Known in Hellby Leonard Ravenhill on August 4, 2014
Known in Hell
by Leonard Ravenhill
SOME preachers master their subjects; some subjects master the preacher; once in a while one meets a preacher who is both master of, and also mastered by his subject. The Apostle Paul, I am sure, was in that category.
Look at Paul in Corinth (Acts 19). Seven men were attempting to use a religious formula over a Gadara-type of victim. But slinging theological terms or even Bible verses at devil-possessed men is as ineffective as snowballing Gibraltar in the hope of removing it. One man, demon-controlled, was an easy match for these seven silly sycophants. While the seven sons of Sceva fled into the streets, shirtless and shamed, the man filled with an unholy spirit increased his wardrobe with seven suits. And so, the seven wounded, fearful men told their own tale, for God turned their folly to the glory of Christ, so that His name was greatly feared and magnified. Spooky spiritists were converted; Jews and Greeks were saved; at a public bonfire, cult books to the value of fifty thousand pieces were burned. Surely that was making the wrath of man to praise Him! Listen, too, to the testimony of the demon, "Jesus I know, AND PAUL I KNOW, but who are ye?" (Acts 19:15). This is the highest praise that earth or hell affords - to be classified by the enemy as one with Jesus.
But how did Paul get that way? Why did demons know Paul? Had they beaten him too, or had he beaten them? Consider for a moment this man Paul. God and Paul were on intimate terms. Revelations were granted him. His servants were angels; at his finger tips were earthquakes. His Spirit-powered words shattered the fetters from the soul of a spirit-bound girl, whom men had snared as a fortuneteller. In Corinth, this mighty man Paul drained a part of the Slough of Despond, and there on the devil's doorstep established a church. Later, he snatched souls from under the nose of Caesar, right from Caesar's own household. And before kings Paul was at home, for he said, "I count myself happy King Agrippa!" Paul also stormed the intellectual capital of the world (Mars hill) with resurrection truth and thereby routed their learned. While Paul lived, hell had no peace.
But what was Paul's armory? Where did he edge his blade? Paul more than once uses the phrase "I am persuaded," and therein lay his secret. Revealed truth held him like a vise. The Word, like the Lord, was immutable. Paul's anchor was cast in the depths of God's faithfulness. His battleaxe was the Word of the Lord; his strength was faith in that Word. So the Spirit alerted Paul to the coming strategy of the devil. Paul was not ignorant of his devices; therefore hell suffered. Even when men willed to assassinate Paul, an informer uncovered the plot, and men and demons were foiled.
Spirituality that saves men from hell and keeps men from vulgar sins is wonderful, but, I believe, elementary. When Paul went to the Cross, the miracle of conversion and regeneration took place; but later when he got on the Cross, the greater miracle of identification took place. That I believe is the masterly argument of the Apostle - to be dead and alive at the same time. "Ye are dead," Paul wrote the Galatians. Suppose we try this on ourselves first. Are we dead? - dead to blame or praise? dead to fashion and human opinion? dead so that we have no itch for recognition? dead so that we do not squirm if another gets praised for a thing that we engineered? Oh sweet, sublime, satisfying experience of the indwelling Christ by the Spirit! We, too, can sing with Wesley:
Dead to the world and all its toys!
Its idle pomp and fading joys!
Jesus, my glory be!
Yes, Paul was dead. Then he added, "Nevertheless I live, yet not I." Christianity is the only religion in the world where a man's God comes and lives inside of him. Paul no longer wrestled with flesh (neither his own nor any other man's); he wrestled "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world." Does that shed any light on why this demon said, "And Paul I know?" Paul had been wrestling against the demon powers. (In these modern days, this art of binding and loosing that Paul knew is almost forgotten or else ignored.) On the last lap of his earthly pilgrimage, he declared, "I have fought a good fight." Demons could have said amen to that statement, for they suffered more from Paul than Paul suffered from them. Yes, Paul was known in hell.
Another anchor that held this soul undaunted was the wrath of a holy God upon sin. "Knowing the terror of the Lord he persuaded men" (II Cor. 5:11). Paul accounted men as lost! The other night I saw a picture thrown onto a screen; but in its blurred state it had no meaning. Then the operator's hand reached out and focussed the slide. What a difference! Even so, we Christians need the Divine Hand to sharpen the picture of the lostness of men to our eternity-dimmed eyes. Because Paul loved His Lord with a perfect love, he also hated sin with a perfect hatred. Thus he saw men not only prodigals but also rebels - not just drifters from righteousness but conspirators in wickedness, who must be pardoned or punished. With the fierceness of Love's intensest blaze, he burned at the injustice of men subordinate to demon power. His watchword was "This one thing I do." He had no side issues, no books to sell. He had no ambitions - and so had nothing to be jealous about. He had no reputation - and so had nothing to fight about. He had no possessions - and therefore nothing to worry about. He had no "rights" - so therefore he could not suffer wrong. He was already broken - so no one could break him. He was "dead" - so none could kill him. He was less than the least - so who could humble him? He had suffered the loss of all things - so none could defraud him. Does this throw any light on why the demon said, "Paul I know?" Over this God-intoxicated man, hell suffered headaches.
Yet another anchor to the spirit of this saint was the efficacy of the blood of Jesus, and so the ability of Christ to savefully. "ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Yes! But Christ is able to save to the uttermost ALL who come unto God by Him. Oh that the world might know the all-atoning Lamb!
With Paul there was no limited atonement. Zealot he was and wanted to be. In the light of an eternal hell what were perishing things of clay? And in our present day what are honors among men? or what are the schemes of hell? Right nowmen are LOST, as well as after they die. Right now men are being swept into the vortex of a sewer of gross iniquity which ultimately will suck them down to an ETERNAL HELL. Is this true? Paul was convinced that it was. Then, "oh arm of the Lord, awake; put on strength" (Isa. 51:9). "Make me Thy battleaxe and Thy weapons of war," I hear Paul say.
Another anchor for Paul was the blessed assurance that "to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord"(II Cor. 5:8). No soul-sleep here! No interminable intermediate state! Out of life into life! At the thought of eternity, language is beggered and imagination staggered. Paul could "write off" stripes, imprisonments, fastings, weariness, and painfulness as "light affliction" - recompensed by the fact "so shall we ever be with the Lord." All the "shot and shell" of demons was wasted against Paul. Do you wonder now that one of them said, "And Paul I know?"
The final truth as an anchor to Paul's soul was "WE MUST ALL APPEAR before the judgment seat of Christ" (II Cor. 5:10). Living with eternity's values in view took the sting out of this oncoming test too. Living "right," here on earth (I do not mean just living righteously, but living after the pattern set in the Holy Word) takes care of the hereafter. Paul was so conformed to the image of the Son that he could say, "What things ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do" (Phil. 4:9). To copy copies is not normally safe, but it is safe to copy Paul, for he was fully surrendered, whollysanctified, completely satisfied, yea, "complete in Christ."
Do you still wonder why a demon said, "And Paul I know?" I don't.
Excerpted from WHY REVIVAL TARRIES by Leonard Ravenhill.