My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE LORD'S PRAYER (ΚΥΡΙΑΚΗ ΠΡΟΣΕΥΧΗ)
Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. Amen.
Please note: I am bringing to your attention the position of our Holy Orthodox Christian Church on the existence of Satan, demons and the spiritual warfare that is taking place in our lives and our world. The greatest of all satanic deception is that he does not exist and therefore there is no evil or hell or sin or spiritual death.
When our Savior Jesus Christ taught us how to pray, He did not say to ask for deliverance from evil, but specifically, "deliver us from the evil one (Πειρασμόν). For, in this life we are often subjected to evil, and those who actually struggle to follow Christ and His Holy Orthodox Christian Faith must often endure it. Indeed, in the Beatitudes, we are even assured that we must endure evil. Moreover, in this world, evil often seems to triumph over good. Christ came to redeem us from our bondage to the prince of this world, to deliver us from bondage to his world of the materialism and sensuality. Our Savior has given us His Holy Orthodox Church as the vessel of our deliverance, and this freedom awaits those who will accept it and struggle for it according to the way God has provided for us.
In addition to the created spiritual powers who the will of God, the Angels, there are, according to the Orthodox Christian faith, those who rebel against Him and do evil. These are the demons or devils (which means literally those who "tear apart" and destroy) who are also known both in the Old and New Testaments as well as in the lives of the saints of the Church.
Satan (which means literally the enemy or the Adversary) is one proper name for the devil, the leader of the evil spirits. He is identified as the serpent symbol of Genesis 3 and as the tempter of both Job and Jesus (Job 1:6; St. Mark 1:33). He is labeled by Jesus Christ as a deceiver and liar, the "father of lies" (St. John 8:44) and the "prince of this world" (St. John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). He has "fallen from heaven" together with his evil angels to do battle with God and His servants (St. Luke 10:18; Isaiah 14:12). It is this same Satan who "entered Judas" to effect the betrayal and destruction of Christ (St. Luke 22:3).
The Holy Apostles of Christ and the Saints of the Church knew from direct experience Satan's powers against man for Man's own destruction. They knew as well Satan's lack of power and his own ultimate destruction when man is with God, filled with the Holy Spirit of Christ. According to Orthodox theology and doctrine there is no middle road between God and Satan. Ultimately, and at any given moment, man is either with God or the devil, serving one or the other. The ultimate victory belongs to God and to those with Him. Satan and his hosts are finally destroyed.
It is imperative to understand that without this recognition--and still more-the experience of this reality of the cosmic spiritual struggle (God and Satan, the good Angels and the evil angels), one cannot truly be called an Orthodox Christian who sees and lives according to the deepest realities of life. Once again, however, it must be clearly noted that the devil is not a "red-suited being" nor any other type of grossly-physical tempter. He is a subtle, intelligent spirit who acts mostly by deceit and hidden actions, having as his greatest victory man's disbelief (atheism, skepticism, denial, rationalism etc.) in his existence and power. Thus, the devil attacks "head-on" only those whom he can deceive in no other way: Jesus and the greatest of the Saints. For the greatest part of his warfare he is only too satisfied to remain concealed and to act by indirect methods and means.
"Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8).
"Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:11-12). (Source: Orthodox Church in America)
EVIL SPIRITS ARE EXISTING INDIVIDUAL SPIRITUAL BEINGS
By Archbishop Lazar Puhalo (Source: Concerning Evil Spirits and "Internal Demons": The Orthodox Christian Tradition about the Nature and Activity of Satan and his Demons.)
Evil spirits are angels who became evil by their own free wills. As the prayers of the Church constantly teach us, Angels are bodiless spirits. Because of our carnal condition, we are unable to see evil spirits but "we have a more certain word of prophecy, and you will do well to pay attention to it as to a light which shines in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19). We cannot physically see the demons, but we can learn enough about them to defeat them. The source of this knowledge is the Holy Scripture which is lived, verified and made manifest in the life of the Holy Orthodox Church, and the experiences and teachings of our holy God-bearing Fathers. From the beginning of the Holy Scripture, we encounter Satan as a truly existent individual. According to the testimony of the Book of Genesis, Satan entered into a serpent and convinced our first ancestors to violate God's Commandment (Genesis 3:119). The Holy Prophet Solomon affirms that the devil was the original cause of the sin which ruined all mankind: "God created man to be immortal and made him an image of His own eternity. Through envy of the devil, however, death came into the world" (Wis. 2:23-24). For this reason, Satan is called a "murderer from the beginning" (St. John 8:44).
From the Book of Deuteronomy, we see that Moses was clearly aware of the existence of evil spirits. Enumerating the sins of the Hebrews, Moses says that they "sacrificed to demons, not to God" (Dt. 32:17), that is, as Saint John Chrysostom explains, they sacrificed to idols in which demons dwelt. The devil tormented the Righteous Job (Job 1:6-22); instigated David to "number Israel" (1 Chr. 21:1) and an evil spirit possessed Saul (1 Ki. 16:14-15 Orthodox Bible).
