God is love. The Devil is hate. Love is good, the best good there can be. Hate is bad, at the worst badness.
The two are sworn enemies. The conflict is utterly irreconcilable. There can be no patched up truce. It's an advantage to get that fact clear.
Neither side will yield. The Devil won't give in. He is incorrigible. God can't give in. His purity, His character, forbid.
The warfare goes on ceaselessly, but — not interminably. There'll be an end to it some day, a blessed end, for man.
The earth is the battlefield. Man is the one being fought for. Man's choice, freely given, is the one thing aimed at in the fighting.
God wants man's love, that is, himself at his true native best. He wants his love freely, voluntarily given. That's really repetition. Love isn't love unless it's freely given.
The Devil wants man's worship, his submission, abject, absolute submission, no matter how given or gotten. And he's dead-set on getting it.
The Devil is always on the heels of God to hurt man. Anything will be used that does that. Everything is used that promises that. Nothing is too base or foul, or too refined or cultured, for His reaching hand.
The rarest scholarship and finest culture, the foulest sensuality and most heartless selfishness, each is used to the utmost. Anything to befool and befoul, to get twists and quirks, to lead away from that touch with God which is native to man as God made him.
Nothing is too sacred for the Devil's touch. Christian phraseology, scholastic philosophy, scientific research, are laid under tribute. The sweetest relationships and purest contacts of life are foully besmirched.
And nothing is too foul if it'll help out his incorrigible purpose. And no combination of the sacred and the foul is left untried and unused.
But, but, God is ever on the heels of the Devil to help. That's why Christ came, and came as He came, and died as He did. Nothing God has is too precious to be freely given and sacrificed if only man may be saved from the foul touch of the Devil.
The Devil is an imitator. He's a skilled artful imitator. He never originates. But he has great ability as an imitator.
One of the early Christian leaders called the Devil "the ape of God." Imitation is the outstanding trait of both the ape and the Devil. But that was said long ago, long before the leaders' visions had become so obscured.
The Devil doesn't hesitate to deceive. He is dishonest, as well as the father of all sorts of lies. He even slanders God. He doesn't play fair.
God is so honest. He is always so fair, even, even, be it said plainly, to His arch-enemy. And He knows well the outcome.
The Devil is bold, devilishly bold, in his imitations and deceptions. He even imitates God! He steals phraseology from God's Book. He copies God's actions, that is, as nearly as he can.
The expert instantly detects the imitation, the counterfeit, when put side by side with the genuine. But then the experts in this line are rather few and scarce.
The one school started for teaching and training eyes and ears and judgment in this sort of thing has been skilfully turned aside from its great task.
The thing most lacking in Christian circles is teaching, simple, clear, poised teaching. Characteristically, the Christian groups are untaught and untrained.
They are like shepherdless sheep, torn, distressed, befooled, heading this way and that, and running into each other, rather violently some times. It's a marked feature of the spirit conflict, just now.
The great steadying factor is that the outcome is as assured as that Christ emptied that new-hewn tomb of rock, when its purpose had been served.
Miracles appeal to the imagination as nothing else does. Any evidence or suggestion of supernatural power in action attracts the biggest crowds in the shortest time. This has always been true, and is.
It has always been popularly supposed that the supernatural is God at work. A miracle is commonly taken as evidence of divine power. This is a universal common notion or delusion, and has always been so.
Of course, intelligent, thoughtful, Christian men know that this is not so. Archbishop Trench, the eminent Irish scholar and saint, speaks of this in his notable work on miracles.
A miracle is not necessarily evidence of God's work. It is evidence merely that some supernatural power is in action.
Then the questions are: whose? what? There are two sources of supernatural power, God and the Devil. Of course, God's power is absolute and limitless.
The Devil is distinctly limited. His power is actually much less than sometimes supposed. Still there is a supernatural power there, however limited. And he is very skilful in using and displaying it to the best advantage.
And we are pretty much a very unsophisticated lot. Yes, we are worse than unsophisticated. We are pretty apt to think we know, and to be rather set in thinking that way. We prefer to think so.
What a spectacle! Ignorant, and think we know! A mixture of a little knowledge, much ignorance, and more contentment with ourselves just as we are. That's the hardest kind of folk to help. That unseen fighter is surely a cunning strategist.
The Book of God gives clear light on every sort of serious question. It will answer, and answer fully, any thoughtful question brought to it.
