THE BELIEVER’S IGNORANCE
When a believer has fallen deeply into passivity, he may think that he is submissive to God. But he does not realize that evil spirits are utilizing his passive state to accomplish their deceit. The believer thinks he must be very passive before he can truly submit to God and before he can be truly in union with God in his will. He does not realize that God has no use for his passivity. It is the power of darkness that has use for his passivity. Moreover, God requires that the believer exercise his own will to actively work with Him. This is what the Bible repeatedly says: "If anyone resolves to do His will, he will know..." (John 7:17), and "Ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you" (15:7). God does not annihilate our will.
Human beings have a free will. God never infringes upon this and does not change this. He wants man to actively work with Him. Though He wants us to be submissive to Him, He does not annihilate our personality. (Author’s note: in this book, "personality" refers to "man’s person," not "man’s character." The readers should take heed.) He wants us to propose on our own and choose what He wants us to choose. He will not choose in our place, allowing our will to lapse into a state of deadness. He requires active cooperation from us. God delights to see man reaching the highest level of attainment as a creature, which is the total freedom of the will. God in creation established man’s free will. God in redemption regains man’s free will. At creation, God did not want man to obey Him mechanically. Therefore, after redemption, He definitely does not want man to follow His direction like a machine. Indeed, God is so great that He does not require man to become wood and stone to submit to Him. His way is to rely on the working of His Spirit in us; the Spirit causes us to obey Him willingly. But He will never make any decision on our behalf. The difference here is truly immeasurable.
The principle of God’s work and Satan’s work in man is the same. When God created man, He wanted man to have a free will. This is why He gave man a free will. He wanted man to have the right to choose and determine everything related to himself. Though God is the Lord of the universe, He delights in being limited and does not infringe upon man’s free will. He does not want to force man to be loyal to Him. Similarly, without man’s consent (consciously or unconsciously), Satan cannot occupy any part of man. Both God and the devil require the permission of man’s will before they can work in man. Just as man "wants" a good thing and God accomplishes this for him, if man "wants" an evil thing, evil spirits accomplish this for him. This is what we see in the garden of Eden.
Before man is regenerated, his will is a slave to Satan and cannot be free. But with a regenerated and victorious believer, his will is freed; he is able to choose all that is of God. However, Satan will not give up on these newly regenerated believers. He will scheme to gain them. He knows he cannot obtain their clear permission for evil spirits to come into them and rule them. Therefore, he uses deceit to obtain the required permission. We should note that Satan must obtain the believer’s permission. However, a believer will certainly not give him the permission. This is why he can only steal this permission through deceptive maneuvering. Evil spirits will not come into a person without first gaining the permission of man’s will. Even the degree to which they enter is determined by man’s will.
(Spiritual Man, The (3 volume set), Chapter 36, by Watchman Nee)