea what is really involved. If you are elect you may know this all to well, or you may desire it to be clarified. I write this brief overview, mainly as my answer to some disciples who asked questions about this quite a while ago. It is a thorny issue and not particularly pleasant. I have avoided it in the past. This is far from a thorough exposition but I trust it will shed some light on the matter, from the Scriptures, from what I can illustrate in a few examples, and from my own direct experience.
If you have read The Truth Which Sets Free you will already know that there is a critical difference between condemnation and making a discerning judgment call. This is something that escapes Christians time and again. In the area of testing the spirits it is essential to make these judgments. In addition you will know that Satan is alive and well and, for the time being, the lord of this world, albeit a temporary landlord on a leash. You will also be acquainted with the identity of his right hand man in the flesh here on earth, and the global body he has founded to impose his subtle plan of deception. He has his army, both in spirit and in flesh, both of this world and not of this world. His servants wage war in many diverse ways, but they are united against the truth, against it being told, and in distorting it when it is told. In the flesh, the higher his servants may be in rank the more certain it is that they will come to you in Jesus name.
That is why the apostle John, when commanding the elect to "test the spirits," zooms in right away on the character of antichrist (substitute-christ). (1 John 4:1-3) In Johns day a common distortion of scripture was not to outrightly deny the person of the Lord but to portray Jesus as something of a Hindu avatar, not a real incarnation, not consisting of real flesh. Another falsehood was to depict him as merely divine (from God) but without all the attributes of deity which he displayed and revealed. The name of the game has changed dramatically, ever since Emperor Constantine ratified a new and growing religion. Now there are countless millions called Christians who will champion Christ as God visiting in the flesh and yet think that they can follow and worship him in all manner of beliefs and practices contrary to Scripture, even outright idolatry. Each time the elect lift up the Word and spell it out loud and clear the dark side wakes up and counter-attacks to make a yet more cunning alternative. It never gets easier to judge these wily spirits.
But it is possible. As Jesus said, "Be watchful. Stay awake." If you do not, it may not be the End of all things, but it may be the end for you. It has been so for many a soul in the past. Do not go back to sleep. With the indwelling mind of Christ, God himself moving in those whom he has enlightened, you who have been given ears to hear and eyes to see have the means to be alert, to recognize and to judge for yourselves (1 Corinthians 2:14-16) "for we are not ignorant of his (Satans) devices." (2 Corinthians 2:11)
If you live somewhere under persecution or repression, like an Islamic country or Communism regime, and even your meetings must be discreet, then this topic may be particularly helpful. You can just as easily suffer very significantly for your faith in a so-called developed country with a Christian heritage. Indeed, Islam may be trying hard to catch up but far more blood has been spilled by the vindictive spirits of Christendom. Those who think these spirits have somehow evaporated need an alarm clock. They are by no means extinct, any more than the demons that Jesus cast out have disappeared.
There are many ways to categorize the types of spirit that exist. I am making this simple division, purely from my own standpoint and experience, into just three: the mean, the sick and the evil. The reason I choose this method is because although they differ in degree of threat they display surprisingly similar characteristics, especially when first encountered. Testing them can reveal which level they may represent. They all can, and do, creep in to fellowships of the elect by stealth, display a fake faith, and are marked for destruction. (Jude 4-6)
a) The mean spirit.
This spirit should be distinguished right away from what I call the loose cannon. When I was young in the faith I marveled at how some of my older companions dealt with loose cannons, those people appear to believe but who bluster and object to many parts of Scripture, and may well come back later in full accord. I learned much from these encounters. I vividly remember one evening of fellowship and study which seemed entirely spoiled by our having to stand fast against a fellow who was deriding the book of Genesis. In the end he left in a huff and we thought we should not see him again. Next week he came in championing the same Scriptures more powerfully than we did. This can be a pleasant experience, one where firmness pays dividends. But this is not resisting the devil. The loose cannon is not inherently mean or evil, not an abusive person, nor capricious, swaying with the wind. Strong willed perhaps, and ready for argument. Nothing wrong with that. The Lord literally converts (turns around) and uses such attributes for good.
The mean spirit on the other hand turns on a whim and can be full of wrath. There may be some forward hint of bitterness, a trace of a burning fuse. In most cases it comes right out of the blue. A doctrine which was embraced with apparent delight two days ago now brings forth venom. And this can come from someone who appears to have a very good grasp on the Scriptures. The reaction may vary from being childishly rude and petulant to very vicious. This is a reason to be wary, as we shall see. In the case of a fellowship that is under harassment it is a red alert. I repeat, look for the sudden shift in temperament, the quick seesaw, the unpleasant outburst. What was the best thing yesterday is now the worst. If it arises with significant agitation, tantrums, rage, spitefulness, maligning, and especially if it occurs with name calling or cursing then you have a big problem on your hands. It may be any of the three spirits I have mentioned. It is very difficult to placate this spirit, unless God intervenes to make it possible. The wisdom from above is peaceable and open to reason. (James 3:17) This spirit is not.
It may not be a specific doctrine that is the underlying problem. It may be a tiny thing that triggers the spirit to emerge. It may be envy of something. Envy and malice go hand in hand in the worldly spirit. "For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another." (Titus 3:3) Envy and coveting that which you cannot have causes anything from inner turmoil to war. (James 4:1-3) This spirit of meanness is something that may linger for a while in the newborn child of God, but the elect are called to grow up, empowered to conquer and crucify the "old man" and such traits. This is not an aim-for-higher-than-you-can-reach directive like, "be perfect." It is reasonable and attainable.
"Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking " (1 Peter 2:1)
"Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice." (Ephesians 4:31)
"But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth." (Colossians 3:8)
The rules for dealing with this spirit are simple, and similar to coping with the other two types, except by degree. Stand fast, and be civil. Backing down on the Scriptures will not work for a moment. You can apologize for your own poor presentation of a truth if that caused offence, but not the truth itself, if it is the truth. Resist in this way, and if this spirit is unwilling or unable, then it will likely leave your company. It will probably find a home in a church instead. This is not contrary to what Jesus said about leaving the weeds in the field of wheat. (see: page 199 or Chapter 22, Separation & Destruction, The Truth Which Sets Free) This spirit is no mere weed, and resisting and removing it in this way does not harm the wheat. On the contrary, the sheep gain protection. The second part of the strategy is conducting yourself with all the courtesy and grace you can muster, no matter how nasty this spirit becomes.
"Repay no one evil for evil Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." (Romans 12:17,21)
"But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, pray for those who spitefully use you..." (Matthew 5:39,44)
Be sure to understand the context here. There is a time when politeness may and should be put aside, as shown abundantly in the Scriptures; for example when a prophet encounters those abusing a defenseless widow or orphan, or where the elect meet churchmen leading others astray in God's name, or when people are leading their children astray. Another instance where I take particular umbrage and will likely take off the gloves is when Christians smear the elect who have passed away and have no voice to answer the slur to their character. But with spirits that are simply mean and maligning one's self alone there is plenty of room to be civil. This courtesy will, in all likelihood, infuriate the person even more, as it does the other spirits, because it "pours coals of fire on their heads." (Romans 12:20) Whatever upsets this mean spirit, I have found that coming back to that same point quietly and politely from a different angle will produce the same explosive result: out of kilter, off the deep end, fuming and ranting. Do not let too much time pass before you do this. You need to test this spirit before anything really serious starts happening to your fellowship, and this is a tried and true technique.
It may be something big or very trivial that sets off this spirit. It may be some little thing that is envied. Here is a small example. I am fortunate in that I have very little that anyone would envy or cause them to falter, being free of most things that worldly people collect. Sometimes I do not even have a car, if it is unnecessary. Otherwise I have always driven a reliable but old car, even when I could once afford new, partly for this purpose, to avoid the error of causing another to take offence and stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:9,12,13) Christians are notorious for this deliberate sin, displaying inappropriate houses, foods and their toys in full view of others. It is a serious transgression. (verse 12, compare with Mark 9:42) But, due to my fathers occupation and my own work and research I have lived and worked in many places, covered an extraordinary number of miles and done many unusual things. This I cannot undo, and even this, I have found on occasion, to be the trigger for considerable hate and barbed comments from which the full blown mean spirit has emerged from its cocooned state. However, that said, it is much more likely that the button which sets off the mean spirit is a hated truth from Scripture. This holds equally true for the other types of spirit.
b) The sick spirit.
This spirit will manifest symptoms of an ill person. Secular medicinal practitioners may purport to have a handle on what is physical, mental or spiritual, but doctors are for the most part guessing. It is not so easy to compartmentalize the "oneness" of a person. True, a human being has facets, as confirmed in the Word such as body, soul and spirit, but the prime directive of worship is to love God, with all the heart-mind-soul, as an undivided being. God is one, and man is made in his image. The whole is related with an integrity that makes a human being precisely who they are and not someone else. When this gets confused or partitioned the essence of the person becomes sick.
It is no mere coincidence that so many schizophrenics are religious. A Hindu or Buddhist who has been taught that he is a drop of water in the bucket of life, not a distinct being but merely an "it," an impersonal part of a pantheistic "everything" without the individuality of being made in the image of the Living God, is already very seriously skewed in mind and soul. It is an attempt to live a lie and he cannot do this with integrity. Here is a simple example. My father once declined to give money to such a man, who wanted it to pay off a debt, because the fellow was preaching this very nonsense to men working under my fathers care in India. The man held the classic eastern notion that this life was illusion and that truth and reality were another deeper spiritual level. My father was a generous man, but he despised religious fraud, the essence of which is such double-mindedness. "In that case," my father told him, "you do not need any of my money in this fictitious life. Your debt does not really exist." The man flew into a rage, as may be expected of such people. Even an agnostic can test spirits this silly. Ever since the Fall man has tried to take refuge in religious make-believe instead of the hard facts of the past and present.
Most Christians by nature also suffer from a perilous form of schizophrenia since they are, almost entirely, and always have been, goats pretending or attempting to be sheep. If you are unsure of this, read again Chapter 7, Christians, The Truth Which Sets Free. The Dark Powers That Bind will also confirm that this is not a name used by Gods elect for themselves. Early disciples may have borne this name, as a purposeful insult or in merely being mistaken for members of the copycat sect called Christians, but they never addressed themselves or each other with this name. What Christians have believed for centuries is very different from the faith of the elect. When this is clearly defined and exposed most Christians are apt to hit the roof in anger.
