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Rainbow Divider

Christians in the Night

by Phil Enlow

Rainbow Divider

Great spiritual battles can rage around some Christians yet they are unaware. The effects may stir them slightly but they just turn over and go back to sleep. They are useless to God in matters of the Kingdom and may even become unwitting tools of the enemy.

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We live in a unique hour in the world’s history. Though in one sense there is nothing new under the sun, yet in another sense the manifestation of forces which have always been present is such that this is an hour like no other the world has seen.

History is moving inexorably toward the day when “time shall be no more.” There is little time before the Almighty will bring down the curtain upon this age and man will stand before God in judgment. Satan, though he knows not the precise time, is very aware that his time is short. Rev. 12:12 speaks of a time when the devil will “come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Obviously from this scripture we see that the devil is able to know that the end is near and that this knowledge causes him to redouble his efforts to destroy men and oppose the work of God in the earth.

No doubt this knowledge comes through the church. Paul says in Ephesians 3:10 that the manifold wisdom of God is made known to the principalities and powers by the Church. When the present tense expression of the mind and purpose of God comes forth in the earth by the anointing, Satan is a very attentive listener. He probably listens to the word of God more closely than most Christians. He has to. It’s the only way he knows what God is up to.

It is no accident that there is a great increase in satanic activity in our day. God has spoken many times to his people to warn them of the lateness of the hour. By this means Satan has learned that his time is short. Therefore he is mounting a last all-out offensive in his work of evil. An all powerful God is permitting him to deceive those who will not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. II Thess. 2:10.

SATAN AND THE CHURCH

But I am mainly concerned here with Satan’s opposition to the Church of Jesus Christ. Though he is powerless to destroy Christians in the ultimate sense, yet he ever seeks to destroy the effectiveness of Christians as lights in the world.

In opposing Christians, Satan seeks one of two things: to put them to sleep; or make them drunk. I Thess. 5:6 exhorts believers concerning both conditions: “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others: but let us watch and be sober.” Of course, sleep and drunkenness are spiritual conditions of which natural sleep and drunkenness are types and symbols.

The Bible is full of explicit indications that true blood-bought believers, possessing eternal life, bound for heaven, can be spiritually asleep in this world. In Matthew 25:5, Jesus indicated that when the time of the bridegroom’s coming approached, the wise and the foolish virgins would all be sleeping: wise virgins, having oil in their vessels, but asleep. These are true believers. In Matthew 13:25 in the parable of the wheat and tares we see that the enemy was able to sow his seed in with the wheat because “men slept.”

To be asleep is to be at ease, careless, unaware of anything of a spiritual nature. All kinds of things can take place around a sleeping person yet he knows nothing that is going on in the real world. The only thing on his mind is the shadowy unreal world of dreams.

The sleeping Christian is unaware of things happening around him in the spiritual realm, which is the only real eternal realm. His mind is occupied by this material temporal world and its affairs.

Paul wrote to the Romans (13:11): “And that knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep;....” and today we must “know the time.” We have already touched some on this but I Thess. 5:7 says, “For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.” The phrase “in the night” stands out here.

We are nearing the end of a long gospel day. Though it has not always been a bright day yet there has been light and the powers of darkness have been restricted to the degree necessary for the worldwide propagation of the gospel. John 12:31-32; II Thess. 2:7; Col. 2:15; Matt. 12:29.

SATAN’S INFLUENCE GROWING

But the day of grace is drawing to a close. The restrictions upon Satan are steadily dwindling as men reject God and are turned over to darkness. A deep spiritual night has fallen. Our world is “in the night.”

Isaiah spoke of the time when “darkness shall cover the earth and gross darkness the people” (Isaiah 60:2). This darkness is more than an absence of light. It is the result of an intelligent conspiracy to destroy man. It is demon power which blinds and deludes lost men. Though there is light in the world for believers, this darkness exists in the minds of the children of destruction. It is the darkness of a man unable to see a blazing light because he is blind. II Cor. 4:4.

This demonic darkness is the prevailing condition of our world today. And it exerts a terrific force upon believers. All of us have experienced the difficulty of staying awake at a time of the night when we are normally asleep. Through habit our bodies and minds cry out for sleep. We yawn; our eyes grow heavy. Only a most determined effort will keep us awake. It is like that in this hour.

