Satan and the Church of the Mystery
1. The declaration.
We believe that Satan has no authority in the heavenly places to which the church
of the mystery has been translated. Demon possession is attached to other spheres
and callings. We believe that Satan's one means of access to the believer is through
ignorance of the truth, and that recovery from his captivity is by repentance
and the acknowledging of the truth, which makes us free.
Conquerors do not go out to wage war against a conquered foe, neither are they
haunted by the fear of his activity. We are more than conquerors in Christ. We
are delivered and translated out of Satan's authority. We have a command to withstand
the spiritual forces of this world's darkness and are provided with complete armour
and with one weapon, the Word of God. We are assured that apart from lowering
the shield of faith not one fiery dart of the wicked can reach us.
To sum up we would say that our attitude to the Satanic system is expressed first
of all by our position in Christ as 'far above all'; and that everything else
is relative to the fact that we are 'seated together' there.
2. Scriptural grounds.
'Can ye be angry and sin not? (Author's translation). Let not the sun go down
upon your wrath: neither give place to the devil' (Eph. 4:26,27).
'Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles
of the devil' (Eph. 6:11).
' ... that ye may know ... what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward
who believe, according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in
Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in
the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion,
and every name that is named, not only in this world (age), but also in that which
is to come: and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the Head
over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth
all in all' (Eph. 1:18-23).
'Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into
the kingdom of His dear Son' (Col. 1:13).
'To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power
of Satan unto God' (Acts. 26:18).
'Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary
to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them ... I would have you wise
unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace shall
bruise Satan under your feet shortly' (Rom. 16:17,19.20).
'In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will
give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover
themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his
will' (2 Tim. 2:25,26).
'Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of
the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest
he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil' (1 Tim. 3:6,7).
3. Some explanation and application of these
Some Christians seem to be so indifferent to the power of Satan and to minimise
it to such an extent that they are easily blinded to his activities, and are a
source of danger to the church through negligence. There are some, on the other
hand, who appear to magnify Satan's activity and authority out of all due proportion.
Attending their prayer meetings or conferences one seems to hear the name of Satan
almost as frequently as the name of God. Christians of this second class are usually
the more earnest and zealous believers, and such are even a greater menace to
the church in this regard than their indifferent brethren.
Our theme here is not Satan and the Satanic system, the casting out of demons,
and similar subjects, but rather the more limited one -- 'Satan and the church
of the mystery'. We believe that the church of the One Body is a unique company,
having a complete guide for its doctrine and practice, and all necessary knowledge
in those writings, called for convenience, 'The prison epistles'. While we cannot
rule that a believer should not resort to the Gospels or the Epistles of Peter
for instruction concerning Satan and other subjects, we do maintain that it is
an evidence that something is wrong when a professed member of the One Body, who
has apparently endorsed the distinctive dispensational position of the mystery,
leaves the epistles of this calling and reverts for instruction on this great
theme to the scriptures written to the Circumcision or to the Gospel records of
a time before the Lord had overcome death, the Devil, and the grave.
Either the epistles of the mystery are complete, or they are deficient. So far
as we are concerned we make the declaration unfeignedly, that we believe that
God has included all necessary instruction for the church of the mystery within
the pages of the 'prison epistles', and any doctrine or practice that takes its
origin in Scriptures confessedly addressed to believers on other dispensational
planes, stands thereby excluded and judged as error.
Paul makes ten references to Satan throughout the whole of his written ministry
of fourteen epistles. Eight of these references belong to the epistles written
before Acts 28. Two are found in the first Epistle to Timothy; and not one reference
in Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians or 2 Timothy.
Paul mentions Diabolos, 'The Devil', nine times in
his epistles. Two of these references are in Titus and Timothy. 'The aged women,
likewise, that they be ... not false accusers (devils)' (Tit. 2:3); 'For men shall
be ... false accusers (devils)' (2 Tim. 3:2,3). The remaining seven references
are found in Ephesians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy and Hebrews.
The other title of Satan, The Wicked, is used by
Paul twice, both references being in
We believe that the whole matter of Satanic authority and demon possession, so
far as the church of the One Body is concerned, is settled positionally. The very
position of the church in Christ, far above all, raises that church above Satan's
province. This we now proceed to show from Scripture.
Let none misunderstand us. Satan is the enemy of God and man. We hold no truce
with him or his agents, but we refuse to engage in a warfare that denies that
we are already more than conquerors. We refuse to give the slightest colour to
the thought that Satan has any jurisdiction over those who are raised far above
all in Christ. We refuse to lay down the sword of the Spirit, definitely given
us of God as the one weapon, to engage in methods that approach perilously near
the psychic travesty of Pentecostalism. We do not believe that we should see in
sickness and disease among the members of Christ's church a denial of His Lordship.
We prefer still to believe that it is as true of us as of those to whom John wrote,
'The wicked one toucheth us not'.
We do believe, however, that the believer may voluntarily lay aside the armour
provided by God, and if he does so the fiery darts of the wicked will find him
out. We do believe that ground is certainly given to Satan by not putting off
the conversation of the old man, and by not putting on the new. These sad possibilities
do not call for warfare; they call for 'repentance to the acknowledgement of the
truth'. and when recovery is made, and the believer again reaches his true position
where he stands as 'delivered', 'translated', and 'seated' 'far above all', the
promise of Romans 16:20 is fulfilled -- Satan is beneath his feet. Time and opportunity
can then be consecrated to positive testimony and strife need never be known.
Troubles, afflictions, persecutions may come thick and fast -- they are promised
to all who will live godly. Such accompaniments do not call for 'resistance',
but rather for the spirit of Matthew 11:26, or of 2 Corinthians 12:10.
Such is our 'persuasion'. So far as we are concerned, Satan is a beaten foe already
cast out from the sphere of our calling. We seek to set our mind on things above
where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God, and not to be occupied either with
earthly things, or with the foredoomed activities of Satan.
When we find chapter and verse in the Prison Epistles for changing this attitude
it will be time to modify it. Till then we make our declaration. Every child of
God has his own responsibility to the Lord, but we refuse to allow any to rob
us of our blessed security and heritage which is found in Christ in the heavenly
places, far above all.
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