I will leave aside the many slight personality disorders from this discussion. People with such minor forms of affliction that can be successfully treated with logic, mild medication or diet are not the topic. It is the religious spirits that pose a danger to individuals or fellowships that are important here. I have known some people with very severe double or multiple personalities, and each one in my experience has demonstrated considerable knowledge of Scripture. In one figure they may be sweet and loving and in the next character they curse and rant and dance in the parlor with a kitchen knife held aloft. It is possible that this is "only" a severe chemical imbalance that can be corrected with more chemicals. But the drugs I have seen administered have had to be so subjugative they have all but destroyed the person over time, subduing or tempering their outbreaks in the short term but, as one doctor put it, reducing them to a listless shell in the long run, when they have burned themselves out.
This is a truly sick spirit, and the cases I have seen have been very sad. But there is also no mistaking that, like the mean and the evil spirits, the irate face of this sick spirit is often triggered by a truth from Scripture that cannot be stomached. The sudden change and the nature of the outburst are similar to but worse than that of the mean spirit, but not as grave as the reaction of the evil spirit.
I have received my fair share of letter post and emails from people exhibiting dual or multiple personalities, and the explosive flare-ups that attend such souls. I have had such spirits effusively praise a particular section of my writing or website and three days later curse the exact same material with the most vicious energy. My policy is to treat each person as genuine and correspond with him or her accordingly. When the seemingly out-of-character explosion occurs I make a note of what appeared to trigger it, for later use. But I reply in the most civil manner I can, which can be very hard given the nature of the insults and accusations, with attention given to discussing any serious points made by that person amongst the raving and name-calling or expletives. An interesting characteristic of this tirade is that the accusations and criticisms that pour forth (of being nasty, angry, cowardly, dead to God and so on) are precisely the characteristics shown by the sender. But this cannot be pointed out to them. Replying politely usually increases the unpleasantness on their part until they either desist and go away or are suddenly back in gracious mode, preparing for yet another bout. Two guises of the same person may demonstrate both mood swings, and be set off by the same or different triggers.
As with any of these three types of spirit I do not leave it very long to come gently back to the offending button to test the spirit. This may sound unkind but when faced with the duplicity of such a soul it must be done. It is somewhat like playing a fish, giving out line and reeling in as appropriate to bring it to the surface and expose the species in question. Except that if you test the line correctly this fish will think it is the one that is pulling the strings when it is in fact itself being brought up from the depths to be unmasked. In some cases it breaks off and disappear before coming to the light. Some will keep up the fight for a very long time. Some will sign off and come back in a third or fourth form. If it is relentless and does not desist, or if I discern a reasonable danger in the individual, then I take precautionary measures. This may not be a fish you want anywhere near or in the boat with yourself or your fishing fellowship. You need only to identify it and release it. If it hangs around the boat, steer it away, but gently. I will deal with such methods of protection and safeguards at the end of this topic.
c) The evil spirit.
Now we come to the kind of spirits that fled from Jesus into a herd of pigs which then plunged over a cliff. (Matthew 8:28-34) Anyone who thinks such spirits have faded out could not be more wrong. The pigs, or whatever physical vessel they select, may perish, but the evil spirits do not. Even they know that their time of eternal exile and torment is yet to come. (verse 29) Such spirits can become very agitated when truth is near. This kind of battle, of truth versus darkness, is what ordinary folks, and I particularly include churchmen asleep in their comfy and regular pews, would rather not face. They fervently hope and pray that truth will pass on by to somewhere else (verse 34).
Such spirits can be bent on the self-destruction of their hosts. (Matthew 17:14-21) Note: the word this man used to describe his sons state was literally, "moonstruck," similar to our word lunacy (from luna, Latin for the moon). If you have the word epileptic in your translation it is incorrect. (verse 15) The man obviously did not understand the source of the irrational behavior in the boy to hurt himself. Jesus cast out a demon (verse 18). Indeed, one very interesting trigger for this type of spirit is its penchant for daring death, and its misuse of Gods Word to lure people into being "bold in the Lord" in something that clearly comes out as stupidity or recklessness, the taking of unnecessary risk. Nothing could be more unscriptural or satanic. This is exactly how the Devil himself tempted Christ, with Scripture, and Christ put him straight, with Scripture. "You shall not tempt the Lord your God." (Matthew 4:5-7) I have seen the faces of Christians contort when telling them that rock-climbing without a rope and other death defying "sports" or "stunts" are not for Gods elect. Demons love death, and to dare it, because it is their realm and destiny. Unregenerate people are likewise attracted to its lure like flies. They will fill arenas to watch it. Goats pay lots of money for such experiences. The spirits know this flaw and tendency in fallen souls all too well. They will never cease to draw men into it. And if people do perish in such pursuits, the dark side surely dances at their sealed capture. Risking eternity in the nether gloom is the ultimate in foolish dares. (see footnotes at the end of this topic)
There is quite enough danger for the elect without them having to go looking for it. David fought bear and lion to protect his flock, but he did not seek those confrontations on purpose. A true apostle may be called to stand fast and take severe beatings in Jesus name, even die for the faith, but he may also defuse a situation if possible by leaving a city secretly lowered from a basket instead of going through the main gate and getting smacked for such imprudence. He may also pull out his Roman citizenship, or appeal to Caesar, if dangerous circumstances warrant. "Go boldly" does not mean go carelessly or foolishly. The elect person is not called to dare death. He or she is called to lay down life in the service of others, not risk it for a foolish or selfish thrill. If you are not sure what laying down your life entails read God & Mammon on this website.