Though we are redeemed and possess eternal life, so long as we are yet in these bodies we will also possess the fallen adamic nature with which we were born. Though we are not compelled to obey it, the influence is there. Our old nature responds to the influence of our sin-darkened world like our bodies respond to the habitual time for sleep. Only a sober effort to combat this influence will prevent sleep from overtaking us.

Satan is using his new-found freedom in the world to bear upon the spirits of believers to cause them to quit fighting and to go to sleep. He will do anything to cause them to become preoccupied with natural things to the neglect of eternal matters.

Great spiritual battles can rage around some Christians yet they are unaware. The effects may stir them slightly but they just turn over and go back to sleep. They are useless to God in matters of the Kingdom and may even become unwitting tools of the enemy.

They dreamily serve a Christ of history or a Christ who will one day come, but do not hear Christ speaking today as they are all involved in the affairs of this life both secular and religious. And Satan knows how to appeal to people to keep them involved and busy.

In many parts of the world today, believers are systematically persecuted. They suffer the loss of possessions; of opportunities to prosper in this world; they are imprisoned and tortured; many are even losing their lives for Christ. But Satan’s opposition to the Church in the western world is much more subtle — and much more effective. Here he poses as a friend, a benefactor. He offers religious liberty, opportunity, comfort and ease.

Without a doubt the Church is purer and stronger spiritually where it is openly opposed. Christians have far less difficulty staying awake when there is a lion roaring at the door. But let the gentle breezes blow and the bank account grow and the snores of sleeping Christians will almost surely follow.

With opportunities for indulging the appetites of “Adam” within us abounding it is easy for spiritual realities to seem a bit foggy and unreal. We give mental assent to the doctrines of heaven, the Kingdom of God, angels and devils, spiritual warfare and the soon return of the Lord, but they seem dream-like beside our day-to-day interests in this world.

The Spirit of God cries, “Awake, repent, be sober, fight!” We start a bit in our slumber. Then Adam soothes us back to sleep: “Fight?! Fight what? You never had it so good. You’re respected and liked by your friends. Just last week you got a raise. You’re active in the church. Don’t rock the boat. Look at brother so-and-so: he’s not all upset and fanatical and he’s a fine Christian, respected by all. Relax. Things are fine.” And our minds are flooded with thoughts of the various activities that fill our lives and we slumber once more.

THE SPIRIT OF SLEEP

The whole atmosphere is pervaded with a spirit that is causing men to fall into a deep sleep. It is like a deadly gas and Adam is right at home in such an atmosphere. This spirit of sleep is a cover, however, for the greatest satanic onslaught against men the world has ever seen. Great battles are taking place. Eternal issues are at stake. Lives are being enslaved and destroyed.

Is it any wonder that God’s word is: “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion.” Amos 6:1. What will God have to do to arouse us? Must persecution come before we awake?

“Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the Lord cometh, for it is nigh at hand.” This passage in Joel 2 goes on to describe the destructive forces loose in this time. God’s people are warned to turn wholeheartedly to the Lord. Blessings and restoration are promised. The passage ends with the promise that Zion would be a place of deliverance and salvation. God will have such a people. Will we be among them?

SPIRITUAL DRUNKENNESS

According to I Thess. 5:6-8, the possibility of sleep in the end time was not Paul’s only concern: he also issued a clear warning against drunkenness. As in the case of sleep, this drunkenness was not literal but spiritual in nature.

Of course natural drunkenness is intended to be a picture of the spiritual condition that concerned Paul. A man who is drunk is robbed of all self-control. His judgment is perverted. His behavior is embarrassing and inappropriate to those around who are sober. Though awake, he cannot properly assess or relate to the realities of life around him. He becomes useless in any meaningful undertaking. He may even become a source of danger to others. His influence for good is gone.

Not only may his condition be thus described, but the instrument of his stupor is powerfully addicting. He cannot live without it. Psychologically as well he comes to need the fantasy world that alcohol helps him create.

Drunkenness of the spirit is like all of this and far worse. Isaiah 28 gives us a clear picture. Verses 1-4 graphically portray the delusion of religion without God: proud spiritual leaders in religious trappings impressive to the natural man, presiding over the ease and prosperity of drunken multitudes blissfully unaware of impending doom. This is a perfect picture of most religion including most of professing Christianity.