In the Book of Kings (3 Ki. 22:19-23 Orthodox Bible) and in the Book of Prophet Zachary (3:12), the evil one is accorded the personal attributes of envy, falsehood, cunning and wickedness. In the first case, he wanted to invite the king of Israel to violate God's Commandment, promising to become a spirit of falsehood in the mouths of prophets and, in the second instance, he was calumniating the people of Israel. The Holy Evangelist John the Theologian binds the truth of the existence of evil spirits with the coming of the Son of God into the world. "He that sins is of the devil, for the devil sins from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" (1 John 3:8; cp St. Matthew 12:24-29; St. John 2:19). From these words, it follows that a renunciation of belief in the devil leads to the renunciation of the truth of the fall and, consequently, also a renunciation of the mystery of redemption. Indeed, why would Christ have come to earth if the evil one did not exist? In thus renouncing the mystery of redemption, we must reject all of Christianity. The whole Gospel history testifies that the Lord Jesus Christ came to earth in order to destroy the works of the devil, to "deliver us from the evil one."
Jesus Christ told the Jews: "You are of your father the devil, and you will also do the works of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning" (St. John 8:44). Then, in positive teaching and in the explanatory parts of Parables, Christ taught about the evil one and his angels as real, individual beings who were striving to harm humanity. Describing the last dread judgment, Christ says: "Then He shall say to those on the left hand, 'depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels" (St. Matthew 25:41).
Christ pronounced this judgment on real, individual, totally sinful beings. It is quite clear from this that the evil one and his angels, for who the everlasting fire is prepared, are real beings. Sinners inherit eternity in this fire by being followers of Satan. United to him, they are also united with his destiny. Christ the Savior Himself said that Satan desired to sift the Apostles like wheat (St. Luke 22:31). In other places of the Holy Gospel, we see cited the words of Jesus Christ about the existence of a whole kingdom of evil spirits, ruled by Satan, the malicious prince of this kingdom (St. Matthew 12:24-28), and Christ calls the evil one the "prince of this world" (St. John 12:31). How clearly did our Savior teach about the existence of evil spirits when He healed those possessed by demons. Never did He suggest that possession by demons was a natural disorder (St. Matthew 4:24; St. Mark 1:34; 7:29-30, for example). The Holy Apostles, following Christ, also taught about the perniciousness of evil spirits and their ruinous influence of mankind. According to the Holy Apostle, Christ took on our flesh so that, by His Own death, He would deliver us from the power of "him who had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14). The Holy Apostles also revealed that the demons are intelligent spirits (St. James 3:15), but evil (Acts 19:13). Being numerous (Revelation 12:47-8) they form their own dominion, at the head of which is Satan (Romans 16:20). Finally, in the "Lord's Prayer," He quite clearly taught us to pray, "deliver us from the evil one," asking for deliverance from the power and influence of a real, personal being.
The fact that evil spirits are real, individual beings is revealed to us through the lives of the great ascetics who, being illumined by the Holy Spirit, saw the true character of the evil spirits, fought with and, by their lofty, moral lives, defeated the demons and gained power to cast them out of others. This understanding is also taught by the Church's divine services and prayers. Thus, for example, in the eighth prayer before sleep, the Orthodox Christian prays to God: "Deliver me from the besetting presence of the devil...Snatch me from the jaws of the pernicious serpent." In the Mystery (Sacrament) of Holy Baptism, the godparents are required; on behalf of an infant being baptized, to "renounce the devil and all his works and all his pride."
The Holy Scripture, therefore, clearly teaches that the devil exists as an individual spirit. And Saint John of Kronstadt says, "Stubborn unbelief in the existence of evil spirits is in itself actual demonic possession, for it bids defiance of Divine revelation; he who denies the evil spirits is a person already swallowed up by the devil (see 1 Peter 5:8) and sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, in no condition to behold the Sun of Truth."
Therefore, our Savior commands us to pray, specifically, "and deliver us from the evil-one," and not "deliver us from evil."
(To be continued)
Note: We live in dangerous and evil days. See how Christians are mislead and deceived by the devil. Even "Christian" heads of other traditions have fallen prey to his influence and openly have declared that there is no devil, no sin, no hell, and some even deny the existence of God. Others have deliberately accepted evil lifestyles to be introduced to their "church" and to defend them as "natural". Other "Christian churches" have protected clergy that have abused, seduced, sexually exploited children that were entrusted to them. Others include pagan practices and beliefs in their rituals and tradition. Others believe that the Holy Bible is outdated and needs to be improved by the contemporary man. And others have distorted the Gospel message and the Person of Christ. Others have stopped to believe in the Divinity of Christ, in the miracles of Christ, in the Resurrection of Christ, in the Kingdom of God etc. etc.
Evil is very real and we are witnesses of what is taking place in our society and the world. We see the violence, immorality, the deception, the wars, the murders, the destruction of the traditional family, the abortion and infanticide, the pressure of world governments to impose homosexuality, prostitution, on the populace. I recall how when the Orthodox country of Romania wanted to become a member of the EU, the EU told Romania that it had to accept and approve of homosexuality, prostitution, abortion etc. before it could be admitted in the EU.
We see how the secular society which promotes atheism attempts to undermine, discredit our Christian Church both from within and without and render Christianity powerless and without any influence in the world by causing divisions within the Christian Church. We see how contemporary Christians have diluted the Christian faith in their own lives.
Please be alert, vigilant and watchful. Practice your Christian faith daily with faith, humility, trust, sincerity and consistency. Do not allow yourself to be influenced by the evil powers and the "prince" of this world.
Pray unceasingly to the Almighty God, our Creator and Savior to protect you, your family, our country and our world.
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God