The person with an evil spirit is most easily recognized by the degree to which he rages or appears to "lose it," either in partial or entire control of his own words and actions. I will give you three such examples of evil spirits I have encountered in others in the flesh. One was when visiting a house where I was supposed to meet a friend. The friend was late and the door was open. I knocked and looked in to find a man, whom I had never met and who knew nothing about me, dancing half-naked on a pile of broken vinyl music records. Around him were religious icons, mainly Buddhist, and incense burners. As I approached he broke into shouting, "I hate Yahweh," and "I hate Jehovah." No question about this spirit, even if he had one name of the Lord wrong. (if you are unsure about the erroneous name Jehovah see: God & Evil, Addendum, The Truth Which Sets Free) The man could not be restrained or placated. He merely became more riled at any attempt to reason. When my friend arrived we left the man to his frantic whirling.
Another case was met when visiting at a party. There was a young woman there who started talking to me about Gods oaths and promises in the Hebrew Scriptures. Her reasoning had a very dark twist to it, in how the oaths might be used as curses. I became immediately uneasy and with careful and polite words worked her through the danger she might be inviting on herself. She merely broke into cackling laughter. A few minutes later, while I was speaking with someone else, frightful screams broke out. The woman was prostrate but appeared to be levitating, wailing and swearing uncontrollably, and grinding her teeth. I was very young in the faith and fully admit to being frozen to the floor in fear. It took several men much bigger than myself to hold her down until she relaxed and lost consciousness. Upon awakening she half left, half fled the party.
On a third occasion another young woman came for her first visit to our evening fellowship and study. I did not speak with her concerning the Lord but others did. During the prayers afterward, when we were giving thanks for the food from the Word and the simple table fare we always shared at these assemblies, this woman arched forward from the sofa on to her back and started writhing on the floor, making noises which were quite unearthly, part shrieks and part whistling hisses. She too had to be constrained and lost consciousness. All in the room were very unnerved. We discussed the matter and prayed to see if someone was to be given the way and power to deal with this spirit, or if it was to be removed from her by unified prayer. It was not granted. When she awoke she left the house quickly and was never seen again.
These examples demonstrate that no matter how evil the spirit may be, even if it is not to be banished from the host, it will go away if faced with truth and right conduct, and of course, an appeal to the Lord. People who think that such demons can be easily overcome quite probably do not belong to the true Israel of God. They have either been watching too much Hollywood make believe and special effects, or have discipled themselves to the church instead of Christ. They need to read the Word very carefully, lest they receive a severe thrashing. (Acts 19: 13-16) Even the elect may have to resort to intensive prayer. (Matthew 17: 18-21) And no one may take on such spirits single-handed. (Jude 6-10) Since this subject is about testing the spirits, not casting them out, I will not digress into the matter of exorcism.
On a personal level I have sometimes been asked if I know anything about literally wrestling with powers and principalities. The answer is yes, but in a very mild form. When I was writing The Truth Which Sets Free for instance, in the seclusion of a cabin in Canada, I was resting on the bed at noon when something came upon me like a heavy invisible blanket, pinning me down entirely and suffocating me so that I could not move, breathe or call out. I could, of course, cry to God in my heart and mind. I was released, but by no means right away. This happened on two separate occasions, amongst some other lesser incidents. When I staggered to the bathroom afterward I found that my face was very contorted from the encounter, and it took about half an hour in a hot shower for the muscles and flesh to relax so that I looked myself again.
The result of these personal encounters was the opposite of what I believe was intended. I immediately put much more priority and energy into completing the book which I was then convinced, more than ever, was important. The events were fearful enough but I did not actually think I was about to suffer fatal harm. Those who are for us are greater than those who are against us. (2 Kings 6:15-17, Matthew 10:28) I have felt much greater alarm at bodily threats from human beings. From Scripture we know that it is not usually the disembodied spirits that kill. The dark side's slayers come in flesh and blood. It is the hands of human beings that hammer nails and throw stones to silence the truth.
William Tyndale (1494-1536) is one of my personal heroes from history. He may not have seen through words like "Easter" and "Christian" but his grasp on truth was enormous and he was in a very real way the leading edge of his time, the father of a great awakening in the English speaking world. The events toward the end of Tyndales life provide many insights to the battle against the dark powers, be they mean, sick, evil, or a combination thereof. His story, like that of many others who suffered similar harassment, imprisonment or condemnation, shows that the enemy to be confronted when releasing truth will most likely be the Christian Church.
Tyndale was the first man to print the New Testament in the English language, so fluent in eight languages (Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Spanish, French, Italian, English, and German) that it was said one would think any one of them to be his native tongue. This gift undoubtedly aided him in his lengthy elusion of the church authorities during his years of exile from England. He is frequently referred to as the "architect of the English language," and that "he gave the English their language" which even today contains more of his phrases than those of Shakespeare.