It gives light here. It tells about satanic miracles. A miracle, you will remember, is the result of some power in action greater than men are familiar with. It does not mean something contrary to nature, but something more than the natural thing we are commonly used to.
The Devil's Miracles in Egypt
The Book tells distinctly about the Devil's miracles. There are two groups of passages, one past, one regarding the future; Egypt in the past, and the earth-wide Crisis that is yet future.
In the case of Egypt, it is a time of partial visitation of judgment on the world-empire of its day. Moses performed ten miracles, by God's direction, that entered vitally into the very life of the nation.
The Egyptian magicians, or occult experts, performed three miracles in imitation of Moses, attempted a fourth, but failed in it,
Then, frankly, with awe-stricken faces, they admitted that there was a power at work through Moses superior to them, distinctly greater than the power they stood for.
The line of conflict here is quite sharply drawn. Moses acted by God's direction. The Egyptian king opposed him contemptuously, then stubbornly, then incorrigibly.
The magicians were the king's servants. They were the experts of that time in the occult, in dealing with unseen spirits and spirit forces. They were experts in the black art.
They were loyal to Pharaoh in his resisting and scoffing at God. They fought Moses and God, with all the power at their command.
The line of conflict could not be more clearly marked. The Devil was opposing God. God and the Devil were the real spirit opponents behind the human scenes.
The striking thing just now is that there were three miracles done by the magicians through the Devil's power. There was a fourth attempted but it failed, completely.
There is further the tacit inference of a limit in the Devil's power even in the three miracles actually performed.
The magicians caused their rods to become serpents. There was distinctly an evil super natural power at work. Perhaps serpent activity was more easily within the Devil's range of action. Yet Moses' serpent swallows up the others! Moses understood that word spoken long after about treading upon serpents.
The turning of water into blood, and the plague of countless frogs, by the magicians, following Moses' initiative, again reveal the Devil's supernatural power at work. It is clearly a supernatural transaction in each case.
But there is a limitation. Moses' miracles suggest an overflowing supply of power. The other is less. The thing was done, yet, as though there was no flush of power at command, rather a scantiness.
The fourth attempt was a confessed failure. The experts confessed themselves helpless in the face of this display of God's power. They're clean outdone, outclassed. And a little later the magicians themselves are helpless sufferers when the plague of boils came.
The purpose of these satanic miracles is four fold: to fight God, to discredit His messenger Moses, to deceive the Egyptians and indeed all the world (for such events would travel like wildfire), and to keep God's nation in slavery. It is clearly the Devil at work, behind Pharaoh, as an all too-willing tool.
The limits to the Devil's supernatural power are threefold. The miracles done are an imitation. There is no initiative. Each is distinctly less, much less in extent than the thing imitated. And there is a sharp line beyond which the Devil's power cannot go.
But the thing to mark just now is this: the Devil can work miracles. He has supernatural power, with sharp definite limitation.
The Devil's Healings in the Coming Crisis
Then we swing to the other end of the Book. There is a time of Crisis repeatedly spoken of, world-wide, preceding a New Order of Things on the earth.
It will be a time of marked satanic activity. And in connection with that there will be miracles of healing done by the Devil.
His purpose of course is to deceive, to drive through his own plans, and to tighten his hold on men's lives. Let us look at the Scripture teaching regarding this.
The common phrase in the New Testament for miracles is the phrase "signs and wonders." Sometimes the language used is "signs," sometimes "signs and wonders," sometimes "signs and wonders and powers," sometimes "signs and powers." A few times the word "miracles" is used.
Now, by far the greater number of the miracles so specified are miracles of bodily healing. Of the thirty-three miracles done by Christ twenty-four are miracles of bodily healing. And four others have to do with bodily need.
In the Book of Acts the use of this phrase for miracles of healing is yet more marked. Practically the phrase "signs and wonders," with its variations, is the equivalent in the New Testament for miracles of bodily healing. Other usage is so exceptional as to emphasize this as the common rule.
Now, the striking thing to mark is that this is the phrase used for a distinctive phase of satanic activity during that coming Crisis. There are three outstanding passages, in the Gospels, by Paul, and in the Revelation.
In that significant Olivet Talk with four disciples, within a week of the tragic end, Christ is speaking of the Crisis preceding His own Coming and the New Order of Things.