Some professed followers of Christ even have a form of godliness but there is no power. II Tim. 3-5. Not only is there a lack of power, but if God’s power were suddenly to be manifested, no effort would be spared to suppress it. Consider the reaction of the good orthodox, bible-believing religious folk of Jesus’ day. That is what is meant by “denying the power thereof.”

Religious man does not merely lack light; he hates and despises light and seeks at all costs to suppress and destroy it. John 3:19-20, 8:40.

THE WINE

The wine that keeps man in such a stupefied condition is the spirit of Satan expressed in religious doctrines and ideas. This wine fixes him up with a delusion that all is well when it is not. The delusion exists in the minds of men who embrace religious falsehoods.

And not only do they drink in the falsehood itself — that would be bad enough — but the authors of that falsehood come in to live as well — demon spirits long schooled in the art of deception. Demons have learned their craft over thousands of years of leading men astray. Thus does Babylon become “the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit and the cage of every hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.” Rev. 18:2.

How does this delusion gain such a stranglehold on the world as a whole? The answer is simple — it is man’s rejection of truth. II Thess. 2:11-12 says, “and for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

THE WRATH OF GOD

Rom. 1:18-32 shows the connection between the wrath of God and the state of delusion. “Wrath” involves turning man over to the darkness he loves to reap its fearful consequences.

Jeremiah 51 is a remarkable parallel to Rev. 17 and 18. In verse 7 we read, “Babylon hath been a golden cup in the Lord’s hand that made all the earth drunken.” We clearly see that although the devil brings the delusive wine, the Lord sends it as the first step in judgment and destruction.

Note that in both Jeremiah and Revelation the cup is golden. One must never judge a cup’s contents by its outward appearance. That is true both of the devil’s cup and the Lord’s. Jesus’ description of the religious leaders of his day included these words: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but they are full of extortion and excess.” Matt. 23:25.

Isaiah 29:9-13 presents a clear picture of spiritual drunkenness: “Stay yourselves, and wonder; cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed: And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:”

CHRISTIANS AND THE WINE

This condition of drunkenness that prevails so completely as the end approaches affects real Christians in varying degrees as well as the lost. Why else would Paul exhort believers to “be sober”?

Isaiah 28:5-8 portrays vividly the effect that this wine has wherever it prevails. Verses 7-8 read, “But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.”

God has always had his remnant in the earth. Even so it is today that a remnant of God’s saints are scattered through the systems of men where these conditions prevail. They cannot help but be affected by the wine. That is at least one reason Paul warns us against being spoiled by philosophy and vain deceit as a result of exposure to the traditions of men (Colossians 2:8). I’m afraid that there have been many real believers who have been confused, abused, scattered and who could certainly be characterized as having been out of the way. Like Lot who pitched his tent toward Sodom and barely escaped with his life they are in no position to be profitable to God in his Kingdom.

“Out of the way.” That’s a serious condition, especially in the light of the time. Only through a steady diet of God’s anointed truth can we escape the stupor and vomit brought on by the wine. And God’s anointed truth itself will have no effect on one who doesn’t see his need and desire it from the heart. One might as well lecture a drunk on the virtues of sobriety.

A CRITICAL POINT

Now a critical point: escaping the wine always involves leaving the place where it prevails. The word is clear: “Come out of her my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” Rev. 18:4.

I am more persuaded than ever that God has abandoned most of professing Christianity and that escape is imperative for His little remnant. It matters not that religious people gather in the name of Christ, sing “Amazing Grace” and preach many sound biblical doctrines. If God’s power and life are not there, God is not there. Those places exist to bind up bundles of tares for the fire (Matthew 13:40). It is no place for a true born-again believer — especially now in the end of the age.

It is the hour when God’s little remnant must seek Him with all their hearts to be led to where they can be delivered. The Lord’s cup may not appear to be golden, but it contains the pure water of life.

It is night. The world is asleep, or drunk, or both. Passive indifferent Christians in this hour are in trouble and don’t even know it. Consider the warning in Matt. 24:48-51 against carelessness and the time of Christ’s coming. Indifferent Christians may prove not to be Christians at all. Half of the sleeping virgins had no oil. They were unaware of their lack until it was too late. We will see an accelerated process in the days ahead of separation involving apparent believers being overcome by wine or sleep.

As Paul said in I Thess. 5:5-11, “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.”

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