In London Tyndale was at first welcomed at table talks by many Christian professors. But these spirits did not want to resolve issues from Scripture, merely to sit and chatter. They became jealous of Tyndale and hated him for the scriptural truths he brought to bear and that settled matters. This was not so of everyone of course. In 1521 Tyndale joined the household of Sir John Walsh at Little Sudbury Manor, near Bath. Here he functioned as chaplain, tutor and secretary. His preaching at the dinner gatherings was so welcomed by Walsh that the local priest was no longer required or invited to the Manor to speak. Missing his free banquet, the gluttonous priest sought to have Tyndale arrested for heresy. Think about that for a minute. This mean Christian spirit would have put Tyndales life on the line for a plate of food. But then, Judas Iscariot sold the Lord himself for just thirty pieces of silver. Notable churchmen from all over England often assembled at Walshs table. Their false views were so exposed by Tyndales teachings from the Word that he aroused the fury of the clergy in general. It was at one of these meals that Tyndale spoke to a visiting cleric the words for which he remains famous. "If God spares my life, before many years pass, I will cause a boy that drives the plow to know more of the Scriptures than you do."
Eventually the hue and cry for his head became too much. With the help of Humphrey Monmouth, a wealthy merchant, Tyndale left England under a false name and landed at Hamburg in 1524. He had already begun work on the New Testament and in the following year completed his translation. The printing was begun at Cologne, with the help of William Roye, a friend from Cambridge. But Roye was indiscreet. Note this well. He was a friend but he either did not take the danger seriously or he mistook foolishness for boldness. The enterprise was exposed. Only a few sheets were salvaged and Tyndale fled to Worms. There the printing was successfully carried out. Copies of the New Testament in English arrived in Tyndales country in 1526, and the work was given a very hostile reception by the Church. Bishop Tunstall (a noted champion of free-will theology) and Archbishop Warham denounced it. Cardinal Wolsey demanded Tyndales arrest as a heretic. Tyndale went into further secure hiding in Antwerp.
Sir Thomas More also attacked Tyndale with charges of heresy. More was particularly incensed because Tyndales translations used the words such as "congregation" and "senior" rather than the unscriptural terms "church" and "priest." Tyndales reply, An Answer to Sir Thomas More, used the correct method of courteous moderation in examining the facts to disprove Mores charges. But More was not just a mean spirit. This evil man kept a rack in his basement to persuade such heretics of their error. More reacted to Tyndales measured reply with the signature response of such a spirit. He wrote almost three-quarters of a million words of invective and abuse for Tyndale who did not bother to reply again.
The difference between Tyndale and More is the classic difference between the spirits that are found in the elect and the dead souls of Christian churchmen. Thomas More died in the Church and for the Church, beheaded for defending the authority of the Pope in Rome against the lewd king Henry VIII of England in religious squabbles. More went to his execution believing, as all churchmen do, that he was serving God, when in fact he was devoutly clinging to the Antichrist and Satan's ace card. It was Tyndale who was the true servant in losing his life, not for the Church or for Christianity but for the Word of God.
In the end, Tyndale was betrayed by a man called Henry Phillips who needed the money to pay off a debt. It is assumed but never factually proven that he was employed and paid by the Church (who else?). Philips went to Antwerp and over a period of time befriended Tyndale. Although Tyndale was an astute person, it appears that he had no suspicions regarding Philips. Indeed, it is known that Tyndale was very kind to him. Phillips arrived pretending to be a convert to the "new" faith. He must have been extremely good at it to fool the mind and heart of Tyndale. Why Phillips did not betray his whereabouts right away is also a mystery. Personally, as an educated guess, I think he was quite taken with much of what Tyndale was saying but the time came, as it does for every evil spirit, when he could not stomach that button which triggers such spirits to reveal their true nature.
Judas Iscariot also sat at table with the truth all around him. We know Judas was good at his pretence, although he did give himself away on several occasions, in little outbursts that one cannot imagine coming from any other apostle. Consider, for instance, his petty carping about the costly perfume, because he loved money and wanted rather to possess the funds himself. (John 12:4-6) This, too, is a story in itself, that Christ gave the purse to the mammon lover. Judas was of course dismissed by the Lord at the appointed time to fulfill his dreadful task of betrayal. (John 13:18-30, Psalm 41:9) Something eventually prompted Phillips that the day was right to hand over Tyndale.
Tyndale was arrested and imprisoned in the castle of Vilvoorden, near Brussels, for over 500 days of atrocious conditions. Despite the great efforts of English merchants to save him from a vengeful church he was tried for heresy and treason by a council under Archbishop Carandolet in a ludicrously unfair trial. He was then strangled and burnt at the stake in the prison yard, 6th October 1536. A combination of very mean, double minded and wicked spirits finally had their wish come true. They could not, however, snuff out Tyndales legacy which thundered truth all over England, Europe, and to the ends of the earth where men could read the Word in plain language and in an exceptionally accurate translation.
