ARMAMENT AGAINST THE DEVIL
- ARMAMENT AGAINST THE DEVIL
How to protect oneself against sorcerers
Enmity instead of love
A certain ancient book talks about the fact that all kinds of witchdoctors, soothsayers, and sorcerers bring great harm primarily because they sow enmity between people and lead to the transgression of Gods most important commandments: to love God and to love ones neighbor as oneself.
It is precisely such sorcerers, explains the author that the evil spirits inhabit; it is through them that enmity and hate arise among Christians. For example, a peasant woman comes to such a sorceress or witch, in order to find out why her health is poor. But the witch, spreading her cards or other instrument of fortune-telling, declares to her visitor that the latter has enemies, that there are those who envy her, say a neighbor or even a family member
Sometimes that is enough to make close friends, or a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, or even a mother and daughter quarrel forever. Such sorcery can be the truth (the devil often reveals to witches the evil deeds of men, in order to lure his victims), but more often is simply demonic calumny. Its aim is to disrupt peace and sow enmity.
The devils primary concern, the books goes on to say, is to have us quarrel with our neighbors, insult them, be offended at them, curse them; to make sure that families do not have peace and accord, that children revolt against their parents and parents against children, brother against brother, husband against wife, wife against husband, and that such quarrels bring everyone to the point of great sin; then the devil rejoices, seeing how we follow his wishes and fulfill his will. Perhaps these words of severe warning will give some of our readers food for thought and will help them explain correctly to their neighbors, why we must never turn to sorcerers and witchdoctors even in cases where, as it seems to us, malicious people have cast an evil eye upon us.
And here is how the ancient author sums up his discourse: To appeal to the spirit of darkness, who is an enemy of God and a mortal enemy of mankind, to ask him for favors, to seek from him some revelation about our future fate what is that but apostasy from God, enmity against Him? It is not surprising, therefore, that in His righteous wrath God allows such people to go to perdition as a result of their own insanity? Is it not for the sake of such iniquities divination, sorcery, witchcraft that in ancient times the Lord God condemned entire peoples to destruction?
In order to understand and come to accept the fact that any contact with the demonic forces can destroy a man, one must know at least a little about the nature of the fallen spirits.
The nature of the fallen spirits
The fallen angels (or demons) carry within themselves all the characteristics inherent in the angelic nature.
St. Dimitry of Rostov indicates that initially the angels were created in the image and likeness of God, as was man subsequently created. The angels were created as immortal, rational, ethereal beings, with a propensity for hymning this according to St. Athanasius the Great.
While the devil was still an angel of God, he lived in the heavens, i.e. in the spiritual world, together with all the other angels. But then, says the prophet Ezekiel, his beauty caused his heart to become inflated with pride, while his vanity destroyed his wisdom. Having been created benevolent, of his own volition the former angel became Satan (Gods opponent) and the devil (perjurer against Gods goodness). With his perjury against God and his arrogant rebellion against God initially with impunity, he enticed many other angels and drew them after him. The Lord decided to stop the spread of evil with the help of the angels who had remained loyal to Him. Archangel Michael vanquished the perjurer by calling upon the entire celestial angelic host to remember the fact of their creation: Who among angels could have created them the angels just as God had created them? Infected with pride, the demonic spirits were unable to stand the truth of these words. The words
of Gods Truth pierced them like swords and lances and forced them to leave the world of the heavenly denizens forever and, by Gods command, to find themselves in the sub-celestial world. From that time on the place of their habitation has been the sub-celestial space, i.e. the entire visible and invisible universe. But the Lord and His loyal angels continue to reside in a world that is impervious to the demons influence. For this reason the demons have turned their entire malevolence upon man, who is an image of God, and, knowing that the Lord loves His creation, they strive to harm him as much as possible.
The lives of the saints reveal to us that the head of the fallen angels, Satan, continues to stay in hell until the coming of the Antichrist, while demons operate on the surface of the earth, in the air, and in the waters, ruled by their princes, i.e. fallen spirits from higher hierarchies, who descend to hell in order to receive Satans orders and to report to him on their activities.
Why and how demons do evil
Everyone knows well what an essential need is. We have many needs, but among them essential needs are few. Those are the needs without which it is impossible to live.
Demons also have such an essential need. They have no need of food, nor of sleep, nor of rest. They need to do evil. Demons think of nothing else except evil, they find comfort and pleasure in nothing else safe evil activity. The feeling of goodness is abhorrent to them, just as is the Heavenly Kingdom. Their frenzied hatred of God is expressed in horrible and endless blasphemy, opposition, and uncompromising enmity. Unable to commit bodily sins in the flesh, they commit them mentally and realize them through people. They have incorporated bodily vices into their bodiless nature and have developed sins that are uncharacteristic of them to a greater extent than of people. Driven by an insatiable hatred of mankind, demons are the source of various illnesses and torments for people and animals, and for all nature in the world in general.