He speaks of various characteristics of that tribulation-crisis. He says "There shall arise false Christs (evil men pretending to be Christ), and false prophets (or religious teachers), and shall show great signs and wonders."
And then the specific purpose of this is directly stated. It is directed against Christ's followers. It is "to lead astray, if (that be) possible, even the elect," i.e., Christ's own people (Mat_24:24; Mar_13:22).
Taking the phrase "signs and wonders" at its common meaning in the New Testament, this would mean, to the four disciples listening, that there will be marked miracles of healing, by satanic power, during that climax of evil, for the express purpose of deceiving and leading astray Christ's own people.
In his second letter to the disciples at Thessalonica Paul is answering some questions that have arisen about just when Christ's return was to be expected.
And he explains that there would be a great evil leader in action, about whom the coming Crisis will centre.
This leader would be at the very height of his blasphemous career at the time of Christ's coming. He would be destroyed by the glorious appearance of Christ (the blazing forth or shining forth of His arrival).
Then Paul speaks of the marked traits of this strange, foul, evil leader, the Antichrist, this personification of the Devil. His activity will be "according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and wonders of falsehood," or "lying wonders."
That is, these miracles are done, in imitation of Christ's miracles, to deceive the people and lead them astray. (2Th_2:9-10)
Here is this same phrase again. Paul's use of it would mean only one thing to these Thessalonian disciples, and that is, miracles of healing, by satanic power, to deceive.
There is a parallel passage to this in one of Moses' talks in the Plains of Moab.(Deu_13:1-3) He is speaking of what is to be done in case a false prophet certified his message by "a sign or a wonder," and the miraculous thing actually taking place, so as to lead the people away from the true worship. Plainly the thing was quite familiar to these people.
John's Patmos Revelation message has the same thing. It is spoken of repeatedly as one of the marked characteristics of the campaign of deception in that brief terrific future Crisis.
There's a description of the activity of a leader of evil who will be the immediate associate of that foul Antichrist. (Rev_13:13-14) He is a religious leader, a sort of court-preacher to the Antichrist himself who reigns as a king of kings for a brief time.
Among other things in the description this stands out, "and he doeth great signs that he should even make fire to come down out of heaven upon the earth in the sight of men. And he deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by reason of the signs—."
The startling thing of fire coming down is specified in speaking of the great signs. This is particularized because it is something unusual, in addition to the usual meaning of the phrase "great signs."
A little later John is told of happenings toward the end of that troublous crisis period. There will be sent out by the Devil himself and by his two chief leaders, the Antichrist and his court-preacher, "spirits of demons working signs," sent into all the earth.(Rev_16:13-14)
And in speaking of the utter defeat and rout of the Antichrist and his evil associates, this court preacher who is spoken of here as the false religious teacher, is identified as the one "that wrought the signs... wherewith he deceived them — ." Clearly these signs are an outstanding feature. (Rev_19:19-20) This emphasis of a five-fold repetition is striking.
The whole New Testament use of the phrase makes clear that miracles of healing by satanic power will be one of the commonest, if not the most common, feature of that crisis time that is coming, some time.
And the whole purpose in this is to deceive the people, and particularly the Church constitueney. It is to make them think that it is God at work.
And, uninstructed as they so largely are, and so not keen to discern, they will be easy prey to these tactics.
The Devil's Healing Today
But one need not go back to Egypt, nor forward to the coming crisis time. We can find references closer at hand in the Book of Life, being written daily. Our own time is witnessing this sort of thing in marked measure, and in creasing extent.
The Church of Christ has not been true to the full Gospel of Christ. I say that very thoughtfully and sadly. I do not say it to criticise the Church, but only to help understand things at the present time a bit better.
I love the Church. I reverence its past, and its present inestimable service in the world. If my words seem critical, I am simply criticising myself, so far as any man is a part of the Church.
With fine exceptions, the Church of Christ has not told out fully in any generation, since the first few Christian centuries, the full rounded Gospel of Christ.
And so it is not a surprising thing that there have grown up false teachings, and false systems of teaching, about bodily healing.
The very need, sore need, of the crowds everywhere in this regard has made a rare opportunity to teach about bodily healing in a wrong way.
The people are hungry, eager for help. And the Devil has never been known to be slow in using every door open to him, or that he could pry open.
Just now there is a system of teaching about healing, and a system of healing, that holds the centre of the stage.