There is, of course, no physical defense mechanism for the purely spiritual attack that I mentioned earlier. That requires divine armour (Ephesians 6:11-17) and the hand of the Lord. But for worldly assaults, real or potential, there are many ways to safeguard yourself, your family, or your fellowship. If you believe and speak the truth then you may already know what I am talking about. I do not write books that merely inform people of the majesty of God. Those kind of publications do not upset or dent the Church and can be found on the shelves of Christian bookstores everywhere. They do not disturb the goats. To do this one must follow the example of Jesus or John the Baptist, or Luther or Tyndale or John Bunyan. For truth to truly make its mark it must also deliberately and piercingly expose the lie, especially the church, and this will have religious people in general and Christians in particular up in arms. (see: Chapter 15, Church Gospels, The Truth Which Sets Free)
The message of Christ is not the man-pleasing gospel of Christianity. It is good news for his sheep but bad news for the goats, those whose names are not in the book of life from before the foundation of the world. (see the topic, King's Ransom) Churchmen may follow John the Baptist or Jesus or Luther or Bunyan at a distance, drawn in a perverse way to overhear the real thing, but the truth offends them and they gnash their teeth and desire to smother it because it brings their own true nature to light. Like the spirits who became greatly troubled at the approach of Jesus, the souls of all goats are perturbed by the growing awareness of the doom which awaits them. They want this message to be snuffed out. The closer one comes to the leading edge of truth, the more agitated Satan and his minions become, and the more darts they will throw.
There is no hatred like religious hatred. I have been threatened (in person) with being beaten to death for something as trivial as mentioning the sexual immorality of Princess Diana. It is acceptable to goats to wallow in such sin as the tabloids will gladly feed them, but to expose this in the light of the Word brings forth their venom. John the Baptist did this very same thing regarding adultery in the "royalty" of his day, amongst many things he was called to do, and it cost him prison and then his head. Bunyan so exposed the Christians of his day he was jailed on the farcical charge of preaching without a "church" licence. Tyndale was strangled for translating the Word without "church authority." So you can probably imagine what intimidation I have received for statements concerning the man of sin, the Anti of Christ who sits on the Vatican throne, and his "abomination that makes desolate." (see: Harlot Babylon, Addendum, The Truth Which Sets Free) I have also received death threats because of material exposing Islam, the worst of all Judeo-Christian offshoots, and its appalling founder. (see: Prophet of Terror, Destiner Topic)
While there are no walls to stop spirits that can pass through them, there are barriers and shields that can be raised to mitigate the onslaught of mean and evil spirits in the flesh. The first is to have a healthy skepticism of people. Jesus did, even if they seemed to believe. (John 2:23-25) The prophets wrote continuously of the false spirits in men, in fake prophets, and even in brothers. (Jeremiah 5:30-31; 9:3-6; Isaiah 30:8-10) "Do not trust a friend; do not put your confidence in a companion; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom." (Micah 7:5) Read that last bit again. Watch what you say, even to your spouse. Jesus quotes this very passage, in his warning that "a mans foes may be in his own household." (Micah 7:7, Matthew 10:34-39) Tyndale, no doubt, appreciated that after having to move town because of his partner Roye's friendly but loose tongue, and especially because he relaxed his guard with Phillips. He should have warily tested a complete newcomer, especially given his dire need for secrecy.
The spirits that arrive in pretence are usually very well equipped. Read again about the temptation of Christ, and how Satan came to him full of the Word of God. Some of the worst emails I have ever received have been from people whose knowledge of Scripture and apparent adherence to it was at first astonishing. Their ability to quote reams of applicable text at a whim was really astounding. But my suspicions grew as the giveaway buttons surfaced, and I carefully pushed them. Several took great offence that I would not divulge my unlisted telephone number or mailing or residential address, calling me paranoid, faithless and lacking appropriate boldness. That reaction, reader, is in itself an automatic red alert, especially for any of you who live under any kind official persecution or social harassment.
Be wary. If these spirits are from below then it will not be long before they quite literally freak out in revealing themselves, with messages full of ranting and vitriol. These missives, or rather missiles, I personally erase from my computer, but not before making copies for reference in a text file and intact email copies for a federal file. You read that correctly. I take all hate mail seriously. That initiative was given to me by a Canadian Security official with whom I met, at his invitation, to discuss a potential Islamic threat. I keep any ominous or unhinged messages that might later be of help if something really serious ensues. But otherwise I do not divulge any private information from those messages. Not even to my wife. There is no point in her reading the bad mail. Too depressing. Even worthwhile mail sent to me in confidence remains that way, behind a secure password known only to myself and kept only in my head.
I do sometimes draw examples from email to illustrate a truth, especially from the bad mail, but it remains anonymous. If the unpleasant interactions seem likely to be endless, and I decide that further answer to such repetitive hostility is truly hopeless, I block the senders address and inform the person that I have activated that filter. Within two or three days I know such a spirit will probably come back again under an alias name, sometimes more than one. I then inform them that their message has been traced and matched with their other mail and recorded on file. This normally causes them to withdraw. It is a valid form of resistance, bringing them and their antics to the light so that they become very inclined to depart.
There are huge advantages of email over postal correspondence. For a start, email carries inherent information regarding its source and journey that can be quickly and accurately traced backwards in ways that anonymous postal mail cannot. And like unwanted flyers, which can fill a postbox instead of automatically being trashed online, postal mail can keep coming for a long time. I once had letters arriving almost weekly from an incensed pastor with whom at first I had partly reasonable discussions concerning his holding to the deadly illusion of free will. It was when we had covered just about everything, and I explained that this was precisely what Satan used to tempt man in the beginning and resulted in the entry of decay, disease and death (see: Amazing Grace or Raising The Dead, Addendum, The Truth Which Sets Free) that his letters turned to frenzied invective. On and on he went, with the names and accusations, his letters arriving for months after I told him I would not reply. I stopped even opening them and simply put them in the fire.