The Holy Scriptures contain many examples of the influence of Satan and his cohorts, the demons, upon mens bodies and souls. In Chapter 4 of the Gospel according to Matthew, we read of how the devil, trying to tempt the Lord Jesus Christ, uses his powers to transport Him to the roof of the temple, to a high mountain, etc. The Book of Job tells us of how the devil sends fire down upon flocks of sheep and their shepherds, and causes a hurricane which destroys the house where Jobs children have gathered, so that they all die. In the Book of Tobias a demon by the name of Ashmodeus kills seven men
However, perhaps the most horrible influence exerted by demons upon man is the one described in the Holy Scriptures their entry within him. Upon entering into man, the demon does not mix with the human soul, but resides in the body and the soul and forcibly possesses them. This is what is known as possession. In the Gospel according to Luke (8:30) we read of how a multitude of demons can reside within one person. Throughout the entire Gospel history our Lord Jesus Christ continuously expels demons from people.
But in what manner does a demon take possession of a person?
How a demon takes possession of a person
According to the teaching of the Holy Fathers, the demon prepares the ground before taking possession of a person. The evil spirits method of influencing people is to instill their demonic thoughts under the guise of the persons own. They do this very cautiously, slowly attaching their thoughts to a persons thoughts, so that the thoughts they are instilling unnoticeably become intertwined with human consciousness. They gradually accustom people to think and desire only sinful things, they make them similar to themselves. By subordinating mans mind and will, the demons strive to also take possession of his body. This becomes possible when Gods grace departs from an incorrigible sinner, not for his perdition, but for punishment. Now the demons can enter his body and control him. And there is no crime or iniquity which a possessed (or in modern terms zombied) person would not commit, were it not for Gods Providence setting up external barriers to demonic power.»
In certain cases, for the purpose of instruction or correction, God allows the demons to also take possession of a religious believer
In the 19th century there lived in Russia a certain man by the name of Nikolay Aleksandrovich Motovilov. Though a titled nobleman and a wealthy landowner, he rejected a worldly career and a social life and became (as he liked to call himself) Seraphims little servant. He was the spiritual son and loyal aide of St. Seraphim of Sarov, and one of the people closest to the saint.
St. Seraphim once told him about his terrible battle with the demons during those 1000 days and nights when he prayed on the rock Nikolay Aleksandrovich, a sincere and fervent man, was so inspired by this story that he exclaimed incautiously: Batyushka, how I would have loved to battle the demons! The venerable saint, knowing what could follow such daring words, interrupted him in fear: Hush, hush, your Excellency! You do not know what you are saying!
A long time passed after that conversation. Batyushka Seraphim was long gone from this world But God allowed Motovilovs lighthearted and daring challenge to be accepted. Motovilov had to experience personally how a person feels when the demon takes possession of him. One time Motovilov found among his papers some notes on the healing of a young possessed maiden at the relics of St. Mitrophan of Voronezh. I started thinking, reminisced Motovilov, of how it could have happened that an Orthodox Christian maiden, who communed of the Most Holy and Life-giving Mysteries of the Lord, was possessed by a demon and, moreover, such a very long time more than 30 years. I thought to myself: nonsense! This cannot be! I would just like to see how a demon could hope to take possession of me, when I so frequently partake of the sacrament of Holy Communion!...
At that instant a terrible, icy, malodorous cloud enveloped him, and no matter how he tried to clench his teeth, it began to enter his intestines. Ice and noxious fumes filled him inside. He was unable to raise his hand to make the sign of the cross; his thoughts could not concentrate upon prayer. And from that day began his terrible torment. In the space of three days he felt himself burning in fire and not burning down. Several times a day he had to have soot cleaned off him! This horrid inhuman torment ended only after confession and communion. But then another torment began: for two days he was enveloped in the terrible cold of Gehenna, and he could not warm himself even with fire. This torment also ended after confession and communion. And then Motovilov became tormented by a hellish relentless worm, which chewed at him from the inside as it crawled all over his body. Motovilov saw and even touched this abhorrent monster in reality (when it crawled out through his
nose, mouth, and ears in order to crawl back in), and although this torment was of a briefer duration than the previous ones, it was the most horrible. Once again Nikolay Aleksandrovich was given communion and the worm departed from him.
The reader may well ask the following question: for what reason did the Lord allow a demon to inhabit a religious believer and to torment him unbearably, even though for a fairly brief while?
Motovilovs main desire was not simply to save his soul, but to reside in the Heavenly Kingdom with his beloved Batyushka Saint Seraphim. He did not possess the spiritual and physical feats which the venerable saint had achieved, and thus he was instead given the opportunity to undergo spiritual suffering for the glory of God. The Lord revealed to His servant, and through him to all of us, what the torments of hell were: unquenchable fire, terrible cold, and a relentless worm. And, finally, this case teaches us that demons really exist, that they act against people, and that only the Holy Church of Christ provides us with arms against them.
Now, knowing the real nature of demons, the reader will be able to more easily comprehend the real nature of sorcerers and witches. These are people who willingly enter into communion with the evil spirits. With the aid of the latter they engage in sorcery, both in terms of casting an evil eye and healing.
Priest George Vakhromeyev
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