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On Christian hope

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  • Basil Yakimov
    On Christian hope The Gospel narrative about the Saviour’s expulsion of a legion of demons from the possessed Gadarene (Luke (8:27) reminds us with renewed
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 6, 2006
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      On Christian hope

      The Gospel narrative about the Saviour’s expulsion of a legion of demons
      from the possessed Gadarene (Luke (8:27) reminds us with renewed force of
      the reality of the other world and of the influence that the evil members
      of that world have on men’s lives.

      Just as the citizen of any nation needs to possess elementary knowledge of
      neighboring peoples, of their mores and customs, so does a Christian need
      to know the mores and customs of the denizens of the other world. Christian
      teaching contains all the necessary information for us about the world of
      the fallen angels – the demons, and about their struggle against mankind.

      This struggle has an ancient history. The demons, led by Satan, cannot
      forgive people for having been created by God in the place of the angels
      who had fallen away. For this reason, at the very beginning of human
      history, we meet Satan in the Garden of Eden, tempting Adam and Eve and
      succeeding. Satan prepared the way for the first people to betray God.

      The demons’ hate for people increased a hundredfold after God Himself
      became incarnate and suffered for the fallen Adam, for the entire fallen
      mankind, granting to each person the possibility of salvation. The demons
      hate people to such a degree that were it not for the restraining force of
      God, they would have immediately poisoned all of mankind with their lethal
      presence. For man’s sake the Lord does not allow demons to have direct
      contact with men, except in cases where man himself consciously or
      unconsciously seeks such contact. What, then, opens the gates of hell, what
      opens up for us the possibility of being in contact with the demons? It is
      all forms of the occult, particularly sorcery, astrology, spiritism,
      extrasensorics, and various New Age practices, not to mention overt
      Satanism. Moreover, drugs and alcohol also lead to direct contact with the
      demons and dependency on them: being in the state of a narcotic trance or
      alcohol-induced delirium, a person enters the other world through the back
      door so-to-speak, and naturally ends up in the domain of the fallen

      In our age of high computer technology, which imbues man with a false sense
      of his own might, many people have no idea that in reality they are already
      in the clutches of the demons. Demonic possession does not necessarily have
      to appear in the form of open madness, with screams and attacks. On the
      contrary, the possession is frequently veiled under the guise of harmless
      amusements and habits, and its horrible satanic essence is revealed only at
      the moment of a person’s perdition.

      How other than possession can we explain, for example, the recent death of
      a Japanese youth, who died in the very midst of a computer game from which
      he was literally unable to tear himself away for weeks on end?

      Moreover, if we genuinely analyze our conscience, each one of us will find
      traces or vestiges of one or another form of demonic possession. Unable to
      be in contact with people directly, the demons influence us by means of our
      passions, pulling the strings of our passionate desires like puppet
      masters. And if the Gadarene was possessed by a legion of demons, we are
      combated on a daily basis by a legion of desires.

      The Lord Jesus Christ cured the possessed Gadarene, and He has the power to
      cure each one of us. No matter what demonic traps we may find ourselves in,
      no matter how low we may fall, we should never lose hope in God’s help.
      Hope in God is that straw of salvation at which the drowning man clutches
      and, contrary to all physical laws, swims out of the turbulent ocean of
      passions to safety. Grant, O Lord, that we retain this bright hope to the
      end, to the very last moment of our earthly life.

      Monk Vsevolod Filipyev.
      Reprinted from the “Orthodox Russia,” No. 7, 2006.

      At the hour of midnight, near a stream,
      Lift thine eyes and watch the starry sky:
      Myriads of miracles take place
      In that vastly distant world on high.
      The eternal candles of the night
      Are unseen amid the glare of day,
      Giant pillars of unquenched fire
      Move so stately and so far away.
      In the quiet hour of midnight calm,
      Chasing the deceit of sleep away,
      Let thy soul gaze deeply at the words
      Of the fishermen from Galilee,
      And within the confines of this book
      The eternal shall unfold before thee,
      The celestial firmament of heaven
      In its boundlessness and radiant beauty.

      - A. S. Khomyakov (1804-1860)
      Translated by Natalia Sheniloff
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