Today I merely adjust the email filters. I am very thankful for email and what I call my "zappers," those programs that can be tweaked to destroy unwanted messages to the tune of whatever exploding noise you care to select. The sounds actually remind me of a real bug fryer which I once sat under and observed outside the small house of a cane farmer in northern Australia. It was a bright light inside an electrified wire cage on the roof. All kinds of undesirable insects were arriving and ending their journey there, every minute, pests that would have otherwise been attracted to his house lights. I use email for this very purpose, to screen out incoming messages that I already know I do not want in my home; sometimes as many as 250 get zapped in one day. And for this very reason I do not easily divulge my telephone number, mailing address or personal whereabouts. You can bet that Tyndale was equally careful about his mail.
If you are reading this with your mouth open in unbelief then think hard. Do you speak or publish anything that causes the dark side to get agitated? Do you tell churchmen that they are the very problem that stifles truth, stiff-necked resisters of the Spirit of God? Stephen did that and they stoned him for it. (Acts 7:51-60) Jesus did it and the churchmen handed him over to the state on a trumped up charge to have him crucified. "They answered and said to him (Pilate), If he (Jesus) were not an evildoer, we would not have delivered Him up to you." (John 18:30) These words strongly suggest that a deal had already been struck with Pilate by those wicked schemers. And note what they were calling Jesus. This is a classic characteristic of evil spirits, to call the one proclaiming the Word the very thing that in reality applies to them.
The same spirits that handed over Christ would gladly have given up Peter and the other apostles who either fled temporarily into hiding (Mark 14:50) or cloaked their their identity. (Matthew 26:69-75; John 18:15-18) Peter should not have denied Christ, a situation he created for himself. With a better guise he might have avoided this lie (humanly speaking, because it was in fact sure to occur as prophesied by the Lord). But under the circumstances the seclusion of the apostles is quite understandable. They had been told by the Lord to wait. It was some weeks after the heat had died down that they emerged again, and this under the guidance of the Spirit of God. There is a time and season for each mode of operation. Unless one is directed to be very public in appearance it is no sin to maintain one's privacy and that of one's friends.
This can be one of the disadvantages of email, if used improperly. I do not use multiple cc emails for this very reason, except where specific groups of recipients are already well acquainted, and even then I rarely do it. I certainly do not forward emails to an unknown spirit with any addresses of trusted friends attached. There is no way I would want them to be accidentally introduced to the wrong person and later receive ugly mail replies on my account. Multiple cc mailings are an incredible breach of privacy. Think about it. Would you send a letter in the post covered with a mass of others' addresses? No; not just out of lazy penmanship but because you know it would look inappropriate. Email makes it all too easy to do this with a quick click. Again, if you live under any kind of harassment, take note of such a simple precaution.
Look also at the form of protection provided by using an alias. This is a camouflage that may be justified in unfriendly surroundings. Do not confuse this with lying. Evil spirits love to blur this issue, especially the hypocritical ones who come in their various masks, bent on malice. The commandment is, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." (Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20) Tyndale used an assumed name to escape the deadly clutches of the church. You read that above. Did it offend you or did you pass it by as a sensible thing to do under the circumstances? His temporarily assumed identity could not cause anyone else harm. I am quite sure that Tyndale would not have denied his real self or his Lord if recognized and put on the spot. But a good alias or distraction can prevent this having to happen at all. Think about this principle. In the Second World War people escaped and fooled the SS by carrying false papers. They also misled those evil men (many of whom were Jesuits and Catholics in that terrible inquisition and "purification") when they were looking for a neighbor. Would you tell the enemy the truth knowing it would mean the demise of your neighbor and perhaps his entire family?
Would you have given up Tyndale, if questioned and you knew where he was? Do you think Tyndale was timid or wrong to act in secret? If you are in doubt read all of Joshua chapter 2 and Hebrews 11:31. God sometimes has his elect act as secret agents in situations requiring considerable courage and exceedingly rewards them for it. Indeed, of all the adult Israelites to be saved out of Egypt the only two permitted to enter the promised Land were in fact God's spies. (Numbers 13:1; 14:6,7; 32:11,12, Deuteronomy 1:35-38) I have no doubt at all that Tyndale entered the right gate and the bright land for his secret and selfless activities. Tyndale was called things similar to an undercover agent, to his credit, including God's outlaw (against the church law and authority) and God's smuggler (of the Word).
Using deception has its place, but it is absolutely out of bounds when it is for harmful reasons or for gain at the expense of others. This is abundantly clear from Scripture and where the ninth commandment exposes evildoers. The elect of God must not be like "men of corrupt minds, destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself" (1 Timothy 6:5) or those who "subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain." (Titus 1:11) They must serve the flock of God, "not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain." (1 Peter 5:2) In other words the olden-day antics of a Jacob, dressing up to fool his father and acquire his brother's inheritance and blessing, or cheating to increase his own flocks rather than those of the man for whom he worked, are no longer tolerated by God. This is forbidden in the New Covenant, as is all such pursuit of mammon for selfish increase. (1 Timothy 6:6-10) Try telling this to today's Christian "pastors" and "evangelists!" The man of God is one who flees from such desires (1 Timothy 6:11) and does not work for his own advantage (2 Corinthians 12:17,18), nor does he merely "tip" God with gratuities to his fellows but lays down his very life for them. (1 John 3:16-18)
But he may and should protect himself from the wiles of the devil. He is commanded to test the spirits, especially the substitutes that come in Jesus name. When people turn up at your door, saying they have come to discuss global warming but they have a Watchtower magazine in hand you already know that they have not come in truth. When they say they have come for you to fill out a survey but they are really Presbyterians or Baptists, trying to get a foot in the door to foist on you their particular spiel, then you already know that they have not come in truth. They are fronting another message. When they leave "wellness" tracts in public waiting rooms but the booklets do not identify them as Mormons or Adventists or whoever they are, you know right away that there is something untrustworthy in these spirits.