It has grown up within living memory, and within the past ten years seems to have grown more vigorous than ever.
It has spread like a cursed wildfire in our own land, up and down Europe, into the African edges, and the Orient, and indeed wherever the Anglo-American trail leaves traces.
It uses Christ's name quite freely. It quotes or rather half-quotes, misquotes, the Bible. Its teaching is a mixture of Christian phraseology, devout language, psychological half-truths, and positive untruths.
It makes pretense of being a Christian Church. I need not repeat its name, it is so well known. And the thing to mark just now is that people are healed through its ministrations, within sharply marked limitations and restrictions.
There's no question that people do experience, through its teaching, healing of a certain sort, up to a certain extent. That fact is quite clear.
It will be remembered what has been said in a previous Talk on the seven ways in which healing comes to one's body.
The Creator has graciously put a healing power within the human body. There is natural healing without conscious co-operation on our part.
There is this same natural healing assisted by an intelligent understanding and co-operation. An enlightened instructed understanding of this remarkable healing power in the body, and our intelligent co-operation, make an enormous difference. It helps greatly.
Our mental attitude is often the decisive thing in illness, turning the tide in favour of healing and health. This is spoken of somewhat fully in the previous Talk referred to.
This is the second way in which healing comes. It should be noted. It will be spoken of again later.
Then there is healing through this same natural power assisted by human wisdom and skill, both personal and professional.
Still further, there is healing sometimes through this natural power in our bodies overcoming what may have been done by blundering unwise human touch. These are the four natural ways.
There are two supernatural ways. There is healing by Christ's direct touch, a supernatural touch, in addition to the creative natural power spoken of. And, of course, this little series of "Quiet Talks" is devoted to that one thing.
Then there is a healing by the Devil's touch, a supernatural touch. And there may be a blending of two or more of these.
Seven ways in which healing may come to one's body, four natural, two supernatural, and one a blend or combination of two or more of these.
Now, it should be keenly noted, that in this false system we are talking about, this so-called Christian system, the healings that do occur come through two of these ways.
There is much emphasis put on the second of these, the human understanding of, and co operating with, that natural healing power.
I do not mean to say that it is taught in a clear, intelligent fashion. Clear teaching is conspicuously absent here. It is quite doubtful if the thing is intelligently understood so as to give clear teaching.
There is a strange garbled mixture of truths and half-truths and positive not-truths. But through all there is a continual emphasis on one's mental attitude.
And so far as this insistence actually affects one 's attitude that inner power of healing swings into action. And this, be it noted, is good so far as it is good.
If the teaching were clear, and more, if it were put in right connection with other teaching that belongs with it, the results would be yet better. But, of course, nothing of that good sort could be gotten here.
There is no evil system of teaching all bad. It would fall of its own dead weight. The Devil always steals a veneering of some truth for his lies. He is the first expert in the fine art of camouflage.
The truth about the influence of the mind on the body, so little appreciated to the full by any one, was true for Adam and Eve in Eden, for Cain outside Eden, with the wickedest man that ever lived as with the saintliest, in savage wilds as in cultured centres.
God's creative touch is never off any man's body. This is one of the seven ways of healing emphasized partly by this false system of healing.
There is a second way used in this false teaching. It brings in a strange fact, that makes one stare out. The Devil heals through this so-called Christian teaching. The evidence is clear, and the fact indisputable.
"Why," you instantly cry out, "the Devil heal! Absurd! Ridiculous! The Devil is bad. Healing is only good. Will a bad Devil do a good thing?"
And the answer to that is quite clear and positive. A bad Devil will do a good thing for a bad purpose, to get hold on a man's life, and to tighten his hold.
A mongrel cur back of your dwelling disturbs our night's sleep, night after night. You are too gentle-hearted perhaps to use a revolver.
So you get a bit of good meat and some bad poison. You combine them dexterously. You throw the mixture in the back alley.
The dog has no sense of discernment between good meat and bad poison. He eats the good meat greedily. He gets the bad poison.
The city's garbage cart has an extra job. And now your night's slumbers are undisturbed. The strategy was a success.
Some dear good people, even some saintly Christian folk, might claim close kinship with that dog in one particular. They have no discernment, no spirit discernment.
They are easily caught with the Christian phraseology in the false teaching, but don't detect the absence of the real thing, the actual presence of the Devil's own teachings.