I try to stay watchful while declaring and publishing the undiluted and unvarnished truth to the best of my courage, means and ability. That is what Paul recommended and asked for himself, even from a prison cell. (Ephesians 6:18-20) I also identify myself clearly on my "contact" or "about the author" page. I do not screen the message or present it deviously from behind a facade, nor do I write under a pen-name. But I do take whatever precautions I deem necessary protect my own privacy, especially from spirits that do not wish me well. And if something wakes me up to the fact that I am dealing with one, I do not hesitate to start testing it.
May God give you the wisdom to do this as fitting to your own situation.
Some prescriptions for testing the spirits, particularly your own,
from Matthew 10.
I send you out as sheep amongst wolves. Therefore be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Are you this judiciously wary of others while you also appear naive and harmless?
Beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and whip you in their synagogues. Are you and your companions at odds with the house made with hands and its leaders, or are you sitting in agreement in their pews? Your real companions should be exactly what the word means, those with whom you share the bread and body of Christ, not those fed by the church and its sacraments. (Companion: ORIGIN Old French compaignon ‘one who breaks bread with another’, Latin panis ‘bread.’ Oxford Dictionary)
Brother will deliver up brother, children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death...A mans enemies will be those of his own house. Do you ever think to observe the spirits very close to you?
You will be hated by all for my sake. Are you despised by the world and church for Jesus or are you just another comfortable Christian?
When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. Does your stand for the Word ever mean you lose work or even have to leave town due to discrimination or harassment, not because of cowardice but out of precaution or necessity?
A disciple is not above his master. If they call the master Satan how much more they will slander those of his house! Do the spirits of the world and church call you or your fellow pilgrims evil names on account of Christ?
Do not fear them, for there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed...Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot slay the soul; rather fear Him who is able to destroy body and soul in hell. Are you bold without being careless, knowing that the evil ones will be brought to the light by God and condemned?
What I tell you in the shadow, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, publish from the roofs. Do you take the truths that come from learning and preparing in seclusion and proceed to proclaim them in the open where they might save souls or upset the spirits of the church and world?
Whoever confesses me before men I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven, but whoever denies me before men I will also deny in the presence of my Father. Are you standing for the Word, or are you in fact denying him and standing for the substitute-christ of the church and that subtle gospel?
He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. Are there any folks at all that you put before the Lord? Do you let their demands or supposed obligations take precedence?
He who keeps his life will find it, and he who loses his life for me will keep it. Are you keeping your life for yourself, or family, or your work, or your denomination, or are you losing it and putting it on the line for Christ?
...risking eternity in the nether gloom is the ultimate in foolish dares.
At Mount Sinai we find a perfect example of God testing and sifting such souls, the ones Paul describes with his phrase "not all who are of Israel are of Israel." (Romans 9:6) These people were like the churchmen Jesus met, having a knowledge of the written Word but missing the living Word. (John 5:38-40) Using the words of the apostle Peters perfect description which applies to both fallen angels and fallen men, they became "willingly ignorant" or "willfully unaware" of the peril. (2 Peter 2:4,5; 3:5,6) An ark of safety was right there for them to seek refuge but they preferred the foolhardy dare. They had seen God's glory and wonders with their own eyes, and now, like the reckless pagans who had pursued them through the parted sea and were destroyed, they too deliberately set themselves in a death-defying performance. And they even managed to temporarily pull Aaron in on it. They mixed pagan traditions with the Lord's name. This is a timeless ploy which brings forth the spirits of goats in mass. Christians everywhere religiously engage in this same stunt every year, risking God's provocation right to His face. (see Chapter 13, Church Festivals, The Truth Which Sets Free)
Did the goats at Sinai perhaps think that because they were the ones who had been exempted from the plagues that God would be lenient? Did they think that they were going to get away with it because they were Israelites, under divine protection, and would not be inundated like the Egyptians? Perhaps that is what those spirits whispered to themselves, but Moses gave them no such hope. They were in fact thumbing their noses at grace, and as we know, they received no mercy. If Aaron himself had chosen to remain with the pagan festivities at Sinai he too would have perished, not because God is unmerciful but because God means what he says. The way of mercy was open to all. It was free and simple: dont do that, its not worth it, choose life. The Lord is not the one-sided lovey-dovey God of Christianity. His Love is intense and jealous for righteousness and truth. He is also the piercing Light who hates the darkness, especially the shadowy spirits draped in religious traditions. Moses had just come down the mountain with God's words fresh in his hands, and these goats danced with death instead.